Sparkles of dew shimmer atop the lush grass. Sunlight seeps between tree leaves, spotlighting the dancing pools of moisture.
The constant background music of a heavenly chorus might only be inside my head, but this wonderland is better than anything I could dream up on my own.
Applejack is growing larger every day. His strapping physique grows more masculine and muscular every day. The little boy now lunges both ways at a walk and a trot; knows how to stand on a pedestal; can pivot (ish); can shake his head no; has started to lift his feet for the Spanish Walk when I tap his elbows, can back up when I pull his tail; backs up when I move my finger back and forth; picks up all four feet very well for the farrier and for anyone who hoofpicks him; will stand square anytime I ask; will follow anyone’s movement at a walk, trot, over a jump, and stop; and will allow me to snap a whip at any point around his body without flinching.
In a few short months, I’ll be seeking out a blanket to fit the boy.
His old ones won’t work anymore.
Winter will be here soon; the cold weather will begin in a few short months–or possibly weeks.
The days pass on, some leaving twinkling moments while others fade quietly into the background.
It’s glorious to notice the sparkles as they occur, instead of longing for them after they have passed.
Churned earth mingled with scattered feathers. The cage moved as futile fingers clawed at the trap door.
I caught a killer.
I rejoiced–and mourned.
This thing, this animal, this fluff-ball, killed three babies. Three tiny chickens. He killed them and ate them.
Trudie and I gathered the remaining supplies for the horse show, and we left.
Our horses performed well for their experience levels. Sidney needed to be led during his classes for safety reasons. He’s never been to a “real” horse show before, so he had no idea how to act or feel.
Honey’s shown once before. Last time she won two seventh places. This time she won a third (out of three horses–but she listened well!) and two fifth-place ribbons. They’re hanging in the tack room, along with Trudie’s ribbon from a previous horse show.
Suzi Q’s owner and Sidney’s owner came to visit, and both were exceedingly helpful. They held horses and came back to Firefly Farm when we realized we’d left behind Sidney’s bridle (oh-so-important!) and then needed a different saddle. They also took photos.
Once everyone loaded back up and we traveled back to the barn, I remembered.
The caged killer.
He curled up harmlessly at one end of the wire jail and peered at me with soft black eyes. His ringed tail wrapped around a chubby body, his masked face innocent.
Sometime soon, I’ll drive the killer to meet an ugly kitty.
The tattoo of hoofbeats pounded along the barn. A sharp, youthful whinny exploded from the small horse in the field as she pranced back and forth; her frantic pacing broken only by moments to listen–to find out if, indeed, she’s truly alone.
My neighbor, Katie, asked me to board her pony, Cadence, this weekend. Katie’s riding her other horse at a clinic, and she shipped her mare to Wisconsin this morning. Cadence would’ve been alone at Katie’s barn until Sunday night unless she stayed with me. The young filly’s herdbound to Katie’s other horse. Unfortunately that makes life difficult when there’s no choice but to separate the two for shows or riding clinics.
Cadence arrived at the farm this morning. Even before Katie officially unloaded her passenger, Cadence’s panicked screams echoed from within the metal trailer. She fought to remain with her buddy–but to no avail.
We covered basic rules, and Katie filled out a boarding contract. We discussed niceties and a variety of situations all the way to Veterinary calls. Before she departed, Katie spoke adamantly about not allowing other horses in with Cadence, as she worried about her pony kicking.
I locked the pony in a stall with hay for most of the morning, and then gave her time this afternoon in the RAMM pasture. Poor Cadence ran the fenceline for 30 minutes, calling for any horse within hearing range. The whites of her eyes bulged as she bugled, and her coat shone with sweat. Her throaty whinnies drove daggers into my heart.
I caught Honey and moved her into the pasture. Cadence’s demeanor changed instantly. She relaxed, grazed, and sniffed. I gave them 45 minutes of pasture time together–all directly supervised. I stayed within a 20 foot radius, ready to separate them in case of trouble.
Trouble never came.
I caught Honey to move her back into Suzie Q’s pasture (her regular digs) for the night, and as soon as Honey stepped out of the paddock, Cadence began calling. She screamed and squealed, devastated that her new friend left. Honey settled back in with Suzie Q, but called out for Cadence. A cacophony of little-pony-girl screams developed from both sides, since Honey also developed an attachment to the adorable bay filly. I moved Cadence into Phoenix’s stall, since she’s an indoor boarder overnight. This quieted both girls down. They’re contemporaries, so it makes sense that they love each other.
The girls sniff through their stalls. They nicker at each other and nod. Whatever confidences they share remain between them alone. These gentle, bashful little girls are having a slumber party over the weekend. Katie won’t have to worry about separating her horses for a few days. Cadence has a new best friend–and she no longer feels alone.
