Broody Hen, Moody Horses

What better thing to do on a full moon than to try new things? Right. I did it anyway. Good ole Star went broody again, and with something taking the eggs every night, it was fruitless to let her set on them. What to do?

Do something about that hen!

She was also hogging the preferred egg-laying spot, which made me worry about the new chickens when they go to finally start laying. Hmm.

Enjoy a passion vine in bloom while imagining me trying to figure out what to do.

Finally, reading the backyard chickens for newbies group paid off. Someone shared that if you put a broody hen in a dog cage with airflow under it, they would feel the cool air under them and go back to normal. It’s called a broody breaker. Why, there’s one of those in our coop. So…

What are you in jail for?

I thought I’d need help, so I gathered Lee and Kathleen around. But all I needed was someone to open the door for me. I just picked her up and set her in there, with food and water. She is not happy. I hope this works!

It’s cute how all the other chickens keep checking on her. Bruce is especially concerned. He’s such a good rooster.

Moody Horses

I’m not having a lot of horse luck. I’m beginning to think it’s user error, and maybe I should not be riding until I get my lessons going. After not having much luck with Apache the previous day, I figured he’s not feeling well, so I just walked him (and Fiona) around.

Yet another picture of Apache eating.

He had just gotten out of his pen, so he really wanted to eat. That was frustrating, but we had fun anyway. Fiona followed us, and really seemed to enjoy exploring her new territory.

Hey, wait for me! (She’s that fit in the horizon)

Both of them liked the change of scenery, and I enjoyed the restful interlude.

This poison ivy looks fascinating.

I then tried to ride Andrew. I managed to eventually get the saddle and bridle adjusted for him. And he did okay in the round pen, but will now only go one direction. Anyway, I mounted, and he acted all barn sour and was hard to get to move out. Eventually he followed Dusty some, but I had to hood on through some spooking, and he crowded poor Kathleen and Dusty. In the end, Kathleen walked us around until neither he nor Dusty would do anything but investigate a feed dish. I’ll try another day. Who knows where the issue lies? I need help, but will get it soon.

I’m so glad Jim mowed. There’s hay everywhere. All I want to do is eat and gain weight and go lame. I’m a load of fun.

I just want a horse I can go riding on and learn new skills. I can’t do any of the exercises in the working equitation book, because I don’t have a clue what driving through the hindquarters means, and no horse of mine can side pass. I need patience! It’s not a race and is supposed to be fun. Maybe I’m the moody ones here.

Saturday Morning Ranch Sightings

Here at the Hermits’ Rest, weekend mornings start early for some and slow for others. But there’s always something lovely to see or fun to do. This morning was typical. Lee has started taking a walk every morning and asked me to join him. He may not do it again, as I had him go with me to feed the chickens and move Apache into his pen for the day, but we did eventually get to walking and looking at what’s growing and changing along our arroyo, which is still springy after the recent rains. I’m rather fond of the native plants and even the bad ole invasives (the water primrose) that line the stream.

It’s pretty to me.

Heck, to me tie vine is as lovely as fancy morning glories, and the ruellia is as pretty as a garden petunia. Plus, they are free!

A plant I hadn’t noticed much before is blooming right now, and the blooms are so tiny and hidden among the leaves that you almost wouldn’t notice them. It’s called scarlet toothcup (Ammannia coccinea). It’s a riparian plant, which means it grows in moist areas along streams and such. I think the little flowers are lovely.

Lee and I enjoyed many sights. What a great start to the day!

Next it was time to do some work, since the rest of the household had already been up working with horses and other chores. I got to help cut mesquite down where Sara’s horses currently are, in preparation for the cows that live here to rotate there. That was a lot of fun, and I saw some beautiful iron weed growing in that field.

It was good to be able to help by loading branches and opening gates. Plus, I got to see the other horses and more native plants and insects. I’ll spare you the endless supply of grasshoppers.

Everyone was busy this morning. The tenants were haying and Kathleen was horsing with her herd. I enjoy watching her ride. They’re all progressing according to plan, from what I can tell.

