Monthly Archives: January 2016

It’s Only Make Believe

Oh yes, another oldie but goodie song from my youth.  Which today seems like forever ago.  Hate getting old.  Never believed it would happen to me, of all people.

When I was writing the Post about checking under the blankets, it hit me; they are “Artificial Aids” also.  Funny never thought of them like that before.

We talk about Aids and Artificial Aids that we use in riding, and training, but a blanket?  Well in the wild God doesn’t supply “blankets” so to speak.  Horses grow long thick coats to keep them warm.  If they do get cold, they run around a little to heat themselves up.  Smart, right?  So once again us humans step in and try to make it better.  So we shave their natural protection off of them, put them in a warm?? barn, and blanket them.  So here they stand naked as a jay bird (have no idea where that saying came from) forced to stand still, and possibly have to shiver to keep warm.  I know, I know, they have to look pretty and be easy for us to take care of.  It’s all about us again.  So now the blankets are on and we believe they will be fine until spring.

But a blanket does not act or react like their natural coat.  It makes the hair lay flat.  We’ve always been told to layer when we go out.  It helps to hold the heat in.  Well that’s what their hair does naturally.  Their hair is made to lay flat or fluff according to their needs.  If it’s hot, it lays flat.  If it’s cold it fluffs up and traps the heat of their body under the long hairs to keep them warm.  But if they have a blanket on and get warm, they can’t take it off, they have to wait for us to come and help them remove it.  Although I’ve had some horses which do that just fine in one way or another.  Be mindful of the temps and remove that thing before they over heat.  Most destruction of a blanket is caused by them not wanting it on.  They either have an itch under there that they can’t get at, or it’s too hot and they want it off.  This is not Rocket Science 101.

A blanket also gets to rubbing on certain areas of the body.  Especially areas like the point of shoulder, where the skin is close to the bone with no natural padding.  So being we impose this unnatural article of clothing onto their bodies, we are ultimately responsible for taking the time to make sure that everything we’ve caused is rectified.

This wasn’t supposed to be just about blankets, but it sure has led in that direction.

I do put sheets and blankets on my horses.  The coat they get in the winter here in Florida, is not the coat they used to get up north.  They grow coats according to the day light hours, not the temperature.  It’s also the drastic change in temperature that we react to.  It will be 85 and then boom, 40 degrees, and surprise, back to 75, down to 28.  My horses have an extensive wardrobe, but we depend a lot on the weatherman to give us a heads up.  It’s the only job in the world that you can be wrong every single day, still get paid and not get fired if you are wrong.  (Sounds like big government in Washington)  Every channel you listen too has a different idea of what the weather is going to be.  My neighbor and I, last year, decided to keep a record of what they said it would be, what we thought it would be, and what really happened.  We won most of the time.

So I walk out the door, look to the sky and make a decision.  I can’t go by, if I’m cold they’re cold, because I’m always cold.

Well I have to end here because I’m going to go and apply for a job as weathergirl.  I can certainly get paid for being wrong, just as well as they can.  My guess is as good as theirs.

I will continue the Artificial Aids thing another time.  Keep an eye to the sky, if you get wet, it’s going to rain.  How am I doing so far?

Let’s Get Together, Yeah, Yeah,Yeah

This was written a month ago and everything is going smooth now.

Okay so here’s another song from my childhood.  It was in the original “Parent Trap” movie with Haley Mills.  I guess it was back in the 50’s, you know, the “Good Old Days.”  My cousin and I used to sing that song.  But there is a different story behind it when you are trying to introduce a new member to the herd.  Especially one who is very opinionated.

I stress more than the horses do when I try to introduce a new horse.  This isn’t the energy you want when you are making introductions.

We all know there is a pecking order in the herd.  Usually I worry about where this new horse is going to fit into that order.  I also am concerned for the safety of all involved.  I certainly don’t want anyone hurt, they do that well enough all by themselves, for no good reason.  There are hoofs flying, and teeth showing.  It’s not always the biggest that wins.  Usually everyone loses.  I thought this one would be a little easier since I was introducing a gelding into a herd of three mares (snobs).

