Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sixth Sense

A couple of weeks ago, I had a morning where I didn't need to be at the office until 10 AM. I took advantage of the two extra hours by spending some time in the barn. I still had some time left and decided to hike the pine tree loop up through the cornfields.

I hadn't gotten very far when I saw two deer up eating in the cornfield. I snapped this picture with my phone, and they actually let me get quite a bit closer before they took off.

I've decided that wildlife (at least the wildlife in our corner of the world) have a sixth sense about when hunting season is. These deer seemed to know that hunting season had recently ended and they were perfectly safe to continue eating as I walked through the snow towards them. Although even if it had been hunting season, the deer would have been perfectly safe with me.

I'll take that statement a step further too. I think the geese (at least on our farm) recognize the hunters' trucks. If the guys are in the blinds at the Pine Tree, the geese are in the valley. If the guys head to the valley the next day, the geese are in front of the barn. When the season ends, there are geese everywhere.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


To be fair to Secret, I should probably admit that I knew I was going to be in for "a real ride" the day I ended up walking the loop with her before we even left the barn.

I took this picture of her standing on the cross ties while I tacked up. She was wired for sound from the minute I pulled her out of the field. One thing is for certain - she makes no secret about what her mood is!

Of course, we've had some fun, quiet rides this winter too. They just don't provide as much to write about.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Minnesota Girl

A Minnesota girl is not an indoor girl.

Remi was born in Minnesota and spent the first couple years of her life there. Remi loves to be outside, and really thinks there is no good reason for her to be in her stall in the barn. Ever. For any reason.

This horse epitomizes what people say about other people, "they haven't had their cup of coffee yet today."

When you go in the barn in the morning to feed and put horses out - Remi is that horse that is grumpy and ugly until you open her stall door and put her outside. Once she realizes you are putting her out, she turns back into the sweet, in your pocket horse that wants to be your best friend.

Secret was raised in a run-in shed for the first two years of her life, living outside with the herd in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Lilac was born on the side of a mountain in Vermont and spent the first three years of her life there. John was born in Illinois and spent one winter there. None of my horses mind being outside, but they all appreciate coming into their stalls and a fluffy bed of shavings at night. Remi, not so much.

I keep promising her that someday I will get things set up so that she can live in a run-in shed. Until then, I'll keep hustling to get her out the door quickly in the morning.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

You Don't Scare Me...

I ride a mare.

That saying was being posted on facebook a couple weeks ago by numerous horse people and every time it made my news feed, it made me smile. Truer words have never been spoken.

There is another horse saying I believe in, "Stallions are from Mars, Mares are from Venus, and Geldings are From Heaven." I'm not saying that my gelding is perfect, he's far from it and has all sorts of behavior issues of his own. But he's very honest in his bad behavior - you always know what to expect with John. I've worked with a few stallions over the years too, starting with Tory, the stallion I took lessons on when I was 12. A stallion that knows the difference between his jobs (working and breeding), can be a really fun horse. Plus the testosterone gives him an extra edge on the performance side.

Sometimes I wonder how I ended up with mares. Looking back at my history of horse ownership, the majority of my horses have been mares. I've had some absolutely terrible rides on Secret this winter, which is why the facebook saying keeps making me smile. To be fair, they weren't terrible, I didn't fall off, no one was injured; she was just obstinate; and acting scared to death of things she's walked by a hundred times. The frustrating part for me is that her "fear" changed from ride to ride. Mounting up, I never knew which horse I was going to be riding.

One day in early December we rode our standard loop of the farm. She stopped and needed coaxing at so many places. I swear she grew roots a couple of times and was turning into a statue. At the end of the loop, I decided I couldn't let her get away with that so jumped off and led her around the loop a second time. You know how much time she wasted standing still staring at things? It only took me half as much time to lead her around the loop than it did to ride it.

Yup, you don't scare me, I ride a mare.

This is Secret on one of our wilder rides in October. It wasn't windy that day - she was just tossing her head and her rump around that much. Deciding to take pictures may not have been advisable, but since nothing bad happened...

Here's the thing though - as much as riding a mare can completely frustrate me, I have learned more from the challenging mares I have worked with over the years than the compliant geldings. Channeling that energy (the good, the bad and the ugly) is an art.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Horses Never Forget

I went up to Massachusetts to visit a friend on Saturday before the snow storm arrived.
Some of the horses that were at the farm when I worked there are still there today.

I headed back down the hill from the house, to the barn parking lot after visiting, and saw three of the barn crew headed to one of the pastures to bring in four of the horses. I wanted to say hello to all of them too (the people and horses), so followed them to the pasture. The people didn't notice me following as they were in conversation with each other.

They caught three of the horses, but the fourth one was pressed up against the fence and staring at me. They called his name several times but he paid no attention to the barn crew, he just kept staring at me as I approached. It was Howie. When Nina looked to see what had captivated his attention and saw that it was me, she had me take him back to the barn.

I've read several studies recently about how horses don't forget people. It's been six years since I lived and worked in Massachusetts, but it was pretty obvious that Howie remembered me. I scratched his neck and talked to him a little as I led him back down to the barn and he happily walked along at my side.

I don't know if Howie was excited to see me because he always liked me, or if he just remembers that I had a soft spot in my heart for him and fed him extra peppermints. But either way, seeing his excited face as I walked up the hill to the pasture made my day.