No Free Horses!

No Free Horses!
Shiloh - a rescued horse (date was 7/14)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lies About Patriots Who Stand Against Lies and Government Takeover

Obama has lied about many things.  Nancy Pelosi has lied about many things.  The major news media has supported their lies.

CNN - Jack Cafferty
Why should we believe what they say about those of us Patriots who believe in our Constitution and support FREEDOM of Speech and FREEDOM to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? 

Don't believe the lies you hear on the news about Tea Party Patriots being "terrorists."

There is a more isidious kind of terror that is taking over American Liberty . . .

Do not believe a lie.  Lies bring bondage.
Seek the Truth and it will be found.
The Truth brings Freedom, and that's what our Forefathers fought and died for . . . That's what our Constitution was written to protect . . . Our Constitution that has been tromped on repeatedly by the present Administraion.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Cowboy Named Rusty

It was fortuitous that Oz-Girl and I both had appointments that coincided on the same day so we happily agreed to spend the sunny, WINDY afternoon together in "the Big City."

In between appointments, we had time to stop in to visit Oz-Girl's favorite coffee shop, Panera . . . where she and I got her favorite kind of coffee -- Hazelnut.

After my appointment, we headed up north of the city to have a late lunch at the only Cracker Barrel restaurant in the area . . . and we poked around in the shop and bought some sweet gifts for some family members . . .

It was with a feeling of contentment that I left the shop to walk out to the parking lot . . . It had been a pleasant afternoon . . .

Suddenly, our eyes were drawn to activity across the street . . .

Holy Cow!!!!! . . . I mean, "Cows!!!"

No . . . REALLY . . . There was a Round-up happening right down the main street of town!!!!!!!

and the proud-looking, straight-backed character herding the cattle was none other than the legendary Rusty Flatiron on his trusty steed Steel Bar . . .

I could tell Oz-Girl was enthralled by this tall, burnished, hard-riding cowboy . . . Something about the way he sat his horse and held his lariat must have reminded her of her beloved Marlboro Man . . .

Thankfully, I had my camera in hand . . . What a great opportunity for photos!  . . . but before I could take off the lens cover, Oz-Girl had picked her way across the busy highway and headed right toward the trotting cattle.

Now, these weren't just any cattle . . . They were rare and valuable Hard-nosed, Hairless Ironhorns . . .

Oblivious to everything else around her, Oz-Girl didn't heed my warning shouts . . . she just jumped right into the herd and took the bull by the horns!  (I think she may have been trying to impress Rusty.)

It was as if she couldn't hear me . . .  Dang, but that woman is tenacious . . . When she gets focused on something . . . well, let's just say she got hooked.
The last I saw of her, she was getting carried along by the bull at the front of the drive . . . down the Chisholm Trail . . . with the unflappable Rusty Flatiron driving the herd from behind.

In a panic, I pulled out my cell phone and called Marlboro Man . . . told him to grab his lariat and best horse . . . The last I knew, he was racing to head them off at the pass . . .

Ahh . . .the hazards of Life in Oz-Land . . .

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Guinea Hen in Spring

My male Lavender Guinea lost his love (to a hit and run) last fall.

and not wanting him to be alone all winter, I bought 3 pullets to keep him company through the cold winter.

       (hmmmmmmm . . . can't find photos of the common Guineas . . . but they are the darker gray kinds)
Well, one was hit by a car 3 weeks ago (and is recuperating in the horse trailer/guinea hospital) . . . but the other two have matured into squawky females who are not as tame as the Lavender male who was raised with his girl-friend in the house and on the back porch

(due to danger from a BIG, BLACK, GUINEA-EATING SNAKE who ate 4 of his siblings) 

This Lavender goes to prove the old adage "Familiarity Breeds Contempt" for he certainly has little respect for humans, especially in light of Springtime and two noisy girlfriends who have started canvassing the farm for nesting places (and constantly voice their opinions about the unsuitability of the neighborhood).  Probably due to his anxiety at not being able to provide higher-class housing for his mistresses, and partly due to his general disgust at humanity, (and partly due to his subservience to the testosterone coursing through his haughty, Guinea frame) this male Guinea has been quite dedicated to teaching me my "place" in the scheme of things here at the farm.

