Tack Room, Not Tacky at All

Today our renovation crew had a day off from Anita’s house, so they worked on fixing up a shipping container and a portable shed to be the new Hermits’ Rest hay loft and tack room.

Leveling

It wasn’t the easiest task in the world, but by gosh, the team got it done! Leveling the portable building we’d brought over from our church building wasn’t too bad. With enough concrete blocks and shims, it ended up looking great. And they made me a step to get into it.

They plan to cover the blocks.

Getting the container level was an ordeal. At first not even the backhoe could lift it. So the team had to take all the dang bags of concrete back out, the ones you faithful readers might remember were a problem a while back. Then the backhoe could raise it up.

Lee supervising.

Everything is way up in the air, at least on one end. That will encourage drainage, since it’s all on a slope. The plan is to add some siding to make it look better. But to me it looks great.

The back side, which is the high side.

Once they got it all level, they started to insulate it, beginning with the ceiling. I guess they had some insulation left over from another project. They also began to put the old ceiling tiles from the church over the insulation, but it’s rather fragile.

Insulated loft.

Tiny mom brag: my kid did a good job cutting all the pieces up! The future will probably include inexpensive paneling on the walls. It will look rustic.

All cleaned up and ready for the next phase.

It’s sure looking better, and I feel much closer to tack and hay storage! The tack room will have air conditioning and a little refrigerator for medicine and drinks, plus lights and lots of shelving. Of course there will be saddle racks, hangers for other tack, and a desk. Plenty of space for feed and supplements, too. For me, there will be a chair.

Scenic back of hay loft. Hopefully we will paint our containers to match the tack room.

None of the activity bothered the horses at all. Drew and Apache got their feet trimmed with no problems. Both just enjoyed the attention.

Vlassic enjoyed hoof trimmings. Apache has such good feet now. So thankful for Trixie!

I’m grateful for all the hard work of our team. I’m grateful to be here, enjoying the beauty of spring, listening to the swallows, and loving my family. Peace.

Barn Swallows are nesting!

Aragorn Has a Good Day

Woo I’m tired, but I know who’s more tired. This guy:

Aragorn!

I followed Aragorn and Sara up to the same facility near Waco where we first discovered working equitation, Highlander Ranch. There, he had his first clinic, and first experience off ranch since she got him. He was a trooper.

Here we come!

I learned a lot from the clinicians, Doreen and Kiki. I can take the ideas straight to Apache. Great ways to stay straight and do transitions, etc.

Here’s Sara successfully spearing a ring with a lance with Kiki helping.

Sara and Aragorn did a great job on all the obstacles and learned how to fix any missteps.

The double slalom, the hardest one.

I also enjoyed all the other horses and their riders. They ranged from a woman who had never tried the discipline but had a very willing horse to Aragorn’s breeder, who cantered everywhere.

Cantering in a circle.

Here’s a cool horse. He was so shiny and was so sweet, and had been abused, but you’d never know it.

Shiny guy.

We also had Trixie join us, and now she’s ready to participate, too! It was such a laid-back event, but full o’ education.

Having fun, with the Abby dog.

I enjoyed the facility, too. Wow they have a HUGE barn, where Aragorn got to rest after he learned his stuff.

I am so tired, though of course Aragorn and Sara are more tired. But they can be proud of themselves. Here are a few more photos. There will be more tomorrow!

I’ll take lots of videos of Sara learning dressage techniques tomorrow. I took a lot today, so she can analyze her technique to improve. I’m glad I got to tag along.

Some Help for Drew the Colt

As you may recall, I’ve been concerned that Drew, age 3 or so, seems really unbalanced and has trouble standing on three legs. I reported that in my Drew’s Clues post last week. Some of it may well be just growing pains. He’s definitely in growth mode right now. But, when Trixie last looked at him, she was pretty sure he had some issues that were causing him to hold one hip higher than the other, making balance difficult. So, today was the day to prod Drew in earnest to see if we could give him some help or relief.

This is my favorite picture of Drew and Trixie in relaxation mode. Yes, Drew has a hole in his mane. But it’s growing back in!

Some of the stretches and other manipulations she did could have been a bit painful to him, so we constructed a fake chute to put him in. It protected Trixie and kept him from squirming.

He looks skinny here, but he’s really fine. This is his “chute.”

Both Trixie and I were impressed with how well he took to all the handling and odd positions he got put in. She said he really has a good disposition and can be a forever horse for me if I keep doing the right things for him. That made me happy, because I get really good feelings about him, too, even when he’s being a bit of a teenager.

