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LOL. Seriously, it's May already? Wow.

I had a great start to the month. Yesterday my friend Sue and I went to a clinic given by the totally awesome Charlotte Dujardin, winner of the Olympic gold medal in dressage, winner of umpteen other championships with her great horse Valegro, and oh, yeah, World Champion for 2015. We have been waiting for this for almost a year, got our tickets when it was first announced last summer.
She was here for 4 days, but we could only afford one day...but what a day it was. For anyone interested in horses and dressage, just have a look at her freestyle ride at the London Olympic Games here: http://scottphayes.squarespace.com/charlotte-dujardin-clinic/

To say it was inspiring would be the understatement of the year. She was warm and funny, and if I could ride even a fraction of the way she does, I'd be thrilled. We left so charged up to work even harder with our own lovely horses.

I was exhausted by the time I got home. I had a busy couple of weeks, worked a lot, and when I wasn't at work I was out at the farm, so today I stayed home. Cleaned the apartment, did 3 loads of laundry, and when I couldn't avoid it any longer, I did my taxes. I've been procrastinating so long with the tax thing that I was almost late filing..luckily Revenue Canada screwed up some email notification and had to give us an extra 5 days to file! Whew. I finally got it all done. Gave myself a reward; sat out in the sun with tea and a book for half an hour. It was lovely.

Went up the street for groceries, came home, made lasagna, cleaned up the mess and then watched Once Upon A Time. Now I'm officially done for the day.

Celebrate!

Apr. 5th, 2015 09:46 pm
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Spring is sprung, it's time to celebrate the arrival of green grass, green leaves, and the green weed patch that is my garden..it beckons me, urging me to turn the soil, pull the weeds and the left over patch of kale and collard greens, fast approaching the end of their life cycle, and begin anew. I have begun looking at seed packages, planning and plotting for the new vegetables. This year I'm going to be less eclectic and more practical; I'm only going to plant the things we actually eat a lot of, and that do well. I'm not going to try things like eggplant, or cauliflower, or cabbages..because they all have disappointed me in the past, and/or are cheap and readily available from local farmers. Instead I'm going to concentrate on things like peas, and beans, and cucumbers, and salad greens. I plan to throw a few zucchini seeds on the manure pile, and see if they grow as well as the squash did last year. I'm pretty sure I'll have another crop of squash on the pile, because I didn't harvest all the squash last fall. My garden is small, so I have to keep it simple. I have plans to make it bigger, but that entails digging up more ground, and redoing the fence (which I have to do anyway; the one I put up last year was only meant to be temporary, and it looks it). I'd like to start an herb garden, and put in some asparagus plants, and strawberries. The only limiting factor is time and energy! I am really anxious to get going, but it's still a bit cold to do too much; the soil needs some time to warm up. Soon!

I've been keeping busy, working 2 or 3 shifts a week in CCU, lending a hand out at the farm, trying to pay more attention to my two horses in this shedding season. I spent some time grooming Midnight, and by the end he was about five pounds lighter, and the stall looked like there had been a major blizzard in it. Rochelle has a finer coat, and isn't shedding as much, but they both need attention. Everything I own is going to be covered in horse hair for the next while. :P

We have a big horse show coming up this weekend; it's an FEI Dressage show, so there will be lots of horses from all over. We're really excited to be going; Sera is doing so well in her training, and is more than ready for this. It's going to be a very busy week for everyone. We have to organize the farm work so someone is around to help Nicole bring in the horses etc. All hands on deck, for sure. It doesn't help that poor Nicole is injured; she got thrown off her horse last weekend (the horse reared straight up, and she fell off backward; luckily the horse didn't fall on her!) She has a couple of cracked ribs, and is very sore. But she's a trooper, just keeps on going. We horse people are tough.

Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates it!
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That would be the theme for this past weekend. Happily for my peace of mind I wasn't present for the following OMFG moments at the farm (I was at work), but Sue gave me the story, as follows:

OMFG moment #1: Friday morning she found that Kiss (the mare we got from our Vet to use as a surrogate) had kicked down one of the walls in her stall, for the third time. Kiss was okay, and luckily there wasn't a horse in the next stall. The wall got rebuilt by one of the construction crew.

OMFG moment #2: Saturday morning Sue came out to find that either Sera or Florrie had knocked down the wall between their stalls. One of them must have rolled and kicked the wall during the night. There were boards in the stall and poor Florrie was kind of stuck in a corner. One of her legs was a little puffy, but no serious damage was done, thank heavens. Jack rebuilt the wall.

