Sunday, April 12, 2015

Scary Trucks

Chances of the horses running across radio controlled vehicles while out on the trail are pretty darn low.  However, both of my brothers and their wives race RC trucks, so I saw an opportunity to start desensitizing the horses to them.  We live in paradise (just my opinion, but I love it here) and one of the things Jay and I want to do is host get-togethers frequently this summer.  With a few acres to play on, we can easily run the RC trucks, play with dirt bikes or three-wheelers, throw knives, or shoot the crossbow.

Jay and I have shot the crossbow outside of the horses' pen before and they don't care.  They didn't care much about the knife throwing either, but the RC trucks caused a bit of a ruckus.

At one point, a truck made its way into the pen (things happen when you allow a six year-old to drive), but as soon as the truck came to a stop both horses went up to sniff it.  Monster, my youngest, managed to snatch it from the jaws of death just before Skeeter started pawing it.  Thank God for quick reflexes and the ability to climb fence like The Flash, because I don't think I could afford to replace one if Skeeter had rolled it around trying to figure it out.  Those trucks are made to withstand a certain amount of abuse, but I don't think 900# of abuse would be good for them.

We still have to get the three-wheeler up and running, along with the dirt bike, but so far, summer desensitizing seems to be going well.

Hay net update: the horses have slowed down on their hay intake, to only a bale a day.  They're still killing the bale overnight, but not *starving* to death in the morning.  Looks like Mom's not going to get our net.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Slow Feeder, My Ass!

If you haven't been following the hay net exploits on our Facebook page, let me enlighten you here.

Mom has had great success with her hay net.  Us?  Not so much.

We started on Sunday and all looked good.  We started with a full bale, which should have lasted them 24 hours according to our regular feed schedule.  We were feeding 1/2 a bale in the morning, and 1/2 a bale in the evening.

 Since they were supposed to be eating from a "slow" feeder, I was confident that there would be a bit left over on Monday morning.


Ten hours after we put out the first bagged bale it was empty.  And I do mean empty!

It was so empty that I had to walk the pen to look for it.

I made Skeeter carry it to hay storage for me.
I filled it up for a second time that day, all the while cussing at them.  Certainly they couldn't kill TWO bales in 24 hours, right?

I was wrong.  At feeding time on Monday, we had to again walk the pen to find the empty net.  We filled it for the THIRD time and anchored it to a cinder block so we could easily find it when the pigs emptied it.  By this time, I was also cussing my mom for talking me into this cockamamie idea.

Bale #3 - we're going to go broke at this rate.
Not only was I cussing about it's lack of powers as a slow feeder, I was cussing at the increase in hay waste.  I mean, our horses are Hoovers - they clean up after themselves, there is very rarely a single snuffle of hay left ever.

After work on Monday, the hay bag wasn't empty-empty, but it was close.  Almost three bales in 36 hours.  We put out another bale and thought, surely they have to be slowing down.

Wait Dad!  Don't take it, there's still some in there!
Bale #4 went out and we were optimistic.  They had to be getting full, right?  Right?   Jay and I went into town for the late showing of Furious 7 and when we got home after midnight those fools were still standing there eating.  Jay may or may not have told them that they were going to pop like zits if they kept it up.

Tuesday morning there was still most of the bale left.  Success!

64 hours and almost four bales to get to their "full" point.  In fact, when I looked out the window on Tuesday morning Copper was sprawled out on the ground looking like me after Thanksgiving dinner.  If he had pants on, he would have unzipped them to find more room.

They grudgingly ate breakfast when we took it out to them, but their hearts weren't really in it.

Finally!  We were getting somewhere.

Tuesday night (last night), we got home and the horses were starving.  Like, pacing and pawing the fence (Skeeter!) starving.  In went bale #5 (heavy sigh).

This morning, there was about half of bale #5 left.  Instead of letting it run out, I just added another bale to it and sent up a quick prayer that they wouldn't kill it in one day.

I swore I'd give this hay bag thing a solid week, and I will, but damn it's getting expensive pretty quickly.  If I get home from work tonight and that damn bag is empty I might lose it.  (Which Mom would like, because I told her if this bag didn't work out, she could have it.)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I Caved

Mom has been raving about her cinch net ever since she got it.  I mean three blog posts on it in four days?  Yeah, she's happy with the product.

I couldn't call her without her raving about the damn net, so I finally caved and bought one.  The horses have had it all of three hours and are still working on it.

We tried tying it to the fence, but decided that wasn't such a good idea.  Mom ties hers into her feeder, but we don't have a sturdy structure to tie into.  Hopefully this summer, we'll get a hitching post put up and then we'll see if we can tie into that.

