I’m back! I feel like I have my blogging ducks in a row now, but that can always change. I would love MORE feedback from my readers! If you like a post, please comment. If you want to know more about something, please tell me. If a blog is boring/offensive/fantastic, let me know. I sometimes feel like I’m writing into an abyss and getting feedback helps me stay motivated and write interesting content.
We have a somewhat unique lifestyle that people seem interested in learning about it, and that is the primary reason I started this blog. I love writing, too, so that is my selfish reason for blogging. I’m hoping to maintain more “themed” days so readers will know which days to tune in if there is content they find more interesting. I presume most non-riders get bored when I write posts about the details or riding and showing, but I enjoy reading the blogs of other riders so I like to add my 2 cents about that every now and again.
This post will be somewhat of a catch-up on goings-on at the farm as well as some just silly pics of the farm animals. Enjoy!
Chivas has been somewhat on lock-down the past 2 months because she has some serious seasonal allergies. We haven’t gotten her officially tested, but every spring she gets mad itchy and is a tiny ball of oozing, itchy sores and keeps us up at night with her scratching and chewing on herself. This year has been the best for keeping that itching at bay, but it reared it’s ugly head in mid-May so we opted to try to keep her in the house and not take her out for rides and feeding. This is how she feels about being left in the house.
Who knew a 13lb dog could TEAR UP a giant dog bed…..
I posted before my blog break that we had a surprise set of twin goats. They are adorable baby goats as all baby goats are, but they are also weirdos. This is a photo of them nursing from their aunt Punky. Punky doesn’t currently have any kids and hasn’t had any kids since last summer. Their mom, Penelope, is producing plenty of milk for them, but for some reason they have also started nursing from Punky. We have never had kids do this! Punky and Penelope were part of a set of triplets and Penelope had to be bottle-fed because the Mom only had one teat to nurse from. Since the kids are nursing from her, Punky has gotten milk in her udder. Kind of a fascinating little social/ag experiment going on here.
The twins and their aunt Punky.
It has gotten hot in Texas so Murtagh has more or less moved in the tack room with AC 24/7. He also has mites in his ears that we are treating so I like that he’s happy staying close to home. He is just the sweetest kitty in the whole world!
In early May the horses came running to the barn from turnout to be put up for the night. Coco and Simon walked into the barn aisle where Boot City was opening stall doors to their various stalls. Coco turned and pinned her ears at Simon and he in turn tried to turn away from her a little too quickly on the concrete floor and fell down. It was one of those stomach-in-your-throat moments as he lay there and waited to get up. When he got up he was CLEARLY lame on his left hind. We got the other horses put away and fed them their dinner and I went to taking pics and video to send to my vet. Within an hour Simon could hardly walk.
We approached the injury fairly conservatively (my vet didn’t seem at all worried that he had broken anything) with stall rest, cold hosing, bute and poultice. Thankfully it only took a couple weeks for him to be almost 90% sound. I erred on the side of caution and kept him on stall and then paddock rest for a full 3 weeks before he was clearly stir crazy, not hurting and about to do something stupid when his friends got turned out and he had to stay in the barn. While he was sore he was a perfect gentleman on stall rest and even behaved for Boot City when he had to do the cold hosing and poulticing while I was away at a horse show with Sterling. Simon is a very wise and calm horse for only being 4 years old.
Poultice and stall rest o-rama
It took a good few months for her to settle in, but Ouiser finally seems to be happy and content in our house. She didn’t leave “her” room for about 2 months and now she more or less has the run of the house. She loves to sun bath in window sills and she is very chatty with Boot City and me.
Ouiser getting out and about in her house
Last, but CERTAINLY not least, is our dear Pablo. Pablo appears to have foundered or something similar and he WILL NOT let us catch him to try to see what is up. He lies down a lot. Stands on soft ground as much as possible. Appears sore when he moves out. We fear that his refusal to let us treat him will result in an earlier than necessary demise and believe me when I say we have tried working with him. Donkeys are “stubborn”. Everyone knows this, but you don’t really understand it until you have had a donkey. They don’t forget anything and they are not at all trustful.
