Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rescue Horses or The price of being a responsible breeder

I just got back from 20 hours on the road, going to pick up 2 horses that had been abandoned. One was a colt I had bred and sold 2 years ago, the other a pasture mate of his that I knew. The person who had owned these horses is a decent, hardworking soul, who bought the colt in better times with excellent intentions. Times changed, her life changed and I get a call (very indirectly) from the person boarding them that their board hasn't been paid in 4 months and he doesn't know what to do. He said he hadn't heard from the owner in months, had tried calling, writing and finally got a hold of an old boyfriend of hers that got me through the grapevine. He said he didn't want to send them to auction, as they were nice horses and in the present economic climate that pretty much is a death sentance. His other option was the big cat sanctuary in his area...not so great either. No rescues would take them, as they were in pretty good condition. What to do?
No question, I had a road trip ahead of me. I asked him if I could contact a friend in the area to come pick them up - no problem. My friend picked up the two horses I was taking and saw no signs of the other 4 that had also been abandoned. Not all were from the person I had sold the colt to, although she had a mustang boarded there that I did not want to take, as he was only very green broke and a very difficult horse. 3 others were young QHs that were supposedly out of 'assorted mares by a nice, big stallion', bred by another person who had fallen on hard times. I have no idea what happened to these horses and I just won't think too hard about it.

So, my friend picked them up, took them home and gave me a report. They were thin, looked wormy, but not starving. Their feet hadn't seen a trim in at least a year (not surprising, as that was how long they'd been there). She said the colt was very small and very depressed, but looked nice overall. She dewormed them, trimmed their feet and put lots of food into them for the week or so she had them.

I drove down Tuesday with a good friend and our 10 hour trip flew by. We discussed horses (of course!), husbands, world affairs, breed affairs, and many other topics. We arrived in 95 degree weather, which was wonderful, as Seattle has definately gone into FALL weather. We were invited to eat wonderful organic food and we talked and caught up until my eyelids started drooping. We didn't get out of her farm until late the next morning, as we kept finding new things to talk about, but finally hit the road at about 10:30 am. The two boys travelled like troopers, with Andre (the Teke colt) eating and drinking like a seasoned traveller. Shotzi (the Arab) wasn't quite as happy and didn't drink at all and only ate a little. I wasn't all that worried though, as Shotzi had plenty of reserves and it wasn't very hot. Another 10 hour drive, lots of talking and we arrived home at about 9:30 pm. Both boys were happy to get out into the arena and had a nice roll. Today I took Shotzi over to where he'll be staying for quite some time, hopefully showing a new trail rider the joys of riding. Andre is out with Danny, one of his buddies from when he was a baby, and he has settled in quite nicely. He is a little shorter than Danny and much, much narrower, but I think he'll catch up in time and attain his genetic potential of being about 16 hands. He looks pretty good from the side, just under muscled, but is so narrow it's almost comical. I intend to take some photos tomorrow, then in about 2 weeks and then every two weeks after to show his progress. I groomed both boys a bit tonight and Andre hasn't lost his sweet, friendly attitude and seemed to really, REALLY enjoy the currying and brushing. Danny wasn't so sure that Andre should get any of that, but gave in with fairly good grace.

So, two horses saved, but it really does raise questions about expects that when you sell a horse to a nice, hardworking person for a reasonable price, this sort of thing won't happen. Wrong. I have no foals coming this next year, because of several issues, but I will really have to think about the future. I know I'm not the only one that has had this sort of thing happen and when I do produce a foal I commit to it for it's entire life. I've gotten back a few horses, for one reason or another, but I've never had this situation before. With hay topping $300 a ton and me feeding a ton a week, it's very thought provoking.

Anyway, Andre is out in my paddock right now, chowing down on lovely grass hay, just had a nice grain feeding and is warm and dry. Shotzi is over in a big field with a few other horses, with someone that knows and likes him. The mustang and the QHs...I don't want to know.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Life on the Farm this summer

It's August and things are busy, busy, busy here. I've just started a part-time job at our local Large Animal Hospital as a vet assistant, so I'm learning lots there. Our foals are growing nicely and it looks as if Suyji has been sold as a stallion prospect. We've had several visitors in the last weeks to see horses, most of which have seen us at one Expo or another. Karen Wegehenkel, who took the lovely photos at Celebrate the Horse that are on my site, came out and took a bunch more of several of the horses. The photos turned out wonderfully and it makes me wonder how they would have looked if all the horses had actually been clean! There are links to her site on my site, so if you need a photographer, give her a call.

I've gotten some trail riding in - over the last weekend Wendy and I went out and trimmed some trails up at Mann Road in Sultan and then the next day Callie and I met up with the Pomeroys and we did a nice little ride at Lord Hill. Lovely!

We're starting to think about school now, planning our summer vacation and getting school clothes situated. All good stuff!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Summer Days

Summer is definately here and it's great. I am solar-powered, so here in the Pacific Northwest, summer is my favorite season. Lately, I've been outside, cleaning paddocks, working horses, mowing, weedwhacking, you name it, as long as it's outside. I'm not doing all that much riding, as all my kids are home and I feel rather guilty going off and having fun while they're stuck at home doing their chores. And, we're breeding, treating mares, managing the stallion, etc, so that takes time.

