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It’s about time for an update

14 Aug

A lot has happened in my happy horse world over the last two weeks, and just when I thought things were under control!

First up – Amber. I had been riding Amber one evening and we had a fabulous ride. After we’d finished, I went to go and see TB to give her a progress update. We got chatting a bit and she asked me how my showing was going with Corona. I mentioned to her that my show season with him was over because I just didn’t think it was doing us any good. She then said, “Well, I’m sorry to hear that…actually I’m not really that sorry because I have a proposition for you! What if you took Amber instead?” I hadn’t ever really considered doing this, mostly because I only ride her once a week at the moment due to my Corona commitments. TB mentioned that she would give me free trailering, but I’d pay the entry fees. Seems fair to me. I told her I’d look at the schedule and see if there were any shows that might work.

She then proceeded to ask me what my plans were in the fall and about the details of my lease with Corona. I mentioned to her that Corona is pretty much like my own horse as I’m the only one who rides him, and that come the fall, the plan was that CG and I would take our horses from the Boss’ and they’d live out at CG’s hobby farm. Upon hearing this, she eluded to this foiling a plan that she was mulling over for me involving something with Amber. She wouldn’t tell me the details, apparently because she didn’t want to butt-in on my Corona plans. She then proceeded to tell me that at some point she wanted to give me a lesson on her horse (who is trained to 4th level dressage) as a thankyou for my work with Amber. Sweet! I’m still wondering what that proposition was though!

Murphy’s Law – Amber has been lame since this conversation. Horses! First TB thought it was an abscess, now it looks like maybe she had some stone bruising, so she got shoes on Monday. Hopefully she’ll recover quickly as I was planning on entering us in a show on September 2.

Next up – Corona.

I cannot say anything bad about Corona, he has been a wonderful and solid equine citizen. We’re still plugging away at our training and I’ve been allowed to take him up to the back hay field to work on our “hacking”. After I told the Boss about being done with showing for the year, a remarkable thing happened. She encouraged me to do one more show. I was somewhat dumbfounded as she normally looks for any excuse to try to get me to let her get rid of Corona. Don’t get me wrong, she still told me how he is an awful horse and I’m essentially wasting my time on an arsehole that gives me little in return, but at the same time, she encouraged me to try again. What has been even more interesting is that over the last week, she has given me suggestions about things I could try in the show ring if things start to go hairy. With this in mind, we’re going to another show on Saturday at the barn where Corona was born! I’m going there and looking at it as a training opportunity and nothing more. If Corona starts to melt down in the ring, I’m just going to stop him or do some transititions instead of trying to ride through it like I’ve been doing. I’m actually pretty excited about it to be honest.

Lastly – Plans thwarted.

CG told me last week that she and her husband are going to sell the farm. There are many valid reasons for this but I don’t want to post their business on here even if I only use code names! To be honest, part of me wondered if our plan was ever going to come to fruition, as I picked up on little red flags here and there along the way. CG also has decided that Roller is not the horse for her, but will ride him until a new home can be found for him. Oh – this reminds me – I don’t think I ever mentioned that as of about 6 weeks ago, SM gave up her lease on Ember and no longer rides.

I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. On one hand, I’ve very grateful CG & husband have had these realizations now before we set up shop at their place. On the other, I was looking forward to getting rid of the drama that comes with the Boss’ including the copius negative comments about Corona! As of right now, no decisions need to be made, we can carry on status quo, but I’m definitely going to think about what I want and how best to do that. Perfect scenario? I take Corona to TBs…her board is rather expensive however and I don’t think I’d be comfortable paying that much at the moment. I’ve been wondering if I could work something out with her, but I think I’ll sit tight for the moment and weigh my options.

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Back to the drawing board…

14 Mar

I had a great ride on Saturday, the sun was shining and I was actually too hot (and I wasn’t even wearing a jacket!). I was nearly blind for the first 20 minutes because of the reflection of the sun off the snow, but I’m not going to complain about sun after the last 5 months of grey skies! Corona was great for our ride, nice and calm and we did our first trotting intervals since his injury! He was sound, and happy and really relaxed, it was great. In terms of his recent aggression, it was still there, but still much better than it had been so I was pleased.

