Friday, February 22, 2013

Four years ago today!

Four years ago, on February 22, 2009, Pie, Sly Pioneer, and Sovereign, Suave Lord, two off-track-Thoroughbreds, arrived at the farm to be our forever horses. Little Pie, above, was only three years old!

The plan was to foster and retrain these two little imps and then help them find happy homes. That is why an early post and graphic said "Foster Thoroughbreds' First Lesson" (below). Anyone who knows me, though, knows that was a very silly plan. As soon as the two sweetie boys walked off the trailer, my heart leaped forward with glee. I knew that instant they were already home. 

My riding goals were unusual. I needed to find a way to make these guys feel happy and secure because I wanted to ride every single day in all weather. I did not want to ever lunge them or use a round pen, even at the beginning. Also, I did not want to use a bit. I planned to ride only in a bitless bridle or halter. I wanted to ride primarily outside of the ring on trails and through fields for an hour each day. 

Miraculously, Pie and Sovereign both allowed me to ride and work with them in this new and exciting (to me) way. We added our sweet little Foggy, Found in the Fog, another OTTB, to the mix in January of 2011 and wow, what an amazing trip it has been! 

Just yesterday, Foggy and I were returning from a safe ride through the woods with high winds whipping around and the temperature barely above 30 degrees. A truck from the auto auction whizzed by us and his hood unlatched and flew up slamming into his windshield with a crash. He hit the breaks causing all the vehicles behind him to screech their tires. We were out riding near the road but Foggy just looked and kept on walking as if nothing happened at all. Our work together, which I like to call "Lingering" has made them calm and trusting. I got my dream horses!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

And he likes to sing along

Here is Sovereign on our ride yesterday. If you click the photo, you can see a short video of the ride. The video ends abruptly with a jumble, but I didn't fall off! Sovey shied at something. He doesn't like the camera at all. You would think I'd have learned by now. He wants (and really deserves!) all my attention. Any time I fiddle around with a camera or lose my focus, he gets very irked. He walks fast and tries to knock me off under low branches. Or he shies at nothing. He is not to blame at all. I believe riding a horse is a privilege and multi-tasking isn't part of the bargain. But, invariably I want to document his cuteness and he says, "Fine, you mess about with your camera and I'll find something else to do too!" Oh, Sovey, you are so smart.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The strangers held their laughter back

Hilarious selfie before a Pie ride the other day. 

Early morning gorgeous snow that melted by 10 am. The very best kind.

We've had our sweet Zoe girl visiting all weekend.

Sigh. Winter isn't so bad when you can see this.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's a supernatural delight!




I love my horses. This week has been typical and yet I still marvel at how easy it is to work with and ride them. They are kind and giving in their effort and I feel like they try to keep me safe no matter what I ask them to do. The farm is sadly surrounded by loud trucks and screeching tires, but all three horses are unflappable. A family of seven deer have made our property their home and the horses snort and look at the leaping deer when we accidentally come upon them, but they never get too worked up. There is a loud, crashing building project nearby. We can hear it but not see it and the pounding is sporadic and alarming. The horses never shy or jump. With all this noise, I happily got the "police horses" I always dreamed about and all the bombproofing that comes with that training.

I rode Sovereign yesterday bareback and in just a halter. He was perfectly wonderful for the perimeter loop and beyond. He always is. Pie's rides are every other day, but it is never enough for him. Much pawing and coaxing on a day when I don't ride him. He wants to go! That makes me happy to know he looks forward to our hour out on the trail. It is cold and windy, but he still lets me ride him bareback which is hard to believe when I think back on his previous winter skips and hops. Little Foggy is a great horse too, probably the sweetest I have ever known. I do use a saddle with him, not because he is naughty or a problem at all, but my seat is better on Foggy with the saddle. He is built kind of weird and I must not keep my seat properly balanced on him bareback. He rushes when I am bareback, but walks calmly with a saddle. I know it is me not him. 

