Monday, July 28, 2008

Job finally done

We had a pizza party last night. Our sons finally finished painting the fence! Doesn't sound like a big job, but believe me, it is. We have put it off for a number of years.

Our sons are still home for the summer, but probably not for long. Both needed work. Our youngest graduated from Ohio University in June. He's looking for a job. The oldest is getting married next month, and he just got a job. Since we had them both home for probably the last summer we asked them to paint our very long, slat board fence. We compensated them, of course. Not just the pizza, but monetarily too. The oldest son needed money last month to help pay for apartment rent where he and his new bride will be living so we gave him an advance to help her out. The youngest gets his as soon as I get to the bank.

Sure, probably seems kind of strange to have them do this fence thing, but it has been sort of a running joke in our house, although not to Hubby. I think they look at it as "last time I'll ever have to hear about that d$%^ fence!"

When I watched both of them working together on this project I am proud. I am proud we were able to raise two very fine young men. Young men who care. Young men who are responsible and honest. Sure, I'm their mom, but I bet you can ask anyone about our sons and you'll get those same kinds of descriptions about them. In today's world, I don't know how we did it. I've had people ask. There's no recipe for it. I usually just thank them for the kind words about my sons and leave it a that.

I am a little sad the oldest will be going away but that's what I want for him. He's marrying a wonderfully talented, intelligent, beautiful young woman who he's known since they were in high school together. He is 25, she is 22 and newly graduated from Ohio University. They will be moving away to make a life of their own together. I am proud of both of them! Now life begins anew for them!

So, I figure, this summer will be remembered just as much for the wedding as it will for the "Fence painting project". A project that bonded two brothers for one last time before going their separate ways. I am stopping now, before the tears start flowing..............

Friday, July 25, 2008

Time is all I need

I thought all I needed was time. Time to do this, time to do that, but as we all know, time gets away from us. Before we know it, it's the end of July and the things we wanted to get accomplished have moved farther and farther down the list.

I wish I could be like Hubby. He never wears a watch. He claims it's his Native American heritage, although that is a few generations removed. He rarely has concern for "what time is it?" He does ok getting to places he's suppose to be within a reasonable amount of time. I tend to be a clock watcher and have this obsessive need to know what time it is......except, when I'm working with my horses.

I do look at my watch a couple of times when I'm with them, but usually I find, I can lose an hour or two out there and it's relaxing. I don't even mind "losing" the time which used to bother me. I think I'm getting better at just enjoying the moments. That's what I'm striving for anyway. I'm sure I'll never get rid of my lists because when I mark something off my list I feel a sense of accompolishment. Maybe if I let go of the clocks a little, my need for lists will lessen too. My horses are in their own universe most of the time, and once in a while, I can go there with them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's a good day when.......

my horses and I have good training time together. Yep, had one of those today and we all feel good.

I'm not one of those tough types when it comes to training. I don't coddle my horses either. I am patient and calm. They make mistakes, I make mistakes. We just take things as we can get them.

I've been working with Bo, my 10 yo Spotted Saddle Horse to ride with a bitless bridle. Personally, I don't like bits. I realize there may be horses and situations out there where a bit may be better, but I'm of a mind, your horses are only as good as you take the time to train them to be.

Bo is doing much better than when I was first working with him with his new bitless bridle. He was trained to a bit. As I was told upon purchase three years ago, a Tom Thumb. I changed that when I got him. Put him in a snaffle. He does well with it. But now I'm on a mission to train both of my guys to going "bitless".

It is possible. I've seen show jumpers go in sidepulls and stories of dressage horses working without bits. I believe it comes down to trust between you and your horses. Maybe I'm too innocent thinking on this but my gut tells me to go for it.

I think my horses and I will be much happier in the long run.

I'm not training my guys to be show horses, or jumpers or dressage. They are trail, nothing more, nothing less. A good trail horse needs good intuition in the first place and riding bitless puts the horse's trust in the rider, and the rider's trust in the horse.

