Leadline

I have tried as a mother and grandmother, to instill a love and respect of animals in my children and grandchildren.  It is clearly a desire of mine for my grandchildren to be comfortable around and enjoy horses and equestrian sports. 

It brought me profound joy to reunite Jordyn with Snowney-Pony as she calls him this weekend at the Great SW Equestrian Center in Katy,TX.

Snow comes to us from the ASPCA with a run through Sarah/Sharelle Petty’s rescue.  Jordyn started riding on his back before she could walk.  She was trotting on his back as a two-year old.  Then came my new job and less time at home.  We got to spend less time with Jordyn and Jordyn less time with Snow.  I made the decision to send Snow to Lauren’s trainer, Dev, where he could use him (and pay his bills) until the time Jordyn was ready and able to ride him again on a regular basis.

Snow has done well at Dev’s winning numerous championships for little girls there-including one for Isabelle this weekend.  But it was also time for Jordyn to get back on Snowney’s back in the show ring.

The first class done by a lot of little riders is “Leadline”.  The parent (or aunt-in our case) leads the little rider into the ring all decked out in show gear on a tiny English saddle.  The judge asks for a couple of things from the riders, like show your jumping position or some basic questions.

Jordyn was with us on Friday when Snow arrived in Dev’s trailer.  Nothing would do but to get on him and take a trip around the show grounds.  Lauren schooled Mick and Leo.  We left the horses at the Equestrian Center and headed home for last minute preparations.

Early Saturday morning, Jo along with Caroline’s daughter Abby, got ready for the ring.  Their hair was done in braids with large ribbons.  They sported jodhpurs and paddock boots.  Hard hats (helmets) were required and on.  We caught a great picture of the girls, both four years old, peering into Snow’s stall.

Abby and Jordyn, entry numbers in place,checking on Snow.

Both girls did great in the ring.  I would note that Abby’s pony is a rescue as well, but no two ponies could be cuter!

I love the picture of Jordyn with her parents.  Ally is late in her pregnancy with sister Kendyll.  They are all in blue and it matches to Snowney’s blue ribbon perfectly.

I love that Jordyn loves the shows, and the horses.  I love that I am lucky enough to share it all with her.  My one dear friend reminded me later, just wait until Jordyn is a teen riding for the top spot in the Junior Division.  She said, “you will want to keep these pictures close at hand to remind her where she started”.

I will indeed want to do that.  I will indeed.

 

Jordyn on Snowbaby Go-earning her blue ribbon for a job well done.

Lauren

I have been gone for three days.  Lauren was left in charge of the farm.  And what a time she had in my absence. 

Starting off she had the roof problem to deal with, a couple of basketball size holes in the roof from the limb that fell during the storm last weekend.  Then she had the total care and feeding of the horses, dogs and cats.  Plus we are going to a horse show this weekend so the horses have to worked and polished.

First, Lauren does not like meeting new people.  She likes to leave all the adult interaction to me.  But this week, she had two roofing contractors come to house to give bids on the roof damage.  I understand that it can be uncomfortable to be 19 years old, a female, and alone in a house in the country with men you do not coming into your home.  I get that.  But Lauren hates it.  She had to do it because I wasn’t there.  She was fine.  One guy wanted to talk all about her horses and her riding.  She thought it was a little creepy but I think he was just enjoying talking to a pretty girl on a summer day. 

After the roofing contractors came and went, the insurance adjustor had to come and view both the outside of the house (which was pretty safe) and the inside (to see the water damage) which was not.  She was glad to close and lock the door when they all were gone. 

Lauren’s snake!

On Monday, to liven things up for her, she found Chloe (our favorite cat) playing with a snake.  Not just a snake, but a big snake and we think it is a copperhead.  Feel free to educate me if I am wrong.  She tried to take the shovel to it and kill it but had to contend with getting the cat away.  Oh, and there was the whole Lauren is scared to DEATH of SNAKES!  So, I am not surprised she didn’t get it killed.  She was far too worried that she would cut off its tail and it would swing around and bite her.  The next day she texted me to say that she had gotten a shot gun from her boyfriend, Blake, and was going to shoot the snake.  That scared me more than her getting attacked by the roofer guys or bit by the snake.  Lauren with a gun was not my favorite visual as I sat in training in Oklahoma. 

