Clinic, Camp and the Colt

IMG_9511 (2)Fast times at the Farm with everything happening at once.   Last week Mia rejoined us from Malaysia as she did last summer.  She will be here for several weeks as a working student (Lauren’s slave) and Lauren will return to Malaysia with Mia and the tables will turn.

We got things off to a big start with the surprise 16th Birthday for our boarder Isabel. Pink twinkling lights, pink streamers, pink balloons and pink cake helped herald the  event.  I think it was even a true surprise.

The first week of camp went off grandly culminating this weekend in Olympian Bernie Traurig’s riding clinic.  I have gone on and on about Bernie before so you can search for that story but it was great to have an audience with a United States Equestrian Federation Team member who has represented all three disciplines in the Olympics, Dressage, Eventing and the Grand Prix Jumpers.

All three girls, Lauren, Isabel and Mia had some concerns on the first day.  Isabel was riding a converted barrel horse she got from my great friend Sarah Sumrall.  Sarah’s horses are top-notch in the manners department but usually originally suited to more a western saddle than English.  This would be the first time for Isabel to take Dex anywhere nearing the importance of this event.  This horse just started dressage and jumping a few short months ago.

Well, Dex got in a little trouble with Bernie. He was tossing his head and not getting down the jump lines properly.  So Olympian Bernie just hopped on!  What a thrill.


The last time this horse had been in this particular arena he had been running barrels, now he was being tutored by an Olympian.  Sarah has provided a lot of great project horses for many of us.  Oh Sarah, the places your horses go-

Mickey Davis to USEF Zone Finals

Cody Poulin to AQHA World Jumping Champion

And now, Dex Johnson ridden by Olympian Bernie

I could write a series of children’s books about Sarah’s horse and the adventures they have.

Anyway, back at the clinic…

Mia was on Mickey for the first time ever to participate in  this  jumping clinic-talk about jumping in with both feet.  We have been bringing Mickey along from his lameness issues and with new shoes and lots of support he was ready to go.  Actually, he was a perfect gentleman.  I had put on the form for Bernie that Mia would need to work on Mickey rushing to the jump.  Never happened.  Not once.  He went around with perfect striding and super cute jumping.  He looked like a hunter/dressage horse.  Amazing what happens when a horse has some time off and is not in pain.  Once Mia settled in, she and Mickey had a great clinic.  Bernie told her she was a natural horsewoman with innate talent.  Now, that is pretty sweet.

Lauren and Feather were in a ring away from home for one of the first times since January.  It showed as they struggled a little to find their striding and control their speed.  But again by the end of the clinic, Bernie told Lauren there are two types of riders, those that ride well at home and fall apart in a show.  And those that walk in the show ring and everything becomes magical.  When Bernie told the group it was now a full course and they were being judged, the pair turned on the magic, hit all their correct strides and looked great.  I would rather have the show magic horse than the home magic horse, at least for Lauren.

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Kenna (two Ns, as opposed to my dog, Kena, one N) joined us from Oklahoma on Sunday evening along with my granddaughter Jordyn.  This week Allyson and Isabel are day camping and Kenna, Jordyn and Mia are over-nighting it with us for a couple of weeks.  WOW.  Not a dull moment here.




Micenzie was nothing but smiles!

Isabel teaching Madison and Micenzie how to brush the horse.

Isabel teaching Madison and Micenzie how to brush the horse.


The big girls teaching the little girls.


Mia spending some time with Zie.


Today was teach the next generation day.  These older girls helped three young riders, a five year old and two-three year-olds, take their first lessons.  The young riders will come twice a week for the next few weeks as well.  They were super excited and super cute.

Finally, my Sims colt is one month old today.  Hard to believe!  He got some special time out (Or I did) to play in the paddock. What a doll!

Meeting his aunt Nova and showing off his number 1 mark on his head.


Sounds like Life

CaptureSounds like life to me it ain’t no fantasy
It’s just a common case of everyday reality
Man I know it’s tough but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you’re caught up in some tragedy
It sounds like life to me

Sounds like life to me plain old destiny
Yeah the only thing for certain is uncertainty
You gotta hold on tight just enjoy the ride

Get used to all this unpredictability
Sounds like life

Darryl Worley

Wise woods for me as I get banged around the pin ball crazily careening through the machine bouncing off the flippers,  a marble gone crazy.  

My beautiful new from Kentucky, Foxhound suffered an accident Monday leaving her paralyzed. By Friday with none of drugs giving her relief, Lauren and I stood by her as we put her to sleep. So, what was the point of bringing that beautiful dog with such a dear soul to me for a month to tear our hearts out as she passed?  I don’t get it. 

In the meantime pregnant and due to deliver Fargo just keeps holding on to the baby one more day. I have chosen to sleep out on the concrete by her stall. This is bucket list stuff and I dearly want to be there when the baby comes.  So far just rain and back aches have come from my all night camping trips at the barn.   


