Posts Tagged With: Senorita

Ol’ Man [Winter], He Just Keeps [Snowin’] Along

The afternoon chill has each pony standing still, head down, tail to the wind. Breath huffs out in gray clouds from each nostril. The mist quickly dissipates in the harsh winter air. Snow falls from the top of a blanket as a hoof stomps.

This scene is wholly different from the image that occurred two days ago. On Wednesday, most of the ponies played naked. There was no need for blankets or turnouts.

Instead, today was the worst of both worlds. Snow blew sideways during the entire day while the ground stayed soft. The horses rarely moved unless it was to come inside and eat. Everyone enjoyed warm bran mashes both morning and night to chase away the chill.

Lexi has steadily shown improvement and is eating again. Her pasture mate, Senorita, is leaving Firefly tomorrow to start life at Dreamfields. The two girls have become great friends. Once Senorita leaves, Honey will be considered an outdoor boarder. She’ll be Lexi’s new companion at night to keep her company. Braz and Misty will be joining them during snowy, windy, or stormy days.  (The RAMM pasture doesn’t have any shelter, and Braz and Misty are both in stalls at night.)

Melody and Savannah have been stuck inside since this morning. Though they both enjoy time outside, the weather has been uncooperative. They’ll go with the other girls in the mare pasture tomorrow if it continues to snow. I’m unable to keep the run-in stall doors open when the snow blows in–otherwise, the stall shavings become wet and freeze.

Hopefully winter will subside sooner than usual and spring will suddenly, miraculously appear. If not, the ponies of Firefly Farm are prepared to brave the elements.

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‘Tis a Gift To Be Simple – Aaron Copland

  Today is a gift.

  It may not be wrapped up in a pretty bow, but it is a gift all the same. It’s deliciously perfect. There’s a bite in the air, but it’s not bitter. There isn’t snow on the ground, but the mud is frozen. Every pony has shelter from the wind, and everyone is fed and happy. My world is gloriously complete.

   Today is Firefly Farm’s first Christmas, and I was given the gift of time. Time to spend with the horses. Time to relax with my husband and dog. Time to cook and clean and build the husband’s Christmas gift after he opened it.

   I woke this morning, alight with evergy. I fed all the ponies warm bran mashes. They also ate 2 of their 3 flakes of hay in stalls. The wind is blowing, so the hay would have scattered all over the place if I’d put every flake out in the pasture. Then I mucked the stalls, put the last flakes of hay in the pastures using the tractor (so I could spread out the flakes easier.) As I was sorting hay flakes at the far end of the pasture, the tractor ran out of gas. I laughed, and you could say I frolicked back to the barn in search of a gas can. I’m amused by my own folly.

   Today, nothing can ruin my mood.

   I gleefully grabbed that gas can and filled up the tractor, enjoying the looks on Lexi and Senorita’s faces as I vrroomed the tractor and cart out of the girls’ pasture.

   Most of the girls are finally together. I moved Braz and Misty to be in the same pasture as Senorita and Lexi. They’re getting along very well. (Misty has it bad for Coffee–another cougar, I know.) The girls didn’t have a single problem being together this morning. I fed all the ponies at the far end of the pastures, so they didn’t have to eat in mud. (I can’t wait until spring, when I can expand Dusty and Coffee’s pasture. I feel so bad for the boys. They need more than 3/4 of an acre to play on. They’ll get it as soon as it warms up, if I can have my way.)

   Lexi and Senorita have really bonded. They eat from the same hay pile and watch each others’ back. Misty and Braz seem to be the same way. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when we add Melody and Savannah to the mix. Misty is, by far, the most dominant horse in the current “large” herd. Savannah and Melody are a tag-team you don’t want to mess with, though. Let the fireworks ensue. (Some other day. Not today.)