The dogs are just having fun, as usual, swimming, running, and rolling. I love seeing a happy Alfred!

All the Horse Health News That Fits the Blog

With all these skinny new horses, we have to keep an eye on their health. Kathleen was getting worried about some cuts on poor Mabel’s legs, and we both thought she seemed sad. We weren’t sure if she was sick or what.

Mabel in the stable

So today they took her to yet another equine facility, and Kathleen liked them a lot. Mabel got all bandaged up so she can heal from what are apparently rope burns from being tied, from a previous owner. That makes us all even more glad she is here now. Other than her weight, though, she’s okay. Her sadness is just her taking time to adjust to her new surroundings, which makes sense.

I think she already feels better, because while confined to the mini-pen we discovered can be made from our flexible gates, she actually came up to me and asked to be rubbed on. What a good sign!

What about me?

Meanwhile, my little pony Andrew (not really a pony) is also feeling better. Today’s the first day his eye hasn’t been all goopy in a week! I’m sure he’s glad people aren’t messing with his eyelids anymore!

These guys love each other, but Remi picks on Granny Amaretto

Today Lee had to take his car in for recalls in Rockdale, so I followed him and took the opportunity to get horse supplies from Tractor Supply. The highlight, for my steeds, was new hanging feed bowls for them, like Kathleen’s horses have. These hang on the fence and give them a chance to eat at a different height, which I read is good for them.

Happy spotted butts.

I also got a different girth for Drew, the kind the nephew recommended, and wormer for Fiona. She will love THAT. Plus, I got new treats. No sugar, low carb ones for a certain tubby paint horse. He ate one, so I guess they’re ok!

What about meee?

Don’t worry, dog lovers, my next blog will feature them!

Progress Report on Horses Drew and Apache, Plus Future Plans

Here we are at mid week, and things have calmed down at least a little. We’re getting into a routine with all the new horses and our very workable facility. While there will be improvements, like more roof and the tack room, what we have now feels quite luxurious!

Drew wishes he had Apache’s dinner, but it has very few calories, so he wouldn’t get much out of it.

It is so nice to have the round pen right there to warm up horses and to work with Drew. I’m happy to say that he is a lot better on the lunge line and now walks and trots more than trotting and cantering. Plus, he is starting to figure out that I am asking him to transition. He is also being a much better citizen when walking on a lead, and only crowds me in crowded spots. There’s work to do, but also progress. On the other hand, I have not found his “back” button.

Wow, exercise area, feeding area, pasture, shelter, and even a temporary washing station are here!

I’ve been riding Apache as often as possible. Yesterday, he acted like his right back hoof hurt and did not want to trot in the round pen, so I’m watching for another abscess. Yet, we went for a very long trail ride all over the cow pasture, front yard, and such, and he did just great. There’s a lot of progress with him, too, and I’m relaxing my feet more in the Western stirrups.

And look at this! We have trails mowed into the pasture for us, on both sides of the fence. We sure appreciate that!

The new horses of Kathleen’s are enjoying their lives very much. She’s been riding Dusty for hours every day, and they also are making huge progress. It’s fun to watch them. She walks all the horses daily and does tons of grooming. She’s the horsiest!

Dusty says, I’m enjoying riding around with Kathleen, and I’m gaining some weight!

Mabel has been looking sort of droopy, though, so she’s going to the vet ahead of schedule, just to be sure she is all right.

I’m eating a lot, but still working on filling out these old ribs of mine, says Granny Amaretto.

As for me, I know I am not equipped to train a young horse myself, so I have been talking to a local trainer whose philosophy and ideas agree with mine about getting him started the right way. She’s the woman who was the judge at the Working Equitation show we went to a while back. Starting in October, Drew will spend some time learning manners and skills, and I will also learn how to work with him the way he’s been trained.

Excuse me, I’m a teenager. I do not need manners. But, at least I’m clean, says Drew.

