"Smile! It keeps your brain from falling out when you're frustrated!" - Clinton Anderson (Downunder Horsemanship)

"They say boys never grow up, their toys just get bigger. I say I never grew up, my 'My Little Ponies' just got bigger!" - Me

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Days are getting shorter!

So I was looking at Cody tonight and her coat just seemed darker to me than normal.  Not much, but just a hint darker than I'm used to seeing her.  Upon closer inspection I realized the days are getting shorter, and Cody's starting to get just a hint of winter fuzz!  My thin skinned girl is always the first one to start fuzzing up for the winter!  Though it's anything but winter out there today!  I'm ready for the fall temps!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Riders Rasp

So I saw the Riders Rasp Trail at TSC today while getting hay cubes for Wayne, and made in impulse buy!

Cody's front feet have been driving me nuts.  I pulled her shoes last trimming since I can't ride her anymore, and her feet are of course cracking as the nail holes grow out. 

But I can't work a regular rasp to save my life.  I'm just not strong enough and way too uncoordinated to work one of those.  I leave that to my farrier!  But my next farrier appointment is still three weeks away, and I'd really rather not let her feet chip and crack all to pieces as they continue to grow.

So I decided to try the Riders Rasp (been debating on ordering one for a long time now), and glad I did!  Definitely a very handy tool!  Got the hang of it pretty quick right handed, still clumsy as heck with it left handed, but I managed.  Definitely a workout, and makes me appreciate my farrier all the more, and made me realize Cody needs a slight manners refresher before my next appointment.  Naughty girl. 

But a little hard work and lots of sweat later, and all four feet are nicely filed and much less likely to crack all to pieces before my farrier comes out again!  Definitely glad I bought it!  Will have to see what I can do with the flares trying to start on Lady's back feet, and check out Wayne's feet, but another time.  One horse is enough for one day in 90 degree weather! 

Only disappointment with the Riders Rasp Trail is the blades don't appear to be replaceable on this version, but this will work for now, and whenever it finally goes dull, I'll invest in the original with the changeable blades.  But otherwise, I think it will be a handy hoof tool to have around the barn!  Right up there with my hoof knife and soaking boots!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baby it's hot outside!

You know it's a hot day when Lady has white salt residue all over her back and butt from sweating out in the pasture all day..... 

You know it's a REALLY hot day when Cody has white salt residue all over her back and butt from sweating out in the pasture all day!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


So another really long one......but then Lady has kind of a unique story as to how I came to own her and her history......

I first met Lady in the summer of 2002 while working at Scheid's Quarter Horses. She'd just made the trip up from southern Texas and stepped off the trailer with another mare. Both were recipient mares, one 60 days pregnant and the other 30 days pregnant, both carrying a foal for Scotch Margarita via embryo transfer. If you're not familiar with embryo transfer, the basic jist of it is, they breed a high dollar mare, flush the embryo out of the high dollar mare when it's a couple days old, and implant the embryo into another less expensive mare. That less expensive mare will then carry the foal to term, give birth to it, and raise it as her own, that way there is no risk of losing the high dollar mare to complications and/or that mare can return to showing and continue her show career. And the recipient mare is usually sent to live with whoever owns the high dollar mare, and stays there till the foal is born and weaned, then is shipped back to Texas to start the process all over again.

2002 was the first year you could register more than one foal per mare per year via embryo transfer with the AQHA, so we received two recipient mares, each carrying foals that were full siblings, who's sire and dam were both world and congress champions several times over. And unfortunately, recipient mares are often considered "throw away" horses, and not always treated the best. Their feet usually aren't trimmed very regularly, they're often half wild, they're usually thrown out to pasture till it's time to foal, then only given enough care to get their job done, then back on the trailer they go. Thankfully Scheids took much better care of their embryo transfer mares than most, they were part of the family while they were there, and treated to the same care and kindness as the rest of the high dollar horses in Pat's barn, going out during the day, coming into a stall at night, blanketed to go outside in the winter (since they were living in a heated barn), regular vet and farrier care, they had it made in Pat's barn!

The recipient mares that arrived never had a name, they all went by a number on their paperwork that matched the number tag around their neck. Thankfully Pat always cut that number tag off first thing, and gave them a name while they were at her place. The black was named Ebony, and the sorrel (or what we thought was a sorrel at the time, who turned out to be an insanely sunbleached and malnurished liver chestnut) was named Lady. The two had obviously velcroed themselves to each other on the trip up from Texas, and while Ebony was a big pushy brute, Lady was very shy and skittish. Ebony needed to learn some manners, and Lady needed to learn to trust people.

And our first sight of Lady had Pat and I both in tears. She walked off the trailer head down and thin as a rail, literally a 1 on the body condition scale! She was a skeleton. It was awful! Why on earth did they put a foal inside this poor mare!!! Pat called the vet who owned her and promptly chewed him out. In the vet's defense, he had received Lady back in this horrible condition from the previous farm she had been at, and had actually gained a little bit of weight since then. So I don't even want to know just how thin she was when she was returned by the previous barn. He said he didn't want to use her for Pat's foal, had wanted to give her a that year off to get her back up to weight and in better condition, but didn't have any other mares cycling at the right time other than Lady, so he went ahead and used her, knowing she was going to Pat's barn and that she would get exceptional care there.
Wayne, Ebony, and a very sunbleached Lady! - Summer 2002
So Lady put on weight, and we discovered she was a very easy keeper. She learned to trust us, and Ebony learned some manners. Both mares spent their days outside turned out with Wayne, who was a happy camper to have his own girls. As winter came, we were surprised to see how dark Lady's coat got as her health improved. She was definitely a liver chestnut, not the sorrel we first thought!
Spring of 2003 came and Ebony foaled first. A nice chestnut colt that got the barn name Marty. Lady foaled a month later, an adorable little chestnut filly that literally had a small letter "i" on her face for a blaze, and got the barn name Lilly. Lilly's first week went well, but then it became obvious that something wasn't quite right. So Lady and her baby made a trip to MSU. Lilly had stomach ulcers. So we followed the treatment plan word for word, but Lady and her foal made a couple more trips down to MSU when things just didn't improve.

