Life Finds A Way

So remember my last post when I was done with riding and so I was selling everything off?

//giphy.com/embed/eLpoGELHst13a

via GIPHY

Just as I decided I needed to stop pretending I was an equestrian, a ride has fallen in to my lap.
I am riding again! Like regularly riding!
I literally cleaned my spare tack and was organizing what to sell and what to keep when an unassuming conversation turned into the best thing ever!
I board Gen at a small backyard farm. There are only 6 stalls and 2 are occupied by the owner’s horses. At the moment, it is just myself and another boarder who has been there for years herself. I hardly ever see the boarder unless I swing by the barn on the weekends in the afternoon. A few months ago, on a weekend afternoon, I saw the other boarder getting ready for a winter trail ride. Her horse was very up, and I joked with her about how much braver she was than me. She laughed and did say it had been a while since he was ridden, so I asked her if she ever came up on the week to do anything with him. She said no, and then went on her way. I finished up with Gen and didn’t give our conversation a second thought.
A few days later I got a text that she needed to talk to me. It was during a busy day at work so I asked if it was an emergency, thinking she was at the barn and something was wrong with Gen (because why else would another horse person from the barn call :P) She said to just call when I had time. I spent much of the rest of day trying to figure out what she needed to talk to me about.
Imagine my surprise when I called her up and she asked if I wanted to ride her horse!!!
Of course I answered yes!
She said my question about riding during the week had her thinking. The more she was thinking about it, the more she realized that she just didn’t have time right now to ride during the week, but that her horse is the kind of horse that needs to be ridden regularly. She and her husband talked it over and agreed that they wanted to see if I wanted to ride him during the week!
I was (and still am) beyond excited about this. It is not a forever thing, but it is perfect for right now. Her life is very busy at the moment, but she doesn’t want to make any decision such as leasing, half-leasing or even selling her horse if her schedule being so full is just a temporary thing. That means that I get to stay on budget AND still ride! She never comes up during the week, so I get to ride whenever works best for my schedule! 

And I cannot beat the cost…she is just letting me rider her horse! She knows it is tough to pay for one horse already so she is okay with just letting me ride. I literally am tearing up at her kindness as I write this. She is just a really nice (and practical person) and pointed out that this is something that works for both of us. She will (hopefully) get a better ride on the weekends because her horse will be more fit and more mentally engaged and I will get to ride without having to worry about cost or commitment!
I was on cloud 9…until I started to think about actually riding again. That is a story for another day though. I have been meaning to write this post for weeks now, but have been much too busy riding to be able to get it down 😉
Did I mention I am riding again?
Can you tell I am happy?
I may be able to live without riding but I am much happier with it in my life!!

Gen’s Best Friend

So my pony has always had…issues…getting along with other horses. He can be a bit of a bully, and truth be told I have seen him be scary aggressive with other horses at times. He is better with horses that are smaller than him and fine with horses who are happy to surrender control, but he is just the kind of horse that is in charge of his herd. Add that to the fact that I have to be very careful what kind of field I put him in because of his leg, and when Gen moved in to his current barn 6 years ago it was decided that he would be turned out alone.

IMG_2677

Horses are herd animals, they really should be going out with friends. Gen has his horsey buddy Round who has lived at the barn longer than he has. He is the owners older gelding who was the only horse at the barn when I first moved in. They share a fence line where they can often be seen chatting and grooming, and they live across from each other in the barn. Round is obsessed with Gen, Gen just uses him for companionship because no one else is around. Gen will play with some of the other boarders horses who have come and gone over the years, but he has not really had a best buddy in the equine realm. He just likes people more than horses.

IMG_5975

What Gen really loves are cats and dogs. He is fascinated by them. When the dogs come down to the barn you can find my big grey gelding totally enamored. He is very gentle with them and loves nothing more than to shove his face in to the side of a Collie and just chill. Dogs are not around all the time though, but barn cats are. When Gen first moved in to the barn there were 2 tiny kittens in a cage at the front of the barn. They were only one month old and couldn’t even eat real cat food yet. Gen was thrilled to be able to watch the little squeaking kittens and they quickly became the best of friends.

