Jul 28, 2008

Weather & Bones

While everyone else was sitting in his or her air conditioning this weekend trying to stay cool, we went camping. It rather odd, but seems we found a little spot in paradise (also known as Saunders County) where the temps were actually decent and enjoyed over six hours of saddle time on Saturday and Sunday morning, albeit it was a scorcher when we unloaded at home early Sunday afternoon!
If you follow the Vasa family follies, you may have heard that my oldest son is now sporting a cast on his right foot. Yep, we almost made it a year since John hooked his foot in Butter’s butt cheeks on a dead run past her and Case and broke a bone in his ankle....

~which, incidentally was 14 months from the time BOTH boys had broken their wrists in two separate accidents when they fell from their horses two weeks apart
~which was almost a year from the date I broke my ankle when Blue stepped on it
~which was 15 months from the time McCain fell from the hayloft in the barn and broke his femur
~which resulted in 24 days in the hospital and the official launch of Horsetrailriders.com!

I’m sure I broke some HIPAA violation or called myself out to Social Services but I have witnesses. They were all legit! McCain’s most recent break is NOT horse related but the results of karma plain and simple! He fell over a pan that was in the weeds in the area of the yard he was suppose to weed and didn’t.

So for McCain’s entertainment this weekend, we brought along his PlayStation and 14-year-old cousin to hang out with at camp while Case and the boy's 10-year-old brother went trail riding with us.

Non-horse people are a fascinating bunch. Adults say little, but kids are the best! First, they have no fear. The young nephew had no qualms about wanting to “loop” (yes, “loop”, not lope) Blue bareback in slick basketball shorts. “Ahhhh, no!” And as we rode down the trails, I would see his little tennis shoes hitting Blue’s sides to get him to run down hills. Luckily, Blue would listen to me following the young rider & when I said “Easy, Blue”, he would go easy. He knows his job and took care of the boy!

Later that evening, the older nephew wanted to ride. Don’t tell Social Services, but we let McCain take off his walking cast and put on a pair of lace up boots and go on a ride with his cousin and us. Ginger took real good care of him! Once the teenaged nephew got his “shoe holders” adjusted (that would be stirrups), he was ready to loop, too! "Slow down, boy!" He wanted more than Blue was offering and rode Butter for part of the evening. When my friend and I broke off for a faster ride, he wanted to tag along and loop, too! For fear of Butter’s butt cheeks, we went without him!

Picking camping weekends is kind of like putting up hay. The internet weather sites give you an average expected temperature and wind expectations and then sneak in that pesky dew point which may or may not blow the entire weekend with ungodly humidity. Then they throw in a chance of thunderstorms just for flavor! So you pick your day, study the radar (because I am pretty sure I can guess as well as Flowers or Ramby!) and roll the dice! This past weekend paid off in spades!

Jul 22, 2008

Lots of Riding!

In July, I am usually complaining about heat and humidity and holed up in the air conditioning. Outside I fear slipping in the cracks of our dried up yard and pasture -- if I make it that far without heat exhaustion! The horses have that "don't even THINK about it" look on their faces.

Albeit this past weekend was a little reminicent of past July's, it hasn't been the norm! Oh, we've had rain (when none was predicted) and dodged thunderstorms when we were too afraid to hay. The weathermen in the area -- Flowers, Ramby and whoever the other talking heads are on the lesser watched stations -- can't figure it out! Heck, the old farmer down the road has made more accurate predictions than these clowns and their computers!

No time lately have they told me we would be having Top Ten days in mid July. But the last couple evenings at our house, in Saunders County, it has been very mild, nice breeze and no humidity. You would think this deserves a little attention! Shouldn't Moe, Curly & Larry take up half of our tv screen and say GO OUTSIDE! IT'S A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT!

We picked up our "cow quality" bales (thank you Mr. Ramby) in the field tonight and I saddled Ginger for a short ride. Hoping the weather holds out for our Wednesday ride at Oak Glen tomorrow evening.

In the last week, I was lucky enough to ride Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday! Hoping all of you take advantage of this unseasonably NICE weather, too.

Jul 15, 2008

Haying Hell

When we first got horses, my father-in-law's pasture golf course was beginning to fold... okay, it never really got started... and he decided to let it go to hay for our horses. Between our pasture and his, that first year we got close to 50 big round bales. We were in hay heaven!

As the years went by, we got more horses... the stupid cows... and although we bought "the golf course" from my in-laws, there was less acres to hay as we turned more land into pasture. But still, we had enough for our small herd.

Last year, the unexpected/unpredicted rains washed out our weanrows and we lost a lot of our crop. Come February, we were begging the locals for hay. And hoped to never go through that again.

John cuts all of our hay. In the areas that are too difficult to get a round baler in, he small bales. We were happy to put 130 some bales up the last few weeks. Our neighbor bales the big rounds for us. John cut the half of the big pasture a few days ago as there was little or no rain expected for several days. One farmer warned that he though it might rain Tuesday, but the weather report had 10% chance after 9:00 pm. The clouds rolled in at 7:00. There was a 90% chance it wasn't going to rain, right?

Yeah, right. The farmer who rolls our big rounds managed to get 6 or 7 on the ground before the inch or so of rain came down.

Haying is not for the weak of heart. Rain during haying is like road rage. You want to scream at someone and there is no one to scream at. I can't live with this kind of stress!