The next thing I know, Lauren texts me to tell me Blake is having her fire a semi-automatic weapon.  This did not bring great joy and assurance to me.  I was worried about the shot-gun.  I have little regard for the recreational use of a semi-automatic weapon.  I know there are those that will disagree. 

Finally, yesterday Dr. Criner, our vet, came.  She was going to follow up with Leo (which by the way, I had sent her a text saying “F/U Leo” and she called me to ask why I was mad at her-the F/U was follow up not some other acronym) and his chiropractic needs. Also she had to do dental work on Leo and Feather.  For Dr. Criner, and Lauren, by extension as her helper, dental work on horses involves the old-fashioned method of filing down the rough edges of the horse’s teeth.  Dr. Criner insists on client involvement, whereby once she has the horse suitably drugged and their mouth propped open, she has the owner feel the edges of the horse’s teeth.  Feather’s bottom teeth were so sharp that they were causing swelling of her upper mouth.  Leo’s were horrible-sharp and overgrown plus he had TMJ and needed his jaw chiropracticed (not kidding here). 

After Dr. Criner did her process of filing the teeth and rinsing, Lauren was asked to put her hand back in the horse’s mouth to feel the newly filed teeth.  If your vet does not offer this option you are missing out-I mean really, how do you know they are doing what should be done?  This process also involves Lauren holding up the horse’s head (easily 80 pounds) while the dental work is done.  Because of the anesthetic the head just bobbles away.  Of course, the heat index was over 100 degrees, so all and all this was pretty great.  Dr. Criner did the hard physical work of filing while Lauren was the head-holding dental assistant.  The last patient of day was my old horse Kid.  He has had a lot of drainage from his eyes.  He needed an irrigation of the sinus and eye.  I think we completely lost Lauren when the syringe went in Kid’s eye.

I am proud of my daughter.  What a crazy three days.  I bet she won’t want me to leave again any time soon.  Sometimes it is good for your children to appreciate you.  Likewise, it is good for them to learn-inspite of anything that comes up- that they can handle things on their own.

Other update-I have not been able to reach my mom much this week.  There is a problem with the phone.  But I did learn Jim was in trouble for driving his new SUV on the sidewalk.  The greatest news was that my cousin Lu Ann got to Denver to see my mom this week.  I think it was therapeutic for both of them.  Lu Ann is one of the warmest, dearest people on earth and she truly brightened my mother’s life.  It was a little ironic that I was in Oklahoma while Lu Ann was visiting my mom.  She no longer lives in Oklahoma but I think it will always be home for her.

Training

I am in training for a few days.  I am trying to learn new things.  I did not grow up with computers.  I was in journalism school and we were still using the IBM Selectric typewriters.  They actually had little corrector tapes that made changes to your papers or articles.  When word processing came along it changed everything-things people take for granted now.  Being able to go and change one line of document without re-typing the whole thing was an enormous step forward.  And saving the document electronically for another day, wow, what an invention!   I know you don’t want to hear about the old days but I want you to understand how crazy the idea would have been for me, to do computer training.  It would be like something out of The Jetsons. And if you don’t know who the Jetson’s are…well that’s another story entirely.

So, I am learning to manage and coordinate a computer site that handles retention of files and documents.  It will be new for me.  I am a little scared.  What do I know about this stuff?  Very little is the answer.  But I will troop along and learn and grow. 

Our horses, with our dogs and even our cats to a degree, learn and grow.  The cats simply learn I will show up with the food at appointed times of the day.  The horses and dogs need more lessons.  I have heard many dog trainers comment that horse people make good dog trainers.  It is because we already get the repetition and time needed to make an animal understand what we want to teach them. 

Yesterday, Joey- the new off the track thoroughbred (OTTB) started his training with Caroline.  He was fresher and livelier.  Probably he was feeling pretty good from the pampering, the good food and rest.

