Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fixed It and a Question for You

These days this is what greets me each morning as I wake up and look out the window.  It's Bob waiting for me at the gate.  I open the window to wish Bob a Good Morning.  I'm greeted in return with a low nicker/whinny from a horse that six days ago ran away from me in fright when I approached him.

Once I'm dressed I head out to halter Bob up and move him into the "summer pasture" to graze.  I practice groundwork with Bob each morning before, during and after our trip, same on the return. 

Bob now stands quietly when I go to halter and handle him.  And (melt my heart) comes to his name when I go to catch him in the evenings.  Today I started taking him on my morning walks.

My next step is riding Bob, here at home.  I've...just...gotta...ride...I can't stay off.  Like many of you, I need my fix....But I'm uncertain about doing that...And this is where I need your help.

On a different horse, I rode alone for years and loved it.  But I'm older and this isn't that horse...these days my biggest issue is getting on.  Once I'm on I'm fine, but it's that commitment of swinging my leg over the saddle that zaps my confidence - so:

Do you ride alone by yourself - without anybody within earshot should there be an issue?

If so, do you have a "safety plan" should something go wrong?

And Beeeel...you are right...thank you.  I'm back.  :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fixing It, Day 2

This morning dawned sunny but cold. I came out to start my journey of "Fixing It".   Gus was asleep in Bob's old pasture.

Frost on the hitching post where the sun had yet to hit.

Bob was nowhere to be found. Probably in the loafing shed around back eating.

I called his name...

...and he walked up to the gate.

Today Bob was a different horse.  He remained where he stood when I approached him to put on his rope halter.  His eyes were soft and he was focused on me.  So different than yesterday.

I gave him a good grooming.  We took a walk out to the back pasture that used to be Gus's, now Bob's.  The pasture needs a break.  I will need to put Bob on the summer pasture to graze until spring rolls around. 

There in the back pasture we went through the ground work exercises that have helped me with other horses in the past.  It didn't take long for Bob to give that big, slobbering sigh.  With that sigh I led him to the summer pasture, stopping and backing up periodically along the way.

"Mom!  There are buffalo across the fence!!"

"Shouldn't we go sort them?"

"Well...maybe I'll just graze instead."

Tonight I put Bob's dinner in his stall before going out to catch him.  He once again moved away from me when I got close.  I moved a bit to his side and continued towards him.  He stood quietly while I haltered him back up.  As I finish this Post look who watches me through the window.

There is more work to come.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fixing It

With my shoer due in a few hours, I looked out this morning to see Bob eating hay in his loafing shed off of the barn.  Since he usually spends most of his day away from the barn up at the other end of the field, I figured that I'd catch him close to the barn now and save myself the extra (muddy) walk later.

Out I went recently showered and wearing clean clothes.  When I went into the loafing shed with Bob's halter, he allowed me to come close but then spun away and galloped across the muddy field up to the far end.

I wasn't pleased, but I also wasn't surprised.  Bob has never been a hard horse to catch but ever since we lost Poco he's been unsettled.  And with the holidays and then the weather, I've been more of a hands-off owner than a hands-on one.  In the last month I'd noted that each time I try to approach Bob in the loafing shed during feeding time he has backed away.  Recently he has started to run away.  And I've let him get away with it. 

Today it caught up with me.

Off I plodded through the mud and water to where Bob stood watching me.  I'd be darned, clean clothes or not, if I was going to let this go any further.  It was time to fix it.

I was able to slip the lead rope over Bob's neck but his twitching body told me that I was lucky to get that far.  As I slipped the halter over his nose and went to buckle it behind his ears, he started to pull away.  I replied with, "No, you don't."  And with that the halter was secure.

But I had a nervous, unfocused horse on my hands.  Head high, Bob was looking anywhere and everywhere for something to spook at.  The last thing I wanted was for him to jerk away from me as we walked back to the barn, knowing I'd surely slip in the mud and probably fall down. 

So with freezing, soaking feet I decided to go through some groundwork steps and set the tone before we moved on.  It took awhile but eventually he settled down and focused on me instead of anything and everything around me.  I could tell by his slobbering sigh (which I adore) and body language that we were in a better "place". 

As we walked back to the barn I kicked myself for allowing things to get to this level.  I knew I had to address this behavior before it got worse.  I made the decision right then and there to commit to bringing Bob back to me as the partner I knew last summer.  I knew if this behavior went further it would impact my future rides and life with Bob. 

This must be fixed.

Securing Bob to the hitching post, I moved Gus into Bob's middle pasture where he will now eat out of Bob's loafing shed.  Closing the gate to the back pasture, I secured Bob's new home, the riding area (that is outside my office window) with access to the back loafing shed (that Gus was previously using).

Turning Bob out in the riding area with his new shoes, he seemed content to be in a more contained area.  I spent the next hour along his fence line, picking up tree limbs (I seem to spend a lot of time these days doing that).  Bob hung around with me, not the same horse that ran away a few hours earlier...but still a horse that needs my hand on him more than I've recently allowed.

I'm fixing it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Special Place

I've spent a lot of time at home due to the challenging weather.  Our road resembled water that had been poured over ice cubes and then re-frozen resulting in many a car meeting their fate.  Not being a fan of driving in snow and ice, I decided staying home would be best until all the "hoop-laa" died down. 

