Sunday, December 13, 2009

And it is Christmas time again...

Time for blankets and warm barns. Sammy is of course if you remember very proud of her blanket. We drug out everyone’s blankets the other day for their annual fit check before cold weather arrives. Sammy in her usual fashion stood stock still for the donning of her pretty red blanket. Yep still fits, just slightly better than last year, no repairs or alterations needed. So off it comes to be folded and placed on her hanger. However the funniest thing happened. Cindy my friend and Sammy’s rider had never seen her in her blanket and when I told her about how Sammy acts when you put it on, didn't "really" believe my carefully explained account of her behavior got a wonderful surprise. Unlike most occasions when horses and kids tend to make a liar out of you Sammy held true to form. She turned her head to watch me for every buckle and hook when I was taking it back off. Then when I pulled it away she perked her ears, and as I walked away with the blanket she stood rooted to the spot with, what could never be confused as anything else, a look of confusion. She watched me walk out her door and nickered. Cindy burst out laughing, "Look at her! She wants it back."

Sammy watches every horse try on their blankets and as we would take them away she would nicker. I have never seen a horse so proud of a blanket. Sure you can say what you like but there is no denying it though. She is proud to have it, even though she is just like her mother and has enough hair for two horses.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

And herrrrreeeessss Sammyyyyy

She has graduated to a bit, has turned into a fantastic riding horse, and wow what potential she has.

Everyone says a picture is worth a thousand words. Well what is a video worth.

See for yourself. Our little girl has grown up.

Friday, July 10, 2009

As time passes of course things change but the progress is less and less dramatic. For the ones of you who have children you know that as they get older the landmarks are less and less remarkable.

Sammy is for all intents is completely recovered from her shabby beginnings. She is round, she is going VERY well under saddle, she is happily wearing a fly sheet to keep those nasty horse flies off, and she is the sweetest thing. She is not fond of the vet but other than that she is wonderful.

She is even brave enough to be the lead horse on a trail ride.

We are hoping that soon she will be consistent enough make her show ring debut at some local shows, but we are in no hurry. I am hoping to get some video of her being ridden for all of you to see, as I am just so proud of her accomplishments.

For those of you who follow this blog, thank you for all of your attention, good wishes, and positive thoughts. It has been a real journey for both of us and keeping this record of it just helps to see how far she has come. Looking back I am amazed at the changes in her personality and appearance.

I will continue to update when something big happens and I will leave this up in the hopes that it will inspire some to make a difference in the life of just one horse. I am starting a new blog called "My Horse Life" and it will have details of all the activities and accomplishments of not just my horses but of the horses I train for clients and friends.

Tune in I am sure there will be Sammy tails in there too. Thanks again for all of your good wishes, I know they carried us through the roughest parts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Adventures...

Well, there has been a lot of little stuff go on at the barn, but nothing that was big enough for a post on it's own. So here is the cumulative update.

Sammy is over her cold, and is steadily shedding all of her winter hair to reveal her nice black summer hair. We have finally gotten a REAL saddle that fits her, a new Bob Marshall. Sammy also has a new friend.

An old friend of mine has finally gotten some spare time and wants to ride again. She is much smaller than I am so she is a perfect fit for Sammy. She came out on Monday and worked with her for the first time. It was fantastic! Sammy took up with her and easily did all the things she had done with me. MF was very impressed by Sammy's willingness and want to please.


They started in the round pen and then moved out to the barn lot



and then finally they moved out to the area where we do most of our riding. This is her following her Dam around the outside of the field.


It is quickly approaching 1 year that Sammy has been home. There have been lots of worrisome days but she is over all of that now.

Just look at her go.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It had to happen sometime...

She has been so healthy considering what she has been through, but I guess it finally caught up to her. She has a cold. Her eyes are weepy, her nose is producing copious amounts of snot and she has a cough. I called the vet right a way and he advised that I should wait just a bit to see if her body was going to fight it off. He suggested that as long as the snot wasn't yellow or green to let her body do the work. It would be good for her immune system.

