March 8th

Friday, March 8th, 2019

The weather has been absolutely marvelous the last couple days.

I’ve been walking back to the barn (for context: over a half mile one way) because the sun on my face and fresh air have been such spirit lifters. I’ve been able to leave the house in just my barn jacket and rubber boots (no Carharrt coveralls and heavy winter boots!), and be the perfect temperature.

Truly marvelous.

Once back at the barn, being able to open up the barn doors and let fresh air in is just as much a spirit lifter – for everyone, I think.

Our boys grow heavy winter coats, so the shedding process begins early for us each spring, and begun it has! No more wearing chapstick to the barn, am I right? Pony kisses are a magnet for said shedding hair when your lips have any sort of stick to them, haha! That first time is always a rude awakening 🙂

Buck has a lot of hair to begin with, so it never seems to end with him.

However, with the weather as great as it was today, I was able to unbraid and brush out his tail (I braid it to help protect it as it grows back, so it’s been braided for months), and eventually rebraid it after admiring it’s length (two years later, we’re almost back to full length!!). It has also proven to hold it’s conditioner when braided; I didn’t need to use any detangler on his tail when I brushed it out, which was a small miracle. His mane is a different story, however, but we tackled that and got it all brushed out.

I’ve always been an “on the ground” equestrian. I connect really deeply with horses on their level, without the need to ride. That may sound strange, but while I enjoy a good ride, I enjoy a good roundpen session even more. I enjoy asking my horses for things without physical touch and aided equipment.

I like being a herd member, earning and proving my coveted herd position through my body language.

I think this also aids in my barn time with my boys. The act of me brushing out Buck’s mane has become part of herd grooming. He no longer fights it, but instead falls asleep. This hyper alert thousand pound animal has handed over his vulnerability to me; he trusts me to have his back and protect him.

It’s pretty humbling.

He’s always so soft after we work too. So soulful, so gentle. His eyes and body relaxes, and he becomes a teddy bear.

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I’ve always had people tell me I could train horses, but I am not qualified under saddle to do any such thing. However, I have thought about buying weanlings, yearlings, and ground breaking them. Can you imagine those sassy, long legged know-it-alls in a round pen under liberty – I’d probably be constantly laughing! A true hoot and challenge, for sure. But ultimately, I’d have to sell them again and I may be too picky in what homes they go to.

I would love it though!

Think of the sweet faces. Oh goodness.

February 21st

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

If you ask me to critter-sit for you, expect photographs.

This is sweet Peppy, our neighbor’s gelding. They’re out of town for the World Show with their other furry babe, Peanut. Last I heard she made it to finals, so that’s exciting!

This guy has been around for forever. A trusty, competitive show horse for years, he’s now over 20 and enjoying retirement. Did I already mention that he’s sweet sweet sweet to his core? He also is my ideal coloring for a horse – he is one of the most beautiful horses I’ve met. Mocha brown with pretty, rich light brown highlights, and a sweet, swirly snip on his top lip.

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Earlier this week when Paul and I stopped over he greeted us with a nicker, but wasn’t into snuggles. He was intrigued, but wasn’t sure who we were, so he stayed reserved.

Each time I’ve stopped out this week, he’s been more and more excited to see me. Each time I get a nicker, and today he even met me at the gate. After I checked his hay and water, I ran back to my car to grab my camera.

Evidently, having the camera over my eyes triggered his play button, because he “chased” me around the paddock, head bobbing, while rotating between curiously nuzzling, firmly nudging, and lightly nipping at my hat and jacket. I’d tease him, and he’d tease me. I actually didn’t get many photos of him because he was quick to stick his nose all the way up to my lens.

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I’ve said this before, but if you’ve never played with a horse, you’re missing out. Smart, social, and curious, these gentle giants have so much love and joy in their hearts; it’s humbling when they share it with you.

 

 

January 14th

Monday, January 14th, 2019

I don’t know about you, but the holidays hit us hard.

Constantly on the go, anytime we had something that we didn’t have time to deal with we placed it in our utility room as a way of saying “We’ll deal with you later.”

Weeeeeell, our pile of things to deal with got quite large, and today we pulled everything out and sorted through it all: Garbage, donate, keep, or storage.

As we were reorganizing and putting everything back together I noticed a small box that I thought I recognized. I opened it, and realized why – some of my favorite jewelry from when I was a kid was in there! It had been a long while since I had worn them, but it was fun to pull out and look through all the same.

I should note that while many young girls had normal jewelry, all of my jewelry was horse related. This particular charm bracelet had been one of my favorites.

I wore it often, and I wasn’t gentle with it. One charm would fall off, and my mom or dad would wrestle it back on. Then not a few days later another would come off, and the process repeated.

My identity was in this bracelet. My loves (Arabians, duh), accomplishments (I added a “Grand Champion” charm after winning the Arabian Fall Fest with Tahki one fall), patriotism (red, white, and blue horse shoe), and discipline (western saddle – gaming specifically) all told a little story about me and who I was.