In the meantime, I’m going to start going to lessons with Apache, to help the two of us get more in tune and refine my riding and his horsing. I really look forward to finally getting some real lessons in horsemanship, after all these years of not doing it. It’s an investment into my future retirement fun. I can’t wait for Apache to get more balanced, so I can ride him at a trot and canter and maybe help get some of that weight off.

Fun in the Sun with the Farrier

I lied. The sun was not fun, and I got pretty overheated, but it was another day out with the horses. Around mid-afternoon, Trixie showed up to finish working on the horses, which she couldn’t do last week because of the rain. Sara came over to join the fun, so it was a day of friends, too.

Apache wore his “dress halter” for the occasion.

The buckskin buddies did very well getting trimmed. They knew what was going on, and handled it great. I know they’ll feel better with more even feet.

Remi always likes attention, so he was good.

Trixie looked over the two new horses, and that provided some surprises. She estimated Mabel to be around 9 years old, younger than we were told, but she thought Amaretto was WAY older than we heard, like late twenties! Kathleen was absolutely right to call her “Grandma,” so she may have a new barn name! Both horses need to eat, which we knew, and she agreed that Mabel is probably a gaited horse, from her looks. Her guess was a Tennessee Walking Horse. That would be okay with us!

I’m a fancy horse disguised as a sad, skinny mare.

Mabel is not very friendly, though she’s compliant and calm. I hope she comes out of her shell when she realizes she has a home and is safe now. Anyway, Apache and Fiona’s trims were calm and normal. They sure are good guys.

Also, I looked pretty. Like my tassels?

Drew was a whole ‘nother story. It’s a good thing he didn’t need a trim, because he needs work on picking up his back feet. Trixie showed us a technique for practicing that without risking getting kicked, which I was really grateful for. I’m thinking our Andrew needs to get some training by someone who knows what they are doing.

Who, me? I need training?

Wait, what’s that you see Drew and Trixie in? Is that a round pen? It is! While Trixie was working, the panels that we aren’t using as cattle fencing magically turned into their actual purpose, a portable round pen! All it needed was the spare gate, and boom, it was set up. It will most definitely work for now, and make me feel a lot better working with Drew.

The sun did this cool lighting all by itself.

Trixie was kind enough to bring her lunging/long-line training equipment to show me how to use it with Drew (after a debacle in trying to catch him again after I let him go). I was a little relieved to see he was as hard to get started gracefully for her as he was for me, though she got better and better results from him.

Drew is a fan of speed.

He did walk a few paces, and she got him to slow down a couple of times, which was good progress. Still, he mainly trotted at top speed and cantered as he traveled around and around. The way Trixie was doing it, he could only go one direction at a time, because of how the long lead was attached to his special Tractor Supply halter. He was not pleased to not be able to turn around. That is where the special very long training whip came in handy. She could direct him without getting on top of his teenage jumpy self.

Happy ending to lesson

The best thing, though, was that she got him to stop on her instructions twice. Slowing down was not of interest to him, so that was hard. She ended the lesson at the above state, with him stopped a respectful distance away and paying attention to her, not his ideas. This was a great way to end.

Drew isn’t ready for fancier lunging (or however you spell this; I am confused), but I do know what equipment I need to get, and I do now have a round pen. He will be a lot of work, but I hope it will be worth it in the long run! And of course, I also have to work with Apache and get some running in with him!

So happy to have had the lesson and to have our pens all ready to use. It’s fun feeding the horses now (Kathleen loves doing it, so she mostly handles it…she’s very good).

Tired of Horse Pictures?

Well, too bad. While sitting around with the horses and waiting for Trixie, I enjoyed getting pictures of them being themselves.

When one lays down, the other stands guard.

I’m really loving Remington. He’s about as friendly as a horse gets. He likes to rest his head on one’s head, and sweetly kisses (no nipping!) He’s even nice to Vlassic.

All the other horses have been napping and enjoying their salt blocks, especially Drew. It’s just so peaceful!

Plus, the main entry gates are now up. The big red one will no longer try to kill me when I lift it. And the big gates to the pasture will make moving cattle a breeze.

