Monday, April 30, 2012

I don't even LIKE red horses!

I went to my first horse auction this weekend. I’ve always said that I would never, ever go to one. And I probably shouldn’t have. About 5 minutes into walking into the sale barn, I was almost in tears. I got there as they were selling loose horses. $20, $35, $5, $15, Give-away. My bleeding heart almost couldn’t take it. Horses with burrs in their manes and tails, horse with their tails cut off, it was heart breaking. I wanted to take them all home with me. But we weren’t really looking to buy, hubby was there networking.

After all the loose horses were sold, in came the saddle horses. Tiny ponies with Amish kids on their backs and great big smiles were lead in and they went for a pretty good price. A beautiful team of great big almost identical paint horses were ridden in. They were bought as a driving team, but ended up going to separate homes. It was when buddies got split up, that I had the hardest time with. They probably spent their entire lives together, and now they were going to separate places and would never see each other again. Registerd AQHA yearlings with show points went for really cheap. Some of the sellers didn’t get what they wanted for their horses, so they kept them. But most of the horses were going cheap, The most expensive horse of the night was a grade ranch horse that went for $2500. If you listed it on one of the local online classified ads for double, you’d probably get it. Beautiful horses kept going through and hubby kept nudging me asking me if I wanted any of them. I said no. That was until the end of the night.

Yes, we bought a horse. At an auction, something I swore I’d never do. He was sold as a grade quarter horse, but he is BIG and in my opinion probably an appendix quarter horse since he looks a little bit like he's got some TB in there. I suck at horse breeds though so he could just be a quarter horse!  I’d be lying if I said it has been peaches and rainbows since we brought him home. When we first brought him to the pasture and turned him loose, we couldn’t catch him again. Awesome. But hubby did some research and then worked on catching the hard to catch horse. It took about 45 minutes but he caught him again. He is a very, very sweet horse. And he leads like a champ. The boy cover A LOT of ground when he moves. And he has a beautiful canter out in the pasture. But he’s pretty amped up because he’s in a new place. And as we figured out, after the deal was done of course, that we bought him from a horse trader so who knows how many homes this guy has had. We know we are the 3rd home in as many weeks. Buying a horse at an auction is super sketch. Did I make the right decision in buying a horse there? Probably not. Is this going to be a nightmare? More than likely. Am I got to regret this decision every single day for the rest of my life? Probably. Maybe I should start a new blog about him.  Oh and we decided to name him Pistol. If it was entirely my decision, it would be Winston, or Charles, or some other human name. But Pistol was something I just came up with and the only one hubby liked of all my awesome names.  
"You don't even KNOW how much I plan to live up to my new name!"
Pistol was ridden through in the auction ring. We asked the sellers what type of bit he was ridden in, and she said a Tom Thumb because that’s what she uses on all her horses. I have a pile of those bits in my tack room. I’ve never used one, and I’m really not sure how or why I have as many of them as I’ve heard they are pretty harsh bits. I’m not sure if I should switch him to a snaffle, or ride him in a curb, or what the hell I should do. He’s a bit head shy, around his ears. So bridling is going to be a challenge. But one of the reasons we liked him so much was that he was calm and relaxed in the ring. I really hope it wasn’t because he was drugged out of his mind. My friend had an experience like that, hence the reason she named him Ace…because he’d been Ace’d before going into the ring. But the deal is done and we have a new horse! One that I need to figure out, pretty much on my own. I really, REALLY want to get an arena or at the very least a round pen set up. If this horse turns out to be a bronc, I want him to dump me but be confined to a smaller space, There is a hell of a lot of wide open spaces for him to go!

So that is the story of our new horse. I may have a bit of buyer’s remorse kicking in. But he is a very, very sweet horse. He has had a rough couple of weeks, and I want to give him some time to adjust before really trying to figure him out. He seems so distant and detached probably because he thinks he is leaving here in a week. Lets hope everything works out for him and us.

OH, and the best part of this horse....We were looking for something smaller and a different color than our current horses...Not only is this one red, but he TOWERS over the other two! I don't even really LIKE red horses...but red horses sure like me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What music reminds you of your horse?