Spirit, my 6 yo Spotted Saddle is the complete opposite of Bo. We're working on saddling right now. Yeah, I know, I've had Spirit for 3 years and we haven't even gone riding but this summer we will. He's a little more sensitive than Bo, but amazingly smart. He picks up on the lessons quicker than I expected. Soon, I'll get Hubby out there to be my assistant while I finally mount and do some walking on Spirit.

So, me and my guys had a good hour this morning. Life is good today!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Perfect Horse?????

I've read practically all the horse training books by all the top trainers. I've even purchased more than my fair share of training DVD's. Sure, I probably haven't read all of the books or seen all of the training techniques but at any rate, I came to my own conclusion; there is no such thing as a perfect horse! I'm guessing this really means we are all striving toward the perfect horse, just like we strive for perfection within ourselves.

How often does perfection happen? For me, not very often, except once in a while when the moon is full, the sun, stars are in perfect alignment and my horoscope reads "Congratulations, you have reached perfection!"

I really don't care that my horses aren't perfect. I get kind of weary reading all the magazine articles about doing this or doing that but then I must also be looking for some guidance or I wouldn't subscribe to them. I wouldn't watch the RFD training shows. I wouldn't attend Equine Affaire clinics every year for the past 4 years. So, the guidance has it's purpose, but I also keep in mind, perfection is what we are striving for, not necessarily what I'm going to get in it's entirety. It'll be in smidgens and pieces and I'll be glad with what I do get.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rain, mud and other annoying things

Seems you can't get away from Mother Nature's intrusion when you're trying to enjoy life outdoors. Normally, I respect Mother Nature. I love Mother Nature in all her forms. This summer, I'm kind of thinking my relationship with Mother Nature is like my relationship with my own mother. You know, love, hate, love, hate, but you don't really hate, you just get frustrated that your mother isn't really listening to your needs at the moment.

Last summer, here in S. Ohio, we had a drought which in turn caused a hay shortage. People started hoarding their hay. I had trouble finding hay to buy for the winter. Then, the price of a bale of hay went from $2.50 to the highest I've ever paid, $7 per bale. OUCH! Fortunately, I only have two horses to feed. I really feel for the people who were trying to find hay for a larger herd. I heard on the radio one day last winter that a horse rescue facility in the region was appealing for hay. I never found out if they got what they needed, I sure hope they did.

Well, this summer is completely opposite. Rain. Lots of it. I can't complain because I remind myself of last year's predicament. However, I am really beginning to detest mud. Every day I have to change into my mud boots to take the hay out to the field. We've had a water run-off problem right at the edge of their run-in stall so there has been hoof covering mud there. The horses don't even like to keep walking through it. They try to get a drier path. Bless his heart, my husband spent yesterday evening trying to fix the problem. Naturally, we had heavy rains last night. I thought for sure the waters would have run off the hills and over his work, right into the stall. I can be an eternal glass is half full kind of person. I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see, no mud in that spot! The horses seemed a little happier about it too, especially Spirit, since he's the one always getting pushed out into the muddy area by Big Bossy Bo. Bo tends to be bossy toward his little brother. Yeah, I call them brothers. They're not really brother. Completely different "parents". But, we adopted them, so in my eyes, they are brothers.

Along with the wet season, now, instead of no hay, I am finding the hay I am buying has the beginning of mold. I have read loads of material on whether this dust flying out from the flakes of hay is mold or dust and my conclusion, hoping it was farm dust, is that it's indeed mold spores. So, now, I have yet another problem to concern myself with. Will all the hay I purchase in the coming months contain the beginnings of mold? Will this be a problem for my horses? Will I be able to quit thinking about this and just deal with it?

I'm guessing the problem is coming from the hay being baled while it is damp, since spring and summer have been that way for us this year. Part of the bales will give me that poof of smoke, some of them won't. It's really distressing to a point. I try to divide and use the best stuff. Actually, I feel bad giving the horses any of it, but, it's not as if you can spend $64 on 16 bales and just continue to toss it on the side of the hill as unusable. It smells fine so far. Looked good when we were buying it. My husband and I both checked the bales before we loaded them. We even commented they seemed to be better than the 12 bales we'd bought the month before from a different farm. That bunch, I ended up losing about 3 bales of $5 hay. Those bales did turn black before I got to them.