I’m also really surprised how the dogs and horses get along, other than Goldie chasing Fiona. Fiona needs the exercise, though.

Yes, We Have Gates

As I was out there riding and sweating today (and really sweating as I worked with Drew on the long lead), the real gates on the horse stalls got installed. It’s so great to be able to put them in their own feeding areas with the sand, the water troughs, and their washing station.

Clean Dusty in his new space

These aren’t necessarily the final gates, but building them will take a while. My two horses both like to knock down things and try to open gates, so that’s been getting tedious really fast.

I’m the good one. Nice new gate.

Even Lee got into the gate installation. He had fun, I think.

Don’t fence me in.

We can now arrange the pens in lots of creative ways, depending on how many horses there are and what they need. Makes me so happy.

And yes, I rode Drew today. He’s such a different horse than he was last week! Why? Well, he’s already at a better weight. He eats and eats, just like the teen boy he is.

I look normal for my age!

He also is building muscle like crazy. He now can run and run, bother the other horses, and be a young horse. All this means he isn’t the calm little guy he was before. So, he needs to be exercised a lot. A lot.

So, I taught him to do circles on the ground while wearing my new saddle. It flopped and made noise, which may have contributed to the fact that there was no walking involved. He trotted, cantered, and even galloped. I held on and worked with him on starting and stopping.

Once the rope slipped out of my hands and he keeps going. He does run pretty. But I got him back! Only after a lot of that exciting action did I try to mount him. Mostly I rode while he was led from the ground. That was good, because he wasn’t stopping well. Obviously we have a lot to work on. But we have time!

Speaking of working on things, my feet have been cramping all night. I think I was gripping the stirrups on the new saddle so hard. I have years to learn that, too.

I’m wishing Kathleen had washed ME when I was done. Note Apache trying to catch some spray.

(Sorry no pictures of Drew running dramatically and me looking competent, but we were all busy concentrating.)

Welcome to Our Equine Rescue Facility

Just kidding! Don’t send us fixer-upper horses! But we DO happen to have two more over here at the Hermits’ Rest, because at least two of us are very soft hearted or see a lot of potential, or something.

Mysterious new equines

This afternoon we certainly tested the carrying capacity of the livestock trailer (well, it’s probably had more cattle in it). First, I went along with Kathleen to get Dusty and Remi looked at by Dr. Kilgore in Rosebud. As predicted, he was popular with all the humans. We waited a long time, but it was fine. I took pictures of plants and butterflies, including one of those bird poop moths. I’ll spare you the photos of the poison ivy, but I did want to show that even Johnson grass can take a good photo. And, there were cute dogs to enjoy.

The horses got wormed and inspected. They were declared fine, other than their feet, which will get dealt with tomorrow. Then, Kathleen said she wanted to go look at these two mares she saw in horse ads. Yes, she was still looking at horse ads. I think she figures Remington is not going to be a great riding horse, and she feels that Dusty (who has already gained weight, as you can see below) is not a beginner horse.

You can still see his ribs, but Dusty (left) looks a lot better.

So off we went. The road looked very familiar. Yes, it was in those outskirts of Milano where we got all the pipe and junk a few weeks ago! I’m sure the horses loved that road, poor guys. We pulled in to a property that was just beautiful, and so far off the beaten path…it made me sing “Almost Heaven, East Milano…”

No houses, just rolling pastures.

The guy did, indeed have two mares. They were very sad looking mares at first glance. I’m going to put in their “before” photos here, so I’ll have a reference as they get better.

We named them Mabel and Amaretto. But before that, the horse trader guy rode both of them for us. First was Mabel. When she is being ridden, you wouldn’t know this is the same horse. It’s like poetry. Her trot is so smooth the guy didn’t bounce, and her canter was elegant. I’m thinking to myself, geez, this is a gaited horse! Then they stuck me up on her (easier said than done; she is at least 16 hands, so I had to use the trailer as a mounting block). I rode her and it felt like she had air-glide suspension. I was not interested in a giant, brown (okay dark bay) horse with a droopy lip before, but suddenly I was. I hid my joy, of course.

