Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring is in the air, and mud is under foot, but winter refuses to give up!

Friday, 07 March, 2014
Friday morning I made my usual morning trek to the barn just after putting Isaiah on the school bus.  It was still quite cold out but I was finally going to rearrange some clothing layers on Suki and Nikki.  For the most part the girls have been living in a medium weight blanket, followed by a Rambo heavy and topped off with a mid weight sheet.  On slightly warmer days the sheet was removed, but they rarely wore just one garment at a time.  Friday the top layer came off.  Not much, but it was a start!

As I brought Nikki out of her stall I could hear the tell tale sound of a missing shoe.....uggh!  Picking up her right front foot my suspicions were confirmed; no shoe.  Fortunately it looked like it came off cleanly without taking chunks of hoof with it.  But that meant no turnout for Nikki, much to her dismay.  Overall she does handle staying in better than Suki, except when it comes time to work again! But if she has hay and a friend for company Nikki will quietly relax in her stall.  Suki, on the other hand paces, paws whinnies....anything to grab attention and hopefully get turned out.  If everyone is in she is a little better because she doesn't feel like she is missing anything.

It was cold in the barn but peaceful and I warmed quickly between horse body heat and the thorough grooming that I was doing!  The snowy fields have kept the girls pretty clean, but this morning there was a small amount of  mud on legs and tips of tails as the paddocks have been getting soft when the days are warmer (35F).

The snow is decreasing bit by bit, but some areas (like the arena, pastures and my front lawn) seem to be reluctant to give up their white blanket.  And while everything once looked beautiful, glistening in the sun, the piles of snow by the roads' edge are now dirty and far less appealing.

On the warmer days everything is a muddy mess and the princesses are big rollers.  Suki is worse than Nikki, but both always have muddy legs that need to be tended to.

Saturday, 08 March, 2014
Stripping the girls down to one layer today!  Temperatures up to 50F!  Unfortunately Nikki will be in again today since the farrier was not able to make it out last night.  Suki managed well outside by herself, because she was able to see other horses.  It's funny.  She used to be turned out alone all of the time and appeared to prefer it that way. She would graze happily for about an hour then want to come in.  One of the reasons she was turned out alone was because at Blue Hill that was standard for all of the show horses, so we just continued that way.  The first time she was turned out with another horse since she came to me was after the fire when she and Nikki were put together.  Nikki needed to be with another horse so it made sense for the two mares to go out in the same pasture.  Now she prefers to be with a friend, and to stay outside for as long as possible!

I went out in the field to see if I could find Nikki's missing shoe.  The areas along the fence line are muddy so I thought that would be a good place to start.  My walk around the field's perimeter proved unsuccessful.  Moving back and forth across the field I looked in obvious luck.  Guess I should have brought along Isaiah's metal detector!

Nikki had her shoe put back on but must wear bell boots at all times for turnout.  However, she has, in the past, chewed off her bell boots while wearing them over night.  Granted she was only 4 1/2 at the time.  I had the same concern when Nikki had to wear standing wraps while recovering from her hock injury and she was quite a good girl, not even trying to remove them.  Now they were on hind legs, but she is a crafty, flexible girl and could have chewed on them.  So there is hope.  I only have one bell boot so Nikki will wear that one on the right front which is the problem foot.  I have to buy a new pair (or 3!) but will not be able to get to the tack store until Monday.

I think we are all tired of not working and sometimes I stare longingly at the arena....

Monday, 10 March, 2014
Even warmer today so the Suki and Nikki are wearing a lighter layer!  Suki did well with her stretching exercises and gave me nice lift in her back.  Massaging her back and shoulders has her grooming me in return.  I didn't feel teeth so that was okay!  Nikki gets distracted during stretching exercises, always looking for something interesting hanging on a nearby door or in my pockets!  But she did some lovely arabesques on her own, and lifted each foot when tapped lightly with a whip.

Nikki is wearing her one bell boot and I headed to Leid's for new bell boots.   I found just one pair of extra large pull ons, so I bought them.  They also had a pair of $40 velcro boots, but I was not going to spend that much given her history!  She will wear that one boot over night tonight, so let's see what happens!!  They also had Ariat paddock boots for a great price, and mine were in desperate need of replacement!  So pretty and shiny...

Tuesday, 11 March, 2014
Success!  Nikki did NOT chew off her bell boot!  I gave her an extra long session of face and ear massage, which practically hypnotizes her!  Then I set out to pull on the new bell boots.  Seriously, I have forgotten what a chore this can be.  The boots were very inexpensive, so I wonder if that is part of the reason that I had such difficulty.  Cold hands and Nikki nibbling on my butt the entire time certainly did not help.  Finally I admitted defeat, which is something I VERY RARELY do!  I think I pulled a pectoral muscle in the process!  The one bell boot was put back on the right front and home I went to order some hardy velcro bell boots!  Two pair in black and one pair in pink.....I just couldn't resist!