I leave the barn each day with such joy in my heart. I ache to see them and wish we had a house in their pasture so I could watch all their antics all the time. Someday! Brian and Maizie will roll their eyes at that one! These are my Valentine's Day recollections for 2013. I have to go to the dentist this morning (ick!) but will head to the barn in the afternoon - can not wait!!!! Happy Valentine's Day everyone - enjoy your horsey love today and always!

Monday, February 11, 2013

When I feel cold you warm me

We didn't get one flake of snow from the big storm. I am thinking good thoughts for lmel and baystatebrumby and everyone else who got walloped up there. You all need my new gloves! They are warm and wonderful, but a little too bulky for riding. I decided on a pair of Outdoor Research Arete Gloves. (They were around $50 and free shipping.) I knew they would not really be for riding, but I need a good pair to slip into after the ride for post ride grazing and grooming. 

Our weather was warm (26 degrees when I got to the barn and 31 degrees when I left) and sunny yesterday and Pie was a sleepy one so I figured I'd try them out on a ride anyway. 

Not much control with these gloves, but fortunately not much was needed!

Here Pie has a nibble so we could get a close up shot of the gloves. Look how fluffy Pie's coat is! All the boys look like woolly mammoths which cracks me up when I see them. This way of horsekeeping is hard to get used to, but I think they like it. My brain is so conditioned to expect to see three sleek, shiny Thoroughbreds when I arrive and instead these fluff balls greet me! 

Getting in the pocket is not too easy. I would not recommend these gloves for riding, but they are very toasty before and after the ride and I had enough dexterity to hook halters and Pie's bridle. They were so warm I had to take the silk liner out for some of the time yesterday because my hands were sweating. I welcome sweating. Now, I have to get warm riding gloves for the days when Pie isn't so sleepy!

Two funny things happened yesterday that I forgot to say when I posted this earlier:  First, one of my new gloves went missing after my ride! I looked everywhere. Then I peeked over Pie's stall and there it was UNDER HIS BACK FOOT! I can't keep anything nice and new. I stuck him in his stall to relax and get a drink and nibble some hay. How one of my new gloves ended up under his foot, I'll never know!

And, after I turned everyone back outside, Pie and Sovey were grazing and Foggy went down to the water trough for a drink. Then he tucked himself in the shed and just stood there watching the other boys far away. Finally, he decided he should go back out and join them and he started cantering, but not really racing. He floated into a relaxed canter and then kicked a front leg out playfully and twisted and did a buck and kicked his other front out like a boxer puppy. He is the most adorable, happy horse I have ever seen in my life!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The willow turns his back on inclement weather

It was snowing for our ride today. I went to the car with Pie in tow to get my camera. Pie loves helping me get things out of the car.

Look at the snow flakes falling in front of the sweet boy! His muzzle is brown in the winter and so is Sovey's, but cutie Foggy's nose is completely black.

Pie was turning around as my mom took this one so his back legs are under him in a weird position. He looks like a fat pony. Oh, I love him! The turnpike is right behind us with roaring trucks but Pie doesn't care. Today when I mounted, I couldn't get my boot in the stirrup - my pants were too tight (yikes!) and I had to take my other hand and pull my boot up. It took forever and Pie stood statue still for me while the snow was whipping around. My mom asked, "Why is he so good?" I really don't know. He is a great horse.

 Funny face, Pie. Funny arms, me. Funny gloves on the ground, Mom!

Good rides lately on all the boys, but too cold to enjoy much after the ride. Barn chores are easy because I can keep warm, but riding leaves me like a frozen popsicle with frost bitten fingers. I have to get warmer gloves. The post ride grazing session is painful. And of course, two other sweeties want their turns after the first horse. Today, as I was grazing Sovereign out near the road, a car slowed and pulled over. The back window rolled down and a little boy looked out and waved. I waved and walked Sovereign closer. The father waved and smiled and the little boy said, "I see your zebra." We think Sovey sometimes resembles a llama or alpaca, but a zebra?!! I realized that the father and son did not speak English so I said, "Yes, he is my horse." They just smiled and waved and off they went. I was grateful for the giggle - it helped me forget about my frozen fingers for a few minutes. With a little luck spring will be here soon!