Amaretto’s sweet face.

Then he saddled up the other horse, which could not be more different. But, she is only 14 hands, if that, and I can mount her from the ground. Even Kathleen could! Kathleen enjoyed riding her, and wanted me to try. Amaretto reins more fluidly, but rides like Apache, i.e., a normal Quarter Horse. I will enjoy my new saddle on her. She is actually a beautiful horse, but she’s so skinny it’s hard to tell. Apparently the horse trader had leased her out, and she was returned in this poor condition (OMG her feet look so sad).

Mabel working

So, after the requisite haggling, they bought them. And during the chit-chat portion of the discussion, we also were referred to a cool old guy who had some saddles. BUT WAIT. You remember the guy who sold Drew got rid of him because he wanted some beautiful stud horse? Guess where he got him! Yep. We should have just met in Milano and traded. I am glad we have Drew, though.

Don’t forget me.

So, off we went with four horses and two saddles. They let them out with Fiona and the other three horses, then all of us just watched everyone running around and getting to know each other. It was a lot of fun.

Meet and greet

When we came in, finally, I got to open my new saddle. It has many pretty details.

Around noon today, Kathleen and I went out to play with all our new toys. I cleaned the saddle they got yesterday. It turned out really nice!

Hardly looks old!

Then I got Apache out to see if he would do okay in my new tack. I got the saddle all adjusted and off we went. He did just fine!

I’m told the pad is a bit large.

Kathleen put on her “new” saddle and yay, the stirrups were short enough for her! It’s technically a kid saddle. Who cares? Amaretto did fine, too. She’s a good horse.

Kathleen looking good.

I got too hot (not my best time of day), so was able to blog a bit. I’m sitting with dear Amaretto, who is completely un phased by welding in her vicinity.

Once I cool off, it’s time to mess with little Drew. By then we may have all the gates up! Enjoy some bonus horse photos!

Dang! Animal Issues! Plus Sweetness

I have to admire Trixie. She came over and trudged through the scary clay mud to take a look at the new horses. It was obvious she couldn’t do their feet, but she wanted to take a look at Remington, especially.

He immediately took to her and started showing her where he hurt. It was so endearing. She is concerned about his old head injury and his limited vision in his right eye. But she said he’d learned to compensate.

Nonetheless, Trixie doesn’t want to do much with Remi’s neck until she sees the x-rays Kathleen has. But she did a few things for him, and at the end he yawned and yawned. He obviously felt better.

Meanwhile, Goldie wanted to play with Fiona, who was having none of that. Much kicking and donkey attitude ensued.

Dusty was fine, other than having an oddly shaped butt and needing to gain a couple hundred pounds. That was good to know. Trixie recommended supplements.

Then it was Drew’s turn. Trixie thought he may be younger than three, but I think his owner was right; he’s barely 3. Other than being thin, she said he was in good shape, EXCEPT his eye was all goopy. What the heck?

After goop was wiped.

While Trixie was looking Drew over, perhaps the sweetest thing I’ve seen in YEARS occurred. Goldie, who had already herded loose cattle today, came up to us. She sniffed all over Drew as if to figure out he was in pain. Then she licked his face!

Hmm. You smell funny.

Then my heart melted. Drew must have spent ten minutes being kind to Goldie. He licked and licked her back, licked her sore area where she is in heat, and carefully nipped her all over.

You are my friend.

They spent a whole lot of time calmly standing nose to nose. It was so dear. I could not love these two animals more. The both are so full of love and gratitude for their nice new lives.

You smell so good.

Because of the eye issue, as soon as Trixie left, we loaded poor Drew into the trailer AGAIN and rushed him to Dr. Kildore in Rosebud. They were great to let us in. The vet found he had a lot of debris in his eye, so he numbed it, flushed it, and got everything out. His cornea is not scratched. Whew. He needs ointment in his eye for a few days, then should be okay.

I’m staying here forever.

We still had trouble getting Drew out of the trailer. I wonder what has caused it? Once he was out, though, he held no grudges. He is such a wonderful soul.