Sunday, February 24, 2013

Another snowy Sunday

I'm getting antsy--no riding, no skiing, only a little snowshoeing, which is so slow compared to gliding over snow on skis. But my sternum is much better and I get the right hand fixed on Thursday. The carpal tunnel has been getting progressively worse this past month making mucking a painful chore. I'll be so happy to have all my parts fit and functioning again!

Here are Harley, watching as usual, Rolex, and Ruffy enjoying some time in the snowy world outside the barn. It was an extremely wet snow, so after a few hours, they were ready to come in and have a little snack--some alfalfa dengie, and of course, carrots.

Rolex, ever the entertaining girl that she is, decided to nibble at the snow along the fence. She's got such a contented look on her face, you'd think it was sugar. Such a silly girl.

And this was our drive to the barn. By the time we headed home, there were a few more inches of snow on the road and many saplings leaning out into the roadway. Yippeee for 4WD!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A blustery day at the barn

With a sub-zero wind chill, John and I bundled up and blanketed the ponies before venturing outside. Of course, the horses couldn't wait to be turned free, spinning away with kicks, bucks, and crowhops. John rode the hay sled down the hill, much to Rolex's glee--she loves to follow it and then see what's good to eat on board. Our gamey little girl had the gang running.

Harley led the charge down the hill, but once the hay sled arrived, he let Rolex take the lead. Here he is, trying to catch up to the girls. The wind scoured a lot of the loose snow in places leaving crusty spots, so it isn't all nice fluffy powder. Vance, not sure what the fuss was, and spooked by the sled, ambled down at a walk, but then reminded everyone who's boss as he went from one hay pile to the next, chasing all of them away. Poor Harley, back to being 2nd in the pecking order!

We dispersed the hay down in the bottom corner of the field by the fence line. Here, the horses can enjoy the sun's warmth and be out of the wind. In fact, I think this is the place where they spend most of their time, judging by the scratchings in the snow. Little clumps of dried grass have been pawed free of snow and munched on. Won't they be happy in another couple of months when things really green up! But before that, we need to finish picking up the slash left by the loggers. I mad a lot of headway before the blizzard, but we need to get the tractor down down in the field to move the piles all together for a big burn. Maybe we can reseed the area torn up by the trucks and skidders too. If it's not seeded, it may not come back very well. We'll have to put the horses in the other pasture so it doesn't get churned to mud this spring. Here I am talking of spring and we haven't even finished maple syrup season yet! But the trees are tapped and we've got our first run waiting to boil.

Since John wasn't inclined to ride, and I'm giving myself a full month to recoup, we trotted off to Lowes for fencing boards and then to Tractor Supply for reduce priced busted bags of wood pellets. Our farrier suggest this--use the pellets where they pee to save on shavings. The pellets absorb much better. Harley is the guinea pig--we'll see how it works in his stall before using them in the others.

John on the tundra
Ruffy's birthday was on Sunday--she's officially six now. Our pretty girl is looking healthy and shaggy. She's grown some nice new feet since we've had her, a testament to John's feeding regimen. And Rolex no longer backs into the stall when you walk by. She was extremely head shy at first. Now she sticks her head out and snuffles your hands and pockets looking for treats. Both our girls seem very happy. Harley, well he's still a work in progress, is Mr Chickenpants. He's happy with his girls, but I think he's a horse that is easily stressed. He can be a handful, and even be pokey at times, yet I've got hopes for him. He's landed in a good spot, regardless of what we accomplish, and I think he knows it. When he's snugged up inside on a cold winter night, he'll rest his nose in the crook of my neck, tickling me with his soft breath. I wonder what's going through his mind.

The winds sounds like it may lift off the barn roof tonight. I rub behind Harley's ears and say, "It's, O.K." then give him a kiss goodnight on his velvety nose.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A herd of four...the gang loses a friend

Harley, Vance, Ruffy, and Rolex--the new herd

Last Monday, Gator was put down. He was 32 years old and certainly lived a good long life, 14 of those years along side Pete's retired Standardbred, Vance.  Thankfully, the herd dynamics are such that Vance blended right in with our three comfortably. He is, after all, top dog and before we had the girls, was turned out with Harley. Vance was off his feed a bit for a few days, missing his buddy across the aisle, but he seems to be doing just fine. From what I heard, when Gator was buried, Harley ran down along the fence line. When the excavator came through their pasture, all the horses trotted along behind, almost like a funeral procession, with Rolex leading.

