Sunday, August 28, 2016

Shoo Flies

Upon publication of this post, I will have improved my posting frequency from last year by 300%. 😉

Well, we tried a fly sheet.  That tone sounds promising, right?

No after pictures, but the fly sheet lasted less than 24 hours before suffering a critical tear. At least I bought it on sale! 

The very next week, the flies became so bad that my horse would not leave the shed to eat his dinner.  A horse not eating is a serious matter, as all horse people know.  When I came to his rescue, he was in the shed, stomping in a frenzy, and covered in flies that would not budge. He had a bloody scrape above his left eye, probably from biting at flies and accidentally banging into something. I even had to call the vet's emergency number, because I was not sure if he needed stitches. Thankfully, he did not. Poor guy.

I have never seen anything like it. All the horses on the farm were in distress and we ended up putting them in the barn.  So all our free-range horses very happily traded their paddocks for a break from the biting pests. Harley ate his dinner and I went home to purchase more fly gear. 

Enter the fly mask and shoo flies.

Wow!  The shoo flies are awesome. They really work. Four horses on the farm are using them and their comfort level is so much higher than before. The flies stay off their lower legs, the leggings do not rub, and they are very lightweight and airy. Stomping is so much less!  Harley has had to grow out hoof wall cracks from stomping for the past two summers. It took months and I had to trim his feet very often to prevent the cracks from worsening. I am hopeful that the shoo flies will prevent that problem this year. So far, so good!

I actually got to ride my horse several times since my last post. It was heaven! Despite how infrequently we "work", Harley is still the same horse. Loves to ride and his memory is fantastic. Even though he should be unfit for serious dressage work, he doesn't feel that way. In fact, my trainer came to New Jersey all the way from Oregon and we had a lesson with her. Harley offered to canter during some of the exercises, so we went with it and he did great. It was fantastic to review some of the biomechanics priciples that she teaches and to have a horse that was happy to move out and participate. I am seriously spoiled with this horse. He still amazes me and we are approaching our 10-year gotcha anniversary.

I cannot resist a few kiddo pictures. I am back to work this week (and back on the pumping to feed my baby train) and they are starting preschool and daycare. We had an amazing seven months together. I can hardly believe everything that we did and all the changes that both of them went through in the past half year. It was so much work and endlessly challenging, but I will miss spending all day with them very much. At least I am in an occupation that allows me a great deal of time with them after work and during the year.

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!