Someone has mistreated Pablo and he refuses to get over that. We have, in the past, forced him to let us vet his legs/feet, give him meds, etc, but it just isn’t worth it. He will occasionally go into an enclosure where he knows we can catch him and let us groom him or trim his feet or whatever, but he seems to be doing that less lately. We don’t really know how old he is, but we have had him for 11 years. All 11 of those years we have given him treats, groomed him and basically let him do what he wants, but he still is terrified of the halter and being caught. His feet don’t look bad and he’s eating just fine (as you can see by his belly!), so he’s not suffering. We got 10 semi-loads of sand in April and he’s been loving rolling in it, sleeping in it and standing on the piles.
If you are an actual donkey-whisperer, I’d be happy to hear your advice for dear Pablo.
Pablo on his empire of sand
Please comment if there is anything I don’t write about enough or that you are just interested to know more about. Thank you for being here and reading about our little corner of Texas and the interwebs! Happy weekend and I hope it is cooler where you are than it is here.
I love my vet, but man am I tired of seeing and talking to him! Sterling is MUCH improved and I should be able to start riding him again early next week. THANK GOODNESS! Next up is to “fix” Coco. I think she is having mare issues, but vet wanted to rule out lameness so we finish that experiment this weekend and I feel pretty strongly will address hormones next. Good times. Thank you Simon and Jaguar for being “normal” as of late. Keep up the good work!
I feel like every Farm Friday will feature a photo of Patches sitting on one of our other dogs until she gets adopted. If you like chihuahuas you should totally adopt her. She is the sweetest, funniest little dog EVER!
Dear Murtagh, Don’t sunbath in the stall with the horse most likely to try to kill you. Love, Your family
Simon is getting lots of rides right now since he is pretty much the only horse I can ride. He is still cool as a cucumber 95% of the time. LOVE this OTTB!
Bunny participated in our pursuit to give the vets as much of our money as possible this month. We thought she had a rotten tooth, but turns out it was just a random abscess. She did get her teeth cleaned and a few removed, but the abscess was likely from a spider bite or something like that. It popped on the outside and is oozy now. Super gross.
I’m excited for a fun weekend with my girlfriends. I hope your weekend is wonderful and if you are in the great white north that your snow starts melting! Spring starts next week!
This week FLEW by! Boot City and my 13th Anniversary was on Monday. We celebrated with an AMAZING dinner at B&B Butchers. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough! I was initially skeptical of yet another steak place in Fort Worth, but this one is it’s very own. The food and the service were second-to-none! As per usual we didn’t take any pics, but it was lovely.
We also got some more rain.
Muddy horse exhibit #1: Coco Chanel
Muddy horse exhibit #2: Simon
Muddy horse exhibit #3: Sterling
Clearly the horses are enjoying the mud. Good grief.
Patches got spayed on Monday. She was a great patient and enjoyed her trip home, basking in the sunlight.
Because you can never have too many pony pics.
Jaguar’s hay gets soaked for multiple reasons and Murtagh LOVES to sit on the hay as the tank fills with water and drink it when it gets high enough in the tank. He is so weird.
Lily has a meet and greet and will potentially be adopted this weekend. She has been a joy to have, but I’m very excited for her potential new family!
The upcoming weekend is the annual Hunt Ball! Boot City and I get to get all dressed up with our horsey friends and have a nice dinner with our favorite people. I also have a super fun delivery this afternoon that I am excited to share next week!
February in Texas means time for the Winter Series horse shows in Katy at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. It is a series of four weeks in a row of hunter/jumper horse shows and for some reason is one of my favorite shows of the year. Possibly because it reminds me of showing at the NILE when I was a kid and probably because I tend to enjoy the precarious weather that February brings to Texas.
The series started the first week of February and had four separate shows going until the last weekend of February. In the interest of not abandoning Boot City for multiple weekends in a row we opted to go to the first and last weekends. I drove down and hauled horses with my horsey bestie the first weekend and she picked us up to go down the last weekend. It is way funner to get to go with your best friend on a four hour drive through a really boring part of Texas.
My name is Sterling and I hate baths. Why a horse who was born to turn white has to dislike baths so much is beyond me. He’s gotten better, but he still thinks you are torturing him.
I have been taking lessons at a local jumper barn and was REALLY feeling READY for this horse show. I’ve gotten much better at seeing distances to the jumps and feeling like I’m actually riding rather than passengering. Well, the first weekend of showing didn’t really prove to be my best riding. We are still showing over 2’6″ fences so my mistakes aren’t hugely cumbersome to Sterling, but man they are frustrating for me. The first weekend of the show was smaller so there were only 10-12 in my division and we placed in all our classes so I’m happy about that aspect of the first weekend of showing. I am still not doing a very good job of controlling the consistency of Sterling’s canter around the course which caused a few chips (getting really close to the jump which is then HARD for the horse to get over safely) and a couple of very L O N G spots.