He knows a lot.  But for us it is just the beginning of a process that will teach him to balance himself and hopefully to jump.  All horses will jump, but if they do it well and enjoy it make the difference in a winner in the ring and one who will never make the cut.

Lauren is working Leo-the other OTTB, to re-learn all that was taught him before so that he re-learns the use of his muscle and muscle-memory.  All of his chiropractic work is going well.  But he needs to train his right side which has been weak for so long.

Today, I learned a lot of fancy computer skills that wouldn’t have even existed 20 years ago.  I can be trained and I am pretty old.  It gives me hope that these great thoroughbreds will take to their training as I have, perhaps reluctantly, perhaps with apprehension but in the end with acceptance and a mastery of new skills.

Mickey-alert and on-fire headed for the jump-doing what he was trained to do

Leo-Stands Still

 

Just a quick note- the severe storm that tore limbs from our tree and drove holes through our roof, also has kept the horses from being ridden.  Our arena is still a few days from being rideable and much of our pastures are just mud.

I saddled up Mickey and Lauren got on Leo to ride the hay rides this afternoon.  It was still wetter than I thought it would be on the dirt roads.  Both horses were hyped up and excited.  Feather was charging up the fence line wanting to go along with the boys.

We were doing a long trot headed through the corn road at a pretty good pace.  I was having some problems holding on to Mickey.  I think the Belmont was fresh in his mind and he wanted to show everyone how fast he could go.  Just as we were nearing the end of the road, where we would turn for home, a cow popped up in the neighboring pasture scaring both horses. Leo saw him first and hit the brakes, hard.  Lauren went flying over his head and hit the ground on her hip.  Mickey was braced to turn and run.

 Remarkably, although Lauren had lost her reins in the tumble, the big horse, stood over her.  He was scared of the cow, but concerned for his rider.  I was trying to maneuver over to him to grab his reins.  Leo just stood and waited for Lauren to get back up from the ground.  He waited for her to grab his reins and re-mount.  I have rarely been so thankful for anything in my life.  If he would have bolted, Mickey would have run with him and I, well, I would be on the ground somewhere.  Life Flight would probably be in the air headed to pick me up.

Lauren is a little banged up and no doubt tomorrow will be moving a little slow.  But Leo stood still and I am grateful to whatever trainer taught him that long ago.

 

Joey comes home

He remembers how to go, just is so thin.

Yesterday morning we headed off in a caravan to pick up Joey from Sarah.  I hadn’t seen him yet, just the pictures and was a little apprehensive.  I mean, another horse, another big mouth to feed, another responsibility and what if he just sucks?  Caroline and I were doing this together but hadn’t really discussed the details.  One bad visit to the vet and we would be over our head in trouble.

We got to Sarah’s first and had a chance to go scope out the big guy. I saw him gazing at us calmly from over his stall gate.  His soft brown eyes took everything in.  He seemed to say, “I don’t know what I am going to do today but I will do it willfully and to the best of my abilities”.

Caroline showed up moments later and we got ready to load him in the trailer.  To make Joey happier and calmer on his way to his new home we had brought Ellie Mae, the rescued Mustang Pony, who is extremely laid-back and accepting of anything Caroline asks of her.  Go back to the start of the blog for a picture of her in trailer surrounded with hay.  That would have flipped most horses out. 

But we needn’t have bothered with the Ellie Mae babysitter as Joey was sensible, unflappable and took everything in stride.  He walked easily up to the trailer and stood quietly as we secured the ramp and headed home. It means a lot to me that he loads in the trailer easily, stands quietly, and accepts new places well.  This will go a long way when it is time to go to horse shows and travel.

Later in the day, Caroline reported that Joey went out with Ellie and pony Mimi.  He seemed thrilled to be out and there was no running or rough-housing that often accompanies a new horse being introduced into the pasture.  After his time with the girls, Caroline bathed him and cut his mane back to hunter/jumper length.  He looked pretty cute with his new-do!

