Room For One More?

So there’s an empty stall at the barn. And the B.O. asks me on occasion, “Found your second horse yet?” In the winter time, when weather and lack of daylight make it hard to deal with one horse in any detail, it’s easy to brush it off. The days are getting longer, though, and the snow’s melting enough to make riding faster than a walk feasible, and there is that empty stall, which is of course begging to be filled. And when it’s Sunday, and there’s really no need to rush, and Lucky’s only fit enough for twenty minutes (that grass verge in the big ring is on an incline, so we’re doing some incline training–he should just be happy it’s not any steeper) it feels like there’s plenty of time. Though I’m not sure I could survive being buried in that much more horse hair. The yak is shedding out, and his mane is getting long, though I gave him a racing clip for the bridle path last week. (Yes, I like the look when it’s half down the neck, so sue me.) Though looking at Clancy’s horse in “The Man From Snowy River” tonight I still keep thinking I ought to just roach the whole thing. He won’t care and if I don’t like it, it will grow back. Plenty of time for that.

There’s also plenty of horses for window-shopping. For some reason (probably the price), I found myself looking at this one last night. Someone, please tell me I have not been drinking the racing Kool-Aid and that horse actually is fat? I mean, I opened the link and my reaction was “Fattie fattie two-by-four, can’t get through the feed room door.” Yet, I find him oddly appealing. Partially, I”m sure because he’s a chestnut. No more bays, really. I swear. At least no more totally unmarked bays with no white on them.

And of course, there is always craigslist. Though I have to admit, some of the people around here have somewhat optimistic appraisals of what their “could be finished for anything you want!” horse. Not a lot of total freebies, though there are some that tug at you. Like this guy, who at twenty might still have get up and go, but really, people. Or, up near my parents you have the could-be-worses, the reasonably-priced, and the…what now?

Gold star, though to this ad. I think that is first craigslist ad I’ve ever seen that references HYPP status (and N/N to boot.)

And on craigslist, there’s also the ducks. I’m trying to keep myself out of Tractor Supply until chicks-and-ducks-time is over, but the prices on craigslist always seem so reasonable . . . and the fat corgi does need something to herd. Besides the cats, anyway.

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!

Lucky’s Not the Lone Ranger

Not anymore. Though his new roommate is not exactly in the same racing class.

The new boarder arrived Friday. Lucky is no longer tallest. I would guess his new paddock-mate is more in the 16.3 range, and he’s bigger-boned. Since I haven’t met his owner yet, I won’t “out” his registered name. His barn name is Zoey, and he’s twelve if the registered name is correct. He had two starts in his career, and according to equibase he was . . . we’ll say undistinguished. Does not keep him from having a very pretty trot and canter at liberty. Which he demonstrated. Repeatedly. Up and down and around. Because he did not like that I came and got Lucky, then taunted him by riding in the ring right next to their paddock.

I swapped bits again today and put the “fun” bit and reins on while I rode in the close-contact. (By “fun” I mean the rubber mullen-mouth dee and racing reins.) Lucky was either well-rested, as I hadn’t been out since last Monday, or just feeling good after a week of cold weather (despite that having changed drastically and gone back to the mid-nineties this weekend) but I nearly got left behind on a couple of transitions! I’m used to having to ask nicely, then ask more firmly, then potentially get the crop involved. Today, I had a couple times where I only had to ask once. And very nearly got bounced out of my seat. Maybe he was showing off for the new guy. I even popped him over an X (I hadn’t planned to, especially as I forgot to throw my low boots in the car and was riding in my work shoes. As my stirrups don’t have pads in, not too big a worry.) He was not hugely interested in jumping, but he wasn’t ready to pack it in immediately, either.

We even had company. The B.O. came out with Dino, and I actually got to ride with another person! Lucky was fine about it. He and Dino were not especially thrilled with the flies, though. They could bathe in fly spray and probably it wouldn’t make any difference: they’re nasty.

