Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh Deer...

Well, true to Michigan form, it’s been raining all week. This is an important fact to remember. Just in case.
I had a short day at work, due to parts availability. This means I went in at 9, and came home around 1 (is that awesome or what?). When I left, the horses were hayed and watered in the ‘apple pasture’ by the road. Now, that particular pasture is not hot. I didn’t have enough fencing to make the connection, but the horses have touched the other fence enough that they know that they don’t want to touch the white wire.  Just hearing the click of the fencer is enough to motivate good behavior in most cases.
Tuesday was not such a case.
When I left work, it was grey and gloomy, but not raining. I naively thought that I might get a ride in before it started getting icky again. As I pulled into my driveway I felt that sinking feeling of dread that had little to do with the steady rain that was developing. There was hotwire strewn across my driveway and fence posts pulled out of the ground. And to fat shiny show horses nowhere to be seen.
I bolted inside to grab my Carhart and rubber boots – as the rain had progressed to the drenching state- and set off across the back pasture. How far could they be, I figured. Delight knows her way home (as proven by both times she’s dumped me). Something probably scared them into spooking, and they were probably taking advantage of the grass in the back pasture.
I didn’t find any horses, but I did find a little evidence of a struggle… And lots of deer tracks.

So I trekked around the back field. No horses.
I walked through Janet’s pastures where I usually go for a ride. No horses.
Finally I walked through Ray’s far field. No horses. Though by this time, I was soaked through. My hair was wet and stringy, and my boots were full of water. I was worried and cold and running on adrenaline.
Then I heard someone honking in my driveway. Of course, I was half a mile away. I hoped that they would sit tight while I slogged my way back. I got back just as they were backing out of my drive.

I got to meet yet another of my neighbors named Dan (this makes three). And my horses were in his back yard, hiding behind the swing set. I’m not sure what prompted them to run a half mile in a direction that I’ve never taken them… But my relief was nearly overwhelming that I found them and they were mostly unharmed.
On my walk home, I could get a clearer picture of what happened. There are two sets of horse tracks in the muddy dirt road: Delight’s long strided tracks, and RC’s frantic awkward sprinting tracks, followed by at least one set of deer tracks. Now, I’m not a tracker, so I could be wrong. I can tell Delight’s hoof print from RC’s, but I cannot tell one deer from another.
Unfortunately, the only conclusion that I can draw is that my two pansy show horses were being chased by an herbivore.
In the rain.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Is Here!

Fall is here! I noticed it while I was driving through the UP to southern Wisconcin to look at some ponies (ponies!). The trees are becoming that brilliant red and orange - not that dull brown that happens down south. It was really a pleasant drive. Can I interrupt myself to say, I love ponies? Love love love. I had to call everyone immediatly afterwards to share my pony high...
But I digress. I thought I had found mom's new partner. She was a cute little mare, a little greener than I would have liked, but will probably end up the perfect AA pony. I also looked at a few competitive ponies for me... Why? I'm not sure. But it seemed like the smart thing to do after driving six hours to go look around. All in all, I test rode 4 ponies, and looked at all the young stock, broodies and the sire of everything. (Adorable little pony stallion. Nice horse on the ground too...).
My problem is that I loved the 5 year old talented mare. She was beyond fun to ride. I don't need a trained horse (but she's not show ready yet), even if her price comes down quite a bit. The other problem was the 2 year old pony mare. Can you say project pony? She would be much more reasonably priced and could give me a great up and comming pony as Deli becomes more of a show horse. This idea gets more and more appealing to me...

So lets list the reasons why I don't need a third project:
1) She'd have to be on lesser board than RC and Deli. Partly for cost, partly because the elite board is full. Could I stand the thought of my horse being outside in the cold?
2) I don't know where I'll be in a year. Again. Terrifying? It probably should be, but this is kind of how my life goes, it seems.
3) Breaking a pony in the winter might prove harder then breaking a pony in the summer in el paso. On the other hand, it would be nice to have walls when breaking the pony.
4) Dad. Will. Flip. A. Shit.

So, four good reasons NOT to persue this pony angle. But I still want to try it...

In other, not quite so confusing news... I made a tryout video to send in to be a demo rider for the Steffen Peters symposium in WI this fall. We're so close to being fancy. Another 10% and we'll be training level ready, I believe. Those 70's are in there somewhere.... Enjoy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hitting the Trails...

