Holy smokes, it’s September already! How did that happen?!
The past few days have been so emotional for me. I watch my Facebook feed to see countless posts of the devastation in the Houston area from Hurricane Harvey. My heart is warmed and my faith in humanity is restored to see SO many people stepping up to help people and animals in need. We will be taking in some shelter dogs a as a temporary stop on their trips out of Texas to make room for Harvey evacuee pets. My Facebook feed is also full of posts of the devastation from fires in my home state of Montana. Over 500,000 acres have burned this summer. Farmers and ranchers are losing their livestock and livelihood to these fires. At the end of the post I’ll include links to organizations I feel have the best direct impact on those in need in Texas and Montana.
Onto more uplifting pics of cute animals!
Pablo meets a Muppy!
When I was riding on Tuesday night I got a bug in my eyeball and it has looked like this since Tuesday night! It looks much worse than it feels.
Boot City and I both took some time off work this week to get some stuff done around the farm. Usually when we do this we get distracted and hardly accomplish anything on our to do list, but we did really well this time! Lots of gates built, arena sand delivered and some purging of Boot City’s metal collection.
Little Mickey is quite the snuggler. He has no idea that he only weighs about 5lb. He acts like he is a 70lb pack leader! So funny!
Casey is spoiled and gets 24/7 turnout, mostly because he is so well behaved and not a fat kid. He often has chicken buddies while he grazes during the day and the other horses are in their stalls.
Simon. Just because he is a lovebug and so cute.
It has become somewhat of a tradition for one of my hunt friends to host a gymkhana the weekend before the 4th of July. We were blessed with moderately cooler temps this year and had much fun!
I got a truck load of sand for my “arena” and the dogs and horses took full advantage of the sand pile. There was much dog wrastling and horses rolling!
It is never easy to see them go, but its time for these boys to move on. Boot City took them to the goat sale this morning. I always tell myself that they end up in a home similar to ours and get good lives.
I grew up riding western. I had a brief foray into rodeo events. I won my first belt buckle when I was 9 in pole bending at the Bill Pauley Memorial Rodeo. I won All Around for my age division at the same rodeo. I had a few nice, but safe, rodeo event horses before I was 12. Casey ran some barrels (not to be confused with the current Casey!). Chant Town was an OTTB or OTQH and he was a master of pole bending. Both horses were VERY old when I had them and went on to teach other kids the ropes in rodeo events.
My Dad was a cutter most of my life. I know he did some team roping and snaffle bit futurities, but all I remember him doing was cutting and helping friends and family move cattle whenever needed.
Dad cutting in Idaho on Athena Beau. Probably in the late 80’s or early 90’s.
As I got older my interest in rodeo waned and I got into showing Quarter Horses. I did mostly all around events including showmanship at halter, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation, western horsemanship, western pleasure and trail with a couple horses my parents had raised. When Jaguar was born he was first my 4-H project, but when we took him to a couple Quarter Horse shows when he was 2 some trainers made comments to my parents that he had the looks of a reiner. Dad was always ambivalent about the “horse show” events and more or less thought they were a waste of time. ESPECIALLY the English events. Therefore he was never particularly supportive of horse showing. Until I got bitten by the reining bug. Reining is an event that is derived from working cattle. You ride in figure eights going slow and fast, do sliding stops, and spins. Basically you are showing off how “broke” your horse is to do the maneuvers necessary to work cattle. The next step is working cow horse then cutting.
Jaguar becomes a reiner!
Jaguar was an awesome reining horse. He is extremely athletic and would stop SO hard. He could be frustrating in that he would stop hardest in bad ground (ground not good for sliding) and then not make much effort in really good ground. He could easily do 20 foot long slides. I showed him in reining from the time I was 15 until I was about 20. He developed a large bump on one of his knees that made spins in that direction uncomfortable. I also was finishing college so didn’t really have time to show. Dad let me go all over the western U.S. to show in reining events. I had a BLAST! The culmination was showing the AQHYA World Championship show. We didn’t do all that well, but it was really fun.
After college and into adulthood living in Texas all I really wanted to do was jump. I got Jaguar back when he was 13 and I was in my late 20’s. In my head he was ready to retire so he hung out in the pasture until I met the fox hunt and he entered his third career (his second was doing all around stuff with my Mom in Montana). All the horses I’ve bought myself have been English horses for jumping and/or fox hunting.
Last fall my Mom let me borrow her horse, Casey (again) to use for fox hunting since Jaguar is no longer sound for riding. He was the perfect fit for a fill in. He was a great sport and did everything I asked of him, but he just is not an English horse. I much prefer riding him western. Mom wants to sell him now so I am legging him up to make some western videos and market him to the western crowd. He is a super easy and fun ride.