Before I got my Sirius radio up and running again, I would listen to Classical MPR. Mostly because the radio stations around here had me burned out. I can only listen to the same 15 songs that I don’t even like so many times before I go absolutely crazy. Now if it is a song I like, I can listen to it 24/7 and love it as much as the first time I heard it. As of current, I am obsessed with 90’s on 9, nothing like some sweet 90’s tunes to get you pumped for your day! Am-I-right? N*Sync? Spice girls? Britney BEFORE she went crazy? I challenge you to find sweeter music than that!

I digress, listening to Classical MPR is amazing. They play classical music that is sometimes so beautiful you want to cry. And they can play a piece I’ve heard before, but I pick up parts I never noticed the first time I heard it. The thing with classical music is that you have to use your imagination and put a story to the music, well that’s what I do anyways, maybe I’m a weirdo. I think this peculiar behavior stems back to a project we had to do in first grade music class. The teacher played a song and asked us to draw a picture to go with it. For whatever reason I remember drawing horses galloping across an open field. Why that stuck out in my head, I cannot tell you. First grade was a long time ago.  Anyways when I was driving to work one beautiful sunny morning a couple months a song in came on the radio that instantly made me think of riding Piney. Grand Canyon Suite: III On the Trail by Ferde Grofe. You may recognize parts of it from one of the best movies ever, A Christmas Story. I started giggling, because I visualized riding the cone-man absolutely perfectly. I also just pictured him waddling around in the pasture. So for those of you who are wondering what it’s like to ride my OTTB close your eyes and listen to this song.

I’m sure most OTTB owners/riders have much, much different music that comes to mind when they think of riding their horse. Maybe it’s some heavy metal, maybe it’s some awesome 80’s pop song, fast paced techno, maybe it’s even some powerful classic music with a lot of cymbals crashing and bass drums banging. What music reminds you of your horse?

Monday, April 23, 2012

busy but bittersweet weekend.

Last weekend went by too quickly. I absolutely hate that we only have two days off. I wish every weekend was three days, or at least, we had a 3 day weekend once a month. Like Canada, I miss that. OR better still, have spring, fall, summer and winter breaks like in Sweden. Everyone has a week off each season. Now THAT would be spectacular. When I lived there I just couldn’t believe that everyone had week long breaks throughout the year.

Anyways Friday we loaded up the horse trailer…with furniture and misc stuff from our garage at our old townhouse. Boring. BUT  it is very useful to have a horse trailer with a ramp to move stuff with. If only we had it months ago we probably would have gotten a lot more done, faster than we did. Saturday was cold and drizzly and windy. I had the unfortunate task of unloading the trailer, alone. BOOO! But I found some horse stuff that I’d been wondering where in the heck it was hiding. I’ve got that barn so packed full of tack I could have a string of horses tacked up. We are actually looking for another horse or pony. If I could go out west to the place where I got Piney and get another horse with Piney’s personality and temperament, I wouldn’t hesitate to rush out there and pick one up. I mean another free Thoroughbred? Sure! But I really won the thoroughbred lottery with him. Of course he isn’t the prize for most other people riding thoroughbreds, because he is lazier than any horse I’ve ever encountered and it takes, a lot, I mean A LOT to get him going. His need for speed, fizzled out years ago. But he is perfect for me and for most of the people that I have riding him….absolute beginners.  He’s forgiving, and sweet, and he isn’t going to take off with you. I’d take another Piney in a heartbeat. But I fear that the next one I get from out west, would require a bit more work. And I’m really not sure I am strong enough as a rider to ride a hotter Thoroughbred, well not without an arena. I’ve ridden hotter Turd-breds before, but it was in the arena, with my riding instructor holding my hand the entire way. We’ll see what happens. I really do love Thoroughbreds and free is a pretty good price. I think I need to own up to my riding abilities and realize that I’m a much better rider than I give myself credit for.
Saturday night we cleaned up and headed into town. A good friend of ours is headed to Afghanistan for another tour of duty. We barbequed, and ate way too much. Fricken people brought all really good salads and dips.   So I ate and ate and ate. I made a cake batter dip that I saw on Pinterest. (recipe here) Wow. I wanted to just use a spoon and eat it, so did the other girls I was with. We held back the urge. About 9 oclock we all had to have a cup of coffee…since when did we get so old that we need a cup of coffee before going out on a Saturday night? Pre bar drinks used to be booze. Lots of booze. If you had coffee, it had better have booze in it. Getting old sucks.

