Flexible GES aka Bull

For at least five years I have watched and revered the great champion and stallion Flexible.  I dreamed and dreamed about a baby from this supreme stallion- what it could mean to my farm and to my daughter. Many sleepless nights were spent trying to decide the perfect bride for this wonderful stallion. We wanted to breed our horse Feather, an Irish sport horse to Irish horse Flexible but she was a maiden mare meaning she had never had a baby, and we were unsure what the results would be.

We even discussed the breeding of Feather and Flexible with Bennie Traurig, an Olympian, and his words to us were for let me know when the baby was born, that’s how excited he was about the potential mating of Flexible and Feather.

But in the end we chose to go with Silhouette, Betty Sue’s mother, an experienced broodmare with outstanding German jumping lines, a great mind and easy disposition. Our thoughts for breeding these two would be to offset the sometimes stubborn/opinionated Flexible with the gentle spirit of Silhouette.  And they couldn’t have been much  better of  a match in terms of size and development.

So last year at this time the breeding took place and almost one year to the day from the time that Silhouette was bred she gave birth to a beautiful buckskin baby colt on July 3.

But that’s where this fairytale story started to go wrong.  We all expected and then waited for this baby to get up and then start nursing but this baby never did. There are many reasons this happens none of them good.
For the next 48 hours everything possible was done for this baby to successfully get up and nurse. Stephanie, God bless her soul,  hand fed by bottle baby Bull (get it- short for  Flexible?) for 48 long hours never missing a feeding, never missing a moment where the baby might eat even if he refused.

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My daughter spent a lot of her career and the time in neonatology with human babies and called this initial period as Bull eagerly ate to be the honeymoon period.  Then as sometimes human babies do, he “tanked”.

In the beginning baby Bull was bright and responsive and couldn’t wait for his next feeding. He ate hungerly and often but as time went on he became lethargic and quit eating. This was not a “dummy” foal.

In the meantime, we tried everything that we could to get Bull standing with legs that had been contracted too long in the womb with a great trained  Colorado State University Vet.  Even when he could stand he gave up trying to stand.  It was not meant to be.

Yesterday morning after 48 hours of life I agreed with the vet that it was time to let baby Bull go.   His life was not destined to be for whatever reason. Reasons we will never know. I’ve said it before but dreams die first.  My family, Stephanie and close friends are devastated by this loss.

I cannot thank Stephanie enough for all she did to take care of my baby during his two days of life. I doubt she slept at all. I also know she would do it all over again if she thought it would make a difference.

 Flexible GES July 3-July 5, 2017 

In love you were conceived.

And know in love you leave.

What’s Under the Mask?

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Baby Sims has been hiding out under a fly mask.

Baby Sims will be two months next week.  He has changed a lot.  We did not know what to think of his red coat as the odds were quite low (under 13%) that he would be a red.  And that includes being a red that turns gray.

I have certainly never seen anything like this.  You can see his baby coat is molting away.  Betty Sue did that and I was panicked she was going to be a bay.  I have no idea what Sims is going for-maybe some new Punk rock thing or a unique color combo we have not seen before.  So far, his under-coat looks to be a darker red.  But his ears, mane and tail are coming in BLACK!  His legs have lightened in color like a dark palomino.  I am perplexed.

Everyone from my vet to successful horse breeders tell me a different tale.  So, take a look at the many pictures and give me your vote.    I was told he would be a chestnut with a black mane and tail.  I found out that does happen, rarely, but the black is not a true black. Mama Fargo does have some dilute genes that might be causing a little havoc here.

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Sims is loosing all his baby hair around his face and coming in less red.  It  is like he is molting.

Meanwhile while he is certainly a well put together young man, more than just his face is changing.

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His legs are turning lighter, almost his mother’s Palomino color But wait for his mane and tail.

At least an inch on new mane growth is black.

I have never seen a horse born red that turns anything but grey. He looks like one of the teenager’s talked him into some weird Ombre look.   And you don’t go  black first and then onto grey.  Even his ears are almost all black now.

 

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The tail still looks red but is black underneath.

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I am holding back the top layer-black wouldn’t you say?

There is only one other idea I have (and I can’t wait to hear yours!) could he be turning smoky black?  Fargo has the genes for that.  Look at this picture I took of Fargo.  Looks perfect Palomino, but check out the black deep in her tail.  Hum…

 

                            Fargo’s blond and black tail.  So the black gene is there.

