dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What is he thinking?

I drove home from work the other day and when I pulled into the driveway Steele came running from his field, looked at the car and then bee lined it into his stall.

so was he thinking:
A. She' home, she's home!! I hope she comes to the barn and says hi. I love her so much and I hate it when she's gone all day. 


B. Supper! Supper! It's supper time! Yay! Hurry up- feed me! feed me! It's SUPPER TIME!!!!!

Tell me what you think.

On another note I finally got a shot of Steele standing still and looking like a real horse. But look at the facial expression- he's plotting something......

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trying on Clothes

Steele is getting big. Not that I've measured him lately but when I stand by him he feels like a horse not a baby. He's enjoying our sessions together.

The other day I was working on having blankets on and around him- he was totally unflapped. So I decided to try putting a horse blanket on him.

I have lots of blankets. If you ask Ed he might say that I have a blanket problem. Only of course if he was sure I couldn't overhear him. Just because I have one horse and approximately 10 blankets, I don't see how that translates into a problem, do you? Yes I know I have 2 heavy winter blankets but Irish needs something to wear if the other gets wet doesn't he? And the fleece was on sale. So was the lime green one. Can you imagine? Now why would that be on sale??? It's so useful- it allow me to see Irish no matter where he hides. And the hunters can't confuse him for a deer now can they? SEE:
even d'Arcy looks bemused by it here. but I think that Irish can totally pull it off
Last year when I put Irish out for the first time with this on all the traffic slowed down as they drove by. I can't imagine why!

Anyway, back to Steele. While I don't intend to blanket him it doesn't mean that he shouldn't learn to wear one. So I took out the fleece one.
He looked at it and pulled away a bit.
'who, what's that?'
'Oh nothing' I saw as I gently bring it to his side. I rub it around a bit. Steele settles.
 I then slowly throw it up over him.
His head comes up 'What the?'
I take it off.
I spend the next five minutes putting it over his back and sliding it off until he no longer cares. I can put it on and take it off from the left, right and behind. The next time I fasten it. Steele dances a bit in his cross ties. He pulls at it with his teeth. \Uh uh' I say. He stops. While he's not worried, he's as impressed with this as any youngster forced to try on clothes.
Do you need to take a photo? Aren't we done yet? 

Here he still looks like a baby, doesn't he?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

On being a hairdresser....

Are you old enough to remember this toy:
It's a barbie hairdresser toy. The idea is that young girls would learn to make fabulous hair styles preparing them for either a career as a beautician or a fashion model. As you can imagine I totally sucked at this. While I did have various barbies the reason was that they could ride my plastic horses. At my peak point I had 8. If one broke a leg I cried for days. My mother probably blesses that fact that Breyer horses came out when I was an adult.....
I think that the hairdresser barbie lasted a few months until the day I decided that she would look better with short hair. After you shave Barbie's head what is left to do with it? Besides it was a weird toy and sort of creeped me out at night. I mean a disembodied head sitting on your dresser? Who wouldn't be a bit freaked out? I don't know what happened to her- I suspect that she's in a landfill somewhere. It was prophetic really- I am neither a beautician or fashion icon.

This is also a good time to confess two things:
1. I like to braid horses. I find it soothing to do prior to a show. I like how they look.
2. I like short manes. I pitied people who had horses with long manes. I mean, how do they cope? All this hair flying around while you're trying to ride and preparing for shows. I was smug in my superiority of having a horse with a short mane.

I then bought an Andalusian.

Andalusian horses are supposed to have long manes.

So now I am conflicted.

I like short manes but if I'm true to the breed Steele should keep his long mane. Having learned from the barbie toy I know that if I cut it there's no going back (see no part of life is without a lesson, it's just that sometimes you need to wait to figure out exactly what the lesson is). Of course, unlike the barbie head, Steele's mane will grow but I may not have the patience for it.

I do believe that it's important to learn new things so I have decided to leave his mane alone and use this winter to learn how to do a running braid. I have googled and watched videos on youtube. It doesn't seem hard but I know that my skills with long hair are not anything to write home about. I have been doing short stints with his mane but last weekend I decided to do the whole mane.

It seems that Steele patience for standing still while his hair is done is as good as mine. I can appreciate my hairdresser's perspective as she's reaching for the flat iron or hair spray or even the mirror to show me the back while I say 'no no, I'm sure it's fine as it is and I really have to get back to the barn.......' It was kind of like a dance- Steele stepping forward, me going with him clutching his hair in a desperate attempt to keep the strands separated.

This is the result:

The photo is not great- I took it with my ipod and he had no patience to stand still while I took it. :)

it lasted about 2 hours. So I will have to work on making it last. If you have any advice I would appreciate it very much.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Follow up on lessons

Remember a few posts ago in which I started working on getting Steele to come to me?

How am I doing?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Tale of the Fainting Rat

In full disclosure, Steele does not appear in this story but a friend suggested that I share this one.