Then one day out of the blue, Ebony coliced severely, and twisted her gut. Pat called the vet who owned her to get permission to ship her to MSU for surgery to save her, but the vet said no, she was a grade mare that wasn't worth that kind of money, and requested she be put down. Pat and I were just sick, but without her owners permission, there was nothing any of us could do. So I ended up having to help the vet put Ebony down, which didn't go well at all and still haunts me today. And 2 month old Marty was an orphan, and Lady was lost without her buddy.

Lady, the awesome mama that she is, happily took Marty under her wing and let both foals nurse off her, but Marty was too big and started pushing Lilly out, so Marty had to learn to drink his milk from a bucket. But a few days later, Lilly stopped eating, and they rushed her and Lady back to MSU. The ulcers had spread up her esophagus, and she had gone into kidney failure from refusing to nurse. They ended up having to put her to sleep, and Lady came home without her baby and was an absolute basket case for days, screaming and carrying on and looking for her baby, trying to jump out of her open front stall or push her way through the fence to go find her baby.

With her baby gone, Pat had to ship her back to Texas within a week, so she could be gotten ready for the next embryo to be implanted. But my mom decided she wanted a horse too, and mom and I weren't letting sweet Lady go back to Texas and back to that life. Not after everything she had been through in the past year. So we paid the fee to keep her, and Lady was ours!
We didn't know much about her, just that she was a 9 year old Rocky Mountain Horse/Quarter Horse cross with ringbone in her front feet that didn't seem to bother her at all. Had no idea if she was broke to ride or not. But we didn't care. I could always train her. I called the vet to see if he had any history on her, and it basically went like this.....

He bought her at an auction somewhere on the east coast early in the spring of her 3 year old year. She was very lame at the time from the ringbone in her front feet. She was herded through the auction, bought by a meat buyer, and herded into the kill pen. The vet went and bought her from the meat buyer to add to his herd of embryo transfer mares, because she was young and because supposedly Rocky Mountain Horses make great mothers. She was implanted with an embryo that year, and had a foal via embryo transfer every year after that till she arrived at Scheids. So she had a total of 6 foals in 6 years via embryo transfer.

And apparently the time out to pasture just being a mom was what the ringbone in her front feet needed, as it doesn't bother her at all now, and though we haven't x-rayed her front feet, a couple vets that have seen her suspect the joint affected by the ringbone has likely fused itself, hence the reason she's now sound. But how on earth did she end up with ringbone that bad by the spring of her 3 year old year?

Well, I've since discovered, entirely by accident, that Lady knows how to barrel race, and she knows the barrel pattern very well!! The barrels were set up one day in the arena I was riding her in, and as we trotted past where the pattern starts, she suddenly spun and bolted, catching me completely off guard and nearly jumping right out from under me, and as I'm getting left behind and clawing for the saddle horn to stay in the saddle and get my balance back, we're rounding the first barrel nice and tight and heading for the next one. So we tried the barrel pattern a few times, and yup, she knows how to run barrels better than I do! I just get in her way. And she has a preferred direction for the pattern too, right barrel first, then left barrel. If you do it the other way, she gets confused! So she's definitely been a barrel horse at some point in her life. So my guess is, someone ran the hell out of her on barrels as a 2 year old, ruined her feet and lamed her by the start of her 3 year old year, then off loaded their now ruined horse at the nearest auction. And considering the white marks on both side of her withers from being ridden in an obviously ill fitting saddle, I have a feeling my theory on this is probably pretty close to what actually happened!
So Lady's been to the east coast, to Texas, to Michigan, and who knows where all else those other five foals took her. But Michigan is definitely home now! I had started a new job about the time we bought Lady and stopped working for Scheids, and moved Lady and Wayne to a new barn. I think the move was good for Lady, she had gone from being a basket case over her baby, to being dumpy and depressed acting. The new barn had an 8 month old colt out in the pasture with Lady that had recently been weaned and was looking for anyone to mother him, and Lady was happy to play the role of mother hen!

