Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Ride before the Storm

I had a special treat today.  I rode Jan's Appaloosa Lakota.  Jan has 3 horses.  Zan is living with us for the winter, and her other 2 are at a really nice barn with an indoor arena.  It's even heated!  Lakota has started his Second Level work.  With Jan, he's confirmed in shoulder-in, haunches-in, counter-canter, and has even started half-pass.  With me, it's walk-trot-canter and leg yield.  He's very pleasant under saddle, and very easy to ride.

Lakota and I

But now the storm is here.  It's snowing, and the temperature is falling like a rock.  It's 9F right now, and it's expected to be -5F tonight.  The horses are snug in their stalls and dressed in their warmest blankets (Ok, they have layers of blankets on) but still I worry.  Let us all get through this bitter cold safely.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Change in the Weather

We've had the nicest December I ever remember here in Colorado. It's been in the 50s, and very close to 60. But as we walked to the barn this morning, it was clear that we're in for a change.

The forecast is for a high of 29 tomorrow with snow and patchy freezing drizzle.  Total snow accumulation is expected to be 4 to 8 inches.  Friday's forecast calls for a high of 15 and a low of -2.  Winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts around 35 mph means the wind chill will be around 20 below zero. 
The boys will be staying inside the barn.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Crafts, Horse-Style

2 Horseshoes

Many thanks to Adwyn, who not only gave me the idea for this
stepping stone,
he even gave me the Quikrete!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Longer Days -

As we walk to the barn in the early morning light, I love to look at the beauty of the day.  One of my favorite sights is this ranch on the horizon.  Some days the trees look like they are floating.
At the barn, I turn and look back toward the house.  The moon is so beautiful I regret not watching the eclipse.  But there are horses to feed in the morning.
I am glad the days are getting longer;  we had an extra minute of daylight today.  But I will miss the early morning light.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Especially for Isobelle

Isobelle Golightly, the blogging goat, has a Little Problem.  The Little Problem is named Nigel.  Isobelle thinks the mini horse is a pest.  I think he needs a job.  Here's some possibilities -

He could be Santa Claus Mini

He could be a Gingerbread Man Mini

He could be a draft horse mini

The possibilities for mini employment are endless, even in this down economy!

To visit Isobelle, Nigel and their friends, click here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Carriage Parade

If you're a horse nut like me, this is a great parade.  Except for high school bands, it's all horses, horses and more horses.  We had been enjoying very warm weather, but it was in the thirties with a vicious wind.  Brrrr!  Boomer munched hay in the trailer while we got ready.
David held the shafts while Bob attached them to the surrey. Diana and I shined up the surrey with Lemon Pledge.  Bob decorated Boomer in classic sleigh bells.  David and I wore our MND wrist bands in support of Janet's fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease (click here).
We hitched Boomer, loaded Gossy up,
and waited our turn.
It was fun to see the festive carriages -

After the parade, we headed home, tired but happy.
 Perhaps Gossy had visions of sugarplums.  Or of Cliffie.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Primping for the Christmas Parade

Boomer had a long day at the beauty shop.  This morning I trimmed up the long hairs on his muzzle, bridle path and ears.  Bob and Diana came this afternoon and gave him a bath.

The wash cycle -

the rinse cycle-

the sweat scraper cycle (removing excess water) -

and the blow dry cycle -
That's Bob on the front foot and Diana on the back.

After all the primping, we put Boomer in a wool cooler lined with a scrim sheet and shut him in his stall, just to make extra sure that he is completely dry.  Tonight he will wear his heaviest blanket, just to make extra-extra sure that he is warm and dry.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

He's B-a-c-k!

Look who's back!
It's Jan's horse, our old buddy Zan.  He's here to over-winter with us.
Paj is so happy to have his old friend back.

We are enjoying a week of warm weather.  It was 60 degrees today!  We are so lucky.  A year ago it was -13F. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Clifford has Girls Over

Ah, what a weekend for The Big Red Dog!  On Saturday, Clifford invited a Doberman Pinscher named Dee Dee over.  Dee Dee was born deaf, thus her name Dee Dee (deaf dog).  She brought along her humans, Roberta and Bill.  Roberta happens to be our small animal vet, and a very dear friend.  Unfortunately, Dee Dee was less than impressed with our Clifford.

Sunday Clifford's true love Gossamer came over along with her humans, Diana and Bob.  Gossy is a Borzoi.  She doesn't care that Cliffie comes from the other side of the tracks.

Clifford, what a beautiful head you have...

and such a lovely ear...

this ear is lovely too!

Shall we indulge the humans?  They wish to play with us..."

Clifford and Gossy, Diana and Bob

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Paj has a Meltdown

Here's my excuses -

1.  Weather.  It was bitterly cold yesterday.  We let the horses out to stretch and move around, but we brought them in early and shut them in their stalls.  It was 3 degrees F this morning.

2.  I had work to do at Chuck's barn.  Of course I fed and cleaned stalls for our horses before I went to Chuck's, but I left our horses tucked in their stalls.  Did I mention it was 3 degrees F?  Chuck's horses were locked in from about 3 pm to morning because of the weather, so it took me until about 10 am to clean his stalls, get the horses out, and get back to our barn for turnout.  By then it was in the 20s.

