Family Update

Short one today.  I am sick with a summer cold.  Yeah, where did I get that?  Ally is now due to deliver baby Kendyll on July 5th so timing for me being sick is not so good.  I can get a mask.  Ally will have a c-section so Jordyn has already told me that I will be mad at her but she is going in to see the baby first.  That’s fine.  They need to be their own family before they are an extended one. 

Hopefully, this timing will all flow and baby and baby momma will both do gloriously well!  Jordyn was 7 pounds 14 ounces so I expect this one to weigh in over 8 pounds.  We shall see soon.  I moved the phone to a spot next to my bed just in case they need me (which they probably won’t).

Lauren is off for the long weekend with friends and Granny is alone with the all the animals.  It is raining and I am sick (I know I mentioned that) but I am feeling a little sorry for myself.  Oh, well.

We moved the trailer to the arena.  I took Feather in last night and she thought I was nuts.  But once I got her food and set it down next to the trailer she decided to eat and worry about the trailer later.  After dinner, I left the arena gate open and all the horses were surrounding the trailer, sniffing and checking it out.  I may spend some quality time sitting by the trailer with Feather but bit by bit I hope she gets more at ease with it.

Amber took my mom shopping for some new summer clothes she had to have (she has more clothes than most people).  Mom introduced Amber as Amber Wosk, her niece.  LuAnn was there about a week ago so maybe that is where the niece thing came from.  Wosk is my step-sister’s name, Lynn Wosk.  But Amber’s last name does start with a W so it is close.  Today mom told me all the clothes needed to go back because they were too small.  Amber had watched her try them all on successfully.  We are not taking them back.

Oh, well another day on the farm.  Pray for Ally and Kendyll, please.

God Bless!

No Feather

Short post-Feather didn’t load.  Caroline came down.  We had several great plans, put a chain through Feather’s mouth (she didn’t like it but it didn’t make her load), try running the lunge line through the trailer out the emergency door (we got close a couple of times, she acted like she wanted to do it but would set back and take all of us with her), going quietly and urging her a step at a time (it was less stressful but no more successful). 

After Feather had set back a few times at a high speed and in unknown directions, Caroline started to get worried about her daughter, Arianna, being caught up in her hooves.  I got tagged one time with the rope across my shoulders.  We also tried using a twitch (did nothing) and blindfolding her (she sure as hell wasn’t walking forward if she couldn’t see).

We were giving it one last try and we thought we had her.  Caroline was at the emergency door in front, holding the lunge line.  Arianna was behind the trailer door poised to get it shut as soon as Feather walked in.  Lauren was leading her and I was behind her urging her forward.  Lauren moved to the side, I urged her forward, Caroline gave a little tug on the line and she should have loaded.

What happened instead will stay with me always.  I wish I could draw because I have the scene embedded in my mind. Lauren stepped out of the way, moving toward the side of trailer where Caroline was. I was behind Feather as she started to move backwards fast.  The idea was for Caroline to let go of the line so Feather go can backwards safely.  Quickly it was apparent the line was taut and Feather panicked.  I yelled at Caroline to let loose.  She already had but the line was stuck in the trailer door.  Feather moved around the same side of trailer as Lauren was on.  Lauren had slipped to the ground racing to get out from under the dangerous flying hooves.  As Arianna and I struggled to loosen the line, the chain cut hard into Feather’s tender skin and she reared into the air.

In one of those slow motion scenes, where adrenaline and super human strength take over, I watched as Caroline grabbed Lauren and pulled her to safety as Feather struck the earth and then reared again to the sky.  Caroline later said it was one of the most frightening times of her life.  Lauren came inches from being stomped to death, or at least seriously hurt.  As it was two ribs are deeply bruised and a five-inch cut runs down lower leg.

They say you should never let the horse win.  Today no one won.  Feather trembled as she approached the trailer.  We are afraid of being hurt.  Somehow, some way, I am going to get that horse into the trailer.  As dumb as it may sound, I am going to love that mare into the trailer. 

