Sunday, June 22, 2014

Happy Solstice!

Happy solstice to my fellow bloggers. Aren't the long evenings just wonderful? We didn't leave the barn until after 8:00 last night, and the skyline treated us to a lovely sunset. These are the nights we crave long about February when the winds howl and snow piles up to our ears!

We had a fun time messing around with the horses Saturday evening. I think Harley's personality is revealing itself more each year. With his herd of girls, and a relaxed lifestyle, I think he's happy; happy to not be at the track any longer, happy to not be school horse, pounding around a ring, and happy to have room to run--when he's in the mood. Here he is, stealing John's baseball cap. "What, no carrots in your pocket? Well here's the next best thing. Gimme that!"

"Ha, that was fun, maybe I'll do it again! What do you think, Ruffy? Want to try?"

Today I took Harley on a solo ride. Everything was going well, aside from the occasional start at a squirrel, until we reached the road to North Point. I'm not sure if he was scared of the non-visible barking dog, or the woman working in the yard. But whatever it was, he pulled his head up like a giraffe and would not budge except in reverse! Then a large horse trailer and pickup appeared. The driver saw my dancing horse and slowed down, giving me time to get Harley out of the road. I jumped off and waved her on--I didn't want to hold her up. She asked me, "Do you board here?" I told her, "No, he's just scared of something up there and wants to go home."

After a number of hard stares, Mr. Spookypants found the gumption to follow me down the road, past all the scary stuff until I could find a stump for a mounting block. We had a lovely rest of the ride with some nice trotting, a little cantering, and a wee jump. Oh, and he missed the deer off to his left--silly guy! Here's a short video clip

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Crazy busy days

Summer is upon us with long daylight hours but still not enough for all I need to get done. As we struggle to find a property with enough land for our horses, I'm trying to finish painting the remaining bedroom and go through years of accumulated junk! It seems every place we look at needs a ton of work, or overpriced. I don't need anything fancy, but I would like to have a barn that's not on stilts (rotted posts, rock piles--we've seen it all) and a house that's not crumbling! We're trying to do everything on a budget to save up, but as everyone knows, the rising costs of food, fuel, etc. is turning me into quite the penny pincher!

The horses need to help save too, so I copied someone's idea (sorry, can't remember where I saw this) of using trash barrels as hay feeders. Less gets wasted on the ground and it remains dry--a win-win for us and the horses. We need to perfect the lid ensembles, but the wheelie bins (love the British term) allow multiple feeding stations and seem a lot safer than many other feeder products on the market, most using metal, are tippy and trappy--potential disasters with horses. The horses were a bit wary at first--big black obstacles along the fence line, but they quickly figured out the system, although Rolex prefers the lids off so she can submerge her head in the hay! As you can see, some dribbles out onto the ground, but overall, these are working quite well. Oh, and wheelie bins are MUCH cheaper than feeders!

Harley has been his predictable self--a star when he gets worked consistently, and spooky when he goes too long without solo rides. But I know what to expect at this point in our journey together. But he did catch me off guard last week. We scrambled up the power line trail and just as we crested the slope, a HUGE red-tailed hawk flew up out of the tree overhead. I was leaning forward to get under a branch and off his back on the slope--a notoriously precarious position for me! The bird started both of us, but he whirled left and I went over his shoulder, yet again. Thankfully it was a soft landing. Back in the saddle, he jigged and pranced along, expecting giant raptors and dinosaurs to jump out around every corner! Self-preservation is Harley's top priority. If he were a mustang, he would be a survivor--flee from all predators, preferably at speed! Riding at dusk always proves interesting.

Sunday's ride was lovely--early enough to beat the worst of the bugs and pretty dappled sunlight through the trees. Riding past the Littlefield burying ground, we spotted a flag by a headstone, possibly marking a soldier from a past war.

We encountered one lone turkey hen, bustling through the woods, and a group of hikers. Not too many people out on Father's Day. I'd like to have taken my Dad out for brunch some place, then puttered around with him on our potential farm--maybe next year, if we find a place. Just as we rode past the house with domestic turkeys and chickens galore, a horse and rider approached from up the road. I saw her before Harley! He stopped dead, head up like a giraffe. "Who's this? Do I know that horse?" I chatted with the rider, swapped trail tales, and we headed off in opposite directions, Harley cranking his head around to watch her ride away.

Back home, Harley was welcomed home by the girls. With a lot of sniffing, swapping stories via their noses, Rolex and Ruffy checked out Harley, probably smelling the other horse he'd encountered. I'd love to know what they are "saying" to each other.

Our resident baby phoebes appear to be outgrowing their little nest in the barn. While the parents were out hunting, I stepped up to take a picture of them! One day they're just little featherless blobs, and suddenly they're nearly the size of their parents. I'll welcome a few more bug-eaters to the barn!