I was taking a training course at work this week and we were let out early yesterday so I thought I’d get out to the barn for an extra ride. Caught Corona, he came to me willingly at the gate and with the good stall behaviour back the last few times, I thought I’d brush him in his stall. This turned out to be a bad idea. I started with picking out his feet and he was happy enough for the first foot, and then as soon as I stepped back to do his hind, he pinned his ears and moved back so that his butt was right up against the wall, leaving no room for me to pick up his foot. Nothing I did changed this, he just kept his ears pinned, tossed his head around and swished his tail at me. That was the end of the me in the stall. I decided to experiment and I put him in another stall. He seemed fine at first, I was able to pick out all of his hooves and then the ear-pinning started up again so I decided cross-ties would be the safest option.

I gave him a really good grooming with the curry comb and he seemed to love it, I found a bunch of itchy spots and focussed on those and he was like butter in my hands. This was great! Then I got the dandy brush out and it was like someone flipped a switch and the horse-from-hell came back! I couldn’t even rest my hand on him without him pinning his ears and tossing his head around. Off and on, something would catch his attention out the door and he’d prick his ears forward and be his normal self again, only to turn back into the devil a second later.

I tried bribing him for lack of a better word – basically giving him small treats in those short moments when he was non-threatening, but he kept reverting back to the anger. I tacked him up on the x-ties and he was fine. Rode him and he was fine.

After my ride, I tried the stall again and he was good until the tack was off and then out came devil-horse again, including turning his bum toward me. So back on x-ties we went and he was relatively good (compared to the first grooming).

Throughout my ride I was thinking about his behaviour in the context of the eventual move to CG’s barn (likely in the fall) and the fact that this would literally be my horse. The shadows of doubt reared their ugly heads and I began to wonder if perhaps Corona was indeed too much horse for me. I never want to get to the point where I’m scared to be around him, but I can see this happening in the future if things continue down this path. At the same time, I know that if I didn’t take this horse, that his future with the Boss would be uncertain (mainly due to her hatred for this horse and the fact that she sends horses to the meat man rather freely). There is no way I want this fate for any horse.

When I was brushing him after our ride and was talking to the Boss, I said, “you know, this horse is making it really hard for me to like him right now!” and proceeded to explain what happened during our grooming session. She didn’t really know what to advise because nothing happened that should have triggered this behaviour. She then proceeded to tell me that if I decided that I didn’t like the horse anymore, that she would get me a different one to work with and she’d have Corona put down because she wouldn’t want to just pass along the problem. On one hand, I was shocked, but not for the reason you’re probably thinking…I was shocked that she said she would put him down rather than send him to the meat man. Regardless, this isn’t something I want to even consider. I was hoping she would say that if I thought he was too much for me, that she’d find him a new home. Guess not.

I spent last night googling “aggressive horses” and watching Parelli videos in hopes of coming up with a plan. I’m still optimistic that we can reverse this behaviour, but I’m extremely disheartened at the entire situation.

New barn, ice, and I love my boy!

8 Feb

Saturday was frigid!!!!! It wouldn’t have been bad if there was no wind, but the wind was blowing in such a way that it could only be described as bitterly bone-chilling!

Needless to say, CG and I didn’t ride. Instead, we had a nice spa day (hour) with Corona and Roller. I also practiced picking up all four feet from one side and was successful! Like last week, I’m not asking for Corona’s right front from the left due to the stiffness, but I got all three other feet from BOTH sides! I was thrilled! We also practiced heads down successfully.

After the barn, I went to check out CG’s new hobby farm. It was fantastic! It was bloody freezing so we didn’t spend a great deal of time out there, but it’s a really nice setup. The barn is HUGE! The main level has 6 box stalls which must be about 14×14 ft, it’s very airy and open with really wide aisles. There are four stalls on one side and another two on the opposite side. In the original design there should have been 3 additional stalls on the other side, but the barn was not completed (the previous-previous owner’s husband who built it died before it was finished). There’s no tack room, or feed room, but we’re planning on using one of the extra stalls as the feed room (locked door) and there’s a good spot for a tack room once we get some hooks and racks put up. The floor is just dirt, but CG is getting quotes on rubbing stall mats for the four main stalls and main aisle.

In terms of other buildings, there’s an old barn on the property which has 2 additional small stalls, then there’s a run-in shelter in the main paddock, and what’s going to become the chicken coop as well. There’s one main paddock which has wooden fencing around most, but page-wire only in a couple places, I’m hoping we can block off that page-wire as it’s a recipe for disaster. The other paddock needs some work but is a fairly good size as well. It looks like it was supposed to be 2 paddocks because there’s a portion of a fence in the middle, with a gate, but the plan will be to re-configure this anyway. Right outside the barn, there is a riding area which is apparently a sand ring. It’s not very big, maybe 40mx50m but it’s hard to tell with all the snow. There’s another unused area in front of the barn which we’re brainstorming how best to use as well. Overall – really good potential. My main concern is the safety of the fencing so hopefully we’ll be able to address that as one of the priorities.

