Thursday, December 11, 2014

As I Was Cleaning Stalls Today...

...I laughed at how having horses stalled at night is not the end of the world!  Here's some bright spots:

     *How therapeutic I find the job.  It seems all my senses open up when I'm working out or around the barn.  The sounds of the breeze, birds, horses, etc., are like a chorus of joy to my soul.  I always walk back into the house feeling good.  I find I enjoy doing this task first thing in the morning, before coffee or breakfast.  It's a great way to start a day.

     *We've had an unusual number of wind storms and heavy rains.  It's a good feeling to know "The Boys" are tucked into the barn at night when the rain is going sideways and/or the wind is howling. Knowing they are safe and sound (and quiet) gives us a sense of peace (and makes sleeping easier).

     *Turning them out in the AM and bringing them in at PM gives J (the AM Guy) and me (the PM Gal) more opportunity to interact with them as opposed to when they were turned out full time in the large summer pasture.  They are now "automated" to walking (quietly) out or into their stalls.  No drama, lead ropes or halters.  This has also given us an opportunity to get to know more about Gal whom we haven't done much with (yet).  It's apparent that someone loved this horse and spent time with him.  He's an easy going guy and comes with a great set of ground manners.  I'm thinking those attributes will be handy when we start to ride him.

     *J tells of his arrival to the barn in the AM.  He opens the door and calls out "Good Morning"! Initially he would arrive to find what appeared to be empty stalls.  But when he peered inside he found both horses down on their sides, sound to sleep (and snoring).  These days as he calls out he's met with bumps and thumps as two sleepy-eyed horses covered from head to toe in shavings pop up from their beds.

     *We are in deep winter and darkness comes around 4 PM.  I'm currently not riding like I did last year and although I take one or two walks each day; I find my upper body muscles have been losing their tone.  My new morning routine has firmed me back up.  I not only clean the stalls but prep them for the evening return, leaving grain as the only task left to be done at night.  This makes evenings, when dinner is cooking and time is more limited, quick and simple.

     *Speaking of bringing them in.  As the days have passed with their new routine of being stalled at night, they now bring themselves in.  Last night I got out a little late to find Elvis already standing inside his stall with a look of "where's my grain"?  Gal was standing in the loafing shed outside his entrance to the barn; he knocked on the door to be let in.

So let the shavings fall where they may, because work is part of having horses.  Speaking of that, it's about time to head out to the barn for the evening shift.  Looking forward to seeing and handling My Boys!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Complicated Keepers

Galileo's (Gal's) arrival in October proved he was the Leader of the herd.  That wasn't surprising since Elvis, who has always lived in a stall, doesn't know much about socializing.  He's an easy going/"follow the leader" kind of guy.

Whereas Bob was also the leader; he served as a gentle mentor and teacher for Elvis.  Elvis didn't know to seek shelter during a storm but Bob showed him how to sense when rain (or thunder/lightning) were coming and get out of the elements.  Soon Elvis began to pick up some of the tricks of being a pasture horse vs a stall horse.  Good life lessons.

As fall arrived I felt confident in Elvis wintering here.  There was more for Elvis to learn and I knew I could depend on Bob to teach him how to break ice in the stock tank for a drink when it was frozen, negotiate on frozen ground, etc.

Sigh - my plans came crashing down when we suddenly lost Bob from a kidney stone.

I had hoped Gal's leader qualities would carry on the training Elvis needs.

But Gal is the type of leader which I've only encountered once before in my years of owning horses. He's not only aggressive towards Elvis but he's also a jealous leader.  In the picture above he's about to nip Elvis and then run (stampede) him away.  And Elvis is about to crash into the gate in his haste to escape.

As the weather deteriorated so did their relationship.  I couldn't get my hands on Elvis because Gal would run him away from me.  Gal also proved to not be an "old campaigner".

He obviously doesn't know much more than Elvis about living outside in the elements.  When it rains he stays out in the middle of the pasture, soaked to the skin.  He doesn't appear to care for the large, insulated loafing sheds, in fact I don't think he likes them one bit.