And of course, on a day when someone else was riding, and it was suggested I could get out Takota to ride if I wanted when I was done with Lucky, I didn’t have time. Lucky got a sponging down and his peppermints (peppermints: life is good) and I was off to the Meijers’ in Three Rivers, with a toss-up whether I had enough time to get from there to home and still have time to make it to my dance lesson. On the assumption I wouldn’t, I had packed a cooler with ice packs. And I was out riding Lucky despite having worked and having a lesson and having no food because I likely will not get back out until Sunday (when hopefully I can take Takota for a spin as well.) Dance competition on Friday–my first time doing all five Latin, and my first with the New Pro. So I don’t especially mind having to run like crazy. But it would still be nice to get a ride on another horse.

Versatility Horse

How is it that now I’m much too old for 4-H, I have the perfect 4-H horse? I also spent too much time at the fair yesterday to ride, though I picked up shampoo and liniment at the tack van (and is it sick and sad that I thought “Hm, they’ve got a good price on Mane n’ Tail and two bottles left, I’m out of shampoo at home” and bought two, one for him, one for me?) and drooled over a lovely brown suede bareback pad. I also think I need to start showing Western, just because one can never have too many sparkly things and then I’d have real considerations about what colors look good on Lucky, rather than dithering over weaves of navy blue. I stopped at the barn long enough to give him a bath with the new shampoo and to find he seems to have a new roommate. Dino’s been moved to his stall paddock, while Lucky’s now sharing with Dom, the palomino pony. Dom, despite the wash rack being in full view, was convinced I was taking Lucky in for dinner and leaving him out. Even putting Lucky back out didn’t seem to convince him otherwise.

Today the other boarders were out working with their horses, so instead of starting off in the ring like I’d planned, I rode out to where they were walking Sky on the track. Lucky was not any different about being out there than he is alone, which is nice to know. I gave him a jog and a little hand gallop, not that he was too interested, then headed back to the arena. In the interest of seeing if people might be right and he really might respect a bigger fence, I’d set up trot poles to an x with what, given Lucky’s canter, would probably be two strides to an oxer. The back rail was set at 12″, with an X in front and probably a 12″ spread, maximum. (It would have been closer but the standards only fit so close together. It still looked freakin’ imposing from where I was sitting. But I put him over the X once and stopped straight, went back and took the poles and X and just looked past the oxer. Darned if he didn’t bounce over it. I wouldn’t exactly say he cracked his back, but he didn’t stop in front of the jump, either.

For once in my life, I learned from experience and didn’t ask for a second try. Instead, inspired by gymkhana day Friday, I had set up cloverleaf barrels, and put up buckets with flags. We tried it at the trot, both ways (right-left-left and left-right-right) and I tried for a canter. I swear, Lucky had figured the general idea out, because when I asked for more speed, he was already head up and ready to go. He doesn’t corner very well, but he doesn’t corner very badly either. Flags, we stuck to trotting, more due to my lack of eye-hand coordination than anything else, but they went into the bucket. Lucky I think could see it in my right hand and on our first attempt he wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, so we missed the barrel, but we went around again and got the flag in. If we worked on some neck reining–well, he’s probably never going to chase cans for a living and I doubt he’s ever going to be super-fast around turns, but he could probably be a passable gaming horse. He also seems to be figuring out the jumping thing. He’d be a great 4-H horse, assuming he could handle the fairgrounds.

Now, the real question, though: can he handle hounds? Must find some and find out.

Nothin’ like…

…sittin’ in McDonald’s with a coffee and WiFi in smelly barn clothes. Covered in shedding hair. Also, I did the stall today. Don’t like it, sit somewhere else.

Today was a short ride, not so much for behavior as because I did ride longer than anticipated yesterday and because of BUGS! Yech. Little, pesky, in-your-face bugs. Lucky fussed about having fly spray wiped on his ears, but then complained the whole time we were out with head-tossing and snorting and trying not to breathe in bugs, while I tried not to snort and shake MY head.

