You may have noticed the lack of entries.

Of course, if you live in the right part of the country, you probably also noticed the Snowpocalypse Now event. I was reasonably lucky–my power was only out overnight Tuesday-Wednesday. On Tuesday night my boss was chasing us out the door barely at five, and we already had drifts over the roads. And for once the college wasn’t fooling around–we were closed by 9pm for Wednesday. Which was just as well. I wouldn’t have gotten out of the driveway on Thursday if it weren’t for the kindness of a stranger with a plow on his pickup, let alone Wednesday morning. The barn apparently is fine, with a tractor to plow out the worst of it. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to get down that way. Today I shoveled another inch that fell last night and am staying inside, making American chop suey in the crock-pot (for the uninitiated, it’s basically a tomato-sauce-like thing with beef that goes with elbow mac, known to some as goulash in the Midwest) and working on jewelry for my Etsy Store, Steampunk Sweethearts. My lovely coworker Tom helped break down a seven-day clockworks and I’ve now got plenty of lovely gears to play with.

To give everyone some idea of what we’re dealing with here in the lake-effect belt:

Climb ev'ry mountain....

I CAN SEE MY HOUSE FROM no, wait, it's the other way.

Lucky’s Looking Spiffy

I was not at all surprised to see everyone inside at the barn today. We’ve had about four days straight of brutal cold, though not as brutal as up my parents’ way (they got a -19 reading the other night) and today there was more snow with a ‘balmy’ 20 degrees.

Don't let the sun fool you.

After being mobbed by cats and greeted by a lot of whinnies (I think some folks had gone through their morning hay and were looking for more) I got Lucky out in the aisle to try on his birthday present:

He has a certain yak-like quality, don’t you think? And the halter does need a bit more oiling, but I chose London Tan because the dark leather just blends in, so it will not get too much darker.

Lucky gets his very own nameplate.

After a good grooming, I walked him in the barn aisle, and for fun, I tried it without a lead (as there was nowhere for him to go except into his own stall. Much to my surprise, at least walking in the closed barn, I can lead him, stop him, and back him without touching him. He does get a little confused by the idea of turning away from me without the lead, but he does it. All without any fancy training, DVDs, ‘join-up’ or analysis of his “horsenality.” Just playing on a bored day. He might just have been bored and looking for something to do, but he did cooperate. And he was quite happy to go back in his stall, where it was warm and dry. I’m sure by now he’s replaced all the straw that I picked out of his tail with new stuff.

Chillin’

At some point, yes, I’m going to the barn. But yesterday, besides work, there were whiteouts on the roads. Today, they still haven’t plowed on my road, and the “high” temperature today was about 20. Since we don’t have an indoor and Lucky resembles a yak at the moment, there wouldn’t be much point in any case.

Tomorrow, however, I’m hoping to get out there, and bring Lucky an early “real” birthday present (his actual foaling date was February 12.)

Here’s a sneak preview:

And thank you for all the good thoughts for Mr. Jet! He seems to be doing much better. Here is a picture after he came home from two nights at the vet, being inspected by Mr. Marcus:

The Grant Memorial by Henry Merwin Shrady

The Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition had an article by Michael F. Bishop about the Grant Memorial at the U.S. Capitol, bemoaning its neglect and regretting how most visitors only pause near the bronze statues of a caisson unit and a cavalry charge to take pictures of the (admittedly imposing) West front of the Capitol.

I read the article and realized: “Oh, THAT’S what those statues with all the horses were about.”

From my June trip to Washington:

His legs are tucked high enough to please George Morris.

So you see, Mr. Bishop, not everyone who stands there is just photographing the Capitol dome from yet another angle. If anything the side groupings are infinitely more interesting than General Grant on Cincinnati at the center.

I will shortly be making prints of these, and other photos (from D.C. and elsewhere, horse-related and not) available as prints on my etsy store, Steampunk Sweethearts. Once the prints are available for purchase, for every sale, $5 (one bale of hay) will be donated to Sunkissed Acres to benefit the new arrivals and the resident herd. And, if someone buys one of the ‘high-ticket’ jewelry items in the main store, I will also make a donation to Sunkissed based on the value of the item. Let’s get those horses fed!

