Thursday, December 31, 2009

One last ride with the old mare

I think I'll be moving Bear out to the boarding place this weekend. I have one last check to do, and some paperwork before hauling him over there. It will be nice to have an arena to work in finally. So since I've had some holiday time off work we spent Tuesday taking one last ride out on the back roads. I started out riding the old mare and ponying Bear and then switch horses for the ride back. He's such a good boy! Even though I haven't been on him for ages and he was super hyper getting out of the wet mud pasture for the first time in weeks, he was still a good boy once we got going.

We also tried out the new Easyboot Epics I bought. Once we got a replacement for the one he broke playing in the pasture, I've been pleased. He walked perfectly comfortably on the gravels and rock roads, and since I was riding next to him, I could really watch his foot fall in them. So far I think they're great! I just couldn't get used to the muffled thwap-thwap noise that his boots made instead of the tap-tap of his hard hooves.

Its a little bittersweet to be leaving. The old mare will be alone again and she's been such a trooper helping to train Bear. I just finally got her tuned up and into shape again, and although I'd love to use her with this new project horse, she's not going to be convenient to get to. We'll see.

Monday, December 28, 2009

To board or not to board

So I have been toying the idea of moving Bear for a long time. He is perfectly happy living in pasture with the old mare, but I want to have access to an arena without having to trailer out. It’s worked great so far to have him at my parents, but I think they're getting sick of having another horse to bother with. He has kept the old mare company which was the idea in the first place. Then I was trailering out to take that colt starting class in the indoor arena once a week all last
year and it was only a few miles from the house. While that was great experience for him to load up and trailer somewhere every week, I’m getting sick of always hitching and unhitching the trailer EVERY time I want to get some training done with him! The pasture is too wet to ride in most of the winter, so that means the only option is to take a walk down the back roads, but I’m so bored with them now, and I can only walk. Good for stretching the legs, but not much of a workout.

I had moved to a place where I could board Bear on the property, but decided in the end not to stay there since I changed jobs and the commute was awful! (Plus the trails that seemed close weren’t accessible unless I hauled him out the mile down the busy highway, and
the arena sucked!) So what seemed perfect to start with, didn’t work out. Now I’m looking at boarding for the first time in my life in order to have access to all the stuff that I want to train and ride.

I think I’ve found the place. It’s a good price. In fact it’s such a good price that I’m still looking for the catch! I called to ask some questions today and the guy seems really nice, which is a huge relief, because I really thought that would be the first big deal breaker. Its
pretty rural area, and out the opposite direction of civilization, so it is cheaper than what I’m used to seeing around the area I currently have Bear. But the place is only about 8 miles from where I’ll be living this spring. So I think that is manageable to drive out to see the horse, especially if it means I can go out in the evenings after work and know that I can ride after dark. (Only catch there would be finding him in a 15 acres pasture after dark! But right now he comes
when he’s called; I’ll just have to REALLY positively reinforce him coming to my whistle!)

The place seems perfect. I’ve always heard horror stories about trying barn after barn before finding the right place. I’m not taking a trainer into account, since I can’t afford to board at the caliber of place where I plan to take lessons. So what I want is a good safe facility, without drama, just good care. I’ve heard those are hard to find, and I’m looking for all the problems in advance. The guy mentioned they’ve only been there 4 months and have done a ton of
improvements, with more to come. I hope he’s not biting off more than he can chew. I googled the address and found that it had been for lease, so they must not own the property, but I can’t see that being a huge problem. There were also two other training business names that came up for that address, so the property seems to have a high turnover rate. Should I be wondering why?

Here are the good things that are drawing me to the place:
-It’s a 93 acres property, so plenty of riding on site, plus 5,000
acres across the street that is accessible for riding!
-There is a hunter/jumper barn 3 miles down the road, and a dressage trainer next door.
-Big outdoor arena, and they should be getting all weather footing and jumps.
-Indoor arena (He says its small, but I get the impression its at least the size of a full dressage court. It has lights and rain coverage, so anything bigger than a round pen will do!
-They have pasture board. I really think part of Bear’s easy going personality is that he gets to run off his excessive energy. I think he would be bored and irritable in a stall.
-They offer blanketing service even for horses in pasture for just a little bit more.
-They have no time limits for riding!!! I would love to be able to stay out there late to ride after work, and its nice to not have someone giving you stink eye for not leaving by 9pm!
-They live on the property, and one of them is there pretty much all the time. Plus they have a lesson and training business so I can feel better that they actually know what they’re doing with horses.

Negatives:

-It is WAY far out there. Its close to home, but nothing else. It will never be just on the way, and it will always be the opposite direction when I’m heading out.
-If I want to be more selective about a trainer, it could be a 45 minute to an hour haul.
-It is in an area that I’m totally unfamiliar with, so all my favorite trails will be too far away, and I’ll have to find new places to explore. That and I’ll be hard pressed to find a hill!
-A huge pasture like that with so many horses could end up a being a problem. Right now I think Bear would really like it. He loves interaction with other horses, and this would give him the room to really run. He might turn out to be the pasture pest though.
-It’s a lease, and they sound like they are still just getting started up with their business. If they flop, I’ll be looking for another home for the beast. It’s not a huge deal since I always have my parent’s property to fall back on, and I’ll be looking at moving him again in two years anyways, so it’s not a permanent move.

