Monday, March 30, 2009

Misty's Monday Muse

"A horse is a horse, of course of course."
(Mr. Ed Theme Song by Ray Evans & Jay Livingston)

You can call me a horse, of course.
You can call me an equine.
You can call me an
odd toed ungulate.
But don't call me late for dinner.

Honestly, I won't be offended if you call me an
odd toed ungulate. It's sort of like when Mr. OnceUpon gives Mrs. OnceUpon a hug and says, "You smell like a horse." And Mrs. OnceUpon replies, "Why, thank you!"

I'm proud to be an odd toed ungulate
which means I'm a hooved animal with an odd number of toes on each hoof.

Thankfully, I have only one toe per hoof or my farrier bill would be huge!

My taxonomy (or how those smarty pants scientists would describe a horse):

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Theria
Infraclass: Eutheria
Order: Perissodactyla (enter the odd toed ungulates)
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
Species: Caballus

Please give a carrot to your horse, of course!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Aloha Springtime

Shorty: "What happened to Spring?"

Sam: "We're in Colorado. This is Spring!"

Shorty: "Could someone please throw me a rope."

Thursday morning started out with blue skies over the prairie and ominous storm clouds tumbling over the mountains, promising to engulf the towns below. By Noon the temperature had dropped into the low teens, the winds were howling, and the snow was flying...horizontally!

A typical spring blizzard in Colorado.

By evening, Misty and Marley were bedded down in their stalls with fresh shavings and straw. Stall doors were shut tight. Dinner was served and I bid them goodnight.

Early Friday morning we awoke to abiding winds and frigid cold, but the snow was lighter.

By mid morning it ceased snowing and the gray sky took on a brighter cast. Misty and Marley were ready for those stall doors to open.

Ummm...frosted Pony Pop.

C'mon Misty...let's go!

Maybe there's grass under this stuff.
A horse can hope.

My wips ah fwozen.

Silly mare.
You eat snow while I enjoy this delicious Pony Popsicle.

Welcome home from Hawaii, Mr. OnceUpon.

You missed the blizzard, but we saved you some snow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Unbecoming of a Lady

There is a useless, narrow ditch running across our dry lot. The horses usually walk around it, but when they run and frolic they race across it. I worry they might trip or sprain a fetlock. So I've been filling the ditch with manure; it'll turn to dirt eventually.

Recently we found Misty napping in the ditch-o-manure...

Ok, so she's no Sleeping Beauty.
Be brave, click to get a little closer...

Then she awoke from her slumber...

...and decided to roll in the poo!

Oh Misty, this is not ladylike behavior.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Misty's Monday Muse

Have you hugged your horse rescuer today?

Or better yet, give them some cash if you can spare it.

But do your homework and make sure you are contributing to a legitimate rescue.

Here are qualities I would look for in a legitimate U.S. horse rescue. I know, because I came from such a rescue:

  • They are (or have applied for) a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
  • They don't breed their rescue horses.
  • They are a member of a state or national rescue group. Legitimate rescues help each other out; they don't compete with one another.
  • They rehabilitate, train, and find homes for their adoptable horses; they don't hoard them.
  • Their adoption fees are reasonable, indicating they are more interested in placing their horses in a good home rather than "selling" them.
  • They screen their adopters carefully and do post-adoption followup.
  • They answer to a board of directors consisting of reputable people in the community.
  • They have a working relationship with law enforcement and animal control.
  • They follow horse care guidelines established by the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners).
Times are tough. We equines don't have mortgages, but we are losing our homes just the same.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sluggish Saturday

Ah, the weekend. There is much to do, but I'm having a lazy day.

My family is in Hawaii for Spring break and I'm home holding down the fort, taking care of critters (2 horses, 2 dogs, 2 parrots), and keeping my nose to the grindstone trying to stay off my employer's upcoming layoff list (worrisome times in corporate America).

I woke up, fed the horses, then went back to bed.

Woke up again and made breakfast of corned beef hash and an egg.

I was planning to give Misty a make-over today because she's looking quite shaggy:

Instead, I watched Twilight on Pay Per View. It followed the book closely, but I enjoyed reading the book more.

I finally summoned up enough ambition to scoop poop in the pasture. The horses are off the pasture for the next few months while the grass comes in. We don't have the equipment for dragging the pasture, so it's just me, the wheel barrow, and a manure fork.