Well as a mother it is hard to hear her cough, but as a barn owner with other horses to worry about it is REALLY hard to hear her cough. Although no one else seems to be showing any symptoms it still worries me. Her appetite is good and she still gets out in the field and runs with the rest of the bunch.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The first real trail ride...

happened, and it went off without a hitch. After the final adjustment have been made to Sammy's special saddle we were off into the woods alone. Yes, I said alone. I do most of my riding alone these days. Especially since I am back into training horses. I have to ride during the day and well, there just isn't anyone else around. So all saddled up and off we go down the long scary path that leads to the back part of the property. It passes along the side of the woods and of course it is spring. What do squirrels do in the spring? They play like mad squirrels, LOL.

I was so proud of her, because she would stop and look at the ruckus in the woods and then walk on with no problem. She is such a brave and trusting soul. She has really grown up over the past year into a wonder sound minded horse. I don't think I will ever be able to take her on some of the rougher terrain that I ride in but she is a wonderful horse for light riding. She doesn't have much spook and is very sure footed. This is much to my surprise, because the first few times we had weight on her back she wanted to trip on everything. I think she just had to learn to pick up her feet.

I remember back when I brought her home that I said I had always wished that I could have had Misty (her Dam) when she was young. I also said that I should have watched what I wished for because Sammy looked like a handful. Well, I retract that statement now. I am glad I wished for her to be like her mother, because she is. She is sweet, trusting, loving, honest, and forgiving. She gives her whole heart to please, and I continue to learn everyday that I am the lucky one in this relationship. She is truly amazing to have come through all the hardships and still be the sweet horse that I knew she was meant to be.

I am hoping to take her to some local shows this year. I know she is small but I want to expose her to that kind of stimulus. Because of her size she is perfect for a child to ride and if I can get her used to all the stuff that goes on at horse shows then she will have the perfect job as a school horse for the kids that come through my barn.

She is so naturally gaited and easy to ride that a young kid would have no trouble in a gaited class. So far I have not put a bit in her mouth. We have been riding with a bosal so that she could get used to the direct pressure without damaging her mouth if she pulls against it. Believe it or not she is already picking up neck reining.

Sometimes I forget who I am riding and ask for a turn by reins. Of course most of the time a young horse will turn the wrong way and I will instantly realize what I have done. Not Sammy, I ask without thinking the other day and she went with it. I realized it as soon as she moved that she shouldn't have known that. WOW just wow. She is amazing!

I know I probably have a horrible case of barn blindness, and you guys know I love her more than life, so of course she is the best horse in the world. Or at least my world.

So spring has sprung folks. Get out there and ride. Tell me about your adventures. I would love to hear about the horses you are working with and any problems you might be dealing with.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The things we do...

Or have to do as the case may be. Fixing fences, cleaning stalls, barn improvements, general maintenance, the list is never ending. I have new boarders and that brings with it a whole list of other stuff that I need to do to make the facility work better. We have all experienced it, we go to the barn with the best intentions to ride and spend time with our beloved horses only to find that list of stuff that needs to be done.

Today was like most others in early spring, cool, damp, and over-cast. The barn showing the normal signs of winters neglect, and the growing pains new horses bring. I had every intention to do "a couple of things" and then ride. Yeah, right! I did eventually get around to that ride but it was only after I had completed several items on my list. One of which brought the most fulfilling warmth to my heart.

Years ago I used to feed the four horses that we had in the field. There are still the four posts standing in the pasture and until today they had their bucket hooks still attached. Of course as I walked out to the field some of the horses noticed my arrival and came up to the gate to see what was going on. I had to return to the barn for a different tool and they all seemed to become bored with what I was doing. When I returned to the feeding posts with the tool needed, I began to remove the bucket hooks. Suddenly I felt the softest nudge at my elbow. I turned to see Sammy standing at my shoulder. She was the only horse around and was just standing there so close wanting attention. My heart just melted and she softly touched my arm with her face. Her touch was a soft and gentle as a hand laid on my shoulder. As I continued to work around the four poles, she followed along just watching me. When I finished and headed toward the gate she returned to the rest of the herd like nothing had drawn her away.