IMG_1920

It started off with Gen loving the female, Gretel, first. Or more accurately, her loving him. As the kittens got older and gained their freedoms Gretel would stay by Gen’s field or take a nap above Gen’s stall. When the weather turned cold she even started taking naps on his back. Yes, the cat would curl up and snuggle on top of my pony. Something happened that first spring though and Gretel started to feel more secure and venture out, leaving Gen without a four legged friend to play with during the day. I am not sure what happened, but after a month of the cats adventuring all day, the male cat, Hansel, started to fill the void that his sister had left.

125HollowOak and St. Paddys Day 012

His favorite napping spot in the barn was in Gen’s stall on top of his hay. He loved to sit on top of the fence post in Gen’s field. He would even go “hunting” in the creek that runs parallel to Gen’s turnout. They had a very odd game they would play where Hansel would sit on the outside of Gen’s water trough and Gen would knock him over with his nose on to the float above the water. Hansel would slowly start to sink and then gracefully jump back to safety on the side of the trough before his paws got wet. They would play that game over and over again.

IMG_3845

Gen and Hansel became the best of friends. I cannot even count the number of mice Hansel left in front of Gen over the years, or the number of time I would come to see the barn to see Hansel sitting on the ground with Gen grazing right next to him. I regret now not videoing their water game or taking a picture of the hundreds of time I saw them just being buds. I know Hansel made many appearances here on the blog, but there were just so many more times he should have.

Gen and Hanzel 1

About a month ago Hansel got sick. Very sick. Very suddenly. I was at the barn on a weekend and the barn owner just looked over at him and said he needed to get to the vet right away. I scooped up the orange cat and put him in the cat carrier while she got the car. I regret now not bringing that cat carrier over to see Gen. Hansel left the farm that day and didn’t come back. We lost him. No one knows what he got into or where he got in to it, the hard thing about barn cats is that they explore. It doesn’t really matter now anyway. Regardless of how it happened, the outcome was the same. We lost the sweetest, friendliest barn cat I have ever known. And Gen lost his best friend.

Gen Hanzel 4

I know it is unusual for cats and horses to have such a bond, but Gen and Hansel really did love each other. For the first two weeks after we lost Hansel Gen would stand at the back fence of his turnout, looking in to the neighbors field behind where Hansel would often come from after a hunting trip. He was looking for a little orange tail to be coming up through the grass. He just did it again this weekend which broke my heart. How do you tell a horse that his friends is never coming back? I know time will heal all wounds, but I miss Hansel myself. He was such a great barn cat! I feel even worse for Gen. Best friends are not always so easy to come by.

Feb2011 016

My Sandy Adventure (Or at least one of them)

So I started to write about my experiences of Sandy in general, but stopped. You all must be sick of all the Hurricane stories by now. If you not, just let me know and I will happily share some of the other adventures to be had, but unless I hear otherwise I am just going to share one very horsey.

So I should have gone to the barn Monday, but didn’t. I didn’t get back up to see Gen or Lucky until Wednesday because of closed roads, etc. Gen was filthy, but fine. The barn had tons of water, but was not damage free. At Gen’s barn there is a special fence. The kind of fence I would want at my place someday.

It is a 5 foot tall, 4 rail fence instead of the standard 4 foot 3 rail. As long time readers know, keeping Gen in his field used to be a big challenge so this extra tall, extra railed fence was a selling point when I first looked to move Gen. So this fence is a “slip rail” which means that the fence rails are 10 feet long, 2 inches deep and a good 6 or 8 inches down.

Slowly over the past year a few of the posts have begun not to do well. One of the posts in between Gen and the other geldings has taken a real beating, another in the back of the girls fields was starting not to look so great also. They keep a few posts and a few rails in the hay barn for an emergency, but just hadn’t gotten around to replacing the others or ordering more.