Fargo is 331 days pregnant. Full time is approximately 340 +/-  

  Last night as the storms moved on and the moon showed up in the sky I took about 200 pictures. Not sleeping. Pretty bored. No baby. All the other horses laid down at least for a while but Fargo just kept munching hay. Good times. 

  To make the week more chaotic my horse Nova colicked badly with a serious impaction in her gut. We were lucky after a rough 36 hours or so to see Nova was going to make it.     Feather super “drunk” so could get some good x-rays. 

Then Feather went to the top of the prayer list as X-ray showed a serious mass in her facial bones. Some top Texas surgeons were betting on a real bad end to Feather’s life but continued diagnostics have us thinking we might be looking at a completely different, and treatable problem. Fingers crossed. 


Finally our boarder Kendrick caught this great shot of Feather, Nova and Betty Sue on the beach in my back pasture catching some rays. I love it!  
I will keep sleeping again with my mare on the off chance I catch her giving birth. I am off to Oklahoma Monday for a few days so no doubt that is when the baby will come. I guess that’s life.  

Sounds like life to me plain old destiny

Yeah the only thing for certain is uncertainty

You gotta hold on tight just enjoy the ride

Get used to all this unpredictability

Sounds like life


   Blonder Reflection, aka Fargo, huge with baby at day 318 of pregnancy.

 All these months that I have been telling you that Fargo’s baby is due in June, I have been delusional.  She was bred on June 15th.  Being the slightly obsessive person I am, I went through my whole calendar and steadfastly recorded the days, weeks and months of the pregnancy.

At any moment from conception through the fall, winter and spring I could accurately tell exactly how far along my new baby was.  Somehow, I just got it in my head to keep numbering on to her June 15 conception day, only a year later ( bet this gives you all a lot of confidence around my accounting abilities).

It was only recently as Fargo has gotten more enormous seemly every day that I had that OMG moment when it occurred to me that horses only (only!!-ha ha)  carry 11 months.  This baby should arrive right around day 340.  Oh, and by the way- today is day 318!!

The father of this baby is Flagmount’s Freedom.  If you check both USEF and USEA, you will find a whole bunch of these Texas bred babies coming up in the ranks.  Winning in the dressage, eventing, show jumping and hunter rings.

My mare, Blonder Reflection by Blonder Hans by the top Kinsky stallion Atom has impressive dressage and Grand Prix background herself.

Blonder Hans (Fargo’s daddy) 

 These two are Fargo’s grandsire, Atom

She is a granddaughter of the top jumper Rainbow, both maternal and fraternal sides showing great promise in this mix with Irish Flagmount.

 Rainbow, a top Oldenburg stallion is Fargo’s other grandsire.

So everything is here to make this a super special baby. But a lot of people have thought that at this point before the baby hits the ground. Time will tell. 

We are busy suddenly with a deadline looming, to get her mare and nursery quarters organized.  We had a name all ready but just saw one of the Flag colts born a few weeks ago has claimed it.  Our Flag and Blonder Reflection baby was going to be Flagmount’s Reflection.  Perfect, right?  But now we must start thinking again.

  The barn name for this baby will be for one of my recently departed friends.  I have a barn full of horses named for my dead relatives. I would love to use something from my father for this baby but just don’t think Flagmount’s Fred is going to do it for me. 

Think of names, say a prayer for a healthy baby and I will let you know what happens next.  And I swear I have the dates right now!


We’re Pregnant! In foal! Having a baby!

Blonder Reflection aka Fargo

Blonder Reflection aka Fargo

Yippee!  Indications are that the insemination of my RPSI German mare, Fargo, was successful.  We will check her again in three weeks.  I think Fargo is a lovely mare, standing about 16 hands.

Fargo showing off her pretty trot in the pasture.

Fargo showing off her pretty trot in the pasture.

Her breeding as the Oldenburg Rainbow’s granddaughter coupled with her strong sire Blonder Hans whose strengths are wonderful elasticity and impulsion with a brilliant  jumping career should be a fine fit with the Flagmount genes we know and love so well from our own mare Feather.

Fargo's sire Blonder Hans

Fargo’s sire Blonder Hans

Fargo has had some lovely babies in the past and we sure hope to have another next March. Personally, I am hoping that Fargo as a Palomino from a Palomino sire from a Palomino grandsire coupled with her Oldenburg grand-sire’s pinto markings might create a colorful Flagmount baby.  But I do not care!  Happy, healthy and sound is the ticket.

Here are some pictures of Flagmount’s Freedom-

At 16.3, this is a big, solid boy reminiscent of his sire Flagmount King

At 16.3, this is a big, solid boy reminiscent of his sire Flagmount King

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These are shots of Flag in action.  No wonder our Feather is so brave!
Truly great news to brighten the seemingly endless days of rain that we have had.  We should know if our OTTB mare TeeDee is pregnant by Flag this weekend.  What a delight that would be!  Thanks for riding along!