Thankfully it turned out that Lady was broke to ride, and after a couple months of riding her to refresh her memory under saddle, she turned out to be a nice quiet trail horse. Didn't really seem to know a whole lot performance wise (other than running barrels which I discovered later on), but knew enough to be a nice little trail horse. And definitely adjusted to her rider. While she'd give me a little more spunk when I rode her, especially working in an arena, put my mom, who was a completely beginner, or a kid on her, and she'd plod along like an old plow horse.
When I got Cody a short time later with a leg injury that kept her stall bound, and needed a ton of hand walking daily to keep her from stocking up, and was a horrible handful to try to hand walk after being in a stall all day, Lady was awesome at helping me hand walk Cody, letting me pony Cody along side from her back for her walks, and giving me a saddle horn to dally Cody's rope around whenever she exploded and wanted to run off and act stupid. Lady just took it all in stride.
Lady and Cody, like sisters! - Sept 2009
Unfortunately, the novelty of owning a horse and riding wore off my mom after about a year, so Lady went from being mom's horse to my horse. Which was fine with me, but Cody was healed up by that time, so I was riding and showing her a lot, so I didn't really have time to do much with Lady. So she mainly hung out in the pasture, or ponied along side Cody on the trails so I could exercise both at once, and was always there for me whenever a friend (horse person or non horse person) wanted to go for a ride with me. Eventually I moved to another barn that held 4-H meetings twice a week in the summer, so several of the 4-H kids would ride her for workouts if they couldn't bring their own horse with them.
Mom and I also started doing parades with Lady and Cody, and mom would lead Lady as the riderless horse in several of our local Memorial Day and 4th of July parades. And Lady would often tag along to shows with me for the trailering practice, and hang out at the trailer while I showed Cody.
Lady as the Riderless Horse - Memorial Day Parade 2005
In the summer of 2005, a handicapped girl joined the 4-H club. She was wheelchair bound, and really wanted a horse, but her parents refused to buy a horse until they knew how much she could actually do with horses. So we worked out an agreement, and she part time leased Lady from me for the summer. Lady was unphased by the wheelchair, so they started doing halter and showmanship together, and even showing and placing against non handicapped kids in those classes. And eventually was able to ride Lady with the help of a leader and side walkers. And Lady was a total angel. And you should have seen the looks on people's faces at the county fair, who had seen quiet little Lady carefully following Jessica's wheel chair around or carefully carrying Jessica around on her back when I showed her in barrel racing and other speed events at the adult show at the end of the fair! "That can't be quiet little Lady out there!"
In 2006 I met my fiance, who enjoyed trail riding, and used to have horses of his own. So Lady has been his trail horse ever since. He doesn't ride nearly as much as I do, but Lady is always his girl when we do ride together!
Unfortunately this past February, my Cody girl got kicked in the knee by another horse and has been lame ever since. I haven't been able to ride her since then, and it appears that surgery is the only thing that's ever going to make her sound again, so I've been riding Lady a whole lot more this summer. Though I get bored with trail riding all the time, and love doing arena work and training, so Lady's been getting a lot of arena work this year! Which has been good for her, since she's always been a bit of a spazz in the arena with an experienced rider, which I'm assuming stems from her barrel horse days! But she has definitely improved a great deal this summer, even doing a little bit of reining type stuff! Thank you Clinton Anderson! lol! It's been fun working with her! Though she's 16 now and has developed some arthritis in both of her hocks, so I have to be careful how much I ride her or do with her.
Looking like a little cowpony! - Summer 2010
But she's a good girl! And even started being used for riding lessons one night a week this summer for a friend of mine who gives lessons. Originally she only did walk/trot lessons, but has finally learned to canter sanely enough in the arena to start teaching her students to canter as well! She's even done a couple of shows this year! She's definitely one of those horses that's worth her weight in gold!
Riding Lessons - May 2010
So there's Lady's story, now on to Cody when I have a chance!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wayne County

So this is Wayne's story.....hmm......another really long one!

In February of 2002, at 24 years old, my life long dream of FINALLY having a horse of my very own came true! I wasn't quite ready to buy a horse just yet. I had just graduated from college two months before, and still hadn't found my "computer engineering" career job (there just wasn't much out there in IT jobs in Michigan after Sept. 11th happened), so I was working as a bank teller at the time making a little over minimum wage.

But Wayne's owner was getting ready to have hip surgery and needed to thin down his herd fast, and Wayne had to go. He knew how much I loved that horse, and wanted me to have him, but otherwise, Wayne was going to auction with the others, and let's face it, a 16 year old, "out of style", "unbroke", "wrong color", "too short", "not modern enough pedigree" Haflinger breeding stallion would not have faired well at an auction, despite his wonderful temperament. I didn't have enough money for the purchase price at the time, but I really didn't want to let Wayne go, and thankfully his owner really wanted me to have him so he knew Wayne went to a good home and was willing to work with me. So we drew up a payment contract, signed over his papers, and Wayne was mine!
Ironically, my first horse was a 16 year old "unbroke" breeding stallion! Talk about the cardinal sins of first horse buying! I went all out on that one! But thankfully, if you read from my previous post, I had a good 10 years of horse experience behind me already, and I had known Wayne for some time before taking ownership of him, so everything worked out just fine! But it's still amusing the reactions that I sometimes get from people that don't know my past with horses when they find out my first horse was a 16 year old "unbroke" breeding stallion! (I say "unbroke" because I had started him under saddle already a few months before I bought him, but he was still VERY VERY VERY green!)

