dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring has sprung

My mother used to have this rhyme at this time of year:
spring has sprung
the grass is riz
I wonder where
the birdies is?
Not sure where it came from but this time of year I have it rattle around my brain for a while. 

With spring comes grass. We currently have 2 paddocks and I've been letting them eat down the one while the grass comes in. Once it's established I will move them over and reseed the old one. There is a plan for the 3rd (and largest) pasture that should be fenced in the next couple of weeks. Once that is done I can rotate. 

In the meantime I have been hand grazing them so that they are used to the grass and won't colic when I move them over. Today when I came home from work I decided to open the gate to the new paddock so they could have about an hour of grass while I did chores. 

 New spring grass for horses is like chocolate. The is how they look eating grass:

Once I opened the gate I went to their paddock and called. Steele came right away and followed me in. He immediately dropped his head and hoed in. Irish, however, got lost. 

He couldn't figure out how to navigate through the small paddock to the one with the grass:
help! I can't get at the grass, Steele help!
I had to go back through and lead him to the grass. 

He is special.

On another note, Ed and his friend spent this weekend fencing the riding ring:

You know what this means, don't you? I can start some liberty work with Steele!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Photos of our lunge session

This week a dear friend came for a visit. She is also a brilliant photographer so I asked her to take some photos of our lunging sessions. We do this about 2-4 times per week for no more then 20 minutes. Most of it  is walk and some trot. I've introduced the idea of cantering once or twice but mostly I just am looking to install the concepts of listening to me and 'who'. I love how fast he is catching on and he's stretching very nicely over his back. His walk overtracks by a least one hoof length and his trot is lovely and forward. I can see that there's some great potential in them but I not asking for anything more. He's so adorable now that he's figured out the 'whoa'. He halts (pretty squarely too), arches his neck and looks at me with such pride.

There is lots of time.

he just finished a bit of a scoot and is looking quite impressed with himself

still working on keeping the circle round. 
his colour is interesting, that's for sure
I love this one.
 "Am I really the smartest horse you've ever seen?"
"of course darling. Of course." 
all done
'hey where are you going? We're not done are we? hey, can I have another carrot?"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Quality Time

When I used to be a boarder I felt guilty if I did not spend time with my horse (with boarding I could only afford one horse). I often rode but I also enjoyed just grooming Irish and spending time with him. He didn't always seem to appreciate being taken out of his field though.

Now that they are home I see them everyday (unless I am away). But now I've noticed that I feel guilty if I don't spend time with them other then the necessary care. I guess I thought that I wouldn't feel guilty anymore if my horse was home. Yesterday and today I only had time to do the necessary care so tonight I made sure that I went out to the barn and gave them both a nice groom. Both seemed much happier after I was done.

Horse ownership seems to be a lot like parenting:

  • I feel like I'm making it up as I go along (don't tell the kids)
  • there's always potential for guilt
  • everyone has an opinion as to how you are doing as either a parent or horse owner
  • there is a lot of hard slogging involved some days
  • you need sometimes to hold them while a vet/doctor does something unpleasant
But most importantly the joy makes it totally worth it.
Steele: "why would she spend time at work when she could be with us?"
Irish: "Not sure but I think it's tied to us having hay"
Steele: "Oh. Well that makes sense"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I feel like wonder woman

Not that I am a superhero nor should I wear this outfit.
Although I'd love to have an invisible plane and the lasso, don't get me started on how cool that is.

More like I have 2 identities-
 There is work me and then barn me.
This has been a long week at work-lots of meetings and lots of time on the road. In 4 days I have logged 15 hours of driving time. Top it off with Ed having the flu and the days have been long. Not that I don't like my job- I actually love it. It's challenging and interesting and worthwhile. But it can be mentally tiring. And I find driving can quite draining.

As you know, last weekend we were to get hay but Ed was too sick. It's supposed to rain this weekend but today was nice and Ed was feeling better so we decided to go get it today. I hurried home from work. In less then 10 minutes I no longer was in the professional clothes with sensible but fashionable shoes but decked out in sweats, wool socks and old, ratty sneakers. Not exactly super hero garb but there you have it.

We hitched up the horse trailer and headed to the barn. Ed held the ladder and I went up with much more speed then last sunday. With me tossing the hay down and Ed loading the trailer it didn't take long. But on the way home I realized that Ed had probably over done it.
"When we get home, how about you make supper and I'll stack the hay"
after a few minutes of quiet, he agreed. So I knew that he was not feeling well.

When we arrived home the horses were impatient for supper. I fed them, closed the barn doors and then began to stack the hay. When I was about 1/3 into it a truck pulled into the driveway. A friend of Ed's and his son were bringing some railway ties that he didn't need. Ed came out and the three of them started talking. I continued to stack hay and they continued to talk. Just as I was thinking that perhaps the guys could stop chatting and perhaps help they got in the truck and headed down the driveway to unload the ties. I do believe that guys are psychic and can sense when a job is in the offing.