OMGF moment(s) #3: Figuring that Kiss might like being in the field instead of her stall, they decided to bring Midnight in and put him in his paddock and put Kiss out in the field with Rochelle on Sunday. Sue, Jack and Nicole made the change and watched to make sure the horses were okay...except it all went wrong. Kiss took one look at Rochelle and kicked her hard, then took off down the field. Poor Rochelle went over to stand by herself out of Kiss's way, not making any trouble at all. Kiss deliberately went over to Rochelle and proceeded to kick the crap out of my poor girl. Midnight was going beserk in his paddock, crashed into the fence and broke it. Nicole was in tears, and Sue was trying to keep everyone calm. They managed to grab Midnight and get him inside to his stall, and then got Kiss out of the field, and poor Rochelle too. They all went into their stalls while Jack fixed the fence. It was a pretty traumatic hour or so, and pretty much put paid to any thought that Kiss would get along with my horses! She is on probation now. Stall to paddock, no field for her. We're seriously rethinking whether we want to use her as a surrogate; she's showing some characteristics we aren't thrilled with, and I think it's partly that she's not used to being in this kind of environment. She came out of field with other mares at our Vet's place, so perhaps she's better off there. She belongs to our Vet anyway, so we may be sending her back and having him look for another mare for us. We have lots of time until next spring until we have to get rolling with the breeding.

Sometimes you think you're doing a favour, and then it all goes to hell in a handbasket. Luckily all the horses are fine; Rochelle and Midnight are together again in the field, BFFs.

Then my own personal OMG moment: yesterday, after we'd done all the work I decided to walk around the field before I went home to see if I could find Midnight's halter, which he managed to get rid of at some point. I walked down to the bottom of our 5 acre field, along the fence between the field and the blueberry farm next door, by the little stand of trees and bushes. The fence there is a bit on the rickity side, on our list of things to fix. I walked along the path and found a whole section of the fence that was down, which left a perfect access to the berry fields. I could just imagine Midnight getting in there. I spent the next hour fixing the fence as best I could. It's not great, but safe enough until Jack can fix it on the weekend. Funny thing, we are so careful to double chain the field gate but the back entrance was left open! Yikes. Glad I decided to search for that halter. Didn't find it, BTW.

This kind of excitement we can do without, thanks very much. :)
midnightsjane: (Calvin's choice)
The young woman who does the barn work out at the farm quit today. She has given us 2 weeks notice, unlike the last girl who gave us a whole 2 days, so that's something. I know this kind of work is not what anyone would choose as a career; it's hard physical labour, and not the best paying job in the world. That said, we pay more than most other stables, and from everything we've heard, treat our employees a whole lot better than most. It's partly because we're so hands on, and partly because we want everyone to feel like they're part of the team. We're quite stunned, because she's only been working for us for 5 months, and she'd assured us when she started that she would be there for at least the year. Well, damn. We can't force her to stay, so we are now back in the hunt for someone else. It happens, it's just the way it works out. It's such bad timing, though. We're at the start of show season, we have three of our young horses in training 4 days a week, and we have to get on with breeding one of the girls and doing the embryo transfer soon. Plus, I have to go back to Ontario for my niece's wedding in a couple of weeks, and Sue needs to go see her mother in England....

Oh, bloody hell.
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We're just so proud of the way our horses have been going over the past year. It's like night and day, the difference a year makes. Last year we were pulling our hair out trying to find the right people to help us with the training of these very talented horses, and this year we have people who just can't do enough for us. We're building a great team, and it's so satisfying. Jack, Sue and I are all working so hard to make the farm a success, and we have the breeding part of it down, but the training has always been the factor we struggled with. Now we've found people who know what they're doing and who are bringing the horses along. It's a very good feeling. We have the best horses and they deserve the best training we can give them.

We got some exciting news about one of the horses who has gone on his career path; Socrates is the son of Phaedra and Odyssey, who were both born on the farm. He was Phaedra's first foal, and turned out to be an awesome jumper. He was just bought by the great American rider Beezie Maddon! Apparently she has had her eye on him for the last few years, and really wanted him. It's such an honour to have one of our own kids bought by an internationally renowned rider, a testament to the quality of our breeding program. I know, it's tooting our own horn, but dammit, we deserve to do a little back patting. Yay, Socs!! Your grandmothers, Jubilee and Kandance, are proud of you too.

Goldie has done us proud at the Thunderbird show this week. She has won a ribbon in every class she's been in, and only knocked down one rail all week.

We have had a very good week.
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I just don't know where the month has gone; all of a sudden, May is half over and I haven't done half the things I had on my list! The days just aren't long enough. Plus, the whole working for a living thing just takes up way too much of my time. LOL. Still, being busy is better than sitting around being bored, I guess.

I worked nights the last three nights, and I have to work another one tomorrow night. I was busy all night last night, had a sick patient who was quite unstable and needed lots of my attention, so the shift flew by. I had brought a book with me to read, on the off chance that it would be a repeat of the previous night when I basically watched my patient sleep all night. I read one page and that was all! On the whole, I would rather be kept busy; the time goes by a lot faster.

