Monday, October 31, 2011

2 New fillies for the place

John and Pete took another trip to Suffolk Downs today to check out the horses. It seems there were some issues with Eddie's Point, but they did find a couple of girls to mix things up a bit at the barn. Look out guys, here come the girls!

So, there will be six horses at the barn now. I think John and Pete are in for a wicked good time, as we say in these parts! And me, well the more the merrier. I'm happy to give two horses from  Canter New England's Suffolk Showcase a home. As the sign says when you cross the Maine border, girls: "Maine, the Way Life Should Be". And a big thank you to the wonderful work and promotion the Canter folks do!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's snowing like crazy!

John went down to Suffolk Downs today to watch Eddie's Point run in the 6th race. The poor guy had to run on a sloppy track in the icy cold rain! I'd hoped to get in a ride, but spent almost the entire day stacking the rest of the wood before the storm hit. Plus the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and broccoli plants needed pulling. Out of curiosity, I pulled one of our carrots (waiting for the frost to sweeten them up) and was amazed by the size! Nearly 12 inches long and and inch and a half in diameter!

By 4 p.m. it was starting to come down pretty hard, so I beat it out to the barn to get the guys in before they got soaked. Everyone got an extra scoop of sweet feed, fresh water, and lots of hay to keep their furnaces running through the night.

Now we're sitting here by the woods stove, listening to the wood pop, and sipping hot tea. I'm glad to know 'ole Gnarley Harley is snug in his stall, with plenty of hay, a pan full of chopped alfalfa, and dinner on the way. I hope Eddie is snug and warm too after giving his all today, even though he only came in 7th.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Winter is here, early this year!

I drove out to the barn in a cold rain. Harley and the gang, snug in their stalls, munching hay, peered out to see who had arrived. As usual, Callie Lou, ran up to Harley's door, seeking spilled grain bits (her idea of a good treat). I gave him a good curry, fussed with his mane that wants to go every which way, and cleaned his feet. By the time we got home, the snow was mixing with rain. Good thing we got all the blankets cleaned--we might need them really soon!

Thanks to Juliette over at Honeysuckle Faire for giving me this award! I've so enjoyed reading her blog and so many others.  I'm now supposed to list 15 other blogs--the only problem is that so many of the blogs I follow seem to have already won!

I'm going to have to hunt around and find some other blogs to pass this along bear with me while I come up with a list!

Hmmm, things about me...
1. All my writing seems to be done on this blog. I don't know if that's a good thing, since I'm not earning at money at it, but I've had fun connecting with other horse-crazy people in cyberspace.

 2. Someday I'd love to take a riding vacation in Wales.
3. I'd rather spend my free time at the barn cleaning stalls rather than cleaning house (and my house reflects this!)  

4. I'd like to take Harley on a horseback trip, in some of my old summer camp stomping grounds in Vermont.

5.  I enjoy gardening with John and we grow a substantial amount of vegetables. We grew enough potatoes last year to last us through until this year.

6. I love, love, love maple syrup. We tap our trees and make enough syrup to last a couple of years (We gave the trees a break last year).

7. I have another blog about life on the home front.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A new friend for Harley?

John and I went to the Suffolk Showcase sponsored by Canter New England on Sunday, featuring the trainer's horses for sale at Suffolk Downs. The season comes to a close on November 5th, so if anyone's looking for a good deal on a good horse, check 'em out!

Under bright sun accompanied by brisk weather, we watched a lot of lovely horses parade before our eyes. Gosh, if only I had the acreage to give more a home. But it was heartwarming to here people eagerly buying these beauties.

John singled out one he wanted to see--a big rangy 17 hand 5 year old gelding, Eddie's Point. We haven't decided yet, but John seemed pleased with what he saw. And of course, 'ole Eddie just wormed his way into our hearts (or our pockets for yummy carrots) with his begging antics. He gobbled up nearly all the carrots we brought that day. On the way home, we took a side trip to Dover Saddlery to see if they had any inexpensive 82" blankets on sale, just in case... I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

At last, no more rain!

Harley at "spooky corner"
The rain finally quit last night. Today dawned sunny and windy--a good day for getting laundry out on the line, canning beans, and going for a trail ride! Harley banged one of his knees earlier this week, so this was our first day back riding. The swelling had dissipated, and he wasn't lame. I thought we'd just take a walk and see how things went. He had his ears up, looking at tipped over inuksuk trail markers and watching for deer as we approached his "spooky corner". There are a couple of spots where he's encountered deer, so he anticipates them every time we come near those areas.