The night was bitter sweet. It was a lot of fun getting everyone together, but at different parts of the night I was flooded with waves of sadness. Our friend is leaving behind his year and a half year old son, and his wife of 3 months. He is my husband’s really good friend, and I’ve gotten to know both him, and his wife pretty well. Right before we ate, his wife said a prayer and she broke down crying. My guts were being ripped apart hearing her. Later on in the night, I was sitting across from her and she was talking to me about him coming home and that she wanted me to be there to photograph his homecoming.  She stopped talking, her eyes were filling with tears, and she just reached over and squeezed his hand. I assured her that I would be there at the drop of a hat for her. She has been having a really hard time with her friends not pulling through for her lately. Hearing that broke my heart. We aren't like totally bff's or anything but I want to help her out any way I can. Tonight we are doing a military family photo shoot. My friend, who is a professional photographer, and I are going to take some photos of them that we can send to him when he is over there.  He leaves in less than a week. I still can’t even believe it that he is going back and will be gone for over a year.
Ok, I’m super depressed now…NEW TOPIC! Sunday, I woke up bright and early and started raking up the grass clippings that I had raked into rows last fall. I gathered them all up and dumped them neatly in a nice big pile on the edge of the yard. Hubby came out and informed me that I should be burning them. Great! Thanks for letting me know AFTER I killed myself getting that done. I also found a couple wood ticks crawling on me and a few on the dogs. I’m getting their frontline tonight. I am going to apply some to myself lol YUCK. And then my dog found a dead mouse, and my hubby found another dead mouse. I’m glad they are dying, but I’d rather not deal with their disgusting, yet adorable little corpses. When I see them I shudder then I feel bad because they are cute. But I cremated them both in the burn barrel. Because of my yard work out, I can barely move. I wore myself out big time. I am getting to old for this. So I am currently in the process of hiring a lawn boy…Not sure how my hubby feels about it, but he will learn to adapt.

I’m sure ya’ll are dying for some horse updates. So here we go. I haven’t ridden in forever. It’s always one thing or another. But I did have a little lesson for the boys yesterday. I wanted them up in the front corral so they could mow it down a bit. So I grabbed Piney and he came along just fine. And was happy to be up there. And then there was Duke. You’d think he was training for the Kentucky Derby the way he was galloping around the pasture when I got back to him. I couldn’t even get near him. His buddy was gone and his world was crashing down upon him. He was freaking the eff out. When I did manage to get a halter near him he blew past me and continued doing his laps. So I decided now was as good as time as any to be weaned from his “brother”. He kept galloping, and calling out to Piney, who was happily munching on some grass not even noticing he was alone, not once returning his call. Eventually Duke calmed down and went about his normal life. Hubby wanted me to get Duke and put him with Piney so he would calm down, I told him that he needs to learn that being alone isn’t going to kill him. And it didn’t. I might try to separate them a few more times to get him used to the idea that Piney might be going on trips that Duke isn’t invited too. But that horse is way WAY too buddy sour. He needs to snap out of it. He’s also become a complete ASS to catch. I have no idea what has snapped in is brain, but it’s next to impossible to catch him, even if Piney is right next to him. We have a list of things we will be working on.

So yeah that’s about it. I need to start riding, but I have too much to do. Wah! Maybe once my lawn boy starts I can have more free time to ride ;-)

Monday, April 9, 2012

We did it.

Well we did it, we finally bought a horse trailer! After searching for about two years and missing out on a few that we liked, we finally found one! It is a 95 CM Circuit Champion. She isn’t fancy, or pretty , and she definitely needs some tlc and a bath. She’s got some rust and dents but her frame is solid, floors are great, has new tires, electric breaks, and the ramp has been redone. AND it meets two of my major requirements. It has two full sized escape doors, and is 7ft high. After my “incident” with the 3/4 sized escape doors I knew I didn’t want to mess around with them again. I’m sure I’d learn to be comfortable with them someday, but they are just so darn awkward to maneuver through, especially when you need to get in and out in a hurry.  Like I did that one day that smashed my head open. Horses are fun right?
Since the trailer has the two full escape doors it doesn’t have a manger or tack storage. That isn’t really a huge deal for me. I have a quad cab pickup so I can just toss my saddles in the back seat, and keep the rest of my stuff in the truck bed under the cover. No biggie! Plus, not having the manger, and the full doors, It is like having a walk in dressing room.