So into my ownership came "Wayne County", the 13.2 hand, mister personality plus Haflinger stallion; the flaxen red chestnut that shined like a copper penny with the thick flaxen double mane, a thick flaxen forelock that hid his near text book perfect blaze, flaxen feathers on his feet, and a flaxen tail that grew long and full despite his tail bone being docked like a draft horse (a phase the Haflinger breed went through years ago). I couldn't have been happier!
Wayne, the day I got him!  2-20-02
His name was kind of funny. Who names a horse "Wayne County"? Everyone says he's a "Detroit Boy" when they hear his registered name. But actually, he was born in Wayne County, Ohio. And being a W line stallion, he had to have a name that started with W. So I guess Wayne County was the best his breeders could come up with! lol!
Checking out his new home at Scheids!
But Wayne made the move to Scheid's Quarter Horses, since I was still working there as well as at the bank. One paycheck a month from Scheid's covered his payment, and the other paycheck paid for his board, so it all worked out well! Yes, I paid for my first horse ENTIRELY by shovelling manure! Hey, where there's a will, there's a way! And talk about a spoiled boy! Heated barn kept at 70 degrees all winter! Big box stall of his very own! Mares to keep tabs on, and youngsters to baby sit. What more could Studly-Do-Right ask for!
Babysitting Maggie!
They only had one pasture, so he was turned out in shifts with some of the other horses. With the old mare Mindy when she wasn't in heat, and shut in the one small run they had next to the pasture when she was. Turned out with the weanlings and yearlings to baby sit, he was good at teaching them manners. Turned out with the pregnant embryo transfer mares, they were already pregnant, so he never bothered them, he was just happy to have himself a herd. Sometimes with Slim, the big 16.2 hand gelding boarded there. Those two were a comical sight, considering the height difference, and that Slim seemed to think Wayne was his personal scratching post, much to Wayne's dismay, and Slim also seemed to find it fun to grab the butt of Wayne's blanket or sheet and pull it up, to which Wayne would stomp and protest, because those leg straps have to go somewhere! He was even turned out with Scotch Margarita when Rita came home from the trainers. That one floored me, but Pat didn't seem to see a problem with it, since Rita was on regumate and never came into heat, and thankfully, they did fine together, considering what Rita is worth!!!
Hanging out with embryo transfer mares Lady and Ebony!
And Wayne went "into training", getting ridden several days a week, and learning fast! I taught him everything he knows! By May of that year he went to his first horse show! We didn't show, but I did stall him at the show for the weekend, and walked him around while the show was going on, then rode him in the arena in the evenings. I wanted to see how he handled the show environment, considering he was a stallion, and had never been to a show, at least not since his previous owner had purchased him as a 3 year old. Wayne handled it like a champ!

In June he went to his second show, and this time we did the halter class both mornings. He whipped the competition! And again I rode him in the evenings, and in the warm up arena during the show. Still a perfect gentleman!
So in July we started the walk/trot classes, and it was all up hill from there!
First class under saddle, English Walk/Trot
We showed English walk/trot all that summer at open shows, while working on his canter at home. He was often the only non stock horse breed at the shows! The judges either loved him or hated him, we either kicked butt, and got the gate! We continued doing halter (and doing very well at halter), started doing trail classes, and started learning western and how to drive. We went trail riding at the state parks. We did Fourth of July and Memorial Day parades. I also started taking Dressage lessons at Rowe Stables that summer (my first official riding lessons ever), usually riding lesson horses, but sometimes trailering Wayne in for lessons. I even got my dressage instructor to take a ride on him, who has a very strict "I never ride stallions" rule. lol!
In 2003 we started showing again first thing in the spring and showed all summer long at the open shows. We continued our dressage lessons and started canter classes (now that he finally figured out how to carry himself in a nice collected canter under saddle and got all those pony legs going in the right direction, he's a draft horse, he's not really meant to canter under saddle, but we finally got it). Did more trail riding and parades. Played around with some saddle seat, and continued to do a little western. He really didn't get the whole neck reining thing, but thankfully from the dressage lessons he learned to steer very well off my seat and legs, so we could fake the neck reining thing pretty easy! And did more driving, learning to drive in a team, and to skid logs out of the woods to cut up for fire wood. He's a pullin' pony alright! Much stronger than he looks!
And we also started working cattle! Yes, Wayne became a cow pony! Going to round robbin practices for team sorting and team penning! What a blast that was! And Wayne picked up on it quickly, and loved moving the cows around! Didn't matter if they were using calves, or the big team roping steers that were nearly as tall as he was, Wayne still moved them where they needed to go! Of course, everyone laughed at me and my little "show pony" as they called him, but Wayne soon showed them that he could play this game just as well as their stock horses! Granted, team penning was a little harder for him, he couldn't quite keep up with those quarter horses running back and forth across the arena, but in the team sorting pen, his small compact frame was a perfect fit and very maneuverable! We had a blast! Never got the chance to make it to a competition in either sport, but the practices were just as fun!
In the fall of 2003, the National Haflinger show was being held at MSU. You didn't have to qualify to show, and since the show was so close to home, I figured what the heck, we'd go to the National show, just to say we went! It was our very first (and only) Haflinger breed show! We only entered Dressage and English, as he wasn't "modern style" enough for any of the other classes. We rode in the Intro Dressage class and ended up placing 10th! And we had a great ride in the English class, and out of 22 horses, we ended up placing 10th! I was floored and thrilled! Not bad at all, considering Wayne was the shortest horse in the class, the only flaxen red chestnut in a sea of honey blonde Haflingers, and at 17 years old, the oldest horse in the class! We even got to ride against Aristocrat TOF in that class, who at the time was the top Haflinger stallion in the nation, and the model horse for the Breyer Haflinger model! Great fun! So Wayne was top ten in Dressage and a well earned top ten in English in 2003, far more than I ever expected at that show! What a thrill!
Unfortunately, the day after the National Haflinger show brought an end to Wayne's riding career after two outstanding and very jam packed show seasons. The new barn I was boarding him at had recently taken on another stallion to board. A big 16 hand QH stallion that was rank and out of control (the type of stallion that gives stallions a bad name) and belonged to a newbie horse owner. There are very few horses that I refuse to handle because I feel I'm in serious danger around them, but this horse was definitely one of them. He needed to be gelded and put into some very serious training before he hurt somebody! But his owner was going to barrel race him and stand him stud and make lots of money (sure, if you don't get yourself killed in the process, that horse is WILD and AGGRESSIVE)! In my personal opinion, he had no business being a stallion, and had no business being boarded there! But what do I know, a paycheck is a paycheck I guess.