My preference is making introductions in the morning.  This way they have all day to figure things out, and I can watch them.  The discussion between them usually takes hours of give and take, hooves, and teeth.

Last nights party began an hour before dark.  So at 9:00 last night I was still sitting in the pasture, on a mounting block, to make sure all was going to be quiet for the night.  Everyone was well exercised and tired, so a truce was called for the evening.  It’s like when we were kids.  You called a time-out only to return to the game the next day.

Well the sun is up.  I did not hear the thundering of hooves over night (with my bed bouncing across the floor), no one jumped the fence (and was looking in my window this morning), all seemed quiet.  I have two mares and a gelding standing under the trees by the house and only my Zoey is standing on the opposite end of the pasture, under a tree by herself.  She is not going to give in that easy.  She’s my hold out.  She’s like me.  She hates change.  Those were her two girlfriends, and now the boy has taken their attention and broken up “That Old Gang Of Mine.”  Only those of you who are long in the tooth will remember that song.

You all know that the expression “Long In The Tooth” with its meaning of a horse having some age on him.  When people used to look to buy a horse, they would first look at their teeth to determine the horses age.  I remember when I used to go to the horse sales as a kid, everything was a 9 year old.  Until you looked in their mouth and realized that this particular horse hadn’t seen 9 in years.  Anyway, when people would describe an older person they would use the old horsey term “Long In the Tooth” instead of saying he/she is older than dirt.  Now back to our regularly schedule program.

I hope that Zoey will give in and rejoin the herd today.  My guess is that as soon as she does the gelding’s old girlfriend will arrive and I’ll have to pull him out of this herd and move him to another pasture with her, and then I’ll have to listen to the racket of screaming separation anxiety all over again.

Some people don’t care.  Just throw them together and let them get over it.  That’s not who I am.  The last time this horse came in (he’s back), I put him in a different pasture and he kept jumping out, taking top boards with him.  And when he couldn’t see the horse next door, he paced the fence line all day and half the night.  You can have trench warfare in this one.  My husband just bought new boards, and the trench is just starting to fill in.  The horse next door (his old flame), has gone across the Rainbow Bridge, which he doesn’t know yet and probably won’t believe.

So here I sit back at square one again.  Neither the horses nor I need to be stressed, but it’s part of the game we call owning a Boarding Barn.  Boarders come and go, the names and breeds may change, but the confusion goes on forever.

First Aid kit in hand, hammer, nails and boards loaded, buckets of grain ready.  Let the games begin.

In Case You Didn’t Notice – Winter Has Arrived

Yes, a lot of us got away with warmer temperatures for a good long time, but I hate to break the news to you all, Winter is here.

My horses, here in Florida, are starting to shed.  Not a good plan.  The trees and bushes are budding, and my Easter Lilies are up and getting ready to bloom.  Boy are they in for a shock.

I always bring to your attention that you must oil your clips, check your blankets, prepare your water pipes, but do you think I remembered to do all of that?  Ugh!!!

We weren’t expecting a freeze as of the morning weather forecast, but boy did they surprise us last night with a “Possible Freeze Warning.”  Now when you are up north, it’s just par for the course.  You expect it and prepare (I hope).  Down here when you’ve been having beautiful weather (above normal temperatures) you just think it’s going to continue.  Then surprise!!!  You’ve got an hour to remember all the things you’ve forgotten to do.  Plants come in the house or garage.  Water faucets get turned on to keep them from freezing.  (We don’t insulate them down here, we don’t have to.  Yeah right.)  But what I forgot to do was oil my clips.  Most of them were free and working when I washed the blankets this summer, but you always get one in the crowd.  So as I’m putting the leg strap on, with my nose dripping and my gloves on, trying to hurry to get in before frost bite sets in, (only kidding, but when you are used to 85 degrees 45 seems cold) the one stupid clip on the leg strap was not going to move, no matter how ugly I got.  So I grabbed a double ended clip and got the job done for the night.  Love those things.  They fall into the category of Duct Tape, Masking Tape, and Bale Cord.  No barn should be without them. Old timers used to say “chewing gum and bail wire.”