We get so caught up in the day to day necessities, obligations, and responsibilities that we sometimes forget why it is we do these things. Today Sammy reminded me why we do it. We work so hard for those tender moments when our horses tell us they love us back. For those moments when they just want to be where we are, to share the same space just because. Those moments are unforgettable, and often the most simple surprises. They remind us that sometimes we just have to stop and smell the flowers along the way.

As hard as we work to provide for them, to keep them safe, and insure their health. Don't forget to enjoy them, as they are truly special gifts. Every once in a while if your listening they will tell you how much they appreciate it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The proof is in the photo...

Of my big butt in the saddle. Sammy did SO much better in the DIY saddle curiosity of the neighbors bearing press. She didn't put a hoof out of line. No bucking, no rearing, no pawing, and none of the other stuff I expected her to throw at me today.

We made one lap around the large pasture and came back up to the barn for our photo op and to work on our steering. She was amazing! She stood for me to mount, and waited until I ask for her to walk off. She walked away from the barn and her comfort zone without any drama at all. We used some of the downed limbs as obstacles and she obediently stepped over them like she had done it everyday with a rider on her back.

We returned to the barn area for out photo op and to work on steering around the cones and she is almost ready to start working with a bit.

So with out further ado here is the photos of Sammy doing her best at being an angel.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I fixed it!

Ok, I had this AP English saddle in the back of the tack room. This was one of those "lets see if she will actually ride in it" saddles. You know the ones you buy for your kids when the suddenly want to change disiplines. LOL I wouldn't sell it, mostly because I would feel guilty selling someone a raging POS that is this saddle. There really isn't anything wrong with the saddle other than it is the worst leather I have ever laid eyes on. Structurally it is safe, it just looks horrible.

It was a medium tree and like all the other saddles in the barn swallowed little Sammy. Some time ago I, being the geek that I am, watched a show on the discovery channel that showed how an english saddle is put together, and how they adjust the gullet plate for a specific width. Well, I split the channel between the padding and luckily this saddle was a wooden tree with steel plates. My friend has a hydraulic press, so since the saddle was collecting dust and I wouldn't be horribly upset if it didn't work out, we put the saddle in the press and attempted to bend the plate.

When we took the saddle out I wasn't sure it was narrow enough. But when I put it on her back it couldn't have been better. I can now use a regular pad and it will clear her withers and sit in the proper postion.

Sorry for the horrible picture but I took them with my cell phone. This is the saddle after the press teatment. I am sure you can see why I was having such a trouble fitting her as narrow as it is now.

Here is the plate that I bent. I cut away the "leather" covering to expose the tree of the saddle.
So the next warmish day we have I am so totally gonna ride her in a saddle that acutally fits. Yeah Me!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Well We’ve Done It Now!

Sammy has not one but two rides under her girth! We had one misfire, and two actual rides. The misfire happened when I saddled her up and then realized the round pen was way too muddy for her to work in. Yeah I should have looked first but didn’t think it would be a problem.

Ride number one came three days later after the high winds had dried out the ground somewhat. She was completely clueless, but still a good girl to a time. My daughter aided me on the ground after it was clear that smooching and gentle bumps weren’t getting forward motion. Once we got forward, we worked on balancing a rider. Sammy is much like her mother in the fact that is built on a fine frame. She has delicate features and a thin chest. Most people would think this is from her lack of nutrients but really it is not. Her mother is a very fine boned horse and only looks like a normal horse now because she is really fat. LOL So, learning to balance weight on her back was frustrating for her at first. Apparently so much so that she tried rearing to show her distaste and we fell over. Don’t worry no harm done. It was a gentle sit down and step off. She however was shocked. I repositioned the (not quite so well fitting) saddle and tried again. This time the mount was much easier and her balance had greatly improved. A few more laps around the round pen and we quit for the day.

