Thursday, August 21, 2014

Trail Riding with Maverick

This past weekend our drill team, Dakota Thunder, performed in Yankton, SD at the Extreme Bull Riding event. Zeke is my drill team horse but we'd also planned on having a trail ride the following day. I decided I would take Maverick along as my trail riding buddy and give Zeke a break.

What a fantastic day. If anyone has ever ridden at the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, you'll know that you have to have a horse that's in shape. The trails are mostly up and down and fairly steep. It's also all clay so the going can get tough, which it was because it had rained earlier in the week.

It was also super humid on Sunday when we rode. But Maverick took the ride in stride. What an amazing horse. He really is something else. We were going up and down steep hills and he was acting like he'd been doing it all his life (even though I've put him on the back burner for most of his time at the Sanctuary). We went through mud and a creek and he didn't bat an eye. The best part was when we walked in the river and the itty bitty waves started lapping at Maverick's legs. He wasn't sure about it but he only cocked an ear and an eye at the water.

With just a bit more riding, Maverick is going to be one superb horse. I can't take the credit for his education. I sent him to a trainer who worked with him. I really did luck out. If everyone gave a horse a chance (and education), there would be a lot of really well trained horses out there.

I honestly think that Maverick would have gone all day. Of course all the other horses were tuckered out from the previous day's performance (and the humidity). But Maverick was ready and willing to hit more of the trails. We will have to go back to that park and discover more trails so that Maverick can get more time. Actually, it's more that I need more saddle time.

I am now considering retiring Zeke to the life of leisure and stating Maverick on drill team. I do believe that Maverick is going to be my go-to horse for everything soon. Anyone want to go on a trail ride? :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Horse of the Month - Chaos

I always new that I wanted to open a horse rescue (now turned sanctuary). From the time I could draw horses, I knew there was a need for a place for horses to call home. We bought our acreage in September 2005 and in May 2006 (Memorial Weekend in fact), we had our first rescue....Chaos.
 
I was approached by a co-worker about a yearling. I was asked if I wanted a horse and I said yes. At the time I'd not been exposed to "free" horses so I couldn't pass up the opportunity. The owner was going to take him to an auction but would rather that he found a good home instead. I said yes, sight unseen. I had no idea what I was getting. I only knew that the free horse was a "he" and a yearling.

 

What I didn't know was that Chaos was an unhandled (or very limited handling) yearling stud. I'd only ever dealt with trained, older horses so Chaos was a new challenge (hence the name). When I went to pick him up, I assumed he was halter broke and would load into a trailer. Nope, had to back the trailer up and the previous owner was able to get a halter on him (so he'd had limited handling at some point).

I took my time in working with Chaos, giving him time to adjust and to get to know me. At the time, we had four other horses. I kept him separate for awhile so that I could work with him on a daily basis. I think that's what helped set the bond.

We didn't geld him right away. I was new to having a stud and didn't know proper timing. But when he reared and put his front feet into the wheelbarrow, we decided it was time. I'm not sure if his "bulk" is from waiting until he was a solid two years old to geld or if that's what he would have looked like no matter what. His momma was a fairly big mare (never met his daddy). There was a mix up with the stud's paperwork, so Chaos cannot be registered, but I do have the paperwork now to show his lineage.


At three, I sent Chaos off to a trainers. My original theory was that if he couldn't be trained, that at least he'd have a good life here. But he came back pretty well broke to death and I started riding him. He still has a few quirks that I want to fix but for the most part, he's a good solid trail horse. After the first year of trail riding, my dad stole him for his own. But it's a perfect match for riding.


Chaos is second in command at the Sanctuary. I'm not sure if he wants to be in charge, but he does like having the ability to boss everyone else around. I'm guessing that when we lose Dude, that Chaos will become the herd leader (although Rain pushes him around).

 Chaos is my go-to horse for anyone that wants to ride who's new to riding. He's more like a walking couch than anything. He's always very curious to know what's going on. I'd like to use Chaos as a spokes horse for the Sanctuary but he's not old and he's never been through an auction. It's just that he's so pretty. :-) Who doesn't fall in love with a big black horse?