So, this weekend I took up a neighbor on an invitation to go for a trailride. I have never felt so guilty.
There was gravel and/or mining rubble for over half the ride. Poor RC is so footsore today that he didn't trot to the fence. Before I even think about bringing him to another train ride in this area I will owe him a full set of shoes with clips. But RC was a trooper, he climbed the hills and kept up with the rest of the pack with only minimal whining. I did dismount and walk him across the worst parts, which I think he was grateful for. The only problem with that plan was that RC tried his darndest to step exactly where I stepped, not always waiting til I had moved my feet out of the way. In other, not sad news: I got my new camera! So I'll just add some pictures that I took while playing around with it.
Adventure Poodles
Too cute....
RC- Hill fit and happy
Delight, hoping I brought an apple
Farm Poodles This camera is so much fun! The color isolation might be abused by me. It's just so spiffy! Let me know what you think....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer's over...

In my goal to actually work the ponies, I took them both for a ride this morning before heading to work.

Unfortunately for me, there was a 40 degree temperature drop between when I last rode Delight and this morning. She was like sitting on a little powder keg (not quite the Fist, like her sister, but close enough). She was looking for shadows to spook at, so we stayed in Ray’s close field to school, and hopefully not have any deer run ins, since that might have pushed her over her tolerances, and I in no way wanted an early morning trek back to the barn to catch my naughty pony. Just sayin’.

She was wonderful.

We worked on changing bend and direction both in the canter and trot. Our transitions are a little bit sticky sometimes, but they even got better as the ride progressed. Best of all, there were no Whoastorms. None. All of our trot-walk transitions were fluid and forward. Even when we worked on bits of the sitting trot, not a whoastorm in sight. She tried to back off slightly, but a little leg and she brought her back right back up where it belonged and trotted like a first level pony. Yay!
RC lucked out. He only had a half hour ride around ray’s back field, poodles in tow. Bacon and Tempi have gone somewhat soft without their daily 5 mile trail ride (especially since Tempi will have nothing to do with the bike). RC was a champ, in his fluffy ‘winter’ coat. All of his little red hairs were standing on end this morning, so I guess he got a tad chilly last night.

According to tonight’s forecast, the low is 36 degrees. Looks like my guys will be blanketed. The guilt of looking into RC’s poor beseeching eyes outweighs the neighbors thinking that I have the most pathetic pansified horses ever.

In other great news, I should get my camera replacement this week, so the pictureless blogs will not continue!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Naturalist One, Out.

So, this has not been my week for wildlife.

For the past several nights, I’ve been hearing the coyotes yipping and singing west of my barn. Anyone who’s ever heard a pack of coyotes singing knows that it’s a sound that gives a normal person the chills. The first night I heard them, they were off in the distance. The second night, they sounded like they were in my back yard, so to speak. The singing woke me up at 3 in the morning, and then I had to go check on the horses. They were sleeping contentedly in their pen in the front yard. Evidently they were not as creeped out by the coyote choir as I was.
The next night – Thursday- The coyotes were at it again. I heard them singing in the distance around 11pm, but went to sleep anyway. I could hear RC chewing in the yard, so the ponies were unperturbed. I heard them again at 1 AM and they were close. The singing raised the hair on the back of my neck, but I assumed that they hadn’t bothered the horses yet, so they were probably on the other side of the creek. I lay in bed listening.

I heard yipping, singing coyotes. Close, probably not 100 yards from my bedroom window (though I am safely on the second story with poodles snuggled around me).

Then I heard the sound of horses running.

Not good. Not good at all. Flashes of the worst possibly scenario ran through my mind. Delight, cut and bleeding; RC, breaking a leg; A mangy coyote, stomped and mangled but not dead.

In the time it took to sit bolt upright in bed, dislodge the poodles and grab a sweatshirt a there was a new sound.


I made it downstairs, grabbed my shoes, and flung open the front door armed with a flashlight to find… Two horses contentedly munching their hay. I did a quick scan and saw nothing that could possibly harm one of my poor ponies and returned to bed.
Silence, except for the crunching of hay between RC’s big white molars, greeted me. The next morning when I surveyed fed hay, I checked the fence line in the back pasture: 50 feet of downed hotwire.
It took me half an hour to reassemble the fence line to make it horse safe, but no real damage had been done. And I now know what a pack of coyotes sound like when they hit a fence with a ten mile charger on it. Somehow I doubt they’ll be back.

My second run in with nature occurred on my drive home from work on a Friday afternoon. I was slowed to a stop as the car in front of me made a left hand turn. They turned, I lifted my foot off the brake, and a deer moseyed across the road. There isn’t much traffic around here, so I just sat on the road and watched the deer gracefully walk into the forest on the other side of the road. As she disappeared into the green, I lifted my foot to move from brake to gas when BAM.
Evidently Bambi had a buddy. A clumsy simple buddy. The deer bolted from the same tree line that the first doe had come from, only instead of a stately walk, this one chose the blind run method. Right into my stopped truck.

And people say that these things are difficult to hunt?