Another problem with this wet weather we've had is more bugs. I use Fly Predators, fly spray on the horses, and some other fly catch things around the barn area. I think the Fly Predators are overwhelmed this year. I've seen more little black flies this year than in the past 3 summers. Not sure I can give the Fly Predators a rave review this year when they send me the "how was your summer" survey. Soon, those blasted horse flies will break out. Oh, how I really do HATE those nasties!

Time to remind myself that even with all these annoying, frustrating things to deal with, that's just part of having a farm, having horses, living in the country. I've lived out here for 26 years now, but we just got the farm part really going when I decided it was time for horses. My sons are grown, moving on with their lives. The oldest at 25 is getting married next month. The younger, at 22, graduated from Ohio University in June and is looking to move on, if he can find a job to move to. So, my husband and I are making our farm life our life for the next............oh, however many years it lasts. Mother Nature has her bad days I guess, and just like my husband is patient with me on "those days" I should be patient with Mother Nature, and my own mother too!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

First time for everything

I've been wondering and wondering what the heck are these blogs all about. Recently, I started investigating. Started with a great blog, Equestrian Ink and have since been checking out various blogs listed there. So, here I am, jumping in and trying a hand at this 21st century form of expression.

First, I am an animal person. I'm not an over the top kind of animal person, just someone who believes animals have more to them than most humans give the credit for. I try to do the best by the animals I have in my care. Sometimes I wonder if I've done enough.

I lost a beloved cat last fall. To what, the vet was not able to diagnose. She had been one of 5 kittens, left in a box, on the front steps of our church back in 2002. The kittens were so small one would fit in the palm of a hand and their eyes were still closed. My son and his girlfriend had found the kittens upon leaving church one morning. My son, the kind hearted soul that he is, couldn't walk away from the box of mewing fur. He brought them home and we all took it as a big responsibility to try to do right by all of them. We had to hand feed them for awhile but they each grew into fluffy little balls of energy in a short period of time.

We were able to find homes for 3 of the kittens and decided to keep the two gray and white kittens, one female one male. Jinxy, the soft fluffy girl had fur that reminded me of a rabbit. She had a soft face. Whenever I would pick her up, she would automatically go to my shoulder, and look over like the way you hold a baby. She was a gentle personality but later she had issues with our dogs. This relegated her to living upstairs in our garage, which, is actually a pretty nice place to live. Both our sons at one time or another stated they would gladly live up there. But, it was Jinxy's domain. Her brother, Buddy would often visit, but he is more of an outdoorsy cat and gets along with the dogs. Actually, I often think he believes he is a dog, and not a cat. In the evenings, after the dogs had been put up, Jinxy would venture out. We live out in the country, away from busy streets or roads, a source of freedom for a cat who wants to explore around the creeks and trees.

I did the right thing by getting both Jinxy and Buddy neutered. I will always do that for my cats and dogs. That is doing the best for them, in my opinion. So, anyway, last year Jinxy became sick. I tried to help her in ways I thought were going to make her better. I have learned something about cats in the past few years that I never really realized, they can get sick very quick, before you even realize it is serious, and then it can be too late. I also lost another long time cat, Kit Kat, a couple of years ago. She was a strickly inside cat. The vet thought she might have had a bowel obstruction or worse. She went downhill quickly. The vet told me he has seen this happen with cats often. I know from now on, I will be more vigilant with my cats.

Second, I am one of those crazy horse ladies. Crazy about horses all of my life! I cannot remember a time when I didn't love horses. I never knew what drove this fascination, it's just always been in my heart. I never owned a horse of my own, until four years ago. At the age of 43 I purchased the first horses I ever went to see. Yeah, I know, that is not advisable. And in all honesty, I wouldn't advise anyone to buy the first horse they went to see. But, one would have to understand that the moment I saw Him standing there my heart said that's the one. Just like falling in love with that guy you end up marrying. Right? Well, actually, I never even felt that way the first time I met my husband, but don't tell him that! As soon as I walked up to Bo (though he had a different name, I had to rename him!) I just knew. Don't know how to explain it exactly, but it was just there. The same is true for the other horse I bought from the same seller. My husband thought I was crazy with this one.