It's been a nice week weather-wise here, so I had hoped to get some more work done in my garden. I need to get that thing planted. Just have to make time, and get organized, or it's going to be harvest time and I won't have anything to harvest!

The horses are enjoying the nice weather too. Midnight got to go in the field a couple of times this past week for a few hours. The grass is so rich we have to be careful, and let him get used to it. I don't want him getting a tummy ache! Once he's settled down out there, I'm going to put Rochelle out with him. She will love having all that space to run in, and I think the two of them will get along fine. They know each other, and I hope Midnight won't be a bully with her. He went out with Kyra, and she kept him in line because she was an old mare who knew how to deal with his pushiness. We'll see. I have to get Rochelle started this summer, and she's on Maya's list of horses she's going to work with, but not until later this summer. I just don't have time at the moment, and once we start, we're committed to keeping on with the training. We have four horses in training right now, and that's a lot for the moment. It's really busy out at the farm these days. Feels like old times when we showed a lot and had people coming and going all the time. The past few years were tough, when all our energy was just focused on keeping the wolf from the front gate and keeping the farm going. Now we're through that tough patch, and it feels like there is so much good stuff happening now. It's very exciting, and very motivating to keep going. Then one of the horses does something amazing, and it just gets the juices going even more.

Like Sera's first big adventure. Maya has been riding her in the arena, and out in the field, but she's never been off the property. So on Tuesday Maya brought her truck and trailer over, to take Sera to her farm for the day. Sera is pretty inexperienced, has never been in a trailer, so we weren't sure if she'd load or not. We have to start somewhere, so we went for it. Sera took about 15 minutes to figure it out. She almost hopped in first time, but the trailer moved a bit and scared her, so it took a bit of encouragement, but she went in without too much fuss. Amazing. We've seen horses who were twice her age with lots of training go nuts loading. It can be a real challenge. We wanted her first experience to be a good one, because it sets her up well for the future. She loaded, was very good on the trip over to Maya's place, spent the day there, got ridden in the outdoor arena, hung out in a paddock, loaded in the trailer again, and was back home for dinner. We are so proud.

The big jumper show starts on Tuesday at Thunderbird, and Goldie is entered. We're so excited to see her go. It's going to be fun.

I'm having a quiet evening, just some down time for myself. I'm almost finished rereading the last Dresden Files novel, in preparation for the release of Skin Games this month. Have to watch the season finale of Elementary, and maybe another episode of The Hundred, if I can stay awake long enough. I didn't sleep much today, because I knew if I did I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight. Shift work messes up my sleep cycle for sure.

At some point soon I have to book my flight to Ottawa. My niece is getting married on June 14, and my sister has asked me to come a few days early to help her with the preparation. My sister has taken on a lot, including making the bridal gown, and the wedding is going to be in their back yard, so I know I'll be put to work! And that reminds me, I have to shop for an outfit for myself, and a wedding gift. Time, I need more time!
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I don't seem to be getting any less busy, but I thought I'd best check in before someone sends out a virtual search party. Now that I have my new phone and can check email with it (and check LJ too) I haven't even turned on my computer for the last few days. There has been a lot going on the past couple of weeks: I've been doing a lot of night shifts, which makes me less sociable, and then we've been crazy busy out at the farm.

We now have 4 horses in training. Goldie is getting ready for the big show next week; she's jumping well, and her trainer is happy with her progress. We hope she'll have a great time at the show. Dusty is back in action again after some time off due to her rider's injury from a fall off another horse, and as he said yesterday, "the Rocket's back!" Sera is going well, and looks fabulous. She has an amazing trot, very fluid and huge.

And then there is Flori. We've been anxious about getting her started, because she is big, and very athletic, and a bit quirky at times. We figured she'd be difficult and opinionated and need lots of time....boy, we were so wrong!
A friend of ours who used to keep his horses at our barn, and who has been away on the dressage circuit in Florida with his media business, just came back. He offered to help start Flori, and we were delighted to accept, because he really knows how to lunge and long rein, and is really good with young horses. He and Flori have bonded, and she follows him around like a puppy. She has turned out to be a superstar.....it's like she came already trained. First lesson on the lunge line ever, and within five minutes she was out on a twenty metre circle, walk, trot, and cantering, like she'd been doing it for years. Five lessons later, she's an old pro. No bucking, no attitude, just a fabulous work ethic. Andreas is over the moon and we're so excited. We always knew she was a great horse; we just had no idea what a great mind she would have, and how she'd take to this like a duck to water. It's thrilling, and worth all the work we've been doing.

I'm still trying to get my garden ready for planting, in the spare five minutes I have. Did a little bit this afternoon before the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down.

The house is coming along. They're almost ready to put the siding on; the doors went in yesterday. It's beautiful! So many windows, and French doors, lots of light and white.