    I’m here at my heaven-on-earth, enjoying the scenery out my window (Coffee and Dusty in one pasture, Melody, Honey, and Savannah near the other side of the barn.) I couldn’t ask for anything more. I have what I want, and most of what I need. I’m grateful for it. All of it. It is, inteed, a gift.

   (I don’t have  to be a whirling dervish to see that.)

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My Little Pony

   A gentle puff of air drifts from a pony nostril, tickling my hair. I giggle, enchanted. This little blonde pony follows me around, begging for attention. She even trots alongside the tractor. Once I’ve spread the hay, she places her head upon my shoulder at every opportunity, knowing this is the way to melt my heart.

   I need to spend some quality training time with Honey.

   The Christmas holiday has everyone rushing around, attempting to finish everything before time’s up. I’m included in that crowd. I have plans, big plans, for everything around here. However, I’m forced to push those aside and focus on the holiday for now.

   Therefore, poor Honey hasn’t been played with for almost a week. Perhaps tomorrow will be easier, and I’ll have a chance to work with her. A volunteer is planning to come and help with morning chores tomorrow, so there’s hope.

   The ponies are pleased with the weather. It hasn’t been cold for the last two days. Today it was 50 degrees inside the barn. I went for a day without my adult onesie–hooray! I feel like a kid in a too-big snowsuit every time I put it on.

   Today, a volunteer and I watered the girls and boys, built a tank insulater with sawed-up pallets and straw, and cleaned stalls. She also helped me put up more hotwire tape in the girls’ pasture. Senorita will not be windsucking in that pasture any time soon, as far as we can tell. I’m hoping that helps remind Senorita of what she shouldn’t be doing.  We’re trying very hard to save her teeth.   

   Lexi and Senorita are getting along very well out in the pasture. I put Honey there with them last night and today. Tonight, I put her in with Melody and Savannah. I wanted to introduce Misty to Honey, but I really like how well Misty and Braz are getting along. I don’t want to upset that dynamic. Braz is possessive of Honey, so I don’t want to cause a fight. I’d like Braz and Misty to become very attached to each other before introducing Honey to the mix. Then, eventually, I’ll put them all out in the back pasture.

   Melody and Savannah are very relaxed and happy. Both are now with Honey, and they seem content with just hanging out in their stalls and in the pasture.

   Coffee and Dusty are such good boys. I haven’t had any troubles from either of them, and they’re being very sweet to each other. 

   Life is good. Now, if I could just find time to play with my little Honey Bear, life would be perfect.

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Apple Days

  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.

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Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind -As You Like It (Shakespeare)

 I had the most delightful Thanksgiving weekend. After the stress of the actual day, it was smooth sailing afterward. The husband and I were invited to spend the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving at a private residence on Mackinac Island.

Here was the view out my window, toward the Grand Hotel’s golf course.

   The tourists are long gone; so are most of the horses. There was a set of horses pulling a dray for supplies. There was also a set used for the taxi service.

   There is a Christmas tree set up in the middle of Main Street. It’s in a barrel, held up by four large ropes tied to streetlights.

 

 And yes, there ARE cars on Mackinac Island.

They were getting ready for a craft fair, which is this coming weekend. 

   Alas, our weekend was over far too soon–and yet I couldn’t wait to get home. We drove home in a snow-ish, rain-ish storm, but arrived safely. Dusty’s owner volunteered to do chores in the evening, so I had a little more relaxation time. I was on vacation at my house.