Green grass emerging from the ground is a welcome sight. But evidence of our resident varmints is not:

We have voles and pocket gophers living on our property. Cute little things, but a hazard to the horses. I used manure to fill some of the holes, but it is a never ending battle. Our next door neighbor likes to blow them up. We'll be sitting at the dinner table when we hear KABOOM!!! There he is, out there with his Rodenator. I don't like it. I think the survivors just move next door to our property anyway. I suggested to my husband that he trap the little fur balls and have them all neutered, but he already has a full time job.

So, anyway, I was on my second wheel barrow load when a big gust of wind did this:

That's when I lost my ambition and decided to come inside and order another Pay Per View movie.

What should I watch?

1. Bottle Shock - comedy. I don't drink wine, but it sounds like it could be funny.

2. Eagle Eye - action/adventure. I like suspense, but I'm in a more mellow mood tonight.

3. Flash of Genius - drama. My husband watched it on the flight to Oahu and enjoyed it.

4. Nights in Rodanthe - romance. It received lower reviews than the others, but Richard Gere is always good to look at.

Decisions, decisions.

Ok, romance wins.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Horsey Questionnaire Meme

A Good Horse has invited us to play a game by answering a questionnaire she saw posted by Grey Horse Matters. Below are the questions with my answers.

To play, take the questions and post your answers on your blog. Leave a comment here so we'll know you are playing.

50 Fun Questions
1. How old were you when you first started riding? Around 9 years old when my sister started taking me to a rental stable.

2. First horse ridden: A rental horse.

3. First horse trotted on: A rental horse.

4. First horse cantered on: Probably one of those rental horses.

5. First horse fallen off of: Gosh, I don't remember; there have been so many. :-) It must have been my first pony Clyde.

6. Most recent horse fallen off of: Woodhollow, my TB, but that was over 25 years ago. I'll be riding more now, so stay tuned...

7. Most terrifying fall: As a kid, I fell off a Kansas farm horse I was riding bareback out in the pasture. It's the only time I've had the wind knocked out of me and I felt like I was going to die.

8. First horse jumped with: Wati in Indonesia

9. First horse who ran away with you: One of those rental horses.

10. First horse that scared the crap out of you: That rental horse again. I was just a kid and I screamed and started to cry because I didn't know what to do. Someone yelled "Pull back on the reins" and that worked.

11. First horse shown: Cinnamon, in a western pleasure walk/trot class when I was about 12.

12. First horse to win a class with: Woodhollow

13. Do you/have you taken lessons: Yes, and I'll keep taking them.

14. First horse you ever rode bareback: My pony Clyde. My dad wouldn't buy me a saddle until I could stay on him bareback. He was afraid I'd get my foot caught in a stirrup and get dragged. I think he watched too many Westerns on tv.

15. First horse trail ridden with: You know the answer....yep, the rental horse.

16. Current Barn Name: We don't have a name. It's just "the barn".

17. Do you ride English or Western: Both. Started Western, switched to English, now back to Western and hoping to pick up English again.

18. First horse to place at a show with: Woodhollow

19. Ever been to horse camp: Yes! In Oklahoma as a kid. Loved it! It was a blast and I learned a lot.

20. Ever been to a riding clinic: No, but I'm going to one next month and another in May.

21. Ridden sidesaddle: No, but it looks beautiful. I have, however, stupidly sat on my TB sidesaddle (in my English saddle). Only once though, because someone in the ring crashed into a jump and the sound spooked my TB and I went off back first.

22. First horse leased: Wati in Indonesia

23. Last horse leased: Wati

24. Highest ribbon in a show: 1st place & 3rd in a Championship class

25. Ever been to an “A” rated show?: Yes

26. Ever competed in pony games/relay races: No

27. Ever fallen off at a show: Yes, when I launched off my horse and landed in the middle of a double combination. It was my fault; I got ahead of my horse and he was not forgiving so he chose to let me take the jump without him.

28. Do you ride Hunters/Jumpers: Not any more and don't plan to.

29. Have you ever barrel raced: No

30. Have you ever done pole bending: No

31. Favorite gait: the moment. I like a nice forward, relaxed walk.

32. Ever cantered bareback: Yes, when I was a kid I rode bareback a lot.

33. Have you ever done dressage: Not really. Took a few lesson many years ago. I would like to learn the basics for the benefit of my horses and myself.

34. Have you ever evented: No

35. Have you ever mucked a stall: Lots of times.

36. Ever been bucked off: Yep, a time or two. Last time was on my TB who never bucked except one time after I'd owned him for 8 years. He just got squirrely after not being ridden for awhile and it was one of those twisty bucks and I came right off.

37. Ever been on a horse that reared: Yes, when I was a kid. I remember wrapping my arms around the horse's neck to stay on.

