Monday, July 30, 2018

Memories

7.30.18

Another tale is about working at a Steeplechase farm in Maryland a mighty long time ago. This farm was owned by some rather "well to do" people. It was gorgeous - designed similarly to some English yards from a good while back... The stalls were in a large square with open sides for riding out, and with a lovely courtyard in the center. The stalls were huge for huge horses needed to be able to lay down and sleep in comfort.  There was grass in the center for horses being cooled out and to graze a little. This design really helped keep the cold winter winds out and afforded the horses' fresh air all of the time. Painted in the farm's race colors, it was ultra classy and made me feel like I was working "across the pond".

There was also a smaller enclosed barn with 3 stalls in it for those horses needing peace & quiet or had been injured. '' the Layup Barn". That's where I worked. There was so much to learn and I was in heaven doing it. Hard work, EARLY hours and some horses that even though they had been injured were still racing fit and full of themselves. My day ended around noon. Long, hard hours, but anything concerning horses wasn't "hard" to me.

In this layup barn, there was an older guy named Dave. He was from England and had trained horses to run on the flat and also the "chasers" as they were called back "when he was a kid". Dave must have been over 60 years old when I met him. It was tough to tell because he never complained about aches and pains and his face showed his years. He was quite the character and I became a friend of his. At least I hoped I was. Dave would tell me stories of long ago back in England of his horse he'd entered in the Grand National Steeplechase. He'd never say exactly what year but long before I'd been born. His horse made it over Beecher's Brook only to be knocked into a rail, or was it over a jump and was hurt. Ohhhhhhhh, he was so wonderful in telling about it! He especially loved hearing that my dad had been Irish- and would add in some Irish stories too.

Dave used to play Broadway show tunes early in the morning. I knew if he had arrived or not, thanks to those records. Every morning it was a different Broadway play! I'd drive home whistling tunes each morning. He'd sing to the horses as he took care of them. They relaxed in listening until he sang the tune from ''Oklahoma!''   I was cracking up at the reactions from those horses.

One morning, I was wrapping one of my favorite mare's legs and heard Dave singing in a stall. All of a sudden, I heard someone whistling the same tune- but from outside the barn. Hmmmmm. I finished wrapping my horses' leg and saw it was one of the older Irish grooms from the main barn. Apparently, he knew that tune also. I don't remember what the tune was but it became a pair of guys trying to outdo each other, whistling! I loved it and in no way was even going to join in. This was around 5 in the morning. It had been a foggy night, and now slowly the sun was trying to burn that fog away. The small barn was almost magickal that morning. Finally, they'd both run out of 'whistle' and decided to teach me how to jig. I cannot remember what the Irishman's' name was but he was my teacher. Dave whistled and sang some Irish tune, while I was taught the steps. We were laughing so hard at my mistakes I could barely keep up!

So there you have it- try learning an Irish Jig at 5 in the morning. I surely don't remember much about the steps, but I do remember how that little barn glowed in love that day.

Image result for grand national race - did a rider cheat in any race?

https://www.pandora.com/station/play/4028742212397618055 















One More Memory

7.30/18

I was chatting with a pal of mine and we began exchanging memories of places we had worked or people we had met throughout our lives with horses. We sat, miles apart, laughing at each other's stories, so I thought I'd share some of mine here with you.

There was a guy I had known as a horseman just about all of my life. When I was in my 20's, he wanted to send his new gelding to me to work with. Of course, I said yes. Sundance arrived at my very small horse farm within the week.
 (3 acres) He was a very handsome horse and apparently well trained too. I asked his owner just what he wanted me to accomplish with his horse.
 "Just win me a blue ribbon, Kris. That's All I have ever wanted- a Blue Ribbon".

All spring, Sundance and I worked together. He was so easy to teach! It wasn't long before we could all but 'dance' together under western tack. I loved that big ol' gelding. Soon, it was time for show entries to be mailed in. I entered Sundance in a few classes and my favorite Appaloosa mare in different ones.

