Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday wishes from Honeysuckle Faire!

Happy Holidays from everyone here at Honeysuckle Faire! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sunrise to Sunset - then sick!

Yesterday I saw the sun rise as I walked Maizie to the school bus and then saw the sun set as I ran in the slushy snow at the farm while the horses munched their evening hay in the pastures. 

At midday, I rode this little implet above, sweet Foggy boy. He is always perfect and he was yesterday, demanding to go through the neighborhood. One family banged on their bay window and waved, holding up their cute kitties to us. Another friend opened the gate for me to get back into our farm. Foggy loved all the Christmas decorations in the yards and on mailboxes. What a horse - what a ride!

It was a special day - one I must have lived to the fullest because last night as Maizie and I watched our perennial favorite, Barbie Nutcracker (VHS from the dark ages that we LOVE!), I felt body aches and fever coming on.

I haven't been sick in a long time - forgot how horrid it is! Thank you, Mom, for taking care of the boys for me today! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pie-Pie, you are something else!

Yesterday this snow bunny took me through the sunny, snow covered fields on the most fun ride ever!

As we crossed over the tennis court and down a hill, I leaned far forward to hug him up and he moved into the sweetest, light and airy trot. Pie is a good mover which means he looks good at the trot and canter, but he feels even better! My body was just transported across the snow without one jiggle or jolt!

He moved lightly the entire ride, lifting his feet out of the snow, effortlessly lilting into a trot every so often on his own. He was clearly having as much fun as me. What a perfect ride. I love this horse!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Listening to Sovey

Yesterday afternoon brought a snowstorm that was a little more fierce than the one I rode Pie in on my last post. This new storm had more aggressive pelting snow crystals and made me think it would not be fun for me or the horses to go for a ride.

I did bring the boys inside for a snack and some grooming. Pie was jumping straight up in the air like a spring before I brought him in and also inside his stall. He does this when a storm is in town. That is why I was so proud of him last post because he was good for our ride. 

Once, in a storm back in December of 2010, Pie got so wound up and springy and then he started rearing and walking on his back legs. My mom and I both saw him fall over in the deep snow backwards! I never saw anything like that before - I thought horses would die if they did that. He did not turn out to be a big rearing horse, luckily, so that was a one time snowstorm occurrence. But the springs straight up from a standstill are still his favorite move and he was springy yesterday!

It was Foggy's turn to go for a ride, but I just couldn't tell if the conditions were too bad. Foggy is such a sweet, kind horse that I can't trust him to tell me if he is unhappy. He would take me all over the farm even if he was uncomfortable. 

I really had no intention of riding. I told Brian earlier that I was just going to groom. But, I am seriously addicted to riding. I had my running clothes along and knew a run in the snow would be perfect (which I did later and it was so lovely!!!) but a quick ride might be fun too. So after I brought the boys inside, I looked at Sovey and asked if he wanted to go out for a ride. I told him the whole story. I explained, holding the bridle, that I thought it was pretty out and I would love to go for a ride. But, I didn't know if it was unpleasant for a horse. I promised to listen to him and if he didn't want to go at any point, even in the beginning as I was tacking up, he could just tell me. I know him well enough to know that even out on the trail, if he is unhappy he will make that clear straightaway. I like that about him.

He was all ears and eyes and definitely seemed like he was game. So I slipped on his bridle. No problems - no resistance. Next we made our way to the forebay. Still, no reaction. Then we went into the wagonshed to the mounting block and I slipped on. He took two steps forward and backed into the mounting block! 

I jumped off and checked his back legs - they were not cut - the mounting block is wooden and I was worried he banged them badly. He was fine. I dropped the reins and he just stood there in the snow like he wanted to go. I started to double think his behavior. Had he heard something that made him back up and I didn't hear it because of all my layers? Or was he saying "no ride"? 

I lined him up again at the mounting block and got on. This time he walked out of the wagonshed and around the corner. As soon as he got out in the snow and clear of all obstacles he slowly and methodically backed up and stopped and would not move forward. Of course, this is very unusual behavior.

"Ok, Sovey, I hear you. I promised to listen and I hear you loud and clear now. I am just a stupid human who didn't get it at first, but you do not want to go out in this horizontal pelting snow for a ride. Thank you for your patience with me."