Elvis, being the monkey see/monkey do horse he is, also now avoided the loafing sheds, can't blame him because if he did go into them Gal would chase him back out onto the pasture.  I worried about Elvis picking up some of the aggressive habits Gal presented to him.

As the ground became muddy and slick, I had to make the hard decision to put them in separate pastures for Elvis's protection.  Gone in a flash were my seasonal rotated pastures that have served us so well.

Initially I left them both outside full time in their prospective pastures.  Gal in the middle pasture near the bedroom side of our house with a loafing shed available (which he still rarely went into).

And Elvis in the back pasture with access to the paddock and large foaling stall to get out of the elements (which bless his heart, he still went into to get out of the elements and eat).

But that didn't work either.  Although Elvis was content with this arrangement, Gal hated losing sight of Elvis when he went inside to eat.  The result was Gal's charging around and calling out for his "friend" in calling out all night in calling out all night long right outside our bedroom window.

After three sleepless nights of this I had to go to the next level of care, one I hated to do.


A stall for Gal.

With Elvis still using the foaling stall.

Each morning I now start my day by cleaning two stalls.  The stalls are empty as "The Boys" are already outside in their own personal pastures compliments of J who goes out earlier in the AM and turns them out.

Each evening as dusk arrives, I now bring them back in - Gal to his stall and Elvis to the foaling stall and paddock area (closing the gate that leads out to his pasture).

We've had to invest in heated water buckets so the water doesn't freeze in the stalls at night as well as shavings...shavings...and more shavings.

I've had to break out blankets to keep the darlings warm when our temps have dropped into the teens, whereas I rarely blanketed our easy keepers who sided up next to each other in an insulated loafing shed and remained cozy.

As much as I love our Complicated Keepers, I sure miss the days of our Easy Keepers!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bring On The Storms!

The first big wind storm of the season arrived this last weekend.  I was outside when the winds hit.  It was odd.  We went from no breeze to instant heavy gusts.

My husband and I tried to ignore our flickering lights as we watched TV.  We could hear the wind roaring outside as it rushed into the poplars along the fence line.  We each had a flashlight next to us - expecting to lose power at any moment.

But we didn't lose power even though the gusts reached over 60 mph, ripping leaves off the trees.

My hanging basket, which I got in early April. continues to try to bloom.  What a brave little basket it's been!

Can't say the same about my potted geraniums.  They are finished.

J and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary this weekend by completing the installation of our new generator panel on Sunday.  It's finished, tested and ready for the next storm.

This is a BIG DEAL for us.  No more having to scramble in the dark with opened windows and power cords running through the house for one or two lights when we lose power.  We are now able to roll the generator out, start it up, plug it in and instantly have lights, TV, internet (and even our microwave) in minutes.

But best of all we will now have WATER!  That means no longer having to worry about filling the stock tanks and green buckets for the toilets before a storm.  We can now even run the washer if needed (even if we can't use the dryer).

We feel so liberated.  Bring on the storms!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Getting Ready

Look what greeted me when I opened the curtains this morning...

The first mountain snow of fall 2014.

A few days ago, when it was warm and dry, I put away the outdoor furniture.  Since then we've had heavy rains and a few wind storms. However, tonight and tomorrow we are under a "wind advisory".  Been through this before.

Don't mind the high winds but don't like the possible (probable) power outages.  We seem to always be the first in the area to lose power and the last to get it back.  It's bad enough to not have lights but no power at our place also means no water since we are on a well.

Last weekend we purchased a generator panel so that we can have some lights and water when we lose power.  Unfortunately, we haven't had time to install it.

With the wind storm coming and daylight savings time ending, it's time to get ready for winter.  That means feeding the horses out of the barn instead of via the summer loafing shed away from the barn and in the front of our outbuilding.

Yesterday I opened the gate between the summer and middle pastures.  We have views from all of our windows inside the house looking out to the pastures and barn.  I took this picture from the living room window.

