Universal Theme

As I am staring into space one evening...
                             Scott: “What are you thinking about?”
                             Me:    “Horses.”
A slight pause.
                             Scott: “Is that the automatic default mode?”
                             Me:    “Yes.”

I do not believe in the term “Super Mom.” I think all moms who do their best for their children are super, whether they work in or outside the home, and regardless of how many children they parent.

Sometimes people wonder how I make it all work. I wonder that myself, too, sometimes. As far as the horses go, I find myself doing what a lot of us probably do: running that part of my brain on what I call a “parallel life.”

It’s like this: you get up and do your morning routine. But your brain is with your horses. You do your work. It may include the horses, or someone else is doing it for you. A part of you is revolving around when you will be with them again.

Caleb hays the horses early morning for me (on most days). I go out mid-morning to do my barn chores and a second feeding. Meanwhile, I’ve done my morning routine and I’ve been teaching.

In winter, the horses always get a snack and then their evening feed, so their hay allotment is spread out over four times a day. This helps them stay warm and sane.

Now that spring is here, the kids know that we worked hard all winter, so we can end the morning lessons at one o’clock. Everything I needed to show them for the day has been done. They can work independently to finish, and I check their work at four o’clock and go over any questions with them then.

In the meantime, if their morning responsibilities are caught up, and they can get their other work done by four p.m., they have any spare time for outdoor pursuits. And guess who will be joining them outside? That’s right. It’s horse time.

I have three solid hours. Grooming, tacking up, riding, and clean up all usually take me about two hours. My extra minutes are spent on time with the kids outside and/or gardening.

When I get back inside, I can check work and be available while dinner cooks. I usually have dinner planned by morning. (This one thing saves me hours it seems.) Just walking into the kitchen already knowing what I am doing saves a lot of time for me.

Meanwhile, if it’s non-pasture time, the horses have already had a snack. One of the children have done this for me. After dinner I go outside, finish their meal feeding and set them up for the night.

I have been known to leave the property.
I have heard a lot of people say they love the benefits taking care of animals gives them because it gives regularity and a schedule to life that may not exist otherwise.

I guess those of us with horses lead an alternative lifestyle. Work, career, family…and someplace, a part of our brain is at the barn: feeding, caring, training, riding, health care—all the many necessary things that we oversee for our horses either directly or through careful delegation.

I would love to hear some of the things you do to lead your “parallel life.”

Nijinsky, Arts And Letters, Bold Ruler, Princequillo, 
Nashua, Count Fleet, Jet Pilot, Bull Lea


April Flowers

Today was awesome, weather-wise, and it was Dream’s day. After a thorough grooming his coat started to gleam with his beautiful coppery chestnut color. Then we went out for lunging and “reward” grazing on the lawn.

My plan is to begin the season lunging him in all the areas he shows lack of confidence working in. The reason is to have his focus and attention. However, I may take him for little rides in-between, in areas where he is already confident or may still want to stretch his borders.

I am pleased with how he is getting more and more used to my handling him (leading and lunging) from the right side. Today he was even better going right than left. It could be that he was already bored by the time we circled left. I wanted to keep the session short, but had already gone over my allotted time.

He used to get upset when I led or lunged to the right. He would pin his ears and fuss.

I’ve studied my training notes in preparation for spring, and I’ve made my 2011 Goals. I will post them soon, maybe with the notes included, which are a good summary of where we’ve been since 2007.

Photo by Saul 2007

April Flowers, 1991
Rialto, Nasrullah, Tourbillon
a Brazilian horse


Happy Sunrise

Happy belated Resurrection Day, everyone! I had just enough time yesterday between visiting a local Christian church and putting the ham in to take a horse out. It was Ebony's 'day' (turn). I hoped for a better experience than one we'd had recently. That day was cloudy and windy. To read just about Ebony, skip to the bottom, because I have some family stuff to share.

This day was our first "good" one weather-wise in...weeks? We've had rain, snow, hail, and just on Saturday, 70 m.p.h. winds! My barn was creaking above and I sent Aislinn inside, praying as I finished my chores-- glad my horses can leave the barn whenever they like. But the 1840's post-and-beam construction still held. There must have been angels.

One happy guy Levi under that helmet
There is a new face in our family; it's mechanical: Levi has found his dream dirt-bike. He patiently (with encouragement in the patience department) looked and looked and it paid off: a brand new bike was being sold locally in his price range and even in the make and color of his preference! 

It is a 4-stroke, so it does not have that horrible We-Rrrrrr high pitch that some dirt bikes can have. It resonates on a low level and it purrs. Naturally this is important to me for the horses' sakes. Ok, for my own sake, too!