Show day arrived and we did, too- at showgrounds. Both horses were spotless, tack well oiled and the silver sparkled in the sun. My mare was first- and she wonderfully behaved. We placed 1st and got the ever-popular blue ribbon. It wasn't long until it was Sundance's turn in the ring.

We jogged into the ring second and got a look from the judge. I usually try to enter the ring first to have the judges attention on us only. Sundance was perfect too! He remembered to drop his neck just enough and to keep all of his gaits smooth. He'd respond immediately to soft signals from me. I was in heaven one more time at this particular show. We lined up and waited for the judge to make his choices.....................  they began placing from the bottom, and working their way up to first. As the group got smaller and smaller, we were still standing there. Then it was between me and another guy who had done a Great job. We won!  I was so pleased, and let Sundance know it as we rode over to get our blue ribbon. Sundance must have understood that he'd done something splendid as he bent his neck way down, shaking his head in joy.

By the time we had gotten back to our trailer, there was Sundances' owner. Oh my gosh- he had tears streaming down his wrinkly cheeks! He grabbed Sundance and cried into his mane for pure happiness.  I got thanked over and over again, with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. It was a grand day, and Sundance lived the rest of his life in luxury provided by his owner who finally had his Blue Ribbon.







Saturday, July 28, 2018

People!

7.28.18

There've been so many times in my life that I just wanted to stop dealing with people. Due to my chosen livelihood, I have dealt with many different kinds of people who know horses, * think* they know horses, haven't a clue about horses, and then the most dangerous kind: the people who love horses, those who know enough to get someone in bad trouble and then drop everything, running away in total fear.  Haha- I'd rather have my fingers chewed off than to deal with that type for a lifetime.

A bit of history for those who don't know me well... I started learning from the neighbors' horses. A shy little girl who wanted to ride like the wind, but wasn't brave enough to ask daily to ride one of their horses... that was me at 9. (haha-yeah- believe it or not!). I would be horse-watching any time I could... hurry thru homework, to go see 'the horses'. I learned so much from those 3 backyard horses! I learned that they easily communicated via body language, sending images, or pain- either verbally or silently. They spoke to each other all the time, and as I sat watching, I learned that language too. Eventually, my parents bought me my own pony and bought Exactly the wrong 'first pony' for their daughter. Again, I learned. The signals when said pony was going to buck me off, running home, gleefully. Yep- I'd find him standing there waiting for me...   But I learned. When I got my first "real horse", he taught me so much more. Questions when he hadn't understood what the heck I was trying to get him to do. Confusion when he'd try but would fail- sure as a 14 yr old kid, there were times I'd lose my temper and think
''well that's it you dumb horse! You're being sold!"  We both hung in there, though, learning together. He, a 3 yr old part Thoroughbred and me, a kid with no experience in training. I Really began moving forward was when I was 21 and had my first Appaloosa. I'd taken some college courses concerning equine anatomy and understood the movements, muscular structure and more. That certainly helped in teaching young horses.  Eventually, we began winning at smaller local shows. I soaked up everything about horses I could from anyone- gleaning and listening. Back then, there was nothing available to a poor country kid when it came to "horse schools", let alone my being able to afford to attend. I read everything I could, learning all the while. Some folks wanted me to see if I could fix their horses problems and that was the beginning of big-time learning. Each troubled horse had its own set of problems and I treasured each one. Trial and error created one very wise 25-year-old woman. Every horse I taught became so much happier and worthy of my small fees.Their owners were pleased and that pleased me.  Fast forward 30 years and by now, I've taken on plenty of mentally messed up horses to the point where I can understand them before they can realize I do. Now, it's a breeze to deal with a mentally healthy horse, if not a little boring. I took my soul mate to a World Championship, showed many Appaloosa horses at the National level, so whatever I am doing works!  I no longer ride, thanks to way to many times of being dumped in the dirt, hefting 50-pound hay bales, carrying two 5 gallon water buckets, being slammed to a stop on a young reining horse, and all of the hard work that comes from running barns alone.