Flag and Fargo make a baby (we hope)

Lauren with Flagmount's Freedom, at over 17 hands he makes wonderful, kind, jumpers.

Lauren with Flagmount’s Freedom, at over 17 hands he makes wonderful, kind, jumpers.

Caution-this post involves details of horse breeding/insemination.  Parental Guidance suggested.

Last week started our push to get our German mare, Blonder Reflection (aka Fargo, aka Grandma) pregnant with Feather’s sire, Flagmount’s Freedom.  Flag is an Irish Sport Horse stallion standing in Bryan, Texas. I have other articles about him in my blog if you want to ‘search’ his name for more information.   This mating would produce a cousin to our yearling Betty Sue and a half-sibling to Feather.  Some crazy times at our farm, for sure! Still those a pretty special relatives.

Even though I have seen others go through this ritual, I was not quite prepared for the science of getting a mare pregnant now.  I hate to say it but back in my day, we turned them out in the pasture and got what we got next spring.  Now, the equine reproductive process rivals that of any major human Fertility Clinic in the US.

Once I made the commitment to move ahead with this breeding of Flag and Fargo, and she had received a clean bill of reproductive health, we had several steps to go through.  First, we had to get the mare to go into cycle-which involved an injection.  Then we started tracking her follicles. To me they looked a lot like odd shaped balls but what do I know?

Several at the barn got embroiled in the Fargo follicle process and asked each day what size Fargo’s follicles were. Identifying the follicle size involves a sonogram (ultra-sound) of the horse’s reproductive parts.

Isabel and Lauren awaiting the daily follicle size check with Dr. Criner. Oh, life on the farm!

Isabel and Lauren awaiting the daily follicle size check with Dr. Criner. Oh, life on the farm!

By Thursday we were getting close but didn’t know if Fargo would be ready for baby-making on Friday or on the weekend.  We asked Dr. Marden with Flag for a late Friday afternoon collection.  I have to admit I did enjoy posting on FaceBook that my daughter and her friend were en route to College Station to get some sperm. I found that pretty funny until I got some blowback from the father of Lauren’s under-18 friend.  But I am guessing he is telling the story at work so he can’t be too upset.

It was Lauren’s first time to see Feather’s dad in person.  She also got to meet Feather’s full sister and brother.  They are built a great deal like Feather but one is a bay and one a chestnut.  Lauren retrieved the vials of precious cargo and headed back to the farm.

Meanwhile, Dr. Lynn Criner was checking Feather to see if we were ready to breed, but she was not.  I was worried Friday as we stored the vials in the refrigerator until we could do another check on Saturday.  I hoped this mare that I knew so little about did not out wait the semen.  The semen in the best of worlds was good until maybe Sunday (or so I had been assured).  I was terrified the mare would take her time and have the perfect follicle on Monday.

Saturday, the rains blew through hard, causing some downed limbs and another three inches of accumulation. All the horses stayed in their stalls.  Lynn showed up mid-afternoon to check on Fargo.

I have worked for OB-GYNs off and on for many years.  I know my way around the female anatomy and sonogram images.  Not so much when I was reviewing the images on Lynn’s machine.  But by this point in the process, I could id the follicles but not a lot else.

As an aside, one of the ladies at the barn needed a pelvic ultra-sound for her own reproductive issues and I volunteered Lynn and her machine.  She choose to keep her appointment with the radiology team at the hospital.  We would have cleaned the probe first.  I promise.

Anyway, Saturday afternoon, the rains had stopped (for a while) the skies had cleared but no one but the two of us (the doc and myself) were at the barn.  We got Fargo to assume the position for seemingly the umpteenth time. I said silent prayers for follicle readiness.  And yes, glory be, we had lift off!! It was time to inseminate the mare!

The semen (I have typed this word more in the last two weeks than I ever have in my life) had been ‘cooled’ and it was time to warm it up prior to insemination.  I was told to put the syringes filled with Flag’s magic power next to my skin.  I asked, “Like in my pockets?”  No, I was told, next to your skin.

If you are told to put semen in your pants, you better just do it!

If you are told to put semen in your pants, you better just do it!

Then it was soon time for Fargo to take the magic vials from their warming position and have them injected into her.  This process required a lot of cleaning of mare parts and sterile procedures.

With the tail tied out of the way (not an issue we encountered in human reproduction) Dr. Criner is sending Flag's swimmers to make a super foal.

With the tail tied out-of-the-way (not an issue we encountered in human reproduction) Dr. Criner is sending Flag’s swimmers to make a super foal.

I swear Fargo brightened up remarkably as the syringe was emptied.  When the tube was removed, Fargo gave a huge sigh of satisfaction.  I wanted to ask her if she would like a cigarette or something.

Here’s to hoping we are on our way to lovely, kind, athletic, jumping-fool of a foal.  We should know more in the next couple weeks.  Keep your fingers crossed.  Say a prayer.  For those of you wondering, horses carry approximately 342 days.  And you thought you had it bad.

Many thanks for riding along this journey with us!