Sunday, August 31, 2008

A day at the Fair

My husband and I visited his parents in Saint Albans. His father is a police officer and got a few free tickets to the Champlain Valley Fair. They asked us if we'd like a couple. "Ummm.. ehh.." said my husband.
"Oh, yes please. We'd love to go!", I said.
"Ok, if I can have fried dough.", he said.

When we arrived, we were conveniently parked next to the 4H horse show. "Only one class, I promise." We may have been the only non-parents in the crowd. I impressed my husband by predicting with high accuracy which youngsters and horses would receive ribbons. I also regaled him with stories of my 4H days.

"Ok, let's get going.", he insisted.

At the fair proper I gleefully walked my husband though ALL the agricultural and handcraft exhibits. I absorbed the nuances of the bonsais and flower arrangements, while my husband wondered when we'd get to a fried dough stand. I marveled at the labor that went into the quilts on exhibit. I nudged and winked at my husband over the giant zucchini.

I've been reading about keeping chickens. So next I eagerly marched us through the chicken barn. After the cows and sheep, I was wondering why there was no pig barn. However, we had run out of ag exhibits. We had $16 in our pockets. While I looked at each food stand to find the oddest thing I could eat (I selected a South African food stand), my husband finally got his fried dough.

Next weekend I'd like to go to the state fair in Rutland. I see the Mounties will be doing their Musical Ride!

And I'm sure there will be fried dough...

New animal cruelty reporting system for Vermont

I learned by reading the FHotD blog that Vermonters can use this new website,, to report cases of animal cruelty, online or by telephone.

The new reporting system is supported by local Humane Societies and police departments.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Adventures in babysitting

Remember the movie?

Some days I babysit the barn in exchange for a riding lesson. This Sunday was one of those days.

The morning feeding went smoothly. I took Huey out solo for a woodland ride as I'd planned. The woods were quiet and cool. But our ride took about an hour, not including tacking.
"Whinny?", said Armani as I headed to my car.

"No problem. I'll ride you when I come back in the afternoon."

That afternoon I mixed up dinner. I began bringing inside the horses who need to eat separately. Then I started doling out feed.

"Whinny! WHINNY!" said Armani. I brought him his food and found that he had taken the hot-tape down between his pasture and the next. "Well, that's typical, Armani. Not enough grass where you were?"

Next I went to feed the "boys". They are three bouncy 2-4 year olds, who's brains haven't quite caught up with their size. One of them had decided to go for a swim in the stock tank... again... So I hooked up the hose.

Then I went to fix Armani's pasture. I searched in the grass and found 3 of the 10 or so missing tape snaps. "Armani, what were you thinking? These have tooth marks on them?!" I walked along the fence, untangling the tape and snapping it back up.

"Murble-burble!" said Armani. And of course he loves to help! So with his help, it took twice as long as it should.

Then I headed back to check the boys' water. It wasn't filling. I walked back along the hose - no kinks. Until I got into the barn and found that the isle had become a wading pool. The water was squirting out between two pieces of hose. A stream gurgled down the isle into a stall. The Big-Chestnut was happily paddling his feet in the puddle in his stall and dunking pieces of hay. "Well, I'm glad I could supply your evening entertainment!", I said.

I cleaned everything up and ran water to where it was supposed to be. At 8pm I was headed to my car. Armani reminded me that I'd forgotten to ride him, "WHINNY! WHIIIIIIINY!"

Tubby Time

Mom and I gave our boys a bath. As I predicted, Huey was already very familiar with bath time. The nice thing about off-the-track horses is they've seen a lot of vets, vehicles, and hoses. (On the flip side, trail riding in the great outdoors is a new experience.) After Huey was done Mom took him outside to dry in the sun.

Armani was afraid of hoses when I first got him. He tolerates baths now. But he is a little too fidgety for me to take a picture while washing. After he was done we joined Mom and Huey outside. She took this picture of me and the boys. This is probably the cleanest they'll be for a month or two...I'm holding both boys at once, with lush grass all around us. I can sympathize with one of those two headed turtles!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Horseless Friday: Berries!

I do a horseless post every Friday. This Friday my husband and I went berry picking in our backyard. Berries come in two types: yummy and yucky. We check our field guide so we can tell them apart!

Yummy berries

Raspberries grow by our pond.

Blackberries have been growing so profusely that we plan to brush hog this fall.We found 10 blueberry bushes when we moved in. I was so good not to eat any. This year we have twice as many. Still not as many as we'd like. I must resist the temptation!

Elderberries have a bitter, minty taste that isn't appreciated as much today. In the days of our great grandparents they were enjoyed as jelly, syrup, and wine. Maybe I should try using them in a recipe.
Yucky Berries

Nightshade is poisonous but pretty. They look like little tomatoes because they are the same family. But I still wouldn't eat them.
Bush Honeysuckle is invasive. It's listed some places as poisonous. I don't think the berries are very toxic because as a kid I dared my brother to eat a bunch. He is pretty normal today...
Baneberry is supposed to be quite toxic. However they are very beautiful.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We jump a jump!