Ok- back to the people part.  :) For the time I have lived here in Pennsyl-tuckie, ( as a dear friend used to call it) I have taken in boarders. Quite a few of them over the years. Some were here for the long run, others just here for a few months, and some who figured they were supposed to be somewhere else at the moment in their lives. Some that were asked to leave because I wasn't going to deal with their ideas or what they did with/to their horses. Taught a few lessons, trained some driving horses and showed/competed my own personal horses. Over the years, I have found my patience level is no longer high enough for the little guys- the young folks who have no clue about horses but love them.  Haha- let the 30-somethings keep yelling " HEELS DOWN!!!"  Slowly I cut back on the kids, stopped taking in outside horses to train to drive, and am now thoroughly enjoying my horses. Boarders come n' go- and what I have learned over the years is that they expect to be able to be around ALL of the time, or want to come n' go as they please. Or not at all... (all hours of the day or night) They want to be catered to- expecting someone to plan things for them to do. I offered mini-clinics here at my barn, and other fun things... Our farm is private- not a big 'open to the public' farm, and some have created situations where I haven't liked going to the barn in the past. Don't get me wrong- I LOVE being in my barn, but when those negative vibes are around, no thanks. Then there are those who get upset if the world doesn't revolve around them... and will leave a well-run barn because one thing bothered them. Sheeesh- why not come to whoever the barn manager is at the time and ask/talk it out? I find that a severe lack of communication happens in a barn sometimes. Unless the barn manager or owner is a biotch on wheels, things will get sorted out, or not. Everyone has their own ideas on how a barn should run, but, (for those who are now boarding, or are thinking of it, OR if you are considering taking a friends' horse to care for) keep those lines of chatting open. There are many times a barn owner or manager has so much on his/her mind, they don't think to ask...Plus, that person in charge didn't just decide to get hired to care for other's animals the week before you moved in- so most likely, they can help with any problems you might be having.

So, here I am. Getting "older", ready to slow down a little more but still love horse folks who come here. Either to visit or come to help out, or to simply bounce ideas off my brain. I enjoy it a lot, even if this body has made me slow down from leaping those proverbial tall buildings on a horse. If you are boarding here, don't be afraid to sit me down to listen to you. Problems can be sorted out in an adult manner - and hopefully remedied. For all of you out there who are boarding at a place you don't like, try talking it over with someone. Someone 'horsey' so they understand where you're coming from, but always remember to give that barn manager the benefit of your thoughts too. I know they appreciate hearing from you. I know I would.

































Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Farrier, a Veterinarian, and a Choke

7.24.18
Whewwww, whatta day. First, all it has done lately is rain. Sometimes heavy as can be, and sometimes a gentle drizzle. The whole farm is saturated w/ water, and the creek is flooded big time. Gosh, gods of rain- I know I said we needed some rain, but not THIS much. Of course, with rain comes humidity that is in the 90% range. It's terrible- and reminds me of when I vacationed in Bermuda. NOTHING dried, it poured every afternoon. Ugh. So, as it is now, I'm sitting in my 3rd change of clothing for the day. From what I read, it's supposed to be 'wet' till Thursday. Well, we certainly got enough rain!!
I headed to the barn to give BoJangles his lunch. He's not eating hay much at all now. Those old man teeth,yanno... the vet who floated them said they were fine, but still.
At about 2:50 or so I returned to the barn to give all the hungry faces a very early dinner (these horses are only getting a VERY small amount of feed- it is more of a token- but it makes them feel special. I thought I'd just turn them out as they were done getting their hooves trimmed. Bo wasn't interested in his feed. Hmmmmm............. I let it go but kept thinking about him. He'd stand in one corner of his double stall. Another odd thing. Took his temperature - it was normal. Hmmmmmmmm...... Very occasionally, he'd paw like he was colicky. Hmmmmmmmmmm...I got my stethoscope and listened to his middle for gut sounds, and they were normal. I watched him thru two horses being trimmed by the farrier. Walking to his stall, he turned his wonderful big Percheron face to look at me. He had liquid coming out of his nostril! Now I realized what was going on... he was choking. Got on the cell phone and called my vet who luckily was right there to answer.
So- I had a farrier trimming horses in the aisle, J. had arrived to help out or just be here... and now the vet was on her way. Sheeesh. Spending money right n' left today.
Once she arrived- she brought her husband whom I'd not had the pleasure of meeting. He's super- and a perfect guy for Becky. She tranquilized Bo after deciding that indeed he was choking. Most likely on what he'd had for lunch. Poor old' Bo... like he hasn't enough problems. She tubed him, discovered just where the blockage was and eventually she got him all cleared. Whewwwww... He's on antibiotics for a few days and has to get soup for feed for a few days, then be brought back carefully as his throat is so sore.
I could tell he felt better because immediately he started schnuffling around his mat for FOOD. Nope- no food for you for a few days, pal. Just "mush". Right now, he's come out of being tranquilized and got his meds and is happily eating grass.
Again- whewwwwwwww. I am NOT ready to lose that big putz in the least. I love them all so deeply and he's my last Heavy Horse. I get all weepy when I think of my life without a Percheron to love... 
" the times, they are a-changing".