Picture for reference

I took the above photo for his trainer, to show his muscle development and such right now. One thing I can tell is he’s gotten lighter in just the time I’ve had him, and his legs have more muscle. The biggest difference is his neck, which is filling out well, considering it was pretty skinny when we got him.

By the end of a lot of muscle movement and massage, a couple of miracles occurred, at least for Drew. He is able to stand on either back leg and even cross each leg way over to the other side of the one on the ground. I was shocked at the improvement.

And, his hips are even. Granted, he’s standing a little funny in the picture below (he looks “cow-hocked” but I am assured he isn’t normally), but he looks much more balanced. I hope that by getting him worked on a few times in the next month, he’ll be able to be balanced in training.

Nice healthy poop, too. His tail has grown at least an inch this month!

Many times we’ve noticed that the horses really get relaxed after being worked on. Well, Drew was really REALLY relaxed. I told Trixie I bet he laid down as soon as we took his halter off.

Tired little teddy bear.

He looks about like I feel. As hard as I try, my mental health is not holding up. But, don’t worry, I also went to the doctor! I had my first telemedicine appointment today, which was an interesting experience. It worked great.

That leads me to my big message for today: if you need help ASK for it. And be glad you aren’t a horse, who has a hard time asking.

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).

A Horse Love Story with a Twist: The Whole Thing

[Somehow, most of this post got deleted when I went to publish it before. THIS is the real story!]

I’m excited to have permission to share this story! Yesterday I got to head out to a horse breeding and training facility in our area to visit Sara’s new love interest, a large Andalusian gelding named Aragorn. She met him last week and instantly bonded with him.

True love. (He has sweat marks from being ridden)

It’s a beautiful property, and we were surprised to see a beautiful colt on the road, prancing and dancing like a fairy animal. We said we bet he wasn’t supposed to be there. Sure enough, Glenn, the ranch owner, came running up to get the little guy. He was back in and coming into the barn to eat dinner by the time we got in.

That’s the culprit at right.

All the mares and foals just walk in and line up in stalls to be fed. All so well trained, and the foals were very friendly.

Dinner time!

Aragorn’s current owner bred him, so knows his history. Glenn told us lots about him and was very honest about why he is relatively affordable for a very well-bred European breed. He coughs when anxious, for example.

Getting ready to ride. These horses start our some other color, then turn gray. He looks like he was originally chestnut, like one of the colts above.

Once he got all saddled and we learned a lot about appropriate bits, Trixie showed up, and we watched Sara get a lesson in riding in the style Aragorn is used to. Sara is such a quick learner that I could tell Glenn was having fun telling her stuff and watching her figure out exactly what to do.

Teaching and learning

And, obviously, Sara had a blast as well. I got a lot of photos of the lesson that I’m going to send to her just to study her positioning and stuff, but my favorite pictures have to be the ones of Glenn gesturing, Sara working, and the two dogs who are exactly the color of the dirt, just sat and watched.

This may be my favorite

Just in case you are interested in what Aragorn can do, here are a few more pictures to click or ignore. To be honest, I just like looking at the beautiful setting of this ranch and its facilities. They are nice but not insanely fancy or anything. It’s “just right.”

Trixie has known Glenn a long time, but even she said she was learning some things watching him show Sara things, explaining the origin of the moves in Western dressage, and sharing history of equestrian sports. It was fascinating. And he is such a nice and generous man!

You can see the other geldings behind Sara. They were annoyed that their dinner was delayed.

The Amazing Part of the Story

After the “test drive” in Sara’s tack, we were just talking to Glenn. She asked if he did private lessons, and he said he hadn’t before, since he just retired from being an ER physician. Sara sat on Aragorn for a minute, thinking. Then she asked him, “Were you an ER physician in College Station 21 years ago?” He replied that he was.

When we were chatting (sorry for bad lighting)

She then asked if he remembered a blue roan paint colt named X that he trained. He didn’t quite remember, but said he could look it up. Sara said that was her colt she’d raised to work with before she married her children’s father. She mentioned her married name, and Glenn said that did sound familiar. So, we are pretty sure they met all that time ago when Sara had her precious colt that she had to later sell. Wow!

Back to Work

After we got over our surprise, Trixie got to work and adjusted the heck out of Aragorn. Just like with my horses, he ended up extremely relaxed. It’s always extra educational watching her work with a horse and diagnose where it has structural weaknesses and what could help it. Sara took a lot of notes.

Working on his neck

Meanwhile, I bonded with the dog and looked at all the other beautiful horses. I had no complaints whatsoever, and took lots of pictures of how they arranged their tack house, their tying mechanism and such, for reference when we get to setting up our new one.