Chaos will never know what it's like to go to an auction or to have to go from one owner to the next. He had his original owner that bred and raised him and now he's a permanent fixture at the Sanctuary. He doesn't fit our criteria but he came before I had that all figured out. And I refuse to get rid of him. He's a pretty dependable horse for trail riding.


So Chaos will live out his life at the Sanctuary. He's stubborn at times but that's typical. He's dependable enough to throw anyone on him and he's reliable in the pasture with the rest of the herd. We are truly blessed to have Chaos with us and I can rest easy knowing that he'll live out his days with us. It's amazing to watch him grow into himself. He's now 9 years old and he's really become a solid horse (both in body and in mind).  I love showing Chaos off and look forward to using him as a spokes horse for the Sanctuary throughout the years.


Sorry the pictures are so outdated. I haven't had any time to get new pictures of the herd. But as you can see, even at 5 years old he's a looker.

Rambling

I feel like I've been running ragged the last few days so last night I sank down in the couch to put a heating pad on my shoulder (don't think it's a pinched nerve), and promptly fell asleep. I woke to thunder and lightening. When I finally rolled off the couch, I discovered it was already 5am. So much for getting to go back to sleep. I didn't move the entire night. Guess I was really tired.

But I figured with the storms coming, I better get ready and in to the paying job. It paid off this time. Everyone else is walking in totally drenched. But we are supposed to get more storms tonight and some people are saying they will be severe. It all depends on who you listen to. I'll listen to whoever is saying we will have severe weather because I'm still spooked from having the tornado so close to us.

I had to heard about the upcoming bad weather so I went out last night and got a few more things put away in case we had some severe winds or hail rip through our place again. A month or so ago Mike and I picked up some fence posts so that we can start repairing fence. Mike unloaded the trailer last night. We've been so busy that it's almost impossible to find time to get everything done. But Mike is going to pick up more pallets today. We are selling pallets for $3 each in case anyone is interested. They work great for storing hay both small squares and big rounds. The pallets are big enough to hold one round bale off the ground. I loved using the pallets when we had round bales. We didn't have to worry about the net wrap freezing to the ground. Since we didn't have a tractor at the time that could life the bales, we had to be ingenious and used the pallet to drag the bale to where we needed to go. Worked like a charm.

I've also been working on slowly cleaning up the big red shed. We need to get it cleaned up so that we can put trailers, tractors, and equipment in it again before winter sets in. It turned in to a dumping ground for all our stuff without being organized. So that meant a huge shed turned into an itty bitty shed with room only for a few things. When the tornado hit, it damaged the roof of the shed. We have to get up there somehow and repair it but I'm not sure that's going to happen this year. If we don't, we'll have snow in the shed but  I'm not sure how to get it fixed.

It's been awful humid lately but I think that's our saving grace for the grass. We are finally getting some rain so hopefully that will help the pastures grow. I pulled the mares off their pasture because it was done. With the dew and now this rain, maybe I'll be able to put them back on that pasture for a few weeks. I'd filled their water tote on Sunday night but didn't check their automatic waterer. Yeah, someone decided to mess with it and the connector came off and drained the entire tote. I was very displeased with those mares last night when I discovered what they'd done. They also got into a bunch of cockleburs. Someone asked me why I dont' go out and cut the cockleburs down. Because I don't have time. If I didn't think I had time before, I certainly don't have time now.

The days are getting even shorter. When I finally get out to do chores at 8:30 after putting my son to bed, the sun has already set. It's dark by 9pm so I'm doing half my chores in the dark. I'm going to have to come up with a better idea but hate to miss out on so much family time. A catch 22.

I'll be keeping an eye to the sky today and tonight.  We've been super busy since last week. I'll post more and let you know what all we've been working on. I am also planning a cleanup day for Labor Day weekend if anyone wants to come. There's icky projects like scraping and painting, washing horse blankets, sewing horse blankets, and fencing. But there's also fun projects like grooming horses (and getting all the cockleburs out of their manes and tails). So if you're interested, we will be around the entire Labor Day weekend if anyone wants to come out and help. We could sure use the help!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Crazy Busy

It's been a crazy last couple of days. I'll post later but wanted to say we are here AND I almost forgot that it's ALREADY the 18th of August and I haven't done the horse of the month! I'm losing track of summer. Check back later tonight or tomorrow morning to find out what we've been up to.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Photosensitivity

I didn't read the entire blog post
http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/08/14/tainted-hay-suspected-in-horses-sun-sensitivity/

But the discussions about photosensitivity reminds me of Rain.