Friday, July 6, 2018

Horse Watching

7.6.18

Has anyone just sat on the ground and watched horses?  I bet many have. I know that I sure have done many days enjoying and watching horses. It's amazing how they can communicate without a word to each other. Realize that all that time in silence there is a big conversation going on between equines. Body language, images and more.

When I was a kid, I didn't own my own horse or pony, but happily enough, my neighbors did. Horse watching ( and eventually, taking a sketch pad with me to draw them) was a great pastime for a horse crazy girl. I knew their routine on a daily basis- when it was time to stand under shady trees swishing tails and dozing. When it was time to head to the pond to get a drink, and when it was Dinner Time!

When a new horse was added to the herd, it got all confused. If the new horse was older, it was pushed away but not usually chased much. A younger horse who figured it was going to take over, was shown it was not going to. There was always a "boss mare", second in command, and so on. The interesting thing wasn't necessarily what size an equine was but how it saw itself. Small ponies become bosses, giant draft horses are moved to the middle of the herd, and the more boisterous, young horses sometimes are taught a lesson in humility. I've watched brood mares discipline their foals. Sometimes seemingly a little harsh, but the foal understands quickly. A mare of mine onetime sent her colt into a far corner of their stall. Why, I don't know- but she sure let him know he was NOT to come out of it til "mama'' said it was alright. He did stay there, but not after trying to go back beside her and be a pest while she was eating. Back he was sent, with a tooth bump on his behind... This is a fake bite- usually done with a lot of theatrics. Ears flat back, neck stretched out, mouth wide open, letting the offender know he/she might just die in a moment. But- it would end up only being a good, hard bump from those front teeth as the chased horse was 'scooching' its butt out of the way.

Speaking of broodmares not All mama's are really good at mothering. Just like humans, there are the mares who simply do not want to raise a child. Some could care less and some are downright adamant about it. That's when a foal becomes an orphan and the owners start looking for a foster mare. I remember one mare who had decided she was remaining footloose & fancy-free- no way was SHE going to take care of some goofy looking thing she had just 'pooped' out. No way. After she tried to kill said foal, it was removed from her stall. Happy as can be, she went back to eating her hay.  Needless to say, she was never bred again. The baby ended up being bottle fed and grew up to be a well adjusted young horse.

There are some that I often refer to as "smother mothers''... the ones who will adopt ALL of the foals on the farm. It doesn't matter what size, color or breed- these girls aren't partial. They love foals and never can have enough. My Clydesdale mare was one of those. Oh myyyyyyyyyy- when there was a little anything born on the farm- she claimed it as hers. She became quite the Auntie to many.  One cold March morning, a lovely Percheron filly was born and Carli knew it. Because it was miserable outside, I chose to let my Clyde wander about the barn area. She kept coming back inside the barn. No matter how many times I shooed her out, she'd turn around and be coming down the aisle. She wanted to adopt the newborn filly as her own. Carli had been a mama many times over and obviously had been a great one. Finally, I closed the gate to keep her out, thinking my Percheron mare and her daughter could finally have some time together. Nope. I heard a schnuffling outside and when I checked out the stall window- there was a Clydesdale muzzle trying it's best to lift up high enough peek inside...  My Percheron mare didn't like it much, and finally, Carli gave up. I owned a Thoroughbred mare who was the same- anything small... chicks, baby turkeys, goslings, even a short pony. The pony didn't really enjoy being pushed around gently by a foster mama it seemed... It didn't matter though. They were mothers through and through!

