Saturday, October 31, 2009

A tale of two houses

Most of the time I really don't mind not having a "real" barn. I don't have to clean stalls every day, which seriously saves not only my time, but the cost of shavings for three horses. Shavings tend to be the biggest cost for most horse owners! My horses lives outside 24/7 and seem to be quite happy about it. I don't have to worry about them going stall stir-crazy or acting like complete idiots after they've been cooped up for some time.

But when it rains and rains and rains, I do wish I had a barn. Not necessarily because I think the horses would be happier in stalls, but because it is such a pain in the butt to scrape the mud from them before I ride. It would also be really, really nice not to have to slog through the water and mud to feed every day. I don't think the horses really care too much though, but a real barn would certainly be a convenience for me!

Gabe's shed was completed about a month after he came home and he LOOOVES his house. It's 12'x16' and I keep it bedded for him. He sleeps in his run-in. He stands in his run-in when he gets tired of standing in the rain and it stays pretty dry in there unless the wind is blowing the rain sideways. We built up the floor about 8 inches with gravel and fines to keep it out of any standing water. We do get a lot of rain!

It's nothing fancy, but it does it's job. I clean it out probably twice a week and bed only with straw. Gabe definitely takes advantage of the straw bed and in the morning you can see his body impression in the bedding as well as plenty of golden wisps stuck to his body. I also feed him in there. He is a big pig when it comes to his hay and likes to pee on it if I feed him on the ground, so, he gets his hay out of a net. Nothing wastes hay faster than a horse who has a bizarre need to pee on it! He makes a mess of his hay net hay, too, but because the mess is in a corner, he can't really get to it to pee on it, thank goodness! I'm considering one of those small hole mesh hay nets to keep him from pulling so much out of it at once.

Now...we bought all the materials for two run-ins at the same time. The first one was built in less than a month.

The second one?'s still not completely done and it's been well over a year!
At least it has a roof and footing, right?

What is really, really frustrating is we've had to buy all new siding for the second run-in because apparently, sheets of wood don't do very well lying outside in the elements for a whole year. Grrr...

Calypso seems to really appreciate having the shed to stand in. Chief, not so much. He won't go into it unless enticed, Calypso stands in there pretty frequently.

I am hoping (and crossing my fingers!) that the siding will go up on their run-in some time this weekend. Once we get the walls up I'll have to add another four or five inches of footing to it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Save me from the swamp moles!

Ahh...fall. I love fall: The changing leaves, the crisp, cool air, spirited horses, Halloween, bonfires and prepping the gardens for spring. I've already planted about 200 more tulip, daffodil, narcissus, anemone, crocus and iris bulbs/rhizomes. I'm looking forward to seeing them come up in the spring!

However, I can really do without the mud. Rain, I like. Mud, I hate.

I hate the mud pit the paddocks so quickly become after a week of rain. And those silly animals prefer to stand IN the rain, in the mud, instead of going to hang out in their dry, cozy run-in sheds. Chief and Calypso aren't all too fond of their shed, but Gabe, he LOVES his. My family refers to him as Eeyore when he's out there, standing in his run-in, napping with his head down. He kind of does resemble Eeyore a bit, especially on those gray, gray rainy days when there's really nothing to do but hang out in the shed and sleep. I can almost hear him mumbling to himself in Eeyore's deep, woe-is-me voice!

I hate that the mud ruins my training program. I can't very well get out there and work on transitions or lateral work when the "arena" is pastern deep with sucking mud. And we've a recent infestation of MOLES which have done no favors to the condition of my turf arena. Ugh. Just when it was starting to look really, really nice the moles moved in and destroyed a big section of it practically over night.

Yes, I did put poison out for them, much to the dismay of my youngest, Kayleigh. However, when I asked her if she'd rather me kill the moles or have to put her horse down because he broke a leg in one of the mole hills, she was a bit more understanding. I certainly don't relish poisoning the moles, but they can't make their homes in my arena. I haven't seen any dead ones yet, so hopefully they'll just die underground. Wow, that makes me sound horrible. But having your horse tripping through mole hills, holes and tunnels is NOT a fun experience.

We've had the wettest October ON RECORD here. There hasn't been much riding because it seems like it's constantly raining. Constantly. As in every. single. day. I've been able to ride a few times during the month, but, of course, when I can't ride Gabe consistently each ride is a "reminder" session instead of a session where I can introduce something a bit new or work on something we had issues with last time.

If I don't ride regularly he behaves like a nutty juvenile for the first 10 min. of each session before he'll settle down enough to get to work. Some days, his work ethic is non-existent and we do nothing but very basic things like going and stopping and turning because he just can't seem to concentrate on anything other than the basics.

Other days, he's all for giving it his best effort and we can try harder concepts, like lateral movements, changes within the gait, bending, connectedness and transitions. I never know which horse I'm going to get when I climb up there! It's a good thing I truly enjoy the challenge that is Gabe, but I admit, sometimes his "baby behavior" can be incredibly frustrating.

I have upped my own fitness program to keep up with him, especially as he is gaining muscle with the work we are doing. I'm weight training 4 days a week, doing Pilates and Yoga 3 days a week and on those three days, I also do some kind of cardio (walking/jogging, jump rope, one of my cardio videos). I'm already feeling stronger, more balanced and improved overall.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A fall day after the rains


What? You don't like my mud bath look? You hate it when I grind, grind, grind that mud into my ears and nose? It feels SOOO good! You may call me Pig Horse now, thank you.

Well, hello there, wee one. Have you any peppermints for me? I'll take some peppermints if you have them.

C'mon Chief you KNOW you want to scratch my butt for me. It's SOOO itchy! Scratch me, please. Please?

Psst...Calypso. If he comes over here, we're gonna run, okay? Don't let him catch you!

Go go go! It's keep away from Gabe day! Run!

Ha ha! Slowpokes! Catch me if you can! You can't 'cause I'm The Man!

By the way...all the piles of dirt and heavy equipment you can see in the background in some of the shots is the TransCanadian pipeline going in. As much as I hate the noise (and the 7 day a week work!) and heavy equipment, I'm pretty darn sure my horses are now bombproof to just about any heavy equipment, chainsaw, noise and marker ribbons flapping as they can possibly get.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hee hee!

I'm so busy I don't know if I found a rope or lost my horse!