And the Lesson Goes to…

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Sarah giving Lauren tips on getting respect from the big horse

Sarah, who used to run the horse rescue that Mick, Snow and Kid came from, and is my go-to for starting my young horses or problem horses, accepted my invitation to come help work on Bruno’s loading into the trailer. When he came to us Bruno loaded well. I suspect that the series of trailer rides, all ending in pain at the vet, have soured him on loading.

Sarah helped us with frightened, spooky Feather. She trains with positive reinforcement and tough love. She does not put up with any disrespect. She worked with Bruno and with Lauren, whom she claimed was not standing up to Bruno. All those months of babying him through his hoof issue have not boded well with being the boss mare now.

Sarah got Bruno loading consistently. He was not extremely happy in the trailer but Lauren loaded him multiple times. We will continue with our homework and hope to see Bruno happily loading.

Tomorrow Lauren has a lesson with Dev. In a light bulb moment, we both realized we could bring any horse to the lesson. Feather has finished for the season. She could use the work, but we do not have to take her.

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Feather says of course, I am going to the lesson! I am the show horse

Bruno could go. It would be good to focus on him, really ready to go for the first time since he came to us. Plus, I really believe he will load happily in the trailer.

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Bru says bring it on, I am ready to go

Or since Mickey is finally sound after five weeks off work, it would be fun to take him. It would be way easier on Lauren to bring Mickey. Or so she thinks!

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Mickey sticks his tongue out, nanny boo boo, no way she would pick me-free pasture day

And don’t forget, a really fun day could be had on Snowboy!

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Tune in tomorrow to see who Lauren picks to be her Sunday ride!

Thanks

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Momma hanging with Lauren

Been enjoying a couple days off work for the Thanksgiving holiday. Mostly, anyway. We had been at moms last weekend and I had thought it was a little cool in her room. A cold front was moving through and I kept upping the thermostat each time I came by. Tuesday, they called me to say the heater was out in my mom’s room and they were moving her to another vacant room. Jordyn and I helped move the bed, some chairs and some clothing to get her by, for a few days. It has all been confusing to her. I understand stuff happens, but her heat broke last year and she went without for several days.

Thanksgiving morning the nursing home called to say the housekeeper had found my mom on the floor. She was fine, no injuries, but I feel she was confused going between the new room and her old room. I am thankful she was okay.

I just hate anything that troubles my mother.

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Lauren and Jo having breakfast

Part of our chores was to get the truck inspected. There is only one spot in town that does state inspections. So we anticipated a little wait on the last day of the month. We picked up some breakfast and headed to the gas station. The truck passed inspection and we had a great time. Building memories, one glamorous moment after another!

Thanksgiving was spent at Ally’s. Luke and she did a great job on dinner. All of us, had many things to be grateful for and Jordyn led us as we went around the table saying what they were. Family was high on all of our lists. Although Jordyn had Snowboy first on her list. Priorities!

The horses have been in their stalls pretty much non-stop for the last several cold, rainy days. Feather has completed her last show this year, so down time is fine, except for the 57 times a day we get to clean the stalls. We are trying to get Bruno started on his show career. However, while he used to load like a champ, I think he associates the trailer with going to the vet, and it is causing reluctance on his part to load now. Our trainer friend, Sarah, is coming tomorrow to work with us and Bruno to come to an understanding about loading in the trailer. If we get over that hurdle, Bruno will be headed to a lesson Sunday. Wow, I bet that will be something to see! Bruno, in a new place after being in his stall for two weeks. I vote that Dev rides him first!

Hope your holiday was warm and happy! Thanks! For riding along and being a part of our journey.

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Snowboy getting out for a little break

A Solemn Promise

This famous boy near starvation just days ago.

This famous boy near starvation just days ago.

I feel like nothing is forgotten faster than a thoroughbred race horse.  Everyone wants to produce the Triple Crown winner, the ‘one in a million’, the fastest horse ever, but if you are trying to breed that one in a million horse, by definition, 999,999 must not be the one.

I know there are issues with all horses, all animals in fact, but I feel that something about the thoroughbred, makes them the target for so much neglect.  The window is so small and the few that make it so limited, that maybe,   most  are simply done by age five if not sooner.

