Monday, November 21, 2011

Novemberish Musings

I haven't been riding too much in the last week...a couple quick rides on Miles, which have been fine, though nothing of note-of course that boy always leaves a smile on my face, no matter what. He's been extra cute on the ground, just super affectionate and adorable, pushing his big 'ol head into my chest, leaving more slobber streaks than usual in my hair, the works...maybe he's rewarding me for the light work load:) Sorry bubs, that has more to do with hunters in the woods, crappy weather and rock-hard indoor arena surfaces than your bountiful charms. I think I'll let him take the credit though:)

Or maybe he's showing off for a certain lady...or competing for treats and scratches, who can say? I've been working a lot with Miles and Chamie on the ground together, and I have no qualms about leading them together and ponying Chamie off of Miles when the time comes. They are really cute together and I'm so happy my kids don't just tolerate but really seem to enjoy each others' company. If they weren't such opposites on the hard-keeper/air-fern spectrum, they would be great turnout buddies.

Miles is still doing well with the little Arab mare he is out with, but Chamie has a less than warm and fuzzy relationship with LaShore, Miles' old turnout buddy (they have a bromance for sure, and this is the only instance where I've EVER used that "word"). Don't get me wrong, they will graze together and there has been no naughtiness from either party-and I'm super grateful for that. Still, LaShore is "the boss", and Chamie is very cool towards him; I have to stop her from marching right out of the gate (because he wants treatings too!) when I bring her in. If he comes toward us, even innocently (at least it looks that way to this human), her ears go back and she gets out of town, or really wants to. Nevertheless, I know she is happy to be out with a horse at all, and she's got 2 sweet mares on one side of her pasture and Miles and the Arab mare on the other. LaShore really is a sweetheart, and he's not chasing her or being a jerk in any way-they can share the same hay pile and everything. I guess I'm just not used to seeing my girl at the bottom, lolz:) I'll get over it-I know horses don't take these things personally.

Here, have some pictures:

Chamie all bundled up. It's been chilly, but not COLD (by Michigan standards, of course). This day was in the 30's. I'm really trying to keep blanketing to a minimum though-she still goes in a stall at night as well.

First turnout together! In the outdoor arena-of course, Chamie just wanted to go to town on whatever pathetic grass she could get her chompers on. Miles relented, after much spinning and running and showing off-when she barely raised an eyebrow, he sighed, lowered his head, and followed suit. It was pretty hilarious.

Cute Butts!!

More Butts!! I don't know what stance she is doing here-no fluids were forthcoming.

Not the most exciting picture of my boy, but look how BEEFY he is!!! His belly is actually round! And that butt! At this point I'm thinking I may be overly concerned with my horse's bum...and don't even get me started on how gorgeous his coat is. My big, black fake-stud gentleman:)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Check Up On Your Old Horse Day

Yep, I'm making this a thing.

This whole experience with Chamie has taught me so much and given me hours of "what-ifs" to think about.

First of all, as an aside, I've found I don't have an old, sweet pasture pet. I have an old, sweet, getting stronger and sounder by the day mare who still remembers all her aids and gave me a flawless walk-canter transition under saddle on Sunday. The smile on my face didn't leave until my cheeks hurt. She was moving so well on our first ride since she came home I thought, what the hell, let's see if she will do it. She moved out like a dream. I have witnesses, y'all!

Regardless, even if I didn't feel comfortable riding her ever again, I'm so, so glad she's home. She's so frigging happy, you guys-she came cantering to see me at the gate yesterday. Her eyes are bright and she's been moving OUT on the lunge. I found her trot (as opposed to her western shuffle or wev it was she was doing at the old barn). This is after a week of all day turnout...such a difference. She's actually out with LaShore, Miles' best bud-they are both easy keepers and it makes sense while the grass is still out. Miles is with another little arab mare(!) on a much larger, lusher pasture right next door to Chamie and LaShore so he can continue to keep his fine-ass round figure. If you had told me my fake stud could go out with a mare even 6 months ago I would have called you nutty. He truly has become a different horse. A gentleman, you might say.