I pulled into the barn the day after the National show to find this stallion on the loose. Apparently his owner had been out to visit, and hadn't latched his stall door shut correctly, and Indy had let himself out of his stall. He had run full tilt at the fence to Wayne's pasture, shattered the wooden fence rails as he crashed through them, and attacked Wayne. And unfortunately, the two Belgain mares that Wayne was madly in love with were standing just on the other side of the fence from him. And Wayne, having been a herd stallion pasture breeding mares for so many years (and who seems to think he's ten foot tall and bullet proof), was determined to stand his ground and defend "his" Belgain mares. Wayne took a beating, but Indy didn't come out much better, Wayne gave back just as much as he received, and we had two very beat up and bleeding stallions by the time we were able to separate them.

Thank god Wayne's a tough drafty little bugger for his size, or he'd have been dead for sure, but unfortunately, he got kicked hard in the side of the knee during the fight, and tore the collateral ligament on the outside of his left knee. Flexion tests, x-rays, and ultrasound confirmed it. And there was nothing to do but stall rest him, and hope and pray, but at 17 years old, the chances of it healing properly were slim to none. Maybe MSU could do something for him with surgery, but at his age, that was risky too, and I couldn't afford surgery anyway. I was sick, I was furious, I cried my eyes out, I wanted to go after the other stallion owner and make her pay for what her horse had done! The barn owner called the other owner and told her what happened, and she showed up with a trailer that night, loaded up her horse, and took off. We never saw or heard from her again. I was sick! The one thing I had wanted all my life, that I had worked so hard for all through college, had likely just been ripped right out from under me!

Of course, his knee never healed right, and while he was sound enough to be a pasture pet, his riding days were definitely done. So Wayne's been living the retired pasture potato life for the last 7 years. We did try going to a show in 2004 to do the halter class just for fun, but his limp decided to show up that day in a couple of his trot strides, so needless to say, we didn't place. That was his last show.
Wayne's last show. 2004
Arthritis has set into that knee over the years, and definitely not helped by a few of the barns I boarded at. While there were promises of having his very own pen and turned out all day, and it was that way for the first few months and Wayne proved he was a good natured, easy to have around stallion, they all reverted to that "stallions need to be kept in a stall at all times" mentality that so many people seem to have when it comes to stallions, and started keeping him locked away in a stall with no turnout, despite my protests and his good behavior. And that was murder on his knee! Standing around all day with little movement, caused arthritis to run wild, and his knee just got bigger and bigger. My mom even started going out on her days off to take him for long walks just to get him out of his stall for a while (he really is like an over grown dog at times), and I'd turn him out in the arenas or anywhere I could at night when I was there, but of course it was never for long enough, and he had to go back in his stall when I left.

So I'd find a new barn to move the furkids to, and the process would start all over again. Seriously people! Yes, he's a stallion, but he's not your typical stallion! Give him a chance, he's never done anything to show you he needs to be locked up, yet you lock him up anyway! Let him live outside and stop helping his knee destroy itself! The last barn started out the same way, then went to locking him in a stall in the back barn that was pitch black except when someone was in the barn and turned on the lights, his only company a goat that shared his stall with him, and the 2 year old stud colt locked away a few stalls over who at least had a small window to the outside world in his stall. Needless to say, Wayne didn't handle that well at all, his knee got worse, he got depressed to the point he stopped eating, I went looking for yet another barn.

I had just started a new job and moved to a new area, and got lucky enough to find a barn two miles down the road from home that had room for three horses. And had individual turnout pens for Wayne. The owner was leery of taking on a stallion, but agreed to let me bring him down for a one month trial period and if all went well, then I could bring my mares down too. Unfortunately, an F3 tornado (unheard of in our neck of the woods), came through the area just before we were to bring Wayne down, and destroyed the barn owners home and some of the barns. Thankfully no one was hurt, and I am glad Wayne wasn't there when that happened. So his move to High Point Stables was delayed a couple months, as he continued to live in that dark hell hole they had put him in, and he continued to get thinner and thinner from refusing to eat anything but his grain. It broke my heart, he was obviously miserable, I almost put him down.