I have owned a few off the track thoroughbreds.  I have not exclusively owned thoroughbreds or dedicated my life to helping them, but I have done my best to help where I could.  There is not a horse in my barn right now that did not come out of some type of rough situation, a rescue, a bad start, or an injury or illness.

I heard about the horse above on Facebook, my source for much news these days. Particularly upsetting about this horse was that his sire is still a sought after horse garnering a large five-figure stud fee. The sire of this horse has a higher stud fee than Big Brown.  So someone must have thought enough about the idea of this horse at some time, to have paid a hefty fee to create him.

I do not know all the details.  But this horse was found near starved, infested with worms and covered in fungus.  Both of his back feet were raw and infected from-kick chains that had been attached to his feet and left for months to rub and irritate his fragile skin.  This horse is being secretly kept in a barn far from where he was discovered so that those previously involved in his care can never touch him again.

In an almost Lifetime Movie-like  scenario, when rescuers tried to help this horse, it made the situation worse. One of the biggest issues that faced this horse was that when the he was discovered in such horrible condition, the neglectful owner was threatened and berated.  Instead of keeping emotions in check and coming up with a plan to get the horse re-homed, these advocates of doing the right thing, nearly got the horse in more trouble by frightening the owner.  I am not at saying that the owner of this horse was right in anything they were doing, but when faced with this situation, the best choice is one that gets the horse out of harm’s way, preferably forever.  Contact a local rescue who can help deal with the situation.  Be calm, save the horse.

I sent my old OTTB Cupid’s warm stable blanket to this horse.  I included a note to the guardian angels that are caring for this horse now.  I was gratified to receive a note back:

“I want to give a HUGE thank you to Cindy and Lauren, her daughter, for the wonderful stable blanket!!! It is getting colder, so he will really appreciate having his very own pajamas!! Something totally cool is that just like this horse,Cindy’s first OTTB that wore it was also Breeder’s Cup Nominated! He will wear it with pride!! ”

It was a just a little thing to do but I was glad I could and making Lauren drive the giant box to the post office and wait in line to mail it, well,  hopefully that taught her something valuable as well.

This wonderful horse was good enough to be Breeder’s Cup nominated and yet ended up like this.  It could happen to any of ours. I am making a solemn promise that I will do my very best to humanely and fairly care for my horses for as long as I am able.  And if I cannot, I will find someone who will care for them for me.  It is the best I can do.

No more preaching, I appreciate you riding along!

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Season’s End

The weather changed from balmy 80s to wind torn, rainy 40s in the matter of an hour. For awhile on Friday morning, it appeared we would not being heading to the final horse show of the season or anywhere else. The rain accumulated quickly, flooding our side yard. Lauren, alone at home with responsibility of loading Feather and getting her to the show was agitated and anxious. Feather did not want to load, standing ankle deep in water outside the trailer. But she did and off they went.

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Abby and Jordyn, Leadline and horse buds, bundled up against the damp cold

Saturday after a visit to my mom’s, we headed to the show. This season has been remarkable for Lauren. She and Feather started their first show in the hunter ring jumping just over two feet. They have grown, matured and taken their bumps. Yesterday, Feather showed in the three foot jumpers. As they went clean through their last round, I did a double take at the clock. The winning time was 17.403 and Feather clocked in at 18.003. And I swear she looked like she was strolling around the ring. We even had commented she looked pokey. Guess not! Lauren will close out the season today.

For the second time in 15 years (and the first time I was flat on back with a broken pelvis) I am not with Lauren at a show. Two rounds of drugs later, the shingles have taken over my life. My blisters are gone but the pain continues unabated. I am beginning to wonder if I have not finally and completely destroyed my bad hip. I could not go to show and be on my feet. I know my show family will look out for Lauren. I pray God keeps her safe.

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my momma and I at the home’s Thanksgiving celebration

Also, today was the Thanksgiving dinner at the nursing home. Ally came with Jordyn and Kendyll festively dressed. I do not know how Elmcroft managed to do it, but they had an excellent hot dinner for so many happy generations of people. It was a good day for my mom and all of us blessed enough to share it with her.

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Jordyn loving her great grandma!