Oh, new episode of Elementary is on now. Gotta go. Later!
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I've posted pictures of the new house and of some of the horses, over on my LJ.
Couldn't get them up here for some reason.
Check them out here: http://midnightsjane.livejournal.com/

:)
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We lost our lovely boy Orca today. He was the first horse born on our farm, Kismet's first foal, way back in 1996. I remember that night so well. He was a spectacular horse, and had such promise, but sadly he was seriously injured as a 3 year old, and was never able to be ridden. But he was a good companion to the other babies, a steady Eddie for the youngsters, a great role model. He was kind and gentle, and we loved him.

He developed an abcess in his front foot a couple of weeks ago; Sue was so diligent, soaking and poulticing and wrapping his foot and legs. We thought he was getting better, but today he was on three legs, and could hardly put any weight on the foot. Our farrier came out and looked at the foot, and thought he had developed laminitis. Sue called our Vet, who came and took X-Rays. It showed the hoof wall was separated in places, and that was pretty much the end of the story. Because of his old injuries, he had arthritis in his hind leg, and this was just putting extra stress on his legs. Tracey said that his chances of getting better were slim, and he would probably get worse. We just couldn't do that to him, and it was obvious that he was in tremendous pain. So we did the right thing, and put him out of his pain. Jack and Sue and I were with him to the end, and he just put his head in our hands and went away. I hope he is running on green pastures now, with Kismet, Phaedra and Kyra.

Today was his 18th birthday.

It's so hard when something like this happens. We love our horses so much, and work so hard to give them good and happy lives, but in the end we have to make the difficult decisions, because they can't. As Sue said to me, sometimes we wish we didn't love them so much, it might make this less painful.

We're going to bury him tomorrow, next to his mother. He will be with us forever. Happy Trails, Orca.
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Firstly: Yeah, Canada!! We know how to play hockey. In fact, we play like girls. Girls who take no prisoners. Secondly: the men did pretty well too. Canada rocks.
I'm going to miss the Olympics, but I'm pretty Olympiced out. You can only spend so many hours a day watching people going really fast across ice and snow.

I went slow across snow today. It snowed a lot here last night, so it was a bit dicey going out to the Valley this morning. The scariest part was the road leading from the main road to the farm, a narrow two lane road that winds down a steep hill around a corner and across a bridge and up another steep hill. There's a ravine on one side of the road and a hill on the other, so not much room for error. It was snowy and slippery and there was a tree fallen across half of the road part way down the hill. I put the car in low gear and just snailed my way down. There was about 5 or 6 inches of snow on the ground at the farm and it was still snowing. Quite the adventure in driving.

The horses had some adventures the past couple of days too, while I was working. Friday morning Sue went to feed the horses and found that during the night the wall between Dusty and Florrie fell down! The girls were both calm, and standing in the corners of their stalls with a pile of wood in between them. Florrie has a habit of leaning against the wall and itching her bum on it, so maybe that caused it. 1400 pounds of horse has a lot of push to it. Luckily the building crew was there, so they came and put it back together.
Then yesterday Kandance somehow managed to pull down half of the fence in her paddock and break the gate. She's got a bump on her leg, but is otherwise okay.
Strange events.

The horses were all pretty good about going out in the snow, but were a bit uncertain about where to put their feet; Midnight decided to avoid the path and plunge through the deepest part of the snow, which meant my boots got snow in them. I think he thought it was rather funny. LOL.

Hope the snow stops soon. I'm supposed to go out to the farm early tomorrow morning.
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Especially if you're watching others work like stink from the comfort of the bleachers..

Sue and I went to a Dressage clinic on Saturday. The clinician was the very knowledgeable and skilled Dutch rider Ellen Bontje, who is an Olympic Silver Medalist. She put a dozen or so riders through a private coaching session, and then watched as the rider rode a Dressage test. The test was judged by an FEI 4th level Dressage Judge, who gave a running score and overview of the ride throughout the test. It was fascinating to watch, and we learned a lot. Most of the horses were young, just starting their careers, and the tests were lower level ones. What was so interesting was watching them and seeing them work through some of the same problems we have with our youngsters, and seeing how Ellen helped them work through their various issues. Sometimes you can learn almost as much by observing as you can by participating. There were some very nice young horses and riders, and we were very pleasantly surprised by the whole clinic. We ran into several people we haven't seen for ages, including my old teachers.

It was educational and fun, a great combination. We're looking forward to next year when we have Florrie and Sera ready to go to the shows and clinics. It will be great to have horses going in both dressage and jumping. Goldie is down in California at the Thermal show, and will be starting the competition next week. Go, Goldie!

I think my Rochelle is going to be a jumper. Can't wait to get her started this spring. It's great to be seeing some of the results of all the hard work we've been doing over the years!
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[personal profile] a2zmomwants to know the most difficult aspect of learning to ride a horse.