Someone once described a barn in a field as an Oasis in the the desert- it attract all sorts of life to it. This I found to be true. My barn was completed last December. I think the first mouse moved in January- there must have  been an ad on the internet or something. This is, of course, the reason we have Martin - well really that's how I sell the idea of  a cat so that Ed thinks that he's useful. Truth is we'd have a cat anyway. I believe that he knows this on some level but this is one of the many fictions that help a marriage along. Of course once the kitten is home how can you resist:

Martin is an avid mouser. Well, sort of. Depends on his mood really.

Belle is our Australian Shepherd. We got her from a rescue and she really is a beautiful dog.
Despite the fact that Aussies are supposed to be herding dogs she has never shown the slightest inclination. She is, however, a great mouser. Except that she often doesn't finish them off-she spits them out and leaves them for Ed and I. Which leads to the deal that Ed and I have made- he finishes them off (if he's around) and I dispose of the carcass (if I'm around). Snakes are all mine to deal with- which is fine. I like snakes and won't have them killed.

d'Arcy is our Border Collie. He's got the personality of a lab and the energy and IQ of a BC. It makes him a terrific farm dog. He often photo bombs my pictures.
Everyone is his friend or a friend he hasn't met yet. If you come to my house and bring a puppy he will baby sit. Belle will tell it to stay away from her stuff and Martin will be appalled and take off.

Hang on, I'm getting to the rat.
So this summer some rats moved into our barn. I put out traps but they didn't seem to work- other than as a food delivery system.

 One beautiful summer day I had just finished a ride on Irish and had him on the cross ties when we heard this horrible squeaking coming from the other side of the tarp we have hanging (it separates the hay from the tools and keeps the sun off the hay when the barn doors are open). I saw a dog shape through the tarp and figured that Belle had a mouse. Irish was getting upset by the squeaking so I untacked him and let him go outside.

 I went to see what the ruckus was about and there was d'Arcy sitting there looking as proud as punch with a huge rat laying on it's back in front of him.
"look mom, I found a friend, isn't he pretty? Can I keep him?"
I looked at the rat- it was big. Now, I'm not afraid of rats. In fact in University one of my many jobs was to get the rats used to being handled so that the Psych 2000 students could work with them. I was a rat whisperer if you will. But a wild, large rat is a different kettle of fish.
I looked at it- it looked dead.
But then I thought I saw it's chest move. Great. It's 'almost dead'.
I take out my cell phone and call Ed (he's in the house, but I wanted to keep my eye on the rat).
"Hi honey, d'Arcy caught this rat, can you come out and finish it off?"
"d'Arcy? You mean Belle. Because of course it's not Martin"
"No I mean d'Arcy"
"How did d'Arcy get a rat?"
"I don't know. Just get out here and we can discuss it later!"

As I wait for Ed (really how long does it take to get out the barn, is he having a coffee first?), I stare at the rat. d'Arcy is also looking at the rat with love in his eyes. I think that I can no longer see it breathing. Good, I think, it must have died. I go grab the shovel and scoop it up.

At this point the rat comes spectacularly to life- lets out an loud squeak and leaps off the shovel. I let out a loud shriek and drop the shovel. At this point Belle comes out of no where, charges in and I hear:
It all happened in seconds. The rat is now decidedly dead. Belle looks at d'Arcy and I  and I swear she rolled her eyes and trotted off. Ed comes into the barn and I explain what happened. Martin comes sauntering into the barn trying to look casual but I suspect he was watching all this from the doorway. We look at d'Arcy who has this expression (this is an old photo but the expression was the same):
We killed his friend.

So I did a little research. Turns out that if rats get enough adrenaline surging through their system they can 'faint'. I guess it's like a playing dead theory. Apparently, scooping them up with a shovel revives them from a faint.

Good information to have when living in the country.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Steele sees a ghost

Yesterday I decided to take Steele for a walk. I went and got him from the field (update on that later) and decided that we should do a little explore into the woods. Irish followed us along the fence line but was not impressed when we entered the trail.
Irish "Come back! There are trolls in there!"
Steele "Trolls? What are trolls?"
he looks at me.
"Will the Trolls like me?"
Me "There are no such thing as trolls. What a brave boy, look at the pretty trees"

Steele looks around. He's alert but curious.

We walk a little further in.

A tree branch brushes his flank.
"ohh something tickled me"
Me: "it's just a tree. you are so brave"
Steele "that's true. I am very brave. Do you have any apples?"
Me "Not yet"
Irish (from a distance) "come back before you die a terrible death and leave me all alone. "
Steele tenses and looks at me.
"what a terrible death?"
I try to stand relaxed and look reassuring.
"nothing you need to worry about. However, Irish may have to"
"Can I eat it"
"then never mind"
He sighs and lowers his head.
I decide to turn around while it's all good. Besides further in it gets pretty mucky and I had visions of my boots getting stuck while Steele dragged me around.

We walk back and he gets a little in front of me. I give a gently tug on the lead line and say 'sloooww'. This what I've been doing to keep him with me- it works. He slows up.