There are horses who are great as babysitters, but not in it for the long run, too. These girls don't mind keeping an eye on other mare's foals so long as they don't have to keep them.   But that's for another post!












Wednesday, June 27, 2018

It's Not "All That"

6/27.2018

A few days ago, I wrote a short post on social media about owning/ running/ managing a farm. Reminded by another person who'd written of her trials and tribulations, I thought about it a little more.

It is  "romantic" to own one's own farm- especially a horse farm. That seems to be every horse person's dream... to own their own pastures and a barn to keep their horses in. A place big enough to keep one's horse in one's own backyard. Yep- it sure is great. I have been fortunate enough to do this for a lifetime.

The first little place was 5 miles or so from my hometown. It was built on my parent's land...and was maybe 2-3 acres of woods and cleared land.  My husband (now ex) and I worked like mad to build a little house for us, then a barn for my horses. A three-stall row barn for my Appaloosas, tack room and a place for hay/ bedding. A small turnout area I also used as a ring. It worked great! Up every morning at 7 or earlier in summer, trained my horses, cleaned their stalls, groomed, and towards 4 or so, taught students to ride. Eventually, it became a training barn with clients sending their worst ruined horses to be "fixed". I loved it and did pretty well. It wasn't long before I was showing at national levels w/ my personal horses, hauling trailers w/ students and horses to shows. Again, it was VERY small in land amounts, and very ummmmmm. rustic. It was Hard work too but not as hard as my future would become.

The second farm was much bigger. I covered all of the finances for this new pole barn and we worked our behinds off to get the stalls built. This one was almost 20 acres, with a 10 stall barn. Again- I loved the new farm. More hard work, and longer hours as I wanted to make it support itself. Many students now, and Percheron horses  Bigger horses meant more hay, feed, more money going out for care, etc. I kept a few riding horses for lessons also. I was showing the drafters and teaching all types of folks to become better horse people.  Again, I loved it. Many more stalls to clean, more hay to load into haylofts, more feed bags to dump into bins, up before dawn on some days and getting done by dark-thirty on some days too. Long hard, heavy hours in the intense heat and then freezing cold. Owning horses IS a  24/7  life and it was pretty much just me doing it. Occasionally there was a helper and oh boy, was it welcomed. The husband was supportive and helped when he could, but it was my choice to be living a life with horses.

During that time, I also worked and subsequently managed other barns. Some show barns, some breeding farm barns, and one or two training barns. I'd get home to my place and have to get those stalls cleaned, etc. and in time for the 4 o'clock rush of riding students arriving. During the summers, it was full-time students, driving, showing and summer pony camps. Again- up sometimes before dawn, and finishing in time to see the sunset. At shows, even longer days...  WHEW! One time someone told me that the reason I worked so much was that I liked the money. Yep- the money was great, but I also loved what I was doing! There's a big difference.

That was when my back began falling apart. It hurt all of the time, and there was one time when I simply couldn't get things done thanks to incredibly horrid spasms and pain. One keeps going though, doesn't one? I did and injured my back more and more... falls, heavy lifting of feed bags, and heavy hay bales. Heck, one expects a little pain when one has done this all of one's life, right?

Move forward to Pennsylvania and this farm. By the time I was ready to leave Maryland, I was also ready to downsize a LOT. Instead, I ended up with a much bigger barn, more stalls, and a little more acreage for pastures... Of course, any horse person knows that if you have a big barn, it simply MUST be filled with horses, right?  Hahahaaaaaaaaaaaa- so, eventually all of the stalls here were filled with happy, hungry ( and pooping- in one end, out the other ;) ) horses. Riding students, just a few driving students, a few clients sending their horses for training, and me traveling to other's small farms to train too. By this time I'm in my 50's and reaaaaally wanting to slow down. Constant back pain by now, joints that felt like they needed to be "oiled" some days, and still I had to trek to the barn to feed, do stalls daily. That's when I began having hip pain. Ugh- and it just got worse and worse... It got to the point of being unbearable over the two years I just dealt with it. I was no longer riding, thanks to a bad wreck back when I was in my mid 20's and damaged my knee. That had become arthritic and was my "weather predictor" by the time I was 35. Still, it was 24/7 work- no vacations as many folks had, and if a horse was sick, guess where I was?  Yep- at the barn.