Without a doubt for me it was the fear factor. I started riding as an adult, so all those nagging voices started with me: what if I fall off? what if I hurt myself? what if I look really dumb and unco-ordinated? When you start as a kid, that fear isn't really there, from what I've heard from friends who learned to ride as a child. But as an adult beginner I was very aware of how dangerous riding could be, and the couple of accidents I had didn't help reduce the nervousness. But the love for the horses and the wonderful freedom I felt when I had a really great ride helped keep that fear in perspective. Horses are very good at reading body language, so one thing I had to learn was to control my nervousness and project confidence. As one of my teachers said, if you're afraid, you have to pretend that you're not so the horse won't pick up on that fear and react. Fake it til you make it. It actually works, I found. I've never really lost that little bit of nervousness, but in a way it's a good thing. It makes me respect the power and unpredictability of the horse, and keeps me from doing too many stupid things around them!

The other hardest thing about learning to ride? Keeping my balance, and not falling off. :p
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Dec. 9: teadog1425" I would love to hear the story of your life in horses: how you got started, what your dreams were when you started out, how you ended up where you are now, what you love about what you do now, and what you would like to change! (Or any variation on the above topic that you would prefer!)"

My experience with horses started back in the 1970's when I was living in the Slocan Valley. My now ex-husband bought a horse, whose name was Star. I rode her a few times, and went on a couple of trail rides on a friend's horse, but I had no clue what I was doing. I was just a passenger. I loved the horse, but I was pretty intimidated by her, so after my husband and I split up, I had nothing to do with horses for the next 10 years or so. Then, one evening when I was hanging out with my friend Steph, we started talking about horses, because she had just sold her own horse, and was missing him. She decided to take some lessons and asked if I wanted to come along. So, in a spirit of adventure, I did. We booked a lesson at a local stable, and from the first lesson I was hooked. I don't remember what it was exactly that so intrigued me, but I loved it. I started taking a couple of lessons a week, even after Steph dropped out. I'd been feeling kind of isolated socially for various reasons; I worked shift work and weekends, and most of my friends didn't, so I spent a lot of time on my own. All of a sudden I had a whole little world waiting for me at the stable, and it was really amazing how much it came to mean to me. I had something that challenged me physically, and gave me a sense of accomplishment when I did something that kind of scared me, like cantering for the first time. The first year (this was when I had just turned 40, BTW, so learning to ride as an adult I was probably a lot more nervous than any of the kids) I took lessons on various school horses 3 times a week. I had two pretty serious accidents during that year; the first was on a horse called Beauty. We were cantering across the ring when she started going a bit fast, so I made a classic novice move and leaned forward, which made her speed up. I came off at the wall of the arena, and hit my shoulder on the wall as I did. Got back on the horse and finished the lesson. As I was driving home I started feeling short of breath and I thought I'd broken my scapula. Went to the hospital, and it turned out I'd broken my first and second ribs, and collapsed part of my lung. My first question was "how long til I can ride?" Six months later I came off another horse and gave myself a compression fracture of L1. While I was off with that injury I found a horse in the school string I kind of fell in love with; she was a 16 year old Arabian mare, a pretty chestnut named Kastanet. I bought her, and that was when it really started for me. Her stall was next to a thoroughbred named Caddy, whose owner was a nice British woman named Sue. She took me under her wing, and we became good friends over many a trail ride through the park. Those were great days, and I remember them with such fondness. I had Kastanet for 4 years; she died of an infection that she somehow picked up at the age of 20. After that I leased a horse for awhile, rode Caddy from time to time.

Sue and her husband purchased a farm in 1995, and the plan was always that when I retired I'd have a place to live there. Sue and I did all the work on the farm those first few years; we had 4 horses the first year, then the next year we had 3 babies. We started to get interested more in the breeding aspect of the horse business, and learned a lot through trial and error. Over the next several years we did everything on the farm that was needed, from fencing to birthing babies; we like to say that there is nothing that we haven't put our hands to, and I think that makes us better horse people for doing so. There were some very difficult times, let me tell you. The first winter was a doozy, and we had frozen pipes and snow up to the windows, and had to haul water from the house for the horses. That was tough, but it really tested us and made us more determined to succeed. I drove from Vancouver to the farm in the Valley through all kinds of weather every day I wasn't working. I'm still doing that drive!

I bought one of the foals, a lovely boy named Pharoah; raised him until he was four and then realized he was too big for me, so he went to a nice home with a good rider who loved him. Then I bought Midnight, a 3 year old quarter horse who was being boarded at the farm. We had some great times, and he really did test me a lot. He's still a pushy horse, very strong minded, and in the beginning he intimidated me. I learned to be a lot tougher, to stand up and say hey! I'm the boss here, behave. Didn't always work, I admit. We're still playing that game, but we've come to an arrangement; he behaves, most of the time. Unfortunately, he became quite lame several years ago, with navicular, so he's pretty much retired. Kyra came into my life via the SPCA; she was a rescue horse, and we had room, so we adopted her. Turned out she was a good riding horse too, so I had fun with her for a few years until she got too old. I loved her; she was much more my kind of horse than Midnight, a much softer nature. Now I have Midnight, and a 5 year old mare, Rochelle, who I'm going to start next spring.