The horses have really paid no worried attention to it. Levi stops riding when we start, but yesterday Ebony walked right past the dirt bike on a lead rope and all was fine. The horses have also had the opportunity to watch Levi riding for a few days.

So now we are in the car (Saul), truck (Caleb), dirt bike (Levi) stage with our children and I really like it! It's fun to be so busy and functioning. Saul rounded up his four oldest brothers into wood and yard work yesterday. They left in Caleb's truck to return equipment. Fun, and a huge blessing.

Okay! So Ebony turned out to be extremely quiet and nicely adventurous! Aislinn and I groomed (and groomed, and groomed) her and set up cones in the soccer field. I rode her in a western Wintec. She spooked in place near the vegetable garden and row of blueberries. It's her least favorite place to go past. (Exactly where a panther can hide.)

We headed into the front yard, above the lower field and arena. She asked to go west toward the orchard and upper fields. We border with a cow pasture up there.

I said that's ok, let's go up there. I call it the "park." Caleb keeps in mowed around majestic pine trees. I have a special place in my heart for pines. My Grandma in New York state had a pine forest we would walk in...

We walked half way across, and then I cut the park in half and headed down the orchard toward home. Ebony asked to go back up and do the rest of the riding all the way around, so we did.

Pine limbs were down across our usual path. I watched my pony see a way clear and pick her way through the same path I'd have taken. Maybe I have the makings if a mature trail equine here?

Her early education always included trail work. I am really proud of her right now because she started out the day nervous, but she forgot about it quickly. 

I knew when we got back that it would be asking a lot for her to give Aislinn a lesson in the soccer field. Still, I had to ask. She was somewhat resistant and gave Aislinn some training in getting a horse going. Still, that is all part of the education!

I love quiet pony days.

Ebony had a ten minute grazing reward when her saddle was off. (She really does not need the calories any longer than that.) 

Meanwhile, Super Husband and Super Boys had cooked the ham and all the trimmings including the most delicious homemade rolls--in between taking turns riding the dirt bike!

I missed Scott's ride (dirt bike) and he missed mine (Ebony) so we had to laugh. Levi has agreed that I will ride his dirt bike and he will ride a horse in trade.

Now I have all week to catch up on everyone's wonderful blog writing! 

Nearco, Tourbillon, Hyperion
a Japanese horse


Last Party

I do not like to put anyone through what I've been doing lately with the stories I’ve been posting. As I scroll down my page, I see: fire (2010), equine injury (2009), blizzards….and now I have to point you to the Western Adventure story of Ebony coming into our lives. Because... it's her birthday!

Happy Birthday Ebony~! 
Ebony was twelve years yesterday, and in honor of that,

I am hoping to drive Aislinn out to see the field of Ebony’s birth sometime soon. 

With Dream, we observe the day we met him, his birthday, and the day he came home.
With Ebony, it’s all the same thing. 
So there are a lot of horsie celebrations in spring, and this is the last one.

Happy Birthday to our girl~!

Nasrullah, Nijinski, Tom Fool

“broke down 2005 put down”


Happy Day

Dreamport came to live with us 
4 years ago today~!
 I wrote some about that day at the end of this page
I feel like we are just getting started. 

Welcome Home  April 13, 2007

 This is something I’ve never had a chance to mention before: in June 2009, Dream stepped on a two inch nail.  I remember this crisis time with my horse very clearly. He and I built up so much trust during this time. That first night, he slept with his head in my lap at times.

It all worked out for good and left Dreamer and I much closer and more connected. 

It initially happened when he pulled a door knob off the back of the barn by Ebony's stall. Then he stepped on the nail that was exposed. When my horse did not come in for grain, I went out to find him. I think it had just happened. I found him two steps down the path, with a doorknob nailed to his left hind foot, which he was holding aloft.

I still have the doorknob and nail going through it. The nail entered the foot at the bottom point of the frog and went straight in, just pricking the center of his coffin bone.

He stood perfectly still and let us do all we needed to do. I put Ebony away immediately and one of the children held Dream. I pulled the nail out and let it bleed as he held it up. I sprinted for supplies. I immediately soaked the area with peroxide (I know you don't use peroxide on a puncture, but my choice was to take the risk because peroxide kills tetanus.) Then I poured povidine on it. Then I put sterile gauze over it and wrapped the foot. His foot never touched the ground exposed.

We sat there with hay and water for him. He did not want to move. Scott and the vet had been called. Scott has a forty mile/one hour commute home. When Dream heard Scott's voice, he called out. Then he limped into his stall with us. 