My parents got me a custom made reining saddle made by Earl Twist when I was 17 and it is the most beautiful and comfortable saddle on the planet. Riding Casey brings back fantastic memories and then I find myself thinking I should get back into reining….. just what I need is another horse hobby! Especially after all the time, effort, energy and MONEY I’ve invested over the past 10 years to get into the hunter/jumper game. I’m sure Boot City would be ecstatic. Nonetheless, I’m definitely going to enjoy the time I have left with Casey and getting to dip my toes back into the western world for a little while.
Lovely day on Casey the QH.
My plan is to get back into reining later on in life when perhaps jumping isn’t safe or if I get burned out or I have the resources to do both. I didn’t keep a lot of my western tack other than my reining saddle and a handful of bridles. My parents had also gotten me a fancy show saddle made by Broken Horn in California that my Mom now uses to show her mare Foxy. It kind of entertains me because that saddle has a silver horn cap with my initials on it.
He looks so cute in his western duds! He still hasn’t fully shed out and it is HOT here so I keep his mane braided and off his neck.
I’m blessed to have and have had some really lovely horses!
It is the week of the summer solstice, but Texas summer is still holding off a bit. Yay! It is supposed to be gross hot today, but then cool off for nearly a whole week!
Sterling has been a superstar about getting his leg worked on this week. He isn’t the most typical of horses, so I would have expected him to have been much more difficult for the twice daily wound draining procedure. Most days he would just eat grass while I squeezed on his stifle. The best part is that means it doesn’t hurt.
Sterling eats his meals while I do his hydrotherapy. The dogs LOVE the horse feed from Muenster feed mill because it has coconut oil. Mickey has decided to help himself to Sterling’s food during his hydrotherapy and went so far as to growl at Sterling to which Sterling’s response was to slowly walk away from his food. Yup, the 6lb dog ran the 1100lb horse away from his food!
This will be Dragon’s first real Texas summer. She isn’t a fan so far and when the temps get into the 80s she prefers the sofa to being outside, even though she LOVES to play with her buddy Dickens in the horse pasture.
Sighthounds passed out on the sofa. Notice that Dickens mouth is open. He played so hard and was so tired that he slept like an old man with his mouth open and even drooled. Ha!
Bubbles is the somewhat feral barn cat. For the first year we had her she didn’t leave the horse stall where her food lives. However, for the past few weeks she has been adventurous and we have seen her outside some. Yay for Bubbles! She also has started sleeping in the chicken wire in the ceiling of the barn. Presumably this is cooler, but it sure looks silly!
Bubbles relaxing in her chicken wire sleeping hammock. Eventually we will build a real chicken coop and tear down this old barn and the poor kitty wont have her chicken wire hammock any more. She also sleeps with her tongue hanging out. We always have the weirdest barn cats.
A (non-horsey) friend of mine often says that horses are born trying to die. Most of the time I don’t agree, but every once in a while they (the horses) attempt to change my mind. It has rained quite a lot lately so I’ve kept the horses in their stalls for the past couple nights. To my mind this would be a completely safe environment for the horses to spend the duration of the storms. I was wrong. Coco has a very fat and scraped up hind leg.
I suspect that she rolled in her stall run yesterday and stuck her leg through the fence. There is a pretty good scrape and a few minor scrapes on both hind legs. She isn’t lame, thank goodness. For the next few days we will hearken back to last summer for twice daily ice wraps and poultices. Thankfully she is a very well behaved patient so should improve quickly with treatment.
Initially I just wrapped it with an Ice Horse wrap to get some cold on it. The longer it is hot and swollen the worse it is for the leg long term.
When she was in her stall I poulticed her leg. This is a clay gunk that you slather on, wrap in newspaper, then wrap with a standing wrap. The poultice dries and pulls the heat out of the leg. It is best to do this when they are confined so as to not tear the wrap off. I was impressed with how cooperative she was for her first hind leg wrap. They always act funny the first time their hind legs are wrapped. I presume something wrapped around their legs in the “wild” is most likely a snake or something bad.
After the poultice has been on for a few hours you remove the wrap and rinse off the leg. This is what the dried up newspaper-wrapped poultice looks like:
Her leg was markedly less swollen after a couple ice wraps and the poultice. Yay! You can also see her ugly scrapes. Dear Coco, please don’t put your leg through any more fences.
Most husbands are somewhat handy at wood working. Mine is decidedly not very handy at wood working; his speciality is working with metal. Therefore many structures that would be made of wood at a wood worker’s home are made of metal at our home. This makes for some VERY heavy duty bridle racks and saddle racks that you could hang a sofa from. Most recently Boot City stepped up to make a stall run for the “bed-ridden” Coco Chanel during her 6 week layup.