When it comes to loading our horses is kind of a challenge, I won’t lie about that. If anyone reading this has trailer loading tips please share! I would love to hear how to make it easier on both the horses and myself! Duke is a old fashioned fella. He loves stock trailers and he hates ramps. The simpler the trailer the better for him. We did try loading him in the trailer last night just to see if he would fit. Using grain and hay and some patience he walked right up into the trailer, and we were able to see that he had PLENTY of room! Both in the front, back and both sides. Hooray! We never closed the butt bar, or the back doors all the way, we just wanted a little victory of getting him into the trailer. I am worried that he is going to panic once we get him in the trailer and then close the butt bar. Ok, so I ‘m pretty freaked out about that. I have nightmares about trailering. I’d like to hope that when we close the butt bar and he backs up into it he will be like “oh, I guess I will stay in here and continue eating this hay!” But in my head he will back up into it, and then start thrashing around and rearing up, and basically just flipping out. Let’s hope it’s more like the first one. But my crazy post traumatic brain thinks it will be the second one.
Piney on the other hand, doesn’t really mind ramps on trailers, he just hates everything about the insides of  trailers. I could be completely wrong here, but I think he feels claustrophobic when he loads into the trailer. Of course once he is locked in there he settles down, but getting him to calm the eff down in order to get him locked in there is pretty traumatic. He’s kicked people loading him, and he’s smashed my head like a cherry tomato when he decided he wanted out NOW. Of course the best method to get him in a trailer, and one I’ve used a few times is to give him a tranquilizer cocktail before his journey.  I mean hey, who doesn’t like a little something, something to help you relax before a trip? I enjoy a cocktail or two before I fly anywhere and I’m not even scared of flying! But I don’t readily have tranquilizer on hand, it’s usually the vet who will get him his fix. One of the last times he was loaded up into the trailer it took 3 men to get him into the trailer. The time before that, I had given him some calming paste.  I’m really hoping to work on getting him into the trailer easier. I WANT to bring him to clinics, and shows, and out on trail riding adventures and I want to be able to do it alone. I worry about the same thing happening to Piney when the butt bar closes, that he will flip out and panic. So like I said if you have any trailer loading advice share away!
I did haul the trailer for the last leg of our adventure. I’d never before hauled a horse trailer and I’m very glad that both the parts of Minnesota and North Dakota I drove through were very flat. It had been a long, LONG day for us. We woke up at 6 to get on the road by 7 and down to the twin cities area to look at the trailer at 11. We bought the trailer and then we went to the happiest place on earth, IKEA, to shop for our new bathroom, then off to the Mall of America for a little shopping. We got back on the road about 5 and we wanted to swing out to my lake place to visit my parents for a bit. The GPS ended up taking us on the longest possible route to my cottage ever. So we got to the lake about 10PM we stopped for a quick visit and then headed home. Hubby said he was tired, after all he did have to haul the trailer most of the day and THROUGH Minneapolis/StPaul traffic, so I offered to drive the rest of the way home. Of course I had no idea how to pull a trailer at that point, but since it was 10:30 at night, and the roads were pretty dead, I decided to give it a shot. Plus we didn’t have to go through town or make any crazy turns so it really wasn’t that bad.  The trailer hauled really well, of course I can’t say much from my limited experience hauling a trailer, but after I got going I almost forgot it was there. I thought about where I would be hauling horses and how easily I would get there. I decided that so far, everywhere I would go wouldn’t require any in town driving. Hooray! The Horse park, where all of the English shows and clincs are, is located outside town. The vet, is on the edge of town and so is the fair grounds. I’m getting excited about the thought of hauling horses, but the getting them in and out scares the crap out of me. That will come with practice loading and gettin over what happend. I am totally open to horse trailer training tips and advice!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Invasion of my home and property! HELP!