Although the gate is open, Elvis and Galileo have lost interest in the summer pasture for the green grass in the middle pasture.  Since this grass is so rich, I'm letting them enjoy about four hours of pigging out each day before moving them into the dry paddock in the back of the barn where they can hang out in the huge double foaling stall to get out of the rain and munch on some (boring) hay.

Sigh...going to miss sunny days like this!  In the meantime it's time to get ready for winter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dental Day

I'm happy to report that Galileo is playing nicer these days now that (hot) grain isn't being offered.

In preparation for Galileo's Dental Day, we moved them up to the smaller paddock off the barn last night.

Elvis is always busy getting into something.  Here is he rolling the poles around.

This is a good example of what I often see in the large pasture - the two horses walking side by side.

Galileo is filling out nicely.  When the sun shines on him you can see dapples of red on his barrel while his black stockings contrast nicely.

J brought Galileo in from the front pasture last night.  This is going to be his riding horse and I was pleased to see how well Galileo behaved - putting his head down to be haltered and leading nicely. His ground manners are excellent and our Frainer (friend and trainer) who has put rides on him, reports him to be the same under saddle.  I think he's going to work out nicely for us.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Playing Nice

I was going to write a Post about the end of the summer/fall season and share some pics of the day early winter arrived but decided to share how things are going with Galileo.

"The boys" are usually not far apart.

They share the water trough.  But there is an issue at the feeder in the loafing shed.  Galileo doesn't play nice and won't allow Elvis near the hay.

When Galileo arrived there were no issues.  For the first four days the two horses stood next to each other munching hay which we always offer in addition to free grazing.  

On Saturday I decided to dole out some grain.  Call it a stupid gesture with Elvis already plump and Galileo filling in nicely.  I separated the buckets quite a distance to allow the horses to keep to their own food, which worked out fine.

It was after that when Galileo started chasing Elvis out of the loafer via barred teeth or turning his rear at him and trying to kick him should he get too close to the hay.  

Poor Elvis.  He's a lover, not a fighter and yes, Galileo is the dominant horse.  Elvis was perplexed about all of this behavior and stood outside the loafer looking forlornly at me whenever I was outside.

It was apparent that Elvis wasn't getting any hay so I started carrying a flake out into the field for him.  Initially Galileo chased Elvis from that flake and also the loafer.  Elvis would wait until Galileo went back into the loafing shed and then sneak back to his pile of hay.

A few days later our beautiful summer/fall season came to a close and the wind and rains moved in.  I went out to check on the boys and was relieved to find that Galileo had backed off on his aggression and allowed Elvis in the loafer (as long as Elvis is facing outside with his back to the feeder).  

So far the rains have come after Elvis has had a chance to eat the hay I leave out for him.  However, it's only a short time now before I'm putting a flake of hay out in pouring down rain and I don't want to start having to feed my horses out in the rain.

I'm hoping things are settling down and I can keep to my plan of wintering the boys in the loafing sheds in peace.  Our loafing sheds are all huge with rubber mats.  We've always used them to winter our horses in the past.  It's my hopes Galileo will realize there's no threat of going hungry, relax and allow Elvis back to sharing the feeder as he initially did.  

If not I guess I'll have to use our stalls this winter - something I don't want to do as I think it's better to keep them outside not to mention that means cleaning stalls daily and spending $ for lots of shavings.

Hoping this is a short-term issue.  Last night I observed them sharing Elvis's hay in the field.  Maybe Galileo will play nice once again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


To be given an awesome horse is a once in a lifetime event and something I'm still humbled by.  But to have it happen twice?

Meet Galileo, an 8-year old Thoroughbred Gelding.

He comes to our home compliments of Lisa, my Cowgirl Pal and my Frainer (my friend and trainer).

A friend of Lisa's raised Galileo and used him for Dressage, trails and competitive trail events.  When the friend had a baby she lost interest in Galileo as well as his care.  Lisa had known and liked this horse since he was a baby and stepped in to relieve her friend and save Galileo.

At a recent Cowgirl Pal potluck I stood in line with Lisa and when I shared that Elvis was lonely and J was looking for a riding horse, she offered Galileo to us on the spot saying she knew he would have a good home and be loved.