We have had some really bad times along with the good; Sue and her husband split up, and running the farm alone with my help was challenging. We both had to dig way down deep. I speak of "we" because Sue is my best friend and we have a great partnership and love of the horses; everything we do has that focus. There were times when we weren't sure if we could keep going, and I have had a few meltdowns on top of the manure pile, when it all just seemed like too much for two women to keep things going. But we did, and man, I am so much tougher and stronger than I had ever imagined I could be. That's what horses have taught me: if you have a dream, and ambition, and focus, and if you're willing to make sacrifices, you can accomplish what seems to be impossible. I am so much more confident and unafraid of life because of the work I've done with the horses. I've learned that sometimes you just have to act confident, even if underneath you're quaking; the horses always pick up on your emotions, and react to that. I've learned patience, I've learned to leave my worries at the barn door and focus on the moment, and I have had the most amazing moments of pure joy, working with my horses. It's made me a better person.

The future looks bright now; Sue found Jack, a great guy who loves the horses and the farm, and they're building a new house with an apartment in it for me, and we have big plans for the horses. We haven't lost sight of the fact that we're still going to have to work our butts off to make it happen. Looking back over the last 26 years that I've had horses in my life, there are things I'd do differently, of course. I've made mistakes, made choices that in retrospect weren't the smartest, but I've learned because of them, and I've grown. I'm a pretty different person now than I was when I took that first riding lesson. My life took on a whole new direction, and it opened up so much for me. Finding a passion and following it where it leads is such a blessing. Horses are such a part of my life now I can't begin to imagine not being around them. Just walking into the barn and being in their midst brings me joy. I am a happy woman when I'm with my horses.
Blessed indeed.
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I love my old girl Kyra. You never know when she's going to kick up her heels and do the unexpected. This morning Kelly was bringing Kyra and Midnight in from the field (they've been going out in the afternoons and staying out overnight while the nights are still good weatherwise). Midnight was first to come in, and while they were coming through the gate Midnight stepped on Kelly's foot, causing her to lose her balance a bit, and Kyra took advantage, pushing her way through the gate. Kelly was having a bit of a fit, trying to keep Mr. Rambunctious Midnight from getting away, and at the same time trying to catch Kyra. My smart old girl knew breakfast was waiting, though! She trotted up the path, into the barn and down the aisle, right into her own stall, where she tucked right into her yummy breakfast. Good girl!
We laughed about it afterwards,because even though it had the potential for badness, Kyra did the right thing. LOL. She does enjoy her food, and you get between her and dinner at your own risk.

Today was the day our farrier was scheduled to do the trims and shoes, so after working a night shift I rushed home and slept for a couple of hours then went out to the farm. Nick does 10 out of the 12 horses on the farm in one go, so it's a long morning, and Kelly has to hold the horses, so Sue and I cleaned stalls and did the other work. The farm was bustling today. The builders are back, getting the house ready to be demolished. Sue and I spent hours going through her closets and sorting her clothing into keep, sell, donate piles, and packing them up. Most of the house is empty now, but there are still some things to sort through tomorrow. The guys were working taking out cupboards and the beautiful bannister and some of the windows and other bits we want to save and reuse, and tomorrow they're pulling down the drywall. It's really happening!

Then, as if there wasn't enough going on, Alex came to ride Dusty. Dusty is our up and coming jumper, five years old and in training with Alex for just over two months..and she's brilliant! Honestly, we're all just blown away by her natural jumping ability, and her intelligence. You can practically see her thinking about the jumps and how to get to them best. If she's this good with so little training, I can't imagine what she'll be like by next year when she starts going to shows. She looks just like her Momma Kismet, too, and has Kizzie's sweet temper and easiness on the ground. Dusty's full sister Goldie, who is a year older, is currently at a big training facility working with a young woman who is one of the young riders making a name for herself. We're looking forward to going to shows next year with both sisters!

Lots of good things coming along, and it makes all of our hard work, blood, sweat and tears worth it. It's all for the cause, and the cause is making our horses the best they can be, and growing the farm. I think the next year is going to be really great. I hope so, for sure.