Finally, I was forced to get a total hip replacement and realize that folks I had trusted as friends expected me to be joyous and happy all of the time... Even when dealing with hip pain to the point of my hiding in the bathroom and crying. The over the counter pain pills did nothing to help, and I knew it was time to get something done. Those "friends" didn't deal with me being grumpy before my surgery- and some left my barn when I needed them the most. Thank the gods for a few who understood and stayed to help. Of course, I was grumpy- almost crippling pain, the frustration of feeling like someone who's been handicapped physically and being forced to realize that it was now the time I HAD to stop working like a mad woman for her horses. Forced march... and I hated it.

After the hip replacement (ended up a total job because I'd quite simply worn it out! Bone on bone, arthritis all thru it and now I was faced w/ learning to walk correctly again), I had to let everything heal, and once off those wicked pain drugs, it was discouraging and frustrating to me.... Eventually, things DID heal and there's no pain ( hahaaa- because it's all steel) in my hip. My back has crunched to the point where I'm 2" shorter and it still aches so badly.  Back surgery is in my future, but not just now. There are way too many things I want to do, and having rods in my lower back doesn't come into the equation of life for me.

So all in all, if you still wistfully dream of owning your own farm for your animals, remember it is a LOT of work. Actually, I think caring for them is more work than having fun riding or whatever you do with your horse. (s)  You have to get up earlier so your animals are fed and cared for before you leave for work. You have to schedule all of the many things needed from others for horse care. Farriers, veterinarians, equine dentists and who knows when an emergency will happen. No, wait- those happen when it's a holiday weekend coming up, or a planned time away from the barn, a get together with family, a date, just about anything important to you. It never seems to fail either. There are financial items needed to be paid monthly- feed, electric, fence repair and more. This is all before having time to ride off into the sunset on your horse, or gallop gaily across a field.

The work is strenuous, haybales keep getting heavier, as do those feed bags and water buckets. Freezing cold winter weather creates all sorts of troubles one hardly thinks of when just living in a house... Frozen water buckets, frozen water lines, ice in pastures, horses that want to do "horse things" but end up getting into some sort of trouble and the list goes on.  During Summer, it's the heat and humidity (if you live in that type of climate as I do), bugs, flies, and more. I go to the barn now (and forever) knowing I am going to end up being soaked in sweat, covered in dirt of some kind or another and " stinkin' to high-heaven' !!

If you board? Oh my- when there is a blizzard in the making, I imagine it'd be nice to be able to sleep in or watching the snowfall. Knowing that those running/owning that boarding barn will care for your horse (at least I HOPE they are!!)   But!   If you have your horse in your backyard- guess where you 'll be during a blizzard?  In the barn- caring for that horse. Shoveling that snow or plowing a path to just get to the barn is a feat in its self.  Then getting your horse out to its pasture, where it will play for a few, do some poops, and then want to come in. (Some normal horses don't mind being outside in the snow, but there are those.........hehehee)

The rewards are wonderful though. Walking into my barn either seeing the summer horses out in their pastures or those in their stalls, welcoming me in the mornings or saying good night to them after evening chores are done is my life and has been since I was 17 years old. Sure it's damned hard work and it is constant but the memories I have are from a lifetime of being with horses. They have taught me so much and even though I've cried my heart out over losing each old horse, I don't think I'd change a thing. There have been times when I just wanted to be like a "city woman" for a week and enjoy life without needing to head to the barn to feed or care for a sick horse, but all in all, I wonder "what would I DO???"  <grinning here>































Wednesday, June 13, 2018

'We Gots New Babies!'