After horse sitting for our neighbors last week and using their Nibble Nets, I can honestly say the cinch net is much, much easier and faster to use.  In fact, it was so easy that Jay and I are playing with the idea of picking up a second net so we can rotate.  It will come in very hand on mornings when we're both running late and have to be in early - we can just throw the pre-filled bag into the pen and pick up the old one.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Adventures in Horse Ownership


The horses need it and we were getting low, so we did a quick CraigsList search and found some small bales reasonably priced at $6.00/bale.  We figured that 100 bales would get us through to the first cutting this year, plus that's all we could afford.

Jay had to work the only day that the sellers were available, so I had to call in reinforcements.  Well, reinforcement.  Okay, I called Beel.  Jay's truck's transmission isn't so hot and I didn't want to risk taking it, so I asked Beel to bring his truck down and I borrowed a flatbed trailer from a friend of mine.

I maybe should have known that all was not going to go smoothly when Bill called from the interstate and told me he was still a half hour out.  No big deal, I texted the sellers and told them that we were running a bit late.

When Bill got to the house and we tried to hook up the trailer, it didn't like Jay's ball hitch, so we switched to Bill's and finally got it to work with some cussing and persuader tools.  An hour later than we anticipated, we were off!

Now, both Bill and I have a nasty cold, so we're not working to our fullest potential and we hoped that the sellers would be able to help us load.  Turns out, it was mostly just Beel and me to load.  The seller was kind enough to back the truck and trailer down his driveway, around the house, and into the barn where the hay was (Thank God, or we'd still be there trying to negotiate his driveway).

The trailer is a big, good sized one, so we thought we could get all 100 bales onto it.  About three-quarters of the way through loading the trailer, we realized there was no way we could do it.  Stacking the bales four high was as high as we were willing to go.  We decided to move twenty bales off the trailer and onto the truck.  At this point, the seller's wife came to help us, so we could form a hay brigade.  (The seller has a wrist injury and can't lift bales).  I stood on the tongue of the trailer and took the bales Bill handed down to me, then handed them off to the seller's wife, who was kind enough to stack them on the truck.

An hour after we started loading the first bale, we put the last bale on the trailer and started to strap them down.  Only, we could only find three of the five straps that Bill usually keeps in the truck.  We needed all three straps for the trailer and didn't have any for the truck, so Bill figured a way to tie down the bales on the truck with baling twine (amazing stuff, isn't it?) and off we went.

I started firing off texts to my sibs and kids letting them know that we were running late and if they still were going to come help us unload and stack, it would be closer to six.  We were now two hours behind schedule.

A few miles down the highway, Bill decided he didn't like the feel of the trailer and pulled over to check it.  We used a step-down hitch to hook up the bumper-pull trailer.  Mom and Bill have a goose-neck trailer, so the step-down hitch doesn't often get used.  When we pulled over to look at the trailer, we noticed that the weight of the trailer had torqued the step-down.  Not a little bit, either.  A lot a bit.

I started calling my sibs and kids again, trying to find out who was already at my house and who could bring Jay's truck to me, bad transmission be damned.  Just as I was talking Digger into bringing me the truck, Bill said he thought we could make it if we moved more hay off of the trailer and onto the truck, so I told Digger to standby and we started handling they hay for the third time, this time on the side of the road.  Since we didn't have an extra set of hands, I pulled the bales from the trailer and lowered them to the ground, where Bill picked them up and stacked them on the truck.  Thankfully, he's tall.

Remember, I said earlier that we didn't have straps for the bales on the truck?  I wasn't entirely sure how on earth we were going to secure the bales we moved from the trailer to the truck, but Bill dug around in the truck and found three little straps - not the heavy-duty ones, but straps nonetheless.  Hallelujah!

He was reasonably sure that we could make it back to my house as long as we took it slow and easy, so I called Digger back and told him not to come get us yet.  We'd see how far we could make it.

We limped on back home, about two and a half hours behind schedule, but we made it.  My kids were already there (and had been for a couple of hours).  I was exhausted and over the whole thing, but the bales still needed to be moved from the truck and trailer to the hay shed.

I'd decided to put the horses in Estes' old pen so we could just open the fence and drive the trailer in.  Bless our horses, they were amazing.  Copper hasn't wanted to be caught and haltered for the past couple of weeks, so Jay's been working on it.  I think that over the winter, Copper just decided life was pretty good without being caught.  I was ready to have to move him and really work to get him haltered.  Bill got Skeeter caught in under a minute while I headed for Copper.  Copper backed away for about twenty steps before deciding that if his sister was caught, he might as well be too.  Took less than two minutes to catch and halter Copper.  Whew.  Finally, something about the day went right!

They walked nicely over to Estes' pen, where we turned them loose to graze.  There were no complaints from them about that!

I don't usually like leaving halters on them when they are unattended, but I thought that if they got the notion to jump the four-foot fence at least we had a chance of catching them if they were haltered.