[That taught me how much he relies on Scott, even though I have been Dream's principle care giver and only rider to that point. Maybe he remembers men/a man as a place of authority in his past--perhaps his trainer.]

The vet was at another emergency and got to us as soon as possible. My horse just stood rock still in his stall. I missed Ailsinn's spring dance recital as I sent her and the family away to attend.

Dream was perfectly quiet for the vet and his assistant when they arrived. I asked them to try to always remember Dreamer when people try to say Thoroughbreds are crazy. Dream knew he needed help, and I was truly amazed at his bearing.

Our vet showed me how to do intramuscular shots into Dream's neck for one of his medicines. The other medicine and pain killer went into an IV that was inserted into his neck permanently until we were finished using it. The vet had me pull a tee shirt over Dream's neck to protect the IV equipment as long as he did not rub it out (which he did not, thankfully.) 

I spent some time knowing that a bone infection would mean death for him. I prayed and cried a lot. But I knew his chances were good because of the vet's excellent care and our quick response to the injury.

I have to add, that summer Scott was down to one pair of dress pants for his job, but he ordered the x-rays for Dreamer before replacing his wardrobe.The x-rays showed a healed coffin bone.

Dreamer seems to be perfectly fine from all that now. I remember it as a time of trauma yet also developing closeness and healing. He found out that a foot injury does not mean a home change; I hope it helped him realize he is here with us, no matter what.

So, Happy Anniversary, my Friend~!

Happy Day, 1996
Danzig, Northern Dancer, Turn-To, 
Bold Reason, Sir Gaylord, Ribot, Buckpasser



This gives a whole new meaning to the term, "mending fences."

I left up the 2” white non-electric strapping on my arena for the first time this past winter. Today I sewed together two ends where the nylon thread I used (fishing line) had come out. Still, I think I will keep removing the strapping every fall to put it back up in the spring, like I usually do.

After fence mending I took Dream out into the soccer field for a little lunging: walking and “hoe” to start. He did fine. When we went around to the right he needed more encouragement. From what I’ve read, most OTTB’s work better to the left.

After ending at a good point to the right, I walked Dream to a different part of the field and gave him the ‘command’ to graze. I want him to know he has to wait for permission to put his head down. We work in a halter a lot, so this eases things.

Grazing consists of scouring the grass for the earliest green he can find. But I know he appreciated it.

I had mentioned an article I want to share. Remember Secretariat’s big heart? You’ve probably already heard about this, but here’s an article on what some people call the X-factor, or large Thoroughbred hearts.

Dreamport’s Grandsire Seattle Slew is mentioned on the list of horses that carried this beneficial mutation. All of our TB’s go back to the horses mentioned later in the article.

Here is my favorite picture from Norwich University, the Library:

Eclipse and Snap, Regulus 2x


Better Self

Taking Ebony out today was the first ride of spring. She acted like she’d never been ridden before in her life. Aislinn got to ride, but only with Scott there next to them and connected with a lead rope. While I was on Ebony, I used praise and encouragement and tried to ignore her spinning and acting up. We got to “walk” and “hoe” done well, so I ended it and Aislinn got her ride.

Yesterday, Scott and I had a wonderful day visiting Norwich University with Saul.

I decided not to take the web writing job. The way it was set up was not going to benefit us financially. I can see how it works well for others, though.

We’ve had rain and warmer temperatures, so we are finally being reduced to just patches of snow on the fields or melting piles along the edges.

This week we have a horse anniversary and a horse birthday, so I will be back soon. I have found an interesting article that I also hope to share.

Ebony, Spring 2006

War Admiral, Black Toney, Teddy


Taking Off

I am in New Jersey with our three oldest children (young men!) to see my nephew in a college play. Scott and our three youngest have care of the horses at home. We still have about 18 inches of crusty snow to melt, and ice on the path through the snow. There are other higher piles of snow in the fields, up to 48 inches.

I am trying out a web writing work-at-home job. The company owner lives 2 and a half miles from me, in our town. If it works out, I will at least defray our grain and bedding costs. Also, I have dedicated an hour each day to readying a children's book for submission to a publisher. This route, if successful, usually takes some years for income to appear-- so the other writing can supplement us right now.

The horses are really shedding now. I think that they shed out with or without our help. I don't mind taking the shedding grooming tools to their coats in order to help them. Yet it seems that one day, suddenly, they just "let go" of their coats, like taking off a jacket.

And underneath is a beautiful shiny spring horse! We are very fortunate that Ebony's coat (she is a true black) has never faded in the summer sun.

Well, I am going to go around and visit blogs now!

Taking Off, 1973
Nearco 2x, Teddy