I crack up reflecting on it this morning. He first backed up quickly, dramatically, exaggerating his emotions for me so I could understand, but instead I thought he might have meant something else (what a fool I am)! So then, he slowly backed up out in the clear, dragging each foot back ridiculously slow like he was pronouncing words s-l-o-w-l-y for a daft person. Which he was.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It'll be the perfect ending of a perfect day

Pie and I had a hysterical adventure bareback and bitless in a snowstorm this afternoon. It was 26 degrees and I didn't plan on riding but it was gorgeous and blinding and white - I just couldn't pass it up!

I didn't get to the barn till 2pm after spending the entire morning in a chair in the living room opposite Maizie. We were decadently lingering over multiple cups of coffee as I worked on our Christmas card design (very late this year!) and Maizie worked on homework. Brian was on a long mountain run that normally would include Maizie, but she twisted her ankle at tennis practice on Thursday night so the weekend has been sadly one of no running for her. 

More than anything, she and I were happily enjoying our little house dressed up for Christmas. We bought and decorated our tree last night and this morning we weren't too eager to leave. 

After lunch with the holiday card design (finally) off to the printer and Maizie's homework done, we headed over to the barn. Maizie planned to help decorate my mom's tree and I was going to just groom inside the barn since a small snowstorm was churning out a few wet inches. But, when I got there, the snow was so lovely and Pie seemed eager to go, pawing as usual since it was "his turn". 

I took these photos when I was collecting the boys to go inside. I wasn't able to take any pictures on the ride - I didn't even take the phone along. Pie isn't the best horse usually in storms - he feels the change in weather conditions more than the other two horses. 

I knew he needed the exercise - he needs a ride every other day to be fully calm. It seemed to make more sense to ride bareback than with a saddle because of the snow on his back, but I knew that picture taking was out of the question. 

This one of Sovey and Foggy shows how the snow was falling fast and furiously when I arrived. 

Pie and I made our way around the farm with little problems. I talked to him the whole way. He was a tiny bit more spooky than on a perfectly sunny day, but way better than I expected. I made sure to keep my mind empty, prattling on to him with stories about Christmases past. I also relaxed my legs which was difficult because my winter riding pants have a faux leather full seat for extra grip which is amazing in a saddle, but kind of weird bareback. It grips a little too well and feels like I am attached to the horse with Stickum. I know, what am I complaining about?!! It's just that my legs have trouble moving naturally.

We wondered around through the woods and I was beaming the whole time. The snowflakes were coming horizontal - one hit me square in the back of my throat and I started coughing which made him shy! Still, it was like riding in a snow globe. Last winter I finally got all the proper riding gear so I was warm as toast and able to look around and enjoy a snowy ride without freezing! The woods were quiet, allowing us to observe many woodland creatures running here and there - it was amazing. The cardinals were darting on branches with their red incredibly vibrant in the snow. 

Then I saw footprints and first thought they were my mother's from earlier today. But, they went on trails I knew she wouldn't take. My next guess was that they belonged to our neighbor, Chris, who seems to live in our woods. He is the leprechaun-esque guy I mentioned last May who wanders around out there and is completely harmless in a woodland sprite/Stevie Winwood in Traffic/Canned Heat Goin' Up The Country sort of way. 

At the end of one trail I spied a figure standing in the brush and I yelled, "Chris" but the person just bent down, as if to hide. Even though it clearly wasn't Chris I started laughing because there is little foliage this time of year and with the snow, I could see the person perfectly well. Pie could too and in typical "I'm going to look in your windows" Pie fashion, my horse started marching right toward the crouched figure. 

I called out a warning in case he thought he was actually hiding from us - "I can totally see you!" I yelled, taking a line from one of my favorite commercials EVER. The kid stood up and walked out. He didn't have anything with him and looked scared to death as Pie frisked him by completely nuzzling him up from top to bottom. 

He said he was tracking a fox. Of course, my horrible hearing from years of too loud music through headphones made me hear, "I am trapping a fox." I went nutty, screaming about how we don't harm animals! "No one can harm animals!" I repeat fanatically. My fury made it completely clear that I would have little problem harming him, but nobody better harm animals. Just then he whispered, "I said, I was tracking a fox. I'm really interested in photography." "Oh...Nevermind," I said in my sweetest Emily Litella voice.

