Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January Just Had to Go Out With a BANG

Snow is falling and falling alot. We're in the midst of a 48 hour snowstorm. This particular area of the Appalchians, in Southern Ohio is never prepared for this kind of snowfall. Looks like about 5 inches out there right now with sleet and other junk falling later this afternoon. I know it's a drop in the bucket compared to what some folks get, but around here, it puts our roads into a level 3 emergency. I don't look for any kind of township truck with a snow plow on the front to come up our road until maybe tomorrow.

Hubby tracked off to work this morning. He has about a 15 mile drive. Fortunately he has his Jeep Wrangler 4WD. I also have my Dodge Dakota 4WD, but I ain't going nowhere today! I feel fortunate not to have to get out. There was a time when I loved driving in this kind of weather but these days, it's the crazy people who don't know how to drive on snow covered or icy roads that scare me. They always seem to be the ones out on the road during this kind of weather.

This sudden heavy snowfall brings a variety of problems. It is gorgeous outside right now. But then I look at the snow accumulating on the roof of the stall area, where my horses will probably remain all day, and I cringe. I know it's a strong roof because Hubby added it a few years ago. When he builds something it's strong and always withstands the elements. Still, last year we had to move snow off of it because the weight of the melting snow was causing the metal to sag in a few areas. I'll have to keep watch on it.

Concern over the uneven mud rocks now resting under 5+ inches of snow. Bo has a tendency to bully Spirit sometimes and run him out of the stall area. Spirit runs out without paying much attention to his feet. On one hand I'm hoping the snow will cushion his feet. On the other hand, as I witnessed this morning, those lovely new rubber mats are slippery. UGH!! Plus, the fact I have not been able to get the farrier out here for a very long time. I should have done it before my surgery in December, but seems like there was always something....now, Bo and Spirit's toes are longer than I like them to be and with this weather.........I'm sure they'll be fine, but I'm watchful and quietly chastise myself for not getting the farrier out here last month.

Snow on the the top of the hay storage building. We have one of those semi-round tarp-like buildings to store the hay. Most of the time the snow will eventually slide off the top. I was out there this morning, and it's piling up on top. No sagging. I sure would hate to lose my hay.

The dogs are snug in their roomy, straw filled houses. I hesitate to let them run today but probably will when I go out to start digging a path to the garage and barn. When the horses romp around out in the snow, the dogs believe they are suppose to tell them to stop and the barking starts. I'm not as concerned about the dogs unless they're out there running around, which they would do if I release them.

We usually average one or two sudden heavy snowfalls like this a year and they usually fall, just like I predicted after the middle of January, until the middle of February. Time to just buckle down, enjoy the scenery and look for the problems melt down will bring in a few days.

January, You couldn't just bow out quietly could you?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I'm counting the days to warmer, better weather. Not really. Actually, when I'm being honest, I'm just counting the days until January is done. Once I get over January, I see the light! Although, February has produced some nasty winter weather, so I know January 31 does not automatically mean winter is done around here. But in my mind, we'll be closer to March.

My horses haven't ventured out into the field much the past couple of days. I've been taking the evening hay out to the field, unless it's wet or sleety precipitation, then they get to eat back in the stall area.

Gosh, guys, I know we've made your little stall home nice and cozy with lots of soft, warm mats (softer and warmer than the cold frozen mud peaks you have trouble walking over) but you gotta go out once in a while!

While they are eating their evening grain ration, I take the hay out to the field. Spirit doesn't seem to have a problem with it, he'll pick (over the frozen mud rocks) his way out to the hay. Bo, on the other hand, will stand in the stall and contemplate whether it is really worth his while to venture out. Naturally, it doesn't take him very long to decide, but it's always amusing to see how he seems to be deciding whether the effort is worth it to him. He's that kind of horse!

I take this time of the year, to look over horse supply catalogs. I really don't need anything. I've pretty much got my gear and supplies. Well, there are always things I want. Overall, I've pretty much acquired the tack, gear and supplies I need. But, it's so much fun to look at all the great stuff in the catalogs!

Some women sit and study clothing catalogs, I study Valley Vet, Dover, Country Supply, Schneiders, Chicks, among others, and think about what I might be able to order in the future. Usually some pages get earmarked for something. Hubby has a favorite tool supply catalog he pours over, I have my horse supply catalogs!