Paj was most definitely not interested in excuses.  Here's the tail end of his little meltdown.  I'm glad that he's feeling so good, but I'd rather he didn't run hard in cold weather.  He'd rather I didn't keep him cooped up!

He was nicely dressed for strolling around on a cold morning, but seriously over-dressed for a gallop, so we had to spend quite a bit of time walking in a cooler.  He had a hot salty bran with lunch, and he's a happy camper tonight.  Geez.

Friday, November 26, 2010

End of the Clavicle Saga

As most of you know, I broke my right clavicle when I did an unplanned dismount off of Paj back in July.  Well, after months of physical therapy and doctor visits, that little mishap is finally drawing to a close.  I had my last visit with the orthopedic surgeon this week.  I'm not posting a photo of the latest x-ray because a) it freaks my loved ones out, and b) it looks just like it did in the beginning;  a drawbridge ready to let a tall ship through.   Those bones have not and probably will not knit together.  But as the good doctor says, "you treat the patient, not the injury".  And when an orthopedic surgeon tells me that in my case, surgery has a greater chance of making things worse than better, I listen.  So the goal has been to get the function back, and to get pain free.

The range of motion in the shoulder is pretty darn good.  The strength is not quite to where I want it, but it's getting there.  I learned in physical therapy that the less dominant side of your body is normally 2/3s as strong as your dominant side.  Right now, it's the opposite for me.  I'm right handed, and my dominant right side is only 2/3s as strong as my left side.  I've returned to full work in the barn, so I expect that to improve.  In fact, I went a little crazy proving to myself that I was better in the week leading up to the last appointment.  David had to go to The Big City for work on Tuesday, so I fed and cleaned for all 7 of Chuck's horses plus our horses, cleaning stalls, runs, and paddock.  Another day I cleaned pasture poo.  Another day David and I set up the lunge pen.  Each panel weighs 106 pounds, and we carried them and set them into position. 

David had previously taken down the dressage arena fence and stored it in the barn for winter.  The arena pad is not fenced off from the pasture, and we were afraid that when the snow gets deeper than the dressage arena fence (12"), the horses would blunder into the fencing and hurt themselves.  Or it.  There's still an area 20m x 40m, the size of a regulation small arena, behind the lunge pen.  But I'm getting off track.  The point is that I was nervous before the last appointment, and did a lot of work to prove to myself that I could.  This brings me to the "pain free" part of getting better.

I am off the vicodin and off Advil except when I am stupid and do too much (see above).  I'm comfortable most of the time, but aware of the clavicle, especially at night.  I would like to be to the point where I don't think about it any more than I think of my big toe, or any other part of my body.  But all in all, it's pretty darn good.  This brings me to my big beef.

I am pissed that nobody thought to tell me to exercise my fingers all that time I was in a sling.  My poor fingers froze up, and I am having the devil of a time getting them back in spite of my exercises and my pot of orange finger putty.  They don't obey my brain.  This morning a plate dropped out of my hand when I was unloading the dishwasher.  Worse, we could have had a disaster leaving Chuck's after the roofing.  I can wrap my fingers around a horse's lead, but with no strength.  When we went to load Paj on the trailer, I saw "Gallop Home" flash across Paj's little pea brain.  That would have been a great time to give a tug on the lead and remind him there was a human on the other end.  My brain told the fingers, and nothing happened.  Fortunately, Paj is all about food, and as soon as "Gallop home" flashed across his brain, "Food on trailer" flashed, and on he went.  I'm wandering again, but the point is that the finger problem could have been avoided. 

The doctor says a full recovery for the shoulder and the fingers can take up to a year, and it's up to me to get there.  The public goal is to get back to where I was.  The secret goal is to be able to ride again with that peculiar mix of strength and sensitivity riding requires.  I have a plan.  I've started swimming again.  I love swimming.  No snickering please, but I was on the synchronized swimming team in college.  Anyway, I think swimming will really help me.  And even though we live way out in the country, there is a gorgeous rec center 20 miles from us, complete with lap swimming.  My body remembers the rhythms and the stroking, even in slow motion.  And I think I might try to knit again for the fingers.

Oh, one more thing.  When I had my final physical therapy session, the therapist told me that if I ever had to go to one of those ghastly (my word, not hers) ice-breaker sessions where you have to tell the group something unique about yourself, I could tell them "I have three clavicles".  Oh ha-ha.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm Behind

Opps!  I'm behind in all things.  I'm behind in the housework, and I'm behind in the things I enjoy, like reading blogs.  I'm looking forward to catching up with everybody. 

We have been crazy-busy making the place safe for the horses again after the roofing.  We've combed the pastures and the paddock, picking up shreds of insulation.  There was actually less of that than I feared.  However, there were a lot of screws and metal screw gaskets in the runs. 
If a horse ate this stuff, it could be deadly.  And we don't want anybody getting a screw through their hoof either.  We used a shoer's magnet to find them all, I hope.