Pie was so involved in the conversation that he never shied or acted silly throughout the entire exchange, proving once again that your horse is always perfect when your mind is on something other than how your horse is going to fling you off. 

I rode back to the barn with the stupidest grin on my face. I doubt I will see that boy in the woods again, but I sure gave him a story to tell of the kooky lady who lives on the farm. I did learn where he lives and I've met his parents before so I'm not too worried. Poor kid seemed nice enough after I stopped screaming at him.

Here is a photo of the boys when I turned them back out after our ride. The snow had stopped but was followed by sleet. Just this second we got a text message from the school - two hour delay tomorrow!!!! Yippee!!!!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

peace on earth

Or at least peace at Honeysuckle Faire. The commingling of Instagram and Blogger was a fail so to keep the peace and the fun horsey posts on this blog readable, for now I will observe the separation of church and state, um, Blogger and Instagram.

Last night Brian, Maizie, and I started to decorate for Christmas in our house. We are usually in Florida for Christmas (we are planning to go a little later this year) so our Pennsylvania decorations haven't been pulled out for seven years! 

This one above is my favorite. I bought this horsey door jingle bell ringer at a tack shop during the time I didn't have horses. Like now, I was crazy, horse obsessed, but I just didn't have time to be a horse person because Maizie was little and needed a good mommy (as opposed to one who is only thinking about how to get to the barn to ride her horsey boys). This purchase was my promise to myself that I would have horses again one day and every jingle made me smile with the dream that I am actually living right now! (Insert happy shriek!) 

Our sweet Schpanken Danken kitty cat, who is now in peaceful kitty cat heaven, used to ring this ornament every time she wanted outside during the holidays. I kept it on the front door long after Christmas just for her. 

Happy December holiday bustling! I am living proof that the the sweet sugar plum horsey visions that dance in your head during this season really do come to be! Just look at my adorable Sovey Plum Fairy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Something new!

As we head into the holiday season, happily hurried with all the bustling around, I am commingling my blog posts and my Instagram feed. I think this might simplify life a little while still sharing all the photos and fun! But this change is going to totally wig out my mom so...time out for instructions for her:  Mom, look up above this photo - see the cute little "Instagram" in retro font? If you hover over that it will say "view on Instagram" click and then you can pop on over and read the photo descriptions. Or, if you really want to see all the photos - horsey and otherwise just click on the blue "julietteober" at the top left of this photo. After you see all the photos as a group you can click on any of them and they will enlarge. Enjoy! (Love you Mom!)

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Sovereign reluctantly endures my hug, shooting a sideways glance at my mom as she snaps our photo on Saturday's ride. Poor Sovey despises being touched but allows affection when I am on his back. He would completely flatten me if I attempted to love him up from the ground. His silent motto is "I love you. Don't touch me!"

This one is of Foggy grazing on Black Friday after our ride. The day was as sunny as Foggy's disposition. I can hug and kiss him without any worry. He is a happy, free spirit full of fun and mischief.

My shadow in this picture cracks me up because I look like a Pilgrim! My winter riding gear is so perfect and warm so I am not complaining one bit but the shadow outline reminds me of the Pilgrim women we had to color in elementary school around this time of year. Oh, what a joyful Black Friday! I am a lucky Pilgrim in the fresh air and sunshine after a great horsey ride!

Finding both of these photos in my phone this evening made me laugh out loud and also reminded me of something Maizie told us on a run recently.

Brian and I run with Maizie on days she has off school. Our family conversations are diverse. We discuss anything that pops in our heads - politics, sports, music, spirituality, school subjects, and philosophy. On one run a few days ago Maizie told us that she's been listening to a song by David Bowie and the lyrics remind her of Brian and me as parents. She started by saying that the song is similar to Crackerbox Palace, but Bowie's lyrics are more to the point. 

When we got back to the van she played the song for us. The song title is "Kooks" so, of course, she had our attention. When your 15 year old daughter tells you that a song called Kooks reminds her of you, you sit up and take notice. Click photo above for song.

I don't consider myself a "kook" really at all, but I do think some of the philosophies I share with Brian might be unusual now - or not necessarily popular - YET! But stay tuned...

