Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chicken Casualties


So, I'm rather sad.  We've been keeping Chickens now for over 2 years.  I really enjoy them, they are funny, entertaining, and give the best eggs.  When we first started keeping chickens we had a big issue with the local foxes using us for their dinner buffet... we lost several chickens before we figured out how to fox-proof our coop and run.  However, in the past year the foxes seemed to have disappeared and we hadn't had any issues or incidents.  So, I'll admit, we had gotten quite lax about chicken security.

mmmmm... watermelon!
Unfortunately, the foxes found us again this past week.  We lost 4 of the 6 chickens we had. :( I'm so sad! We lost one of my favorites.  She was this cute little Ameraucana  that had been in our flock for over a year now, when we first got her she was this scraggly, picked on, runt of a pullet.  But over the past year she's really matured into a beautiful bird.  She found her place in the flock and wasn't getting picked on anymore.  Sadly, the foxes got her.  I'm going to miss her cute little green eggs.

We are down to two hens now, one of the Barred Rock hens that we've had for a very long time it seems (longest time we've had a chicken!), and a large plump brown/speckled hen that I haven't a clue what her breed is.

This gal and the one in the background are
the two we have left
The kids always ask every spring if we can buy some chicks to raise up.  Two years ago we got two Rhode Island Red chicks and raised them to pullets, that was a lot of fun (not so much when they discovered how to jump out of their box and run around the kitchen...), unfortunately they became fox dinner right when they were starting to lay.  So I think I'll concede this year and buy some chicks, perhaps 4 of them to bring our flock back up to 6.  I wonder what breeds the stores will have.... Hmmmmm
So fluffy!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Building trust


I've been spending a lot of time thinking about this issue with Cash and being hard to catch, and how it's all of a sudden, out of nowhere, reared it's ugly head, refusing to go away.  I've been thinking about not only his behavior, but about mine.  I can be a bit of a hard-hitter, a "you are going to do what I want or else" kind of mentallity when I work with my horses... I kinda had to with some of the bratty ponies I used to work with.  But that approach most definitely is not for all horses.  And I definitely don't think it's ever going to work for Cash.  I've been following Andrea and her blogs for awhile, with the most recent Project Runaway: The Uncatchable Number 257 being about her abused recip mare.  She has put such an emphasis on time, patience, and doing only what the horse is willing to do.  Such a great example!!

Then, this blog post popped up on "Horses: The Process of Learning" where the author writes about not ruling with an iron fist.  It kinda hit home to me, and made me realize, rather abruptly, that that is what I do.  And, it is NOT the person I want to be.  So, not only when it comes to my horse, but in my home, with my children, I am going to strive to a softer, more compasionate leader.  It's not going to be easy, I'm such an older sibling, wanting to control everything!

So here's to being a kinder, nicer, friendly, and more forgiving human to my horses!!

That said, yesterday I had one of the BEST days ever at the barn.  It's was a beautiful day, didn't feel much like winter at all.  When I last worked with Shadow on Tuesday we had a bit of a major freakout moment.  Long story short, he spooked, the cart bounced, he bolted and I hung on just enough to steer him into the corner where he got himself wedged at right angles to the shafts of the cart up against the fence.... !!!! Scared the bejebers out of me.  But I got him unstuck (what a good boy he was too! once he figured out he couldn't move he just stood there very patiently until I got him free), got everything sorted out and hooked him back up to the cart and we took one more (uneventful) spin around the arena and called it a night.  Yesterday I wanted to just do a confidence builder, so I hooked him to the drag and as an impromptu decision took him out for a jog down the road.  I didn't hook the tire on it and I was definitely regretting it halfway out as Mr. Full-of-energy was bouncing down the road like a hyperactive ping-pong ball.  But, beyond the extra energy he was SO good, he only majorly spooked once, but otherwise he just motored right along, and even stood (for the most part) still while we waited for a big Semi to drive past so we could cross the road.  And no, no pictures as I had my hands full keeping him in check. You'll just have to take my word for it that we had a great time!

Then I got Cash out, Rosemary was bringing the horses in early for the evening so he was fairly amiable to be caught (having a hoodie pocket stuffed full of cookies didn't hurt either).  I tied him up and spent some time grooming him and he was totally relaxed, alert, happy and content looking so I though, well lets put the saddle on him and see what he does.  So I tacked him up, set my helmet on the fence in case he was being good and popped him on the lunge line.  He proceeded to lazily trot around without any fuss, granted his feet are still a bit ouchy so he wasn't totally on board with the idea of trotting out but I was ok with that.  With him being so good I grabbed my helmet and hopped on board for just a walk ride.  And he was AWESOME.  A blog recently reminded of the "Ask. Tell. Demand." training principle (sorry I don't remember where I saw it otherwise I'd link the blog!!) and I really made a concious effort to utilize that, and it really helped.  I'm the queen of nagging, nag, nag, nag.  So I think we both found it refreshing to ask once and be done.  He remembered everything I had been working on prior to pulling his shoes, bending, moving off my leg (he actually was doing this very well much to my delight!), and turns on the haunches moving off the outside aids.  I asked him for contact and he obliged, it wasn't consistent at all, but it was contact.  Then at the end of the ride I offered him the chance to stretch and boy, he took it! About dragging his nose in the ground... yay peanut pushing! It's so nice to have a horse who wants to stretch.

