Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunshine dreamin'

YAWN. Chief and Calypso nappin' in the sun.

HEY! Stop watching me! I'm outta here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A boo boo update and a gripe

It's kind of funny. As soon as Gabe hit the big 5 I've started feeling more antsy about getting more done with him. It's almost like I'm on more of a time line than I was before. This damned weather is keeping me out of the saddle. Grrr.

His leg is definitely better. It gets scrubbed, medicated and re-wrapped every day. The puncture wounds are healing very nicely and no infection ever showed up. I figure another four days of wrapping ought to be good. I just don't want it to get dirty, and with all this mud, keeping it sealed up snugly beneath gauze and a bandage is the best thing.

I think I've mentioned before that my youngest daughter takes weekly riding lessons. So far we've been pleased with the lessons she's getting. She's learning and having fun and making friends. However, that said, I haven't been terribly pleased about the communication between the trainer, the barn owner and us. More than once we've shown up at our scheduled time only to find out the lesson time had been changed and no one bothered to let us know. The trainer thought the BO called us, the BO thought the trainer called us. Some where the communication broke down and we showed up late and missed her lesson. The barn is NOT close to my house. The last time this happened I called the BO and was kind of a bitch about the whole thing. I felt a little bit of bad doing it because she is an absolutely wonderful woman in all other aspects, but she had to understand how very, very unprofessional it is to not communicate with your clients, especially in the current economic climate. I made it very clear to her that I am not unreachable by any stretch of the imagination and not calling me is absolutely unacceptable. She has my work number, my cell number, my home number and my email address.

So, the latest thing we are dealing with is this: Her riding instructor recently got accepted for a pretty awesome job. She's moving to the Himalayas for a couple of years to teach survival classes. She's leaving at the end of next month. Awesome eh? However, I didn't hear a word about it from the BO or from the instructor herself. I had to hear it from another mother who's daughter Kayleigh rides with. Then I heard it from a couple of other mothers and two barn workers.

There is no word yet about who will be teaching the girls when the current instructor is gone. Am I being ridiculous or expecting too much to think we should be kept in the loop about what's going on? I spent some time finding a barn I was comfortable having my daughter take lessons at. I looked at all the school horses (school horse care is VERY important to me) and I watched a few lessons with a couple of different instructors before I selected who I wanted to teach her. I put in some time researching and watching to make sure I was getting my kid into the right environment where she would learn PROPERLY.

I'm starting to feel like I won't have that option when the instructor leaves. I have worked for barns that don't hesitate at all to fob their "advanced students" off to teach the beginner riders and then charge the same amount for the lesson that they would charge for a lesson with a certified instructor. That's not okay with me. Just because you can ride well doesn't mean you teach well and I think it's a bad practice.

I'm willing to wait a little bit longer to find out what they plan to do, but I guarantee I will NOT be a happy camper if we show up for her lesson and we have some unknown out in the ring giving lessons.

Riding lessons are a LUXURY for Kayleigh, not a necessity. She has her own horse and I'm quite experienced at giving beginner/intermediate riding lessons. I can teach her myself but know from past experience that family teaching family isn't always the best mix, especially when it's a mother/daughter situation. I signed Kayleigh up for lessons so she can have the experience of riding several different horses and be able to ride with other kids her age. Riding with mom is fun, but riding with girls your age? That's golden.

I guess we'll just wait to see what happens.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

He's a big boy now

Gabe is 5 years old today! Happy birthday, big guy!

I'm getting him a bag'o peppermints and one of these for his birthday:
No, he's not spoiled rotten at all.

I managed (with my hubby's help!) to get his leg scrubbed up and looked at yesterday. He has two small puncture wounds that were well scabbed over. I picked off the scabs and there is no pus, just inflammation. I probed around a bit and couldn't find anything up in there, so, who the heck knows what he did. It almost looks like something bit him, but the two puncture wounds are only on one side of his leg, there are no matching marks or puncture wounds on the opposite side. As far apart as the wounds are it would have had to been something HUGE that bit him. Ponderous. After I scrubbed with hot water and betadine, I dried, applied antibiotic ointment and wrapped it up to keep it clean. He got a couple of Bute last night and a couple more this morning and I'll scrub and re-dress again tonight. I have a bottle of Penicillin that I was tempted to use to nip any infection in the bud, but I decided to wait and see how it looks today. No sense using injectable antibiotics if I don't have to!

