Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pony Rides, Flies, and Hoof Trimming Limbo

The good is that Sweet Pea finally got to ride Harley again.  The bad is that I haven't been in the irons in about a month.  And the ugly is the flies.

Sweet Pea has been asking to visit and RIDE Harley.  Getting her to the barn is easier said than done.  As if by magic, one day we found ourselves with a free afternoon, reasonable temperatures (Did you know that New Jersey is a long lost tropical region?), and it wasn't time for anyone to eat or nap (baby, toddler, and Harley included there).   Sweet Pea's helmet fit for the first time without extra padding and so did her new leopard-print barn boots.  Harley was up for anything and baby was too.  What an excellent combination!


My favorite part was when she said, "Don't hold me".  Brave girl.  It was also my least favorite part, because I did not want to let go!  I feel confident riding, but putting my small child up there is a different experience.  I kept my cool and so did Harley, but I was secretly relieved when she said she was done.

This was also Sweet G's first barn visit and meeting with Harley!  She was very interested and cooed pretty much the entire time we were there.

Unfortunately, I am finding it very difficult to ride right now.  I still trim Harley's feet and that is ruling my barn time.  I only have the time and energy to trim just his fronts or just his hinds and his feet grow so quickly that I have to trim every two weeks.  I only use a rasp, which is part of why I trim so often.  So there is my limbo.  I get stuck trimming his feet every weekend and miss out on riding.  My second baby is still very young and nurses often so leaving her is difficult.  I usually reserve that for Daddy only, hence the weekends.

As for the flies, they are just awful and Harley is delicious so he is miserable.  I finally broke down and ordered a fly sheet, but I have the same problem of not being able to get to the barn often enough to check on him.  This is why I absolutely cannot put him in fly boots. We will see if the sheet is a possibility management-wise.  My poor horse hides in the shed or stomps in his feed dish all day to avoid them.  The repellent is always short-lived relief.  Why do the bottles say eight hours of protection?  Try eight minutes.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Lot Can Happen In A Year

Harley and I have been a partnership for more than nine years now and he turned eighteen years young in March!  Our relationship is much more relaxed than it used to be.  There are no training goals, just enjoyment in each others company.  I still trim his feet.  He does not look like a hardkeeper any more (even though his diet does not include grain).  We ride in the arena and on the trails.  This pressure-free lifestyle is suiting us both very well.  Although, I like to think that Harley wishes he saw more of me.

My current favorite picture of Harley

My life is dominated and defined by motherhood these days and I am very happy with this life choice.  Do I miss riding four times a week, spending hours with my horse, and having the luxury of planning my free time around Harley?  Yes.  Apparently, it is possible to be happy where you are but still long for a previous happiness.  However, I often remind myself that Harley is not a spring chicken any more and a heavy workload is not the best thing for him.  He doesn't feel any older when I ride him, and if you saw him jumping around the other day, you would probably guess that he is a much younger horse.  I would like to keep it that way, if I get to have any say in the matter.  I am a very lucky person and I hope my horse care and training choices are also partly to thank.  I am also very fortunate to have a boarding situation with excellent care and 24/7 turnout with a buddy.

A Mommy is a very busy person (especially a working Mommy), and life changes very quickly.  For example, Sweet Pea turned into a toddler and beautiful little girl.

Sweet Pea

She also became a big sister, hence the title of this post!

Sweet G-our second little girl
We decided not to find out the sex of our second child ahead of time, so we got to make all those classic phone calls and say, "It's a girl!!!!".  It was awesome, plus she was born just days before a massive snow storm (thank you Sweet G), with us arriving home just hours before the snow fell, and fell, and fell all weekend long.  This was after a winter of almost no snow at all.  Good work, Sweet G!

Yeah, so if things seemed busy before they are VERY busy now.  I am on maternity leave and somehow caring for one almost three-year-old and one three-month-old is more work and more exhausting (physically and emotionally) that working full-time as a middle school teacher.  Not sure how, but it's true.  I am extremely fortunate to have employment that allows me to take significant time off to care for my babies.  It is wonderful and I didn't take advantage of it last time (I went back to work when Sweet Pea was three-months old, which overlapped the summer vacation.  That time is a blur in my memory.  Very, very difficult.)  Being a Mommy of two is HARD, and anyone in the same boat understands, but also wonderful BEYOND wonderful.  Your own baby smiling at you is the best thing ever.  I also love nursing my babies, and it is a lot easier to nurse when you are actually with you baby all day, not pumping at work (although I will be back to that in September).  I am so glad that hubby and I decided to become parents.  Seriously, being a parent is a life-changing experience, but if you are on the fence deciding, go for it.

Sweet G is enamored with her big sister.  She loves everything that she does especially patting the squeaky bunny on her bib.

Sweet Pea loves dinosaurs.  She likes horses and acknowledges Harley as THE all-important horse, but right now she is a dino girl.  This is cool.  I get to visit the boy's department for clothing, because there are not many dino clothes for girls. 

So that's my life these days.  I am unapologetically a Mommy.  I am and always will be a horse girl.  I LOVE my horse and still wish to see him each and every day, but I have no misconceptions anymore about how much of my life is dedicated to my little humans.  I am not trying to get back to my old life; that was that hardest part about our first child.  When will I get back to XYZ?  Um, never.  My life is different now, but it is very good.  It still includes Harley and highly coordinated barntime, and you better believe that I love every second of it.

Always smiling!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Controlling Ticks

I live in New Jersey.  We have a booming tick population.  This is not a glamorous topic.

Last year, several horses on the property contracted Lyme disease and were treated. Thankfully, Harley and his paddock mate dodged the bullet that time, but obviously this is an on-going problem if you live in the northeastern part of the United States. I tested positive for Lyme's several years ago (before this blog) and was suffering from relentless headaches.  It was scary.  Ticks can carry infective bacteria which cause diseases like Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis.

The tick population is difficult (impossible?) to control.  Deer, small mammals, and birds all shuttle this little pest around our farm.  Preventative spraying in early June is an option as this is supposed to target the nymph stage of the life cycle, which is most notorious for carrying bacteria and infecting people and pets.  I have reservations about the health risks and effectiveness of pesticide use, but I also do not want to make life easy for the ticks.  The biologist in me says that the vacancies left in the environment will quickly be filled in leaving us with an illusion of safety.

My tick prevention plan thus far has been to avoid trail riding in the spring and summer (insert sad face), use "green" fly spray, and to feed Harley garlic flakes (vampires also stay away).  I wash his legs carefully after riding in nature and check him meticulously for ticks during the spring and summer.

Are ticks a problem in your area?  What methods do you employ to project yourself and your pets?