   Monday, I woke up invigorated. I was thrilled to be back and working at Firefly. I finished chores and then decided to work with Senorita. She and I worked on not windsucking and then I rode for a while. She wasn’t sure about the leg cues I was giving, so by giving her a small amount of pressure, waiting, giving more pressure, waiting, and more pressure yet, she eventually came to the conclusion that she ought to walk. She was so much fun! Once she got moving and understood what I was asking for, she moved right off my leg. She is not dead sided, nor does she need a whip. She’s smart and a quick learner. She just doesn’t know what to do sometimes, and instead of freaking out about it, she freezes and waits for more guidance. I’ve trained horses like that before (Licorice) and worked with others who appeared to need more force (Lewis) but I know she’s exactly like these horses. What it comes down to is clear communication and patience. One of my favorite memories from Brighton Riding Stable is a woman who insisted on kicking the horses to make them walk. She kicked and kicked and kicked Lewis, and he didn’t move. I told her to squeeze him gently in order to walk on. She kicked him a little more, threw up her hands, and glared at me, but she gave him a soft squeeze with her legs. Lo and behold, he walked on. Sometimes the communication breaks down and that’s why the horse doesn’t respond–not because you need more force, but because the horse is confused and waiting for the correct cue. It’s hard to follow directions in Japanese, for example; Horses do not speak English–though that is our expectation from day one.

   I also had the extreme pleasure of seeing Lexi under saddle. She’s a fun horse. Her owner has done wonders to make this horse a totally different horse than she was when she arrived. This is not to say that Lexi had anything wrong with her; quite the contrary. She showed some ribs and wasn’t very muscular, but she had great potential. Under the owner’s care, she’s filled out and has put some beautiful muscling on both her neck and haunches. She was side passing during the time I watched. I probably stare whenever I watch someone else ride. The reason for that is I don’t often have the opportunity to observe these horses under saddle, so I don’t always know how they’d react to a situation when they have a rider. I was entertained when I watched Lexi do a beautiful half-pass at the walk.

   Tuesday was a blast. I did all the chores in the morning, and prepared the barn for this crazy weather. I moved the tractor into the garage, moved the hoses around, plugged in all the tank heaters and stall bucket heaters. In the evening I ran the girls in and took off the blankets for stall boarders. They were able to move freely in their stalls while their blankets dried. All the girls ate their two and a half flakes of hay in the stalls, since I knew the wind was crazy, and then I put Senorita and Lexi back outside. I gave the indoor boarders an extra flake because of the cold, and fed the boys five flakes. They seemed happy to have some form of shelter, but their happiness didn’t last long. They went outside to play after about 10 minutes.

Ah, Wednesday. We went from this on Tuesday:

To this:

 

  Wednesday was fun and interesting. I wasn’t feeling well, but I pushed through it so I could enjoy the sunshine. I fed the ponies and put on mid-weight blankies. I then filled all the water buckets, mucked the stalls, and was very glad to have Go Green Landscaping plow my driveway. We don’t have the Toro back yet, so we don’t have any way to plow the driveway–unless it’s man powered. Or in this case, woman powered. I didn’t want that at all. We have a landscaper who will do it for us.

  After mucking and buckets, I swept the aisle of the barn and swept and mopped the tack room. It’s a never-ending job, but it’s not so bad. I have a deep sense of pride in my work and my barn. I’m overjoyed at the prospect of having the barn with no clutter (nearly impossible) and neat (possible.)

   I bought some solar-powered Firefly Green Christmas lights, and I started decorating. Hopefully Firefly Farm will have some Christmas cheer.

   I also put Lexi’s blankie on. It looks GREAT with her coloring—that dark mahogany bay with the black and purple is gorgeous.

   This morning, Thursday, I fed everyone extra hay. They’re getting three flakes each in the morning, now, and I’m planning to keep the hay nets in the stalls full. After I finished feeding the girls, I started working with Senorita again. She’s moving so nicely off of my leg. We walked, trotted, and cantered both ways; reversed on the haunches (like a turn on the haunches, but very slow, with some pauses after each step to give the horse praise. It isn’t as clean, neat, or fluid.) She’s also giving her head and relaxing a lot more. She seems to really enjoy herself. I’m having a great time, too!

   When I put her away, Honey came right over as if to say, “Am I next?” I haven’t worked with her this week and I’m feeling guilty. She’ll be next on my list, after buying feed and shavings later.

   For now, I have to eat lunch.

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