Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's too darn hot

The dog days of summer seem to have arrived bringing tropical weather and stormy skies. Harley and the girls stomp and swish away the flies, dropping weight in the process. Thunderstorms stalk us, leaving little room for riding. But the urge to throw a leg over Harley and ride off into the steamy woods, hounded by deer flies holds little appeal. This is the time of year when I can't wait for September.

Last week, before the monsoon season hit, we went for a very brief, fast morning ride. In an attempt to stay ahead of the bugs, we trotted and cantered wherever footing allowed. Harley pushed into a higher gear, not quite a gallop, in his zeal to stay caught up with Rolex.

When they get into "racing mode" in the woods, things can get dicey, especially when we're headed home. A couple of hemlock branches skimmed my helmet as Harley surged forward, reminding me why a lacrosse helmet might be a better choice for trail riding!

Rolex, feeling full of herself, decided to throw in a couple of little bucks. Poor John, riding Rolex in a halter with perlon (climbing rope) reins, said the rope just slid through his hands. I think it might be time to get his Dr.Cook's bridle repaired! It's bad enough to have no brakes in the bitless bridle, but even worse with a halter and rope burns!

I think Harley and Rolex had a good time--a chance to stretch their legs and escape the monotony of fighting off biting flies. But once we bathed the horses, the horse flies descended like Apache helicopters, closing in on their targets. And boy, are those guys resilient! They need a stunning smack followed by a crushing boot heel! It seems they appear out of nowhere as soon as the hose starts to run. After their baths, the horses enjoyed a good nosh on some exceptionally tender clover, followed by a snooze in the cool, dark of their stalls with blowing fans. Ahhh----now that feels good!

Harley sneaks in some bites from a fresh hay bale
We're on the hunt for some alfalfa or alfalfa blend hay. John is trying to wean them off feed and keep the horses on a forage diet, supplemented by a balancer, rice bran, flax seed, and beet pulp. They seem to be doing well on this plan. The hardest part is finding really, really good hay. We have a couple of leads and hopefully, we can track down a steady supplier.

I read a number of blogs, and follow a number of OTTB groups. Many of my fellow bloggers are recreational horse people like myself. Some are much more intense in their desire to compete, and to attain a certain level. And though I may have mental images of riding Harley in a show (someday), chances are slim that we'll ever enter a show ring. I know I don't work hard enough in that direction--either with myself or Harley--but I'm having so much fun with him, it really doesn't matter. I accept his shortcomings as I hope he accepts mine, although I try to improve my horsemanship each time I ride.

I recently read a piece on the Retired Racehorse Project website about a woman and her OTTB Schmoopy. She's happy at the level she's reached with her horse, and happy just to have him in her life. Her love for her horse shines through in the self-deprecating descriptions of her riding, his shortcomings, and his shining strengths. Kudos to Malinda Lawrence!

1 comment:

  1. We've been lucky with the flies so far. It's been quite windy which keeps them at bay. But now we're heading into August, it's time for high temps and heavy weather. Poor Aero has a few lumps already, despite wearing his fancy zebra rug. They spend the day standing in line with their two field companions, swishing tails and stamping.
    Poor guys.


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