Got home around dinner time and made a big pot of vegetarian chili. Yum. I haven't felt the effect of only 3 hours sleep yet, but I suspect I'm going to collapse any time now. :P

OMG

Aug. 28th, 2013 09:14 pm
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I gave myself a real scare this afternoon. I was up all night at work, went out to the farm right afterwards because our Veterinarian was coming to do the horses' teeth this morning. We got through 6 out of the 12 horses, did all the work, and I left for home around 3:30. I'd been up for over 24 hours by that time, but felt wide awake. Driving home I was fine, until I was almost at the off ramp for the city..when I suddenly realized I had no memory of driving the last mile or so and was thiiis close to being asleep at the wheel. The fright and subsequent adrenalin surge woke me right up, but man, that was a scary, scary feeling. Just proves that sleep deprivation makes for one impaired driver. Holy crap on a stick.

The horses were very good for the Vet. Most of them just needed the sharp edges of their teeth rasped; Florrie had to have her wolf teeth removed; and Kyra, my old girl, has some issues. She's missing some teeth, and has some other problems that make it a little hard for her to chew, but we're going to consult an equine dentist to see if there is something we can do to make it a little better. As long as it's not too pricey, and too huge a job, I'm okay with trying. Otherwise she can manage with her soaked grain and alfalfa..she loves her alfalfa soup, LOL. She's almost 30, is skinny but still very energetic; like some of those wirey little old ladies who don't have an ounce of fat, but are all sinew and strength.

Now I really do have to go to bed. My head is almost resting on the keyboard. I'm tired.

OMFG.

Aug. 2nd, 2013 10:36 pm
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The last thing I wanted to do today was move the plants on the shared patio when I got home from the farm. I was already tired from doing stalls, and all I was thinking about was a nice dinner and a sit down. However, there was a note on my door from my landlord telling me that I needed to move all the plants or identify which ones I don't want (I presume that means he'll toss them). They've started redoing the waterproof membrane on the patio because there's a serious leakage problem downstairs; today they dug up half the concrete on the patio. They'd moved all the plants to one side, but I guess it's pretty hard to do a good job with all those barrels and things in the way. So I get it, I need to clear the area. Don't want to, but I will do my best. So I spent two hours lugging plants from the patio to my front balcony. I dug up the clematis from one barrel, broke my shovel doing so too. Most of the plants have been in the barrels and planters for years, and I've been thinking about which ones I want to eventually move out to the farm, so I guess this is a bit of a kickstart. Definitely taking my roses, and my fig tree, and the lavender, and the rosemary, and ... well just about everything I am able to move. I can't manage to move the bay leaf tree, it's just too big and heavy, or the pine tree that started out as a table Christmas tree in a small pot, and grew to be over 5 feet tall and is planted in an old blue bin recycling box.

My neighbor Elizabeth says she'll help me move some of the plants on Sunday, and I can put some up on her deck for now. That's good. Everyone here loves the common space, and all the plants, which makes for happy neighbours. Once the repair work is done I'm going to rearrange things a bit, maybe put things in smaller, more moveable planters. Those big barrels are heavy and hard to deal with. One of them, an old wooden barrel with lavender and curry plants in it, just fell apart when I moved it. The plants were so root bound I was able to just pick it up and carry it out to my balcony, potless!

After all that, I was pretty damned sore, but a hot bath and some ibuprofen has fixed me right up.

It rained today! Only the second time since the beginning of July. I was unprepared, so I got a bit wet. It was so miserable we didn't put the horses out. We would have had to put all the rain sheets on, and then the horses would have probably just stood at the gates and wanted to come in. They're rather pampered creatures. lol. It saved us some time and work, because we didn't have paddocks to clean. The horses all got a nice run in the arena, so they had some exercise. They were quite happy to stand and eat hay all day afterward.

I drove over to Hamilton's farm market on my way home, picked up some cherries for Sue, some Swiss Chard for me, and a 25 pound bag of carrots for the horses. Treats for everyone! Stopped at Country Feeds to pick up wormers for the horses; they had ivermectin on for $7.99 each, a really good price. When you have to worm 13 horses, you look for the best deals you can. Gets a bit expensive! But it's necessary, so we do it. They're on a regular routine, every 4 months or so. This month we have to get everyone's teeth done too, although I think we'll have to do it in 2 goes. I don't think our Vet could do it all in one day!

Hmm. Guess I need to pick up a couple more shifts. That's going to be a biggish bill. Ah, horses, the things we do for you. It's 'cause we love you.

And wow, it's bedtime already.

Giddyup!

Jun. 8th, 2013 09:41 pm
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Midnight would make an awesome barrel racer if he was sound. Jake rode him again today, and OMG, that horse is quick. He was all fired up, and Jake loved it. Midnight was really good, even did flying changes, and I think he enjoyed himself. I was a little concerned that all the running and turning would be too much for his foot, and he was looking pretty sore at the end. I gave him some extra Bute mixed in a warm mash of alfalfa cubes after the session, so I hope he won't be too off tomorrow. It's a balance, trying to get him going again without making him too uncomfortable, so if this was too much for him, I'll have to have Jake go a little easier on him next week. Jake loves him, says he's just his kind of horse. It really is such a shame he's not sound, but we manage the best we can. I'm thrilled to see him doing this much, after all these years.