But finally, in September of 2007, Wayne made the move to High Point, and after a couple of rocky weeks of settling in and adjusting to having freedom and horses around, Wayne finally proved himself a good boy, and we got to stay! It did my heart a world of good to see him outside every day grazing and wandering around, happy to be out and with other horses for company in the pasture next to him, and my little guy got his spirits and personality back! He's even gone to being on pasture board now instead of stall board, and seems content with retired life. And thankfully there's been no locking him away in a stall, so he's been living the good life at High Point!
Getting fat and happy at High Point! 2007
His knee is definitely in bad shape. He's lost 50% of his range of motion in that knee. But he's learned to compensate for it, and learned how best to get up and down to roll and lay down with it. He's learned he can't trot very well, so he pretty much goes everywhere at the walk or the canter. And he's learned to do flying lead changes every few strides to compensate for that knee when he does one of his full gallop runs from the back of the pasture to the gate to see what's going on, always afraid he might be missing out on something. And my farrier has been a blessing in keeping him trimmed for the best possible breakover and movement he can give him, and is gentle and patient with Wayne when it comes to trimming his feet. I have his knee x-rayed every spring to track it's progress, and we suspect from the x-rays that the joint that's been destroyed by the arthritis may actually be beginning to fuse itself together, which would be a blessing, because once fused, there'd be little pain to no pain anymore.
Just up from a nap!  5-15-10
He's 24 years old this year, and other than his knee and his teeth (which have worn out early on him due to lack of dental care his first 16 years and too much dental work to correct that lack of care after I got him, and while he can eat grass and soaked senior feed just fine, hay he just can't chew anymore, but he doesn't seem to mind the soaked hay cube diet one bit, he's always right there waiting for those three meals a day in the winter), and a lot of grey hair on his face, he's still in great health. Honestly, if it wasn't for his bad knee, I'd probably still be riding him today! Sometimes I wonder where we'd be after 8 1/2 years together had his riding career not been cut short so soon.
Handsome as ever at 24!
Sadly though, I know I'll probably lose him to that knee long before his health fails. He has his good days and his bad days. Thankfully more good than bad still, and in general he's always in good spirits and seems content and happy with life. So as long as he seems happy, I'll do what I can to keep him that way and as comfortable as I can. I'm just not ready to part with my little man yet! I know most people would have put him down long ago, but as long as he seems content, isn't showing me that he's miserable, his appetite is GREAT, and I can afford to keep boarding him, I have a hard time with putting him down just yet.
So we take things month by month. I'd miss not having my plucky little pony around! Even on my worst of days, Studly-Do-Right always has a way of making me smile! He's still my best bud, quite a character, definitely a goofball, and seems to have a knack for coming up with some of the most off the wall situations to get himself into that make a doosie of a story later on.
Come on mom!  The barn's this way!  6-7-10
So that's Wayne's story! Guess that means Lady's next!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Road to Horse Ownership

My road to finally having a horse to call my own was a long one. But I met many wonderful horses and horse people along the way that made me the horse woman I am today!  Get ready, this is going to be a long one!!!!

My love of horses started at a very young age, like most horse sick people. I still remember the snow horse my dad made for me when I was very very young. Forget the snowman, we rolled a bunch of snowballs together, and my dad, the artist that he was, carved out a horse lying down for me to ride! How cool was that! And of course there was the "My Little Pony" and Breyer collections. The piles of Black Stallion and Saddle Club books. And any other horse book or magazine I could get my hands on!

But my first experience around real horses didn't come till age 13. My mom being a single mom, there was no way in the world we could afford a horse. Horse ownership would have to wait till I as an adult. But I was determined to somehow be around horses! Eventually I met a new friend at school that had a horse, a big beautiful chestnut OTTB mare named Hottie. I never really got to ride Hottie, just once on the lunge line, she was way too much horse for such a green horn to ride, her registered name of Hotwire was fitting. But I spent many days around my friend's house, helping take care of Hottie, going to jumping shows and lessons with them, and listening to her dad's racing stories, since he used to be a jockey down at the old DRC track.

Next I volunteered for a horse back riding for the handicapped program that ran one day a week for a few weeks out at the fairgrounds. I worked as a side walker, and sometimes scored a short ride around the arena on their best baby sitter horse after the class. But I didn't care, I was just thrilled to be around horses, let alone get to actually ride one!

Then I met the Lewis's and was introduced to Arabians. They were looking for someone to clean stalls, and we ended up making an arrangement for me to clean stalls in exchange for riding lessons. Well, the riding lessons weren't really lessons, it was basically plop me on the old baby sitter, a big chestnut Arabian gelding named Marafic, and let me go exercise him for her son, who wanted to show, but didn't want to put the work into riding old Marafic to keep him fit. So I had many rides on Marafic in the round pen and in the pasture, basically figuring things out as I went along. I might have had no idea what I was doing, and thank goodness Marafic was a good old sport, but I was on top of the world!

Eventually, when it was decided I could stay on Marafic well enough at the walk, trot, and canter, I got to start riding Honor as well. A smaller, rose grey Arabian gelding, who belonged to their only boarder. Honor was a sweetie, but very young and green broke and needed some miles, since his owner hardly had time to do anything with him. So let's put the newbie on the green horse. Somehow we survived together, and I learned real quick how to stay in the saddle! Especially considering the only saddle Honor's owner had for him was a cutback saddle seat!

Then came a little work for the Lewis's trainer, and a trip to the Michigan All Arabian Horse show to work as a groom! What an amazing experience that was! And while working for their trainer, I got to find out exactly what collecting off a stallion was.  As well as a bit of an introduction to the sport of reining.