That is at the heart of what propels me forward in my horse life with this blog and the horse writing I've been doing lately. I feel an urgency to celebrate this style which safely allows the daily rides and hopefully inspires others to find their horsey bliss. Too many times I meet women with a faraway look in their eyes because the horsey love they imagined is not what is happening in reality. 

I spent some time talking to "traditional riders" over the holiday and I realized midway through my description of my Thanksgiving morning ride that nothing I am doing with horses is understood or in any way respected. I attempted to share how funny Pie was when a neighbor threw open her upstairs bathroom window, water dripping off her showered hair, to yell "Happy Thanksgiving!" at 8:30 Thursday morning. Pie was determined to figure out which window she was in. I told my listeners of his unwillingness to budge as he studied each window in the rear of their house till he looked up and finally saw her waving. His need to find her was just adorable and something I will remember forever but it sounds like a stupid juvenile story to "serious" riders.

Their own Thanksgiving morning ride was called off because the schooling ring was too frozen and hard.

Oh, I am so grateful to be a kook!

Friday, November 22, 2013

So I hit the road and made my getaway

Pie was exceptional today! Most days are really good, but today was an extra special one. Pie was interested in going off the property and our first stop was to the printing press next door. There we met a woman who was clearly HORSE CRAZY. She practically melted in the parking lot with nearly visible love hearts floating up off her head. She couldn't even talk because she was so smitten with the big boy. I asked him to walk up and I gave her a treat to hand him. She was just giggling and almost crying about how glad she was that she decided to go to the printer's today. I've been there - we all have - just completely in love with horses and one appears out in public where you least expect it. I turn to mush and this woman did too. Pie was enjoying the hugs and near weeping. He knows that he is a giant, beautiful breath of loveliness.

Next, we wound through our woods. The sky was grey and pink and yellow and rainy and not rainy and actually warmish at 49 degrees today so it was amazingly pretty in there for a dreary day. Then he turned left and marched off through the neighborhood. I think his brush with that person made him seek out more humans. We didn't find any, but it still was fun walking through the streets on a sleepy Friday.

I dismounted to open a gate and then I couldn't find a suitable place to get back on. I spied a white, five gallon bucket in "George Corner's" yard and borrowed that. (George lives at the corner and has an awfully long last name so we put him in our phones as George Corner and it just stuck.) Fortunately I was trying out Pie's new "roomy" girth so I had a saddle and was able to (barely) get my foot up high enough to reach the stirrup. 

We lingered around there for a bit then up a hill and around the loud turnpike loop. Pie was strutting because he knew he was such a good boy. Earlier I had worked with him on the "ears up Mother Brodie" command using clicker. Kate over at A Year With Horses wisely reminded me to try clicker with Foggy. Lately, Pie has been making nasty faces when I brush his foretop. I am sure this is from all the dreaded burr extractions. So while grooming, I clicked and treated "ears up" and then got it from him over and over before our ride. My "good boys" verbal proclamations were many and hearty so Pie was feeling robust and happy before we even headed out. The meeting with the horse-nutty woman and the good standing for my remounting had him on cloud nine. He was obviously extremely proud of himself today and he really stepped out looking this way and that walking very tall and intentional. I was equally proud, with a face full of smiley, moon-faced love when we got back to the barn. Horses can just turn your whole world inside-out! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

But a different world to sing upon

Little Foggy took me out through the fields today. It was chilly but clear and he was perfect as usual. 

If you click the photo above, you can see a quick video of us riding from our farm over to a neighbor's field.

He is so tiny compared to the other boys. When I dismount, I forget how short he is and I expect to keep falling and then I hit the ground so soon!

He's my sweet little boy who allowed me to pick the burrs out of his ear before our ride! Hooray!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Frustrated Incorporated

Oh, I am so mad at myself right now. Today was supposed to be a fun day and I blew it. Nothing super bad resulted, but I could have done much better with Foggy.

Today was rainy, misty, and dark - very dark. The clouds were depressingly thick which made it seem like it was evening all day. But the temperatures were warm and when I brought the horses into the barn around 2pm I envisioned a good ride or maybe even two.

Pie had a foretop full of burdock burrs which annoyed me because of the time it takes to extract them. I had worked through a tough bunch at the same location yesterday and today he was waiting with more. Grrrr. But, then I saw Foggy. He had a huge blob of burrs in the sweet, long hairs that stick out of his left ear. Oh no - poor honey!

