Tuesday, October 30, 2012

C. and Val are fine - but no internet!

C. and Val (Calm, Forward, Straight who blogs at Transition to Harmony) phoned this morning to let me know that she and Val are both fine. They made it through Sandy, never lost power, but are stuck on the island and have no internet. Aside from what sounded like a terrifying untying of a tarp in the night with 60 mph winds from the top of a ladder, I think they had very few issues on the farmette.

She reported that Val was sleeping in the sunshine today and loving it.

She especially wanted me to let folks know that she is thinking of everyone still dealing with the hurricane and its aftermath.

Sending good thoughts to everyone affected by this storm.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

goings-on on November Hill

Yesterday I had a nice relaxed day - a morning ride on Cody and then an evening ride on Keil Bay. Even though I had a chauffering gig (mom to two teenaged humans) in mid-afternoon, and it took longer than I thought it would, the day still felt expansive. I love those days.

Today was a bit different. Early in the day my daughter came in to tell me she'd just seen Dickens (cat) sitting in the clearing in our neighbor's back yard. One of the mama does walked out of the woods with her fawn and they walked up to Dickens and sniffed him. Leave it to Dickens - he's charmed the horses and donkeys, and now he's working on the deer.

We had to hurry through chores, as we had a lot of running around to do today. I was relieved when I ended up back home mid-afternoon. As soon as I walked in the house I went to the kitchen window and looked out to see if Salina was in her stall in the barn. Her window was empty, but the moment I thought of her she popped her head out and looked right at me. A little while later she, Keil Bay, and the two donkeys were out in the barnyard grazing side by side. Seeing the gleaming black mare, the bright red bay, and the silver and red donkeys was a reminder of why I love being here. I love looking out my windows and seeing the equines all day long.

I headed out and immediately the action started. Our neighbors are having a huge wedding on their farm this weekend and today the big white tent went up. The truck that delivered it rattled and banged as it drove out of their driveway and up our gravel lane. The pony was down at the front fence when it passed and he galloped up like a race horse, right to me, and stopped. He looked me right in the eyes as if he were saying, "Did you see THAT?"

Salina, Keil Bay, and the donkeys came through the barn to make sure everything was okay. Cody was his usual laid-back self. A few minutes later a huge noise started up - I think they were having their sewage tank pumped out. We waited out the noise together, mucking in the front field. When it stopped the quiet was huge and lovely.

I did some chores and fed Salina. Keil Bay insisted that he too, is a senior and needs, desperately, his own senior meal. I had some extra beet pulp so I gave him a serving of beep and oats with water.

Redford Donkey has had a hoof abscess brewing and finally, today, after several nights of wrapping and remedies, he is better. In spite of his hoof he's been as active as ever, but it's nice to see a normal gait returning.

Everyone got their HA gel and some carrots, I finished chores, and by then it was near dark. They all go out with hay until the late feed around 9:30 p.m. Salina headed to the back field to find some acorns. Redford followed. Keil Bay sauntered out. Cody came up to me and looked right in my eyes - was I sure I didn't want to ride him again? Tomorrow, I assured him.

Tomorrow is a free day. Just horses and donkeys and cats and Corgis. And me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

post-chiro bliss

Today I rode Keil Bay after my adjustment yesterday - it's been close to 6 weeks since my last one - and now that he AND I are both clear, the big swinging walk was truly back. My legs were longer and my feet felt really loose and relaxed and flexible in the stirrups. No twinging anywhere in my body!

We did a lot of shoulder-in, shoulder-fore, and flexing the poll at the walk. At one point when we got to the free walk (my version, where Keil can do anything he wants as long as he keeps up a big swinging gait), he did his own spiral in and out on a 15m circle. I was impressed - it feels to me like he does what he needs to stretch things out. 

The relaxation was a good thing today, as the neighbors drove their truck into their far-back yard area while I was riding, and were unloading something on the other side of their sheds. Keil was a bit alarmed at the ruckus, but handled it well.
Things got a little sticky when they finished. Dickens headed back there to see what they'd done, Cody and the pony went to the back field and proceeded to spook and gallop and play, and Keil went from normal relaxed swinging walk to poll in the clouds - super alert mode. We had to do circles and I had to keep an eye on Cody and the pony, who ended up galloping to the back gate of the arena and tried to open it to get in with Keil and me!

As soon as we got settled down, Dickens trotted up from the woods with something in his mouth and between his tossing whatever it was in the air and then chasing it, the geldings still spooking in the back field, and Matthew appearing in the barn out of nowhere, I decided it was time to end the ride. Keil had already come to a halt that said clearly: I'm ready to be done.

And so we were. More tomorrow.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gentleman's Agreement

I've noticed the past month or so that suddenly the geldings' side of the barn has gotten tidier. Keil Bay has always been, at best, a slob in his stall. He was like that when he was stalled for portions of the day/night, and he has remained that way with back doors perpetually open to the great wild yonder.

To be fair, he's a big horse and if he turns in the stall he tends to stir up any manure, hay, whatever is lying in there, into one big swirl. Though if he would choose to drop the manure along the stall wall this swirl would be much less likely to happen.