My good friend, who has four horses, called me recently and told me she'd signed up for a Julie Goodnight training clinic in May. She wants me to sign up and go with her. I'd love to but right now I can't see past January 31! She even offered to take two of her horses, who are a little more adaptable at being away because she has shown them. My guys, unfortunately have not been anywhere but here for the past 4 years and I don't feel comfortable taking them until I have an opportunity to move them around in my own trailer. I haven't invested in a trailer yet. I'm hoping, maybe this year, we'll get a trailer. I've been looking at a couple of local dealers online. I have the model I want in mind, it's just the $$$ that I don't want to spend. Anyway, that aside, I may take her up on her offer, but I have to see the light at the end of the tunnel (January) before I really feel like planning anything into May.

Yep, January is definitely the longest month of the year for me. Some days, I could swear it was more like 45 days long, but as I mark off each day (just a habit) I can see that I'm not being fooled, there are only thirty one days in January. I don't know what it is but I've always felt this way as long as I can remember.

So, I'll keep my spirits as light as possible by looking through my most recent horse supply catalogs, and let the cold, wintry days of January slowly pass.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Historical Day

No matter your politics, no matter who you did or didn't vote for, today is a historical day, both for the United States and the world. I do appreciate that fact. Thank you George W. Bush for keeping us safe! Thank you for your service as our 43rd President.

"The story of America is the story of expanding liberty: an ever-widening circle, constantly growing to reach further and include more. Our nation's founding commitment is still our deepest commitment: In our world, and here at home, we will extend the frontiers of freedom. "
-George W. Bush,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Arctic Cold and We Ain't Use To It!

We are in the midst of an Arctic blast of subzero temperatures. We don't often have temps in that range. Fortunately, according to the weather forecasts, this will only last for a couple of days, this week anyway.

This morning, we were at -5º F. No snow on the ground, just COLD. We are seeing sunshine today, but temps are only suppose to climb to 15º F with subzero again tonight.

I'm feeding my horses lots of extra hay. Their shelter is dry and out of the wind. The water tank has a heater. Amusing to see the steam coming off the water tank this morning as I was feeding. The only real pain, probably more to me than to the horses, is that the mud has now frozen into hard rocks. I cringe as I watch them pick their way over the frozen mud rocks.

The horses have good winter coats, and they are"fleshy". Ok, they're probably fat, but I'd rather have them a little chubby to get through the cold. We will go on a diet and start excercise about March 1st. Notice the "we". Actually, I'm getting into the exercise as soon as the swelling in my neck is done so I can be ready to start my horses on their excercise by March. The diet, well, as a diabetic, that's just part of my world.

There are pros and cons to every season when you have horses. Right now, since the temps are below freezing, no mud. The stall and shavings stay nice and clean. The poop marbles are easy to pick out of the shavings. Of course, I'm not riding or training my guys. Only visit with them, brush them, and maybe do some in-hand training in the small area of the matted stall and corral. I'm sure glad we added those 8 extra mats to the area. It's made a world of difference.

One more subzero night tonight, then temps are suppose to go back up into the teens and twenties, then the thirties by next week. Something to look forward to in the longest month of the year. That's how I see January, the longest month. By the time the 31st rolls around I'm always relieved to have gotten it over with and on to February, the shortest month of the year.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Paw Prints of a Noisy Kind

The little brown hound dog, who chose us last year after being dumped near our house on our quiet country road, has probably given me the most aggravation of any of the dogs we've had in quite some time. She is exasperating at times, but from what I can tell, she means well in her hound way.

Lucy is a hound through and through. She's medium size (50 lbs+/-). The vet estimated her age to be around 1-2 years, which is what I thought too. Her coat is all brown, I'd call it fawn brown. She has floppy hound ears with a beagle-type face, white hairs around her mouth that make her appear older than she is, and perky copper brown eyes. Her nose follows whatever "game" peaks her interest be it squirrels or deer. She also barks. She barks and barks.

Lucy barks at squirrels. She barks at the ATV's screaming up the road with their loud engines. She barks at other dogs barking from far away. Lucy also barks at the horses, who simply stare at her these days unless they're feeling ornery, then they'll run around in their field, jumping, bucking and kicking out with Lucy at their heels. I really never know who instigates the play time (no one looks like they're scared), but the noise of Lucy's barking is not something I can ignore.