One day she’ll be a champ (and ride in the trailer)I just know it!

P.S.  A week ago, doing the simple act of reaching to halter Leo, I felt my shoulder snap.  I think there is little doubt that for the fourth time in as many years, I will need shoulder surgery.  Boy, is Dr. Nolan going to be mad at me!  And thanks to all that prayed for our safety, the first thing I did after I finished ranting and raving was Thank God for being with us all.

Hot Leo

South Texas is having the first of its summer’s heat wave.  Well over 100 degrees the last few days.  Lauren has been getting the horses into the barn early in the afternoon as we do not have any trees in our pasture.  The land we purchased was farm land so no one wanted trees out there. 

We added the fences when we came so three of the trees that were planted to surround the house actually ended up on the horse’s side of the fence. I think, because of the size and type of trees, that the most recent previous owners had decided to grow a little orchard on the southside of the house.  Included in this area are pear, fig and plum trees.  There are a few of each.  On the horse side of the fence, the three trees were plum.

I vividly remember walking out to the pasture to find white Snowboy covered in blood.  There were reddish stains all down his neck and front legs.  I ran up to him with my heart pumping only to discover that my previously starved rescue pony had spent the morning eating all the plums high and low from the tree.  Snowboy’s stripping of the fruit coincided with our summer of flood waters and we lost all three of these trees that first year.

The horses have nothing but open pasture.  In the mornings, the shadow of the house and the one big tree left by the yard throw some shade into the pasture but by noon it is all full sun.  Our barn/giant run-in shed faces east so by mid-afternoon shade is making its way across the paddock in front.  We have put up big fans in the stalls which successfully move the hot air around.

Leo decided to take the getting cool into his own hands today (or hooves to be correct).  He has always liked to go to the 100 gallon water trough and splash the water up on his neck and head.  He does this by methodically moving his head back and forth until the water splashes out of the trough and onto him.  Today with temperatures soaring he managed to take his front legs and place them in the trough.  Lauren said he was quite content to stand in the trough looking like an old man soaking his feet.

While Leo was content to hang out in the trough, I was concerned that he would get startled and hurt trying to get out of the water.  I was also concerned that Mickey would decide it was his water trough and relentlessly bother Leo until he moved out of the trough (and subsequently got hurt).

Lauren decided (at my urging) to set up the sprinkler.  It works for kids, right?  There is always danger a horse will get hurt, no matter what they do and the hose/sprinkler certainly presented a few opportunities for this but we are living on the edge.  Horses running through sprinklers, cats chasing poisonous snakes, it’s all in a day at the farm.

Well, as you can see-Leo loved the sprinkler.  This may become a regular afternoon treat.  However, you can see that none of the other horses had any interest in Leo’s method of beating the heat. 

Tomorrow, we try to get Feather to load in the trailer and go to the trainers.  Caroline has generously offered to come and help.  Actually, I begged and pleaded until she agreed, but whatever it takes.  I am giving it one hour.  If she doesn’t load in that time, I give up for now.  Check tomorrow for an update.  Oh, and say a little prayer for everyone’s safety. It is appreciated!

Horseshoes

 In the midst of the hottest day of the year so far, for south Texas, our farrier (horse shoer) came to put on Feather’s first shoes.  I cannot imagine being a farrier.  My back would give out five minutes into the first client and I would be retired.

Roland has been my farrier since I moved to this little town.  My old farrier refused to make the 100-mile round trip drive to my new home so we went begging for Roland to add us to his client list.  Roland had done some of my horses over the years in Sugar Land and always done a good job.  He had some other clients in the area so he took on my group of horses.  He has been such a regular fixture in our lives that Jordyn calls him, “Uncle Roland”.  She has a book about horses and always points out the picture of Uncle Roland where they show the horses getting their new shoes.  Roland is a good man and good farrier.

Horses need their feet trimmed about every six weeks, depending on how fast they grow and other environmental factors like heat, wet or drought. When Roland got there last night, Mickey and Leo had a full set of shoes on-meaning one on all four feet.  Sometimes, if horses have good feet they go barefoot or just wear front shoes.  Kid and Feather were barefoot but it was time for Feather to get her first pair of shoes.  Kid has already had his last.