We are also busy taking care of Chuck's horses, and we're mighty glad to be helping out there.  We told him we'd have our horses there for a day or two.  It was eight days.  Chuck and Elyssa were so nice to us they even acted like they were sorry to see us leave.

It hasn't been all work and no play.  We've been enjoying having our little family together again.  Our tough-guy Reggie has been a little cling-y.
Paj was glad to see his bare patch of ground again.  It's where we pushed extra soil when we built the arena.  It has a special attraction for Paj.  Go figure.

Boomer just wanted a good roll.
We are trying to get some work on Boomer every day the weather permits to get him ready for the Christmas parade.  He'll be pulling the surrey, and we want it to be a piece of cake for him.
It's a long way down off Boomer.

People have kindly asked what we're going to do with the horses when the roofers come back to replace the three bent panels, and the answer is I don't know.  I'm torn.  I'd love to leave them home, out in the pastures.  But I don't really trust the roofers to be done in one day, and I don't trust them not to drop screws, etc.  Like Scarlett, I'll think about it tomorrow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quick Update - Barn Roof Take 3

The horses are home!  They are all snug in their own barn tonight.  The roofing ordeal isn't quite over.  Three of the steel panels were bent, and have to be re-ordered.  It will be weeks before they come.  But meanwhile, all is well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter Driving

When we got up this morning to go feed horses down at Chuck's (yes, we're still at Chuck's), we saw a flipped car at the intersection of the county road and our cul-de-sac.
David was first on the scene.  The two teenaged boys were unhurt, but their shiny red pickup wasn't as lucky.
Chuck saw another accident on his way to physical therapy.  The car had slid down a 30' slope.  It's a harsh reminder to be careful even when the roads don't look that bad.

Don't ask about the barn roof.  Let's just say we're still at Chuck's and leave it at that.  Sniffle sniffle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

No News isn't always Good News

Yep, we're still at Chuck's.
Yesterday was a beautiful day.  It was also Sunday.  The roofers called to see if we had snow - we didn't.  They called back about half an hour later and said they weren't coming.  There was a small meltdown on my part.  Today it's snowing.

I had a nice blog surprise today.  I had a comment on my "Elizabeth" post from a local horse person!  Dream Valley Ranch has 5 rescued dogs and 8 rescued horses.  They live at 8,400'!  Brrrr.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Barn Roof Take 2

Things are looking up. The roofing crew showed up (yay!) late (boo!) and were able to work for 3 hours before it snowed.

They got about a quarter of the barn done, and they did a good job.  They are replacing the roof one section at a time, so nothing is exposed to the elements.  They may work on Sunday, or they may have said that to appease us.  Regardless, Monday should be a good day, so maybe they'll finish Monday.  Meanwhile, the horses are doing fine at Chuck and Elyssa's.  Chuck and Elyssa are very good to us, and we are so grateful to have them as neighbors and friends.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm Fried

I was going to call this post "4th of July Hailstorm, Part 2" or maybe "Roofing the Barn", but frankly, I'm fried.  The roofers were supposed to be replacing the barn roof today as part of the aftermath of the hailstorm.  We moved Paj and Reggie down to Chuck's barn yesterday, and Bob took Boomer to a friend's.  If you have horses, you know that this is not trivial.  We moved blankets, hay, shavings, water buckets, etc.  And we worried.  Paj tends to quit drinking when he thinks he's stressed, and Reggie likes to squeal and stomp at strange horses.  Our barn is heavily insulated and stays pretty warm, and it was 18 degrees last night.  Not exactly when you want to be moving horses, especially one that has had more than one dehydration colic in spite of water everywhere and salty brans.  The good news is that both horses are doing fine down at Chuck's.  Paj, my social butterfly, is busy making new friends, and all systems seem to be working fine.  Reggie is stomping and squealing a bit, but he's really being very good.  And since we've been taking care of Chuck's horses anyway, having them all in one place is working out nicely.

So here comes the fried part.  We have/had a very narrow window for roofing the barn.  We are between snowstorms.  It's supposed to start snowing again around noon tomorrow.  The roofers showed up hours late (around noon) today, discovered they didn't have an important part of the roof, and left.  They have to drive to Ft. Collins (108 miles one way) to get it.  Grrrrr.

I started stripping the stalls yesterday and finished this morning.  I did this because I was worried they'd drop a screw or insulation into the stalls, and a horse would eat it.  With the floors bare, I could just sweep up whatever they dropped.  Here is about half of what I took out of Paj's stall alone -
So you can see where I'm not real keen on bedding the stalls, bringing the horses home, taking the horses back to Chuck's in the morning and stripping stalls again.  On the plus side, I am really pleased that my shoulder held up well.  I also covered the waterers, took stuff off the walls, etc, but that's minor.  I want my barn roofed.  I want my horses healthy and happy and home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First Snow

Snow!  We had just enough for it to be pretty.  The roads were dry, and I was able to enjoy the scenery on the way to the dentist.

Even the dentist's downspout was pretty.
photo inspired by Jim at Ocean Breezes