Saturday, January 14, 2017

Let Us Take a Moment Out to Curse Mother Nature


 The same nasty storm that dumped copious amounts of water on California last week, dumped the frozen version on Oregon and Washington a day or two later. What did us in here at EvenSong was the wind.  We were getting steady winds of 25-30 mph, and 40 mph gusts. It was very localized: 20 miles away in Ellensburg they got the snow, but very little wind. Interstate 90, just north of us, however, had drifting and white-out conditions that shut down east-west traffic across the state for most of a day. 
The "back" of my barn faces the usual prevailing storm winds to the northeast, but because this storm came from the south, the wind-blown snow came right on through all the open run-ins on the south! 


Poor Babe.

It's hard to tell where the stall ends and the paddock begins!
When the wind did finally shift to the north, drifts started piling up everywhere.
Digging my way out to the compost pile.
Looking back at Sonny through that same drift.


In front of the house.
Looking north up the driveway. Those are five foot tall posts on the right.
During the first storm, I plowed the driveway out four times in 48 hours.
This week I had tried to keep it open, but after two plow jobs immediately got obliterated, I gave up and decided to wait until things calmed down before trying again to clear the way for a trip to town for groceries, feed, and bedding. 
That plan changed when the LP delivery truck driver decided to try to bull his way in, and buried his chained up rear tires in the snow I had already plowed to the sides of the drive. He had called for a tow truck to pull him out, but I checked our gauge, and we really did need the gas. So for the third time, my little blue tractor got put into action. Got him into the tank just as the tow truck showed up, and nearly got stuck himself! 
Once they were done, I decided I may as well get my trip to town done, since I could get out. What I didn't count on is the storm completely filling in the driveway in the two hours I was in town.


 This was as far in as I got. Allan and I carried in what groceries couldn't stay in the truck overnight, in single digit temperatures and continued gusty winds. Grain, shavings, and already frozen food waited for the next day.


Assessing the three foot drifts in the driveway, with snow piled high on either side from previous plowings, I broke down and created a path through the adjacent pasture--less snow, because there were no trees to stop the wind, and more open space into which I could plow what snow there was.


For now, this will have to do. The wind has stopped, so I'll whittle away at the driveway over the next few days.

In the arena, snow is piling up--not only drifts that formed from the wind pattern around the barn, but also what I had to pile there to clear paths to the driveway and house.
"Intrepid barn manager conquers Mt. EvenSong!"

Kate sees a distinct advantage to this state of affairs: we won't be working here any time  soon!



Friday, December 30, 2016

Retiree Introductions

For Christmas this year I posted on FaceBook portraits of each of our eight retirement residents with sleigh bells and Santa hats (plus Kate and our barn helper's young mustang cross).  I thought about adding information on their respective backgrounds, but decided it might be more appropriate for a blog post. And since there's not much riding/training going on mid-winter, here ya go! 

Back in 2012, Allan and I decided that we didn't want our retirement income to be subject to the whim of the young horse market. Also, the market being what it was (and is), we didn't want to bring any more babies, no matter how cute, into the equine world.
To quote a post I did at the time: "Little RT has done so well in his retirement with us (he's still going strong at 32), and Mama Misty is looking good at 25.  Even good ol' Corky did well, in spite of his seizure disorder, until we lost him at 29.  I've long admired Melissa and Jason of Paradigm Farms, so I have decided to venture into the realm of boarding.  But for a specialized market:
retirees (or possibly rehab)."

Corky at 25
"Neither Al nor I really want a bunch of silly teenagers in and out at all hours, we're 20 miles from town, and we really don't have access to any trails in the immediate neighborhood.  Plus the insurance for your typical boarding stable is outrageous.  By sticking to retirees, I don't need to worry about people riding on the property, nor corralling other peoples kids (been there, done that)--keeping track of other people's horses, on the other hand, seems like a great way to utilize our place."

 First, and oldest, resident: 

Royal Tardez, 1980 Arab Gelding
I first met RT's mom and her mom when Bri was in middle school, 23 years ago. She took lessons on one of my horses until they found RT. Then I was pleased to be able to support the family's "first horse" experience. 

With his girl, Bri, dressaging

They even did a bit of jumping back in the day!
After Bri went away to college, and then the big city, her Mom had a hard time finding an inexpensive boarding option that would cater to his "Royal" needs. The last place refused to separate him for feeding, so when Christie called us she was desperate: he looked like a dairy cow, all hip bones and ribs! I drove across the state in February to pick him up.