Days like today are crisp with an apple-like bite in the air. The ponies frolic and play in their pastures, enjoying the snow.
The horses are delightful. I fed them all this morning and enjoyed horsey hugs. Savannah worried me, because she refused to eat all her breakfast. She wanted to eat al fresco instead of en stall. She abandoned half of her breakfast to Melody. I worked with Savannah; even trying to feed her from my hand, but nothing worked. I eventually put her outside with Melody, and that’s when they switched places and Melody proceeded to eat Savannah’s food. Fortunately, at that moment, Savannah’s owner came inside and learned of her pony’s appetite issue. I told the owner to give Savannah more grain later if she wanted; simply because it’s better to overfeed one horse and properly feed the other rather than overfeeding one horse and starving another.
In that same vein, I have attempted many cures for Senorita’s cribbing/windsucking habit. The best appears to be the easiest. I had put her in the indoor arena and let her pace among the stalls while the other horses ate, but it seems that this doesn’t always work, either. The other horses are feeling threatened by her and are kicking stall doors or attempting to bite through the stall bars. I don’t care for the situation. Therefore, I started feeding her out in the pasture after everyone else comes inside. It appears to be working! She has been putting her teeth on the T-posts, but isn’t doing it as frequently as she has in the stalls. She’s more relaxed and calm. Then, if she wants to, she’s also able to meander around the pasture for a few moments before eating again.
Coffee and Dusty are delightful. They’re so easygoing and fun. They don’t mind changing to the other pasture with the smaller run-in shed. They seem content and relaxed.
Lexi is a super-smart stinker. I have the funniest time with her. My dog, a border collie, helps me with chores each night, moving the horses into the pastures. She herds them into the correct pasture, then generally does a good job making sure they don’t run back into the barn. Tonight, however, Lexi left her stall to go into the pasture with Bandit following. She ran into the pasture no problem, but as I went to close the pasture gate, she breezed past both Bandit and I–heading back for her stall in the barn. So Bandit and I jogged all the way back into the barn, wiggled a lunge whip through the stall bars at her rump to get her moving, and she and Bandit blazed a trail for the pasture again. I booked it back to the pasture gate, telling Bandit to hold the horses in there and hoping I could shut Lexi in for the night. Wouldn’t you know it? Lexi’s owner came at that exact moment–and saw me being the out-of-breath/outsmarted-by-her-horse-barnowner. Supposedly the human brain is bigger than a horse’s brain–but some moments, I have my doubts. I would have been laughing very hard if I were the horse’s owner.
I haven’t ridden Honey since Friday, but today she came up to me and wanted a hug and a neck scratch. That isn’t an odd occurrence anymore. She’s become more friendly as I’ve been able to work with her recently on ground manners. She doesn’t care for being constantly ridden without using her brain on groundwork. She is definitely a horse that needs a gentle trainer. She becomes resentful if you’re not careful, and rude if you don’t pay attention to her desires.
Braz is constantly with Honey during the day now that it’s just Lexi, Senorita, Braz and Honey in the big pasture in the back. They are thrilled to be constantly, and there are two herds of two back there. Braz fusses over Honey as though Honey is her daughter. The relationship is adorable to watch.
Savannah is a mixed bag these days. She appears to have lameness issues with her owner, but she isn’t having these issues with lesson students. Whenever we’ve used her for lessons or birthday parties, she’s been calm, gentle, and sound–but as soon as her owner comes in, she acts lame at the trot and canter. It’s very confusing. We do the exact same exercises, the exact movements with students, but Savannah is appearing to refuse movements for her owner. I didn’t use her for lessons at all last week because I wanted to be certain to give Savannah some time off, but unfortunately it seems she was still lame for her owner yesterday. One positive out of all this is that the owner is working through Parelli level one, so she’s able to do a lot of groundwork with Savannah. Savannah did level one and part of level two with me when I owned her, so she’s already familiar with the program.
Melody is fantastic as usual. Cold weather makes her very happy. She bucks and plays and generally acts like a foal.
The pastures are finally frozen, so it’ll be fun to let the horses out back again once hunting season is truly over. The girls can go out there and play, the boys will be given a chance to burn off some energy, and everyone will appreciate how next year we’ll have larger pastures. I’m planning to expand the current pastures very far to the back, leaving a very generous driving lane with perhaps some area for a few cross-country type jumps. (Very low ones, of course–under 2 feet.) I want to have the ability to use the lane as a true “driving” lane so one day I can use a carriage, but I also want some “trail” riding area. Possibilities, possibilities… For now, I’ll be content to let the snow cover the grounds and pretend everything is exactly how I want it. Next spring, the neighbors will be tired or my relentless T-post pounding–and people will be terrified of my giant, “manly” biceps. That’s ok. If they hurt my feelings, I’ll just flex my arm and send ’em running.