Archive for April, 2008

The damned bull!

April 11, 2008

This is a mix use farm. I have the pot bellied pigs I’ve rescued over the years, who are now in their forever home (here) – there are 10 of them. I have the two goats… Billie Holidoe who was found by my horse, Beamer, last spring. Billie was about 4 weeks old (stump of umbilical chord still attached), no mother in sight- have no idea how she got here. And Opie, our wether, who was hand raised/bottle raised by the teenaged daughters of a horse rescue friend of mine in PA. They breed milk goats (for milk), and got to attached to Opie- his weaning and our finding Billie, coincided. I don’t like keeping only one of any specific animal, figuring that the critter might want a friend who “speaks the same language.” So Opie came here, courtesy of a dog rescue transport company!

I’ve got the horses- 8 of my own (altho 2 are mini’s and don’t even count for a full horse if you put them together- unless your talking attitude, then you have two miniature arabians -genetically- with Napoleon complexes).

Of my 8 (and after the 2 mini’s), 3 are PMU foals (a 5 yr old belgian/qh cross, Beamer, and two 3 yr old Norwegian Fjords, Rohan & Rune), 1 is a retiree from a horse therapy program, Jate. Interestingly, they didn’t want him after spending a year training Jate to be the “perfect” therapy horse because he’s got a blown out knee-probably from a previous life of barrel racing when too young & not built for it. He’s a very stocky QH, I’ve been told he’s foundation style- He’s gorgeous, black, and the happiest horse I’ve ever met (dumb as a rock though! Gotta love him for it!). Jate’s also dead quiet- once the therapy program realized he couldn’t be ridden for a gadzillion hours a day going around in a circle, they taught him to be the “net” for wheel chair volley ball games. Jate has raised the two Fjords, whom I got as 5 month olds. It’s his job, he’s perfect for it, and he enjoys being the BMOC… And the pasture puff lifestyle. His only work with humans is to be adored by my 8 yr old twins and their friends, who love to groom him (he eats this up!).

We also have Bud, the 27 yr old retired police horse. He’s a stitch! He raised Beamer, my belgian/qh pmu foal, from a 4 month old- and still is in charge (caught 5 yr old Beam doing the “I’m a baby, don’t hurt me” mouth the other day when Bud was mad at him). I used to ride Bud when we first got him. A few years ago, we think he got into something poisonous, and he hasn’t been “right” since- so he’s a pasture puff too. And a hard keeper. He seems to be allergic to everything, gets stressed out easily and itches terribly. He does have the life though, as he gets all the hay he can eat, and senior feed wet with a beer (liquid hay). He slobbers it all up… The lush! He knows he has it good too- but he’s always the gentleman, dives into his halter when I need to halter him, allows me to clean feet or worm him loose in the field, or will just walk by my side when I take a walk. Love that horse!

That brings me to Thomas the Chaser, our 23 yr old welsh pony. Tommy is actually my cousin’s pony, but her children outgrew him and the people she’d leased him to had in turn leased him out without her permission. He wasn’t being cared for properly, was being chased by unruly children and dogs, was very overweight and not being treated for cushings. So Tommy came here- he doesn’t fox hunt anymore, or do field trials, but my daughter rides and shows him, and often he’s used by the other lesson children in the fun shows we go to as he’s just great. He’s also smart, and a bit arrogant. It took me forever to convince him that I was not going to peel his carrots and cut them on the bias- he was going to get hay like everyone else, and so sorry he’s out in a 4 acre pasture (with little to no grass so he can’t founder) with other horses, instead of being in his own paddock with his own stall. We call that pasture the Geriatric pasture, as that’s where Bud, Rollo (an aged tornado horse), Storm (really aged-30+yrs- tornado pony mare), and Tommy are there- I’ve also got the mini’s in there (they’re 8 yrs old) as it’s got very little grass. Tommy’s finally gotten to the point where he’ll come when I call, and doesn’t always expect a treat (but he’s discovered I have finger nails, which really get those hard to reach itches). So, he’s adapted to “slumming it” and is doing quite nicely.

I’ve still got 3 tornado equines- Rollo, who’s in his late teens, Belle, who’s a 2 or 3 yr old qh mare with little handling, and Storm, the aged pony mare. I put Belle in the top pasture with Jate, Beamer, Rohan & Rune, figuring they’ll teach her some manners (which they have- she’s much more docile now). The pasture they’re in is about 20+ acres and is shared with my neighbor’s cattle- mostly because the tornado took down all the fencing everywhere else and I’m the only one around who can handle the critters. Now the horses in this pasture do fine with the cows, and I have a paddock I can pull them into to hay them. There’s also enough grass for everyone, now that the grass is back up. Now this paddock is actually a sort of “half arena” put together with corral panels on 3 sides (ok it’s oval, so technically there are no sides) and two cargo containers where I keep my hay. I use it as a riding ring, or to feed the youngsters- and the cattle have figure this out.

Now the cattle are a mix between black angus and Guernsey’s (with those big beautiful brown eyes!). And they’re really friendly… obnoxiously so! Even the bull will come over to the fence to get his nose scratched- but I don’t do that when I’m out in the field- in fact, I keep my dogs with me in case the cattle get too friendly I can scatter them.