We had planned to have stall runs on all four stalls on the “new” barn from the get-go, but time and funding are not always readily available so nothing happened until there was an express NEED for a stall run. We did a great deal of internet research about design; how far apart should the pipes be, how far off the ground should the lowest rung measure, how heavy duty do the pipes need to be and all kinds of safety and convenience research.
Human nature is to repeat what we know worked in the past. My parents had runs off the stalls on their barn in Montana so that was the basis for our design. We altered it slightly by putting fewer pipes and having the bottom rung further off the ground to prevent trapping legs. We beefed up the size of the frame pipes and opted for 1 1/2″ sucker rod for the bottom 3 rows. This is the finished product plus horse.
Coco outside in her run on the first night it was open for business.
Boot City is all about building things to be very sturdy. This time around he put posts in the ground at least every 8 feet and in the case of invasive tree roots he put them even closer so as to not have to harm the roots.The closer the poles in the ground are to one another the sturdier they are because there is less room between bracing for the horizontal pipes.
Poles in the ground. I promise that all of them are nearly perfectly straight. Boot City doesn’t mess around.
The whole project took about three weeks from start to finish. I really and truly thought it could be done in a couple days, but that was unrealistic wishful thinking. The concrete had to set for the poles in the ground to be sturdy enough to weld on and the measuring and levelling is extremely tedious work. Boot City finished the fencing late on a Wednesday night and Coco will be forever grateful. The plan is to complete her neighbor’s stall run in the coming months, but emphasis is now on putting in a property gate, updating fencing by the house and finished the “nursery” AKA the paddock fencing for Coco and her new foal come March.
Boot City and I live on top of a hill. A very large and rocky hill. Our friends like to tell us how delightful they find our driveway. Truly delightful. The primary reason that our driveway is so very delightful is due to laws of gravity: what goes up, must come down. This is true not only for our driveway, but for other parts of our property as well. All farmers and ranchers are constantly battling erosion of some sort. We aren’t actual farmers or ranchers, but we do have an ongoing battle with erosion. When the rain comes down, it has to go somewhere and so down the hill it goes. Generally after a hard rain most any loose dirt and rocks from our driveway have found their way to the highway by our house. I’m confident the county road crew loves us the most.
For the past nine years we have lived on our happy 10 acres we have been working towards improving the land and increasing the amount of grass that grows. Improving the soil is all about adding organic matter and nitrogen. The combined efforts of the chickens pooping, the goats pooping and the horses pooping have done wonders to increase the amount of organic matter. We try to compost as much as we can, but sometimes that sh$% just has to get spread around. Boot City has also gotten to justify his schmancy new 65 horsepower John Deere all in the name of grass and soil improvement. This allows him to dig up the soil, plant seeds and fertilise when necessary. And this spring has shown the fruits of our (mostly his) labor better than any other.
So much so that after an especially hard rain this past weekend there was a great deal of evidence that we really need to work on creating our very own mini-creek for the water to go down after such hard rains. As it is now, the water running down the hill just takes all the organic matter we’ve worked so hard to accumulate with it!
The top of the hill on the back of the property. You can see how fast the water moved down the hill and created it’s very own path through all the beautiful grass. We have the beginnings of some rocks set down to prevent all the dirt from eroding with the water.
Further down the hill there isn’t any grass growing in this part of the water flow for a couple reasons. The first is that there are a lot of trees so very little sunlight gets in and the second being that every hard rain just washes away any grass that has started to grow.
Towards the bottom of the back hill the grass had gotten to be about 12″ – 14″ tall. When I walked the property the morning after the rain I was somewhat surprised to find how it had been completely flattened by the water runoff. This was a prime opportunity for us to identify the low spots and plan for adding rocks and other solid barriers to slow down the water and to prevent the topsoil from being eroded.
Flat grass! Boot City has already moved some dirt to change the layout of the hill and alter the pathway of the water. Now, to add more big rocks.
In the back, right before and at the largest back pasture (about 5 acres) the grass is thick, tall and lush. It’s that perfect spring green that makes anyone associated with agriculture and animal husbandry smile and take a deep breath. Along the path of the water runoff it had gotten completely flattened and looked like a big green walkway. Again, indicative of where to plant more large rocks!
You can see the water path towards the back of the pasture.
Last, but not least, this is where the water collects and runs to lower ground on the neighbor’s property. Last year, in the fall, there was a similar large storm and the water runoff collected so much debris that by the time it got to this spot it took down the fence!
The endpoint of the “River”
Now we mow, mow and mow some more (and by we I mean Boot City mows) and collect rocks from other parts of the property to add to the future “creek”. Maybe by fall we will have a genuine little waterfall to share!