Dinner time!
More snow today, along with high winds kept us off the horses. I'd toyed with the idea of getting back in the saddle, but maybe a windy winter day would not be the best choice. The snow finally quit by mid-afternoon, but the wind only increased, rattling the barn doors and sending snow in between any available chink in the barn. With cold temperatures coming on, the horses didn't think twice about coming up the hill for dinner. Once I came through the gate, I was marauded by poking noses seeking treats in my pockets. No one was happy that I only had a camera!

Hey Ma, where are the carrots? Can we come inside now?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

After the blizzard fun

Harley having some fun
With bright sun glittering on the fresh snow, we let the horses out to kick up their heels. Such exuberance and joy as they crow-hopped, bucked, reared, dashed around, and jumped the snow bank created by the tractor in their pasture. We needed to clear some snow just to unearth the buried water trough. Our farrier was scheduled to come today, so we wanted to be sure everyone burned off some steam so they wouldn't be all antsy for him.

As they circled around the top of the paddock, jumping the snowbank (self-schooling as John called it), I just kept clicking, taking shot after shot of their antics.

Even old Vance was feeling good and showing us some of his winning Standarbred trot as he went back and forth along the fence line, stretching his legs. This is what happens when you coop up ex-racehorses for a day and a half!
Let 'em go, stand back, and watch the show.

Ruffy and Rolex self-schooling over the snowbank.
Harley and Ruffy running with Vance, Gator having a roll and getting stuck
While everyone else was having a good workout, 32 year-old Gator decided to have a good roll, but got stuck. When this happens, it's all hands on deck to dig the poor fellow out. We finally got him back on his feet,  and up the hill to plowed area so he wouldn't have to wallow in such deep snow. 

Then it was time to give Harley his pre-farrier workout. He can be a real handful after being shut in so long with no exercise. So to make things easier for Butch, John gave him a real workout--4 gallops up the field through the snow! At first, he thought he'd go bareback. I questioned the sanity in that since Harley was already sidestepping and he wasn't even mounted yet. John went back for the saddle, but stuck with the halter and lead rope. Hang on, John!

First go--Halawa Moon heads for the hills, and John has no brakes!
Thundering Harley
 Meanwhile, the girls watched from above, but didn't make any moves to join in on the fun.

Whatcha doin', Harley?

Butch arrived, with half of his corgi collection. They are cute fuzzballs that stay right in the truck, even with the doors hanging open. I think they need to be lifted down with such short legs.

Everyone got a manicure and Ruffy had her front shoes re-set. She's happy to have snow-popping pads and borium! It's the equivalent of crampons for horses, I think. The other two are staying barefoot until spring.

Then John got on Ruffy and took her for a little adventure down to Orris Falls, but no water crossing! He said she gave him some nice trots and canters and behaved herself, even when she came upon snowshoers. Rolex was next in line for a workout--another jaunt down to Orris Falls and down the power line. Little Miss Steady was actually kind of slow--dawdling along, sniffing things, eating oak leaves, enjoying the scenery. She'd had her workout earlier, leaping the snowbank!

I decided to go for a tromp on the snowshoes and see what I could see--lots of great patterns in the snow drifts, animal tracks galore, and snow doughnuts rolling down the hillside.

And here's a big belly-deep snow drift along the fence line, yet the snow was scoured away right next to it--amazing wind sculptures everywhere.

And, my favorite, a giant snow doughnut, about the size of a grapefruit, that rolled down the hill towards me, getting larger with each rotation. The snow and temperature were perfect for these to form.

I missed not getting in any riding, skiing, or skijoring. But my sternum is healing. I still get sore if I do too much, but it's making progress. I've got to be good and not rush the healing process. Snowshoeing can't compare to gliding on skis, but I can't take the risk of splatting in the snow. So I'm sitting out the best snowstorm we've had in two years--damn! I just keep telling myself to be patient, spring promises great riding, AND I just received my calendar for this year's S.M.A.R.T. rides. The first one is in May--get ready, Harley!

