Another Day At The Farm

Puff has a nap.  Waiting for me to finish cleaning the barn is boring.

Puff has a nap. Waiting for me to finish cleaning the barn is boring.

The mighty black panther stalks the yard.

The mighty black panther stalks the yard.

It's a hole, it's a hole it's a hole oh boy oh boy it's a hole...

It’s a hole, it’s a hole it’s a hole oh boy oh boy it’s a hole…

Where to next?

Where to next?


It's a hole.

It’s a hole.

IT'S A HOLE.

IT’S A HOLE.

OMYGOD MOST INTERESTING HOLE EVER.

OMYGOD MOST INTERESTING HOLE EVER.

It's a cave!

It’s a cave!

Nope, just another hole.

Nope, just another hole.

Grazing without a shower for a change.  (Yes, the dark on the ground is divots of dirt from the wet ground being chewed up.)  Look at that shiny copper penny coat.

Grazing without a shower for a change. (Yes, the dark on the ground is divots of dirt from the wet ground being chewed up.) Look at that shiny copper penny coat.

Lucky's new haircut.  Shows off his neck.

Lucky’s new haircut. Shows off his neck.

Guess who had a walk around in a circle with a saddle on his back? Yep, Tice, that’s who. He appears to need a 48 girth, which is mostly what I wanted to know. He behaved quite well putting it on (a Crosby PDN with a foam riser and fleece pad), actually, and walking a quick circuit outside with just a chain lead and halter, but decided to try fussing in the cross ties. Backing up until we decided to stand seems to work, though. Lucky may get some exercise later–Mr. R’s son, who’s been helping clean the barn when I’m not here (Mr. R started doing it while Dad was in the hospital) has a half-day and might be able to come and try riding. For all the stuff he’s shoveled, he’s earned it. If they can’t come today, I may just tool around a bit. The ground’s still soft so nothing exciting. Any time the rain wants to give it up would be fine with me.

What is this green stuff which grows on the ground?!?

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Yes, it’s going to be a fuzzy, fuzzy week as all the fluff comes off, but yes, there is GROUND!  With GRASS!  And yes, we may finally have fed Tice enough that he is not skinny.  (He still is a bottomless pit, though.  U-gard and SmartCalm Ultra have not taken the edge off an appetite that makes Cookie Monster look abstemious.)

Also, Lucky and Tice wish to congratulate their mutual “cousin” CALIFORNIA CHROME on his dominating victory in the Kentucky Derby.  (Tice is related via A.P. Indy, sire of Pulpit and Tice, while both Lucky and Chrome have Olympia in their fifth generations, in Chrome’s case through Lucky Pulpit’s dam.  Though Lucky, being triple linebred, shows a lot more of that sprinter style.)

First Day Out!

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Not enough fly spray in the western hemisphere, but we try.

Not enough fly spray in the western hemisphere, but we try.

Coming out!  (Thursday provides an escort.)

Coming out! (Thursday provides an escort.)

Thursday is an expert at photobombs.

Thursday is an expert at photobombs.

You can see Lucky was very excited.

You can see Lucky was very excited.

Whee!

Whee!

Maybe a little excited.

Maybe a little excited.

We're not getting back in the truck, are we?

We’re not getting back in the truck, are we?

Exploring the hill.  And the shade-it's hot and muggy today.

Exploring the hill. And the shade-it’s hot and muggy today.

Finding the good rolling spot is critical.

Finding the good rolling spot is critical.

But eventually the most interesting thing is the grass.

But eventually the most interesting thing is the grass.

It’s a hot and muggy day as the dogs would attest if dogs could type, though not so hot Tucker didn’t grab her chance to run after a rabbit on the road (Dad stepped on her leash before she could keep going into the swamp.) Right now, Lucky and Tice seem most interested in the hay under the lean-to and hoping that someone might think about letting them back into the barn. (No, horses. Go eat more grass.) They’ve been fly sprayed to the hilt, but some of the flies aren’t convinced.

However, we're trying some all-natural fly control...

However, we’re trying some all-natural fly control…

Getting Down to Work

As much as not having ridden much in months and the weather allows, of course. For the observant, yes, we’re riding in the corral, because there basically isn’t anywhere else except the field, and for his first ride here, I’d rather stick to inside the fence. (Yes, safety mavens, the fence is off.)