I got to work right away on Pie and allowed Foggy to relax in his stall. Pie's burrs took 20 minutes to remove but he was fairly good about the process. I ended up taking him outside to graze to get the last wad of burrs that were buried deep under the first. He deserved the grazing after all my tugging on the ratty knots and at least I could work on the worst part while he nibbled.

Then I started in on Foggy and that's when I totally messed up. Right from the start Foggy was having none of it. I thought this was unusual because he is the most patient horse I have. He stands for anything and allows me to treat wounds and burrs anywhere, but not that ear. I brush his ears out each day with zero difficulty. 

A few weeks ago he had burrs in his foretop that were driving him nuts and he allowed me to slowly extract each one. But today he was determined that this ear was off limits! The burrs weren't that deep but he twisted and turned and avoided my help over and over. I tried everything but nothing worked. 

Foggy doesn't actually bite or get nasty to defend himself but his displeasure was more than apparent. He gnaws his teeth in nervous gestures - not at me - at the air. Then he turned his neck to avoid my fingers. I soon realized that it was because it was this ear. The left one. I don't know if Foggy was twitched at the track but this would be the ear they would use if he was. 

Of course I never yank at his halter or slap or yell at him - no worries there, but I just would not give up. Ugh. That is what makes me so mad now. I was calm and quiet and slow and patient, but I was stupidly so determined. I tried this chair, this ladder, outside grazing, inside eating. Nothing worked and all I did was worry him. 

I pride myself that I listen to my horses. I am quiet and slow with them, but so what? Enough was enough early on and I kept on trying. I just was so sure that he was annoyed by the burrs and I was equally sure that my kindness would prevail. 

Foggy didn't notice my kindness, my quiet voice, my patience. Sometimes you just have to stop even when you believe you are doing all the right things. But it took me too long to get that message.

Finally, I turned them all back out. No ride. I cried frustrated tears and said every choice word I know back in the barn out of earshot of Pie and Foggy. (Mom and I joke that Sovey can handle colorful language but Pie and Foggy are too innocent for such indelicate speech. Naturally, we would never swear at Sovey but he is "old" enough to hear an occasional rant about world injustices.)

Today is November 17th. I met dear Foggy three years ago today at the racetrack. I have such vivid, special memories of that day and I think that is why I was so stupidly tenacious about trying to get those burrs out. I wanted to ride, I wanted to help him, I wanted to show him how much I love him - today of all days! But, the bottom line is that just letting him be after my initial attempt would have been so much more loving, more meaningful. 

So the burrs remain. I guess I have to find the patience over the next few weeks to allow his real mother, good ol' Mother Nature, to take them out in her time.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Any way the wind blows

Three little pigs. Well, just one really. Poor Pie got a new girth in the mail today because his former one, size 54" was, ahem, a bit snug. Oh no. I hardly ever use a saddle with him, but with winter approaching I thought it might be smart to get one that fits his adorable roundness.

The last three days have been spent riding around the farm and buildings while workers ripped down and re-roofed a house on the property. I am so proud and happy to report that everyone kept their heads and my rides have been effortless throughout the loud nail guns, metal ladders, and blaring radios. 

The first day a roofer wanted to discuss shingle color with me. I was grazing Foggy after our ride and the man waved his arms and motioned for me to come over where he had samples assembled on the driveway. Foggy in tow, we trudged through deep, crunchy leaves, then across the tennis court and finally through ladders beside a loud compressor to the shingle area. Foggy walked with me on a loose lead, like he is a human companion or a well-behaved dog, never hesitating a second. As the man described the options, Foggy followed his arm gestures and listened intently as if he, too, was taking it all in. The roofer would occasionally bend down and point to specific shingles and Foggy would get in closer with his eyes and nose to study the shingle sample in question. The combined nonchalance of the man and Foggy was really quite poignant. Neither acted as if the other's presence was unusual in any way. 

I guess I don't get out much. Maybe horses are always part of daily conversations. Oh, I am just crazy in love with my boys! They are unbelievably sensible - and cute too.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A new day, a new way, I knew I should see it along...