I am allowed to throw white millet in the morning and night . . . and to fill the water dish without fear of attack . . . but if I am non-chalantly roaming in the yard anywhere within sight of Mr. Lavender, he comes charging over and posturing . . . and as soon as my back is turned, will hit me on the back of the legs. 

preparing to attack

Now, mind you, the Guinea attack is not at all as painful or harmful as a rooster attack.  Without the spurs, the Guinea just whomps me a good one and postures for another hit . . . but it IS irritating . . . rather like being pestered by a giant gnat . . . and he's so quick that I have trouble making contact with return whomps or kicks.  In fact, if I raise my foot off the ground, he will come in for another charge . . . Honestly . . . talk about "biting the hand that feeds him."  But he makes me laugh and if I can get into a kind of syncopation with his rhythmic charges, I can manage to surprise him and give him pause . . . but the pause is usually just long enough for him to consider blind-siding me again.

The Lavender Guinea also has a habit of racing down the driveway with the dogs whenever a visitor arrives.
After the visitor parks his vehicle, Mr. Guinea proceeds to inspect the tires, being sure to neaten them up by nipping off any little rubber "hairs" on the wall of the tire . . . and then peering at himself in the shiny bumpers and hub-caps . . . (rather narcissistic in his little Guinea heart).

Sierra is a good girl . . . a Border/Aussie cross . . . and she takes care of all the critters here . . . so I wasn't surprised the other day when I saw her guarding an egg between her paws . . .
a GUINEA EGG . . . which she carefully carried around and protected from the other dogs.

Another sign of spring . . . Squawking, attack Guineas and abandoned Guinea children . . .
At this rate, there won't be any more Guineas running around the farm,
and to be honest . . . that's okay with me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pounds Lighter!

I came home from the office and changed into old jeans, grabbed some brushes and headed down to the pasture . . . and brushed five of the eleven horses . . . Snickers the pony was happy as a clam to let me brush and comb and brush and comb and scratch and comb . . . and cuddle . . . and when we were done, he felt loads better and loads lighter . . . 

and more hair
and, still . . . more to spare
but he looks a bit more slender, don't you think?

Also, the gnats were out enforce . . . and were eating the insides of all of the horses' ears, so I rubbed inside their ears . . . which they seemed to appreciate . . .

Moxie, the Morgan, who is fairly thin-skinned and sensitive, was especially bothered by the gnats . . . shaking his head every few seconds . . .

Can't believe it's time for fly spray already!!!

Snickers the Pony Declares, "It's SPRING!!!"

Meet Snickers . . .

He's been with me for 17 years . . . and is now 30 years old.  Besides working at summer horsemanship camps for 11 years and being a 4-H mount during the school year and helping to teach many children how to ride . . . and being a key ingredient in helping me detect the serious riders from the "ho-hum-this-looks-like-an-easy-thing-to-do" riders, Snickers provides comic relief for me . . . and has provided a comforting cuddle and soaked up many of my tears in the past three years.

Snicker's is a 12.2h POA gelding that still believes he's a stud . . . and is the most fun ride in the house . . . and I've often said that if he were 3 hands taller, he'd be my favorite mount.

His hair is clumping and lifting and drifting on the wind . . .

Snickers is doing his best to get rid of the extra hair . . .

and there are clumps of hair (lower left of photo) and a couple of spots on the ground where the hair sticks after he has rolled in the mud.

and when I return from work today, he will be the first one to get a good brushing with the sheddin' blade and shedding comb . . . and maybe I'll even put some Cowboy Magic in his mane and tail.

Spring is here and BUG SEASON is about to begin!!!

This is what Snickers will look like in another couple of months . . .
minus the bandage. :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Sense of Place . . .

I am intrigued by the different blogs and the way many of them convey a true sense of place -- a belonging and purpose . . . environments of activity and learning and sharing that draw me in and educate me about the things that make those environments "home."  They support the adage:  "Home is where the heart is."

Over the past year or more, especially over the past few months, I have thought deeply about life and purpose and place . . .

Growing up in a military family and moving and living all over the country, I know the reality of being able to find both good and bad, beauty and ugliness, a sense of belonging and loneliness, purpose and drifting in every place I've lived.