We went in the big ring today, and I figured just some walk/trot and maybe some poles. Besides one little rush that might have been an aborted spook, he was good, except for a little stopping and the constant head-shaking because of the bugs. For which I could not blame him. They were insanely annoying. We worked a bit on going forward and straight over the poles, and then I gave up. He’d gotten a long grooming so I figured a short ride was fair. We did an open the gate from the back and rode out, with no explosions a la yesterday, and I dismounted at the barn. He was ready to go in and this time he was a great deal more cooperative about having his ears done! He also got liniment for the legs, and iodine on the patchy spots. The ones we’ve been treating with iodine and bag balm look better, at least, so hopefully this will clear up with care. After he went back out I did his stall–I’m on full board, but the BO is off at a training thing this weekend in Ohio and J. is watching the barn, so I figured I might as well do it so he doesn’t have to.

Since I’m on high-speed, here are some other pictures:

Lucky riding by the scary woods of doom!

Free kitten, anyone?

Battery is starting to go and so should I. Ought to get home and walk the dogs.

Rain, rain, go away!

How can it be just overcast here and a steady downpour at the barn? I went out with plans to ride, but that turned into scraping and toweling, with a little strapping thrown in. He was still cold, but at least he wasn’t dripping! Then it was all hands on deck to get everyone else in and dried off. I am glad that I do not have a horse with extensive white markings like Dino and Takota. And Dom the palomino was not very palomino. Everyone was quite happy to come in and eat and get out of the rain.

The kitten’s eyes are better, and she does seem to be eating and drinking. The dogs think this is interesting every time they go in and out.

Stylin’….

New tack! Oh, new tack. The nice leather smell, the fitting it to the horse, the first ride . . . .

Okay, so they’re not NEW. In fact God knows how old the bridle is–it came with a nickle full cheek that doesn’t look or feel like anything I’ve seen in bits in a while, and it IS a flat hunter-style English leather bridle. It’s also in a cob size. He’s now wearing it with the caveson on the second hole, the cheek pieces on the second hole, and the throatlatch just barely reaches, while in the raised (yuck) horse-size everything is on the very shortest hole possible and the cheek pieces are still too long. You can only punch so many extra holes before you run out of leather. I may take it down to this man in Shipsie who does leather work and have him make the throatlatch longer, but the rest fits pretty well. He just has this very teacup muzzle, dished short face, and then a regular old horse-style throatlatch. (Also, anyone know where to get a set of Havana brown snaffle and curb reins? Because my reins do not match.)

The saddle, meanwhile, is a Crosby Prix des Nations that has obviously been VERY well cared for. The flaps are like butter and the seat is beautiful. The tree, obviously, is fine and he does seem to take a medium comfortably. Even with a 17.5″ seat it’s still not GREAT for me. Still like sitting on a board. But he seemed to like it better, and it’s definitely lighter than the Stubben. He was okay with that, but lightening the load a bit can’t hurt.

He is still suffering from horsey ADHD. Anything a half-mile away is more interesting than what is going on, sometimes enough to get bouncey. And Trudy being ridden in the woods was downright mystifying and scary. (Apparently Trudy wasn’t thrilled to pieces with the idea, either.) We also had serious issues with standing still while dismounted and NOT using owner as a scratching post. We had a good amount of trotting in the round pen, and I realized very quickly why I have to shorten the stirrups about two holes from where I had them on the AP. Ow. Hi, knees. Sorry about that. Between this and the dance shoes this was not a good week for you. Something in the woods got scary and we had a minor spook, and finally a stop with complete ignoring of the bit. I got off and we walked over to the big ring and had a couple walks around to the far end where the scary things live. I got back up and again we had the inverting and the horsey ADHD. The BO’s daughter (mother of T., who rode Lucky a few weeks ago) hopped up and decided to take him around the ring, spooks or no. (I meanwhile was starting to consider the virtues of acepromazine as horsie Ritalin.)