And then Sandy came.

The winds were crazy. I have lived through a Tornado and that is seriously what this reminded me of. It was just so loud and so constant. They said wind gusts, but it really felt like the gusts were several minutes in length, not just a quick blow and then break. They clocked the gusts in my area at over 80 miles per hour…for 6 hours.

The fencing that I love so much? Well, out of the 5 foot height you have four rails that can catch a lot of wind. The poor fence posts couldn’t keep up with the constant pressure and several gave way. The farm was lucky no tree’s came down, but in the morning the Barn Owners awoke to find not one of 2 sections of fencing down, but 8 areas with cracked or ruined posts and boards scattered about.

They taped up the areas and turned the ponies out anyway, but they didn’t have enough spare supplies to fix all 20+ posts and 60+ rails that were now scattered around the farm.

That is where I came in. The Barn Owner’s Husband went to work, giving him phone access (cell phone services was iffy at best) and he set about calling all sorts of fence places. As I am sure you can guess, most places were not open, and those that were open were so overwhelmed or they didn’t have a 4 hole fence post. The fence placed that they had used before was not not picking up the phone, but he was sure they would have what was needed if they were around. That is where I came in…

The sales office for this place is in my town, but they were not picking up the phone. The supply yard was in the next town over. The Barn Owner’s Husband sent me a text wondering if I was up for an adventure. I asked him why, and when he asked if I would try and find the supply yard for the fence to even see if they were open I agreed. On a good day the place would only be 15 minutes away. Things were getting a little crazy here though…

So I got in my car and tried to get to the supply yard, but it was tricky. With so many downed power lines and trees I ended up driving around for a while until I could get to the highway and go that way. I was just about to give up when I saw that the road off the highway to the fence place was open! Score! So I turned off and sure enough the supply yard was right where he said it would be. Even better was that the front gate was open.

I pulled in the parking lot, but lost hope as soon as I saw the yard itself was locked up tight and the supply yard office was dark. Not one to give up easily I saw two cars around the side of the building and figured I could at least knock on the door and see if anyone was around.

I knocked and waited. And waited. I knocked once more just to be sure and was about to go back to my car when the door opened. A very surprised looking woman asked what I was doing there. I smiled and said I was looking for fencing. She looked slightly baffled, but invited me to the cold, dark office space.

I asked if they had the fencing that we needed and even though her shock had not fully worn off she told me she would go check, actually brining me to the back with her. Looking back, I have a feeling she thought I was a crazy looter or something at first. As we walked through the supply yard we started chatting and I told her about Gen and the barn. It was great when she found the 4 hole posts and counted them out. They had plenty! More than what we needed.

We went back to the office to make the order. She had warmed up to me by this point and asked why I, as a boarder, was here. I told her that I lived close and no one could get them on the phone and we really needed the fencing. She asked how I had known what it was, and I told her all about Gen trying to be Houdini when he first moved in constantly dropping the rails and walking out. She laughed and asked if he was allowed out since the fence was already down. I told her that my Gen was very settled in at the moment and even when a deer knocks the fence down giving him freedom he is happy to just stay in his field. She thought that was such a cute story that she ended up giving me a 10% discount on the fence. How cool is that? You can bet I will never let the Barn Owner’s forget that Gen’s cuteness got them a discount 😛

So she wrote up the bill and it was about what I had expected…a lot of money! I knew I couldn’t pay for it (the Barn Owners were not expecting me to either) and so I asked if there was anyway to just pay for a percent of it down and have the Barn Owners pay the rest (taking that chunk out of my board for that month). The woman looked at me and asked if I was sure they would come and pick it up. I told her yes, they would come get it today. With the gas shortage they can’t deliver anyway, and I was the only customer to drive over, so she told me that it was fine. No downpayment was needed to reserve the fencing. She would get the other person working to set aside the order and the Barn Owners could just pay when they got there.