Well, the other day, I put some hay out in the arena for the youngsters, and then invited them in. Now my horses all know to come when called (they’re even whistle trained) and to go thru a gate when invited. I often don’t use a halter, mostly cause I don’t have one near by (bad me!). But my boys are all used to me and understand what I’m asking of them. I don’t “train” them with one style over another, and I don’t subscribe to any one “clinician”… but I’ve take a peak at a few of them, plus my experiences growing up with horses and horse people, and have my own “system”. It works for me… that said, when it comes time to back a horse, I send them to a trainer I like, and then they get “finished” over the years with a dressage trainer I really like, plus I put miles on them and expose them to all sorts of stuff- My 3 youngest, Beamer, Rohan & Rune, are not only riding horses but also driving horses- (well, Rune hasn’t had any driver’s ed yet, but he’s next on the list!).

The mare, on the other hand, has very little handling experience, is untrusting and generally a pain in the tush. She is pretty, and if someone had some time to spend with her, she’d turn out great. But she’s not mine and I’ve already got my plate full, so I spend only a little time with her each day. And she’s not as familiar with my directions (such as “Breakfast boys” means nothing to her, while my guys come running and salivating!).

So, I open the gate to let them in for hay- Beam, Belle & Rune run in- Jate & Rohan go to say howdy to the old folks in the geriatric pasture. I go to remind them that they can eat and talk at the same time (it’s only about 40 feet away from the geriatric pasture). Jate & Rohan start trotting toward the gate, when Belle gets a bee in her bonnet and high tails it out. Beam gets worried and goes to get her, Jate (the herd boss) doesn’t like all this activity and goes to give the two young whippersnappers a talking to… Rohan & Rune act like fjords and don’t even lift their heads. Off into the woods Belle goes, buckin & fartin’ and having a big time. Beam shakes his head (I swear he said “Women!”) and trots off after her, gets ahead of her and turns her back toward the arena. Once they come out of the woods, Jate starts his “Now just listen here” talk with Belle… who decides everyone is just too serious about life and takes off again. Jate shrugs his shoulders (he’s a very expressive horse), watches as Beam looks totally perplexed, and then decides that food is more important that some mare with whoo haaa issues (did I mention she’s come into heat?). I swear Jate winks at me as he comes thru the gate.

On the other side of the fence, in the geriatric pasture, Storm suddenly kicks up HER ancient heels and takes off around the pasture. Now that totally perplexes Bud, who is madly in love with her. And off he goes to restore order in his domain. I go over to that gate, because at this point the whole thing is hysterical – Bud is chasing this ancient old pony mare, who’s suddenly got hot pants and is having a blast showing off for the men in her life, Tommy is tossing his head back and forth and acting like a stud muffin, Rollo is getting out of the way, and the two mini’s are now flagging and doing that beautiful arab floaty canter thing… A severe case of play is happening and I love watching it.

Little do I know that while I’m busy laughing at the old folks, the bull has sneaked into the arena and is munching on hay… When I finally DO turn around and see him, it’s too late. Just about the same time, Beamer herds Belle back into the arena- and then he spies the bull. Now Beam must have some cow horse in his blood, cause he’ll herd the cows too, even acting like my dogs in that I can point and say “get the cows” and he’ll chase them off. So I point at teh bull and tell him to “get the cows”… Nope, he herd the bull to an even LARGER pile of hay and proceeds to share it with him.

I swear they’re all in cahoots!

I look at my dogs, who are usually not allowed in the arena, and ask them to “get the cows”… nope, they both jump on the front seat of the golf cart and say “forget that Mom, that’s no cow, that’s the BULL.”

Smart asses!

So I go over to the cargo container that has my tack in it, and get my Parelli Carrot Stick- which is a bright orange dressage whip that’s not as comfortable to use (the handle is made from a golf club handle, so it’s quite heavy for my small hands, hence it’s up at the storage container cause I don’t use it much). I climb the corral panel and find myself in the arena with 5 horses and a bull. Jate sees the carrot stick and herds the horses to the far end of the arena (he doesn’t like any kind of whip), leaving me face to face with the bull- who’s eyeing me as he’s munching on his hay. Now I keep my back to the panel, and the bull between me & the gate (which is open), and I start slapping the whip end on the ground in the vacinity of the bull’s haunch. I take my hat of my head and point with it to the gate (this also has the effect of making me look bigger & scarier… at least I think I look scarier). The bull looks up with a big mouthful of hay, rolls his eyes and goes back to eating. I think he just told me I gotta do better than that, cause he’s not buying it. So a little more pressure from the carrot stick and some voice commands (like the bull cares!). He ends up taking about 4 steps, goes to reach for another bite, SLAP goes the whip on the ground, and he walks to the NEXT pile of hay (keeping an eye on me the whole way)- at least this is closer to the gate.

Have you ever seen videos of the Maori’s doing their “war” challenges? Where they slap their chests and make funny faces to look ferocious- and whomever blinks first looses… Well, that’s what I felt the bull & I were doing. And I had to work hard to not let him see that I’m shaking in my boots. What’s worse is the horses are laughing at me…

SLAP! “Haw & Git” says I…

Munch, munch, munch goes the bull… “good hay, by the way,” says he with a full mouth.

snicker, snicker, giggle, go the horses. (my horses tend to snicker a lot!)

This went on for a good 10 minutes. I eventually got my way, but not before he grabbed a huge mouthful and trotted out the gate- shaking that tail at me as if to say “Ha… not sure you won are you?”

That damned bull!

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Benefit for Tornado Victims

April 9, 2008

This Saturday, April 12, at the Fairview Rec Center. Posters that are high quality print ready PDF @ http://caneyfork.com/whirlwind.pdf