I went home and watched a bunch of videos from trainers teaching how to practice to find distances and set up some small cross rail and cavalletti jumps to practice. The weather wasn’t very cooperative towards the end of the month so we didn’t get as much practice as I would have liked, but thankfully I have two other horses I can ride to do the exercises multiple times in one day. Plus Simon and Coco benefit a lot from going over cavalletti. I went into Week IV feeling a bit better about my skillz. Now if I could just keep my brain tuned to the right channel while showing I would be in good shape!
We got to the show a day earlier for Week IV than we had for Week I because horsey bestie was showing on Friday. It was nice to be there and get to settle in before showing. Sterling gets a bit nervous so I felt like the extra day allowed him to settle in more. Plus it was WAY warmer in Katy than in Azle during the two day iceapolooza storm we had. Sorry Boot City for leaving you to blanket-unblanket-blanket-repeat three horses while I basked in the 75 degree temps with my one horse.
Our first schooling ride over fences was fabulous. He was relaxed. I (mostly) made good decisions. We got to school in our show ring without a ton of other horses to distract us. I finally felt good about showing. Hopefully I could keep it together for another 48’ish hours.
Nap time for the Unicorn. He doesn’t lay down often, but I think it is so cute when he does. I imagine this is how parents of real children must feel times 100.
The second weekend of showing definitely went better than the first weekend. It wasn’t perfect, but it was much better. Not once did we come out of the ring and trainer ask if I was trying to kill my horse! We had one bad chip the whole weekend. A few close spots and a couple long spots and for some reason I still let him zoom around the ends of the ring. There were nearly 20 in our division and we placed in 3 of 4 trips over fences so I was very happy with those results! We were in very good company (read, competing against horses WAY fancier) and didn’t make fools of ourselves. Plus I had SO much fun. Like SSSOOOO much fun! I love my barn family, my horsey bestie and pretty much everyone I get to hang out with at horse shows. And, of course, I adore my horse. Never would anyone have thought that the ugly steel grey yearling would turn into such a wonderful show pony!
Maybe one of my most favorite horse show pics to date. He just looks SO cute!
Welcome to the very last Farm Friday for 2017! I’m going to leave off the year with a bunch of photos of animals being tortured by being forced to don holiday attire. Enjoy!
Annie the reindog
Lily the reluctant Chihuahua Christmas jester (she was trying to chew on the bells)
Sterling looking stoic as usual in his Christmas jingle collar
Quila looking longingly out the window. Wondering why her parents make her wear humiliating holiday jingle collars.
Sterling actually not looking pissed that he’s wearing a Santa hat!
And one final, random cake picture. This is a Grapefruit Cake made famous by the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant. Read the story in the link, it’s great. I got the recipe from American Cake. My horsey bestie made it for a foxhunt brunch last year and I was extremely skeptical of a grapefruit cake. I mean, I love grapefruit, but in a cake? People. It is TO. DIE. FOR. It is SO good. I made one on Christmas and it is as heavenly as I remember. So go get you that cook book, because it is super fun to read and cook from, and make this cake. Right now.
Y’all. I have purchased about 4 Christmas gifts and didn’t do cards yet. #christmas2017fail Oh well. I still love you all and wish you a VERY Merry Christmas!
It rained a couple inches this week so I kept the horses up for a few days to allow the pasture to recover a bit. Simon took full advantage of the mud to pursue a new hair color. Or to become a mud monster.
Jaguar came out of his stall quite lame yesterday and scared me half to death that he was foundering. My kind neighbor gave him some bute while I was at work and I packed his feet last night. It seems to be more of a sore feet from the rain issue than founder. This is Jaguar with his hoof pack booties on in festive green. He seemed much better this morning and it’s raining again so all horses are in the barn for a couple more days.
Sterling and I have been showing at regional and rated shows for about 3 1/2 years now. Pretty much all three years we have been showing over 2’6″ fences because I was basically starting at zero. I REALLY want to move up to bigger fences, but the only way to to do that is to ride better and to ride better I need to jump more. The primary barrier to that has been that the trainer I ride with at horse shows is located about four hours away from me and I really only see her at horse shows. To remedy that I started taking more lessons with a couple of trainers close to me who have similar approaches to riding and jumping to my horse show trainer. I still don’t get lessons as often as I should and now that fox hunting will be starting it will be even harder, but I’m committed to doing it both for me and for my horses. I want to bring Coco along correctly and not put her through the misery of my beginner mistakes that Sterling was such a saint about dealing with.