Today I jumped Armani over his first "official" jump. I'd been talking about jumping him for a while. He's actually very good at jumping... out of his pasture...

We were trotting poles today and all of the sudden I just decided, "Let's jump!" I dismounted and Armani helped me carry the standards over. Well he walked along and watched me carry them. It's very novel to watch your human do all the work for a change. I set up a small X rail with a ground line and a trotting pole. He nudged the X rails, "Why are these like this?"

I trotted him around it and finally over it. He perked up his ears. He sort of jumped and sort of took it in a stride. We did more dressage for a couple minutes. Then another jump. Repeat. He began looking hopefully at the jump every time we passed it."Can we do that? It's more fun than this dressage thing." I think he enjoys it!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Horseless Friday (Oops make that Saturday) - a visit to our Humane Society

This is a day late and perhaps a dollar short. I missed doing my usual horseless post this Friday.

Mom and I had a nice ride with the boys today. After that I cleaned up at home, grabbed my devoted horse-husband, and we went to the Springfield Humane Society.

"There's only room for one on this blanket!"

My cat, Scout, who we call "Baby", made me promise not to bring anyone home. We have two cats, Scout and Sprite. Baby says she'd prefer to be the only cat in the house. She'd rather not have to share her bed, sunshine, and humans, and she occasionally has to remind Sprite.

So we visited the animal shelter to renew our membership and leave a donation. No new cats, I promise, Baby!

"Can I come home with you?"
My husband and I really liked "Ginger". She had a quiet, gentle sweetness. Maybe she wouldn't push Baby's buttons.
"Buttons already pushed! NO, Mom!"

"Hello, are your bookshelves a mess? Do you need any bookends?"

Well, let's see, there are so many more cats... Here are the twins, Marco and Matthew. The folks at the shelter call them the "Brat Brothers" because they love to run around together and get involved in everything.
"Oh, no. Don't even think it, Mom. Looks like double trouble to me!"

Ok, Baby. I promise, no cats stowed away in my purse. I was only visiting, I swear. Please let my cashmere sweater go. We'll just stick with visiting and fundraisers.

Baby and I will miss the Annual Paws Around Town Walk this year because I'll be at a horse show. But I'd love to bring Armani to the Freddy Pelland Memorial Ride.

If only I had my own horse trailer... Honey?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Should I worry?

Here is my mother and her twin.

I asked her, "Did you notice you and Huey match today?"
"Oh of course", she said, "I picked this shirt out at Penney's to match this saddle pad."

Should I worry if my mother thinks her twin is an 1000 pound horse?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Armani's little sister

Armani's little sister was born just before I went on vacation. Here she is now, at just a few weeks old. Armani is the oldest of 5 on his mother's side. This little one will probably be the last or second to last as his mother is getting ready to retire. Littlest-sister here is a real rugrat. See the shavings on her face and the milk on her whiskers? She's very rambunctious and has already figured out how to run through her handler and duck under the fence. Sounds a lot like a certain big brother.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympics on NBC - TV schedule

Click here for the TV schedule You can also watch online, click here for the online information.

I watched the first segment on TV. There was only about a half-hour of dressage coverage in the middle of the 12 hour segment, which showed around 5 rides. Is the online footage more comprehensive? My internet connection is snail-speed, so I haven't checked it out. Let me know!

Huey is Mr. Mom

Huey's got a new job! The Sweet-old-Appy sadly passed away last week. So there was a vacancy in the baby-sitter department. Huey has gladly accepted the position. Huey is being a happy homemaker with his two charges, Armani's young half-brothers. They are enjoying a very large pasture, with a willow tree and a fish pond. Sweet-old-Appy was laid to rest there, so I like to imagine she's watching over the family. Huey lets the boys play with him, as long as they are respectful. This afternoon, I caught them galloping around playing tag. If they get too far away he whinnies and they trot back. Perhaps Huey dreams he is a family band stallion, nurturing the younger generation?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Saddles, we don't need no stinking saddles.

Huey's abscess is looking much better now. The swelling is mostly gone and the puncture is filling in nicely. We haven't been able to ride him since before our vacation. Although he was ridden by my instructor twice last week. I'm sure he doesn't object to the extra attention without all the work.

But last night my instructor said, jokingly I think, "You know you could just hop on him bareback with a halter." Well, I suppose technically there was nothing preventing me from using a saddle, since the abcess is on his cheek. I hadn't ridden bareback since I was a teenager. I used to hand-gallop my OTTB in the back fields with just a halter and lead rope. I remember how her back moved like a piston and feeling like I was a part of every breath and stride. My mother was horrified. "You did?!!!"
"Ya, mom. But only when you weren't around of course."

Suddenly, I felt dared to do it. Could I regain my teenage wild exuberance? I walked him down to the safety of the indoor arena. So much for fields of grass. Huey turned to look at me. "Are you forgetting something?" he seemed to ask.

"I suppose I need a mounting block." I said. Huey started to wander away from the block to nibble on a hanging longe whip. "Maybe you better hold him." I told mom. I had to hold onto his withers with both hands to get aboard, but I still almost slipped right off the other side. "Umm... Why don't I lead him first while you get your seat?" Mom suggested.