I chose to ride down by Orris Falls. After all the rain, the water is shooting through the chasm, enough to make Harley look askance down below. And this also made the usual water crossing a little difficult. Lots of water shushing down from the pond made Harley put on the brakes. It took a couple of tries before I got him across. At least he didn't try to leap it, like little Nina!

We went up and over Spring Hill, stopping for the view before continuing out to the end of the trail at Emery's Bridge Rd. Once again, he had to peer around corners like he expected monsters to get him. He no longer spooks at the huge boulders--I guess he's realized they haven't moved yet. Five crows flew up in the trail, and that gave him a start! We practiced stopping and backing, and just standing. He's getting so much better, although with each halt, he still has to peer around his shoulders to make sure it's safe.

We had a lovely ride on an awesome autumn day. Tomorrow, maybe will go a bit longer, keep it to a walk, and see how he does. Of course, once I turned him out tonight, he cantered down the hill to his buddies--"You wouldn't believe what I saw today!"

Summit of Spring Hill

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another first for me!

With these short days, Harley is not getting as many workouts. But we're finally having a nice stretch of weather. I dropped John off at Nina's where they tested out his new Wintec Endurance Pro saddle. (The word is, it fit her perfectly and he loved it.)
I went over to take Harley out for at least an hour's ride. But first I had to get him. And where was the gang? Way down in the bottom field in the shade. So I walked down the road, cut in at the lower gate and enticed Harley over with carrots. Then, with halter and lead rope, I hopped on from the stone wall and rode him up to the barn--my first trip out on him bareback! I finally got up the nerve, and told him not to try anything silly (especially since I didn't have on my helmet). I've almost done this a couple of times, but chickened out, thinking what if he spooks? Well, I finally got over that obstacle, although I'd have to say, he doesn't have the back for extended bareback rides! We had a nice amble up through the lower fields with a little jog (I grabbed mane) up the last incline up to the barn. Thank you for behaving Harley!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dodging the rain

The rain stopped for a few hours yesterday. So John graciously gave up riding Nina to give Harley and me a lesson. We got out the lunge line to work out the kinks in both of us. I haven't had a lesson like that in ages, and it really helped getting back to the basics. Harley and I need some solid foundation work, and since the weather was being unpredictable, the timing was right! I know what I need to work on, and Harley behaved like a good school horse for me. Our next ride will be on the trails though--I don't want to bore him with ring work.

I thanked him for letting me plod in circles on him, gave him hugs and carrots, then turned him back out with his pals. Thanks for being a good boy, Harley! I sound like some gooey 13 year old, but then, I've wanted a horse since I was a kid. And now that John has made a dream come true, I relish every moment I have going gaga over Harley. I think John gets a chuckle out of it as well!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oh the wind and rain...

The autumn rains have arrived bringing cooler temperatures at last. But I do wish it would quit! I spent a couple of quality hours with Harley in the barn yesterday, grooming, mucking, and feeding him lunch. I missed the brief respite of rain while doing chores around the house: dishes, laundry, recycling run, etc. And today, it's just more of the same--ugh!

I sneaked in a brief ride Friday night, just before it was too dark to see. Due to the lateness, I decided to ride in the "ring" (a mowed grassy area behind the barn). The session started off poorly--deer by the pond. Harley wouldn't concentrate on anything except the deer. One would not leave, but stood at the forest edge, watching us. Great, an ungulate audience! Then two more flashed their tails which spooked Harley again. It was not a great session, but by the end, he gave up trying to wheel for home and listened to my leg (somewhat). Our circles were more like squares!

Harley after his first 20 mile ride in June 2011
John entertained me this morning reading an excerpt from the AERC's
(American Endurance Ride Conference) handbook. Under the chapter regarding horse selection, specifically personality, we decided Harley must have read this part:"If the horse trots out in hand to your satisfaction, the next move is to take him for a spin,..." Yup, Harley showed us his spin moves right from the start! Drop that shoulder and whirl! We also chuckled over this:
"Some people like a relaxed, laid-back sort of fellow, while others prefer one that is more “ready.” Most endurance riders don’t consider a lazy horse much fun to ride, but on the other hand, a very tense horse that is on the borderline of being out of control, even in a nonthreatening situation, is likely to come unglued in a real race."
Poor Halawa Moon, he's out of the running as a race horse, not well-schooled over fences (yet), and doesn't seem to measure up as an endurance horse. But he's ours, I love him, for all his quirks (even those that have sent me to the hospital--see June 28th entry), and he's enjoying a happy life with the gang. Harley has only been trail riding a year and a half, and he's made a lot of progress. He may not be a candidate for the Tevis Cup, but I'm game to take him out there, even alone. And maybe next year, if John rides Nina, I'll ride him in next year's local S.M.A.R.T. ride.