Monday, February 16, 2009

As time flies

It's amazing how fast 10 days goes by! Every time something happens I think "Oh, I need to blog that!" and then life gets in the way and I don't.

We spent last weekend at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis with my youngest daughter. She has a pretty nasty staph infection that doctors were afraid was actually a MRSA infection so she got to spend the night in an isolation room, just in case. Thank goodness it wasn't! She's much, much better now.

Gabe has somehow managed to get a fat front leg. He won't let me mess with it and it's been too cold to hose it off so I can't really see what's going on. He is NOT lame on it, so that's encouraging. The last time he scraped a back leg it swelled up pretty big, so I'm thinking he has now managed to scrape his front leg. The way he and Chief fight over/through the fence I wouldn't be surprised if he smacked a T-post and scratched himself nicely. There is NOTHING else in his paddock for him to manage to maim himself on. I'm going to get my husband to help me hold him today and I'm thinking I'm going to have to break out the chain to convince him that standing still is his best option.

It's been too muddy and flooded to ride anyone. Sigh. Our driveway is even soft and our road has been flooded since early last week. *sigh* If it's not one thing, it's another.
No. Really. It's a road. I promise. It's not a boat ramp! The water towards the center of our new "lake" is typically more than a foot deep when it floods like this.

Welcome to "The Bottoms." Every creek leads to the bottoms and dumps all kinds of good silt and muck on the land. As farmland it's extremely fertile and valuable. As long as the flooding happens BEFORE the crop is planted and AFTER it's harvested, so it's kind of a crap shoot when you're farming the bottoms. My daughter rides with the daughter of a woman whose family owns all this land (a few hundred acres) and we have permission to ride on it. There are trails between the fields and through all the woods. And it's great long as it's dry!

I promised pictures of my poor trees. When the men with the chainsaws finally finished up their massacre I took a walk with my camera to assess the damage. My stomach was sick and there were tears in my eyes. All those trees, those beautiful, mature trees, gone. And what hurts the most is I know there were several owls nesting back there, as well as bluebirds and they have no where to live. Kayleigh and I decided we are going to start building bluebird boxes to try to help make up for some of the lost nesting space. But, plans are already in the works to start planting even more trees. We can't plant trees where they cut them down, but we can plant right on the line. Which is what we'll do. I'm planning a variety of evergreen, some hardwoods and holly trees as well as many lilac bushes as I can possibly fit back there! No, it won't be the same as the mature trees, but it's a start.

It's kind of hard to tell because of the fading light, but before the massacre you couldn't see the field on the far side of the creek. Now, you can. My windbreak is gone.

Gone. Just. Gone.

I used to enjoy walking along the creek here. There was a well-used deer trail right on the edge of the high creek bank. Now I'm worried that without the trees we are going to lose the bank entirely. The twin does that have lived in the woods for two seasons are gone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Horses in the snow

Some vids of my horses livin' it up in the snow. I so need a new camera. And Gabe really needs to better learn the definition of my "personal space!"

The first one is almost two minutes. The tiny human you hear is my daughter, Kayleigh. If you listen closely you can hear the horses snorting and blowing at each other. Yes, you heard right. Kayleigh said Chief sounds like a Velociraptor when he blows. He kinda does!

The second one is a bit shorter. Yee haw! I wouldn't want to ride THOSE bucks! Do ya think my kid loves horses as much as I do? hehe!

Monday, February 2, 2009

My three kids

What a stellar day Sunday was! I got each horse ridden or worked and spent nearly my entire day outside in this unseasonably warm weather. Sunny and nearly 50! The snow was melting, the birds were singing, the sky was blue and the guys with the chainsaws were gone. A perfect day to take myself outside and get those wooly mammoth horses working.