 He settled in to life on the farm just fine!

Mr. Studly claims Misty as HIS!

His first job on the farm was babysitting our last weanling, Jackson.

Also, an occasional grandkid lesson.

But, mostly, he hangs out, eating mush (he's down to four molars that don't even meet in the middle!). (Photo: August 2016)

 At thirty-six-and-a-half, RT is still going strong!

**************
Next:
Mighty Misty Blue, 1987 APHA gray overo mare
I originally bought Misty for two reasons: i wanted a quiet horse for Allan to ride on the rare occasion that he went out with me.  I also wanted a mare that I could breed for family-friendly, 4H type horses. When we got her at 10 years old, she had already had five foals and was really only green broke. 
Misty over the years gave us seven more foals. Plus taught a couple of grandkids how to ride. She earned her retirement after having Jackson at 22. 

Our second foal, Pete.
Misty and Maddie, 2005
Misty and Grandson Mike built quite a partnership over the years.
And Misty has continued her teaching with Grandson Brenden.
Mostly, these days, she just hangs out with RT.

 Rather that make this the never-ending story, I've decided that I'll break these introductions down into pairs. 
Next up: Charlie and Fizz

Saturday, December 3, 2016

In Which a "Blog Hop" Restarts My Writing Pastime


Okay, then. Long time no see! The ease of FaceBook has stolen me away from blog-land, but Aarene at Haiku Farm has started a "blog hop"--which I am taking as a personal challenge to re-activate Mountain Trail Music! This will also serve to update some of you that don't "do" FaceBook.

If you want to play along, I'll leave a clean copy of the questions in the comments.


Here's the directions:
  • Answer the questions (below) on your own blog, and leave a link to that post in the comments here.
  • In your post, invite readers to answer the questions on THEIR blogs, and link those blogs to yours AND to here.
  • Let's see how far this can travel!
  • Pictures!  Let's see lots of pictures of people and horses!
*  Introduce yourself!
HI! I'm Laurie and I consider myself "horsaii." Been addicted to horses for 55 years or so, doing everything from dude strings in the Sierras, to grooming for an Olympic eventer, to managing a 60-stall show barn, to breeding family/4H Paints, and most recently, offering retirement board for show and family horses. And just about everything in between!
My first horse, Shadow, 1969
"Holy Smokes," approximately 1975, Doylestown, PA

*  Introduce your horse(s)!
Kate (APHA "Canticle") was foaled in 2005, our fourth year of breeding Paints.
Raised here on the farm, I have done all of her training.
We've ridden all over the Eastern Washington Cascades.
She's a grandkid horse:
And sometimes she even fills in as a therapy horse:
Of the ten babies we bred, Kate is the one that still remains at EvenSong Farm.
She is my "heart horse" and will stay here as long as I am able to care for her.
(If she outlives me, she will go to my daughter's home.)

*  What's your favorite horse sport?
Since Kate was four, we have been competing in mountain trail events.
It's not your mama's arena trail class!


 
 






*Do you cross train in other activities?
Kate and I (and my other mare, Maddie, now in a new home)
have been dabbling in western and cowboy dressage for the last year or two.  


 I've also been know to hang out with a few endurance folks.

*  Who else in your family rides?
My grandkids all ride...unfortunately, it's only during the couple of weeks that they visit "Grandma's farm" each summer. My one Paint broodmare, Misty was who the older boys started out on, but Kate came up through the ranks to take more and more responsibility for the youngest one, as Misty's navicular started limiting her activities.
Mikey & Misty, 2005 (Maddie in tow)
Delaney & Brenden, on Kate (with Mom and Grandma), 2009
Mike on Kate, 2010