38. Horses or ponies: Both! I have a horse and a pony now; a draft pony that can carry an adult.

39. Do you wear a helmet: Always! I never did when I was younger. Safety wasn't promoted as much when I was a kid. But now I'm wiser and want to preserve my brain cells as long as possible.

40. What’s the highest you’ve jumped: 3'6"

41. Have you ever ridden at night: Only in a lighted arena.

42. Do you watch horsey television shows: Yes, RFD-Tv shows and "Mr. Ed" on DVD. I love Mr. Ed.

43. Have you ever been seriously hurt/injured from a fall: Thankfully, no.

44. Most falls in one lesson: Several times jumping in a new saddle. I kept slipping right out of the thing. My trainer recommended a different one and that made a huge difference.

45. Do you ride in an arena/ring: Yes, but looking forward to getting out on the trails this summer.

46. Have you ever been trampled by a horse: No, that would be awful.

47. Have you ever been bitten: I've received a lot of nips over the years, but the worst horse bite came from a mare named Pretty Girl. I didn't find her so pretty after that. She grabbed me hard just below my throat. The bruise lasted for weeks. But my most painful bite came from a Hamster.

48. Ever had your foot stepped on by a horse: Makes my toes ache to think about it. Ask a horse if they've ever stepped on a human foot and they'll say, "What? I never felt anything under my foot."

49. Favorite riding moment: The day I took my TB out on the trails around Folsom Lake in California. It was so nice, we kept going and going and going. I finally turned around and on the way back I met my trainer on horseback. He'd come looking for us because we had been gone so long. It was just a beautiful ride and I didn't want to stop.

50. Most fun horse you’ve ridden: I'd have to say my pony Clyde because everything about Clyde was fun. The trail rides, riding with friends, taking the horses swimming in a pond, the rides to the store to get candy, and the rides to Taco Bell for lunch. Crazy, fun kid stuff.
Now it's your turn!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Horse Parade in Denver

Here is video of the parade activities from the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.

The horses did great considering all the noise and traffic, including impatient taxi drivers and big trucks with loud hissing air brakes that passed close by us in the left lane.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Misty's Monday Muse

From the horse's mouth:

I don't want to go to the zoo. There are lions and tigers there and I'm afraid they will eat me. So I stayed home when my people went to the zoo last November.

People sure are silly.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Today in Denver

The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo began today. The Fjords were invited to participate in a parade from the state Capitol building in Denver to the National Western Complex expo grounds, about 4 miles. Some Colorado state legislators rode horses provided by The Westernaires drill team and some legislators rode in carts pulled by Fjords.

I participated as a side walker...and I have the blister to prove it!

Here are few very rough photos taken with my cell phone. I didn't have my glasses with me and sometimes wasn't sure I was even getting my subject in the camera window, but you'll get the idea.

The police directed the horse trailers onto the sidewalk at the Capitol building. I'm glad I wasn't driving!

The Westernaires big rig on the sidewalk, with horses tied on both sides.

Fjords gathering on the lawn in front of the Capitol building.

Dressage Fjord

Driving Fjord

This is an interesting team of 3 Suffolk Punch draft horses pulling 2 homemade wagons hitched together. The driver, Lee the Horse Logger, has been traveling the country by horse drawn wagon since August of 2006.

My blister was really starting to hurt and I was slowing down when Lee kindly offered me a ride. I hopped in and found 3 other ladies had hitched a ride with Lee too. It's really exhausting trying to keep pace with a horse's stride and we were pooped.

Lee dropped us off at the Expo grounds and 2 of his boys just couldn't hold it any longer.

It was a fun day. I'm going back tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Equestrian Neighbors

Having lived in the suburbs most of my life, I really enjoy living in an equestrian neighborhood now.

Last Sunday some neighbors came strolling down our street.

They stopped by our house for a visit.

This is Andy and his people.

Isn't his little rider adorable in her pink helmet?

Andy is an only-horse; he has no stablemate at his house.
Sometimes Andy gets lonely and sneaks out of his pasture.

Andy has come to visit us twice before without his people.
He likes to visit Misty and Marley.

Howdy Neighbor!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Misty's Monday Muse

From the horse's mouth; Misty shares a thought to start the week.

I Like Carrots

a poem


Misty the Percheron

Carrots are crunchy.
Carrots are sweet.
Carrots are
my favorite treat.

I like carrots
with my hay.
I like carrots
any time of day.

There is no debate.
The point is moot.
Carrots are
my favorite root.

