A visit from Amber’s family

Weather looks miserable but actually warm breezes were blowing!

Weather looks miserable but actually warm breezes were blowing!

Amber, Ryan and kids, Riley and Lexi arrived on Thursday to rain and overcast skies, but as they had left a very cold Colorado and we had come up above freezing for the first time in days, we were all okay with the overcast skies.  It didn’t take long to throw a halter on Snowboy and head out of the barn to the only semi-dry spots.  Two year old Lexi, showed no hesitation about climbing on board and off she went trotting with Aunt Lauren across the water and around the trailer.  It wasn’t long before her four year-old brother, Riley switched spots with her.

While we got a short video of them trotting we warned them not to show Jordyn.  She would be mad they were on her horse and that they were TROTTING.  Sometimes, you just have to let other’s accomplishments serve as a way to motivate you, but more about that in a minute!

Friday the kids helped out around the barn, filling water troughs, raking hay and mucking stalls.  The rain had stopped, things were still wet but with 70 degrees showing on the thermometer, it was a pretty great day to be outside.  I enjoyed getting to know my grandkids a little better and had a lot of fun watching Kona have so many people to throw his ball.  Jordyn got out of school a little early so that she, Ally, Luke and baby Kendyll could join us for Texas barbecue. Luke got busy digging some ditches to let our water flow out to the ditch.  It started to recede immediately, it was like we were in the Peace Corps or something!

I got Ally to go with me, later in the day, as we took all the great-grandkids to my mom’s.  From the minute we got there, she was overjoyed to see the children.  It is unclear that she realized they were any kin to her but she loved them, nonetheless.  It was nearing dinner time for her and the kids helped her get on her make-up and do her hair.  Jordyn always loves this part of the visit and I think momma loves the attention.  Jordyn, in an overdrive teacher mode with her young cousins, explained how to put on blush, eye shadow and lipstick.  I think little Lexi made sure she had all the same make-up her Granny-Nanny did!

Jordyn and Riley getting their great grandma all fixed up for dinner.

Jordyn and Riley getting their great grandma all fixed up for dinner.

I think the sweetest thing was as we left momma’s room to head down to dinner, with no prompting, tiny Lexi walked up and took her great grandma’s hand in hers and walked down the hall with her.

From back left, clockwise-2 year old Lexi, Granny Nanny, me, 4 year old Riley, 1 year Kendyll and 6 year old Jordyn.

From back left, clockwise-2 year old Lexi, Granny Nanny, me, 4-year-old Riley, 1 year Kendyll and 6-year-old Jordyn.

There were lots of hugs and kisses from all the kids.  I wish they could visit her more often as it made her so happy!

Saturday, another warm day, was spent taking great professional photos with Ally’s friend Elvia.  Ryan got roped into going with Lauren and I to get 12 bales of alfalfa hay.  Amber couldn’t understand why it took us so long to go get hay across town, but there is a certain period devoted to visiting with the hay man that has to take place.  It is not as simple as backing in and loading the hay.  We appreciated Ryan’s help.

We got Snowboy out again, saddled up this time, and everyone had helmets on.  Jordyn was determined not to be out done by her cousins.  I took them toward the road, then I let Snowney’s bridle go and headed him to the barn.  IMAGINE this-he trotted in a straight line right back to the gate and Jordyn was TROTTING BY HERSELF! She demanded to do it over and over.  It was a pretty big milestone until Kona ran after Snow, nipped him in the ankle and Snow headed trotting off to the neighbors with Jordyn screaming.  But she tried it again and successfully trotted alone to end the day.

Here is her trotting video-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZeIsCYDe8Q

I hated seeing the kids (all of them) leave on Sunday.  I feel I miss so much with them being so far away.  Hopefully, this time Lexi will remember a little about grandma’s and Riley will build on his memories.