Delaney on Kate & Brenden on Misty, 2016
  My daughter rides with friends when she can.
Hubby Allan used to ride with me on occasion, but hasn't since this anniversary get-away in 2010.
*  What's your proudest equestrian accomplishment?
In spite of the fact that 90% of the photos in this post are of Kate and I (and I'm super proud of our partnership), I think I'm even more proud of the progress I made with Maddie over the last 15 months or so. 
Five years ago, after three years of successful green horse experiences, Maddie and I had a wreck, right in our own back yard arena. She bolted, and in the ensuing "unscheduled dismount" I wrenched my back, not to mention pummeled my confidence. 
For the four years following that, I was afraid of her, and she knew it. Every time I tried to start back up with her, all she had to do was pull a green horse stunt, and I would get off and not try again, sometimes for months.  I finally sent her to a trainer for spring and summer of 2015. He taught her lots, and never got any hint of a bolt, but he never did "click" with her--partly, I think, because he demanded things of her, and Maddie is the kind of mare than needs to be asked, with a good explanation of how and why. When I got her back home last fall, my goal was to ride, to quell the queasiness in the pit of my stomach and establish a partnership again. Then I would decide if I would keep her, or put her on the market. (I wouldn't sell her until I knew she was past all her issues.) 
We did several clinics, with moderate success. She was still flighty, but I was riding her through it. We didn't even try a lope until spring of this year, at another clinic, but when we did it with no fuss, no muss...I knew we were on the home stretch.  I actually took her to the Cowboy Mountain Trail Challenge, in Walla Walla in June. She did every obstacle I asked her to (I think I skipped two or three over the three day event)--she did them waaay too fast, and waaay not pretty, but she did what I asked. And I never once felt any butterflies about being on her.
With video from that event and one other, I put her on the market.  I had a local 4H senior come out and ride her a bit, as she had never been ridden by anyone besides the trainer and me, and she did well for her.  She now has a new home, with a couple who love her dearly.  They will primarily trail ride with her.

*  What was your lowest moment as a horse owner/rider?
I retired in June of 2014 in order to spend more time readying Kate and I for a competition season that I hoped would take us to the Regional and National Mountain Trail Championships in Eugene, Oregon.  Two weeks later Kate and I got tangled in some hidden barbed wire, while bushwhacking on a trail ride. (Feel free to get the whole gory story by going one post back on the blog.) Kate severed two tendons in her left hind, at the hock. It could have been career ending, if not life ending. She spent five weeks in a cast at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital of Washington State University. 

From the moment of the accident, to getting her out of the back country for emergency triage in town, to driving across the state to WSU, I was running on adrenaline and sheer determination to get Kate the help she needed. But as I drove home the next morning with an empty trailer, and topped a rise to get a panoramic view of the hills where we had been riding, I lost it.

*  What's the most important small thing you ever learned in a lesson?
That one has to support with the outside rein to gain control over the shoulders.
*  Do you have any riding rituals or superstitions?
Helmet--every time, every ride! 

*  What are your short term goals for yourself/your horse?
After WSU, Kate spent three months on stall rest here at home, then started hand walking and rehab work. Cleared to start riding her gently again the April after the accident, we did a lot of walk work and basic trail obstacles. We went to Walla Walla that June, mostly to just be at my favorite competition. Dropped down a division, and got some hesitation on certain types of obstacles. We didn't place, but we did do something much more satisfying: Kate and I were back! 


Because my focus this past year has been on Maddie, Kate has not been doing much. As soon as the weather starts improving next February/March, I plan on bringing her back into competition. The Eugene championships are back on the agenda, just a few years later than I planned. 

*  Long term goals?
I'm not sure how much longer Kate and I will compete--she will be 12 1//2 and I will be 66 by the time we get to Eugene next November. I doubt we'll make it to the "century club" (horse's age plus rider's equal 100), but I suspect we'll still be moseying down the trail for a few more years.
Teanaway River, 2010
*  If time and money were no object, what is your dream equestrian vacation?
I've always wanted to ride the Grand Canyon, as well as in the Canadian Rockies, near Banff (the latter would require getting a passport, though).

*  What kind of horse activities were you doing 10 years ago?
 We were right in the middle of our Paint breeding enterprise. Maddie and Kate were yearlings, the three geldings we raised before them were in homes, and two new fillies, both "Paints-that-ain't" were running around.
(This was actually 2007, I can tell because Kate's little sister Amy is at the center right of the frame.)

*  What kind of horse activities do you think you'll be doing 10 years from now?

The retirement farm is doing well: we're at eight retired residents, with two more on a wait-list. Because Allan and I make a commitment to keep a retiree until they pass, we have decided we probably won't take on any more after those two; possibly some short term rehab horses. As our ability to maintain the farm and horses declines, the number of horses will naturally decrease as well. We'll see...  
36 year old RT (Royal Tardez), who was part of the inspiration for the retirement business, greets "youngster," Sonny, 22

Fizz, 29, Bella 23

*  What is the quirk about your horse that you like most?
 Every year, when I haul Kate's fat, fuzzy butt out to start legging her up for the riding season, she will spend about 20 minutes on the lunge line doing airs-above-the-ground.  
February, 2011

January, 2010



But she always settles down and decides she's ready to go to work.

*****