In that vein I had a lesson on Sterling last Saturday and it was SO FUN! The barn is a primarily jumper barn so the jumps are much wilder looking than hunter fences. Sterling has always been a brave jumper (he isn’t brave in any other aspect of his life, though. Remember trail rides?) so wasn’t phased by the crazy striped poles. He even jumped a liverpool with no hesitation! Most horses freak out the first time they jump a liverpool because they are moats of horse-eating scariness. Not Sterling. Other than me riding like a dufus he was perfect.
This is a liverpool jump. I don’t think we were jumping anywhere near this height, but you get an idea of what it looks like.
I made a ton of mistakes throughout the lesson, but he marched right along and WE JUMPED AROUND OUR FIRST EVER 3′ COURSE! This trainer had given us some lessons when I was first starting to jump Sterling and she commented about how much more forward he is now, so at least I’ve done something right along the way. We got our strides down every line and didn’t have any hard chips. A few close spots and a couple Tara-why-are-you-looking-down-and-not-forward moments, but I did better at keeping him forward and even used too much leg a couple times.
This isn’t from our lesson, but it is a pretty pic of Sterling at the horse show in Katy last weekend. Hopefully we can continue to get more lessons in and move up to bigger fences at the shows sooner rather than later. He’s such a good boy!
Photo by Jerry Mohme. It looks like we are in a forest, but we aren’t.
Sterling and I FINALLY got to go to a horse show this past weekend! It was an eventful trip getting to Katy. If you saw any of my social media posts you’ll see that my pickup broke on the trip down on Friday. Thankfully it was fixable in a day and the Firestone crew was AMAZING! We didn’t get to the show grounds in time to ride on Friday as we had intended, but such is life. I did lunge Sterling on Friday evening and he was surprisingly chill after standing on the trailer for 10 hours!
We hadn’t been to a show since February so I wanted to see what kind of horse I had early Saturday morning. We got to our ring well before the show started and hacked around in the dark. There was one other horse in the ring at the same time and all was well until the other horse started acting up and rearing. Sterling can be greatly influenced by the demeanor of horses around him so we got out of there and ended our morning hack on a good note. All seemed well!
I tacked up about 45 minutes before my division was slated to start and headed to the warmup. He was looking around a lot, but he seemed happy. The more we worked the more agitated he became. As a kid I would always show my horse in a different bit than I used at home. It was a way to “tell” my horse that this was a show and not just practice. It worked well for the western horses because they would go nicely in an easy bit and I would use a slightly stronger bit at the shows to better get their attention. This method evidently does NOT work with Sterling! We went over a few warm-up fences and he was clearly getting MAD! There were two trips until mine so I hurried back to the stalls and put his “practice” bit on. It didn’t completely change his demeanor, but he was most definitely not angry about the bit in his mouth any more!
I made a few rider errors on Saturday and we had a close spot (a “chip” in jumping horse lingo) in all of our courses so got 2nd out of 2 in all 3 over fence classes. The other horse was really fancy so we were also 2nd in the hack. Sunday was MUCH better! Sterling was very calm and never agitated by the bit in his mouth. I made a couple mistakes and he was spooking at a wheelbarrow by the judge’s stand in all our trips, but the last one was pretty solid and we won that round!
This is a video taken by a fabulous barn mom of our last trip of the day and the round that we won.
Now that Sterling and I are both a little bit more seasoned at the hunter horse show gig I know that he is quite sensitive and if I try to make a strong fix during a course, he will respond with a strong reaction. I have to correct quietly and when in doubt (which is usually the case!), just leave him alone. I’m pretty darn lucky that he’s been as tolerant of my learning curve at the same time he’s been learning!
While they cannot actually speak, horses are really pretty good communicators. I say that as a human resources professional with an advanced degree in communication. I think horses more often have a benefit from not having words. Non-verbal communication is more accurate than verbal because it tends to be more honest (I’m sure you know PLENTY of people who could/should talk less).