Digressing over! The real reason I wanted to write this post is because I want to encourage you, since you're reading this, to follow up on an old horse that has made you the equestrian you are today. It doesn't have to be a horse you owned-maybe one you leased or rode in lessons or even just hacked out with casually. A horse that gave you SOMETHING-a horse that touched your life. A horse you have lost touch with. I want you to follow up on them even if you are in no position to take said horse IF such a solution is needed.

If I hadn't kept tabs on Chamie, I don't know that she wouldn't have been put her condition, it actually would not have been the worst thing, either. The thing is, even if I couldn't have taken her, I would had done my damnedest to network and find a home for her, even temporarily. I have enough connections in the community I'm pretty sure I could have found a place.

I wish her barn owners had told me years ago (or whenever shit started to go downhill as far as her care) that she was rotting in a stall all day, every day, even if her owner wouldn't relinquish her just then. I would have gone out at least once or twice a week to groom her, walk her, pay for basic hoof trimmings. I wish I had followed up when they didn't respond to my email a little less than a year ago. I wish I had gone to see her once a year (I always did have a standing invite to do so). I wish I wish I wish.

So, again, I want to challenge all of you to do so. Shoot an email, make a phone call. Make sure the horse that carted you around and taught you how to ride is ok. Make sure that horse that won you your first blue ribbon isn't being neglected. EVEN if you are in no position to do anything financially to help if, god forbid, things are not as they should be. The horse world is filled with caring souls, and most of us are on the interwebs. At the very least, you can do what I would have done had I known, yet not been able to buy Chamie back; visit the horse, give attention and love, and give BACK to these horses that have given us so much. Let the owner know you are HERE, and you care. Even if, hopefully, everything is fine now, it can make all the difference down the road.

I know it's scary. We don't want to know things are not as they should be. It hurts LIKE HELL to find out things are not right. I realize I may sound a little self-righteous writing this..."Lookit me, I saved my old horse, now YOU all do it too!" Please believe me when I say that this has nothing to do with me. One of the things I can't get out of my head are all the other Chamies out far worse condition than she was. Almost every horse (well, ok, the lucky ones) has a person who loved them, learned from them, cared for them, bonded with them. While it shouldn't be up to that person to rescue or help such a horse they haven't seen in years, sometimes there IS no one else.

I'm willing to bet that if you do follow up with your special horse, things are just as they should be-maybe the horse is still in light work, or retired properly, or was given a dignified death; that piece of mind is worth everything. If things are not as they should be? You can always do SOMETHING, however small, to help.

Do it. Do it soon. There is no way you will regret it.

Weeks before Chamie said Peace Out to her old life. I don't see this sad face anymore.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Follow The Leader

Having my two kids, Chamie and Miles, in one barn FINALLY has been so fabulous. Excepting her third night home, when she tried to kill herself by choking on her dry alfalfa cubes (which I had given to her 20 times previously with no issues), Cham has settled in fabulously, and she looks to be healthy and happy.

Two days ago I decided to try leading my two beasts together in hopes that I can start ponying Chamie off Miles during our warm ups and cool downs. I still haven't ridden her since she's been home, but I will-the weather has not exactly been cooperative (SNOW today, cripes). Anyway, it went really well. Miles is interested in her of course, but not disrespectful. When he gets a little too close or lags behind (totally NOT intentional, I'm sure, har har) to sniff her butt, a squeal from Cham and a good tug from me sets him straight. We walked all over the farm and I let them graze side by side, and they were perfect.

Yesterday, the wind was insane, so Miles was quite up and decided to act a fool on a couple of occasions-still, he was kind enough to spook or freak out away from us, which is exactly what he needs to do to keep everyone safe, so I was super proud of him. I'm hoping to try ponying in the next week or so. I found Chamie ties well to the area wall while I work with Miles. My studly thoroughbred, on the other hand? Not a fan. Oh well-something to work on in these dark frigid days. In the Spring, I'm hopeful I can take both my horses down the trail-I think it will give Miles and I both a lot of confidence to have a steady eddy along with us.

In craptastic weather news, I broke down and blanketed both my kids today as it's going to be cold cold cold until Saturday or so. Sigh. Welcome to winter.