Often in my life, I had no choice about where I wanted to live or even how I wanted to live . . . I learned to adapt to different living situations out of necessity . . .

and I determined that when I had my own family, I would provide ONE place where my kids could grow and learn and belong . . . and get a sense of community that I never had . . . maybe something like the aura portrayed by "THE WALTONS" television show.

Imagine my surprise when after schooling and job searches each of my children ended up in a different part of the country!

My sense of purpose changed dramatically when they left.  I still had a job and horses and friends there . . . but chose to leave for warmer climes and to follow a dream.  Thereafter followed the happiest years of my life (so far) . . .

Due to circumstances beyond my control, my dream and sense of purpose was radically altered three years ago . . . and . . .  I find myself, again, at a place in the journey where I can choose to move or stay, thus, my renewed focus on the value "PLACE" plays in our lives . . . and the value of "RELATIONSHIPS" . . .

A visitor asked me recently said, "Why would you want to move?  You have a lovely home here and you've done so much work on the property."

and my instant heart-response was, "I know . . . but it's just a place . . . " and I know in my heart that without a sense of fulfillment of purpose and relationships, that a place is just that . . .

                      and places are for LIVING . . .
                      they are like skeletons without the flesh . . .  
                      frames without the pictures . . .

A Place is not Life.   It's merely a setting provided for life to happen . . . and, for me, Life is about relationships, and learning and sharing and working and growing with people who share a similar purpose and philosophy . . .

Thus, I find myself at a point of choosing . . . to stay and wait and work and hope for the people and purpose to materialize, or to leave and move forward seeking and hoping . . . either way, I need to be in an environment that will provide the elements of purpose that come from working with horses and with people who have a similar passion for teaching and learning about life and horses . . . .

What do you think?

What is required for any of us to have that sense of belonging?  What is it that draws our hearts to certain places?  Poignant memories?  Hopes for fulfilling employment?  Dreams of possible relationships? 

What gives us our sense of place? 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

HAPPY SAINT PATRICK'S DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since the background for this blog is GREEN, I'm already "dressed" for St. Paddy's Day.
The Diamond post was supposed to be a March 17th post . . .
so won't add anything else right now . . .
('cept this:  A Bit o' Green) and just want to wish GREEN, which represents growth and life, for everyone.
Spring is here . . . and the horses are really looking for green nibbles in the paddocks and pastures . . .
and tiny blossoms are coming up all around.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Underground Dog Fence

I lost one of my treasured dogs to a speeding truck and trailer a few years ago . . . right out in the road in front of the house . . . thankfully, the vet was here giving rabies shots and vaccinations to the horses.  He and I both saw it happen . . . and he was here to help put my beloved Springer, Percy, down.

Since that time, I decided I would be a responsible dog owner and get an underground dog fence to do my best to protect my canine treasures . . . at this time, a Black and Tan Coonhound, a Black LabX, and an Aussie/BorderX . . . all rescue dogs and special to me.

Three years ago, I ordered the underground fencing online. 

"No need to bury the wire . . . just stake it on top of the ground . . . "

I thought to myself, "This will be easy!  I won't have to drive fenceposts or BUILD a fence!  How great is that??!!"

When the fencing arrived by UPS, I eagerly opened the box containing an electric charger, battery-powered dog collars, insulated wire, waterproof connectors, metal stakes, and little white flags to provide a visual boundary for the dogs until they memorize where the fence is located.

As I turned to the direction booklet, my heart sunk . . .
"For best results, bury the wire 2-3 inches below the surface . . . "  WHAT????????????????

So, for the next two weeks, I spent many hours on my hands and knees . . . crawling around the perimeter of the yard . . . slicing the lawn with a hatchet . . . and burying the thin, insulated wire beneath the ground . . . through garden hose under the driveways . . . carefully using the waterproof connectors whenever necessary . . .

and I spent another two weeks training the dogs to the fence . . .

and when it works, it's FABULOUS . . .
but when it doesn't work . . . (sigh) . . . The dogs eventually figure it out, and I have to go hunt for them . . . and usually can't find them but have to wait for them to wander home hours later . . .

and the times it has decided NOT to work have always coincided with RAIN . . .

and I have to go dig up the connectors and try to figure out why the fence isn't working . . .