Anyway, here are some more pictures from today-it did start raining so you will get some spotted Sims but rest assured those are rain drops.


A melting changing face. Look at how dark his ears and forelock are. Pretty homely ‘lil face.  We will still love him no matter what color he is!

Hard to even know what this is- it is the top of Sims Head. That’s his dark ear on your right looking down his black and red mane. Pretty black, huh?

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Here you can see his new light, light legs. A dun skin?

Let me know what color you think Sims will be.  I want all the theories.  Maybe someone came by and dyed his little mane and tail, well and his ears and his legs.

Anyway,  thanks for riding along.

Always something new on the horizon here.  Cross your fingers, we are hoping a baby is being made as we speak!  It should be a good (or even a great one)!

 

The Heat Goes On

Newcomer Sammi Dee is taking over the job of watching the horses in the arena. Lula is ever loyal at her side.

Newcomer Sammi Dee is taking over the job of watching the horses in the arena. Lula is ever loyal at her side.

For three days last week, I went without air conditioning.  The highs were in the 90’s and the lows in the mid-70’s.  I kept thinking I would figure out a way to make the A/C work-because I am qualified as an A/C repairman-right?  Well, no.  I was afraid it would be expensive and I was afraid it would take a long time.  And of course, it is just outside the home maintenance policy we bought when we got the house.

While not sleeping, I had quality time to speculate on how much heat a long-haired, curly poodle gives off when nuzzled next to my right side or in contrast, two small dachshunds coupled with a big Doberman on the other.  I would like to point out they were sleeping fine.  I had time to practice my training session for work and re-organize the tackroom in my head.  Lots to do as the you lie awake, too hot to sleep, too stubborn to call for help.  Friday morning looking at the weekend ahead, I couldn’t take it any longer and called the repairman.

By Friday afternoon, late, I had cool air flowing, less money in my checking account. I was ready to go outside to do some work as I knew it would be cool on the inside when I returned.  I slept well (finally) and was up for usually early feeding of the animals.  But Lauren and new boarder Amanda were right behind me as they headed off west to pick up Amanda’s horse.

Patch with new buddy Hershey.

Patch with new buddy Hershey.

We have known Amanda and Patch for some time and know they will make a nice addition to our barn family.

I spent the day with the usual weekend chores, mowing, cleaning, riding and filling troughs. In spite of the greatly improved temperature inside, it was about 95 by noon. I decided to get out the dog’s black trough which they had enjoyed in the summer to splash around in and get wet.  I went to pick up the upside down trough and got quite a surprise.  A small (yet certainly big enough) water moccasin was resting under the trough.

My boarder who is a veterinarian was at the barn with her husband.  Apparently snakes of any kind are not included with animals she has an interest in and I got the feeling she would be just as happy if her husband didn’t come see the snake either.  I stopped Lauren as she was leaving for the weekend (showered, in nice non-barn clothes) for her  to come kill the snake but she also declined.  It has been pretty dry since the monsoons of early summer and we have not seen any snakes.  Finally, I was contemplating going to the house for some boots to wear as part of my snake killing outfit, when Paul (the vet’s husband) came to help me out (plus, he was wearing boots, so clearly he was the best one for the job).

First, I had to lock up all the interested but misguided dogs and then I lifted the trough away and Paul succeeded in killing the snake.  Another day on the farm!

Hiding away in the dirt and leaves. Glad he did not get the dogs, horses or any of the rest of us.

Hiding away in the dirt and leaves. Glad he did not get the dogs, horses or any of the rest of us.

Having gotten through this harrowing experience it was time for me to clean up and get ready to receive visitors.  As you may remember (and I believe there is still a video link on this site to see them re-united) for a while our pony Snowboy, went to live at
Dev’s (or combination of Dev’s and Freeman Ranch). Jordyn was young and didn’t need a fulltime pony and Lauren was too old to compete on a pony.  Well. Snow being the gracious guy he is formed his own group of admirers.  Isabel competed with Snow for a while before Processo. Another Snowboy follower was Allyson.  She had always enjoyed the gentle white pony, in spite of having fallen from him and badly breaking her arm.  I had kept up with Allyson’s mom and Allyson was ready to come back to Snow and resume her lessons.

I had never seen Allyson ride and knew it had been a few years since she and Snow had ridden together, but I needn’t have worried.  Allyson listened to my long lament about getting Snowboy to canter and expertly rode away at a lovely canter, clearly not needing any of my advice.