And I am posting from McDonald’s today, enjoying a coffee after a very cold walk-and-a-teeny-trot in the snow (with a McCellan not unlike those on the statues pictured!) Lucky looks increasingly yak-like, and was generally cooperative on the roughly six inches of lake-effect snow on the ground. (Much nicer than at my house, where Tucker the Corgi is swimming in two feet of the stuff! She thinks it’s fun, at any rate. My knotted-up back, from digging out the drive, would disagree profoundly. Puff just likes eating the snow like ice cream.) Lucky was very steady, and surprisingly cooperative despite my leaving the crop in the barn. Most impressively, and I have no idea how he figured this out as it’s certainly not something we practice a lot or even at all recently, he turned in the box of poles without stepping over, and when I asked him to stop in front of a pole and try a sidepass along it, much to my surprise, he did! To the left, it was a fairly pure one, even, and with the snow I could see lovely clean steps.

I suppose I should step up my search for an antique western saddle, meant to fit a high-withered horse. He has more talent for trail and barrels than he’s ever shown for jumping!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

But I went to the barn anyway. Good thing I left early and was not planning to actually ride.

Nor was I planning to precipitate a stampede. In fact, given all four of the herd were at the very far end of their pasture, I was more worried about running the gauntlet in the lanes–Zoey and Dino were out in the lanes, and Zoey assumes that everyone is coming to see him so he gets more than a little personal. I made it past them, and was headed for the far end of the field when J. must have come out to help. P-nut looked up, and two people coming normally means “time to go in!” Now, P-nut is looking much more spry these days (thanks to getting much better feed than he did at his old place) but I didn’t know he could run like that. And, of course, that meant Vandy, Sky, and Lucky had to come charging, too. I probably looked pretty silly swinging the lead at them, but I was not trampled, so that was good. The best part was, when I made it back to the gate, while P-nut was happy to come over for scritches (as P-nut is a very friendly horse) Lucky realized who it was and started walking away again! Fortunately, I had Wint-o-green Lifesavers in my pocket, and Lifesavers have a crinkly wrapper. Yes, Lucky can be bought with crinkles.

We live in the lake-effect snowbelt, and for those who haven’t been watching the weather, we are getting winds and snow. Less snow than last weekend, but the wind is pushing it around. Also, yesterday was rain, so overnight, it all turned to ice. I’m closer to the lake and a tad farther north, so I tend to get more snow than the barn. Still, I had figured it would just be a ‘beauty parlor’ day, and I was right. While J. worked on the stalls, I gave Lucky a scrub with the curry and a little Bath In a Bottle, including picking out all the shavings and straw in his tail. He also was due for a clipping of the bridle path, as it was starting to look more like a mohawk. Yet again, I resisted the urge to give him a crew cut (I think he’d look cute with a roached mane) though J. had to remind him, don’t move when the barber’s working or you get a bad haircut!

Lucky got his first candy cane of the year. I also put candy canes in everyone’s stockings (yes, everyone gets a stocking on their stall door) and found that his pasturemates (ie, their “mom”, C.) had left a bag of horse cookies in Lucky’s. Lucky appreciates his Christmas gift. We tried putting him in his stall instead of trying to fight our way back to the pasture, but he decided to chew on his feed tub bottom. So, J. got the big door and I turned him out in the front paddock, since he obviously wanted to be outside. Where he promptly went and stood in the shelter, which is much less cozy than his stall. But he does set his own agenda.

Sharp-eyed readers of Susan Salk’s blog may have noticed that next week’s edition will feature a certain internet-celebrity thoroughbred! Lucky gets more press than some Derby winners. All to the good, as hopefully Lucky will inspire folks to call on those Finger Lakes’ Finests! It’s down to the wire (no pun intended) at the track, and weather or no, now is the time to buy!

One Year Ago

One year ago this week, Lucky to Cope was in the barn of trainer Jared Schoeneman at Finger Lakes for what he probably thought was a pretty ordinary day. Racing was over for the season, and he was probably just happy he wasn’t going to be working that morning. Horses know their routines so he’d have known that something was up, even if it was a day off.

And then the strange lady with the trailer arrived. She brought a blanket for him, and the trainer put him on with some hay and no other horses. He needed the blanket because he’d never grown much of a winter coat (wintering in Florida, after all) and he was going for a long truck ride, west and south around Lake Erie and about as far as you can go without getting to Chicago. They left early in the morning, and it being December it was already getting dark when they finally found the little private barn some time after five.

Another total stranger came to get him off the trailer. Wherever he’d gone, it was not Florida and it wasn’t a racetrack. The barking dog in the yard didn’t seem to be worth fussing about, and it was dark, so cooperating until he got into the nice warm barn seemed reasonable, too. He stood to have the blanket pulled off, and his evening improved quite a bit when it turned out the people here had peppermints. He had a big stall with straw and a manger full of hay, and there were other horses in the barn. For a horse in a totally new situation, he was sanguine about the whole business.