So, the routine begins, I call for Lucy to come to me. She glances at me, then keeps barking. The horses look over at me, then take off running with Lucy in hot pursuit. Maggie, the Blue Heeler, believe it or not, sits quietly behind the fence. She looks at me as if telling me "I wasn't in on it, HONEST, I wasn't!". Somehow, I tend to believe her. Finally, the horses decide they've had enough, they come sloshing (mud is really bad right now) into the corral area none the worse for wear and probably benefiting from the exercise. I finally get Lucy to come to me. I hook her up to her leash and walk her to her area for a little time-out. Yeah, I know, she has no idea it's time-out, but I like to think that way. The latent teacher coming out I guess. I really think the horses enjoy getting Lucy into trouble. They're not as innocent as they like me to believe!

Yesterday both dogs were barking up on the hill across the road from our house. It was continuous barking. Hubby was irritated they had gone off our property. We could hear Lucy and her annoying bark. It's not so much the bark itself as the way she just keeps barking. She'll stop to take a breath or two, but then she'll continue on hardly missing a beat. So Hubby tells me he's going to hike up the hill to get them. My response was I wouldn't waste my energy climbing up the hill but if he wanted to, have at it.

About five minutes later he came back having found both dogs. Hubby informed me they'd had a deer occupied. He said not really cornered, it could leave at any time, it was just standing still, staring at them while Lucy barked at it. Maggie was sitting off to the side. I was surprised the deer hadn't run and asked Hubby if he thought something was wrong with it. He said as far as he could see, it looked like it was ok. The dogs walked to him, he put them on leashes, and as he started walking back down the hill, the deer continued on its way.

I have a sneaky suspicion Maggie and Lucy have met this deer before. Last week Lucy was carrying on back over on the other hill, on our property. I went out to check a few times, but she was so far up there I didn't want to make the effort. Since my surgery, I'm still taking it easy in the exertion department. The horses had their ears pricked in that direction. I never did see what Lucy was barking at that day but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the deer from yesterday. It's probably so used to the two of them and figures stare downs are better options than wasting precious winter energies trying to run from them. The deer probably learned, eventually, they go away, or does make a calculated getaway and outruns them.

These two girls, try as they might, they're not really aggressive for which I'm thankful. They are however, chasers.

The other sort of interesting thing about Lucy is that she finds carcass leftovers. We live in an area where there are abundant deer and and it's a prime area for hunters. Last month finished with both bow season and gun season. Sometimes, the hunters don't pick up the deer they've taken out, or they simply don't care, I'm not sure. Sometimes, the hunters don't follow up on what they've shot, or I'll give benefit of doubt, don't realize they hit the deer. So, the deer die somewhere up in the woods. At any rate, the deer carcass are sometimes left to rot and our dogs find the carcasses. They bring home parts. Not a pleasant sight but I have to chuckle at Lucy. Just the other day she found a leg and was prancing around the yard with it. I can't be mad at her, she is just doing what comes naturally for her. Maggie doesn't really care about this kind of thing except for the fact Lucy has something and she wants it, the way dogs do. Well, the job for parts disposal I leave up to Hubby and #2 Son, if the parts can be located. Lucy likes to hide her parts then bring them back out for all to see. We've yet to find her hiding places.

Life with a hound. I'd forgotten what it was like. We had a hound once before, many years ago. We'd adopted Brandie from the Humane Society. Hubby and I had both forgotten how hounds act. Lucy is reminding us all the time!

I'm working on the barking. One rule around here is NO harassing the horses, though I know, at least pretty sure, the horses like to get things started with Lucy sometimes. Lucy can be a trial of patience but I'm not one to give up easily. I believe in working with behaviors in our animals, and that's what I've been doing with her. The barking, I realize is a combination her own fear of things, her way of coping with something she's not sure of and the hound part who likes to tell everyone she's got 'em cornered. She's learning (after a year) her boundaries and what we expect of her. She's getting better when we call her, but sometimes still uses her ignore button, depending on the situation.

Lucy was abused or at least roughly handled by a male, it was easy to see when she first came to us. She ran away from Hubby and my sons the first few months. She would only make up to me, follow me and listen to me. After a year, she wags her tail and is just as happy to have Hubby pay attention to her as Maggie is. That's progress. Some of her fears have eased.

The abandoned little brown hound dog I named Lucy, has left paw prints of a noisy kind on our hearts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Horse Stories at Ponydom.com

I found a website today I thought was pretty cool. The site contains lists of books containing horses in the story or even in the background of the story.

If you read a horse related book you can add to the list by simply logging in and reviewing. I especially liked their review system since it allows for adding more than just liked or disliked and a few stars.