I took the horses' behavior as a sign that things were finally going right with this damn hay moving day.  Digger and Ashinator's boyfriend started helping unload and stack and I was so happy.  Not five minutes after we started, my youngest brother showed up with his family to help and I was overjoyed!  It took no time at all to get it all done. 

Before we knew it, it was time to move the horses back from Estes' pen, and not a moment too soon, because the sun was setting fast!

Digger and Copper
Ashinator had manned the grill and had dinner ready for us by the time we were finished.  She might not have done any of the heavy lifting, but she definitely played an important role in hay moving day.  I was famished.

The hay adventure started on a bad foot, but ended with food, drinks, and laughter with some of my favorite people.

Not a bad day at all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Copper Has A New Trick

I came home from work today and both horses were soaking wet.  It was warm and they still have their winter woolies, but it wasn't hot enough for them to be absolutely soaked.  The area around the water trough was an absolute mud pit, so I wandered over to investigate, thinking that it was leaking or something.  The closer I got, the more clear it was that someone - ahem, Copper the water baby - had learned the joys of playing in the trough.

Skeeter was soaked as well, but not quite as thoroughly as Copper.  It looked like they had learned Jesse's trick of putting both front legs in the trough to play and I was surprised because Princess Skeeter does not like her feetsies to be wet.

As I was laughing at them and wondering what the heck they'd been doing, Skeeter was kind enough to demonstrate her new trick. She buried her face in the water and exhaled through her nostrils to make bubbles. 

"Did you see Mom?"
I tried to catch it on video, but she doesn't perform on demand, no matter how many times I asked.  I finally kissed their soaking noses and went back into the house. While loading the dishwasher I heard a noise I couldn't identify coming from the pen, so I peeked out the window.  It seems that Copper learned to empty the water trough with his head.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Skeeter Training 1/27/15

Y'all are lucking out.  It's been so long since Skeeter's last training day that I can't possibly bore you with the minutiae.

When Mom and Bill first got here, Bill decided to teach Skeeter how to drag a log, but I think he's confused.

She got to stand tied at the round feeder next to the Bionic Cowgirl for almost an hour, while Copper was getting worked.  It was good for her.  Without a proper hitching post, we're tying to anything we can, but that doesn't necessarily mean that what we tie her to is strong enough to hold her if she throws a fit.  I mean, she already made an accordion of the fence and tried to break the trailer.   Mom was close enough release her if she needed it, and also close enough to correct her for pawing.  Skeeter is impatient and likes to paw - it's an on-going battle with us.

When Grandpa and Jay were ready to take a break with Copper, we decided on a little saddle refresher course.  Skeeter still doesn't like it much.  She's good about standing to place the saddle, but she hates the cinch.  She's not cinchy, she's just a mare.  I need to spend more time with her and the saddle to get her past it.  I also need to find my leather punch and fix the length of my stirrups so we can start learning to mount from the ground.

She learned she can drink with the saddle on and it's not very scary.

Over all, she's doing well.  She will follow someone on the ground with a rider, but hasn't quite made the connection between the bump with the heels and the click.  It'll come soon enough, I think.  I did get my first "ears" pic of the year, which made me very happy.

And afterward, when the focus returned to Copper, she got to stand tied at the trailer.  I'm not sure she thinks that's a whole lot of fun, but standing tied is a fundamental skill.

Here's a quick video of our day:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Copper Training 1/27/15

Mom and Bill came down to help us with the horses again on an absolutely beautiful day.  I had to work (as usual), but Jay was off, so they started with Copper.

Since Copper *hates* being left in the pen when we take Skeeter out, we thought we'd see how he did if we took him out and left her in the pen.  He was a rock star.  Skeeter couldn't have cared less that he was out and about, and Copper was happy to play along with Jay.  They went for a walk and slalomed between the fence posts, but Copper drew the line at crossing the ditch.

It was good, focused time for Jay and Copper.  By the time I got home, they were back in the pen.  Copper got to wear the bareback pad and try to load into the trailer, which he still hates.  Not even bribery worked.  He was being such a good boy, that we thought it was time to get some weight on his back again.  It's been a few months since Jay and Bill have played Dead Indian with him.

Copper does not like people standing above him.  Does not.  We tried getting him to line up next to our "mounting block", which is just a turned upside-down feed tub and he was having none of it, so we back off a bit. Instead of taking him to the mounting block, we turned a bucket upside-down and took it to him.  Jay and Mom spend a good deal of time just placing the bucket next to him, stepping up, leaning over, and getting down just to repeat the whole process on the other side.

It was good for Copper to understand that just because he doesn't like the black feed tub (which is a lie, he plays with it all the time) doesn't mean he's going to get out of work.