Friday, February 14, 2014

Good Old Days Series: Mac


I've decided that, since it is still quite bitterly cold outside and there will be no "real" writing on Suzie for a while until the snow melts, I'd jot down the history of all the horses who have left a large impact in my life. In this "series" I will first and foremost start with "Mac".

Mac, was one of the first horses I truly "leased". His owner, Vickey, mostly had him as a trail horse and would occasionally dabble into the schooling show scene. When my lesson horse grew old/ill, Vickey offered up Mac for me to ride, as she knows my instructor quite well. I started riding him way back in 2007. He was definitely a sure-footed, steady-eddie type of guy and he most certainly was a "old grump" who only ever really wanted to get his own way. He was about 15.2 hands high, and was a beautiful! palomino gelding with the most handsome blaze on his face.

He was the perfect "first horse" a girl could ask for, and his owner was more than willing to let me take over the reins. I rode him for three years and I learnt so much about not only riding a rather stubborn horse, but also about friendship, hardship and commitment. He was an old guy who's legs would creak and groan, but he'd try his heart out for me anyways. I mean, I was a crazy teenager who wanted to do nothing more than jump! Mac's 19 year old self did just that for me, despite being annoyed we weren't hitting the trails instead! And his only true passion was eating - trust me, if I was out trail riding, at 5PM on the dot he'd be heading back home whether or not I liked it! When we first started working together, I wasn't too keen on him, as he was a lot more difficult (for me!) than any horse I'd ever ridden before. He was definitely a Quarter Horse, in the aspect that he was a thinker - if he thought long and hard enough, he could find a way to get out of doing something. He was quite the challenge for me, but reliable and always safe!

I took some pretty hilarious falls off of him - one of which included me trotting him down a dirt road bareback and being bounced right off! Mac continued trotting back home and thankfully, the friend that was with me caught him. And there were countless falls I encountered from "jumping" little cross rails and just generally being a goof. And interestingly enough, these are all memories I will cherish. He was a Western pony who put his heart and soul into everything he did for me and the devastation that ripped through me when I was notified he passed was gut-wrenching.

Mac is on the left hand side. Cheyenne is on the right

I won't go into the details, but his loss impacted me far more than words will ever convey. After all, I was just a naïve kid who figured he was going to live forever. I did, however, get a tattoo of him (and another horse who I will mention later) on my ankle so that he will be on every ride I go on from now on. There will never be another horse as trustworthy, down to earth, kind and forgiving as Mac.

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day....
to all my readers (if I have any, lol!)

Although I am currently spending my Valentines sitting at work trying not to spread my contagious snot-ridden cold to everyone, I am excited to see my mare afterwards! Her old farrier is going to be coming back and taking care of her feet which is a HUGE GINORMOUS weight lifted off my shoulders. I spoke privately with her and since she knows Suzanne's needs the best and what has worked for her [Suzie] the best, we will keep plugging away at it. Our schedules may conflict and interfere, but we are both committed to making this work! Yay!
In other news, it has been snowing like CRAYZEE around here. Both the SO and I are at work 10hrs a day and when we come home, our driveway is such a mess! Lastnight we shoveled a blanket of snow about a foot high. Yuck. It's probably snowed about 3-4 feet now and it seems like its just going to keep coming. I'm actually kind of relieved that Suzie is going to be getting her shoes pulled because snow was already starting to build up and cause issues for her.

I did have to scratch going to the Western clinic, which I felt awful about doing, but unfortunately, with the roads being especially crap-tastic, Suzie having her shoes pulled (farrier wants the shoes off and wants Suz to grow some hoof so she can re-shape them), and the fact that work wants me to be on that weekend, I just couldn't do it. It wouldn't be fair to haul Suz out in a wintery blizzard-mess and ride the "crap" out of her for one day. Both my mare and I have been out of "real" work for quite a few months, and it wouldn't be right, or fair to either of us.
However, I was approached by one of the Horse Club members (who owned one of my very first lease horses!) and she had asked me if I would mind helping out with the Saturday activities at the grounds. Basically, every Saturday (weather permitting) a bunch of ex-4-H kids come out and learn about horses, they ride and they do horsemanship and horse husbandry type of things. Unfortunately, Vickey is too busy with work and whatnot to really carry out 4-H's more demanding program, so she wants to instead, have a "once a week" thing. So, the kids are going to transfer over to our Horse Club and basically "borrow" rides from people's horses. I'm planning for one or two of the kids to toodle around on Suzie and hopefully (just maybe!) swing my leg over Geronimo again.