I have fixed the fence many times over the past 3 years . . . About 3 weeks ago, the fence stopped working again (the charger sends out a shrill squeal when it shorts out) . . . and the dogs figured it out this week . . . So I have had to go look for them 3 times in the past week . . . and it's just too hard to keep an eye on them when I'm doing chores or working in the field . . . So . . . Today, I put the boys (they are the ones who wander) in the big kennel and determined to fix the fence.

Bad boys

 I got the pickax and started hunting for the wire and the connectors . . .

(sigh) . . . lots of yard to dig through

I think moles do a much better job.

I replaced some connectors

And after digging and splicing and connecting and checking and digging some more and putting on more new connectors . . .

I tried and tried . . . and the fence doesn't work . . . (sigh) . . . (is there an electrician in the house?) . . . and I may just have to buy new metal stakes and run all new wire (this time on TOP of the ground) . . .

When underground dog fence works, it's FABULOUS . . . (sigh) . . .

A Treasure Named Diamond

A few months ago, I took on a foster OTTB (Off-the-track-Thoroughbred) gelding named Diamond.  He, along with 4 skeletal yearlings, was rescued from being sold for slaughter.  When he came to me, he was covered with Rain Rot and had Scratches all over his lower legs.  His ribs and hip bones were showing, but he was not as thin as the yearlings whom he babysat . . . and who ate his tail to above his hocks.  Diamond's rescuer had room for the yearlings, but with all the other horses she owned, didn't have room for Diamond, a 5-year old, dark bay gelding.

When Diamond arrived here, I found that he also has very bad scars above both knees and across the front of his hocks and down his rear cannons . . . probably due to running into a wire fence (according to my vet.)

Diamond's scarred front legs

Ideally, I need to find a home for Diamond, but not many folks want a young TB with badly scarred legs . . . not when there are so many other horses available through online sites and at local auctions.

One of the scars continues to open up, and the vet said that it's a sure sign that there is a particle or piece of something in the wound, and that x-rays and exploratory surgery may be the only ways of finding it.  Today, after arriving home from work, I brought Diamond to the barn to clean him up and work with his feet . . . and irrigate his wound.

Profile of Diamond's left front knee.

First, I opened the wound . . .

then, I irrigated it with betadine.
Diamond was only a tiny bit fidgety . . . but otherwise,
he was a perfect gentleman.

As I scraped off some winter hair and lots of mud, I was happy to see that the Rain Rot and Scratches are all gone . . . and that his ribs and hip bones are well-covered.  He's in good flesh.

The starving yearlings chewed his tail, but it's getting longer!

Diamond has become more trusting about giving his feet.  When I first tried to work with his feet, a couple of weeks after he arrived, he was not very trusting and pulled his fronts away and tried to kick with his hinds.  I didn't saddle him today, but two weeks ago, I finally saddled him and bridled him with my Dr. Bristol . . . and rode him in the round pen for awhile . . . and though he didn't feel "solid" to me, he did okay (considering it had probably been quite awhile since he'd had someone on his back) . . . After some initial review, he gave to the bit nicely . . . Didn't seem to know turn on the haunches, but didn't do too badly with some turns on the forehand . . . And while his scars look awful and the one on his right front seems to limit how much he can flex his knee when lifting his hoof for trimming and cleaning, he moves soundly at all gaits . . .

Yesterday, a friend stopped by to chat, and during the conversation, she mentioned how, years ago, she used to exercise TBs at the local track and work in a couple of private barns . . . but somewhere along the way, she allowed some disappointments in her life to derail her from working with horses . . . and she has been miserable without having them as an active focus in her life . . . SO . . .  after urging her to follow her heart's desire so that she won't have regrets later on, she decided to start coming here regularly to work with Diamond . . . and maybe, just maybe . . . she will decide that he's the prescription that she needs in order to bring horses back into her life . . . and maybe, just maybe, Diamond will have a home with someone who will love him despite his scars . . . and even if she decides not to take Diamond, the interaction will help them both, and will make Diamond more adoptable . . . because Diamond has that desireable "soft" eye . . .

 . . . and a trusting heart . . . and the condition of one's heart is the most important thing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Children . . . More of Life's Treasures . . .