It’s really odd down here.  It feels like 40 degrees when it’s 60, and when it’s below 40 it feels like 20.  It has something to do with the dampness.  It just goes right through to your bones.  I wear as much clothes down here when it’s 40 as I did when it was 20 up north.  I think your blood thins too.  Not quite sure.

So this morning, armed with WD 40 I attacked the clip.  It was just stopped up with sand in it.  No big deal, took hardly anytime, but that is also because it was pushing 60 degrees at that point.  Life is always better when the sun is out and there is no North wind.

We didn’t get the expected freeze last night, but tonight is going to be another story.  But unlike last night, tonight I will be expecting it and prepared.

Why is it that no matter how prepared we think we are, we’re really not?

Just a quick reminder.  Now that the blankets are on, don’t forget to remove them and check what’s underneath.  Make sure your horse isn’t being rubbed raw, and that he isn’t losing weight.  Besides it always feels so good when you removed something tight and get to rub or scratch the area.  Don’t forget they feel the same way too.  Even if it’s cold, take that blanket off and give them a good curry every once in a while.  Air the blanket out and look for any problems.  Don’t wait until spring when you may find something you could have prevented.

Spring is coming.  The days are getting longer.  Just hold on.  I know, it’s easy for me to say.  But seriously, it has to come at some point.  Right?  Okay, so go back into hibernation, but don’t forget the four-legged critters.  They’re depending on you.

Just Leave It At The Gate

Leave it all behind.  I know that comes from a song, but I can’t remember which one.  Once again, I hate being stupid (I’m not old).

I was having a discussion with one of my friends (student) the other day.  The first time she called we scheduled a lesson,  the second time she called me, I could hear the stress in her voice, she was calling to cancel our lesson, she was too stressed to ride.  Bells, whistles, and sirens went off in my head.  This woman really needed to be here.  Not to ride, just to be here.

I love my property and horses.  They are healers.  As it says on the first page of my web site. ” When you come down the hill, leave all your cares behind you.”  She was thanking me for insisting that she come that day.  Now whether she rides or not, she comes to have some horsey healing time.  I told her that it wasn’t a come-on to get her to take lessons, I felt her pain and knew we could help.  If she wanted a lesson, that’s fine.  If she just wanted to brush a horse, that is also fine.  I guess this is a new ministry road that God has me on.

Well I got my new copy of Riding Instructors magazine today, and guess what?  Others agree with me.  Instructors I don’t even know feel the same way.  The article was about leaving all your cares on the other side of the gate.  I have advocated that for years with adults that come to ride after work.  You can’t drag the baggage from the day down that hill and place it on a horse.  It’s actually dangerous.

This article was written by Kim Carter.  It’s about what she wants to inscribe on her farm gates.   “Let everything go as you enter.  Relax your pace.  Forget the frenzy of scheduling that you live in every day.  Let yourself be.  Don’t think everything has to be perfect.  Give yourself permission to get dirty.”  I’d like to add – just stay in the moment and enjoy this time.  We are so intent on doing things, both for us and others, that we aren’t kind to ourselves.  We are not at peace.

There is a Christian book named “Being a Mary in a Martha world.”  If you are familiar with Mary and Martha from the Bible you know what I am talking about.  Martha was literally a “Martha Stewart” person.  That would be me.  Always preparing and taking care of business.  Where as Mary sat at Jesus feet and listened.  Sometimes we just have to sit quietly and listen instead of doing.  The doing will always be there, it just doesn’t go away.  I’ve been waiting for good fairies to come and help with house chores since the grandchildren were little.  One did show up Christmas Eve and help with the dishes, and I just got to sit and be.  It was the best Christmas present ever.

I know I’ve said this before.  When you go to the barn to be with your horse, do just that – be with your horse.  Leave all your cares and projects, you know, that “To Do List”, behind.  Be nice to yourself, be at peace.

Okay here’s a song “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”  After all, this is the time of year for “Peace on Earth.”  According to the news lately, there isn’t a lot of that out there.  So it’s up to you to start it where you are.  Maybe it will spread.  You just never know, but your horse sure will.