A year ago, Lucky arrived. I am sure he is quite content that, while we had a nice little ride on Saturday, with a gallop in the field and a scary guy with a chainsaw in the woods (Lucky’s method of dealing with scary is a flicked ear, a slightly lifted head, and the faintest tightening of the back just in case he needs a springing start), today and yesterday were spent with me at home, fighting a rear-guard action against the snow on the porch, trying to get listings for etsy up, baking Christmas cookies, and all-round too snowed in to drive to the barn. Lucky’s idea of an anniversary present? A day off!

And so you can have your own anniversary next year, visit the Finger Lakes Trainer Listings and find a Finest of your own!

End of the Season–Do Your Holiday Shopping Now!

No, not my Etsy store (however, if you would like to buy something, the button is on the right! Click early click often! Lucky eats a lot of peppermints and of course there are the dogs to consider and the cats.) Nor is it time to shop for food. Some of us are still sleeping off the turkey and stuffing coma (the dogs, cats and I were at the parents’ for Thanksgiving, so Lucky got a weekend off.) No, the time to shop for your own Finger Lakes Finest is now!

Yes, there was a confirmed case of EHV1 at Finger Lakes. Please read here for further information. Right now, only one barn is under quarantine, and other barns are shipping horses. Of course, quarantine is always a good idea when bringing in a new horse anyway, so take precautions, but don’t let this stop you from considering a Finest for underneath your Christmas tree! (Well, assuming it’s a really big tree. Outdoors.)

Take March West, for example. Wouldn’t he look nice with a big red bow on? And since we’re all looking for a bargain this time of year, you don’t get any cheaper than free!

And there are plenty more who are now reduced in price, ready to move as the season ends. Lucky is ready for the Christmas season to start, and the snow that comes with it–he’s got a very fuzzy face now. Plus, once the ground is covered in that weird white stuff that looks like sand but is very cold, I can’t do much besides walk and a little careful trotting. Lucky is all in favor of that! Plus, horse Christmas cookies to fill the stockings on the stall doors! Cookies are always a good thing.

Lucky’s One-Year Anniversary

No, as observant readers of the blog will note, not of his coming to live with me. That’s next month. This week was the anniveresary of Lucky’s last start as a racehorse. It was race four on November 5, 2009, a five and a half furlong sprint on the dirt for a $4000 claim tag and $8500 purse forthoroughbreds three and up, non-winners of two this year . Lucky, the 2 horse, did not go off as the longest money in the field (that dubious distinction went to Chilling Judge), but he did carry the lightest impost of 112 lbs, the nearest horses spotting him seven pounds while most of the field gave him twelve. Lucky, according to the equibase.com chart, “saved ground and tired”, finishing ahead of precisely one horse, fellow seven-year-old Roscommon Express (who would go on to be a 2010 Finest himself), who reared and threw his rider.

This Monday, carrying . . . uh, more than 112 pounds and we’ll leave it at that . . . Lucky galloped a slow quarter mile on an otherwise-empty half-mile dirt oval in the middle of the hayfields in Michigan. To his credit, he jogged up and when I turned him around, did a fine leaping start. To his detriment, he blithely ignored repeated requests to swap and went around the turn on the wrong lead. But it’s not like there was anyone to worry about interference. We then went for a long walk in the woods. The trails have been raked, a lot more of the leaves are off the trees, and it’s starting to be more like winter than like fall. Personally, I’m ready for snow. We even had some Friday that stuck until Saturday morning. The previous week, we did a little jumping, though I’m slowing down on that in preparation for winter, when the footing will mean nothing too exciting. He did manage on Sunday to jump an X three times in a row without knocking anything down. Barrels continue to pique his interest, being one surefire way to get a canter out of him (at least on the last barrel–for those familiar, he goes right-left-left, and he very much enjoys digging in on that lasts barrel and at least kind of extending for home.) We also did a long, slow meander around the property one day, including a brief walk on the road itself.

Now, it being the end of the season at Finger Lakes, as it was last year, like Lucky quite a few horses listed are coming down in price or are being added as it’s clear that racing is just not for them. So for those who might like to jump, race barrels, take slow walks through the words, or play jockey on your very own Finest, here are some for consideration–see if you can beat the deal I got ($600, marked down from $1500):

Blue Ridge Guy: I find it hard to believe this handsome gray guy is not only still on the listings, but now with an asking price of $550. Contact (585) 455-8823

I’m Electric: I had an interesting experience riding Dino this weekend. The B.O. was holding him, and I decided to see if I could swing up from the ground (that just doesn’t happen with Lucky.) What a nice feeling, and if you take home I’m Electric for the negotiable price of $500, you can experience it, too. Shorter is sometimes sweeter! Plus, I never dismiss Tri Jet and his sire Olympia in a pedigree, as I’ve had two and they’ve never been a mistake yet. Trainer contact: (585) 313 – 1998