Amazing ride today on Sovereign. I had vowed not to go to the barn at all. Overhead-powerline-men were there on Tuesday gleefully, aggressively cutting down trees. Ugh. After last spring's assault on our woods from the pipeline people, I could not take the sound of chainsaws and decided to spare myself the anguish altogether today.

But mom told me at noon that the coast was clear - they had finished. The day was warm (65 degrees!) and gorgeous and rain is eminent so I quickly dropped everything and rushed to the barn. Sovereign was the very boy to lift my spirits with a brilliant yellow-leafed bareback ramble that went on forever. 

Mom walked along and we three had great fun. We (the humans) had a tough week at Honeysuckle Faire so we needed fun!

C,S,N,Y was singing "Carry On" in the car on the way to ride. Would our horses bring us happiness? Yes!!!!

Sovey and I hide our feet in the deep leaf carpet after our ride. While we were out on the trail my mom told me a hysterical story of a recent adventure she had and we laughed full belly laughs till we cried. Much needed! Fresh air, horses, golden leaves - that is all it takes to make it all go right. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

la la la

This morning the leaves are falling like snowflakes - yellow and red and gold. Yesterday morning Foggy took me out on a typically fabulous ride. He is a sweet boy who never cares if I am using the camera. I drop the reins and fiddle away with the video. If you click the photo above you can see a small clip of our ride.

November has been as lovely as October. We've been saying around our house lately, "Shout out to God!" Who could complain? The scenery is just magnificent.

Here's some brotherly love last evening in the pastures. Click photo for more.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pea Gravel!

If you are a long time reader of this blog you know the difficulties I've had over the years with our water stations. We have a "mudder" at our farm.

"Ummm, I am the Sovey-boy, and I sure do like the mud."

In horse racing, when a horse does well in rainy, mucky, mud races, they're called "mudders". Not all horses like to run in mud. Some horses, like our Foggy, are positively dainty and do not like stepping in mud ever. 

But, full brother Sovereign LOVES the mud. Click the photo below to see a video of Sovereign (racing name Suave Lord) winning a race in the mud at Philadelphia Park. This race was run on November 20, 2007 and at the beginning of the video you can see me pan to the track conditions in the top right corner. Conditions are listed as "muddy"!!! The whole video is grey in color because it was pouring rain. Naturally.

Since his arrival in February of 2009 Sovereign has continually dumped our pasture water buckets. He loves to swim and puts his foot in the bucket and splashes his belly. Then, seeing that the water is muddy from his foot, he finishes off the bucket by completely dumping it. We have a swim tub for him which keeps him happy, but if that is empty at any time during the day because of previous swimming, he resorts to swimming in the watering troughs. Looking back over my blog I see many entries when I devise a new "perfect" system to keep him out of the water. None ever worked. We moved the buckets around and even raised them up high into hideous blue barrels like the one below. Ugh.

There are horses who drink neatly out of pasture buckets and leave their water station tidy. Then there is Sovey. At least he is adorable!

It doesn't help that I am obsessed with clean water and clean buckets. I empty and scrub all buckets daily which adds to the problem because of frequent dumping. Obviously, I pull the buckets out and away from the pastures, but ultimately the water runs back toward the lowest, muddiest point. We have permanent water pumps and electric for winter's heated buckets at each station so moving the troughs too far away was not an option.

Before the pea gravel, our water stations looked like this - a typical day in October. Summer looked much worse because hot temperatures encourage many swims by our little swimmer boy. Needless to say, this situation was not healthy for hooves or dispositions. Foggy positively hated getting a drink. Poor honey.

I knew I wanted pea gravel but I couldn't just have a truckload dumped at our water holes because mud and high traffic would suck it all down and away within a few weeks. Brian told me that I needed to prepare a base just like you do if you are making a driveway. So I found an excellent paving company, Locust Point, and told them about my problem. We came up with a plan!

First they dug out a huge rectangular area and hauled away the dirt. You can see some of the exposed dirt in the corner of the rectangle above to get a sense of the depth. Next, they filled the hole with ballast for good drainage.

Then a layer of modified was rolled. I don't have a photo of that layer because I headed out on Foggy for a ride. (And - fun side note - Foggy was amazing even with all the commotion. At one point we were right beside the pasture and a dump truck was unloading the ballast. These stones are huge and rumble and shake the ground when they are dropped. Foggy never flinched! My mom was with me and we just stood there in awe of his composure. I was able to take photos and fiddle around with zero reins. What a horse!)