I am hoping for some good news soon that Lauren and Feather had a good day and are safely headed home. Wherever you are today, stop for a moment and give thanks for your wonderful family and dear friends. I know I did.

My Readers, My Friends

I get surprised when I write something here, in this blog, and then have a random encounter with someone who has read it. This happened last year with Feather, a horse show, and the judge knowing her name from being a reader of the blog.

I write because as I have always said, how will I know what I think if I don’t see what I have to say? I need writing to ease out the strain, to explore the gifts I am given and express myself when sometimes I cannot in person.

This weekend at the horse show, I saw an acquaintance who I know from the horse show world, whom I am friends with on Facebook. I had seen photos from the show so knew she might be around. Still I was pleased and surprised when Liz came to visit with me in the stands on Sunday. She told me she reads all my blogs.

It was so nice to hear. I can see statistics, like how many readers saw posts on any given day, and how many posts I have published (almost 400) but these stats do not put names to the numbers or give me a clue who my audience is.

Likewise, I am surprised when something I write alarms someone. I deal with my mother and her care every day. Usually by the time I write about something, we are past it and on to something new. I was quite worried about her last week. By Sunday she was slightly better but by yesterday she was bright, charming, talking about Jim and wanting to know when he was coming to pick her up. However, meanwhile in Arizona, Jim was very worried about her based upon my blog.

I promise if there is ever a major crisis I will notify the family involved first before going on to discuss it on my blog. I apologize to Jim and Jay for worrying them but it was not the best of weeks. I am glad she is re-oriented to world.

Feather is getting along well with her stitched up face. Lauren has been showing her all year in the Greater Houston Hunter Jumper Association (GHHJA) which awards year-end achievement for each division. Lauren and Feather started out in the Pre-Green Hunters and they are currently only one point out of Reserve Champion for the year. Of course, they subsequently moved up and on to jumpers and hope to place in Junior/Adult Jumper as well. This weekend in the final show, Feather and Lauren will get back in the hunter ring to try to earn that illusive one point to push them to Reserve Champ status.

By definition, hunters are required to look pretty while jumping so the row of stitches across her cheek maybe a little bit of a problem. We have thought about some fleece but the vet is afraid the stitches will catch in it. The bridle runs directly over the stitches. She is fine to be ridden but I do not want to rub the stitches. We will see what great idea I can come up with to pad the bridle and look nice. Ideas?

My son-in-law Luke had surgery yesterday for a hernia. I remember clearly when that was an inpatient procedure. What we can put up, from a pain perspective, and what can be managed better in the hospital are two different things. Medically, did he need to be in the hospital? No, but I bet everyone would have rested better if he had been. He had a rough night. I am sure each day will get a little better for him.

My friend Sue stopped by tonight to meet Bruno for the first time. We have known each other since we boarded our horses at the same barn back when Lauren was taking her first rides on Kid. I always admired barrel racer, Sue’s work ethic. She would take on an OTTB retraining project and do wonders with the horse. It was way before anyone else had jumped on that band wagon. I admired her determination to work her horses regardless of weather. You might find her riding down the covered stall rows or on any piece of dry ground. She also would ride in shorts and paddock boots on her English saddle. Not an easy feat.

Bruno loved her and Sue couldn’t get over his huge size and amazing gentleness.

The holidays are upon us. While Lauren finishes up at the horse show this weekend, Ally, Kendyll, Jordyn and I will be at the Thanksgiving Feast at my mom’s nursing home. I am glad we can be there with her and that she is feeling better.

As always, thanks for riding along! I appreciate so many of you who are interested enough to see what we are up to at Six Meadow Farm!

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Sue being dwarfed by big Bruno

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patient and quietly posing with his guest of the day!

Momma, Winning and Stitches

Never a dull moment around here, all week when I had been stopping to see my mom, I had found her asleep in an almost coma like state. Wednesday, I found her sound sleep. Usually, I open her squeaky door and I will wake her up. She has always been a light sleeper. I don’t remember one instance of her ever falling asleep in a chair or even on the couch.