I hope they come back many times-I have lots of horses this girl can ride.

Sunday it was hot again but still cool inside. Jordyn came over and we did our weekly fence ride-where we ride the fence line and look for the horse’s missing fly masks.  Always a good time!

Alex and MIckey-just about perfect.

Alex and MIckey-just about perfect.

Leaping lizards!

Leaping lizards!

Dev had lessons as the temperatures cooled slightly toward dusk.  It appeared everyone had a good ride!  Lauren and Alex are headed to the show this week with Feather and Mickey.  Both horses were jumping well and appear to be ready to go!

Love this shot! So much energy!

Love this shot! So much energy!

Feather skipping along, literally off the ground on all four feet.

Feather skipping along, literally off the ground on all four feet.

As always thanks for riding along!

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A big shout out to Caitlyn Epperson who was in California this past weekend competing for USEF Talent Search.  With her horse, Ky, they put in some great rounds and well-represented all of us back here in Texas.  Great Job, Cate!!

Mustang Love

Kit and Isabel

Kit and Isabel

Kit, our newest boarder at Six Meadow Farm, has come a huge distance and yet in other ways has just moved down the road.  Originally from some of the remaining wild horses in Oregon, Kit somehow made her way thousands of miles south to come to live on my neighbor’s property.

Some years and bad times, brought Kit to her next turn in the road which was my farm right down the street. Horse lover Isabel made the decision with her family to aid and abet this little mustang mare who was seized by the sheriff’s office, then bound for the kill buyer, a crowded painful ride to Mexico and a brutal end in the unregulated slaughter house to be processed into meat.

As my father always told me when I wanted to buy this horse or that horse, that it was not the price of the horse itself (at least back when he and I were buying horses) but the cost to keep it, care for it and provide for it for all the years to come.  In the case of Isabel and Kit, there was no price to buy this horse.  Our Pultar Road neighbors went out to the auction and waited most of the day to get this Mustang and a Quarter horse pony out of harm’s way, bidding back to back with kill buyer until the little horses were not worth their weight in meat (literally).  Our neighbors brought them home to us.

Isabel had done her research on how much the keeping and nurturing of the horse would cost her over a year’s time.  But like most new horse owners, the minute Kit got off the trailer at our farm, one could almost visualize the bills starting to mount up.  First, as Isabel assessed her, she saw a lot of scrapes and cuts.  The sheriff had gotten the horses to auction too late to be auctioned with the horses and they were sent down the shoots with the frightened cattle.  Our pony held up pretty well but Kit was a mess of torn flesh including a gash on her back leg.

Kit’s feet were in bad shape as well.  By Saturday the farrier arrived to help out Kit, but declined to work on her as he was concerned about her cut leg and the fever he felt sure was racing through her bloodstream.  Nothing about this was good news to Isabel and her parents.  Meanwhile, our pony Jete’ was starting to shine like a new penny, having her feet trimmed up and we were discussing who was going to ride her first. The comparison between to the two rescues had to make it even harder for Isabel to understand what in the world she had been thinking when she signed up to rescue the Mustang.

To add a little more insult to injury, Isabel was now our employee, cleaning stalls, hauling feed and water and sweating, a lot.  Most suburban teenagers do not have what it takes physically to knock out 14 stalls in 95 degree heat.  But Isabel stuck with it. It was one more way to pay her Mustang’s board bill.

Our pony went off with saddle, bridle and rider into the arena like they had just stepped into the show ring.  While there were a few mistakes, the pony clearly knew what to do and had been well-trained.

Meanwhile, Isabel followed up with vet to learn there was no temperature, the leg would heal fine but oh, boy did this girl’s teeth need some work!  For those of you old enough to remember there used to be a series of books about a girl named Pippi Longstocking.  Pippi could pick up a horse in one hand.  She was super strong.  I often think of our vet Lynn as the Pippi Longstocking of vets. As a female in the large animal industry, it has helped Lynn to smart, fast, lean and strong.  Most horses are no match for her technique but this Mustang, was not letting anyone look at her teeth.  A little medication later, the teeth were taken care of, but Lynn urged Isabel’s mom to get some PROFESSIONAL training help as her daughter could be hurt.  More money out the door and it sounded like more was going to be spent.

Meanwhile, our pony was on perfect ride number two over in the arena.  I attempted to help Isabel with the bridling issue only to learn this Mustang mare was not planning on opening her mouth for me any more than she was for anyone else.  I gave it a good try-but Kit won.