I can very much sympathize with the horse owners who are dealing with this right now. I guess it has now been 10 years since Rain experienced the same thing. He ate something bad out in the pasture and I was sure we were going to lose him. His hind legs swelled up and the white socks on his back legs were sluffing off. It was terrible to watch. I cant' imagine if he would have been all white!

But he recovered from it, although he has lasting effects from the bout with photosensitivity. He is now very susceptible to weather. I am not sure if it would have happened anyway. But when we ran blood tests at the beginning, his organs were already damaged. I cant remember now if it was his liver or kidneys that had been damaged.

Now we have to watch the weather. If the temps are above 80 degrees, there's absolutely no riding him. In fact, he goes in search of shade. If the temps drop and there's any sort of wind, he has to go into the barn, or wear a blanket. If there's any bit of rain or snow, the blanket has to go on. I'll find him standing in the leanto off the barn when the wind is blowing during the entire winter (and beginning of spring). It's his standard spot and no one will fight him for it.

I will be interested to see how these horses recover from their ordeal. Rain still does not have hair on the back of his white socks. I will also be curious to see how these same horses will be affected in years to come. I wish I had the ability to talk to each owner or that a university would do a long-term study on these horses to see the effects of photosensitivity. It could really save some horses from a lot of pain if we knew more.

At least my little gelding recovered, with a little less hair on his white socks, and a little bit more weather temperamental, but I'll still love him to pieces and spoil him the best I can. Which reminds me, I need to find his winter blanket and fix a few tears he put in them this past winter. I need to look for a sheet or a lightweight blanket as well. Anyone have one for free or cheap?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Super Panic Mode

I was just thinking this morning that we haven't welcomed any new horse members into the family since July 2011. With the way things are going, it'll be awhile before we can welcome anyone in. It breaks my heart but the reality is what it is.

I was also thinking last night while doing chores, that I'm in panic mode. By the time I finally get out to do chores, it's dark. I'm going to have to start a new routine soon. But there's also so much that HAS to be done before winter. There's also so much that would be NICE to be done before winter. I need about five days straight of working on these projects to get them done. If the old wives tale holds true, the katydids starts singing a week or two ago. So that means we'll have a heavy frost in six weeks. I hope it's not true. But I want to be cautious and make sure that we are ready this winter.

So far I'm not. There's no hay in the barn, there's no small squares of hay, there's no alfalfa small squares either. I'm going to go into super serious panic mode in about three more weeks. I need to start buckling down and getting things done but after a full day of work, and then caring for the Bear, I'm done in. And then I still have chores.

I was going to move the corral panels last night for the ponies but I ran out of energy and daylight. So instead I used one of the last remaining small squares that D and J donated earlier this summer. Those have been an absolute blessing. But tonight I absolutely HAVE to move the ponies. Even if it's pitch black and raining, I'm going to have to move those ponies. Luckily where I'm moving them to is a place they've already grazed. The grass is coming back after last week's rains. I was worried that there wouldn't be any place to put them and they would be on hay for the rest of the year.

I'm hoping with another week in a different location, that the other places I've put the ponies will come back so I can just keep pushing them around the yard until the first hard frost  (fingers crossed that it'll be awhile).

I need a solid four hours every night to get stuff done at work. By the time I get out there, it's too dark to start any projects. It usually takes me a little bit to build of a bit of steam to get a project really going. I may just have to walk out there with pen and paper and start writing down what absolutely HAS to get done so I can hopefully mark off a few here and there as I go.

I am thinking that maybe with the upcoming Labor Day holiday, that I can get some things done. We used to go on vacation during that time but that isn't going to happen. So I want to take advantage of a three day weekend and work as quickly and efficiently at getting things done. Anyone want to help?

Happy Birthday Baby Bear!

I didn't get anything horse related done last night. It was Garrett's birthday yesterday! Hard to believe that it's been two years since he was born. It's been a wild ride so far. We've had so many "adventures".