When I was a child, one of my dearest hopes was that I would someday be a "Mom."  Tiny Thumbelinas and Raggedy Anns were my pretend children.  When I wasn't hunting 4-leaf clovers or exploring the woods or dreaming of horses, hours upon hours of my childhood were spent playing "House" or "School."
My life is blessed with four wonderful children, each of whom I am very proud.  My two sons have sons . . . and each of those grandsons will soon have a sibling.  We are waiting to know if they will be sisters or brothers . . . and we don't have long to wait.

When I think back to their childhood years, I remember lots of laughter and noise and activity around the house . . . we often had a house full of kids on a Friday or Saturday night . . . and because we lived on a back road in a small Vermont town and often had to drive a distance to transport friends, there were many sleep overs . . . nighttimes of popcorn and movies (Star Wars was the favorite) and late, lazy pancake breakfasts.

Several years have passed since these were taken.

I remember those years as being very full . . . and often, very tiring for me . . . but I wouldn't change the country lifestyle of raising sheep and chickens, and having horses in the back yard . . . gardening, canning, picking berries and making jams and pies . . . Lots of time spent reading books and doing crafts . . . playing outdoors in the snow or taking nature walks down country roads or in the woods behind the house . . .

Those years seem so long ago . . .
They were good years . . . a dream-of-being-Mom come true . . . and I am blessed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Resistance into Softness

Yesterday, maybe when I was looking at the photos of Eeyore and the tarp, I was mindful of the feel of her resistance and how, after consistently and patiently directing her, she evenutally softened and trusted me and herself and how we were able to, then, work together as a team . . .

It was a matter of me being purposeful and consistent and patient and kind . . . until she chose to trust and give . . .

It followed naturally for me to make the connection to my relationship with my Father . . . and how I am often resistant to Him . . . because I think I know better . . . or . . . because I'm too unsure or scared of moving forward . . . or . . . because I'm focused on another direction and pulling to go that way . . . and I don't know what He knows, just as my horse doesn't know what I know . . . and it's all about trusting . . . and about having faith.

When there is struggle within, it's because I'm keeping myself stuck or fighting against the pressure that my Father uses as a cue . . .  His pressure may be to keep me from going the wrong direction . . . or to keep me from hurting myself . . .  or to ask me to move in His chosen direction . . . and sometimes, He just sets pressure up so I will learn to stand and wait until I'm asked to go forward . . .

and when I fight the pressure . . . it's the worst place to be . . . There is discord and struggle and worry and fear and anger that can turn into bitterness unless I learn to GIVE . . .

and in Giving to the One who loves me and knows better than I know, I am not becoming "less."  I am not giving up who I am . . . but I am able to accomplish the things I was made to accomplish and go to the places He knows are best for me . . .

and it's the same with our horses . . . They hate being in that fighting place . . . they hate being unsure and fearful . . . and when we are educated and kind and purposeful in our focus,  if our horses will trust us and GIVE, we can accomplish wonderful feats with them . . .

Giving is something that happens in our hearts . . . and in our minds . . . We work to get to that place in our horse training . . . and Our Father works with us to get us in that soft place with Him . . .

We look for a soft eye in our horses because it shows a willingness to give.
A horse with a soft eye is not giving up its identity but is opening possibilities to do and be "more."

and only then can we move without resistance, together, smoothly and harmoniously and safely and happily and hopefully . . . and that's when the music starts playing and our spirits can soar . . .

When we are in that mode together, there are infinite possibilities -- more awesome than we can imagine.

Friday, March 12, 2010

One of My Embarrassing Moments

When "The Grunt" started making a clacking sound while I was doing p.m. chores last week, I immediately panicked . . . and when it died at the end of the aisleway between the paddocks (about 900 feet from the barn) I cried.  I had to leave it there overnight and drag it with a chain the next morning with the tractor . . .

About four months ago, I had spent $700 to have it fixed . . .  the same clacking sound had preceded a breakdown . . . and the repairman came out with his flatbed trailer and took it to his shop in the next town . . . and both he and his mechanic said it needed a new starter . . . So, a new starter was put in after 5 years of using the machine almost daily . . . and soon afterwards, when I went to use the winch on the front of The Grunt, it had refused to run (first time for that) and I figured the repairman had disconnected a wire by mistake . . . or else, there was a major electrical problem going on.

The Grunt and a load of friends who came to help.