Woof the guard dog has been busy guarding. He is very friendly to humans, though.

I knew Sara would like some “glamour shots,” so we went out and took some, even though Aragorn still had the sweat marks from her saddle pad. He is obviously fond of her already. They really had an instant bond, like he’d been waiting his whole life for her to show up.

At the end of the day, we all got to go take a look at the young stallion who was in the paddock next to Aragorn. He is most beautiful, like someone’s dream horse. They are hoping he will have a baby soon from a mare that was brought in to be bred.

I’m doing my trick. Where’s my food?

He’s been trained that he has to stand on that stump to get dinner, because he used to be pushy about his food. He was not thrilled that his food didn’t immediately show up, but he was gentle as a kitten, and apparently is a great riding horse. I’d love to see him in saddle!

The horsie gals.

We were pretty exhausted and sweaty by the time we were ready to go home, but had to take a selfie of us horse lovers in our unplanned coordinated shirts! We are a bit disheveled, but happy. I hope you enjoyed our love story with a nod to the past. I know you look forward to Aragorn coming home to Sara’s property and watching them progress in their skills.

Horse Improvement May Be Expensive

The good news, for sure, is that Apache is walking a lot better. The bad news is that between the vet yesterday and the farrier today, plus new medicine, he is one expensive pet. But, I knew going in that horses are not for the penniless.

Apache declares’s he’s worth it. That’s me, watching him on FaceTime.
This is NOT dignified.

Yesterday, while I was at the closing on the Ross house and helping stick colored glass in the floors at the Pope house, Dr. Amy came to the ranch to float teeth on all the equines and give them their shots. I was so sad to miss that, since I’ve never been there when their teeth were floated (that is when the veterinarian takes some sort of giant buzzing raspy thing and makes their teeth even, so they can chew more easily and won’t hurt their tongues on sharp teeth.

She ended up doing all of them, even poor Fiona. Of course, they said what a great donkey she is, etc. I felt sorry for her with the giant mouth-opening appliance in her. The good news is that they do sedate the animals for this undignified procedure.

I’m smiling, really, Fiona says.

Since I could not be there, Sara was kind enough to FaceTime me, so that I could see everything. That’s why my head is in most of the photos.

Apache was very good for his floating. I am sure it was easier to keep him still, because he wasn’t wanting to walk very much.

He made Dr. Amy laugh.
No fun for anyone.

He also showed that his feet weren’t TOO bad by picking each of them up so that Mark (Sara’s friend who used to train thoroughbreds) could paint some goop on his hooves. I think he thinks Apache is gonna croak at any moment, but we think he is already getting better.

Dr. Amy prescribed some powdered Bute, which I went and bought for $45. Of course, he hates it. ARGH. We agreed he needs to eat empty calories, and she prescribed some food that fits the bill (though his current beet pulp does, too), as well as a supplement with a lot of turmeric in it. I take it, and it helps ME!

I haven’t seen the bill for that yet, but I feel a lot better having him with all his shots up to date and with an actual doctor looking at him.

Today, Trixie came by to do the long-awaited adjustments on Spice that she’d been holding off on until she got her teeth floated. As always, that was fun to watch. She also did Lakota, but I missed that part, because I was at the other work. Anyway, she said Spice is incredibly stiff. She’s coming back in a few weeks to work on her again. On the other hand, Lakota is in such great shape she could not believe he is in his late twenties. She kept gushing about his conformation and how great shape all his joints are in.

Lakota is Mr. Popularity.

Fiona was declared fine, so she didn’t get any farrier work. YAY!

But, Trixie was fascinated by Apache’s feet. Like I’d noticed before, his hooves do not feel hot to the touch (usual for laminitis, which is his current diagnosis). She also said his hooves looked pretty normal, not like the hooves of a foundering horse. Hmm, that’s what I thought, too. Maybe we’ve caught the issue in time to get him better.

Your feet are fascinating, Patchy.

What she DID see was that the bony area in the middle of his foot, around the “frog” area was longer than the hoof. Now, that’s like walking on your nail bed. It would hurt like the dickens. She trimmed him all up (and again, he stood on three legs just about as well as he normally does), and we are waiting to see how he does. It’s a short trim (someone was concerned, so I am adding this), but will be fine and allow healthy hoof material to get to the end of his foot faster.

Being a good boy and holding his foot up.

I’m sure none of the horses feel all that great, with all those shots, scary dental appliances, and hoof trimming. To be kind, we have delayed worming, which would be a final indignity, until two weeks from now. Lucky guys.

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