On Thursday winter reared its ugly head once again (for the last time, I hope!!).  So it was back to two blanket layers while the wind whipped around with 40MPH gusts and a -8F windchill.  Forgetting to put the Olay, Aquaphor and tail spray in my car yesterday led to frozen products.  The girls were muddy from the previous day so in spite of my frozen toes and fingers they both had a thorough spa day.  I was happy to get home and have Belgian hot chocolate while I settled down to write.

Spring is on its way in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  Time to get the trailer ready and practice loading.  I am so looking forward to getting the girls back to work.  It will be a busy time, but those long lines are burning a hole in my trunk in anticipation!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Everyone needs a Little Help Now and Then!

Friday, 28 February 2014
I SO enjoyed Suki and Nikki today!  No, we didn't get to work, and other than brushing their legs and faces and picking their feet I really didn't do much with them.  Well, I did make them do stretches for their treats!

I just get such pleasure from their personalities.  Both girls needed new salt blocks.  I use the ring of Himalayan salt that hangs by a short rope from the front bars of the stall.  Suki has always been a big salt chewer, so the small rectangular mineral block always ended up crumbled and the wire rack mangled. And before someone suggests it, no, she doe not have any type of deficiency, as she is on a good quality feed.  This is more of a habit than anything else.  I once tried to use the large mineral block on the floor of Suki's stall, but it made her angry.  She would trash her stall and fling that VERY heavy block all over the place.  Once removed she went back to her neat stall management!  Nikki is less aggressive about her salt and licks at it with only the occasional bite.  But she does seem to enjoy the Himalayan salt a bit more.

Today as I was tying the ring in Suki's stall she started to "help" by licking my fingers and nibbling on the rope.  I can't tie the rope with my winter gloves on so I had removed them.  Temperature was about 15F, so my fingers became cold rather quickly.  I assured Suki that I really did not need her assistance, at which time she decided to look in my pockets for extra treats.  With both hands occupied tying the salt ring, Suki knew that she had free rein to dig around.  Unsuccessful, she moved to snuffling my hair, licking my cheek and licking my jacket.  I couldn't help but laugh.  Suki is such a clown at times, and yet so serious about other things.  Turnout, for example, is a very serious business!  She must be first out and first in.  Nikki has to go out ahead of her because Suki will crowd the gate, not allowing Nikki to get in.  But today I was outside talking to Christine while she was breaking ice in water tubs, and we could hear Suki banging on her door to go out.....just in case we forgot!

Finished with Suki's salt block I went to Nikki next.  Nikki immediately dove into my pockets, but then followed me with the salt ring.  As I untied the rope from the old one, she too thought that I was in need of assistance.  Licking my fingers, grabbing the rope and eventually licking the side of my face!  I think that was an accident, because she looked surprised!  Moving onto my hair, Nikki snuffled for a bit then grabbed my jacket again.  Finally finished with my task I rubbed Nikki's face then gave her a carrot.  Such funny girls!

Sunday, 02 March 2014
Finally a day warm enough to perform thorough grooming and spa treatments! At 28F I was actually overdressed and removed my coat.  Longing to ride, this winter the extreme conditions have taught me to be satisfied with spending time with Suki and Nikki, reading and watching the occasional video.  It has also given me the opportunity to plan spring, summer and fall (in a perfect world).  The plan will adapt accordingly as I am certain that there will be a need to change course for any number of reasons.  But at least I have a start!

Suki very obviously enjoyed her moisturizing massage, as she rocked back and forth and wiggled her lips as I moved my hands across the top of her back.  And although I had been brushing her face on days when I just did face/legs/mane/tail and picked feet, Suki moved her head up and down, changing angles to fund the itchiest spots while I held the exfoliation mitt in my hand!  After some carrot stretches  (and an ALMOST bow!) I dressed her in two blankets with a mid weight sheet on top.  Probably slightly overkill for the day, but temperatures are expected to plummet following another predicted 8 inches of snow tonight.  Hopefully this will be the last of the snow events!

Nikki too, enjoyed her thorough grooming and even tolerated her belly being brushed with just a slight ear flick.  I use the softest cloth or brush, but she just doesn't like it!  But boy does her mane need to be pulled....yikes!  maybe next weekend?  She absolutely LOVED having her face brushed so I wrapped it in a towel and massaged it thoroughly.  Judging by her "purring" I would say she was quite happy.

Content with the girls' shiny coats, fluffy tails and oiled feet I gave them extra treats as they waited for breakfast and turnout.

Monday, 03 March 2014
The storm that wasn't!  Yay!  we barely had a coating of snow.  Just enough for slick roads which cleared quickly.  The cold and wind were wicked so I was glad that i had bundled up the girls yesterday.

Tuesday, 04 March 2014
As promised, another arctic blast of snow.  I took this photo when I got out of the car by the barn at 7:30 this morning.  At 5F you can see how cold and barren the landscape looks as the sun tries bravely to make an appearance.

But inside the barn I was greeted by welcoming nickers and the warm breath of my beautiful horses on my face.  And suddenly I didn't feel so cold anymore....