He got lots of scratches and cookies afterwards.  Not bad at all for not having done much with him in the past month and a half.  I think I just need to re-prove to him that I'm his friend and not out to eat him and think we shall be golden.  Besides, he really really needs to work off some pounds...
Hard to see in the poor evening light, but... that belly!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Video of the Week


I'm rather jealous that these guys can jump higher on foot than I've ever done on horseback (at least, not  physical fence height, we won't count extravagant over jumping efforts by various equines I've been on... hahaha)

Video link courtesy of Eventing Nation

Friday, February 15, 2013

Difficult Decisions


Well, no way to get around it, I've officially listed Cash for sale.


Having a baby is not cheap, diapers and other baby paraphernalia isn't all that bad, but the daycare! Good grief the cost of daycare... I'm not kidding it is at least twice what I pay for board on Cash.  And, that is the conflict.  Dear hubby is refusing to "pay for the horse" as he puts it (he makes 4x what I do!!)... and on my meager income alone I simply cannot afford childcare and board costs. 

It's frustrating, disheartening, and gut wrenching.  I do NOT want to sell this horse.  Hard-to-catch stubbornness or not.  He's everything  I could have dreamed of, and exactly what I was after in my future eventing prospect.  Granted I still don't know him very well due to my pregnancy last year, but he reminds me sooooo much of Pie when he was this age--stubborn, headstrong, opinionated, rather naughty at times... but man, after the years went by, we understood each other so well, too well even.  It was a beautiful thing.

Not but two months ago my husband was talking about how excited he was for Cash and I to be riding together and that he was looking forward to seeing us compete.  Obviously, he didn't have the checkbook in mind at the time...

So yes, I am ranting.  I have him listed on all the major sites, it's a half-assed attempted at a sale post, my heart was just not in it when I wrote it.  I need to pay for the picture ads on some places, maybe I should make my husband do that, ha! At least now that I've got the ads up my husband is laying off the financial pressure so I can somewhat enjoy my horse while I have him.  I do have him listed for lease as well, so I'm crossing my fingers for that to happen. 

I just hate the thought of being horseless.  I suppose ultimately it is probably the right thing to do, but.... ugh :(

Four Months!


My sweet little baby girl is four months old today!! I can't believe it. She is cooing, jabbering, smiling, grabbing things, chewing on things (she loves her fingers!), happy, and healthy.

She comes with me to the barn and hangs out with her play mat while I work the ponies.  She loves to cuddle when we are at home and is already fascinated with the food on my plate at meal time.  I'm so blessed to have her in my life and I couldn't be happier!
So happy!!
Rosemary has reported to me that Cash is now a bonafide escape artist. This morning he was out and about, we received a light snow last night so the tracks around the barn proved that he didn't go far.  Regardless, he is getting his door tied shut from now on.  However, we have been taking his halter off at night, so he is now turned out with no halter on, going to be interesting to see if I can catch him today.  I need to go buy a bag of cheap sweet feed to bribe him with.

Anywho, have a happy Friday!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Meet the Pony!


I've been promising this post for awhile now!! Finally getting it done :)

Everyone, I'd like you to meet Shadow.

He is a 12-ish hand tall Hackney Pony.  But don't let his size fool you, he's got attitude enough to face off with the biggest of foes. He used to be a show cart pony, and he has quite the trot, he lowers his bum and picks up those little knees and just motors along. He does pony lessons for the more confident beginner riders. You can see a lot of his pictures on the farm website: Laughing Buck Farm

But, as of late, he's been getting to have fun with me.  We are re-introducing him to the world of harnesses and carts.  Since it's been so long, I've just started from the ground up.  It's been two months now since I first started working with him for Rosemary (who owns him). We started out doing just ground driving, and then progressed to pulling a "drag".  This drag is meant to simulate the shafts of the cart and get the pony used to something making noise and bouncing along behind him.  It was a bit exciting for awhile, we had lots of "scoot n boot" moments, a few bolts and frantic scrambling... but once he figured out that that thing behind him really wasn't going to go away and that it wasn't going to eat him, he hunkered down to business.  Me happily jogging behind.

I tell you what, I didn't realize how out of shape I was post-baby... Ha!!

After he was going good in the drag, I tied a tire on behind it to simulate weight.  Much to my surprise he actually worked a lot better with that than just the lightweight drag by itself.  Then, this past week we hitched him to the cart!  It's a super cute, 4 wheeled pony sized wagon.  And it's rattly, and noisy, and much heavier than the little 2 wheeled gig he was hitched to when he was a show pony.  So, getting him used to the new feel and sounds of the wagon has been priority. Especially stopping and starting, because the cart with somewhat "rock" when he stops it, it makes him feel imbalanced and he wants to move off again right away.  It doesn't help that he's a fidgety guy to begin with, energy should be his middle name, he wants to go go go and standing still is for wussies.... Today we just focused on walking, and stopping, and walking, and stopping, with the wagon in tow.  He was actually very good about it today!! We shall continue on with that sort of work from the ground (we are just leading him), once he understands more how to use his body to stop and hold the cart, I'll get on board and go from there.
Standing still like the good pony he is
Now that y'all know who this little booger is, I will be sure to keep you up to date on his cart adventures!