The previous owner left the place absolutely filthy. Apparently her horses were given free range of the property, including both barns. The stalls were not bedded, but are absolutely caked in a layer of poop. She must not have cleaned it out….ever! Disgusting. There’s nothing we can do about it at the moment because it’s frozen solid, but there will be quite a bit of spring cleaning to come.

On Sunday, CG and I had plans to ride up the road since we haven’t been able to ride in at least a month due to the weather. Plans changed when I saw how great Corona’s leg looked and decided that I’d rather take him for a walk around the property instead so that he could get some much needed exercise! The Trainer was exercising a couple of the racehorses, and when he was finished he reported that the sides of the track seemed to have fairly good footing, enough to go for a walk anyways. I tacked up Corona and CG got Roller ready. Corona was so excited to get out, he hasn’t been ridden since before we found out about the fracture and the look on his face when I was putting his tack on was awesome.

It. Was. ICY! We got about half way up the long side of the track and called it quits. The horses were slipping around too much for our comfort and we were on the “good” side of the track. Much to Corona’s dismay, we turned around and headed back to the barn. All was well until we got about 30 ft from the barn…Roller decided to take his own path and somehow ended up trying to walk beside the coverall…he started to lose his footing. I was in front, and when I turned around I saw him go down on one knee, but he managed to right himself. I jumped off Corona as CG tried to steady Roller and get him off the icy patch he found. It was to no avail however and next thing I saw was Roller half-collapse / half-voluntarily lie down with CG still on his back. Luckily CG managed to get off without issue and was convinced he had hurt himself and couldn’t get up. I looked at him and it really looked like he just didn’t know what to do. CG was worried but I got her to give him his space, give him a second, and then we started asking him to get up from a distance. Sure enough, up he popped on his own accord. Phew. Roller is a great horse, he’s huge, but he’s very calm and tends to keep a cool head. I’m absolutely certain that when he was down, he was waiting for us to help him out and tell him what he should do. Such a good boy!

I must add here, that throughout this ordeal, Corona was cool as a cucumber…he just looked at his buddy as if to say, “what are you doing down there?” We took them both into the coverall for a couple of walking laps just to make sure all was well and then we went into the barn.

There’s never a dull moment…

I love good news

9 Jan

The good news – prognosis is 100% recovery! I’m so relieved at this.

The not-bad-but-not-super-news: as with any injury, we have to wait and see how long it will take to heal.

I’m so relieved. I knew I was worried, but it wasn’t until I heard the good news that I really recognized how stressed I was about this situation. I’m really looking forward to many more days, weeks, months, and years with my horse. I just love him, plain and simple.

Oh – and on another positive note, CG had a conversation with the Boss the other day about future plans. Seems as though everyone is on the same general page with respect to the future…including that we will have the option of taking our horses to the new barn!

Fractured

5 Jan

The vet came out to see what’s going on with Corona’s leg on Wednesday. After much inspection, they did x-rays and discovered a very tiny hairline fracture by the wound! I wasn’t there at the time so didn’t hear what was said, but according to the Boss it is of “little consequence and will heal very soon.” While this does sound somewhat comforting, I can’t help but think perhaps it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. I’ve been googling it and, like anything you google, find 100’s of different prognosis and treatments. The vet said that Corona could continue to be turned out provided he stays quiet. I’m quite happy about this but wonder whether he really is capable of remaining quiet 100% of the time. He doesn’t rage around like a maniac in the field with the boys, but there are definitely squabbles and the odd chase of dominance. I guess on a positive note it’s usually Corona who pins his ears, bares his teeth and chases off the others, not vice versa. The vet also has put him on tetracyclin for the infection since the penicillin wasn’t working. I really hope this works and the infection is stopped. The tetracyclin can be given in his feed, which I appreciate because I know that he’ll receive it. The penicillin was given as injections and the Boss isn’t capable of doing it, so I was having to rely on the Trainer to do it.

I’m quite worried about all of this. It doesn’t help that I’ve got a crazy cold/flu and haven’t been able to get out to the barn to ask all of my questions. I emailed the Boss to ask about long-term consequences of this injury – is it going to result in permanent lameness?

