Saturday, March 28, 2015

taking a little break to celebrate...

I'm so proud of and happy for my daughter, who has been accepted to two colleges and offered a merit scholarship at one!  And a good friend has moved to the beach and it was a great time to visit and see her new place.

Lots of birds and wind and surf this afternoon, and videos and photos from husband who is taking care of everyone on November Hill. 

For today, a new view:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

me and Darth Bay

Yesterday was so warm we needed the fly mask to keep the gnats out of Keil Bay's ears. But we are HAPPY to be riding and stretching our muscles. 

I've got a little bit of a Mad-Eye Moody thing going on so maybe it should be Darth Bay and Mad-Eye Me.


Today's ride was cooler and no fly mask needed, so we were back to me and the Big Bay and triple peppermints at the end of some nice work. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

a cocoa-puff turns 12

Yesterday we had a big birthday party for our lovely Quarter Horse, Cody, aka Cocoa-Puff, aka Coden-Locomoden. He came to live with us when he was only 2 years old and now he is 12. It's amazing to think that he has spent so much of his life on November Hill.

Cody is a sweet horse and a handsome one. He also has PSSM, which is controlled by regular work, a balanced low-carb diet that includes freshly-ground flax, extra vitamin E, and ALCAR (acetyl l-carnitine). For most of his years in the November Hill herd, Cody has been the horse who never pinned his ears, was easily moved away from food or the best spot or pile of hay, and always sent out first to investigate scary things.

The past couple of years he has started to assert himself more. He and Keil Bay are best buddies and he also loves playing tag with the pony (over a fence which keeps him from having to deal with the pony's relentless bossiness) and with Redford donkey with whom he has a very special friendship. Cody was the natural choice to be with Rafer Johnson the first night Rafer came to us as a young 6-month old donkey. Salina was all over Rafer and so intense we felt Rafer needed a calmer buddy for his first night, and that was Cody. He and Rafer remain fast friends. (Keil Bay and the Little Man thought Rafer was something from another planet and were completely out of the running as donkey companions at that point!)

Cody has beautiful movement and is the most playful of the horses. It's been really fun to see him grow up and come into his own in the herd. Under saddle he is sensitive and responsive, a real joy to ride.

Happy birthday, Cody!! Whether in sunshine or snow you're a prince!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

jean luc cornille on compensations

This gorgeous post reveals how we might view our horses as we do ourselves when going back to work after injury, or time off, and also how we might listen to what our horses are telling us when they say no in the ways they can.

We've had our own experiences here with this kind of thing. A pony who needed acupuncture stopped jumping. A QH with PSSM stopped moving. A Hanoverian who needs his chiropractor stamps his hoof when his hip is brushed. 

All of these could be viewed as "disobedience" or "bad" behaviors, and yet these are all good-natured, willing horses. They tell us things with their bodies, they do not use words. A wonderful vet once told me: Assume every negative behavior comes from pain. 

The next question to ask is what's wrong? What's going on? I can all but guarantee you that if you stop and ask this question the horse will give you more information, but first he will drop his head and touch you with his muzzle and say thank you for listening. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

good rides and a gray day

The Big Bay and I have had a couple more nice rides this week. After February's crazy weather and very little time in the arena we are both coming back to work slowly. The first five minutes are not pretty, but we're ending on much better notes. 

I noticed last week that Keil was tracking out slightly with his left hind and am now seeing that is no longer true, so I think our decision to do a lot of walking and a little trotting was the right one.

This week we added the big forward trot work back in, a bit more each ride, and yesterday it felt so good Keil decided he wanted to do more than I asked for. It's always nice when he tells me it's not time to stop. :) 

I'm happy to report that whatever scary things were in the woods the last 5 or so rides we had prior to the snow and ice have departed. I think I've written here that there is a huge amount of logging being done on the other side of the 102-acre wood and many deer have migrated our way. Most days when I'm out I'm seeing large herds traveling on both sides of November Hill and at night they're often right up near the house. The horses and donkeys aren't afraid of them when they're close, but I think hearing them run but not quite seeing them move is unnerving. Or at least it is some of the time. We tend to have a lot of selective spooking around here, meaning sometimes I suspect it's just fun to make something out of ... not very much. 

But last week and this the alertness to the back forest has disappeared and it's making the rides a lot more relaxed than they were. Yesterday Keil's big swinging walk massaged my back and by the end of the ride and then by the end of the day, it felt like I had a lot of good endorphins going. 

Today some rain is moving through so we'll have a break. Right now it's gray outside and through the back window from my seat here on the living room sofa I see a red-headed woodpecker and a cardinal  in the hickory tree, a little morning gift while I write. The bold red against the gray barn makes me think how lovely it would be to have a red door on the house.