I knew Lauren wouldn’t be much help holding the horses with her sore fingers.  I did not know how well Feather would take to the idea of nailing a metal shoe to her foot (and no, it doesn’t hurt, but it does make noise and is a little scary).

We spent four hours in the heat last night.  Roland working slowly, taking his time, doing a good job.  We did Mickey first.  He just takes this as a routine thing.  Feather was next.  With the giant fan going, the anvil, the tools and heat, she was a little skeptical. But she got through the first hoof after Lauren went and got the box of treats.  Lauren continued to feed her treats as I held her leadrope until the treats ran out somewhere before the last shoe.  Probably not great to have fed her so many treats, but after being a little squeamish on the first hoof, she was fine thereafter and stood like a champ to receive her new shoes.

At almost 9:00 pm, Roland pulled out of the drive. He said he had been at his first client at dawn. Talk about hard work, this is it. We had shared stories of days on the ranch, hand injuries to riders, talk of our friends from various other barns and updates on who had a new horse and how it was going.  It was a long night, a hot night, and a rite of passage for Feather.  Now, that she has her big-girl shoes on, I hope she gets in the trailer and goes to the dance.  She is scheduled to go to trainer-Dev’s on Thursday. 

P.S.  Harry Potter, the evil cat, is alive and well and not rotting under my house in theTexas heat. Damn-it!

Feather-Loading and Other Disasters

I decided to follow-up first thing Sunday morning with the Feather loading into the trailer issue.  Thought I would read this great article in Practical Horseman, go apply the knowledge to my horse and all would be great.

I can confirm that Feather did not read the article and it did not go well. It is the hot of murderous crime sprees, it is the hot of people dying, it is the hot of deepTexas summers.  It was over 100 degrees yesterday without a cloud in sight.  That did nothing to help our trailer issues.

Honestly, I think she loaded twice yesterday but I may be delusional from the heat or the 500 attempts we made.   In the early morning, I took Kid over.  I tied him on the trailer.  I thought his presence would give Feather confidence.  She didn’t care.  I put poor Kid in the trailer so she would have company when she loaded.  I think she loaded one time then.  I backed her out.  She did not go back in. The article said to load her and take her out and let her re-load immediately.  Feather didn’t want to do the re-load immediately part. 

Ally came down with Jordyn.  We saddled up Kid (he was getting picked for everything on this hot Sunday).  Jordyn showed her mother and skeptical Aunt Lauren that she could, in fact, mount the horse herself.  I made Ally take the picture with Jo with baby Kendyll hanging in between. I am sure she will appreciate this picture in a year when she is back to old self. 

Jordyn was hanging in the tackroom. Ally had gone in to get out of the heat.  Lauren and I thought we would quickly load Feather, get Jo and get inside.  I explained the article (walk them up, back them off , walk them up, load them up) and Lauren took Feather toward the trailer.  I was behind Feather urging her forward.  Feather got to the door of the trailer and suddenly and with great power backed off.  Number one rule I learned as a child watching a wrangler work with a young horse was NEVER wrap the leadrope around your fingers or wrist.  I watched his wrist snap in a horrible break.  Lauren knows that but got caught off guard.  Feather backed off, the rope tightened, her hand got slammed into the metal and the most God-awful peal of agony came from deep in her throat.  The neighbor’s heads came up.  They may have even, for a short period of time, thought of actually stepping on my property to see if they could make the sound stop.  Ally heard it in the house.  It was not pretty.  I immediately knew what she had done, I just didn’t know how bad it was.

The article clearly says wear gloves.  Lauren didn’t have gloves on either, compounding the injury.  After she quit wailing and was merely doing that jagged crying thing, I looked at the damage.  Three fingers were immediately bruised and swollen.  The ring finger had a funny look to it (you can tell I spent years in the medical profession).  I tried to take Feather quietly up to the trailer and I held her while she stood.  Then I released Kid and her to pasture to work with later.