Dewanna Brushon Me: For those who like a pedigree predicting soundness, here is the piece de resistance. The clue is in the name as this is a grandson of the great handicap horse Broad Brush, making him three generations removed from the great Ack Ack, horse of the year and champion older horse (who also carries the highly-desirable sport lines of damsire Turn-To), himself grandson of the iron horse Armageddon. You want a pedigree that says longevity and soundness, a race record that says “I try harder” (73 starts, 7-3-5, $51,000) and a face that says “Take me home and love me”? Look no further. (No, please, don’t, I have no room for another horse. Buy now, save me from myself.) $500. Please call 787-310-3954.

Same Ol’, Same Ol’

While we are not facing the same sort of Snowpocalypse as the East Coast (thank goodness) we did get another snow day on Wednesday. This meant more drifts and today, even though it looked better than the big outdoor, when I walked Lucky around before trying to get on his front feet actually slid forward at one point, and we were both up to our knees. So, I figured that at least the snow would be shallower, and I hadn’t noticed any ice, so we would try the big ring. I mounted from the stump again and this time he stepped off once I was up, so we had a small discussion about standing.

With the snow as deep as it is, I can’t really do much for now but work on very basic basics. Not unsurprisingly, he’s not very clear on leg aids beyond ‘go forward’, and he’s very inverted and above the bit, though he does mouth it and he pays some attention to my hands. The knee-deep snow makes me not sure if his head-up reluctance to go forward is footing, OTTB being an OTTB, bridle fit (I have my doubts and think I need to punch another hole in the cheekpiece), saddle fit, not a fan of the bit (copper dee) or some combination of the above. With snow up to his knees, and no real desire to get him at all warm under the saddle, I’m not going to push it. So we worked on turning, stopping and standing, and getting him to drop his nose as much as possible. He’s heavy in front, which isn’t surprising, and as I said, the legs are just kind of there as far as he’s concerned. But except for a dancy bit at the end, he was willing, by and large, to stop playing lookie-lou and at least walk and circle. It starting snowing again and the wind was picking up, so I hopped down and took him back to the barn, with a little walking on the plowed area by the door.

When we got back to the crossties we had one of those nice moments only other horse people get. When I went to start unbuckling the bridle Lucky decided to just put his chin on my shoulder and rest it there, for no apparent reason. For all I know he was just tired, but I’d like to think it means he likes me.

My dogs, meanwhile, probably hate me. Tucker, as I may have mentioned, has some pudge problems. Puff, meanwhile, is ten years old and could use the exercise. We have adopted the diet and exercise plan I like to call the Bataan Dog March. I’m shooting for a minimum of 2 miles a day, with 4-5 on days when I have more time. So we just got back from yet another long walk on country roads. Adding insult to injury, I washed their dog beds, which I’m sure they thought were all nice and stinky. I’m such a mean dog mommy.

I wish *I* could have a massage….

But the BO’s friend does animals, not people. So hopefully tomorrow Lucky will be getting a nice massage. Which will be good, because today he felt tight up under the saddle and generally stiff.

Yep–under the saddle! I decided to just tack up, get up, and see what he did, or at least what we could do given the snow still on the ground. (We’re supposed to get a little more tonight, though nothing like what the poor East Coast is getting! Which is fine, we already did the “eighteen inches in two hours” thing in December.) So I did. Lucky stood perfectly well for mounting, from the stump, and from the block, and even for an abortive attempt to mount from the ground. I can, in fact, get my left foot into the stirrup, but the bounce off the right? Not so much. Especially not in jeans and hiking boots. Maybe in breeches and tall boots, without a heavy wool coat, and with more long walks with the dogs to build up my legs.

Lucky will go forward. For the moment, that is about all. At the moment, he’s the quintessential inverted OTTB, with his head up high enough I don’t have any contact with the bit (and when I do it looks like I’m going to have to punch another hole in the cheek pieces–it’s a bridle for a horse, he’s a full-size horse, but I swear I’m going to have to go down to a cob) and he is definitely vague on what the leg aids mean. On the positive side, he does go forward, he is aware of the bit and legs even if he’s not entirely sure what I’m talking about with them, he will stop and back a couple steps, and his primary means of protest seem to be stopping. I took him into the round pen after a little fooling in the outdoor, and we did a couple circuits in both directions. Priority number one is going to be installing power steering, I think, but considering the lousy footing, cold weather, and almost three months off, I’d say we’re doing just fine.

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