But eventually we parted ways and I met another friend at school who also had a horse. A big black OTTB gelding named Bo. Of course, Bo was WAY too much for me to handle, Bo definitely fell in the crazy OTTB category, I guess his registered name of Firegod was fitting, but as luck would have it, the barn where she boarded him had a sweet little Morgan gelding named Midnight that was broke, but didn't know a whole lot, and hadn't been ridden in years, but I was welcome to ride him as much as I wanted. The only saddle my friend had that would fit the sweet little guy was an english one, and once again I was learning to ride on the fly, but at least this time I had someone there with me, coaching me as we went along. Poor Midnight was such a great sport, he tried so hard, and we learn a lot together.

This was also the barn where I discovered that apparently it was easier to condition Standardbreds for racing using a pickup truck rather than a sulky. Why bother harnessing them up to condition them when you can just use the truck. It was the weirdest thing, watching the barn owner go flying down the dirt road in his truck, one hand on the steering wheel, the other hand hanging out the window loosely holding the lead line of the Standardbred pacing at top speed next to the drivers door! And better yet, you can exercise multiple horses at once! As the barn owner went flying down the dirt road with a pacer outside his window, and two people sitting on the tailgate holding the lead lines of the pacer and trotter bookin' it behind the truck. I still shake my head at the memories! This can't be the safest means of conditioning Standardbreds getting ready to go back to the track, but according to the barn owner, it was perfectly safe, just as long as you let go and didn't get tangled in the lead rope if something went wrong. Yeah, real safe.

Anywho, eventually my friend moved her horse to another farm, and that is how I met the Edingtons, who bred palomino Quarter Horses, and I became part of the family, and went through a long string of horses over a lot of years!

There was Twister, the 14.2 hand palomino mare, who did a little bit of everything, and gave me a well rounded education. The very first thing she taught me was not to pull back and squeeze at the same time, that resulted in her rearing and flipping over on top of me. I climbed right back on, and never made that mistake on her again! We did english and western. Went trail riding together. Twister loved to pull her buggy or sleigh, so I learned how to drive, and drove that little mare all over the neighborhood! She took me to my very first horse show, where we did a few english and western flat classes. Eventually we learned how to jump together, and went to a few shows at Fox Brush Farms and did some of the crossrail classes. I owe a lot to Twister! She was an amazing little mare!

There was Honey, the 14.2 hand dunalino broodmare. Sweetest little mare, was broke but hardly ridden, didn't know much, hated a bit so was only ridden in a hackamore. While she was no show horse, she made a nice little trail horse, and packed me around all over their farm. And also taught me how to tuck and roll when getting bucked off. Somehow I never learned the let go of the reins part though, and I always ended up sitting there on the ground, holding the reins, and staring up at a completely innocent looking Honey. Then there was the day the hackamore broke while cantering, and there I sit on Honey's back with the throat latch and browband being my only connection to her head, and Honey freaked out by this thing dangling around under her face. Somehow we managed to survive, got stopped, discovered fixing the hackamore was hopeless, and returned to the barn with a rein tied around her muzzle and only one rein to steer with.

There was Moonbeam, the 16 hand palomino mare, who did a little bit of everything, but wasn't really great at anything, but loved to jump, and would jump anything that you pointed her at, didn't matter how high. I was in my glory, since I was loving riding english and jumping at that time! Beam also taught me what the superman dismount was, exiting stage left when a deer ran out in front of us one day while galloping down the lane. While she went left, I kept going straight, staring at the ground as I flew, thinking "Oh this is going to hurt!" Hurt it did, and Beam came over to check on me, but when I finally got my wind back and climbed to my feet, she high tailed it for home before I could catch her, and left me to walk the mile back to the barn.

There was Star, the unbroke 15 hand palomino mare that I just loved and wanted to ride so bad. Eventually I was allowed to work with her, and started my first horse under saddle. She knew nothing, I knew some, and we learned a lot together. I rode that mare all over the place! There was a promise to keep her till I could afford to have a horse of my own. I was crushed when she was sold, but once a horse is broke and trained to trail ride, money talks I guess. I still miss her. Was the closest I had to a horse of my own at the time.
There was Mariah, the extremely green broke 16 hand cremello mare. I got to put some miles on her as well. And helped her find a new home with a friend of mine after she slipped on ice and hit her head and started going blind.

There was Jesse, the blind broodmare that I never rode, but taught me a lot about being around horses and letting them know where you're at, and how not to startle them.

There were the stallions. Lightening, the senior palomino stallion with a bad back, who was a good boy, but demanded a fair amount of respect if you were going to handle him, he was definitely a stallion. Echo, the sweet and shy bay stallion who never really acted like a stallion. I wanted to start him under saddle so bad, but he was suposed to be someone else's project. And Thunderbolt, the half broke young chestnut stallion that I got to put some miles on. And while he was a pretty good boy, he was definitely a stallion, and had the attitude to go with it at times! Lightening being his sire, he was definitely his father's son.

And there were the foals. Mazie, the cute little palomino that taught me just how bad those baby feet can hurt when she nailed me full force in the stomach with one back foot. Rosebud, the sweet little chestnut born with a crooked leg that spent her first few months in a soft cast to correct the problem. And several others!

Rosie and her little cast.
I owe a lot to the Edingtons. Their generosity and horses gave me a very solid start in the horse world! So many wonderful memories from that time, spanning through my high school and college years!