Some may see it as a trinket, but I see a lot of responsibility, hard work, and passion in this little bracelet.

Oh, and love. A whole lot of love.

December 24th

Monday, December 24th, 2018

Merry Christmas Eve!

While we won’t be having a white Christmas this year, the big positive about the weather being mild is that all of the ice has melted.

The big thing that stops Paul and I from riding outdoors in the winter is fear of ice; even with a layer of snow on top, you don’t know what’s happening underneath and the idea of our horses slipping and sliding is not an appealing one. Especially since our horses are not in peak shape by any means right now, so pulling a muscle is a real possibility with too much of a slip or slide.

Since the ground is dry because of the weather, over the past couple weeks we’ve been going out on short but wonderful rides down the driveway. The boys basically put their halters on themselves they’re so excited to get out, and it’s a great for everyone to get some fresh air and exercise. It’s great for their mental state, too, as they get to go out and take in new sights that they don’t see in the pasture. Our boys aren’t big fans of riding in the arena, so it’s great bonding for all of us to go out and do a ride everyone wants to do.

In addition to all of that, with a busy day tomorrow it just seemed right to spend Christmas Eve in the barn, the site of Jesus’ birth, with livestock, Jesus’ first witnesses.

What a beautiful place for reflection on the reason for the season. What a privilege.

December 4th

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Paul and Junior’s bromance is no news to you if you’ve followed my blog.

But here’s an update for you: They’re still going strong.

We went back to clean stalls this afternoon, and I cleaned while Paul went out to say hi to June. I poked my head out of the barn at one point to this.

And then Henna and I walked out to say hi (and Henna brought her Jolly Ball out to play):

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Then Junior wanted the attention back on him:

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So then they snuggled again (Junior was loving on Paul so hard he fogged up his glasses ha!):

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These two, I tell ya what.

November 21st

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

I went a little abstract for my image today, can anyone guess what this is?

Hint: If you know horses, this was probably an easy one. Or maybe it was an easy guess for everyone, who knows! When you’re the one behind the camera and know what an image is of, it’s sometimes hard to know if it will be difficult for others to see.

Either way, today’s image is of Bucky’s back. The right side of the image leads up to his neck, the back half-circle is the curve of the top of his left hip. The center of his spine runs from the center of the image to the edge of the left side of the image. He had his right hip relaxed, so the curve of his spine is accentuated.

When I was up at the barn doing chores this evening, the warm light coming through the door was really quite lovely. I started by photographing Bucky’s eyes, but his eyes never really relax when I have the camera in front of my face, so he always looks a little freaked out; this isn’t how he normally looks at me, so it’s hard for me to connect with them. When I walked past to go to Junior’s stall, I saw the light gently laying across Bucky’s back, and I loved it.

Buck’s age is starting to show, and it’s a little hard to come to terms with. We’re on the back end of old age at the farm, and there’s been a lot of big losses within the last year. Buck (should be) the caboose of our age train for awhile. Junior’s only twelve, Henna and our cats are just over one, and our chickens aren’t that old (however, I’m staying a little guarded with them due to the fact that predators are always around).

Our sweet farrier, who is my dad’s cousin and who also sold us our first horses, is one of my go-to’s when it comes to horse care. He’s my weight-check guy each time he comes out, and he’s my practical go-to when I have questions about equine physical therapy vs chiropractic work, and everything in between. He’s been around the block, and is my common sense sounding board, especially since he knows our horses’ histories. I’ve been throwing around the concern of Buck having Cushings with other horsey friends for the past 9 months, as I’ve been seeing the symptoms start, and they encouraged me to look into it. Last time Dave was out, he took a good look at Bucky, and I said to him “I’ve been meaning to ask you about Cushings,” and he said to me “I was just about to bring it up.” So we had a conversation about the fact that it was an old age disease, what symptoms he saw, how the test works, what time of year is best to have it done, and what a diagnosis may mean.

So we waited until fall, and called to make an appointment. Convinced he had it, we were prepared for what that may mean in terms of a shortened life span, change of feed, daily meds, etc. Dr. Rick came out, did the blood draw and was out the door again in under two minutes.

“If results are normal, my tech will call, if not, I’ll call and we can talk about our options.”

Well, a week later mom had a voicemail from Dr. Rick, but he must’ve had bad service, as the message was hard to understand. So expecting the worst, mom called him back, and guess what?

His results were dead center of the normal range! Not even borderline!

“Most likely the symptoms you’re seeing are simply his body aging. Here are a couple things to continue to watch for, but otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing.”

It’s rare that we get good news when you have to call an equine vet out, and I’m going to take it! It also gave my heart a little reprieve, as I can handle normal aging, but was having a hard time wrapping my mind around a disease that would be even more of a hurdle for him.