400 Blogs!!

For the 400th time, I am writing on my Exechorseluver blog.  I started this blog almost two years ago and have enjoyed telling my stories about my family and the escapades at Six Meadow Farm.  I am so happy you all have chosen to ride along with  me!  It means so much to me when I get a comment from one of you after posting a story or have someone come up to me at a horse show and talk to me about the blog.  THANK YOU!!

Here are some stats for the year 2013-

Crunchy numbers

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people.  This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2013.  If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2013, there were 206 new posts, growing the total 2013 archive of this blog to 397 (400 as of today) posts. There were 519 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 127 MB. That’s about a picture per day.

The busiest day of the year was July 22nd with 435 views. The most popular post that day was RESCUING-JOEY.  Which if I had to pick a favorite post, this certainly was a great one!

Here are some top photos of the year as well-you can click on the link beneath each picture to read that piece.  Enjoy the year in review and thank you again for being a part of Exechorseluver!!

New Year-New Heights-New Cold

Pre-horse ride.

Pre-horse show ride.

I have enjoyed my time off from work during this holiday.  As often happens, your expected relaxation period fritters away in a host of activities you had not even planned.  Until the new year, we spent most days making a 200 mile round trip to Bruno’s trainer.  All very worthwhile, but it did little to relieve my angst over my daily commute to work.  Seems like most days found us headed up the highway, with or without some horses in the trailer behind us.

When we got home, there were barn chores to do, Feather and the other horses to ride.  I got to my mom’s every day and enjoyed some less hurried time with her. She loves her new pink warm-up suits (it is not clear what she is warming up to do but anyway she likes them) that she got for Christmas.

I was under the illusion that maybe Bruno might be ready to make his debut at the show this weekend, but I was clearly told, save your money, while he is vastly improved he is not yet show worthy.  At the last moment, we sent in the entry form for Feather to go.

A year ago, we headed into one of the lowest height divisions with Feather.  Now, she was deemed ready to enter the highest height division of our schooling show association, Open Jumper, with fences to 3’6″.  Mickey in his prime, had won seasonal titles in this height division a few times over but it took Lauren years of work to get there.  Feather headed into the ring yesterday, the last horse to show, in the last division of the day.   Lauren professed to be cool as a cucumber.  As my videos will attest, my hands were shaking, my heart was thumping, and my brain was on a constant prayer loop of “God, let them be safe, let them be safe”.

I looked down in the ring to where the jumps had just been re-set to the new height and wondered what we were thinking.  This little (not even 16 hand) mare was not ready for this.  Little did I know that back in the warm-up ring Feather had just eased over a four-foot oxer.   Dev doesn’t tell Lauren how big the jumps are until Feather clears them.

Lauren came in like a pro but more amazing was the calm, confident horse she was riding.  The same one who, just the other day, had broken the cross ties, rearing when I tried to trim the hair on her legs.  Maybe she just hates me, a possibility, or maybe some magical genetic code deep in her breeding, knows when she steps in the show ring, turning on her show horse persona.

This is the video from their first round in Open Jumpers.   They were second fastest. But I like seeing just how quiet and business like they both are.  And clearly, we still have not gotten close to the top end of what this mare can jump.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–ro68rZ3NI

So, a new year ahead, great new opportunities for Feather and Bruno.  What I would have given to have known this part of the story last year as we struggled along.   But I do understand and appreciate that our joy is greater for having had the struggle and the unknown as we came through 2013.   I only dreamed that Bruno would be fit to ride and Feather actually loading in a trailer to go a show.  How far we have come! And I think this coming year will be one where we take a lot of new first steps.  After all, 2014 is the year of the horse!

Our first weather challenge of the year is upon us with temperatures below freezing for several hours, off and on, the next couple of days.  As a preemptive strike against all my pipes freezing and breaking as they did several years ago, tonight before bed, we turn off our water well.  All pipes will be drained.  An empty pipe does not freeze.   We will be without water until the temperatures come back up above freezing.  I should be looking top-notch to head back to work.