We started talking about alternatives to traditional bridles like hackamores or bosals.  I think Isabel was just watching money run out of her wallet.  Originally, her plan had been to do some fund raising both at her school and on-line.  Money was just trickeling in for the mare and her care.

But I did see them make progress.  The first days, the water hose sent Kit to outer-space but by this weekend she was quietly standing in the wash rack while the water ran full force.  She had become quieter and easier to handle each day as well.  In the dark before dawn as I brought the horses in to eat, I would put my pony away first.  Kit stood calmly in the hallway until I was ready to walk her back to her food.  The terror in her calls to our pony, Jete’ , the moment the pony disappeared from sight, reduced and started to cease as Kit became part of the mare’s pasture.

I also think that it helped immensely for Caroline and Arianna to come by with pictures and stories of their Mustang, Ellie Mae, that many of you have seen on the show circuit.  She is a glossy, beautiful mare who has won many blue ribbons in the ring.  But Caroline showed Isabel pictures of Ellie Mae as she had arrived, skinny, banged up and looking nothing like the adorable mount she is now.

This weekend I put together a hackamore (it works without a bit by putting pressure on the nose of the horse) for Isabel to try on Kit.  As her father stood looking a bit concerned I urged Isabel to go ahead and saddle up Kit.  We would go take a test ride.  I had seen nothing in this horse to indicate she would be crazy or spooky as long as we left her teeth alone.  Isabel eagerly agreed and we headed off to the arena.

As I stood closely by and Hugh ran video on his phone, Isabel mounted the Mustang for what was probably the first time in at least five years. The little mare accepted Isabel on her back and walked quietly around the pen.  It was a big first for the two of them.

Lauren on Jete" and Isabel on Kit for the first time.

Lauren on Jete” and Isabel on Kit for the first time.

Last night both Lauren and Isabel saddled their ponies and they took their first ride out in the big arena.  It was a pretty fine moment.

Isabel has set up a “Go Fund Me” to help her offset the costs (and the continuing costs) of supporting her rescued Mustang.  I know we have all been asked to support this and that cause and we probably could use money for our own horses. I have not used this blog as a fund rising vehicle in the past.  But something about the determination of this 15 year-old girl to help save this Mustang has made me respect her grit, strength and vision.  When she first heard about this mare in need she set out to devise a plan to help.  I would ask you to help her help the Mustang.  Let’s watch this mare blossom!

As always, thanks for riding along!  Send a dollar or ten if you can!

http://www.gofundme.com/savekit

 

 

 

 

Rescue Initiated-Rescue Complete

The rescue team of Jo Ann, Olivia, Alex, new pony Jete', Lauren,Lainie, Hugh rescue horse Kit and Isabel.

The rescue team of Jo Ann, Olivia, Alex, new pony Jete’, Lauren, Lainie, Hugh, rescue horse Kit and Isabel.  Oh, and Kona photobombing the shot.

There are all those dog, horse, cat  (insert animal) rescue books out today that claim the animal just “found” the person.  Then they all had a wonderful happy life thereafter.  I don’t believe in fairy tales, or all rescue horses are happy and the perfect fit.  I have lived in the real world of animals too long.  Where my majestic Bruno (an OTTB) is euthanized in my back yard after we suffer the anguish of trying to save him.  I have brought home too many “rescue” cats and dogs that later were clearly not the right animal for my family or our lifestyle and had to be re-homed or died on the highway.

Maybe all rescue animals go to heaven but the road to hell is stock full of “rescues” gone wrong.  I think it is in the nature of a lot of us to want to rescue animals.  It makes us feel superior and needed.  It makes us feel important. Often we do not think about the long term obligations of the rescue animal that may have a long life to live.

So, with all that negitivity, how did we come to be lined up in the front yard, holding two rescue horses?  I guess that doing the “right” thing can be pretty compelling.

There might be 15 homes situated on our little bluff over the Brazos River. Most of us have horses, cattle, goats or other livestock and probably all of us have dogs.  Our one neighbor lives in a nice, newer home at the top of road.  Since we have been here, about a year and a half, we have never seen him.  But we have seen his band of five horses.  These horses are notorious for breaking out of their pasture.  Often they would be seen grazing on the long grass next to the road.  That was a good plan because their pasture was overrun with weeds and as our weather has gotten more and more unpredictable this year, the horses have looked worse and worse.