Carrots so orange,
what a pretty sight.
I hope there's a carrot
in my bucket tonight!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Looking like Springtime in the Rockies

We had some lovely warm days last week with temperatures nearing 70F. Of course, it was during the work week when I couldn't get out and enjoy it thoroughly. Now on Saturday (of course, my day off), Mother Nature sends a reminder that we aren't finished with snow in Colorado. I just took this picture before coming inside to write this post.

Despite the weather, I finally went riding! I loaded Marley into the trailer and we went to a stable that allows people to haul in and use their facilities for a small fee. I worked Marley in their nice, big round pen before the snow started flying. Afterward, I rode him in their fancy indoor arena. It's so nice to have a trailer...freedom!!!!

Let me tell you about my little Marley man. He is 10 years old, stands 13.3 hands high and is cute as a button, and very sweet. He is also very smart, strong, and willful. They say "pony" is a four letter word and Marley could be the poster pony for that saying.

I purchased Marley in June 2008. He had been a therapy horse for 5 years and it was time for him to find a new job. He had become bored as a therapy horse and being as smart as he is, he began taking advantage of some volunteers who knew little about horses. He grew barn sour and had some run off incidents with volunteer riders who tried to help him out and broaden his view of the world. I'm told that sometimes he returned to the barn with his rider, and sometimes without, and that he can run full blast with his head turned so that his nose is touching his rider's knee. Volunteers and staff members changed often and Marley was being handled by many different people. The center decided it was best for him to find a home with one owner who could give him an interesting job to do. I plan to ride and drive Marley, so they agreed to sell him to me instead of several others who were looking for a weekend pony for their kids.

So why did I buy such a naughty pony? Did I mention he's cute as a button? I also had him evaluated by a respected trainer and the conclusion was that Marley is a very good pony who just needs some consistency and leadership. He has already improved a lot with his ground work and manners.

Today was our first ride in several months, coming out of winter, and Marley was pretty good until I asked him to trot. He's a lazy boy and he didn't want to trot. He swishes his tail in annoyance and has an interesting way of throwing his shoulder inward to resist what is asked of him.

He did this shoulder thing the first time I lunged him last year. Fortunately, my trainer was there and had prepared me. I was able to keep him from dragging me back to the barn by running the lunge line around his butt to the opposite side and pulling his head back into the correct direction, while disengaging his hindquarters with the lunge line at the same time. He tried this little stunt twice and both times I was able to keep him from running. He has never tried it again. Once he realizes that he is not in charge, he agrees to be a good boy.

But today when he used his shoulder like that while under saddle, I was a little perplexed, as I've not worked with such issues from the saddle before. Plus, I'm still getting my riding skills & confidence back myself. We ended on a positive note and I'm sure next time will be better, but I do need some help with him.

In April, I'm scheduled to take Misty and Marley for some training at a natural horsemanship clinic and I think that will be very beneficial to us all. I also want to work a lot on the one rein stop WITH disengagement of the hind quarters. I think that will be crucial if he ever tries to take off with me when we are riding away from the barn.

Do you know what I mean about how he throws his shoulder inward? Have you experienced something like this? Any advice? put the kettle on and make some hot cocoa. It's a good night to curl up with a book or watch a movie.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Love Thoroughbreds

I'm not a fan of horse racing due to its physical toll on young horses; and because so many ex racers go to slaughter when their short careers don't bring fame and fortune to their owners.

But I do love Thoroughbreds and enjoyed 10 years with a special one named Woodhollow. He was the last horse I owned prior to my long exile in the land of no horses. I will post about him when I can stop blubbering long enough to get my thoughts and memories written down. Old memories can be tender when finally allowed to bubble to the surface.

I would love to adopt an OTTB someday. (OTTB = Off the Track Thoroughbred, for my non-horsey friends)

In the meantime, enjoy this pretty song.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Adventures in Trailer Towing

Saturday morning we took the trailer to an open parking lot where we set up some orange cones and practiced backing and parking.

My husband and stepson drove ahead in a separate car so they could go to a basketball game after we played with the trailer. As I was towing the trailer to the parking lot a nice lady in a pickup truck waved me down. I stopped, rolled down my window and heard her yell across the road, "Your tack door is open!" Oh my goodness! How embarrassing! I didn't have a clue; didn't see it in the mirrors. No harm done so I can laugh about it.

TO DO: Replace those wimpy little side mirrors with BIG mirrors appropriate for a tow vehicle.

Misty's Monday Muse

From the horse's mouth; Misty shares a thought to start the week.

"A dog may be man's best friend, but the horse wrote history." ~ Author unknown.

We carried your warriors into battle. We worked your fields. We powered your conveyances. We lifted your burdens. We died for your causes. We ask little in return: food, shelter, a life well lived, a death with dignity. The very things we helped you achieve.