For quite a few months, I debated about having more chickens here on the farm but chose not to. Why?  Because now that my soul mate is gone, that leaves me with two horses of my own. I've not been down to TWO horses for I don't know how long! When I first moved to this area, there were six. Granted, one was a pony and the other a foal, but there they were.  At one point, this barn was full, and it quickly became a LOT of work for one person ( Me & occasional helpers).  Happily, I own just the two now- and I am liking it fine. Of course, there are boarders here, but so long as I keep an eye on them ( And I DO)- and care for them, my main concerns are my two beasties. Much less feed to order, same w/ the hay for winter, and keeping track of a few horses is a breeze now.

The weather once is stopped Raininggggggg, got very pleasant, so I began letting horses spend a lot more time outdoors. Like 24/7. I had NO complaints from any of them.  Fly spray, water, breakfast n' dinner- and in between?  Grazin in the grass.  Even those who had been pampered and figured that here, life should be the same loved being out.

 But I digress. Once I am down to just one equine, this farm will be sold and we'll be downsizing. That is the main reason for not getting chickens. Well, that and the fact that they were being killed at a helluva high rate. Spring is horrid for predators stealing into chicken coops at night and having a grand time killing my girls. Each time it happens, I feel so sad for them. Not that they died so much but HOW.  What a horrid, horrid way to die.

 Thanks to my 'window shopping' on the local Craigs' List, I noticed an ad for Orpingtons. Not just the average chicken but LAVENDER Orps!!!  Those are absolutely my most favorite chicken breed. Firstly, I adore the Fat Farm Hen breeds, and Orpingtons are FFHens. They are so friendly and peaceful- even the black crosses I have are sweet and friendly. Lastly, there's a decent market for selling any I might have for sale. The breeder made me a deal I couldn't ignore and 7 "Littles" came home with me.

 First, they were spooked being in a different place with different smells and sounds, but it didn't take long for them to learn that good things came thru that stall door. Two mornings later, I had 7 little gate greeters there to meet me. I brought FOOD for them :). When I had time, I'd sit with them as they had breakfast or dinner. Soon, curiosity got the best of them, and I was surrounded by teenage chicks. There seem to be 3 cockerels ( roosters) and 4 hens- but I am never SURE till crowing begins. Stay tuned on that.

Here are some pics of them, taken yesterday I think...


                                            Apparently, they liked my shoe and snuggled up...
                                           

                                          Some have names- The one below is Princess,
                                    because she acts as though she should be treated as such.
                                           I believe the handsome guy below is a Cockerel...
                                               and his name is "Sam"
                 

                                         Below, one of the other possible roosters sparring
                                           with Sam.
                                                         
                                                              My "Gate Greeters!"
                                     
                                      Then there were four of them snuggled beside my foot...

I love chickens almost as much as my horses. They all have distinct personalitlies, are pretty smart for "eraser brains''. and they give us fresh, delicious eggs to boot. They eat bugs, and scratch the manure piles so I don't have to spread them, and they are good company when I'm at the barn all alone.

Between the new barn kitty girls, the chickens, and the horses, we all make a strange group!

Image result for contentment quotes











Saturday, May 12, 2018

From World Champions to Rescue

Lately, I've been pondering this whole 'horse' thing. On one of the popular social networks, there are comments, sales; anything from horses winning at A rated shows to those horses on their way to be slaughtered. Not much stands in between a horse winning a huge race, then a few years later getting slaughtered. Foreign countries don't seem to care how wonderful the horses' life and what he/she did for the humans who owned it- and apparently, the USA has many who don't care either. I'm more than sure all of you understand the 'slaughter' issue, so I'm not going to get into it. Nor am I going to delve much into the horse rescue part of it all.