Now, we will start the process of strengthening, building his endurance and getting him back to being a working horse.  Caroline will have the bulk of this for now but Lauren will help out when she can.  Soon, he will be strong enough and have gained enough weight to start working over some poles.  After that we will start him over low fences.  No doubt a trip to Dev’s will be on the agenda. 

He will certainly (if it goes like I think it will) be a poster child for another OTTB make-over prize.  Check out www.ottbdesigns.com and www.afterthefinishline.org more inspiring stories on these great thoroughbreds and their lives after the race track.

Later Ally had made a wonderful dinner and we all watched Union Rags win theBelmont triumphantly for his deserving owner, Phyllis Wyeth.  She actually sold that horse as a yearling and paid three times as much money to buy him back.  She believed in him and it paid off royally for her.  Nice race!

Last thing-this horse’s registered name is RV Smokin Joe.  We need a show name for him-thinking he will be a jumper.  Caroline and I have Irish Midnight and Irish Moonlight.  So, what are some suggestions for this one?  Maybe Irish Smoke?  Just an Irish Joe? Joe Irish?  Let me know your ideas-and as always-thanks for riding along!

OTTBs-I’ll Have Another

Thoroughbred-“I’ll Have Another”

Today’s triple crown possiblity is gone.  Not happening this year.  And “I’ll Have Another”  will never have another chance to race for the Triple Crown.  The race is for three year olds only and so, he will not be part of that select few that won the Triple Crown of Racing.  Further, it will remain speculation that he ever could or would have won the Belmont.  He was injured on Friday, pulling up after his morning workout with Tendonitis.

“I’ll Have Another” did not come from a top stable nor was he bred in any extrordinary way.  He has that something special that all Thoroughbred owners look for and few ever actually get.  He was purchased in Florida originally for $11,000.  Too rich for my pocketbook, but pennys to Thoroughbred owners.  The man who bought him, did what Lauren and I try to do at Six Meadow Farm, buy low sell high.  And when “I’ll Have Another”, nicknamed by his daughter as “Cheetos” for his bright red coat, sold for $35,000 to his present owner, they thought they had made a pretty good profit.  Not bad, really, in a world where you are lucky ever to sell a horse for more than you bought it for and certainly enough to cover his costs.  “Cheetos” is worth millions now, even without the Triple Crown win, even if he never runs again.  As a stallion with sellable breeding rights, he will be a hot commodity.  He will be another off-the-track thoroughbred (OTTB).

Rescued Joe-skinny,covered in fungus, far from his glory days. Aother chance for this OTTB-you bet

In the meantime, back in Texas, Sarah Petty (the rescue queen) called me about another OTTB.  A big, strapping gelding she had rescued was ready for a new home.  She wanted a few hundred dollars to cover the costs of vet work and rehab she had done.  Lauren went with Caroline to see him.  We knew he had run five races, placed in all of them (so he must have been pretty fast) , was six years old (so young enough to start a whole new life) and big.  He is almost 17 hands but probably weighs maybe 400 pounds less than Leo.  He doesn’t look like much.  Maybe he never will.  But maybe with his size, speed and age, well maybe, he will be a great jumper.  His pedigree has some famous horses on it.  His grand-sire is Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew and several times in his pedigree the great horse Bold Ruler shows up.  If you don’t know, my Jordyn can tell you-that was Secretariart’s sire and one great horse.  So, “R V Smokin Joe” (his registered name) is going home to Caroline’s house.  I think we might as well call him “Groceries” because all he will be doing is light work and eating for awhile.  Hopefully, he will do well, turn out to be a great guy and jump the moon.  We are back to that dream thing again.  Hail the OTTBs-I think I’ll have another.

Storm

Storm over the barn.

After a year of drought and little rain this year, I am skeptical about storms.  Often, it is much to do about nothing.  Last night was one of those nights where there was a 40% chance of rain, but I doubted it would actually materialize.  We have started putting the horses in their stalls mid-afternoon to give them some shade and get them out of the sun.  Then after they eat dinner, we have been putting them back out in the pasture for the night.