Anyway I finished stacking the hay, parked the trailer and come in the house.

I am exhausted. And still look nothing like wonder woman- unless she wears pjs and has bits of hay stuck in her hair. If so then I am totally rocking it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Temper Temper

As you know my two horses are turned out together. I do however, separate them to work with one and they are quite used to it.

Last night was a lovely spring night (for a change) and the mud that the horses had so carefully ground into their coat was nice and dry. Rather then scrape it off in the barn and get dust everywhere I decided to take them outside to remove it. It also gave me a chance to let them have some of the green grass. Their winter paddock is so ripped up that there's very little grass in there. When the grass comes in the other paddocks I will move them and repair it.

Anyway, I took Steele out first. He quite happily dropped his head and ate the grass while I cleaned the mud off. Irish was calm and quiet in his stall.  However, when it was Irish's turn Steele was not impressed. He whinnied forlornly. Irish remained stoic though and stuck to the task at hand- cropping the grass. With no repsonse from Irish, Steele became increasingly plaintive. We however, remained hard hearted and left him all alone.

I began to walk Irish back when *BANG*

The little bugger kicked the wall. Of course I couldn't go back then so we walked on by. Irish was quite willing to head to the grass. It seems that he's quite willing to have a break from his charge.

When all was calm in the barn we came back. Steele was not impressed. He snuffled at me quite forlornly.

"you left me all alone. It was awful. Don't ever ever do that again"

Of course, now I have to.

But we'll let him figure that one out for himself.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Horses are not for the faint of heart. Neither is having your horse at home.

I think that there have been less then 5 times when I have been truly afraid around horses. Adrenalin pumping yes, excited yes, but not really fearful. I have found with Steele that no matter what he's doing around me I can stay calm and cool. This helps him to calm down as well. After all it's no fun if I don't join in. When I could only ride school horses I was often put on the 'new' horses. Not because I am a brilliant rider, I realize now, but because I would stay calm. I found it fun to try to figure out which buttons to push and which to leave alone.

Today Ed and I were going to pick up more hay. Our hay guy told me where it was and told me to go get what I wanted and then pay him later. However, Ed has come down with the flu. So I told him that I would take the truck and get a few bales to tide us over until he felt better. I found the location and the barn. I remember that he told me to 'take the bales on the right'. It is one of those huge barns so common around here. I opened the main doors and went inside. The hay was to the right all right. Except that it was 15 feet up in the loft with a metal ladder being the only way up.

Well crap.

I looked around to see if there were a few bales on the ground floor but nope, there were none. I climbed up the ladder- it rattled as I climbed. Once up to the top I tried to loosen a few but they were jammed in tight.

I climbed down and did some thinking. I had 3 options:
1. go home- give up? NEVER!
2. call Ed and ask him to come out to help. - But he was sooo sick
3. just do it.

I was a wee bit nervous- to do this I had to climb to the top of the ladder, and then move into the loft over the hay bales. If I fell how long before Ed would know I was missing? Then I thought- 'well what would you do if Ed wasn't around? Would you get rid of the horses?

So that decided it. I climbed up to the top, hooked my arm over the wooden beam, grabbed onto a bale of hay (giving a few tugs to make sure it was tight) and hauled myself into the loft. I then threw down the bales, making sure that I moved the ones blocking entry back into the ladder. I then hooked my arm back over the beam, swung back onto the ladder and made my way down.

After I was down, it dawned on me- I hadn't been scared at all. Just careful.

Perhaps my mom shouldn't read this- I'll be in trouble. And I promise that I won't do it without Ed to hold the ladder next time.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Visual for you

You know that Steele is being bratty when you see Irish chasing him with a stick.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's a real drag


when we bought our property we needed to put in all the things for a proper equestrian establishment. I wanted a full size dressage ring for working in. Since we owned the property for about a year before moving in I spent that year traipsing around the fields in all sorts of weather to see what the best spot was. I discovered that the top of the hill had the best drainage and there was often a nice breeze to carry away the bugs. I claim no expertise in ring construction but I've ridden in many many rings. I asked various people about their ring- what did they love, what would they do different, what would they recommend. I tried to get some estimates. I had one from a recommended company. The quote said, essentially- 1 20 x 60 metre ring $20,000. We didn't have that kind of money and besides it didn't outline what we'd actually get. A few never returned my call. In the end we decided to be our own subcontractors. We armed ourselves with lots of advice from knowledgeable people and went for it. We hired a company to clear and level the spot. I was very clear- it needed to be square and had to measure 66' by 200'. The day the guy finished I was away. Ed refused to pay him until I gave my okay. I came home and measured. It was off on one side. I phoned and said that I would pay when it was done. The owner was annoyed- not with me but by his worker who screwed up. they fixed it the next day.
We then left it all winter to settle. In the spring we borrowed a harrow and brought up a ton of rocks. We then spent a few weeks raking them by hand and moving them with the tractor. I actually developed tennis elbow from all the raking. I also determined that I wanted a sand and rubber mix. Being in Canada, the frost can stay in the ground for a while. Every outdoor ring that I've ridden in that had rubber stayed usable much longer. I investigated various sand types. I went to quarries and brought home samples and then showed them to my personal 'expersts' for opinions. I settled on a natural sand of mixed sizes. I sourced some rubber locally (score!) and hired a friend's partner to haul the rubber for me. The sand came first and we spread it using the tractor and the rake (more elbow pain). Then the rubber was delivered. Irish was quite excited by it, Steele not so much.