One more picture: the  barn entrance after the tractor made a tunnel in!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A little Halawa Moon history

While I'm waiting out the storm,  I'm catching up on some desk work. I ordered a few photos of Halawa Moon back in his youth in the winner's circle at Suffolk Downs a number of months ago. I'm finally getting around to posting them on the blog. And now I have some new wallpaper for my computer.

After tracking down the photographer, thanks to some discussion boards at the Chronicle of the Horse, I contacted Chip Bott who kindly looked through his archives and located Harley's four moments of glory at Suffolk Downs.

Halawa Moon as a 3 year old winning at Suffolk Downs - Photo by Chip Bott
There's my boy, going as fast as he could as a youngster. I think he likes the slower pace of life on the farm in Maine. He only has to go fast when he wants, and when the girls stir him up.

As a 2 year old at Suffolk Downs - photo by Chip Bott
Certainly not the fastest boy in his day, but he gave it his all in typical Thoroughbred fashion. Now Mr. Knobby Knees lives the life of luxury, dosed with carrots instead of bute, and spending most of his time in a big field. I'm not sure if he thinks trail riding is such a good idea (Mr. Chicken), but it's where we spend a majority of our time. He doesn't know it yet, but once I'm all healed up and the ring is clear, we ARE going to do some gymnastic work. It will be good for both of us, Harley, trust me!

Snowed in

No roof clearing needed, thanks to the wind.
Yup, it's a blizzard alright. We've got an average of 24 inches, at least knee deep and up to my waist by the garage. I tried to help shovel, but can't do a lot without it hurting. Poor John needed to get to work, and I had to get out to the barn, so we asked our neighbor if we could use his snow blower. He kindly came over and did us before he even had his own drive done. He received a quart of our own maple syrup for saving the day!

I'm sure John will have a dull day waiting for customers who may never get there, but I applaud him for making the effort and showing up. And after all that, he wasn't needed until 1 p.m. So we made a quick trek out to the barn to check on everyone. All wanted to go out, but I think I'm going to wait until the storm subsides more and the wind abates. Swirling snow devils bring out the twisting, snorting dragons lurking in the bodies of our horses! Many of the back roads are still single tracks with mounds of snow in the roadway from plows and snow blowers, in addition to drifts blowing in from fields. We gave the stalls a quick pick, and fed the horses a beet pulp mash to keep them happy until dinner. John and I will head back out when he gets home from work to give them the once over and a thorough stall cleaning. Our farrier is supposed to come tomorrow--hmmm-- I expect to get a message that he is still digging out.

High snow line on the door where we shoveled out

Saturday, February 2, 2013

So bored, I'm picking up sticks

The worst part about an injury is the eternal waiting. Yes, there's pain, but I'm already sick of waiting to heal and it's only been about 2 weeks. I also feel guilty throwing so much work at John--all the mucking, the lifting, the lugging, and riding--which includes working a certain bay gelding with an attitude!

So while John mucked stalls before going to work, I went out and picked up sticks--all those limbs, twigs, and branches left by the loggers. I've got a little window of opportunity before the next snow storm comes to get things cleaned up! While I gathered wood, the girls tried to stir things up. Ruffy and Rolex bucked, reared, crow-hopped while Harley nibbled on grass. As you can see, Harley is not sure if he wants to play this game!

 Then I pulled carrots out of my pockets and the girls mobbed me like crows after freshly flattened squirrel. Rolex trotted up to me, nostrils flared, snorting, thinking this might be a fun facet to her game--get a treat and then run away and kick up her heels some more. Ruffy enjoyed the activity as well. They had been stabled the previous day due to downpours and were ready to blow off some steam. When I led Harley out, he let out a little squeal of joy before I got the halter off of him, as if to say, "At last, we can go outside!"

So I gathered wood until my chest hurt, probably not a good thing, and enjoyed watching our horses play. They are in such good shape this year, we've been able to get away without blanketing them except during the coldest temperatures. They're nice and fuzzy and appear to be holding their weight--always a challenge with thoroughbreds! Of course, all that alfalfa dengie and beet pulp have helped.

Look at that nice trot! All four feet off the ground as Rolex prances around the pasture. Our Little Miss Marquetry girl is strutting her stuff.