So . . . I was distressed and discouraged, and when I called the repairman, he said that he didn't work on ATVs at this time of year, so I should take it to the Polaris repairman in the city . . . and since I don't have a flatbed . . . and don't trust myself enough to try to drive The Grunt up ramps into the high back of my pick-up . . . well . . . I felt pretty lost . . .

Thankfully, my young neighbor is an electrician for the Railroad, and he had once told me, "If you ever need ANYthing, just ask."  I was about to take him up on the offer.

Neighbor Ryan said he'd come down after work the next day, but we had torrential rains.  I had been improvising . . . doing chores with the tractor . . . putting hay and grain in the loader . . . but the tractor is so much heavier than The Grunt, and the tires were tearing up the soppy ground.  I missed my Grunt.

Imagine my amazement when I returned home from work, yesterday, and saw The Grunt sitting in a different location than where it had been sitting under the big Sycamore!  I jumped from the truck and popped into The Grunt and turned the key . . . Vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooom!!!!  Ahhhhhhhh!  It was music to my ears!  Such a comforting, joyous sound!

I hurried into the house and called Ryan . . . and told him he was a genius and that I just couldn't thank him enough and on and on and on . . . and he said to me, "Holly . . . do you know what that clacking sound was?"

Not being a mechanic of any kind, I told him, "no." 

"That's the fuel pump.  It makes that sound when it's out of gas."

I was almost speechless . . . almost unbelieving . . . After all, I've run the bejeepers out of that little machine for 5 years . . . and I remembered putting 5 gallons of gas in it not long before . . . and how could I be so stupid?  and how could the same sound have happened a few months before and then have required a new starter??  but I believed Ryan because he had gone home and gotten a gallon of gas and put it in the tank . . . and The Grunt was "breathing" again.

Honestly . . .

So, I made Ryan and his family a coffeecake (took a photo last night and added it to the March 9 post) . . . and will deliver it tonight . . . humbly . . . very humbly . . .

and he said he'd come back and try to help figure out why the winch doesn't work.  Thank God for good neighbors with a forgiving nature and a good sense of humor.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One of My Equine Treasures

Over the past 40+ years, I have owned and worked with many horses.  One of my most beloved rescues was an old Appaloosa gelding named General.  (Actually, the horse dealer had dubbed him "Bernard," but he was so sad-looking, with Basset Hound eyes, that I felt the name "Bernard" added insult to injury . . . and opted to help him claim some fragment of dignity by naming him "General.")

General came to me as one of a string of camp horses . . . he was thin and aged . . . but such a gem for the kids to ride.  At the end of the season, I told the dealer that I wanted General back the next year.  He was one of the favorite horses in the program and wonderfully dependable and safe.

The next Spring, when I went to pick out horses for the summer horsemanship program, I cried when I saw General.  He was skeletal . . . couldn't raise his nose above his knees, and his skin was hanging from his bones . . . I could literally pick up the wrinkled skin that hung from the point of his buttocks.  Even his muscle was eaten up.  . . . It had been a very snowy winter, and the dealer said that she hadn't been able to get hay up the mountain to the horses for the last couple of months of winter . . . and they had to dig through the snow for feed . . . Obviously, General hadn't done well. 

I told her I wanted him, anyway, and I harbored the hope I'd be able to rehab him during the summer . . .
We were able to get some weight on him but it wasn't until I purchased General and his best friend, Oscar, at the end of the summer (just couldn't let either of them spend another winter on the mountain) and took him home that I was able to give him the 3x a day feedings he needed.  Two separate vets checked him out and both said, "Gee, Holly, this horse is AT LEAST 30 years old . . . He has smooth mouth and has lost some teeth."  Even if the dealer had been able to get hay to the horses that winter, General would not have been able to eat it.  His teeth just wouldn't grind.  He quidded grass and hay . . . but we had never noticed the previous summer at camp because we only saw him eat grain, and when he was in the pasture, the other horses, surely, picked up the quids he so humbly left for them.  At home, we opted to feed him soaked senior pellets, soaked alfalfa cubes, and oil.  General was fed 4 lbs of Senior pellets, 1 lb of alfalfa cubes, and 1 c of corn oil 3x a day (we introduced the oil gradually, starting with less than 1/4 cup just 2x a day), until he got in condition, and then, we were able to cut out the mid day feeding and cut out the corn oil.  He maintained on two feedings a day for years after that, becoming quite famous at camp and in the community, and even had his photo on the front page of  THE TIMES ARGUS in Barre, VT.  During the school year, he gave lessons, was a 4-H mount, and was leased for two years by a teen riding student who loved him to pieces.  General died at the age of 40 on a bitter cold winter night on a hill side in VT.  He was surrounded by friends and piled with blankets as he lay in the snow, and as he breathed his last breath, a shooting star arched across the midnight sky.