Anyway, no photo but the middle layer is modified stone which was rolled to keep it compact. The top layer is four inches of pea gravel. The term "pea gravel" refers to the size of the rock rather than the type of rock. Pea gravel is pea sized and allows for good drainage while being comfortable on horse hooves. In addition, frequent trips to the water station should provide some natural wear on the hooves. I am interested to hear what our farrier notices in the coming months.

I am thrilled with the results! Sovey has dumped the buckets many times already and the water just disappears. I, too, have scrubbed and emptied all the buckets easily with no residual water. Pie and Sovey paw and play like crazy in the stone. I hope the novelty wears off soon because they make a total mess of the area. Sweet, reserved, mannerly Foggy required a two day training session to make sure he was actually walking on the surface and could use the water buckets. Now, all is well and everyone is drinking.

The paving contractors were there to witness our clown Pie's first dive into the pea gravel. They said to me that day "His feet were straight up in the air!" as they described his antics. And just now I got a text from them:

"We are still laughing about how that horse was rolling around in the stone. I have never seen anything like that. We told my mom and she was laughing so hard. He looked exactly like how our dogs roll around in the yard and the other two were staring at him like what are you doing?!"

To see these three characters in action click the photo above. No rolling in this video, but you can see Sovey and Foggy racing around the pea gravel with their initial suspicion. Not Pie - he dives right in typical, uninhibited fashion!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Magical, lovely October. It is sad to see it come to an end. We've had cool mornings and warm, sunny day rides. There is a sweet October morning hay nibbling video if you click photo below.

Temperatures turned colder today and Pie took me on a good ride in blustery, scary conditions. He is so adorable and funny as he tries his very best to be brave. Wound as tight as a top, he wants desperately to be a big, good boy, but every so often the loud wind and pelting leaves get the best of him and he has to jump this way and that. His body language is all goodness and loving, though, so I laugh and he relaxes with a rolling, snorting sigh. What are you going to do? Wind and winter is coming and there are many rides to be had.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

it was electric, so frantically hectic, and the band started leaving, 'cause they all stopped breathing

Yesterday morning I got to the barn early to ride. The light was perfect and the temperatures were hovering around 47 degrees - much colder than it's been. Everyone was covered in mud from our previous day's rain. In the neighborhood beside our farm a man was using a jack hammer on the concrete of a front porch. The boys were all snorty and spooky on their way into the barn. 

Pie was making himself extra tall and snorted through our entire grooming session so I decided to use the saddle. As soon as I mounted, he calmed down which I thought was exceptionally kind of him. I didn't expect that. In fact, we rode for an hour in the woods and over to the mechanic's apple tree and back around our perimeter trail and I don't think he shied once. In the last bit we had to pass fairly close to the jack hammering. I could feel the reverberations through the ground and up through Pie, but he stayed calm.

As we were finishing the loop back through the field the morning sun was lovely and a neighborhood friend waved at me from a long way off. It was a perfect single instance to take stock of how lucky I am. I sure felt blessed at that moment.

I groomed and grazed the other two boys then stuck all three back outside quickly so I could hurry over to Maizie's tennis tournament. She finished her regular season undefeated (16-0) and was playing in the finals of the singles #3 for the conference title. She was the top seed and had won her quarterfinals and semis easily.

But sweet Maizie lost in the finals 7-5, 6-0 to a girl she beat during the regular season. This was Maizie's first loss as a high school player so there were a few tears in our house last night. Poor honey, these life lessons are hard but so necessary.

The upside is that already it seems more real, more relaxed around here. Since August 12th we've been tight and strained, precariously balancing on a bubble of perfection. Every win just made that bubble more taut. At the barn with the horses, and on the running trail, I've been able to exhale, but at home and at matches I think we've all been holding our collective breath for eight weeks. Yesterday evening I was able to breathe and I slept very good last night. 

Maizie was more at ease as we walked to the school bus this morning. She has to play the very same girl in Districts on Thursday. It is just dumb luck that it worked out that way and I don't think Maizie is looking forward to it at all. My goal is to keep smiles and laughter flowing the next few days. Happy is the safest emotion I know to bring when I climb back on a scary horse.