There are coyotes and storms could come up that we don’t anticipate but overall it should work.  I was debating if they should go out last night.  Forty percent chance of rain-means 60% that it doesn’t.  I went to check out the skies about 7:00 pm and saw the storm approaching fast.  I got some great pictures.  I left the horses in their stalls.

What a storm we had.  We had wind gusts to 60 miles per hour.  We have a huge tree in the back yard that partially died in last year’s drought.  It has some leaves and good branches but it has many that are obviously dead.

Once the rain started pounding the back door and winds shifted into high gear, I got scared.  I was scared that the tree would fall on my little house.  It is as long as my house.  I idly thought about photographing all my belongings so that it would make the insurance claim easier when the house was demolished.  I know that is a good idea but I have never gotten around to it.

The storm was focused over the house for at least thirty minutes.  I sat in the dark with the dogs who were huddled around me.  I got up to look out the windows toward the barn and thought a telephone pole was on the ground.  It looked like a telephone pole.  Except there was no telephone anywhere near this location.  I went out the back door in see if the tree was standing.  It was and not really moving much in the wind.  The branches weren’t so stable.  A branch maybe 20 feet long by a foot wide (at the widest point) had flown from the tree.  It had landed on the other side of the fence (which was good).  And until this morning, I thought we had been pretty lucky.  Lauren went out at first light (I was long gone) and found the branch (think giant tree limb)  laying on the power lines.  Not the power lines belonging to the utility company (of course) but the lines that run electrical to the lights in our arena. 

I thought we could just pull the branch off the line.  I asked my utility worker son-in-law first.  He said as long as the power was off to the line it was okay.  Then Lauren realized it was way too heavy for her to pull off by herself. 

Luke has a day off since he worked the last 24 hours in a row.  He headed to my house (no doubt there were things he would rather do on his day off then wrestle with my power lines-but he agreed anyway). When he got there Blake had already revved up the chain saw and was cutting up the tree. Luke says I need to get that tree cut down but it is so big in such a small space (surrounded by the house on one side and fence on the other three sides) I don’t know how they will drop it when they cut it. 

Later today as the rain returned the roof started leaking into the house.  In the middle of the storm, Lauren crawled on a ladder and up to the roof.  The limb had driven two large holes through the shingles.   Lauren hauled a hammer and nails up to roof (remember it is pouring rain) and nailed some plastic in place.  She definately has her daddy’s genes.  Then we got the great idea to put a tarp over it.  That took a few attempts for me to get the tarp up to her on the roof.  I remembered her dad used to put boards on the tarp to hold it in place.  We didn’t have any boards but we had freshly cut pieces of wood.  I started lobbing them up to Lauren on the roof (did I mention it is pouring rain, Jordyn is here, the dogs were out) and wood was erratically falling on the roof and then to ground as my throws failed to land near her. Then I hit her in the head with a piece of wood.  We decided to quit with that.

I was happy Life Flight was not involved in this adventure.  I have low expectations.  Lauren is still complaining about a headache.  Maybe she should have worn her riding helmet.  Just sayin…

Each day presents new changes and we accept and move on.  Jon Katz said in his blog yesterday “A farmer once told me that a farm is not a stable and quiet place interrupted by occasional dramas and challenges, but one continuous drama and challenge interrupted by occasional stability and quiet.”  So true.  So true.

Family Updates

Picture from Amber and Ryan’s trip to St. Thomas.

A lot is going on today.  Ally is getting closer and closer to delivering baby Kendyll.  She is sick to her stomach, having contractions and is in that overly miserable last month of pregnancy time.  I hope (although she does not hope with me) that she is not having a baby now.  She is due first week of July and it would be better for baby for her to wait.  Jordyn is with her uncle today and Lauren will pick up Jordyn tomorrow. I hope that helps ease what Ally is dealing with to some degree.  Her husband, Luke, works for the utility company.  He went to work yesterday afternoon and has not been released to come home yet.  The heat is on in Houston and the power company is feeling the pinch.  I bet Luke wishes Ally would have the baby, too!