I love my ring. it's absolutely fabulous to ride in a full size ring. There is so much more you can do with geometry. And the view is pretty nice too. :)

There are two more things left to do. One is to get a real drag. I would have loved one of those fancy drags but it's not in the budget this year (not if I want to keep my other plans). I settled on this- one side is smooth to level and the other had teeth to bring up the compacted sand. It should be here soon.

How geeky am I that I find this exciting??

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The is the way we wash our.....



it's that time of year.

Let me explain for those of you who have never heard of this- a horse's penis retracts into their belly. Not because it's cold out but so that it's out of the way. You can imagine trying to gallop across the plains with that slapping around your hocks. The pocket of skin that the penis retracts into is called a 'sheath'.

This sheath needs to be cleaned periodically. Now I'm not that obsessed about it and I tend to leave it alone. Irish is done about once a year or less. I've noticed that Steele's has been looking a bit. Well. Grungy.

I've spent the past several months getting him desensitized to me messing around there. Yes, it's exactly what you're thinking. Horse ownership is not all rainbows and kittens you know.

Last weekend I decided it was time. I boiled some water, a towel and grabbed the 'Excalibur'

After 5 minutes of 'soaking' it was time to rinse. He actually was pretty good about it all, despite how personal I got. Although he did dance a few times and was a little bit non-plussed by the whole thing.

He's now squeaky clean.

And for your viewing pleasure, I give you....

The Sheath Cleaning Song: 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Dog Story

Not only am I owned by 2 horses but I also belong to two dogs.

d'Arcy is my border collie. He's lovable, goofy and essentially a lab disguised as a BC:
why yes, I do have a stick. why do you ask/
Belle is my Australian Shepherd. She's a rescue. We got her at 4 years of age after losing our beloved Aussie. She had spent most of her life up to then locked in a cage. She's adapted well to being a princess but has a few issues that require management. When we first got her she would go into defensive barking and growling and would even bite any young man that came into our home. I suspected that she had been teased/abused by young boys because that was the population she reacted too. Now she's pretty good but we are careful of her around guests. Her other issues is dogs. She's not that keen on other dogs. She's also lovable, smart and beautiful.

Last month I was in my bedroom when I spied a canine in the horse's paddock. I thought it was a coyote at first and then realized it was a dog. I then spied the woman from next door calling the dog who came home. Later that day the dog returned. d'Arcy was already outside but I left Belle in the house. I went out to feed the horses and the dog hung around. He seemed okay and quite interested in d'Arcy. After I fed I started walking to the neighbour's house with d'Arcy and the new dog following. I met the woman part of the way. She commented that it was weird that he started coming over after we'd been here for a few years. He is an Australian Cattle Dog named Cooter.  I told her that the horses would chase him out and might kick him. She said that he was used to horses and should be okay. sigh. I then said that while d'Arcy was fine my other dog would likely attack. I just wanted her to be warned. She said okay and then took him home. In the rural area of Nova Scotia people often let their dogs roam.

Fast forward to a few days later and Ed says to me 'when did Belle make a friend?"
"what friend?" I asked.
"that dog" he answered. I looked out and my jaw dropped. There was Belle playing with the new dog. I went outside and they were having fun. The only thing I can figure is that he has such a calm energy that she was not intimidated.

Since that time Cooter has been a regular visitor. He really is a lovable sweetie.

Today when I was driving home I saw Cooter heading along my fenceline to his home. His whole body posture screamed 'sad dog'. As I drove by he stopped, looked at my car and his eyes lit up. I drove in my driveway and looked over to see him trotting with his tail up and his body language saying 'oh good you're home. Can d'Arcy and Belle come out to play?' I let them out and they all had a play. After I had done my chores I took the dogs on a short walk. Cooter came along and then I heard a jingle. Martin the cat decided to come too. Feeling a bit like the pied piper off we went. d'Arcy and Belle were tearing through our woods sniffing everything. Cooter stayed close to me and Martin followed close behind.

When I got back to the house Ed was driving in. We went into the house and Cooter stood on the deck. Ed looks at him and says 'it's time to go home Cooter'. Off he trotted to home.

Country living is full of surprises.

who can resist those eyes?