Score! I texted the Barn Owners the good news. They were thrilled! I now needed to find a way to get to the barn from where I was at and they needed to get the receipt with the discount from me. Thought I was done adventuring once I got the fence? As if! I set about finding a course to the barn, texting the BO closed roads and directions along the way since we were coming in opposite directions. They were doing the same right back and eventually we found ourselves on the same road hoping that it was clear.

I saw a trailer coming in the distance and thought to myself “Why would anyway have their horse out today” and about 2 seconds later I recognized the car and started honking like crazy. The BO recognized my car and pulled over. I pulled over myself and ran across the busy road to give the receipt with the order to them. I must have looked like a crazy person waiving a paper running across the road, but hey, it worked!

They ended up getting the fencing and being able to replace it before the horses stopped respecting the tape.

And I got to say I helped out with getting the barn back to normal. Hopefully this will never happen again, but I have a feeling that if another super storm heads our way they will go get tons of extra fencing before it makes landfall next time.

Gen is quick…

So the day after Gen hurt my fingers last week I was determined to get the picture of him in front of the yellow flowers. Even only 24 hours later most of the yellow flowers were gone. I tried (and failed) to get a good picture of Gen, just out of sheer determination. What I learned was that Gen is fast, very fast. And not just in a straight line like other Thoroughbreds. I have a “continuous photo” option on my camera. You just hold the button down and it takes a picture every two seconds. Below are the results…all taken 2 seconds apart. So this was taken of Gen in 6 seconds…

Looking skinny and tense…

Quick turn, out of the blue…

Running by me close, at least he didn’t kick out…

And on his way away from me

I know I am not alone when I say that I hate summer heat…

So most people love the summer. The warm weather, swimming, fresh corn, barbeques, etc. Before Gen, I too enjoyed the summer months. For the past 7 years I have learned that summer is not fun. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. Summer is torture.

Gen is not a hot weather horse. At all. Even at 85 degrees he will start to pout. He is much happier in November than he is in July. Over the years I have been at various barns and figured out what works best for Gen. Before Gen moved to the barn he is at now they didn’t do night turnout. I told the owner I couldn’t move in unless they went out at night in the summer. She asked me to try it her way first, so the first two months at the barn were rough. When she saw just how badly Gen did in the heat she agreed to do nights.

Gen also must have a fan. Before we moved to where we are now Gen didn’t have a fan. I knew I would never let that happen again if I could help it. Gen loves his fan and will stand sleeping with his nose right up to it and a cool breeze coming across his neck and chest. Out of any horse I know he really appreciates the fact that humans can create a breeze for him in his stall.

Night turnout and a fan are great, but Gen also needs his mommy to come and hose him off. With work, I can’t get out there at 1pm as I would like too, but even though I come out later I know Gen is still happy for a break. He sweats more than any retired horse I know, which of course leads to fungus and other fun skin conditions. I find that I can keep all that yucky stuff at bay as long as I rinse my boy off every day. I make sure that I use the cool water to also help drop his core temperature which will help him for a few hours after the bath.

So why am I telling you all this? I know I have said it all before on my blog. Well, the next week is going to suck. It is going to be above 90 and humid every singe day. Gen is a total crab in the heat, so he is going to be a big jerk for the next week. No matter how hard I try to lessen the impact, Gen still has to deal with summer. Which means that I have to deal with Gen in the summer. Which means that I am going to be anxious and stressed about Gen for at least the next week. What I really need to do is find a barn with an air-conditioned stall…and field…and a person who can walk next to Gen with a fan all day…

The Many Faces of Gen

You know those charts you see of all the smiley faces that used to help little kids figure out emotions? Yeah, well I feel like I could make one of those charts with Gen. I LOVE having an expressive horse, I never have to guess what he is thinking. Can you tell what my horse is feeling in the pictures below? I am curious to see if you see the same emotions I do…