The man, Martin, lost his wife a few years ago to cancer and he is elderly.  I think the heart just went out of him as he dealt with overwhelming grief and increased dementia.  I did not call the sheriff, but someone on the street probably did as I drove home a few weeks ago to see the sheriff’s horse trailer lined up on the road.  I knew the horse’s were being seized.

About ten days ago, Isabel came up to the house and told me a woman was there to talk to me.  She introduced herself as my neighbor, Pauline.  It is a sad fact that we do not get out and meet our neighbors in this busy world we live in.  I immediately knew her place as she described it.  Pauline told me that she and dressage instructor neighbor, Nancy were going to take three of the worst of the Martin’s horses and try to save them instead of having them face euthanasia. Those three horses were elderly and horribly emaciated.  Then she asked me if I could help out possibly with the other two horses, both mares, one a younger pony and one a middle-aged Mustang.  She said both had been rideable at one time.

My immediate thought was no, we cannot take on another thing.  It has been a rough year for us after starting the new business, dealing with surgeries (mine and Lauren’s), closing out all my mother’s debts and the difficult weather.  A couple of the boarders were standing by and I asked if they could help.  Finally, I asked my buddy Jo Ann, always considerate, generous and with a huge heart if she would go hall and half with me on the pony’s expenses and we high-fived in agreement.  Of course, I was still trying to sell pony Piper that had not been a fit at all for Jordyn and I don’t know what I was thinking but there we were, agreeing to take a sight-unseen pony while relief washed over Pauline’s face. I asked Lainie if their family might be interested and I got a resounding “no”.  I get it.  Paying board on an unknown, untested rescue horse is hazardess to your heart and potentially your pocket-book.

Later, Lainie’s teenaged daughter, Isabel came to me in the house to ask questions about the mustang mare and how much it would cost to keep her.  She wanted to know if she could work off some of the board and expenses.  I told her maybe a $100 a month or so.

Well. by the next day, Lainie’s family was adopting the Mustang mare.  Lainie said she had never seen Isabel so determined (and Isabel is a focused, strong-minded individual on a normal day).  They had discussed it as a family, and we worked togerher to come up with a plan to allow Isabel to own her first horse.  It was a big moment in her life and one I know she will always remember.

Kit arriving, a little thin, a little worn but pretty quiet and eager to please.

Kit arriving, a little thin, a little worn but pretty quiet and eager to please.

And then we waited.  Due to county protocols, the horses had to be quarantined and then sent to an area auction.  The auction was set for yesterday.  The danger of a horse auction is always the “kill-buyer”.  He is looking for horses to buy to transport to Mexico for a horrific death at the slaughter house.  Our neighbors had agreed to ante-up the auction cost of the horses if we would agree to give them homes.  We expected the horses to move through the auction about noon.  At noon, there was still not any sign of them.  Pauline called me around 1:30 to say the transport to the auction had been delayed but they thought they would be arriving shortly.

Finally around 3:30, we got the news that the two mares had been secured and purchased.  But what I thought would be a couple of hundred dollars a piece turned into almost $1000 when the kill buyer went bid for bid with our neighbors. Horse meat goes for about a $1 a pound. A six hundred pound pony brings $600.  I was so relieved, I cried when I heard they were in the trailer and headed home to us.

Amidst the happy gathering of rescuers, family and friends, the horses arrived safely.  The pony backed out to Lauren’s waiting hands and was dubbed with the name Jete’-meaning movement or flight.  I hope she learns to take flight over the jumps but who knows, at least she is safe.  And in the usual way of ponies, she looked no worse for wear.  She looked well fed and stocky.  No wonder the kill buyer wanted her-she was a meaty girl.

Alex and Lauren holding Jete' as they wait for Kit to unload. Of course, Kona is on the job making sure all is going well.

Alex and Lauren holding Jete’ as they wait for Kit to unload. Of course, Kona is on the job making sure all is going well.

Isabel and Kit were introduced and both seemed to glow with happiness.  One at finding her first horse and one at having finally her own person.

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Thinner than the pony but with a happy expression and an interested look.

Thinner than the pony but with a happy expression and an interested look.

We will see how this all works out in a few months or years.  Mickey, Snow and Cody all came from the rescue and grace our barn.  They have been with Libby and us for over 12 years now.  We will see how these ladies do.  I bet they get a lot love and groceries and second chance on life.