Jul 13, 2008

The Black Colt

It's ironic that my last Stable Talk was My Dream Horse (see previous blog) and this one is about the horse that I really don’t want.  Oh, I shouldn’t say 'I don’t want', per se.  Perhaps 'don’t need' is a better (nicer) way of putting it. 

I bought Major Inspiration (aka Little Blackie, The Black Colt, Black) as a weanling stud colt.  Now a 5 year old gelding and the proverbial underused horse.  If he were the only one in our pasture that was underused, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.  But in our herd right now, we have one that is used regularly (Windy), three that are used enough to earn their hay, two that are drafts crosses that are worth more by the pound in Mexico than anywhere else - so they are on the protective species list and then, The Black. 

I bought him at an auction.  I was sitting way too high in the bleachers to really get a good look at my under $80 purchase.  He’s long necked, too high in the withers and can’t grow a mane or a tail to save his soul!  But at the time, I had a passion for black horses & he fit the color scheme.  (I’m banging my head on the desk as I type!)

He never endeared himself to me like some of the other horses.  He was kind of a nuisance; a juvenile delinquent in some ways.  We sent him out to boot camp the fall of his two year old year.  He came home with the spit shine and polish.  But we got busy with the horses we use and he went to the back of the line again.

Last year, my oldest son, McCain, took an interest in riding him.  And did pretty well with him just going down the trails.  I was proud of McCain for taking on the challenge.  And I could tell that McCain was proud of himself.  However, a colt like this takes more attention than 14 year old boys have time for.  After riding season last year, he was once again underused. 

When we started to prepare for our South Dakota trip, we had every intention of letting McCain take him – provided he put the time on him for conditioning.  As the trip got closer, there were still no rides on the Black.  So I started to work with him in the arena.  I thought some of the skills I have recently learned with Windy would translate over to this colt.  But as time went on, I realized the trust in the colt just wasn’t there.  I wasn’t having any fun trying to put rides on him.  I put him away and started to condition Blue for the trip instead.  Black wasn’t going to make the travel team.

So here it is July 2008 and the infamous Black Colt has had less than 5 rides on him this year.  I know it’s time to make some hard decisions.  He’s a good age with a good start and not too late for someone to make into a good horse.  The longer we have him, the less he will be ridden.  And they don’t get any smarter just standing out in the pasture.  Of course I reserve the right to change my mind 100 times.  Sometimes it just sucks to be the grown-up.

Riding Miss Butter

If you followed my vacation blog, you might recall the snippet where I was having a bad day with Butterscotch. I was going to ride her one day at Ft. Rob. When I got to the barn, I found her stall weaving. She was obviously uncomfortable in that environment & I thought she would enjoy the reprieve out on the trails! But she was a pistol to saddle & after lunging for a bit, found her even more difficult in the saddle. I wasn't having the best day either & before one of us (Butter or I) did something we would both regret, I put her back in her stall and fetched Windy.

I wasn't happy with Butter for quite awhile. Although it's no secret that our Black colt is one that I prefer NOT to ride, (yeah, I am scared to ride him even though my 14 yr old son will!), I have never been afraid to ride Butterscotch. Oh, she can be a bit sassy -- some would say "mare-ish" -- but I have always thought she was a fun little horse to ride.

Once we got home, Butter was back to normal. She always comes up to me in the pasture or corral. She knows when the other horses are hogging the grain or alfalfa that if she moves away, I'll slip her her own stash... we just have this understanding. So I couldn't stay mad at her for long.

Yesterday, I took her over to Two Rivers to ride with friends. It continues to puzzle me how this great little trail horse I rode yesterday was the same horse who was throwing fits, rearing, head tossing and spinning at Ft. Rob. So completely out of charactor for her. They sure keep us guessing, don't they?

So all is forgiven with Miss Butterscotch. We are buddies once again. Although we will never be BFFs like Windy & I are, we will continue our mutual "like" for each other.

Jul 2, 2008

Big Fat Lying Weatherman (BFLWM) Strikes Again

BFLWM struck again. Storms to the north of us, storms to the south of Lincoln... probably will break up before they move this direction... 30% chance... Yeah, I fell for it and convinced Brenda that we could trust him! And if I would have put my rain gear on the back of the saddle, that would have secured a dry ride! And where the heck is that 99 cent poncho I usually have in my cantle pouch?

We were thrilled that the temps had cooled to 79 degrees. The wind was strong, but there are a lot of trees along Oak Creek that would block it. Move quickly thru the open areas. Fast trots; loping. Fun to be able to just move out! That was our goal; cover a lot of ground & cover it quickly! Finny did not like the signs along the lagoon & Windy would syncronize to his lovely moves! "This is why I have a horn," says Brenda! Crossed the bridges and a good water crossing.

"Was that thunder or a truck?" asked Brenda.
"Truck", says BFLTV.

Then Windy spooks at a flash of lightning. There was no sprinkling. Once we felt that first drop, it started to pour. Went for the nearest trees. Lightning, thunder. Heavy showers.

Nothing we were wearing repelled water. We just kept absorbing more. It looks clear to the west. Shall we risk it and ride out further? As soon as we hit a clearing, the wind cuts through our wet clothes. I never thought teeth could chatter in July? But you do warm up a bit if you gallop! I think our top speed was around 24 mph. Wet clothes, cold wind, frozen fingers! Yes, frozen in July!

Who'd of thunk.....