We have an escort. Actually he’s just looking for an excuse to hang out under the corn crib where the skunk lived.

Pardon my sweats but it’s 93 and it’s not like we’re jumping.

Despite a brief pause to fuss over the tractor and cutter in the field, not that he hadn’t been staring at it all day, he did pretty well. Even cantering, not for long, true, but he managed to get the lead both ways and held it through a half-circle. We also went up the hill behind the barn, which was fortunately not at all exciting.

Since he worked SO HARD (in his mind) he got a Vetrolin bath and a special treat:

“See? CLEARLY, I worked. I wouldn’t get a poultice otherwise. Obviously I am in intense work. More peppermints.”

Yeah, he probably didn’t work THAT hard, but pampering never hurt anyone. In any case it’ll keep the flies off his legs.

The Heat Goes On

It’s hard to express how a drought feels to people who haven’t been in one. It’s even harder when you’re in an area not known for a shortage of water. But here we are. The ground is now rock-hard, and the grass has turned brittle yellow. So far, my garden survives thanks to the hose and judicious watering morning and night, and one squash plant even has a blossom. I’m watering the puddle in the driveway, even, to the benefit of the swallows nesting in my open shed and the wasps who are looking for mud daubs. The dogs refuse to walk for any length of time, between the heat and the deer flies, and we encountered a box turtle (a land-dwelling species, but everyone needs to drink) making a long journey across the neighbor’s field. The crops are in trouble again–the fruit farmers are already doomed, as the summerlike temperatures in March caused things to bloom early, and be wiped out when normalcy reasserted itself in April and the hard frosts hit. Now the corn and soybean fields have irrigation systems going constantly.

At the barn, finding a patch of grass that’s actually green is a challenge. The clover flowers are all turning prematurely brown. Everyone’s hooves are dried and Lucky’s that has the split looks worse. They all stomp, constantly, because of the flies, and they don’t want to move too much because of the heat. I went out Sunday morning, earlier than I normally would, hoping to maybe lunge a bit, but wound up simply bringing him in, grooming, and giving him a bath. Maybe the tea tree shampoo from Finish Line will add that astringent cooling factor and feel better than just a bath. I didn’t even feel bad when he immediately rolled-dirt is just one more layer for the bugs to punch through. The heat on Saturday was oppressive in a way that’s hard to describe-not humid, not especially dry, but intense and constant and inescapable.

Today we lunged, briefly, and I remembered I had oil-based wipe on fly repellent. I swear, at one point in the crossties, when he couldn’t reach around, Lucky actually presented his hip so I could smack the horsefly chomping on him. He was cooperative, for him, on the lunge, though I kept it to walk, a bit of trot, walk, reverse and repeat. Today the weather wasn’t as hot, but there was just enough humidity to taunt. It was overcast when I arrived and while we worked, but by the time I left the sun was out and the promising clouds were gone. All day, the weather taunted me. I think I even heard thunder this evening, but Puff remains calm and the ground is still dry. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing dark clouds pass by and wishing it would rain, and then they pass by.

(Yes, I saw the Belmont anyway. I didn’t really care who won, still not a fan of Union Rags, and still want to know what on EARTH Guyana Star Dweej was doing in that race.)

“He Was Something Like a Racehorse Undersized”


He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die -
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

Or not, precisely. But at the BO’s suggestion we tried her Australian saddle on Lucky today. This is the first saddle I’ve ever put on him where he genuinely looked a little bug-eyed at the bulk of the saddle. That, or the size of the flaps, which go very far back over his flank compared to the PDN or the McClellan. I was surprised by how heavy it was-it’s been a long time since I’ve hefted anything bigger than a synthetic western onto a 15hh horse (Lucky never feels so much taller than Dino and Takota to me, but then I had to get the saddle UP.)

He walked out okay, so I figured I might as well try it. I think, ultimately, Lucky was more comfortable with the saddle than I was. I’ve sat in it before on Trudy (the resident red-headed mare) and didn’t really like the feel of having those “fenders” for lack of a better word almost over my thighs–it had the unnerving feeling of being strapped in. Actually riding out in it, I had the strangest sense of being in a saddle midway between a dressage saddle and stock seat. My butt thought it needed to be back on my pockets, but my legs couldn’t quite line up with that. I wound up in a sort of half-forward seat, never quite adjusted comfortably. I also forgot my crop, and with that much leather between my leg and his side I could barely get my heels on. Of course, this was pretty much fine by Lucky! For all it was cold and windy he was generally all right, though he had a very looky moment at a flyaway sheet of newspaper. He also definitely remembers turning around barrels, and considers an upended bucket and acceptable substitute (tomorrow I might get the barrels off the cart where they were moved for winter storage.)