The seller had 2 Spotted Saddle Horses for sale. After I saw Bo, then ride-tested him, saddle tested him all that stuff you're suppose to do I asked to see the other horse for sale. The wife had to go up on a nearby hill to chase the little fella down. He was a two-year old. He came flying off the hill and into the round-pen, proceding to try to jump out of the round-pen until he finally settled down. I went in with him, not before looking over at my husband to see a look of horror on his face and the question "what are you doing?" in his eyes. Once again, I cannot explain it, but by looking at this two year old's face and talking to him, he had me from the first whoa! And yes, by the time I uttered, "I want this one too, oh what's his name?" My husband was silently standing beside big Bo holding the lead rope with a face that said simply "WHAT?" The seller told me the two-year old's name was Spirit. My husband later asked me "Don't you think there's a reason for that name?" I told him I figured there was but I also know I saw something in his eyes. I seem to remember seeing my husband roll his own eyes at this statement. I always look at a horse's face as well as the body. You can tell alot about a horse personality from their faces if you know what you're looking for. My husband thought I had definitely gone off the deep end, and usually, I'm a very sane, reasonable person.

Well, it was the end of October '04 when my two boys arrived at our place. They are a joy and sometimes a drudge, but even the drudge I enjoy. I haven't rode off into the sunset with them, which is much of my frustration, but we're working on that. I guess I'm not as confident in my riding as I once was, but I keep working to change that. My husband told me the other day that he still looks forward to the day when we take a real trail ride together on our two boys. He likes to think Bo is his, and I let him. Bo knows though, and often pacifies my husband so he will look good in my eyes. I am the Boss Mare around here and everyone knows that!

So, starting this new blog will be a journey. Just like my life with horses. Just like any life in general. I will touch on many subjects, but mostly sticking to my four legged friends I have around me.

These are the four legged members of our family:
Xena. Twelve years old. She is our senior member. She was given to us by an eager grandmother trying to make two grandsons happy. The little bear of a pup had been given to her by someone who was trying to breed white German Shepherds. When Xena was born all black, she was given away. She has always been a beautiful dog. Many people have asked us if she is part wolf. As far as we know, she isn't. She has a magnificent personality and has always been great with kids. In her younger days, she was black with silver/gray markings. She has lightened as she has gotten older but at times, I can see why people might think she is part wolf.

Maggie Mae. Part Australian cattle dog and something else. Our oldest son found Maggie when he was working at a state park. He brought her home when he heard they were going to call the dog warden to come get her. He's the kind-hearted soul who found the kittens. She had been left to fend for herself at the park. For weeks after, my son made sure no one left a "lost dog" sign anywhere around the park. No one ever came back to claim her.

Lucy. This is our newest member. She was left by the roadside near our house on Thanksgiving. Our back country road has very little traffic and is a dead end to boot. She is a brown, beagle/hound mix of some kind. Gentle face with floppy hound years. After the third day, Lucy decided to come to visit our dogs, evidently deciding it looked like a good place to hang out. I couldn't turn her away and so one more unwanted dog found a home with us. This little dog had been neutered, so it was hard to understand why she'd been dumped. She's had some issues we've had to work through but now that she knows we won't hurt her and she is safe, she has become part of our "pack".

Buddy. One of the box kittens brought home in '02. He's grown into a big guy, somewhere between 10-15 pounds. He may be a gray/white tabby like cat but I see Siamese in his long body, tail and the features in his face. Sometimes he seems to believe he is a dog. He rolls around with Xena. Lays with her out on the porch. I think he missed Jinxy this winter. Xena has filled in that spot.

Bo. My big, 16h, black/white Spotted Saddle Horse. He's 10 years old this year. He's a laid back boy but don't let him fool you. He knows exactly what he's going to do before he does it. Just ask my husband.

Spirit. My "little guy" or that's how I see him. He's actually six years old this year. He's also a black/white SSH. He's a little smaller than Bo. He's at the other end of the personality spectrum. He can be very sensitive, not quite as laid back.

So here are some things to get my blog journey started. Looking forward to seeing where it takes me.