I love this horse, I really see us having a long relationship together. It sounds terrible, but now I have to think about what I’d do if this injury wasn’t going to heal? Would I still take him on as my own to CG’s barn as planned? Would I be happy if my one horse couldn’t be used as more than a companion? At the same token who am I to give up on him? It’s not as if he wouldn’t have a good quality of life, even if he couldn’t be ridden, it would be my own selfishness that would be preventing him from having that if I decided not to take him when the time comes. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, maybe everything will be fine and I’m worrying for nothing. I’m not opposed to having a companion horse, but in the grand scheme of things, I was envisioning him being a companion horse 15 yrs from now…not from the moment I take him on.

 

An ounce of prevention would have been nice

19 Dec

Do you ever have those moments where you think the world is playing a joke on you just to see how you will react? I had one of those moments a few days ago…

As you can tell from my previous posts, I’ve been having mixed feelings about the barn as of late. We also have CG’s new farm, which should be fantastic, but of course there are the nerves that go along with such a big looming change, in particular I have nerves about whether or not I know enough about horses to be a responsible owner and provide Corona with everything he needs.

I got a text from CG late last week saying that Corona had been kicked while out in the field…by one of the racehorses who not only has back shoes, but also has traction studs. When I got the text, all I could think was, “are you kidding me!”. The kicker in question does not get turned out more than once or twice a week because of his training regimen. Is it just me or does turning a horse out with traction studs, into a paddock with other horses who he interacts with no more than a few times a week, seem a little irresponsible? Obviously the horse would be excited, obviously the other horses would be excited to see him, obviously there would be a lot of running around and leaps through the air and some battles for dominance…

So now Corona has a puncture wound on his right front leg, just at the side of his knee. His leg looks like that of an elephant.

At that moment, some of my nerves about whether or not I could hack it as a horse owner melted away. I realized that I do indeed have some proper horse care instincts and common sense. While I recognize that accidents happen, and that there are going to be bumps and bruises along the way, this is an example of something that could have been easily avoided if some common sense was used.

What’s that saying? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Exciting news!

14 Dec

Fantastic news – CG and her husband have received and accepted an offer on their house! This was the last remaining condition on their purchase of the farm and now it all seems to be *almost* official!!!!

I am so happy about this! I’m also extremely nervous, as this means the three of us will be out on our own. We each have a lot of horse experience, but none have ever 100% been responsible for looking after a horse. Nonetheless, I am confident in my judgement and horse sense to take on this challenge.

The current closing date on the farm is the beginning of March, but the closing date that has been agreed to for the house is the end of January. CG is going to try to move up the closing on the farm, but worst case scenario they are able to move in with family in the interim. We’re not planning on moving the horses there until the fall, as this will allow us to get everything in order in the meantime. Depending how things progress out at the Boss’ however, I wouldn’t be surprised if things were pushed up.

I plan on initiating a dialogue with the Boss tomorrow about CG’s barn. Ultimately I’d like to be given the go ahead to take Corona as my own and keep him at the new barn. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about what the Boss’ reaction may be.

Something else to look forward to tomorrow – seeing the Trainer for the first time since last weekend’s blow out. I’ve been in this predicament before with the Trainer as I’ve eluded to in the past. I don’t want to say I forgave him for what he did that time, but I guess after a few weeks, I took more of the high road and just was civil to him for the sake of not making the barn an awkward place to be for myself and those around me. What he did last time was much worse than what happened last weekend, I don’t feel comfortable discussing the details on here, but it did involve him losing his temper. I have thought all week about how I’m going to be tomorrow, and to be honest, I’m not sure. As it stands right now, I’m just going to ignore him. He has already got his second chance from me and he will not be getting another. He is the type of person who knows how to manipulate others. He plays the victim all of the time, and somehow he gets away with it. I think he preys on peoples’ good natures and takes advantage of them. For example, he knows that the other girls and I are nice people who are respectful and polite. He knows we are not the type of people who can act like total bitches to people because it would likely bother us more than it would bother the object of our bitchiness. So, he lurks, he waits for an opportunity, and then he will begin to act like nothing happened and try to engage you in other conversations – often a funny story about his past, or something that happened at the store etc and then he’d ask you a question about it. He knows that we would find it difficult to be a bitch and just not answer, and this would be the little crevice that he would wiggle into and then sneak back into the inner circle. I’m truly going to make a conscious effort not to allow this to happen. Inevitably when I think about taking this stronghold, I feel a bit guilty about the awkwardness it will cause, but I have to remind myself how unpleasant things are when he is around, and how uncomfortable he makes us on a regular basis. I am choosing not to allow this type of drama in my life. I have too many good things going on, too many goals to strive for and I refuse to let these episodes ruin that for me!

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