Cody is the neatest of the geldings. He has selective areas for urine and manure and he doesn't get hay all over the place. His water bucket stays clean too. No hay dunking for him.

The pony is neater than Keil Bay, but to be fair, he IS smaller and so it's easier for him to move around without stirring things up. He tends to clean up every strand of hay and that too makes his stall a bit nicer.

We could speculate that the manner in which these guys keep their stalls is directly related to how they have been kept in their lives.

Keil Bay has always had people coming in and mucking up after him a number of times a day. To put it another way, he is extremely accustomed to maid service.

Cody was young when he came to us, but based on what I saw when we bought him, I suspect he spent much of his young life in a stall, with very specified turn-outs. If one stays in a stall more hours than not, keeping it tidy is a sort of self-protective mechanism.

The pony lived out for the most part. Being in a stall at all was relatively new to him, and he seems half-annoyed and half-intrigued with the notion of being in a "room." He definitely does NOT understand the concept of "room of one's own" and is constantly barging in and out of Keil Bay's room and Cody's room, which as you've read before, creates a problem sometimes.

I've noted before that the three of them tend to play musical stalls when the back doors are open. They often sneak out of their own stall and drop manure in each other's spaces.

But recently something different has been happening. Out of the blue, they seem to have come to a gentleman's agreement. Manure goes outside the stalls, underneath the shelter, to the right. Urine goes outside the stalls, underneath the shelter to the left.

Sometimes the agreement shifts. Today the manure went outside the stalls to the right, but urine went in the end stall along the back wall. As it happens, that stall is the pony's and it had more/deeper pine bedding than the other two.

I wonder what Cody and the pony had to do to get Keil Bay to concede to this agreement?

Did the pony agree to stay out of Keil's stall if Keil would knock off the slob behavior? Did Cody mediate and use his low-man-in-the-herd status to sneakily get the two squabblers to come to a truce?

Did Keil suddenly decide to have a slightly-past-midlife crisis and change his ways?

I have no idea, but I can tell you - maid service has gotten easier!

Friday, October 12, 2012

learning to leave well enough alone

I was absolutely intent on getting back in the arena with Keil Bay today, and instead of going out to the barn and riding this morning, which is what we'd been doing, I ended up getting caught up in my own silly desire to make everything better.

First, I took my iPad to the barn and after feeding them breakfast I sat with my tea by the arena and checked out the new dressage test app I bought. I hadn't really looked at the new tests and as I was reviewing them I decided that Intro A, B, and C would be really good ways to continue getting both of us back in shape. This is an example of me going over the top with goals - instead of picking one of them and learning it, I figured I could do ALL THREE. Today.

Fine. At that point, I was already in over my head as far as getting things done before actually riding, but it wasn't obvious to me yet. If I was going to be doing the tests, I wanted to put the dressage markers back out in the arena.

Again, fine. Except then I decided before I put the markers in place I would get the leaves up underneath the two oak trees at H and F. There were 4 wheelbarrow loads of leaves so that took a little while.

Then I started obsessing over Keil's wither adjustment. What if my newfound springing into the saddle had put it out of whack to begin with? My practical, sensible daughter said she doubted that was the case, and she's probably right, since I was springing into the saddle from the equivalent of a 3-step mounting block. But in my obsessing I decided to raise the mounting block another entire step, which required moving some cement blocks from the barnyard to the far end of the arena.

About the time I finished all of this I realized I was getting a sore throat. I've held off the mild flu bug everyone else in my family has, but it hit sometime mid-day. But I really really wanted to ride.

This evening I went out and got Keil Bay ready. I realized I was going to have to abandon tests B and C and just ride A. I jotted down the test on a piece of paper so I could check it if needed in the saddle.

Off we went to the mounting block. It was so high I was almost unable to climb up onto it. However, it worked.  The mounting block is so high now there is no hesitation on my part at all - I couldn't wait to get off that block and into the saddle! My sore throat went away and the arena looked nice. The sun was out of the arena for the most part and there were no bugs. Salina and the donkeys came from the front field to the back field to graze alongside the arena and keep us company.

We did a long warm-up and then our usual transition into trotting. Keil went from 0 to 60 in terms of alertness and responsiveness about halfway into the ride, which I wasn't expecting. Instead of enjoying his energy and his movement, I got very caught up in that stupid dressage test and wanting to be able to do it - well, not perfectly, but - better than respectably.

The crazy thing is that I switched gears suddenly.  He revved up energy-wise and I took that right into the test. We were doing our usual routine and then I turned down center line. Keil knows the dressage tests, or at least he did know them until they changed them - so he was trying to do what he thought I was asking him to do, but it wasn't right. Because I was going by my piece of paper.

In hindsight I should have just done the old test at least one time. That would have been a compromise on my part. But.

I got a little agitated. Partly it was me not feeling well, but ignoring that, and part of it was wanting to do a good test. We did it once passably, but there was not much relaxation going on on MY part. Keil was confused at first, then he got annoyed, then he went into high gear.