There was been an invasion of my home. And it isn’t the first time either. MICE. There are freakin MICE in my home! A few weeks ago I was in the barn getting the horses their supper when I saw a little mouse zip across the barn isle and I about lost it. Then last week I was pulling down horse blankets looking for a specific one and I found a little stash of cat food that had been placed in one of my blankets. Great. Mice in the barn, which is to be expected in the country. But in my freakin house!
Hubby called me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I put a fake mouse on the living room rug. Hilarious, but no I didn’t do it this time. Sure enough a mouse went to the middle of our living room rug to die. I thought that maybe the dogs brought it in and were leaving it there for a snack later. But he said that the mouse was clean and not slobbery.
Last night when I was going to get the dogs their supper I looked down and noticed the bag had been chewd and some of the food was spilled out on the floor. If my dogs wanted into the bag of food, they would tip the whole thing over not chew a hole in the bag. Yes I know, I know. Storing the dog food in the bag and not a container is partially my fault for the mice but still. YUCK. And the worst part…it’s out on the porch/laundry/storage room. It was at one time a porch but it had walls added and then it had pipes added for the laundry and then tons of cabinets and a closet. So naturally I started putting all the boxes I had yet to go through in there until I was ready to find homes for all of my treasures. Okay so it kinda looks like a hoarders room right now but I’m GETTING TO IT! Now I’m absolutely terrified to open any boxes for fear that a mouse has made it his home for his little family. YUCK. I jokingly told my friend I was going to buy some snakes and set them free in my house. I’m scared of mice AND snakes but the snakes are less creepy. YUCK, YUCK, YUCK!
I don’t know if I mentioned before, but we had a friend bring some cats to our place. I saw the first one for about .5 seconds. My hubby let her out of the cage and she took off. I don’t know where she went as the barn was closed. We figure she was hiding somewhere and we’d find her later. Nope. The second cat, I never saw. Our friend dropped her off when we were in town at a wedding. He said he dropped her off and she tried to take off down the road back to his place. He caught her and put her back in the barn. Never to be seen again. I had made a really nice warm shelter for the cats in one of those “dogloo” houses that I filled with hay and straw. I also put out fresh food and water but apparently they wanted nothing to do with it. I think the problem is that they were older and feral and wanted to get back to their home. They did not like people. At all. Which I guess is okay, in a barn cat. But I kinda like friendly barn cats.
I’ve been searching on Craigslist for another cat or two. I’d love to get one that is already spayed/neutered and up to date on its shots. There are plenty of those out there, but they are declawed. That won’t really work for an outdoor cat. The fact that there are mice in my house, I will let the cat come into the house if he/she desires. I grew up with house cats, and I actually kind like having them around. Of course I don’t like the hair they leave on EVERYTHING, or the fact that I need to clean a litter box, but they are nice to have around.
A friend suggested I go to the local humane society and get some cats. I would, but years ago they shot me down from adopting a barn cat. I went in to inquire about getting another cat for the barn I was managing at the time. I walked into the room and saw all the cats, and then they asked why I was looking to adopt a cat. You’d think I told them I was going to use the cat for a sacrifice or some sort of morbid ritual. They promptly said “these are indoor only cats. I’m sorry”. I told them that the barn was nicer than most people’s homes (it was, that place was rediculious) , was heated, it would recive proper vet care and the cat would have fresh food and water daily. But they kept shutting me down, they didn’t even want to listen. So later that week I was at a horse show when I saw some girl had a bunch of kittens that she was trying to find homes for. I took one home and I have to admit that cat got better care than probably most of those cats that did eventually find homes. The cats at the barn had their own room, they received science diet cat food (canned food in the am, dry food in the pm), had vet checks with the horses, and one day the owners of the barn thought the cats needed some toys so they went to petco and brought those little monsters a cat tower, a new bed, and a whole bag of toys. I spent most of the day with the cats (they would ride in my hood when I was doing chores). They were loved and treated very well. PLUS they loved catching things and leaving them by my barn boots. Please tell me why that life was worse than living inside a house? Whatever I guess. I think I’m just going to have to pick up a few kittens from someone giving them away instead of trying to do something nice and adopt one.
Anyways, I am going to the store after work to stock up on TONS of mouse poison, maybe pick up a few snakes from the petstore, I will look into adopting a mountain lion or bobcat to live in the barn, and inquire about falconry. I think having a trained falcon would help with the mouse problem. If you have any advice on getting rid of those awful mice creatures. PLEASE let me know. I’m growing sick of them!