After about 5 minutes, I started to feel more comfortable. I could feel each breath Huey took, waves of muscle under his hide, every foot lifting off and setting down. I convinced mom I could take the lead rope myself now. I finally let go of my death grip on his mane, "Wee this is as much fun as I remember!" We calming walked around the arena for another 5 minutes. "Thank you for being such a good boy, Huey. I guess I've bored you enough for today." We went in for a long grooming session and snacks. So much for galloping through green waves of grass!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Huey's feeling better!

The vet visited Huey this morning. Huey's pasture mate is off the hook. The prognosis is an infected puncture wound from a twig, not a kick. Huey will take antibiotics to help clear up the infection. The vet suggested that I keep up the hot compresses, to see if it would draw out any of the infection. This evening I applied a hot washcloth and epsom salt again. A lot of smelly, yellow puss oozed out. I think that's a good thing. Better out than still in Huey? Huey's a very patient patient. He never complained. When I turned him back out in the pasture, he galloped and cavorted with his friend. I'm happy to see he's feeling well!

Armani and I had a very good ride today. We went down the road past lawn mowers, trucks dragging ATVs on trailers, and through a tent city set up by the neighbor's children. He was back to his usual self. When he senses something might be scary, he turns an ear back to me to ask, "Should I worry?". He was reassured by "It's OK, Armani." and a pat on the withers. Then we trotted around a field of tall grass. Our instructor recommended we do that to help him build up strength and coordination. He was game for that as well and whipped out that Morgan trot. Finally we went home where his supper and carrots were waiting.

Photos from the beach

A plover hunts in tide pools. Perhaps a birder can tell me what species?

A seagull walks in the sea spray. It was a sunny day, but the breeze whipped up sea spray so thick we felt like we were swimming just by walking on the sand.
A Lion's Mane Jellyfish swims underwater. This one was about 5inches in diameter. We thought they were very beautiful to watch, like swimming flowers... as long as we didn't get too close.

Oops! My husband got too close.
A male Fiddler Crab fiddling away. Lucky for him he's too small for my supper!

We enjoyed walking on the beach after hours. There's only one thing wrong with this picture... no horses!

We watched the sunset over Long Beach Island's bay on our last day.

Brillante award

The blog Grey Horse Matters very kindly honored me with a "Brillante" award. I'm absolutely delighted! Thank you! The rules state that a should pass this award to 7 other blogs. I regret to admit that I haven't read that many! It's true; I'm probably the last person to discover blogs. Until about 6 months ago, I hadn't even read a single blog. But I now enjoy reading a bunch. So I'd like thank these bloggers for their blogs.

* Grey Horse Matters - I'm eagerly reading about the two Arabians she's just adopted. She also posts advice topics, most recently on selecting the right trainer.
* Behind the Bit - This very informative blog offers educational tidbits on a huge variety of horse topics.
* Fugly Horse of the Day - Probably one of the most outspoken horse bloggers. I usually agree with her, but I'm always interested in what she has to say. I've also been enjoying her blog devoted to training her colt and other horsies.
* Pony Girl and "My Boy" go on the most scenic trail rides. Her skills as a photographer greatly exceed mine! And it helps that "My Boy" is awfully cute.


I'll post the rules of this award below. I know at least a couple of you have already been awarded. But consider yourself saluted!

Here are the rules:

1. Put the Logo on your blog

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you

3. Nominate 7 fellow bloggers for this award

4. Add Links to the recipients

5. Leave a comment to recipients or email them to let them know they have an award

I'm back!

I'll be posting some pics from vacation soon.

Mom and I went to checkup on our boys yesterday. Our instructor took each of them out twice for training, so they wouldn't be too bored while we were gone. Plus she found two students who wanted to try them each in lessons. An adult lady rider absolutely loved Huey during her lesson. She asked if our instructor could help her find a similar horse.

Unfortunately, poor Huey has an abscess in his cheek. We think his pasture mate kicked him and he bit the inside of his cheek. It must have happened some time after Saturday's afternoon feeding. I applied a hot washcloth with epsom salt to his cheek for 20 minutes. The vet visited him this morning and I will get the details later today. I hope we can help him feel better quickly.

A teenager whose horse is laid-up borrowed Armani for two lessons. She liked him under saddle, but he was very pushing with her on the ground. I'm a little disappointed that he was disrespectful of an unfamiliar handler. I've been working very consistently with him on ground manners. However, when I first got him he displayed very dominant behavior. He's quite bright, so I wonder if he decided the "rules" don't apply to a "new" handler.

I rode him yesterday and he felt more forward and consistent, a testament to our instructor's work. However, he tried to test me under saddle. While on a 20m circle, he tried to take the bit and run in the opposite direction. I was able to quickly correct it, without much fuss. However, he hasn't tested me that strongly in 6 months. I think since I was gone he wondered if we might "renegotiate" our relationship? Or perhaps he was unhappy about my absence or the unfamiliar riders he'd had? He's always shown signs of being a “one rider” kind of horse. Have you had a similar experience? What do you think the horse was feeling?