General was worth his weight in gold.  He's the rare, exceptional horse that parents dream of having for their children.  Here is my favorite photo of him . . . I liked to say that after we got him healthy, the only pointy thing on him was his ears.  I love Appy geldings . . . To me, they are horses with incredible heart . . . and General is my favorite of all.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Easy Sweet Treat

I promised this recipe to some friends, and since I have some time, I will post it here.  Back in 1976, I worked in the Business Office as Accounts Payable Clerk at Gordon College.  The Payroll Clerk brought in a coffee cake one day, and it has been a stand-by favorite for me since that time . . . 34 years ago.  It's a never-fail recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious, and is especially good for company or to give as gift . . . when you'd like to serve something that looks fancy (looks like a braid without the braiding) but doesn't take lots of time.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake  (can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.)

2c Jiffy Mix Biscuit Mix (or Bisquick or Store Brand . . . NOT Pancake mix)
4 Tbls margarine/butter
3 Tbls cream cheese

Cut together until crumbly.  Add:

1/3 c milk

Blend until dough is sticky (will look lumpy) and turn out onto floured board and knead 8 - 10 times.
Shape dough into a rectangular box shape.
Place dough on sheet of waxed paper (coated with flour) and roll out into a 8 x 10 inch rectangle.

Place cookie sheet over dough and slide arm under the waxed paper and flip the dough onto the cookie sheet.  Peel paper off carefully.

Spread 1/3 c (I always use more) jam, cooked apples, pie filling, or whatever you like, lengthwise down the center of the dough.

About an inch from either side of the filling, make diagonal cuts, 1/2 " apart all the way to the edge, down the full length of the dough.
Fold one end of the dough over the filling and then alternately fold the cuts over the dough.  The ends of the cuts should overlap.  Save the last couple of cuts and fold the end of the dough up over the filling . . . and then fold the last two cuts over that.  This should seal the filling inside during cooking.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until browned.

Mix 1 c confectioner's sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a couple tsps milk and drizzle over the hot cake.

Best when served warm.
As an alternative, this recipe could be made into a main dish by filling the dough with cheese, chopped ham, onions, spinach or broccoli . . . or even made into a type of calzone with cheese, pepperoni, and topped with sauce . . . and sprinkled with shredded cheese instead of icing . . .

or fill it with melted chocolate, marshmallows, and caramel!

All kinds of possibilities!  Enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Eeyore's Scary Day

Eeyore is a gray mare . . . a solidly built QH mare with excellent bloodlines . . . but her brain is more of an Arabian brain, I think . . . She is VERY "looky," and not very brave at first.  She WANTS to be courageous, but hasn't figured out that tarps, white rocks, bleached logs, plastic bags, and charging mules won't hurt her.
Friend, Rick, didn't get a photo of her perched in the cedar tree, but he did get a few pics of her scoping out the tarp curtain.  He also got a pic of her trotting poles in the arena. 

Eeyore checking out the curtain (we did this several times and she wasn't always this steady)

In this photo, you can see that she's still afraid that the curtain is going to get her from behind.

We had some raised caveletti in the woods, but practiced these in the arena as a warm-up.

As we continue to introduce more horses to the obstacles, we'll try to get more photos.  I think, after the rain we've had today, I will have to build a suspension bridge over the low spot on the groomed trail . . . The Railroad ties that I had positioned there to make a bridge are all floating . . . so it looks more like a log jam than a bridge.

If you go to the site, you will be able to view many of the different obstacles and listen to the judges evaluating the horses and riders.  If you want a bit of a challenge for you and your horse, go ahead and build some obstacles or find some that you can use (a mailbox, landscape timbers outlining an "L" shape for backing through; cones for weaving; arena or round pen gate for opening and closing) and amaze both your horse and yourself as you meet the challenges and learn more about yourself and your amazing horse.