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.–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!

You’re in Big Trouble Bruno!-a Bruno Story

Bruno giving us a sly look after he is safely back in his stall.

Bruno giving us a sly look after he is safely back in his stall.

Last night, I got home to Roland making his monthly farrier visit. It was the first time he was having to do all the horses as in the past he has made separate trips to do Bruno. He had been there for well over two hours when I arrived. He was waiting for a patch to dry on Bruno’s bad hoof. I commented it looked like drywall tape and I guess it is similar.  Bruno had pulled off his specially sculpted cast and shoe about a week ago.  His hoof was looking pretty ragged.

Roland told me if it comes off again, I am to immediately duct tape his entire hoof and then put it in one of those boots that is used to protect the hoof when a shoe is lost.  Bruno’s hoof wall is still so thin, it cannot hold up to any type of abuse, even just walking around on soft ground.

It was another balmy day with heat indexes over 100 as we stood and held horses for Roland to shoe.  By the time Roland left, Lauren and I were both tired.  We might not have been paying a lot of attention to the usual details of closing the barn at night.

On clear nights, Snow, Mickey and Feather go out all night in main pasture.  Bruno is locked in his paddock, which is covered in case a stray shower heads our way.  To keep ol’Kid safe from Bruno pushing him around all night, Kid goes in the paddock in front of the main stalls.

We try not let any horse but Kid in this area.  As Roland told me, it is supposed to be a barn not a green house, but I have enjoyed planting climbing vines and hanging baskets full of flowers from the front of the barn.  Also, the cats have their food out which Snowboy would clearly eat (and did) when he had a chance.

Snowboy sneaking a snack of cat food!

Snowboy sneaking a snack of cat food!

We put Kid in his paddock, turned off the fans, locked the tackroom, closed the hay room, double checked the water troughs and went in to the much-anticipated air conditioning. Kid can be trusted not to bother anything.

This morning at my usual 4:00 am I let the dogs out the back of the house and immediately noticed the barn had all the lights on.  I rushed to Lauren’s room, thinking there had been some barn emergency I had been lucky enough to sleep through.  “Why are there lights on in the barn?”  I demanded.  She looked up sleepily from her bed with no comprehension of what I was talking about.  Then I got scared.  What if someone was out there?  Although, that would be pretty stupid, why would you turn on all the lights if you were planning to attack someone?

As I came around the corner of the house I saw Bruno looking at me from the gate (he was back-lit like a giant statue in the blazing lights of the barn).  However, he was on Kid’s side of the paddock, not his.  And what a time he had!  Sometime during the night he had gotten through the connecting gate of the two paddocks.  He literally reached in and pulled all my plants out of their pots and left them strung along the fence.  The cat food was a thing of the past.  We had bags of shavings stacked next to the main gate, just under all the industrial light switches that have a toggle switch instead of a normal up and down switch.  The bag of shavings was torn open and the lights and fans turned on.  Perhaps the industrial lighting switch company can use this in their advertising, ‘so simple even your horse can turn on the switches’.  I am not sure that is really an asset. I got the morning feed and literally had to drag Bruno back over to his side of the paddock and his own stall.  Apparently he likes all the attractions on Kid’s side of fence.  I guarantee we will be triple checking the chains on that gate tonight.  That’s after I have gotten all the plants re-potted and bought some more cat food.  Oh, Bruno!