We went into a second try and about halfway through I realized how ridiculous I was being. We've had a number of days off, a big chiro adjustment for Keil, NO chiro adjustment for me, and I know I need one (it's scheduled, my last one had to be canceled so I'm about 5 weeks now without one), and today I probably had a low grade fever by the time I got in the saddle.

Thankfully I just stopped riding the test, put my cheat sheet away, and finished the ride we should have had from the beginning - a low-key, let's get back to work but from a place of relaxation, this is for FUN kinda ride.

Instead what we got was like using the big Kitchen Aid mixer and accidentally turning it on high without locking it down. Neither of us were quite ready for the energy today but it's good to know it's there when we ARE ready.

Of course, even though I was pushing both of us to do something on a piece of paper, which is actually less than what we have been doing on our own in terms of complexity and actual work, I got agitated in the process and made it much harder. Still, when we finished and I got off, Keil Bay googled his eyes at me, licked and chewed, rubbed his head on my shoulder, and when I put both hands in between the side pieces of his bridle he wiggled his head up and down giving himself a nice scratch.

I thanked him for putting up with my nonsense. He was pretty gracious about it.

And then he sauntered into the barn aisle and stood at the feed room door, waiting patiently for his snack while I untacked him.

After he finished and went out with the herd,  I should have come inside and taken a hot bath. But my crazy obsessive mood today kicked back in and I cleaned my boots, his bridle, and the saddle before coming in! And now my sore throat is back and I have the whole nasal thing kicking in as well.

Possibly this is what I get for going 90 miles an hour into October. When I don't slow myself down, my body does it for me. :)

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Singing Hanoverians, part three, and fall is HERE!

Here's the third segment of the Singing Hanoverians.

Otherwise, we are all enjoying a huge dip in temperatures, but would be enjoying it more if it were not accompanied by RAIN. Oh, well.

The chiropractor was here today and Keil Bay had a weird sort of hip rotation but the main out of whackness was in his lower wither - he absolutely wanted it adjusted but it was sore, so he would bob his head (do it! do it!) and then step away when she did. After a couple of tries, he stopped and let her really fix it, and I let him stay in the barnyard and near side of the barn alone all morning while the rest of the herd went out. Around here, staying"in" like that is actually a treat, so he was happy as could be.

He's moving with his panther swing again and we'll see how the next ride goes in a couple of days.

Salina got her adjustment as well - she had a minor hip rotation, a couple of neck things, one lumbar thing, but all were minor and she is in fine form today - she has dapples all over her coat, which is nice and fluffed with the chilly weather, and she was really perky and moving fast. The donkeys had themselves a rodeo, and in general, the entire herd was really up and silly.

It's nice to see some frisk after the long hot summer of 2012!

We have hoof trims tomorrow and Thursday is our busy day, so by week's end we should be back to riding around here. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

the Singing Hanoverians, part two

We've had a short warm spell here this week, and yesterday my time got used up as I gave Salina a nice shampoo bath in advance of the cold front that is moving in tomorrow. It was warm enough that I opted not to ride, and I think Keil Bay was relieved that we were taking the day off.

There are very tiny gnats plaguing all of us, but hopefully the cooler temps rolling in will take care of them.

Meanwhile, I'm uploading part two of the Singing Hanoverians. In this one you get a taste of what they sound like, and also a sense of how patient they are with their Very Slow Woman who often gets caught up in the minutiae of preparing the tubs and loses sight of the end result: breakfast for hungry horses and donkeys!

Here you go, part the second.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

the Hanoverian Chorus, part one, with the Squeaking Hinges

This week I decided to try and capture a bit of our morning routine here on November Hill. It was a gray and soggy day, and when I announced to the equines that I planned to document their performance for the blog they went uncharacteristically quiet.

The percussion section, as you will see, never even started up. But they eventually warmed up and I think you can get a small sense of what the regular chorus sounds like. Although the Hanoverian Chorus is the big act, you'll also see that the back-up act sort of steals the show. Alas, that is just how things go sometimes!

It was fun to see what goes on behind my back while I'm mixing up the feed tubs. :)

So without further ado, the Hanoverian Chorus, part one:  (click link to go to my YouTube channel! The rest of this series is still to come!)

Riding update:

We've had a few days off due to schedule craziness and rainy days, but this morning the Big Bay and I got back in the arena together and worked through a bit of stiffness to end up with a really nice bit of trot work. 

His chiropractor was set to be here on Wednesday but had a flat tire, and I think he needs her. I can feel one hip sitting slightly higher than the other at the beginning of our rides, though it feels like it works through to a more normal placement by the end of our walking warm-up. 

Today I was set to just do walking, but the sitting trot/walk intervals seemed to really feel good to Keil - he did them beautifully and then clearly wanted to go into big trot work, which we did.

We were joined by two donkeys who followed single line into the arena - after the rainy days, they too wanted to get a work-out. Theirs was a bit more rigorous than ours - involving flat out running, bucking, snorting, playing donkey-go-round, and they went in and out of the arena at times to run the entire front field and the dirt paddock. 

Must be nice to be young and flexible. :)