Search by discipline, genre, new releases, and a wide selection of titles and authors. There is a short description of the story and then one or two reviews depending on who has contributed.

I liked the idea that all the titles were lumped into lists so I could read through and decide what I might or might not be interested in reading.

Naturally, some of the titles from the women writers from Equestrian Ink are listed, although I haven't searched through the entire site yet.

If you're a writer, you might want to stop by and add your title if you don't find it on any of the lists. They are encouraging contributions of reviews and book titles.

So, on these long, wintery, dreary, January days and nights, you might want to take a look at this cool website. Might help the winter move along a little quicker!


Monday, January 5, 2009

January-wandering thoughts on a winter day

January always seems to be the longest month of the year to me. Even here in Southern Ohio, January is cold, dreary, gray and my mood is always, well, pretty much along those lines too.

We had a cold snap and a decent snow the first couple of weeks of December. We've been getting a reprieve the past couple of weeks, for which I am thankful. But, just like clockwork, the cold, snow and bad weather will return, by my estimation, around the middle of January. That's our usual time for the really snow and ice stuff.

I noticed my hay supply is about half now. I get kind of edgy when my hay supply gets low. When it comes down to it, I probably feed too much hay to my two geldings, but I figure since they can't graze, due to no grass, they need the hay. Well, now since my hay supply seems to be visibly less than I like at this time of year, I have returned to feeding them alfalfa-timothy hay cubes in their afternoon feed, softened with warm water.

Do we baby our horses too much? Over at Mugwump Chronicles she had a really interesting post about how our relationship with our horses has changed over the past few decades. She made some excellent points. I find myself looking at horses much the way she describes.

I'm sure my grandpa, one of those "old style" horse trainers, would probably think I'm soft on my guys. Grandpa was not of the Natural Horsemanship school of thought, considering he did his training back in the early 1920's in Northern Ohio. I never got the opportunity to talk to Grandpa about his horse training days and possibly, I wouldn't agree with his techniques. The stories I get are from my mom and most of those stories are second hand. By the time Mom came along, in 1934, Grandpa had given up the horse training to work at a factory and support his family. However, my dad told me he once ran into a fella who'd actually heard of my grandpa's horse training days and told my dad Ollie was a pretty good horse trainer, trained some good harness horses. Well, I guess I'll never know exactly. One thing I'm sure of, he was probably not gentle in his gentling or his training. They just weren't like that back in those days.

For the most part, I think we do things better nowadays and I, for one, am glad we are more knowledgeable of horse behavior, or at least have the resources to learn. I'm appreciative that I can look up information, read about different techniques and decide for myself what works for me and my horses. Though, I also realize, learning from an experienced horseman/woman would be ideal, sometimes it's just not in the cards.

When I got into my horses, going on 5 years now, I started out being enthralled with Clinton Anderson's work. Later, I observed various other trainers and clinicians. At one point, became very confused with all the different techniques. Finally figured out, horse training, at the consumer level, is like everything else, you find what's right for you. Last summer I decided to take the different techniques and come up with what works for me and my guys.

January will roll on slowly, I'm sure, so it's time to slow down, read some good fiction books, think a little about what I want from my horses this coming season, and just relax. That's how I should take January.................but we all know best laid plans....

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 and New Year Goals

I like to keep my "resolutions" simple. I prefer to call them goals. I limit my major goals to five and with all good intentions, hope to accomplish at least two by the end of the year.

1. Work with my horses more and definitely ride more even if it's just around our property, in the fields or around the house.

2. Write and complete what I start in that department. One reason for my taking up this blog (besides the horses) was to move my brain along. I have stories rambling around in my head, just need to take them off the notebook paper where I started them, and make them come alive.

3. Believe in myself more.

4. Lose a few pounds. I'm wondering if there's any adult over 40 who doesn't have this one on their list! Funny how it's so easy to pack those pounds on, but you sure can't lose them fast like you do your car keys.

5. Get stronger, physically. I need to do more exercising, light weight training, maybe, to build my strength and stamina. Always fancied myself as a strong woman. Lately, I seem to have lost that edge and it really irritates me. I don't like the feeling! I agree with the adage, use it or lose it, that definitely goes for the muscles of the middle age body!

So, there they are. I have them in black and white. I can come back to this post and see what I've done, or haven't done, next year on December 31.

I'm going with the the outlook...........2009 will be fine!