I got an email from the assisted living facility that Jim told them my mom is moving out and moving to Houston with me.  He assured them he had discussed this with me.  When I talked with her yesterday she was so disheartened.  She cried on the phone to me.  I did tell her she can always come here and we will figure out a place for her.  I did not tell her she is moving now.  If she needs to, we will figure it out, but I suspect this will pass as well.  Wow!  I just don’t know how to deal with this from so far away.  If she came here, I would see her more in the evenings and weekends, but I am gone almost 12 hours a day so could not take Jim’s place in keeping her company.

Amber and Ryan should be on their way home from a trip to St. Thomas.  The kids stayed with Ryan’s folks.  Apparently, they all went to a county fair that had pony rides.  Riley was insistent on riding.  He had a great time and told his grandma he was riding “Mickey”.  Of course, he was!

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning so got to watch Lauren work Feather and Mickey in the relative cool space of dawn.  It was a pleasure to spend that time with them.  Feather is coming along so well and looks pretty to boot.  Mickey has had a cough.  The vet was out yesterday and was troubled by what she heard.  He has visit with another doctor to scope his esophagus scheduled.  We are hoping it is not serious and doesn’t require a visit to Texas A&M vet hospital. 

Lauren got new riding boots and is at home petting them right now.  Doesn’t take much to keep her happy!

PuppyGirl is quite reluctant to go in the horse’s paddock.  And they say Yorkie’s are stupid.  She seems to be feeling okay and did her long pasture walk with the other dogs last night.  She says “no horses, Granny!”

Betty

 

I cry easily

riding in the car

on my never ending commute to work

the music brings memories

makes me remember days and people gone by

they still seem so close to me

in the song’s lyrics

in my head of dreams

there is a soft, sensitive side of me

that I hide least I be hurt

today driving in

I missed the old days

I missed my sister

How could you have gone and left me here

to deal with mom all alone?

You were the one that was responsible

You took care of things

But I must say

your dying has made me

a better person

Couldn’t I have just taken

a self-improvement course?

When I’m 65

Some of the pack!

How did I come to own six dogs?  I would never have done that in my right mind-and they are all young except Lula.  These dogs will be with me for ten or more years.  I will be 65 with six dogs.  Crazy.  I don’t know how many cats there are at my house.  I think there are maybe eight that I can touch.  I don’t count them as mine if I cannot touch them.  It seems like reasonable criteria. But with the highway and the natural predators, I suspect, I would only have five or so cats long term. 

What am I saying?  Five or so cats, six dogs, four horses (because I really don’t think Kid will make another ten years) that is still a barn/house full as I enter my golden years.

Although, if I am honest, I did have five dogs in my home in suburban Sugar Land.  I guess the difference was, if we went out-of-town, they could be boarded.  One time we talked the Davangs into taking three of the little ones while the Dobermans went to the kennel.  I don’t think Becky will ever forget it. She had multiple dogs of her own and it was a crazy, mixed up pack for the entire time we were gone.   I can still get her to mimic Ernie’s (a shih tzu) overbite.  Ernie was also deaf and more than a little blind, so he could “feel” the other dogs barking and would join in.

It was also different then because there were no cats or horses at home.  Just the dogs were there to ensure I must be home every morning and night. But one call to the local vet and they could easily be boarded.  We have one friend, Richard, who will adjust what he is doing and babysit the house and the animals.  But he has a fulltime job and taking over the duties at Six Meadow Farm are pretty consuming.

I guess when others make their retirement plans, they think of traveling, relaxing and doing the things they could not do when working.  I am completely clear that I will never be able to afford to retire.  I have had too many starts and stops, injuries and health issues to have built a great retirement plan.  Instead, I will be on my walker, making it across to the barn, falling over running cats at the crack of dawn so I can get off to work somewhere to pay the bills.  Sounds like a compelling reason to up my 401k allotment, say no to more animals and be thriftier.  But somehow, I know I will enter my golden years, surrounded by the love of my animals.  I guess it could be worse.