Basically, it is all a way to make money. Either on the side of shipping a big load of purchased horses to either Mexico or Canada to be killed for their meat, OR to "rescue" those horses in the name of saving a life. How many have seen those posters about how saving one horse might not mean much but to that one horse it's the world ( or something similar)?  I have and it does tear at the heartstrings for those who truly love them. I have owned rescued horses, and have saved a few myself way back when. I stopped when I realized I was putting my hard earned money into someone else's' pocket for the sake of 'saving'. They'll just go buy another horse to take its place. These so-called kill buyers who actually head out weekly to the auctions, buy sad looking horses, ship them to their place, slap a "rescue" addition to their logo and make a killing financially. ( no pun intended) Whatever doesn't sell, is then shipped on to be sold again at some auction or to be killed for meat. They bump up the fees for this n' that- and again, make a bunch on each horse for very little effort. Of course, these horses WILL and do get sick from all sorts of diseases and germs at those auction houses. (and at the "kill buyers'' farms). Expect it- they are going to be dreadfully sick. "Shipping Fever", Strep- Equi, or whatever upper respiratory infection they come in contact with. If I got a 'rescue' in, it was immediately started on antibiotics. Very few got really sick thanks to my doing this.  Then there are those folk who'll "pull" a  horse from a sale, and ask others to help "save" the horse. Big bucks if it's done right.

So do I still do this?  No.  Not wanting to put my personal horses at risk nor having a barn that has germs or whatever on the stall walls, or in the pastures- there's no way another 'auction horse' is coming here. Which brings me to another point- the Quarantine Barns.  These are horse farms or just barns whose owners see another way to make money from this whole business. They tell those who want to rescue horse that 'sure, they'll keep said horse, feed it, care for it when it's sick (at the owners' cost- nothing is free) and hopefully when the horse leaves after 30 days quarantine, it will be literally healthy as a horse! Now, these kinds of well-meaning people charge anywhere from $12.00 - $18.00 a DAY for caring for your horse. That's not a bad deal for keeping a horse in a small pen or stall for a month! You do the math... x 30 days. There are some farms who do a splendid job of horse care and whatever veterinary care needed. Those horses DO become healthy and are much happier when they leave. There are also those who don't feed the quarantined horses enough (usually they arrive thin and needing a lot of love/ good knowledgeable care- after all, many have been thrown away by former owners). They let horses owned by others get injured, wounded, or even more sick than when they first arrived. This kind of thing makes me cringe. Again- they'll tug those heartstrings big time.

From all of that to those who don't get into rescuing horses but choose to actually purchase well trained, well cared for, loved animals for a lot more money - I commend you. The end result is usually a very happy ending. I have chosen to do it that way as opposed to buying someone elses' problems. At my farms, I've owned the horses are able to be horses  ( turnouts, etc)whether they're $30K worth of show horse or a mere "lesson" pony. They all get the same care and love. Their jobs are just a little different. Even though I have dabbled in the rescue routine and have gained a lot of knowledge about how it all goes, here? No more 'rescues' as they always come with some sort of problem. Whether it be a physical one or a mental one- there's always a reason. (I spoke to a woman years ago who was selling her daughter's show pony because she and her husband were getting divorced- now THAT pony would have been a wonderful purchase for someone)  People nowadays lie; tell you anything they think you want to hear to unload an equine they have for sale and it's worse at the sales. So, take what one is told with the proverbial grain of salt, because most times? It's a lie.

I owned a World Champion mare for 27 or so years, (and many Nationally shown horses as well) and know what it takes to create a horse of that caliber- and have had cheaper animals which simply weren't going to be what I wanted. In the long run, it's wiser to save those hard-earned pennies and buy a horse that will truly become a partner or best friend. One who has a history and when you hear it can be confident it's the truth. ( the fact that even those selling a well-priced horse will give you a run around is another post.. :) )  Horses who come with the correct registration papers, and have been cared for properly. Granted, a smart person will learn the " I wanna sell ya this horse'' lingo and be able to read between those lines but generally speaking, the horses are worth what one pays. I'm talking a horse selling for over $5 grand- not the $500.00 horses. There Are those wonderful tales of folks who buy a cheap horse at a sale and it goes right to the top in shows, but those are the things stories are made of.

I guess basically what I've been thinking of is whether it is worth it to take a chance on a horse who hasn't a history but is 'cheap' or a quality horse who is worth every penny paid for it. Personally ? I'll spend the money and create another world champion.