So tonight I gave him a little extra love, happy that that negative diagnosis may mean a couple more years to enjoy the sweet, trusting teddy bear that he’s become, along with all that crazy hair.

October 20th

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

I tackled quite a few projects around the farm today.

Mowing, weed whipping, shoveling out the paddocks, cleaning stalls, etc. They’ve all been on my list for awhile, and with the warm weather and finally dry conditions, I was able to get in there and do those things.

The other large item on my list was to brush out Buck’s mane and tail.

This may not seem like a huge task, but to put it simply: it is.

Especially since I haven’t been keeping up on it, so he had a couple major tangles going on. He was starting to dread, so I needed to get in there and catch it before I can’t stop it. With him, I have to use detangler and conditioner – it just makes him more comfortable, and I don’t pull out nearly as much hair. The warm weather today allowed me to be able to do that – hooray!

Poor Bucky has been feeling a little neglected recently with all of the weddings we were a part of and being out of town, and with pumpkins in full swing, we haven’t been spending as much time at the barn as we would like to. Happy to just have his halter on and get out for a bit, he stood perfectly the entire time. So much so in fact that I was able to do his mane, tail, and forelock!

After I was done, the boys went out into the paddocks (so Buck could roll – of course), and when he got up, his hair was flowing in the breeze and he looked magnificent.

My sweet Fabio.

October 6th

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

These two, I tell ya.

I walked out to photograph the horses, and Henna could not be left out, so here she came, racing around like a maniac.

Can you tell that the horses have become used to it?

It’s been great for desensitizing – even if she is able to sneak up on them, they startle a couple steps, but then settle right back down. And after that whole kicking incident with Henna and Bucky a few weeks ago, Henna’s learned her lesson about boundaries. It’s settled into a good balance.

I was able to get Henna to sit next to Junior and I almost got a (really cute) picture, but then Junior started licking Henna’s head, and she wasn’t about to sit still for that – haha!

If you know Australian Cattle Dogs, you know that they legitimately often have OCD-like tendencies. Routines are everything to them – if you don’t provide them with one, they create their own. Bandit had worn a single path down through my parent’s grass around their house, because that was the route she patrolled multiple times a night; the exact same route every night. Our farrier had cattle a few years ago when he had his heeler, and she did the same thing around the perimeter of their pasture. It’s like she walked around doing a head count. She also slept in the middle of the round bale feeder (as the cows happily munched around her) so she could keep a close eye on her herd.

I giggled when one of the ranch accounts I follow on Instagram showed their red heeler, Pearl, walking down the road – but only on the white line on the edge of the road, like she was walking a tightrope.

Henna’s most recent “routine” is greeting Paul and me when we pull up at the farm, but only long enough for one pet, and then she beelines it out around the barn into the paddocks and pasture to let the boys know we’ve arrived. She doesn’t even herd them back in, she just runs out, barks a couple times, then beelines it back to say hi to us a little more thoroughly. As she runs back in, the horses often amble in behind her.

And she only does that when we come. It’s like she knows we’re the “horse people.”

Inter-animal/people relationships are fascinating.

August 8th

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Day two on location.

I wasn’t on top of it enough this morning to take a photo before I left, so I snapped some randoms today while on set. This one was about the best – even though our equine model looks a little like a ghost in black and white (ha!).

I do have prettier ones from yesterday, though that I’m going to share:

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July 29th

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

Easy like Sunday morning.

We woke up this morning, packed our coffee and breakfast, and went down to the barn earlier than normal. Our motivation? To have breakfast with the boys.

We’ve been keeping the horses off the pasture the past couple of days because something is in peak bloom right now, and it doesn’t agree with Junior. Something he’s eating is suddenly causing profuse salivation; it’s nothing that harms him, but I’m sure it’s very uncomfortable. It happened around this time last summer, so we’ve just kept them off the pasture, hoping that a few days time will allow whatever plant is out there to peak and recede.

In the meantime, the boys have been bored. They’ve tolerated it well, but we wanted to bring them out into our outdoor and let them stretch their legs a bit and munch on the grass around the fence.

So out came our folding chairs, breakfast, and coffee while the boys enjoyed a change of pace.

It was so relaxing and wonderful. A quiet, cool Sunday morning with warm coffee and good company.

Once breakfast was done, we did a lovely morning ride, and it felt good to ride early. Normally we don’t get our act together until afternoon or evening, so this was a great jump start to our day.

July 28th

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

Paul and I both had great rides yesterday.

Buck did beautiful walk-lope transitions for me in both directions, and Junior and Paul worked on their long trotting. Both boys were relaxed and just as  happy about the great weather as we were.

Today we were hoping to squeeze in another ride, but we spent the day helping friends install flooring in their new townhome, so we got home too late.

But Paul and Junior got a good snuggle session in after we fed grain, and my heart was a puddle as I watched them.

These two love each other, there’s no doubt about that.