I didn’t ride for too long. I don’t think the saddle was heavy enough to be dangerous for him, but it just wasn’t comfortable for me! Lucky did his best falling-asleep-underneath-you impression while I stopped to talk to P-Nut, Vandy and Sky’s owners as they were going out to the pasture. Of course, that might have been a hangover, as the dentist was out yesterday and everyone (except poor old P-Nut, who’d been done by the vet the day before along with that ‘delicate’ cleaning some geldings need sedating for) had their teeth done with the help of a few ccs of Xylazine. Lucky’s teeth, by the way, are quite nice, and at the floater’s request I passed along the name of the dentist who did the major work on him for future referrals (as this dentist doesn’t do serious power-tool fixes as Lucky required last year and was happy to have someone to call.) The day before that, the vet was out for spring shots and Coggins, so if we want to go anywhere he’ll be legal! All we need is a trailer and somewhere to go. I’m starting to think it might be good to find a schooling show and simply go for the experience, even if I end up not riding, just so he gets the idea of traveling being something routine.

We did take a walk in the hayfield after I unsaddled him (and found the Aussie saddle is almost as tricky to get OUT of as it is to get on him, and lifting it off his back, rather than dragging it over, was another reminder of how tall he is!) I thought about a walk in the woods, but he preferred someplace he could snack as he went along. And anyway, with the wind, I wouldn’t be surprised if a tree came down on us. Lucky had the pasture all to himself when I left, as his three buddies were all getting their turn being ridden (or tagging along after his girlfriend, in P-nut’s case–he’s touchingly devoted).) When I got home I found one of my sheds with the doors banging open and my plastic watering can I’d left on the bench by my door halfway across the yard. The trash bin was also on its side, but then for all it weighs when I’m having to drag it to the road it seems to blow over if there’s just a stiff breeze! The dogs got an extra-long walk, wind or no wind, as the rain passed us by and the rumored s-n-o-w seems to have also given us a miss (lucky us). I think I have succeeded in wearing them out (as I got up for a bowl of cereal while writing this and Tucker, who is firmly in the ’round is a shape’ camp and never misses a chance at food barely even looked up.) I just wish wearing them out didn’t involve wearing me out!

Going for a Run

Lucky might be reluctant to work, but he knows what he’s supposed to do when he’s asked. It was bright and sunny and freezing cold (and he is still fat and less than enthusiastic about getting going) so I opened the gates and we went out. The woods are particularly noisy right now–all the dry, dead, leaves, down branches (alas, our big jump log has been chopped up for firewood), squirrels and chipmunks and birds, new growth on raspberry and rose vines sticking out. Lucky was on the alert side, but we kept it fairly short and he stayed cool. Out on the track, I’m not sure who was in worse shape, him or me, but in fairness to me he wanted to stop trotting before I would have NEEDED to stop posting. In fairness to him, I was close to getting left behind when I turned him around at the top of the stretch and he assumed it was time to gallop. The second try was a bit smoother, though he insisted on walking into that one.

Strange as it sounds, I think he might have needed that. Maybe a sprint was good for stretching out the winter kinks because in the ring, he was a lot more cooperative about the trot than he was Saturday. Despite the kefuffle going on in the paddock next door. We have a guest horse, who’s living here while his owner finishes building a barn, and he and Takota were busy chasing each other and playing the ‘got your halter’ game while sorting out who is boss. (Answer: Vandy and Trudy, but that’s why they’re in other pens. Don’t argue with the redheaded mares.) Lucky’s canter was increasingly less awkward, and we managed three times over the poles and crossrail without knocking anything down. On the third try, he even cantered off on the correct (left) lead. Not easy on him, as turning left requires going downhill, but he managed! He even worked up an actual sweat (though there’s still a lot of fuzz going on, which didn’t help) that required real rubbing down after walking. Of course, given winter coats, the girth mark will magically reappear later, but he appreciated the extra attention, including a liniment rubdown.

So, lesson of the day, if you want a happy, forward TB, try and breeze a quarter (or a furlong) first.

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