Thursday, September 29, 2011

Draft Horses,Visions of the Past

I attended a draft horse show in Hillsboro, Ohio, a week ago. I've been a fan of draft horses all my life. When I was a kid, my parents and I attended the Ohio State Fair to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. This was back in the 70's when there was no internet, no instant access to photos of these gorgeous animals. I still remember the pounding of the hooves and the jangle of the hardware as the team thundered into the coliseum. An experience forever stamped in my memory.

A few years back I was thrilled to find an annual draft horse show an hour's drive from us. We've been attending for a few years now, but didn't make it last year, I think it was weather, or a family event, can't remember exactly, so it had actually been two years since we'd attended the show. The first years Hubby and I attended I was amazed at the number of draft hitch participants. Marveled that there were still people who drove six-horse hitches and traveled with their draft horses to shows across various states. As I recall, there were eight of the six-horse hitch wagons in the one class. They had to divide the class up into two sections, with the winners vying for first place in the third round. This year, there were three. THREE! I was saddened by the decline though I've thought for a while that the show would dwindle and with the economy so sluggish, I really wasn't surprised by the downturn in entrants. There were also several canceled classes due to no entrants. As I looked around the outdoor arena, there were fewer people in attendance and it was a relatively nice day, though cloudy with a threat of rain. The entrants in the hitch classes, six-hitch,four-hitch and unicorn, were mostly from Ohio, one wagon from Indiana.

Back home I got to thinking, what will happen to the drafts? Obviously, not used in farming, except in Amish communities, of which we have many here in Ohio. Close to my home I often see Amish farmers with their Belgian drafts working their fields. But what of draft breeds in general? I was curious so looked up Spotted Draft horse. They came to mind because of my big Bo, who is actually a big Spotted Saddle Horse. We often wondered if he had some draft in his genes. I also looked up Percheron. What I found was that drafts are now being used to breed with smaller, athletic breeds, and warmbloods, for eventing and dressage horses. At least they have a place in the 21st Century. Still, I wondered about the future of the legendary work horses who were integral in working the American farms of yesteryear. My grandpa trained drafts to do farm work back in the early 1920's when some Ohio farms still hadn't transferred to tractors yet. I often wish I'd had a chance to talk with Grandpa about his horse training years, but he died before I was five. All I have are pictures and stories my mom has told me. Probably also the fate of the drafts in the future.

I'll always get a chill when I see a draft horse standing in a field, or working an Amish farm, and especially when I have the opportunity to see them roll in their wagon hitches,as long as the opportunity remains, reminding me of a less hurried time in American life.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September Has Arrived

Been incommunicado for a while. I always thought that was a clever term, incommunicado. Actually, I think it's just called l-a-z-y where I'm concerned.

Hubby has been trying to squeeze in vacation days before the company he works for transitions the workforce to another company at the end of September. We're still in twilight zone over that move, or at least that's how it feels. When he's on vacation, so am I. Just works that way. My daily routine gets all out of whack.

Most of the time we've spent working on projects around our little farm. Last week we picked up a supply of hay. We had to drive an hour, two counties away. I never realized hay could be such a deep dark secret in our county, but apparently that's the case. I made numerous inquiries. Ended up getting fed up and decided we'd just make the drive to a farm supply operation we knew had hay for sale. We also ordered in forty ton of sand mix, which was an easier proposition because it was delivered to us. The sand mix is for the horse corral area. I'm done with being patient about the mud and this year was the last straw. After asking a few horse owners, and reading online articles, I finally came to what I hope is an economical, and hopefully, good solution to my mud problem. A local horse breeder/trainer told me where he bought his sand mix for his arena and training areas. Turned out, the stuff was what I was looking for. It's not as fine as masons sand, but not as rocky as bank run or pea sized stone. So far we've put about 1/2 a ton down and I'm pleased to say, after the last rains from Tropical Storm Lee passed through this week, no mud. This stuff might just work out!

We did manage to get in one afternoon motorcycle ride last week, before it got way too hot and then rains came into our area from Lee. Can't really complain, it's been dreary, but nothing like what many other places had to face from Hurricane Irene and remnants of Lee. We were spared flooding this time around.

Neighbor dog has returned. Rufus, the black lab, stopped in Monday evening and has been here ever since. I don't know exactly what the problem is with his real home up the road. Obviously, he prefers to escape to our home instead of staying at his own. He doesn't act like he's abused. I can't very well feed our dogs and not feed him so he gets fed a bowl of dog food when we feed Maggie and Lucy. Hubby believes Rufus isn't fed enough. He thinks, even for an active a year old pup, the dog is too skinny. I think the neighbors just don't pay enough attention to Rufus and when he gets loose, he's off for freedom,which is our place because he's free. 

Around here Rufus seems happy just to be around people, lay near the house, on our back deck and tries to get our dogs to play. Hubby and I have tried to ignore Rufus, but I'm a sucker for an adorable face, so it's harder for me. Plus, Rufus has been fairly well mannered and hasn't bothered the horses. 

I called his people, yet one more time, today. Left a message. Told them I thought someone would have missed the dog by now and sent someone down to get him. They have to go by our house. We live on a dead end road. They know where Rufus hangs out. Makes me wonder if they really care about the dog. OH, looks like someone must have gotten my message. Rufus just took off running up the road following behind a blue pick-up truck that I know to belong to one of his people. Good! I'd rather Rufus be at his home, where he belongs. He has two kids there who hopefully adore him. He is an adorable pup, I have to admit. Maybe he'll outgrow his need to visit here, eventually. I don't mind if he drops by and then goes home, but he was here for two nights and had become like one of those guests who outstays their welcome, according to looks on our dogs' faces.

For now, I'm trying to get myself into some kind of routine. I've been really lax. I've learned something about myself this summer, I'm the kind of person who NEEDS routine and planning. When left to my own devices, I get NOTHING accomplished. If I have a plan, a routine, or lists, I'm much more productive. Some people can be productive without really knowing where they're going or where they'll end up. I'm not one of those and I finally realized that this summer when trying to be one of the other kinds of people. Hubby is kind of like the "others", but my reality is deadlines,lists and a plan to follow. Sometimes it takes a little while to figure things like that out. Looks like it took me the last 30 years!