In the cool of the house, we debated emergency room strategy.  While our local clinic has good doctors, is owned by Memorial Hermann and where I used to work, the reputation of the local hospital is not stellar.  When I broke my pelvis they told me to go home and take Advil.  That didn’t work out well.  We decided to wrap it and wait until the clinic would be open today.

Before dinner when we thought hunger might be a motivating factor, we decided to try Feather again.  I had wrapped Lauren’s fingers and placed them in an oven mitt.  It was a green holiday one.  Figured it was like wearing gloves.  All I am going to say about this segment of the Feather trailer loading was it didn’t work.  It was well over 100 degrees.  Lauren was hurt.  I was tired and achy.  Feather was determined not to go in the trailer.  I need a horse that will load easily and if I traumatize her now, it will never be forgotten.  I swear this is Leo’s fault from riding with her to Caroline’s and acting nuts.

This morning while I was at work, Lauren got to the clinic, got X-Rayed and had dislocated fingers.  Wow, I bet that is why they hurt so much.  I felt really guilty for not taking her to the hospital.  The doctor just slammed them back in place and sent her home.

As a special greeting, our most hated cat Harry Potter (a Tom who terrorizes all living things and we cannot touch) was chasing a snake across the back yard.  Lauren quickly assessed her snake facts, “red and yellow kill a fellow”, and went for her shot gun.  She blew the snake in half using one hand.  Apparently, Harry Potter had been bit by snake as he was lying on the front porch with a hugely swollen leg.  I suggested to Lauren that she shoot him as well but her hand, her conscience and spirit couldn’t take anymore.

I think it is highly likely Harry Potter is now under my house rotting in the Texas heat.

Feather-Training

Feather moving forward, working hard, in Gaylyn’s well groomed barrel arena.

Saturday Lauren and I had planned to go to our friend Gaylyn’s house for a little outing with Feather.  Feather, at four, is just enbarking on her life with us and her life as a show horse.  It is important that we do things the right way the first time and develop a horse that is quiet, capable and willing when we get to the show ring. 

So, I have no idea what I was thinking when I thought we would take Leo and Feather to Gay’s house.  I guess I was thinking that Feather had come all the way from Florida in a trailer just a few short months ago and she would not have issues getting back into the trailer.  I was so wrong!. When Feather first got here from Florida she had to re-load from the giant transport trailer into our three-horse slant trailer.  We had no issues.  The next day we hauled her to the vet.  She loaded in and out without a problem.  Since then we hauled her one time up to Caroline’s for an outing with Mickey and Leo.  She was sweating and a little edgy but re-loaded easily for the ride home.

My original theory was to load Feather first then Leo would come in behind her.  First, I am not pointing fingers, but Lauren was in a crappy mood.  It was early, she is never patient on a good day and this was no exception.  Feather didn’t want to get in the trailer.  She would get to trailer door and back off dragging Lauren with her.  She did that a few times.  Then we decided to put Leo into the first slant.  Oh, he went in, but then started pawing and kicking.  His behavior freaked out Feather further. She was not riding shot gun with Leo.  Perhaps she had read my blog.  No riding with Leo!

We decided to go get Mickey and take Feather with him.  I’ve got to tell you, when Mickey is your go-to guy, life is nuts.  Mickey had years when he would not load in a trailer without serious prompting along with bolting and dragging his handler.  In the meantime, Lauren and I are both sweating and complaining about our stupid horses and it isn’t even 8:00 am yet.  Mickey, in his current place, as the king of the herd and champion of Six Meadow Farm, walks right in the trailer.  He stands patiently as we figure a way to get Feather in with him. 

I got a short whip and stood behind the horse, while Lauren lead her forward into the trailer.  It took a couple of trys and couple of hard retreats (dragging Lauren out of the trailer with her) but Feather loaded and we were off to Gaylyn’s place.