For a while now Coco has been fussy when she’s brushed on her right side near where the saddle goes. She will kick at me with her left hind foot. She’s usually fine for tacking up, getting on and riding her. However she pinned her ears and refused to canter or bucked every time I asked for a canter yesterday. It didn’t matter which lead I asked for, she was PISSED! The timing was PERFECT for her first visit from a chiropractor/acupuncturist/veterinarian.
Sterling was seen by a chiropractor a couple years ago and was found to be pretty OK, but none of my horses has been seen by anyone other than my regular vet in a few years. It is always a little nerve wracking to wait and see what they will tell you! Coco flinched a few times during the evaluation, which I knew meant something was wrong, but you have to wait for the doctor to tell you what is up until after they finish the evaluation.
Well, it turns out Coco has a few issues, but nothing career-ending. THANK GOODNESS! The likely culprit for her kicking at me while brushing her is an ulcer. This would also be why she was such a brat about cantering yesterday. She will start getting some Tums immediately and will have a longer treatment with omeprazole followed by a change in her diet to (hopefully) prevent future ulcers. Other issues Dr. Barbie found were soreness and heat in both front heels, so she needs shoes. She was a bit off in her sacral area so got a chiropractic adjustment for that soreness. All in all her issues should be easily treatable and not terribly expensive.
Coco looking out over her domain.
Sterling tends to do the same kick-at-me-when-being-brushed-on-the-left-side thing so I had Dr. Barbie do an eval on him as well. Turns out he doesn’t have significant ulcers, at least not anything near what Coco has as far as pain level. He will benefit from some aloe added to his diet, but nothing major. She did confirm that he has soreness in both of his front feet. She suspected saddle fit, so we put the saddle on and all looked well. He definitely needs more than a thin saddle pad with the Antares saddle, but it wasn’t anything she was concerned about. I told her my regular vet indicated this spring that Sterling was showing signs of arthritis in his coffin bones and she agreed that is most likely what is happening so he will need coffin injections sooner rather than later. Getting older STINKS for horses AND people! He also got an adjustment to his sacral area and she was surprised he was doing lead changes with no issues considering his soreness. What can I say, Sterling is a lead change dream!
My big grey (frequently brown) goober.
I’m so glad I had Dr. Barbie come look at my horses. I am a strong believer in preventative care for horses and people so hopefully we have identified some issues before they become major issues and given their sporting careers a boost in duration.
First off, I took zero pictures. I had no idea what to expect from a 3yo OTTB on hundreds of open acres for the first time and carrying my phone seemed like a recipe for disaster. I also didn’t have a safe way to tote it around since it is giant and I only had breeches pockets.
Some of Boot City’s family recently bought some property outside of Waco so horsey bestie and I headed down with our OTTB’s and her adorbs Welsh Cob mare to hit the trails with the fam and a neighbor. I was a bit apprehensive how he would behave as Simon had “come to life” on our last ride at home and went so far is to attempt to buck a couple times. Simon has a very level topline so it doesn’t take much for him to put his head down and let ‘er buck. Thankfully he’s quite lazy and very gangly so his attempts so far have just been entertaining. We also cantered for the first time since January on that ride. It is amazing how a horse that is SO awkward at the walk and trot can have such a lovely and balanced canter. Nevermind that you must ride EVERY stride or he will just stop. #lazyOTTB
Suffice it to say that he was a rock star on his first trail ride. It was the perfect environment for him and we couldn’t have dreamed up a better first experience. The company was calm and quiet, which was important to me for his first few outings. I want him to be comfortable with his pals on the trail and not be worried about any of them running away from the group or running up on the group. Once he is comfortable just ambling along a few times we will move up to trying some speed and taking forays away from the other horses.
On this ride he crossed a concrete creek bridge. Saw a few deer. Heard gunshots (it is dove hunting season in Texas) in near range for about 20 or 30 minutes. Rode through a group of cattle with calves. A couple birds flew out of cover when we rode by, but not big noisy birds. The property is lovely and has some nice roads throughout so we stuck to the paths. He never wanted to go faster other than speeding up his walk, but he wasn’t his completely slow ambling lazy self. He also stood tied to the trailer like a gentleman with his two girlfriends while we had lunch.
The laziest and sweetest OTTB!
We will be back down for another ride in the next few weeks, that is for sure! I might even get brave and take Sterling sometime to see if perhaps he does better on trail rides if he’s in a small group or even alone since he’s a hot mess in big groups. Many thanks to horsey bestie for coming along and bringing an extra horse and to Boot City’s family for hosting us and providing a yummy lunch!