Thank you for riding along! And a big thank you to these new neighbors of mine who put animals first. Thank you Gil and Pauline.  It is a happy day at Six Meadow Farm.

jete' gleaming in the evening light after a thorough clean up by Alex and Lauren. Looks like a show pony not a rescue. Wow!

jete’ gleaming in the evening light after a thorough clean up by Alex and Lauren. Looks like a show pony not a rescue. Wow!

Inspiration-by Jo Ann (sounds like a line of greeting cards)

Jo Ann and Mickey- a pretty good lookin' pair.

Jo Ann and Mickey- a pretty good lookin’ pair.

I met Jo Ann when about five years ago when Jordyn was two. I had gotten talked into helping out announcing at a horse show and if I did, they would find little Jordyn a horse to ride in the leadline class. So one of Jordyn’s first horse show experiences was with Jo Ann’s then  27 year old, black, OTTB named Hershey.  He was perfect for her.

Later when Jo Ann was looking for a place to board her old man, Hershey (then 31) and her superstar Quest, our vet Lynn, recommended our place to Jo Ann.  It has been a good fit.  Due to a series of adventures, good and bad, Jo Ann has been left without a regular horse to ride, Hershey was saddly too old and Quest moved on to greener pastures.  She came back to riding dressage with Nancy Lindsey and my go-to pony, Snowboy.

Not to give out state secrets, but Jo Ann is older than I am by a few years.  And we all know I am really old.  Jo Ann and I have had some serious run-ins with medical professionals but while mine have been orthopedic hers have been some fairly critical medical issues.  In fact it seems a little more than a month ago Jo Ann had some pretty important surgery.

I am a fairly competitive person.  That may be an understatement.  I used to be a competitive horsewoman and spent my childhood in lessons and shows.  By the time I started college, I was pretty done with all that.  I rode because I enjoyed riding.  I did some shows off and on through the years but usually to prove I could or to help Ally or Lauren out by riding their show horse prior to them riding.

I have been watching Jo Ann as she has continued to ride, in spite of not having a horse right now, in spite of the heat, in spite of her medical issues and had a little “A HA” moment.  Jo Ann has worked her way up to riding Lauren’s jumper, Mickey.  There is something dynamic and exciting about watching this cow-bred Paint, excel at something else he was not bred to do.  He was never bred to jump and he has soared.  He was never bred to bend and float and now Jo Ann has him doing dressage.  What a special guy he is!

I have been riding my new horse Nova pretty consistently and wanted to take a lesson with Dev once I got her going pretty well.  Of course, part of it was me-the getting going part.  Coming back from the hip replacement surgery and my nine other orthopedic surgeries in this decade have made my muscle tone and strength not what they were. So, that was a good excuse as well.  I had told Dev that I would do a lesson this last weekend, but wouldn’t you know it-Nova came up lame.  Reason enough to put that off until she was better.

Wow.

Wow.

But watching Jo Ann on Friday night, Competitive Cindy (that is like Malibu Barbie), said to herself, “You know I could do this!  This lesson thing-I could be open to criticism, praise and getting to be a better rider.  I could do it!”

Mickey and I doing just fine.

Mickey and I doing just fine.

Sunday, for the first time in 40 years, seriously, 40 years, I took a horseback riding lesson.  And I did just fine.  And I did it on Mickey.  Who did his best for me (at least mostly).  So, what is the big deal?  For 40 years, I have been content to listen to other riders, to read books and articles about riding, to watch clinicians and videos but I have not be willing to put myself out there where the focus as direct and on me-specifically.

Canter, please.

Canter, please.

I had watched my friend Jo Ann take lessons.  Honestly, at first I really thought she probably couldn’t ride that well, I mean she was old like me.  But then I watched her turn in better and better rides on a variety horses and I had learned that if I wanted to get better and get serious, I had to learn more.

We never quit learning or getting better.  Sometimes we have to be brave enough to face the criticism that may occur when we step out into something new.  I did not even get criticized during my lesson (George Morris was not available for a crtique).  Instead I got nice words about my position and quiet hands along with suggestions for doing things even better.

And to you- Jo Ann-Thank you for the inspiration.  You will see in these videos what a lovely rider you are.  Bravo to you, for hanging on and moving forward.  I believe you showed these kids around here a few things as well.

As John Wayne reportedly said, “Courage is being scared to death and climbing up into the saddle anyway”.  I am glad I climbed up in the saddle again to learn.

As always thanks for riding along!

Lauren and I taking a lesson together-first time ever.  She is on Owen.

Lauren and I taking a lesson together-first time ever. She is on Owen.

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!