The PLAN is to:
  • Contact G's owner and see if I can lease him out again because no one is really riding him anymore, which makes me sad.
  • Trailer Suz out to the fairgrounds/arena and have Vickey meet me there with Geronimo and her other two horses.
  • Work with G while the kiddos ride Suzie.
  • Ride Suzie after the kiddos are done riding ('cause lets be honest, they won't be doing anything crazy).
G was my old lease horse before I got Suzie, and truth be told, I miss the naughty bugger! And G is boarded at Vickey's place, so I'm hoping to get into contact with G's owner again and possibly arrange something... The SO just suggested I buy him, which is what I would just LOVE to do! Although, I do not think his owner would part with him, which is another reason I chose Suzie. And additionally, I needed a more "slow and steady" horse due to being dumped too many times off of G with his silly antics.
But, the "G" stories are for another day and I should get back to paperwork and pretending I am busy until the end of the day!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

I bit the bullet...

And went out and rode my mare!
Truth be told, I wasn't necessarily keen on riding, considering it was a very cold -18 with the wind. But, I loaded up the mutts, went and picked up my tack and dressed like I was about to camp overnight outside.

Suzie was waiting in her little turn-out section and was happily munching on some left-over hay from her morning's feeding. She looked over at me quietly and I led her out to my car and whipped off her winter blanket and began tacking her up. She wasn't too keen on standing quietly for the first 5 minutes or so, but didn't really put a foot wrong, persay. She just shifted around, careening her head to get a glance of her friends who were calling like lunatics in the barn behind us. I kind of had to giggle, because oh lordy, the cinch she wore at the end of the summer is SO big now. Thank god she lost most of that weight.
I let the dogs out and hand-walked (to keep an eye on the dogs) until we got to the dirt road. Suz kept up at a gingerly walk and seemed quite pleased to be out, despite the wind whipping around and freezing our my ears, nose and toes. I had begun to feel as if a trail ride were possibly a bad idea, but  I had already come this far, so I might as well commit!

I stopped Suz a little ways down the dirt road and went to mount up. She was a bit wiggly, not wanting to stand still and trying to turn around to go home. I ended up putting my foot in the stirrup and hanging over her saddle like deadweight until she quit dancing around. I re-mounted and she stood much better and we set off quietly. It took her about five minutes to stop acting like a witch and after that, she walked along on a loose buckle rein the entire ride. It was heavenly! I had initially planned to incorporate some jogging into our session, but as I did, she didn't seem very comfortable. I have a strong suspicion that:
 A) She is out of shape and stiff from being out of work and the sub zero temperatures.
 B) The ground is ROCK HARD. It's like running on pavement. NOT comfortable.
C) She is in need of chiropractic work again.
Understandably, she is stiff with the temperatures and being unmotivated to move around her paddock (I don't necessarily blame her!) and doubled with the fact that I only ever have enough time once a week (for now) to get her out walking around due to my work schedule and the poor amount of light we have. And I don't need to go in depth with the ground - it even causes me some discomfort running on it as clumps of dirt and rocks are little tripping hazards since they do not crumble away and instead, are like titanium statues! Ouch. Lastly, it'd do her good to get worked on again. I've already made arrangements with her chiro who lives 4 hours way that when she comes up in the Spring, to please put Suz on her list. Unfortunately, our area is very "horse poor" in the sense that we do not have the amenities "horse rich" areas do. We do not have horse vets here - the closest one is a 3.5hr drive away. We do not have farriers here - there are two that I know of and one is over an hour away. And we do not have an ample supply of horse feed/tack stores - there are two stores an hour away who offer horse feed but it is quite limited and the tack store we used to have, just closed last Summer.
Back to our ride, though. It was a nice little outing and Suzie was quite happy. I was very pleased she took a loose, quiet rein and was responsive to my aids throughout the ride. I cannot wait until the days get longer so I can actually start riding her after work. Please, mother nature, please!