Eventually I met another friend in high school who recruited me for the High School Equestrian team! Her mom's horse needed a job other than pasture ornament, and I was to be her rider. And so Fancy, a 16 hand breeding stock Thoroughbred/Appaloosa cross mare, came into my life, the odd colored liver chestnut with a big white blaze and four white feet. She'd been a jumper in the past, and our team needed a jumper. And so we practiced long and hard, and finally we moved up from crossrails, and were jumping courses for the equestrain team, as well as showing saddle seat, western, bareback, showmanship, and hunt seat. I had a blast on that mare, and many spills and chills, but I always bounced back for more. We even joined one of the 4-H clubs, and showed at the county fair.

Fairfield Fancy
When I wasn't able to ride Fancy anymore, the equestrian team went looking for a horse for me. Enter Macho, my team coaches 15 hand chestnut Morgan gelding who was such a goof and could be quite the fireball! Macho did saddle seat very well. He hated the burlap bag full of empty cans used to drag in trail class, so to fire him up before a saddle seat class, my coach and her daughter found it necessary to show him the bag of cans and give it a good rattle just before our class. Macho turned into a fireball and I went in the ring hanging on for dear life. We always placed well. Macho jumped too. He hated jumping, but he'd do it. And he usually flew over every jump like it was twice as high as it really was. We also did hunt seat, western, and bareback. He was such a character and so much fun to ride.

Macho was already spoken for the following year for the 4-H season, so my coach talked one of her boarders into letting me ride Chaz, a beautiful 15 hand chestnut Arabian stallion. Chaz and I got along so well, he was promptly gelded so I could show him! While Chaz had some formal western pleasure training and did pretty well western, he picked up english really fast, and wasn't too bad at jumping, at home any way, in the show ring, he seemed to forget how to jump! But we did well together that 4-H season. I loved this horse, by far the smartest and best tempered Arabian I have ever ridden or been around! And so willing to learn.  Chaz was such a pleasure to work with!  I would have loved to have that horse!
Perfection At Las  (aka Chaz)
College and co-op definitely limited my horse time. Especially while living in Detroit 6 months out of the year during work terms. But even living down there, I managed to find myself a horse fix. The Detroit Polo Club was offering a polo clinic, so off I went to learn about polo. After the clinic, I was paired with one of the members of the polo club as a mentor if I wanted to continue learning. Of course I did! I got lucky and was able to exercise a couple of his horses, a big OTTB named Tom and a beautiful Argentine named Picasa, as well as practice my stick and ball on them. Now that was fun, and Tom and Picasa were so paitent with me and my mistakes, and my missing the ball and having to circle back around to try again, and my thumping them with the mallet once in a while by accident. God I felt terrible when that happened! While I greatly enjoyed my time riding Tom and Picasa and whacking the ball around, one practice game of polo was enough to make me decide polo was not the sport for me, and was a little harder on the horses then I cared for.

Next came my introduction to Haflingers! My boyfriend at the time lived with his grandfather, who bred and raised Haflingers. He didn't do much with them, they were a bunch of pets. The old mare was broke to drive, but that was about it. Eventually my friend Alaina and I set to work breaking Haflingers, we couldn't resist not riding these adorable little horses! So Babe, Becky, and Queenie were all started under saddle and we trail rode those horses all over the neighborhood! Started breaking King, but he had a bad habit of turning things into a rodeo, so after several bucking bronc rides, one that nearly landed me in the manure spreader, we gave up on him, there were other, better minded Haflingers there to start riding! And lots of young ones to spend time with ground driving and teaching ground manners. And lots of adorable foals to play with!

And among that herd of broodmares and foals was the sweetest little stallion named Wayne that I just fell head over heels for!! Grandpa didn't own him, a friend of his down the road did. But Hank had two stallions, and after Wayne and Barney got loose together one time, Wayne got shipped down to Grandpa's barn to stay. Breeding Grandpa's mares to pay for his keep. lol!

It was also during this time that I started working at Scheid's Quarter Horses. Cleaning stalls and taking care of their horses. Most of the show horses lived with the trainer. But the barn was always full of youngsters not yet ready to enter training, embryo transfer mares carrying new foals to come, and Mindy, the old retired show mare that ruled the roost, still kickin', literally, at 25 years old. But many great memories there too. Teaching the youngsters manners. Gentling the usually half wild embryo transfer mares, and fussing over the foals when they were born. Sometimes lunging the youngsters or show horses when they were home. Taking old Mindy for a trail ride from time to time. And when Rita came home in semi retirement, getting paid to take her for trail rides, to keep her in shape between shows. Wow, getting to ride Scotch Margarita! Talk about riding a cadillac!!!! And if you don't know who Scotch Margarita is, well, she's only the second highest points earning mare in the history of the AQHA, and recently became a member of the AQHA Hall of Fame!! And they paid me to ride her!!!! Many great memories there. And hard ones too, that taught me the harsher side of being around horses. Lady's sick foal who we lost at a month old. Losing a broodmare a few hours after birth and having an orphaned foal. Having to help the vet put another mare down due to severe colic and a twisted gut who had a two month old foal at her side. As hard as those lessons were, I guess it's good to see the ups and the downs before you venture into horse ownership.

But now back to the Haflingers and that sweet little stallion I was so in love with. I was determined to ride him and finally got permission to start him under saddle. And very shortly after that, Wayne's owner ended up having to sell him, and so finally began my journey into owning a horse of my very own!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hmmmm.......so I have a blog!

Hmmmm......so I have a blog now for my life with horses.  So many stories to tell and so many more yet to come.  Lots of ups and downs, and the roller coaster always continues.  So bear with me while I figure things out, and find time to write (as wedding plans are in full swing right now).  lol!