I’ll be going to see it sometime soon, so I’ll get a better idea then. I’m really excited about it though! We’ll see how I feel after seeing it!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lot's of fun stuff, not much riding...

The weather is making life tough... so much for California's mild winters.

Just after the last post, I did a 5k run the weekend before Thanksgiving and I probably shouldn't have because I felt like I was getting a cold and it was FREEZING out there! Alright, maybe just above freezing, but way colder weather than I chose to run in. I did it anyway, and ended up with laryngitis, I was miserable with no voice for the trip to Portland for Thanksgiving, and then I got a sinus infection in time to have an extraordinarily painful flight home. All in all I spent about two weeks feeling too sick to do much with the horses.

Its been a frustrating week since then too. On Saturday I had the shoer come out and trim Bear's feet and he talked me into buying boots for his front feet since I don't really want to put shoes on him. They're the type that are kind of like sneakers for horses that you can just put on for trail riding. I'd been thinking about it for awhile, and these are used a bunch in endurance right now, so I figure they must be good. So he tells me to just put the boots on and just turn him out to let him get used to them. I'd like to tell everyone now, if you've just spent 90 bucks on boots, don't let your horse play in them! He ran around a bit, and it seemed fine, and the shoer says, "See what I told you, there great!" And I figure if he can be bucking and spinning in the pasture, they MUST really be great. So I pay him, he leaves and then I go out to take off the boots only to realize that I have no idea how to get them off! The shoer kept taking them off and it seemed easy, but I hadn't tried it myself, and nothing seemed to be working for me! They are the kind that are really form fitted to the hoof, so they are tight and sort of suction on. I think I just don't have the strength in my hands like he did. So I go in to think about it and look for a screw driver (he mentioned you could kind of pry them off) and Bear gets to running around again. So I go out, and sure enough, he rips one boot off while I'm out there, but the leg wrap that goes around the ankle is still attached! So he's continuing to gallop around with his boot dragging off his ankle. UGH! I get him stopped, and undo the Velcro wrap part and he's torn the upper Velcro part halfway off the boot! It didn't last 30 minutes! So I'm frustrated because I had wanted to ride down the gravel road with them on Sunday to test them out, AND now Bear has ONE boot on, and I still haven't figured out how to get it off! I finally pried it off with a screwdriver, called the shoer (who came back and fixed the boot the next day), and hoped the drama was done for the day, but no. I came back out to say a quick hello to him that afternoon, and found his nose looking like this...

















I swear it looked nastier in person! I was all freaked out by it! Only thing can thing I can think is that he got it caught on the fence some how. Maybe harassing the dog? He likes to nip at the German Shepard through the fence and make her crazy.

Then Sunday the saga continued. It started with the weather reports saying it would snow that night. It never snows here, so we hardly believed it, but I pulled a blanket out for the old mare anyway. Normally we blanket Bear and just let the old mare grow a heavy winter coat. They get put in a pen with shelter anytime it rains, and its usually 30 degrees at the worst during the winter, so she's fine. Since the reports said 20's and snow, we figured we better be prepared. So Sunday morning I pull out an old blanket to try on her. Now Bear wears a blanket all winter long, and never had an issue with the blanket going on for the first time. But the moment he turned around and saw that the bay mare was now a light blue color and made a rustling noise when she walked, his head shot up in the air and he started prancing and snorting around. They were separated while eating, so he couldn't get up close to smell her. So he ends up getting the old mare worked up with his spooking, and she started running around, which spooked him more! So he ends up slipping and falling on his side! Stupid horse! So I let the old mare down to the pasture with him, he sniffs her and keeps harassing her like she's a new horse now that she has a blanket on, and she finally gets fed up and just lays into him! Double barrel kick to the ribs! So I take off both blankets and get him to trot around to see if he had hurt himself. He looked a little stiff, and how wouldn't? But not lame. So I got little bits of video since my camera was still in my coat pocket. Silly boy just awkwardly hops over the logs in the way! Turn down the sound since I'm not tech savvy enough to mute it! (The camera clicks weirdly.)
video
REALLY short and not too interesting, I know. He was more interested in me holding the camera, and kept coming back to check it out. You can see he needs a younger playmate since the old mare doesn't buy into the need to gallop around the pasture 10 times a day despite his best efforts to get her to join in! Then they second one is a tiny bit more interesting... a fun half spin and one more pass over the logs! And if you didn't turn your sound off for the first time, you'll get more weird clicking AND me yelling at the dog!
video

So Sunday I couldn't ride in the morning as planned since we were waiting on the boot to be repaired, but I did sneak in a short ride Sunday afternoon to try them out. They're all fixed, and we did a walk, trot, canter test under saddle in the pasture, and they seem great! I can't wait to hit the rocky trails I've been avoiding! AND I figured out I can pry them off really easily with a hoof pick, so I'm happier.

Then Monday morning, despite all our doubts, we woke up to snow! My corgi Piper LOVED it. She ran around eating it! So cute that I couldn't resist putting a picture up! It wasn't much snow, but the surprising part was that the snow stuck for the next couple days! We never have snow! My boyfriends house got 8 inches and it stuck until Thursday! So between the snow during the week and the solid downpour of rain this weekend, Bear hasn't done anything, he hasn't even had his blanket off during the day. So he'll be glad for a break in the rain Monday when he'll get his blanket off and get back out to the pasture. Then hopefully we'll get out to do something this coming weekend. Like try to boots out again!