When we leave the woods Irish is dancing around like a goof. "you're back. Thank heavens you're back! Don't ever do that again".

I turn Steele and we walk down the field away from the paddock. He walks along like a good horse. Irish starts to call again. We stop and I let him graze.
Irish "where are you going? Stop!!!"
Steele "mmph's omay, shtomf wowwyin" (this is how he sounds when his mouth is full of grass. Translation: it's okay, stop worrying.')

We walk down to the other entrance to the woods. This trail leads to the manure pile. He was so amazing as we walked by rubber pallets, an old bath tub (it was here when we moved in so don't judge me) and then the big pile of manure. Again he was alert but curious. When we came back out he spooked at a noise in the woods (most likely a rabbit). All he did was trot forward but didn't even tighten the lead line.

We walked up the driveway towards the house. We stopped by the kitchen window. He grazed a bit and then spied the window. His head came up, his ears came forward. Then his eyes widened and he leaned back. I looked- he could see his reflection. He was on high alert. I stood there and rubbed his shoulder. He stepped forward and then back.
 I would conjecture that his thoughts went like this:
where did that horse come from? 
He looks like his not quite there.
But he's awfully good looking.......

He stepped forward. Then back. Gingerly he reached his nose to the glass. So did the other horse. Steele blew. His own air blew back from the window and it fogged up.
whoa, that's weird. My nose says there's nothing there but my eyes see a horse!

I let him consider this for a moment and then I took him back to the barn. Where he enjoyed a nice groom and finally got his well deserved apple.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

In which Steele is an innocent victim

I really love my barn set up- each of the stall opens up into a small turnout. From there the horses can go into  one of two fields- depending on which gate I have opened. It makes it simple for us with our work schedule. The stalls act as a shelter if the weather is bad. At supper time I prepare feeds and bang on the metal dish and yell 'supper!'. The horses come running, each to their own stall. I feed them and then shut the outside doors. It's a system that works very well. It took a while to teach them to go into their own stall but they've had it down for months.

Tonight I followed the same routine as always. The horses came running and I put the feed in their bins.Now they are not fed the same- Irish gets a sweet feed + beet pulp and Steele gets a yearling feed + beet pulp.  However, when I went out to shut Irish's door he decided that he wasn't ready- he bolted out his door and then bolted into Steele's stall. He pushed Steele away from his feed bin and started eating. Steele came out and started to go into Irish's stall.

'Uh Uh' I said, 'We're not playing musical stalls' and I closed the bottom half of the door.
Steele goes back into his but Irish won't let him near the feed. He comes back out and looks at me pleadingly.
His eyes filled with tears 'but I don't have anything to eat!'

(okay, I know that horse's eyes don't fill with tears but really, if you could have seen his face!)

'Irish' I say sternly "Get out of there RIGHT NOW'

Irish came out and bolted to his field.

I sighed. 'How does he know that I am getting ready to go out and don't have time for this nonsense'.

Steele started to go with him but then thought better of it. He ran into his stall and had his supper. He looked relieved.

I looked at Irish standing out there. He looks back at me defiantly. d'Arcy looks at both of us. I had just decided to go back into the house and leave Irish to his own devices but he must have sensed it because he came back down and walked into his stall as sweet as you please.

Hopefully his rebellion is short lived. Two brats is more than I can handle.

Friday, October 5, 2012

In which Steele disrupts Irish's schooling session...

Typically Steele is very well behaved while I ride Irish. He hangs out in his field, eats the grass and sometimes goes into Irish's stall to eat his hay while he waits.

Yesterday, about 10 minutes into our ride something spooked him. I have no idea what it was but he took off bucking and snorting and blowing. Of course Irish immediately went into high alert. I looked around and could not see what had startled him- but Steele would trot up the field, halt, blow and then bolt back to the barn. As you can imagine Irish did not take well to this and was looking for the monster in the bushes. I am, however, used to this, and just kept going. But it was not a good ride. More like a riding a pogo stick than a horse. Sigh.

I was torn between exasperation at Steele- "really? there's nothing there, just knock it off' and smiling 'oh, look how pretty he looks. Boy he can MOVE".
not from yesterday but the day before when I was not mounted :)

Steele finally settled down- had a roll and a nibble was back to normal in a few minutes. Irish, however, was on high alert for the whole ride and into supper time. Oh well. Not all rides can be perfect. Neither can all horses.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Sacking out continues

Although, it's rather embarrassing to call it that. The other day the horses were out in heavy rain. I brought them in but hadn't finished cleaning their stalls. So I put Steele in the cross ties. Because he was so wet I through a towel on his back while I was working. After I used it to rub the water out. I then realized that I was taking for granted that he would stand still while I flapped the towel around. And because I assumed he would and because he is so calm about most things.

He does have one bad habit:  He's eating Irish's tale! 

Irish has a beautiful golden tale. The idea of it being eaten fills me with horror. When I can I spray it with fly spray to make it taste bad but I'm looking for any other ideas you have!!!