Friday, February 7, 2014

-25C = Blanket Time

There has been an immense cold-front blowing through our region and the temperatures have steadily dropped to -25, which is ricidulously cold! The river the SO and I drive past every morning for work is frozen solid! So, much to Suzanne's delight, I strapped her blankie back on. The wind has been completely bitter and chills you right to the bone, so Suzie hasn't been doing much since she got her feet done. 

In all reality, between the intense cold and the short days/long nights, I haven't had much time to really play around with her. Work has taken up a lot of my shedule - 6 days a week and 10 hour days take a lot out of you. I am looking forward to my (one and only!) day off tomorrow, and I am insistant on braving the cold to go play with my mare. Initially, I had planned on riding Suzie for the first time this year (well, ride ride) but I don't think that is going to happen...

And on the list of things that are not going to happen: the clinic I had signed up for. Le sigh. Work is going to be needing me to work over that weekend and I can't necessarily say no, mostly because I am still the lowest one on the totem pole, and the extra cash would be nice. 

And lastly, it is supposed to snow next week. SNOW. Are you KIDDING ME?! It better not!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's too cold for this!

Over the past few days, the temperatures have increasingly dropped - to the point where I am literally freezing my butt off outside! Thank goodness work is 50% inside, 50% outside, otherwise I may have turned into a Popsicle by now! It has been nearly -10C with a windchill that really gets to your bones; I had blanketed Suzie the last three days as a general precaution but she doesn't seemed too bothered by the cold. In fact, she is used to -30C weather from her previous home, but I like to spoil her with her blanket anyways.

Darn she looks good - weight-wise that is! She is seriously lacking some
muscle and tone, but after three months off, it's easy to expect.

I had a phone call from the property owner Tuesday night that Suzie wasn't eating very much. I had been out to see Suz earlier that evening and she seemed fine, but my "OH MY GOD SHE MUST BE COLICKING" panic set in and I dashed to the car, hair still soaking wet and unbrushed from my shower and fuzzy pajamas on. When I got there, Suzie seemed fine. I mean, she looked bored and a bit miffed, but she didn't seem lethargic or depressed or anything. I stayed with her for a bit, fed her an apple (which she ate!) and put her rain sheet on just as an extra "layer" in case she was feeling cold. The property owner came out when she saw my car lights and said Suz has still been drinking, pooping, etc so at that point, I wasn't as worried. Suz had rolling gut sounds, was interested in what we were doing and walked around. I had a feeling her feet were sore, which was preventing her from walking around. Thankfully, the farrier was coming. Before I left, I sat in my car for several minutes and as I did, that darn mare walked over to the feed bin and started eating! What are the odds.

After that little scare, I kept a pretty close eye on her for the next few days. I brought her hay into her run in shed for her to eat so I could monitor exactly how much she was eating and she snarfed it all up without any questions. And I switched out the rain sheet for her winter blanket because good golly it was COLD out there. Suz seemed to appreciate it.

And yesterday, finally, the farrier showed up! Yay! However, I am a little disappointed in the job. Instead of fixing the flares and her issues, he just set the shoes on with the imbalance instead of rebalancing and then shoeing her. I had a secondary farrier (who is ELPO trained and is one of their instructors) review the Before and After photos I took and she too, was disappointed with what she saw. It is frustrating, trying to find a good farrier. I'm not here to point fingers or play blame. I am most certainly not a farrier and I would probably be doing a worse job. So, I'll have to figure something out from here. A bit disheartening, though.

Once she was shod, I ran back home to warm up and came back out to take her for a little walk. We practiced showmanship and some leading exercises. I even ended up tying her to a tree so I could brush out my GSD (who was shedding like a FOOL) and she stood patiently and quietly. I noticed a huge difference in her comfort level with the shoes on, so I was glad I put them on when I did, but I am still a bit upset about the whole imbalance thing... I'll have to figure it out. We walked for about an hour and a half and she was happy to be out and moving around finally.

Andddd.... I signed up for our first clinic! At the end of February we will be having some real Western lessons!

Red Mare is fed up with your shenanigans.