I took Chief out first. While he is my daughter's horse, he needs an occasional tune-up to keep him honest. For the most part he's excellent for her, but sometimes, just sometimes, he gets full of himself and forgets how to turn when asked. I get on for a few sessions, remind him of his job and all is well. He was NOT happy about leaving Calypso and Gabe behind and those two certainly raised enough of a ruckus to remind him what he had left behind. We were out road riding for about 45 minutes, mostly at the walk since he isn't very fit at the moment. We saw dogs, peacocks and cows and a really loud ultralight flew over us. He eyeballed everything but was mostly well-behaved.

Then it was Calypso's turn. I haven't ridden her in a few weeks due to the crappy weather. She is barefoot at the moment and is one of those horses who has extremely sensitive feet so I try not to ride her if the ground is really hard. I'd leave her shod through the winter if I thought she'd be stable walking over the frozen ground and ice while wearing iron. She's not a very balanced, athletic or agile horse and I do think she'd go down if I left her walking on iron through the winter iciness, so, she goes barefoot and I don't ride her much while the ground is frozen.

She was a complete and total turd. I took her out on the road too, but in the opposite direction.

She kept trying to haul ass back home and walked very, very slowly away from the house. We went about 1.5 miles and turned around to come back. Holy moly! Instant energy! She couldn't remember how to walk...jigging with a giraffe neck was the only gait she knew! So we did lots of voltes. Lots and lots of voltes. All the way home. As long as she walked nicely (I'd even accept a fast long as it was a walk and not a jig, jog or trot) we'd walk straight. The moment she even thought about switching gears...BAM! Volte. Volte. Volte. Halt. Walk. Good girl. All the way home. What should have taken 20 mins. took nearly 45 mins. But, by the time we hit our driveway she was FINALLY walking nicely on a loose rein. So, she needs more regular work. I knew that. She is not one of those horses you can just pop back on after an extended vacation and all is good. She needs a couple of reminding sessions before all is good.

Finally, I worked Gabe. Obviously I'm not ready to take him out road riding yet and with the snow melting my riding area was a bit squishy. I didn't want to ride him in the squishiness, not after the other two were complete nut cases...I knew he'd be an even sillier nut case! So, he got lunged. He is also one of those who needs fairly regular work or he slips back. He played dumb to my voice commands for a few minutes then straightened up and behaved. We worked on voice commands (halt, walk, trot, reverse) and on keeping our circle round. He really likes to drift in towards me tracking right. I also adjusted the circle size from the end of the lunge line down to volte size and back out again to encourage him to stretch, balance, bend and carry himself, which he did.

Then, he decided to have a stupid moment. Down went the head, up went the heels. Buck, snort, kick, twist, leap, squeal. Did I mention the snow was melting and the ground was a bit squishy? Yup. A bit slippery, too. SMACK! Down he went flat onto his side with a grunt. He stayed flat for a microsecond and was back on his feet, staring at me. He had the gall to look at me like it was somehow MY fault he acted like an idiot and ended up on his butt! You know how sometimes you just have to let kids make mistakes so they learn from them? I have the same philosophy about horses. Gabe made a mistake and he realized it instantly. Whether he blames his fall on me or not, he ceased his rough housing and behaved like a perfect gentleman for the rest of our training session. He was even better behaved and listening nicely! He wasn't hurt, physically. I think his pride and ego were a bit dented, but he is fine. If he learned anything from that fall I hope he learned that HE is responsible for where he puts his feet and HE is responsible for making sure all four feet stay on the ground. And most of all, I hope he learned that goofing around like than on the lunge line is NOT acceptable.

It was a good day. I love how very different each of my horses are. Chief is the slow and steady senior with a bit of sass; Calypso is the ADD/ADHD worry wart and Gabriel is the over-confident teenager with "It wasn't MY FAULT!" issues.