I was so proud of her! You just can’t imagine what it felt like. This is the horse that I thought would never be mine, and when she came home I was afraid I would never be able to ride. This is my baby who I froze my butt off for three cold nights in November to save. I was ready to scream from the roof-tops that WE DID IT!!!

Now here is the problem. She is very narrow, and the built up pad I have is not built up in the right places. The Aussie saddle that I used for her mother is still too wide for her. It is much closer than my western saddle but still needs a lot of padding. I created a shim for it for ride two and it was much better but still not great.

Ride two happened with much less fanfare sort of. She was much easier to tighten and much less anxious, she stood well for the mount (from a step of course) and walked off nicely at the smooch. But she had a surprise up her hoof for me. She decided she was going to try bucking. Every time I would apply leg to reinforce a turn she would buck. I corrected her strongly and moved on. Twice she tried it, twice she failed to remove me from her back. She quitted down and was following leads nicely so I decided that I would take her out of the round pen and ride her somewhere much more solid.

We received a lot of rain between the first and second ride so the round pen was very soft. I didn’t want to keep making it worse so I dismounted and went out to the drive way. We walked through the barn and remounted out front. She really was concerned and wasn’t sure about walking away from her comfort zone but with encouragement and soft words she took her unsure steps.

My drive to the barn is easily 3/10th of a mile long so we have a good straight stretch to walk on solid ground. She made it past the trucks, the old jog cart, and limbs strewn on the yard. Past the old red well house, more cars parked at my husband’s office, and didn’t even jump when Justin came walking around the corner of the building. She even was curious enough to walk up to him. We stood for just a moment to talk and then proceeded on up the drive. Turned around and walked (at the same speed) back to the barn. We came to a stop in front of the barn door and I got off.


Now I just have to find a saddle that is narrow enough to fit her properly. At this point I don’t care if it is western or English; I just want it to fit her without a lot of extra padding that makes it feel like your hovering over her back.

If anyone has a really narrow saddle you would like to sell please contact me. I am 5’9” so I would need at least a 17 ½ English. I don’t care if it looks like the hind wheels of bad luck as long as it fits and is safe. Since I do leather work and repair I can fix some things as long as the tree is in good shape.

I considered one of those soft saddles but I think I weigh too much and it might hurt her back. So I would feel better with some kind of saddle. Any suggestions? Send them my way. Thanks in advance and stay tuned for more.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Set Backs and Frustrations...

With the go ahead from the vet Sammy's training was to begin last Monday, but apparently I neglected to run my plans past Mother Nature. Monday morning reveled 1 1/2 to 2 inches of ice soon to be followed by 2 inches of snow. Our area had been hit by the worst winter storm in YEARS. We lost power at the farm and our house somewhere around 10 am on Monday morning and power was finally restored Sunday morning about the same time.

Of course with so much ice my farm, trees, and fences look like they have been through a war zone.

Everyone in Western Kentucky has suffered these kinds of losses including having the electrical service ripped right out of their houses. So I really have nothing to whine about except these oak trees were estimated to be around 100 years old. They were the one feature of our farm at the time of purchase that I didn't want to change.

Ok enough whining...

Sammy as you know has had some issues with stalls, and being confined. Those of you who have followed from the beginning know she has gotten much much better. However, we have not had an instance to keep her in a stall for more than just a night. She was in her stall from Sunday night at feeding time until Thursday morning. The ice was so bad that I was afraid one of them would hurt themselves slipping around so we kept them up.

She was amazing. No nervous pawing, chewing, kicking, nothing that would indicate any of the trials that she had experienced in the past. I was really worried how she would handle being confined for so long. But she never fails to amaze me.

I had wondered if keeping her at my friends barn was going to be hard on her but now I see that she has really changed. She is so much more relaxed and calm. It is so amazing to watch her bloom and change. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that she would be just fine, but I was afraid to really believe.