As the temperatures start to plummet and the north wind soars, I am filling troughs to the brim, setting two full buckets in each stall and preparing for a farm with no water.  And yes, the pipes are wrapped, and no, running water all night does not work except to overflow my septic system.  The house and its plumbing are too old and we are just too exposed to the cold on this plot of land.

Thank you for riding along, pray for warmer temperatures for all and be safe!

Bruno-home from the Ritz

image Have you ever stayed at a Ritz Carlton or Hyatt Regency resort?  Especially one in tropical locale?  Everything is just cleaner, more luxurious and perfect than your real home.  I guess that is why guests fork over hundreds of dollars ( and sometimes more) per night to be treated like they are special.  And let’s not forget all the spa amenities like hot showers that never turn cold, massages and best salons around. As a guest, I have always enjoyed being treated this way.   Arriving home, my place looked a little drabber, and my hair never looked as good as when the professionals styled it.

Bruno has been gone for over two weeks away at an intensive training regime.  Bruno loaded in the trailer easily (after continued work with Sarah and Lauren). A hundred miles later, we were met by a kind, competent groom who led Bruno to his stall where he would live for the next two weeks.   This barn with its stucco and rock walls was a far cry from my metal shed with our homemade stalls. We learned the expected routine pretty quickly.  The horse was brought down to matted, grooming stalls with cross ties.  Perhaps this all felt like the norm to OTTB Bruno who came from a lovely New York racing facility.  Regardless, he settled in like it was just another day.   Bruno was tacked up, Lauren brought him to the covered arena and their education over fences got underway in earnest.

Getting the big horse started.

Getting the big horse started.

After the first day’s lesson, where Bruno progressed from trot polls, to Xes, to single jumps to his first oxer, Lauren handed the horse over to the groom once again.  The groom removed and cleaned his tack and Bruno was bathed in warm, soapy water. Each day, when Lauren arrived, she found Bruno a little cleaner and whiter than the day before.  A big part of this was a giant car type canister vacuum that was used to suck all the tiniest specks of dust out of the horse’s coat.  And each day the progress in the ring become sharper and brighter.  It was very helpful to have Lauren work directly with Bruno as he was being trained.  In the end, Lauren will need to be the one to keep bringing Bruno along. As I saw Bruno standing in cross-ties, I considered how Feather would react to this fancy barn.  I suspect that Feather would break a few cross-ties as she accepted the routine here.

Standing in the grooming stall, just like a show horse.

Standing in the grooming stall, just like a show horse.

With the many holidays, the two weeks went quickly.  Yesterday, in their final lesson, Bruno was jumping a short course and showing a lot of scope over several jumps.  Bruno headed home to my little farm.  Feather and Kid were nickering for him as the trailer pulled in.  Immediately he was reunited with Kid.  I am not sure who was happier.  Lauren worked a quieter, less intimidating horse today, who worked easily with her to walk, trot and canter.  Bruno was unimpressed with our icy cold well water that greeted him after his work-out.

We had hoped and prayed that one day this horse would fly. I am  completely convinced now, after these two weeks, that we have a top-flight jumper in Bruno.  Lauren was told multiple times that Bru will never be an easy ride or an easy horse to jump.  But we have never had the luxury of an easy horse.  Lauren held her own amongst the other top riders at this barn.

Bruno settled into farm routine easily this morning, eating all his breakfast for the first time in two weeks.  Bruno enjoyed his time at the top-flight barn.  He learned a lot in his classes and luxuriated in all the wonderful grooming.

Happy to be home!

Happy to be home!

What an amazing opportunity to allow Bruno and Lauren this time for training and new growth.  Kid says it is all fine and good since Bruno is back home where he belongs.  Thanks for riding along and wishing you all a wonderful New Year.

Kid keeping close tabs on Bruno.

Kid keeping close tabs on Bruno.