We went home to "think" about it.  A text message from my Frainer a few days later after putting a few rides on Galileo said that this would be a perfect horse for J.  Calm, well trained, good manners and just a sweet guy.

Have you ever seen joy in your horse's eyes?  Well I did that morning I introduced Elvis to Galileo. This picture was taken within minutes of their meeting.

No drama, no squeals.  It was like they'd known each other for years.


Thursday, October 2, 2014


It's been a month since we suddenly lost Bob.

It's still an adjustment for both Elvis and this family.

I've watched and worried over Elvis like a mother hen.  Is he happy?

Elvis can't see any other horses from our place.  Our neighbors have a horse but it's behind their place.  A few weeks ago Elvis caught a brief glimpse of it and went into a full tizzy, flying around the pasture until he was exhausted and soaking wet.  I stood watching helplessly, worried about the large rocks that pop up from the ground due to living at the feet of a dormant volcano.

Once Elvis ran out of steam I haltered him up and led him to the barn where I hosed him down, paying extra attention to his legs.  No harm done but...that behavior answered my questions - and I don't like the answer.

I worry about the upcoming winter.  Elvis comes from a show barn environment and has always had warm blankets and a cozy stall surrounded by equine neighbors to protect him from winter's harm.

This was to be his first winter at home, with savvy Bob to show him the ropes and keep him company. How is Elvis going to handle being here alone when the winds are roaring at 60 mph and the rain is sideways - or when the temps hit single digits?

Board Elvis?  Don't want to do that.  It would result in having zero horses at home.  It's hard enough to look out the window and see one horse.  I can't imagine looking out and seeing none.

Have someone board here?  Don't want the hassles of additional insurance or lack of privacy.

Get a cow/goat?  Not for us.

So what option is left?

As we enter into a new chapter of our lives without children at home, Hubby and I have discussed another horse for him to ride.  Not a rescue horse or another yard ornament (and we've surely hosted many) but a steady, anybody can get on, low-key Gelding.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Looking at the Future

For the first time that I can recall, we are a one-horse family.

I find myself questioning getting more horses.  There is a cost to having a little herd of horses (duh). I've budgeted and planned in order to have (purchased and rescued) horses - making sure their health, feed and living conditions were always the best that I could provide.

But in doing so I've had to pass on other items here that need attention - like replacing old furniture, carpet, etc.  I guess it comes down to what one's priorities are and I guess right now as I approach my 61st birthday, I'm revisiting mine.

The fact is, I'm the only one in the family who rides and I have come to realize that I don't ride as often as I used to.

I had grand plans a few years ago of having two good riding horses.  I found Poco (on the left), one of the most steady/eddy, well broke horses I've ever owned.  He joined Bob here at home.  They got along great.

I called my friends, "Come ride with me!"  I was surprised to find everybody was busy doing something else.  Nobody was interested in joining me.  Nobody ever came out to experience a great ride on Sweet Poco.

I asked my family.  Same situation.  Although they enjoy the horses, neither of them was interested in joining me on a ride.

So I rode Poco.

And I rode Bob.

I even rode our "ornamental" Belgian Draft, Bear.

I hauled places.

And I boarded.

But these days I find myself not willing to ride at home alone, not enjoying riding in 80+ temps (which we've had a lot of), not wanting to expend the resources to join in some of the Cowgirl games that I have in the past.  These days I find myself busy and choosing other priorities besides riding.

I think I need a "jump start" of my battery!  I have one of the most talented, best trained, sweetest horses out in my pasture.  I have five acres of rolling pastures.  I guess I wish more than anything I had someone here to ride with.

My husband has mentioned "down the road" he might like to ride again and has also talked about taking some lessons.  If that should happen I'm thinking lessons on Elvis would be a good way to start for him.  But I don't think this constitutes getting another horse right now.  We can share Elvis and if husband decides he wants to pursue riding further, we can re-visit another horse at that time.

What about you?  Do you find as you get older that your priorities are different?
What do you do to keep motivated?  I'd sure love to hear from you on this subject.