BTW: strawberries dipped in nutella? Best thing ever.
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I'm so thrilled. For the first time in over 5 years, my quarterhorse Midnight had tack and saddle put on, and a rider got on and rode him! He's run the gamut of slightly lame to headbobbing hardly able to walk lame over the last several years, ever since he was diagnosed with navicular (a degenerative bone problem in one of his front feet). Even though the Vet said it was okay to work him lightly when he got sounder I was reluctant to do anything that might hurt him; because he's such a strong character I needed to lunge him to get his energy to a workable level, but because of the foot problem it was not the best thing for him. So I ended up kind of giving up, and retired him. He's been a lot better this past year; we seem to have the shoes figured out, and he's been on regular anti-inflammatory meds. Somedays in the paddock he races around like crazy, and stays pretty okay. So today I had Jake, the fellow who is riding Dusty, get on Midnight. He had to lunge him some for the first bit, because as he said, Midnight was too full of piss and vinegar to just get straight on. I kind of held my breath as I watched, but it went okay. Jake put the western saddle on and got on, and Midnight was really good. You'd never believe he hadn't done this for over five years. I had a tear in my eye, I have to say. He looked terrific, and so gorgeous in his western tack..a real cow pony. He was sore afterward, because of being lunged, but not too bad. I gave him an extra dose of 'Bute, and a treat. Jake's going to ride him again next Saturday. I don't want to do too much, because I know he's got limitations, but to be able to get on my horse and just hack him around again would make me so happy. We just have to see what he can do, and if it's too much then we back off. But this little bit today made me believe we can give him a little job, just carry his mom around for a bit of a walk a couple of times a week, and maybe go out on the trails again. I am very hopeful.

My sister-in-law Susan was there to see this today. My brother Jim is in town for a big conference, and she came along. He was busy all day, so Susan came out to the farm with me. We put her to work (she insisted on helping) filling the wheelbarrow with fresh shavings...we were nice and didn't make her muck out the stalls, LOL. Then she weeded one of the flower gardens. One thing about my family, there are no slackers! It was really nice to have her company.
This evening Jim, Susan and I went for a nice pub dinner at a place just up the street from my apartment. Drank some beer, ate some food, and talked about family stuff. We're all getting together this month in Ontario for my Aunt Ruth's 90th birthday (90! I thought she was only 85), and we were trying to decide on a gift. Susan suggested we arrange for flowers to be delivered to her once a month for a year, which I think is a brilliant idea. After all, what could a 90 year old woman want that she doesn't already have?

After dinner I drove them back to their hotel, and came home, very contented with my day.
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We had a mini rodeo today. LOL. We've had some problems getting Dusty to go forward, a common problem with young green horses. It's not that she's bad, it's just that she's a bit stuck, and the woman we had riding her just wasn't comfortable with pushing her. So Sue found Jake, a real cowboy who has spent time breaking horses in Alberta who is now working in this area, and got him to come today so we could see what he could do with Dusty. The introduction was a little, shall we say, eventful. Dusty was very good, didn't freak out when he put his western saddle on her and got on...until he kicked her forward and she bucked a little. Suddenly it all went OMG yeehaw rodeo..somehow the girth of the saddle broke and Jake was on the ground, and the saddle was under poor Dusty's belly. She did a very good imitation of a bucking bronco until the saddle fell off. Sue brought out her western saddle, Jake put it on and got back on the horse. Dusty was pretty unsure of things, but she wasn't too bad. The saddle was too big for Jake, so I brought mine out..it was like a western saddle fashion show. Third time lucky, and the rest of the ride went quite well. Jake is a great rider, just what we need to get the young horses going; he's not afraid if they buck or take off, and he can stick to them like a burr.
This might be the start of a good partnership; he's looking to build his business, and we have a series of horses in the lineup to start over the next couple of years. I am going to start Rochelle at the end of the summer, so I'm really happy that we may have found the right person to work with.

After that was over, I rushed home so I could see the season finale of Doctor Who. Wow. I don't know if I can wait for the Christmas special!
midnightsjane: (Default)
Yesterday was a very spooky stormy day, which contributed to what happened to our Florrie. Kelly was bringing Florrie out of her stall when something outside spooked her; she went flying backwards and crashed into the door of the next stall. Unfortunately, she somehow got caught on the handle and cut herself badly...she had a big flap of skin and muscle torn from her upper hip area. It took our Vet over an hour to sew the muscle and skin back together, but luckily it was a clean cut and not in a really vital part of her leg, so she's going to be just fine. Scared the crap out of everybody though, and poor Kelly was just beside herself. She loves that horse more than any of the others I think. We're so lucky. It could have been a whole lot worse.

Phew. We dodged a big bullet. Oh, Florrie. She's just such a brave girl.

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