Gaylyn and I have been friends for several years.  Both of us moved our families from Sugar Land to this little town to have more space for our horses.  Gaylyn has run top-quality Quarter horses and a few paints in barrels and poles over the years.  She has made her mark at Quarter Horse World and as a dear friend.

Fortunately, we live only about ten minutes apart.  I was very happy with Feather when she got to the new arena.  A show horse must settle in to new places.  There isn’t time to be afraid of everything, buck or run.  At a new arena, my horses need to be ready to work.  Feather really took the whole new place in stride.  She certainly was looking around and taking it all in but not in any crazy or difficult way.

Boomer, with his perfect head cocked toward the mare.

Gaylyn’s young, home-bred, gelding, Boomer sure had his eye on my mare.  He is a pretty perfect looking Quarter horse.  I think he liked the looks of my leggy grey mare as well.

We all had good rides working on our multiple horse disciplines.  Gay was working her barrel horse stuff, lots of canter circles and stops.  Lauren was trying to get the mare collected up and moving well.  I was riding Mickey, walk, trot and canter with my main goal to stay in the saddle.

Gaylyn turned to watch Feather work.  She remarked that the mare moved powerfully and yet smoothly.  I definitely was proud of Feather (and Mick) when the cows in the pasture next door start a mini-stampede for their barn.  Feather watched them carefully but made no move to run or spook. 

We got both horses in the trailer pretty easily and headed home.  It is good to have good horses and good friends.  Feather will practice loading each day this week until her departure to Dev’s for more training on Thursday.  I bet she will be a pro by then.

Man O’War, Secretariat and Mr.Kid (OTTBs and OTQH)

Man O’War

My friend Gaylyn gave me a photo of my favorite horse of all time-Man O’War, last night.  Man 0’War, or Big Red as he was called, raced in 1918-1919.  He won 20 of 21 races beaten only by a horse named Upset in a race as a two-year old where he was literally backward at the barrier when it was snapped (no starting gates existing then) to start the race.  His jockey got him boxed in on the rail and still he only lost by a neck in this horrible race.  He didn’t win the triple crown, I think he would have, but his owner, being truly interested in the welfare of his horse, thought a mile and a quarter was too far to ask a three-year old to run early in May.  He did win the Preakness and the Belmont. He was truly one of the great ones.  If you have young kids that like to read, get the Walter Farley version of Man O’War.  It will be a great summer read for them or you.  Just be prepared for the proclamations that Man O’War was the “mostest horse that ever was” as his groom used to say.

Secretariat

Secretariat, also known as Red, may have been the greatest ever-I would say certainly in the spring of 1974 when it was Triple Crown time, I do not think there was a horse ever that could have beat the horse he was then.  Yesterday, a decision came down that Secretariat’s time in the Preakness was officially a Preakness record.  This has been debated since 1974.  The official clock malfunctioned.  Two track timers clocked him at the same Preakness record time but it wasn’t until Penny Chenery continued to fight for her big red horse that now, the record will stand until someone can surpass it.  Secretariat broke records at all three triple crown events.  His time from the Belmont (watch the movie Secretariat if you haven’t-you will enjoy it) will never be beat (or if it does that thoroughbred may be the best ever).

Kid at 30-imagine him in his prime

My big red horse, Mr. Kid, continues to be the love of my life.  He is an off the track quarter horse.  He was fast.  He went from the track to speed events like barrels and poles.  He is related to both Secretariat and Man O’War in his bloodlines, or at least that’s how I remember it.  Both of those super race horses had what horse lovers call heart and I believe my horse does as well.  He has certainly given me his.

The other two OTTBs, are coming along.  Leo worked better today than ever since his adjustments.  We made some saddle and pad changes.  I think the saddle was not fitted as well as it should have been.

Caroline and Joey (I think they like each other!)

Caroline is doing a great job on the new horse Joey.  I think they have bonded and he is lucky to have someone he trusts as he makes the transition from race horse to jumper.  He is gaining weight, getting stronger and more balanced.  I want to see him go over some small jumps soon. Oh, I hope he likes it!