I had no idea that it would take 7 days for things to clear up.  I don't think I've ever remained grounded in one place for that long (unless I was sick).  I would have surely had cabin fever if I didn't have My Special Place to turn to.  And where was that?

The tack room in my barn.

Retiring from my professional career two years ago to work part time for a technical consulting company was a once in a life-time opportunity.  But I'd need an office to work out of.

The tack room in the barn had heat so it was a logical choice. 

But to me it was the only choice.  After working in a large office building for 30+ years, the idea of taking my dog to work with me and being surrounded by the wonderful smells and sights of horse gear was absolutely the coolest!

To be able to walk out my "office" door and into the barn, steps away from placing my hands on a horse was an amazing thought!

Every piece of tack has a special memory associated with a horse from the past or the present.  It also represents horses of our future; including the horse we will purchase to replace our dear, sweet Poco.

The view from my office window looks out on my riding area, the trailer and distant fields.

I even get visitors! 

There's something about coming out here that thrills me each time I walk in the door.  I always return to the house feeling refreshed and happy after spending time in My Special Place.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Good Hurt

That's me last summer, my first sorting with Bob.  I had a blast but when it was all over, I hurt - a Good Hurt.

Today dawned sunny, the first time in almost two weeks.  Hank and I headed down the road for our morning walk without slipping and sliding.  The sun was so warm that I was hot in my jacket.  I felt the early (very early) spring!

As I passed all the downed limbs and branches from the ice storm, I knew that today would be a great day to tackle them. 

And that's exactly what I did.

I pulled and hauled limbs and branches.  I raked and piled.  Although I didn't get finished, the end result was a driveway where Hank and I can once again safely throw the ball.  I finished as the pink sun was setting, pleased with the results.

Tonight I hurt a Good Hurt.  I relish the feeling because it speaks of accomplishment and reminds me of the great day I had.  And although the world around me isn't exactly as it once was, the Good Hurt tells me that today, I made a positive difference.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ice Storm, Day 4: Power and Clean Up

The snow, which then turned to ice on Thursday still looked like hard frosting in the yard and pasture yesterday.

The power "people" are having a hard time trying to repair broken lines with ice still on the ground.  BUT last night around 10PM I looked out the front window and instead of pitch black, I saw some lights in the distance!  We checked and indeed, we had power!  However, as I write this Post, the people behind us don't have power, nor do many of the (entire) towns in our area.

Our driveway was covered with limbs and branches.  We spent most of today trying to clean it up.  This is where I like to throw the ball for Hank.  He loves to fly down the hill after the ball.

But there are pieces of branches that have been impaled into the ground, some are 6 - 8" down and hard to pull out.  Until I'm sure they are all removed, there can't be any ball throwing in this area.

It seems like every branch has a sharpness to it.

Looking down our drive and the results of our efforts to clean today.

Looking up the drive and the work still left to do.

The paddock where I ride... 

Lots of work to do before I can ride in there...

We will try to save what we can of this plum tree.  It provides such great morning shade in the summer.

Just as this tree has provided such great shade on summer afternoons...

As I have been writing this Post my husband has been making sure that all the tools we used in the last 4 days are ready to go again at a moment's notice.  The weather forecast tonight is for 50 mph winds with another storm coming in on Tuesday with even higher winds.  With so many broken branches hanging in trees (some of them are huge), we could very likely lose our power once more.  Not sure we're finished with our weather challenges.

Liebster Blog Award

Thank you Story @ http://allgearnoskill.blogspot.com for the above award (I hope I followed the directions correctly on what I'm supposed to do)!

I'm told Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. Here are the rules:

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog
2. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award
3. Pick your five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs






I had a hard time making choices - there are so many great Blogs out there that I enjoy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ice Storm, Day 3: Getting Creative with What You Have

When it gets to the third day without power one gets creative:

My current kitchen.  Even has chairs for guests!

We call these "the twins".  They've given us power for a few lights, fridge and freezer, the TV and internet.  A larger generator, which we call "Big Wally", has been set up to run the pump for our Well, but only on a periodic basis.

We use an open window in the family room to feed power into the house from "the Twins", sealing the crack in the window with Duct Tape (of course)!

Electrical cords running into the family room from the window.  This is how we have kept warm.  Initially it's hard to keep remembering to bring in wood or add it to the stove.  But as the days progress it becomes second nature. 

The snapping of trees put all of our animals on edge and phone calls from neighbors reflect frightened "stray" animals showing up on doorsteps.  Hank has barely left my side for the last three days.  Gus and Bob have been safe inside their stalls.

The cords from "the Twins" run into the kitchen where they connect to the fridge and a lamp from the living room which provides light at night.

This is the end of the road for the power cords from "the Twins", arriving in the dining room, where I've set up my laptop.  I actually worked here Thursday, completing a short notice project while trees snapped around us.  Note Hank the Dog under the table, sticking close to me.

As I finish this Post I can hear the generators and chain saws outside.  Neighbors are lending a hand to fellow neighbors, including my husband, out there helping move tree limbs off our road.  That's the way of it up here, you hunker down until the danger is past, then go out and help each other. 

There is word of a "sighting", which means a power truck has been spotted in our area.  Word passes from farm to farm. 

Hopes rise that help is near.  Maybe if we're lucky, tonight we can take a shower, do laundry, cook in our (real) kitchen and listen to the lovely sound of the furnace heating the entire house.  If not, that's ok - we'll get by just fine.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ice Storm Day 2: As the Ice Melts










Our Special Tree - Before