No pictures, because I suck. Miles really is ridiculously handsome these days though. He weighs more than he has since I adopted him 2 years ago (one of his girths has stopped fitting!). His coat is black and beautiful. He's moving wonderfully, and I will continue to give all my love to SmartPak's SmartFlex Senior which I think has made a huge difference-Chamie is on it now as well. My farrier is encouraging me to consider shoes for him in the Spring, since he doesn't have a lot of concavity in his feet. Still, I think the Durasole helps, and unless I ride him on gravel he moves wonderfully...I don't know. We will see. I know his feet aren't perfect, but they don't crack, aren't shelly, and his heels and frogs look great. Maybe I'll post some pictures soon to get some opinions.

So, there's my not so exciting update for November. I'm waiting to hear on a job that I had 2 interviews for and I really, really want, so I'm trying to enjoy these days with my ponies while I can. Optimism rules! :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011


My girl is home.

I don't know that I'll ever be able to capture words on screen, or in speech, how awesome today was. From her effortless loading on the trailer (despite her obvious terror...she was shaking when we got her off), to her walking around her new digs, taking a big sigh, and dropping her head. She's already so much happier.

Tiny background Miles looks on forlornly.

My Chirrins are together, finally. She is willing to put up with him if there is food involved. He, as predicted, is fascinated with the older laydee.

What an amazing first day. I turned her out in a small individual pasture for a couple hours after walking around the farm and walking the perimeter of the fence. She paid no attention once she realized she was out and she could graze-I don't think she's grazed off lead in a very, very long time. When I came back, I walked her all over the outdoor and indoor arenas (with all the scary fun-house mirrors) and she was alert but so sweet and trusting. She was looking to me more than ever in this new place for guidance. I left her in her 12 x 14 foot stall (with an awesome window to stick her head out into the aisle and see the other ponies) with a flake of hay, and she seemed just fine. I know she would have rather been outside, but she needs to work up to all day grazing, even with the grass as sparse as it is. Even so, she will be out most of the day tomorrow, I'm pretty sure.

Welcome home, girl. I'm sorry it took so long.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweet Beast

I haven't been posting much, and it's really because I've settled into a nice rhythm with my horses. Traveling between 2 barns 25 minutes apart will take up a huge chunk of time, especially when you spend 2 hours at one barn and an hour at the other. Throw 2 dog-walking sessions in there and you have my typical day. I'm not going to lie, it's pretty marvelous.

I will admit though, I have totally slacked on riding Miles until the last 2 days. For some reason, he has decided it's SUPER FUN to roll in wet mud right before I get to the barn. Literally, he has been head to hoof stinktastic. I resorted to hosing him off yesterday (in November!) because he was just that bad, and the weather was a balmy 60 something with sun so I knew he wouldn't be too uncomfortable as long as I threw his cooler on after a good squeegee.

Anyway, today was the most fabulous ride we've had in quite some time. My attentions have been so divided with Chamie that I had forgotten how amazing my boy is at just about anything I ask him to do. I took him on a loooong trail ride today with 2 awesome ladies from my barn-we have such a great group of boarders right now! Afterward, there was just enough juice left in our tank to hop over a few's a link:

Honestly, though, the trail ride was my favorite part. He really, really loves getting out. It's nerve-wracking for me, because I wouldn't say he's relaxed during these rides...his head is constantly turning this way and that, and today he had a few spook-and-scoot episodes, which were really no big deal. He's not a dead-head, which is of course good, but he has an electricity running through his body that is so visceral, I'd have to be dead not to feel it. It's exciting and thrilling, and it's obvious he is having So. Much. Fun. I feel that too:) He's a bold boy and marches right along-woe to those who hold him back. He's in tune to everything around him, from the horses to the wind and reacts in kind, which can be scary. I think I'm learning, though, that his "reactions", such as they are, are nothing I can't sit, and he's not going to bolt or buck or even pull one of those horrid sideways-spooks that leaves you behind.

What I'm trying to say is, he's the best. I just have to be a good enough rider not to hold his natural self back.

In Chamie news, my old girl is coming home on Friday! It feels like Christmas is right around the corner.