But this week my mother was unwakeable (is that a word?). At one point I laid down next to her, just to hold her hand. She opened her eyes for a moment, stared at me and said, “we have had some wonderful years, haven’t we?” Then I thought she died. It was horrible. I thought her sleeping meds were being given at the wrong time but the nursing staff says no. Saturday, Lauren and I found her sound asleep sitting up on the couch in the main lobby. We had difficulty getting her to her room. We laid her on her bed. Seconds later, we both pushed her further into the bed, lifting her body roughly (although not meaning to). She never opened her eyes.

It hasn’t gotten any better. She does not know me and is extremely confused. No pictures of momma this week as she would have been asleep in all of them! The doctor is running some tests. Please say a prayer for her!

We went Sunday to watch our friend, Kathy’s, horse, go in the jumper classic. We have seen this horse regularly since he was first purchased and have seen him jump well but not quite be a top, winning horse. His name is Capitano and he is a striking, bay horse. He was young when we first saw him go but the couple years of showing and training have done wonders for this horse. Cappy was last to go yesterday, with five horses already clean to the jump off. Trapp (the trainer and rider) rode him clean and in the time allowed to join the others in the jump off. Last to go again, Trapp knew the time he had to beat and that he had to go clean to win.

The Cappy I saw yesterday seemed thrilled to be asked for some speed. Trapp took some quick, tight turns amongst the course jumps. As he gunned it to the last fence, the clock showed he had the win if he could keep the last jump intact. Cap and Trapp flew through the timers and the win was all theirs. It was a beautiful example of schooling your horse along, not asking for too much, too soon, then reaping a great payoff when all your training comes together.

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Feather’s beautiful face that we believe was grazed by a hunter’s bullet

We got home to find another bloody horse. Feather had been out in the pasture. It is hunting season. I think and the vet concurs, that a bullet grazed her. Google grazing bullet wounds. Looks like Feather’s face. So, it was off for an emergency session with the vet. We had been bragging at the show, that we had three horses hurt and we were now good to go. Stupid. Feather got some inter dermal (not sure if that is the right word) but little stitches inside the closing stitches. The vet hospital has broken ground on a new wing. I feel we should get a room or stall in our name.

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Feather with her new stitches

Snowboy is beginning to look a little suspect, as the only horse not needing vet care in the last three weeks. We should install a camera so we can see what is really happening when we leave the barn.

I have been diagnosed with Shingles so figure the stress is getting to me. Thank you for riding along and keep us in your prayers.

Week update!

We have had ZERO vet visits this week! That is a great statistic! It has been a busy week. Temperatures dipped down in the 30’s for the first time this season. We had gotten out blankets for all the horses and got everyone settled in for the night.

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Snow, Mick and Feather

Lauren and I, warmly settled in the living room, came up with a new game we call Bullock Ball (after the place kicker for the Texans who can’t seem to kick anything). I was lying on the couch while Lauren was reclining way back in the leather chair. We took Kona’s squeaky toy football and pitched it at one another. The object was to make contact with your foot, kicking the ball across the room so Kona would retrieve it. We were not very good at it, thus the name Bullock ball! I bet you wish you could hang out with us!

The next evening I met Lauren and Feather for a lesson with Dev. We hadn’t been to a lesson in a few weeks. The weather has been rainy and we have not been able to ride. Feather acted like she had never missed a day. Lauren asked her to jump a little higher. They have work to do to be real fluid but this mare continues to improve.

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Amanda and Lauren getting the hay to the barn

Thursday we were lucky enough to get in one more cutting of hay. I had 300 bales sold. We have never had a hay cutting after the time had changed from day light savings time. It got dark way too fast. The baler stopped baling, the truck and hay trailer got stuck in the mud. (I kept moving hay while the men figured out how to pull out the rig.)

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But my new Chevy 2500 truck came in handy when it pulled both the Dodge dually truck and trailer with 125 bales of hay out of the mud!

I drove home tonight looking forward to a pretty quiet weekend of some chores and baby sitting. I turned the corner onto my road. You know how you get a glimpse of something but it is too unbelievable to be true? Well, I thought I saw my house in the middle of the street!

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Well, it wasn’t my house, but it was a house. It was taking up the entire road. It was skimming the power lines at every house it passed. It went slowly. I saw the hay trailer collecting today’s hay and was grateful not to be unloading it. I was also grateful when the moving house successfully passed my home leaving my electrical service intact.

Thanks for riding along!