It was VERY nice to not only stand back and watch him go under saddle but to have someone on him who had ridden an OTTB a lot. The BO didn’t quite get why I was not entirely thrilled with his brain, saying that he doesn’t have a vicious bone in his body, which of course he doesn’t. Her daughter got what I meant about ADD. He’s a looker. He is paying attention to everything everywhere all the time. She also agreed that there’s something just a bit funky with his right back leg. I watched her trot him, and she watched me trot him (and then we stopped as he had been ridden for almost forty-five minutes, the longest yet!) and while he’s not in any pain that we can see, he’s just kind of unbalanced. Not in a wobbly way, just in the sense that his right side is not as developed as his left and it shows particularly in his right stifle. When the ground’s uneven (there’s a bit of a slope to the big ring) it seems to work him harder. So nice to know I was not imagining that! We both agreed that the saddle is also a great ride. He seems to like it, too.

Back at the barn, we talked about our respective OTTBs, her old one and mine. Both were much more ‘hot’ than Lucky (who is not so much hot as very easily distracted) and yet both seemed to have a knack for knowing when their rider was not someone who knew how to deal. You could put a little kid on either of them (and I suspect Lucky, too) and they became the blandest lead-line pony imaginable. They were just smart like that.

Lucky, by the way, saw the vet and equine dentist while I was away (I had a ballroom competition on the east side of the state, which was a ton of fun and went extremely well for my not having danced in six months.) The vet gave him his vaccines and checked out the two hairless patched on his left shoulder. In her opinion, they are a benign sarcoid (yay, not mange, fungus or fleas) and I can treat it with an iodine wash and/or bag balm, and they will not bother him. They don’t seem to, certainly, not the way Old OTTB went mildly nuts with a fungal infection that made him itch. The equine dentist, meanwhile, was yet another ho-hum moment for Lucky (he was the only horse who did NOT need sedating) but his teeth are worse than mine. His funky double tooth in front is a baby tooth that never fell out. And there is one tooth in back the dentist could not reach and he is recommending having someone who uses power tools get it. Rather than call the vet back out, I’m first going to check with my friend B., who had mentioned having someone who uses drill grinders do her two Arabs and she was quite pleased with the result. She is an older lady whose family bred Arabs and she’s quite picky about caring for her two, so I would trust her recommendation.

And I came home from the barn with a, hopefully temporary, souvenir. While I was putting the iodine and Bigeloil away (iodine for the hairless patch, Bigeloil for his legs) I heard a loud kitten meow behind me. I turned around and saw a black and white kitten prowling the tack room. Now, the BO does not have a black and white kitten. However, her daughter is the source of Pest and Pest’s brother (who went home with another boarder) so I thought, okay, maybe she brought another one. I scooped the kitten up and called BO and daughter back to the barn. By then I’d seen the goopy eyes and figured that this was probably not a new resident-at least not a planned one. I held on to her while I gave Lucky his treats and put him away (he was very tolerant of the strange snuffly thing in my other arm, probably because everyone else was getting dinner and he just wanted to get to his stall) and the BO’s daughter (vet tech) took a look. Kitten is dehydrated, lungs sound clear but the eyes and nose as goopy, and kitten obviously is cold and tired.

Long story short, the BO’s dog would eat it if they took it in, daughter has a pregnant cat at home and can’t take a cat with an infection in, while I have a mud room where I can keep her isolated. BO had some leftover pink liquid (tetracycline–they make the same nasty pink stuff for animals as humans) from one of the other cats, loaned me a carrier and a big towel, and off she went with me. Right now, she’s curled in the cubby beneath my deacon’s bench, and has had her first dose of tetra, eaten a bit, and has a full water bowl, rugs and towels, and a small litter box. Hopefully she can get some rest and get in shape to be a barn cat. She’s probably eight or so weeks old-barely enough to be on her own. She did eat the little bit of food I gave her, and I think she drank some, so now I’m leaving her alone for the night. Pictures tomorrow, when hopefully she’ll be feeling more social. Tucker sniffed, Puff kind of glanced at her, and I don’t think that my cats (who don’t go in the mud room) even realize she’s here.

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