The bottom line is Sammy is amazing, she is wonderful, smart and ready to start her new life.

Stay tuned, we are going to try again for this week. Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Good News and Bad News

Well, let’s get the bad out of the way because it leads to the good news. My Daughters horse Tanner had an accident on Monday/Tuesday that required a visit from the vet and 17 stitches. He is going to be just fine and it shouldn't even leave a scar. But here is the good news.

While MV was at the barn he wanted to see Sammy. While he was stitching up Tanner's shoulder we discussed her and the fact that she is not gaining weight as I feel she should. She looks 100% better than she did, but she still has some points as you would expect to see on a two or three yr old. Hips and chest, and she is just really narrow. So we talked about her feed, and supplements, worming, and such. He shook his head "Your doing everything you can, but she was starved for so long, she may never come completely out of it. She may always be a very hard keeper" We talked about her Dam (Misty) who had been hard to put weight on (not that you can tell it now) and wondered if that may be part of her genetics. We talked about her exercise routine, and turn out time. Nothing amiss there either. Then he made the suggestion that I go ahead and start breaking her.

We (my daughter and I) had begun that task if you remember back in the fall. I however decided that she hadn't put on enough weight yet and combined with the weather suspended her "training". He suggested that starting her out at 10 min under saddle or so at a time might cause her Metabolism to "kick in" help her to gain weight. It will definitely put muscle on her which she needs.

So there is a new plan. Since we are still in the deep freeze here, I am going to take her to a friend’s walking horse barn. It has a wide long hallway designed to ride in and there will always be someone there with me working other horses. Sammy is going to start working and we are going to start building muscle.

Wow, just thinking about it makes my heart pound from excitement and apprehension. I have never been nervous about breaking a horse, but this little girl. OH, it is like playing the lottery for years and suddenly you win. You have excitement, disbelief, and nervousness, all rolled into one. I suddenly realized that I had become so comfortable just having her home safe with me that, even though I had always planned to, had not really believed the images of me riding her. Now it is time to step up to the plate and take a swing at it. The only thing I can compare this feeling to is pre-wedding cold feet. LOL How silly is that?

So wish me luck. I will of course keep you posted.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Stills

Color is our challenge this week. With all the gray days of winter color is a refreshing bright spot.

So with all the gray days I found my bright spot of color.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Holy Cow it's cold...

Sammy is styling in her nice new turn out. It fits her wonderfully, and I know she is glad to have it. We have been having single digit days and today we only got up to 18.

She has been such a good girl when she has had to stay in her stall. All of the in and out of the stall that has to be done to put on and take off blankets. I really thought we had totally gotten over the kicking.

However, I do think I have finally figured out the trigger. She is fine with me in the stall so long as I don't mess with her feed bucket. I can come in put her blanket over her head fasten the snaps, walk around and get her water, bucket bring in hay, or whatever else. She is fine with that but tonight I did something different without thinking. I went in to get her water bucket so I could bust the ice out and I walked between her and the feed bucket and shooed her as I did so. She immediately squealed and spun. Of course I spun on her with the momma AAAAKKKKK you better not. She stopped long enough to realize what I was doing and what she almost did and went to the back wall and stood parallel as close as she could get to it, until I left the stall.

She reacted. That was just it a reaction. She still has that fear of being hungry. She tries so hard to be good and do what I as. She just reacts like any animal that has been starved would. Bless her heart.

BUT, she stopped. She didn't kick, and she warned me before she went to far that I was upsetting her. How awesome is it that she has come so far? I know some of you may be thinking, this woman is crazy. She is happy that her horse squealed at her over food. Well, I would much rather her squeal than react the way she did last time she felt she needed to tell me she didn't like something.

This, as close as it was to being bad, is good. She is learning to communicate, to not feel as threatened. She is learning. That in itself is a huge accomplishment.

I imagine that I will always have to be very vigilant with my attention around her, but she has come such a long way. Food aggression is not something that is easy to overcome.

Well that is it. Not much else happening except the ice. I will keep you posted.