I did get in a nice ride this weekend with my friend Wendy. I took my daughter, Callie's horse, Ari, as Galen had a slight stone bruise. He was quite good, although we did have a 'discussion' about leaving the lush grass at one stop. I explained to him that he'd get to eat later on and life was fine.

Tomorrow it's hauling mares to the vet clinic for ultrasounds and treatments. Thursday, we might get another ride in...hopefully!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Getting Ready for our Expo

Here at Cascade Gold, we've put aside competing for a bit and are getting ready to show off our horses at a local horse expo. Celebrate the Horse is in a large venue, so there should be pretty good crowds. I'm taking 4 of my horses (whew!); I'm riding Galen, my daughter Callie is riding her gelding Arzuw, her friend Tayler is riding Mazan and Monica Bretherton is riding Andymn. We've all been preparing for about a month now, as neither Tayler nor Monica had ridden their mounts before. We're hoping that Andy can show off some of his jumping skills and Tayler and Maz will be showing off their developing partnership. We've been hauling out to other barns, going on little trail rides (it's been years since Maz was off the farm!) and working on costumes. I think we will have a decent show - I've told the crew that we're there to show how fun our horses are - we're not going to worry about presenting a perfect dressage test or a drill, but to show people that Tekes are fabulous horses to ride. (and, they're very fancy while doing that!). There is also a Warhorse Challenge going on, that we might try to do. Last year, at Horse N Around days (a similar expo we went to), the Warhorse Challenge group offered to let other horses and riders do their course. I'm sure it was a very beginner one to them, but it looked like a blast. We're thinking that we might try it...we've been knocking buckets off of jump standards with plastic swords (and Ari has helped Callie with this several times - he just knocks them off with his nose before she can with the sword), and we need to set up a ring to spear. We'll see how everyone does at the expo itself, as it will be over the 4th and could be a bit noisy! But, if you're in the neighborhood, come check us out. The link for Celebrate the Horse with more information is'll share the weekend's story and photos when we get back!Cathy

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Foals are Here!

Both of 2008's foals are now here. Alav foaled last week on July 2nd at the considerate time of 8 am and had a gorgeous, dark brown or smokey black colt. Ria waited until we were back from Celebrate the Horse and foaled Wednesday evening around 8:30 a huge, gorgeous filly. They haven't been introduced to each other yet, but will be soon.

Celebrate the Horse Expo, July 5th and 6th, 2008

Whew! It was quite the weekend here in Seattle. We started our week off with Alav foaling a gorgeous, dark brown colt on Wednesday (thank goodness she cooperated with OUR schedule!), and then got everything packed up and ready to go for Friday morning. Our little caravan set off to Puyallup to the Puyallup Fairgrounds, where the Celebrate the Horse Expo was. We had me, my daughter Callie, my son Zach, our friends Margaret Pomeroy and her two daughters, Rachel and Tayler along. We got down to the Fairgrounds and got the horses all tucked in their stalls and unloaded most of the gear, exhibit stuff and feed. Galen was not at all happy in his stall (he lives outdoors year round, as he really HATES stalls), so we put he and Maz together in one stall. They were cozy, but Galen calmed down. We got the boys out into the big arena where we would be doing our exhibitions and got them a bit used to it. Everyone did well, especially Callie and Tayler, who both did absolutely fabulous jobs with their mounts. Later that evening, we watched fireworks at the campsite and celebrated Callie's 14th birthday with cake and sparklers (and a bit more for the adults!). Saturday morning, we were up at 6 am, as we had a 7 am practice time in the big arena. The kids all did their morning chores without any fuss and we had another good practice session. I then signed up Galen and I as a demo horse for a few clinicians, figuring that the more exposure the better and hey, I was there anyway, might as well have fun! So, we got everything set up back at the barn, Zach demonstrated absolutely outstanding sales skills, talking to the people wandering the aisles and at 1:30 I went into the big arena with Galen for a demo with Steve Rother. This was to be a trail obstacles demo, but as I told Steve, the obstacles weren't a problem - it was being in the arena with it's totally non-natural obstacles that seemed to be the issue. So, he had us go out to the warm-up arena, trot circles for about 5-6 minutes and then come back into the arena and hang out. Our first time, Galen hung out for about 5 minutes and then got ancy again. Back outside, trot more circles, come back in. The arena was looking better each time we went out. By the end of the 40 or so minute demo, Galen was showing the other horses how to do obstacles - pushing a huge ball around, walking over (and thinking about dragging) a blue tarp, going between barrels, over poles etc. He was very pleased with himself, as he should have been. Our group went on at 3:30 and Callie, Tayler and I rode around the perimeter of the arena, while Monica Bretherton jumped Andy in the middle. Her husband, Bill Drescher, was our jump man and they all did a fabulous job. I have to also mention that Cindy and Larry Balogh, Andy's owners, where there helping with jumps and general stuff, my husband Larry and eldest daughter Alex came and helped out too. We'll have some video up soon. Our fifteen minute spot was up all too soon, and to enthusiastic applause, we exited the arena and swapped high fives and happy smiles. We did a bunch of posing for photos, as we were in our fantastic costumes, most of which Margaret did. I especially liked our helmet covers - I had told her I liked the traditional fuzzy hats, but wouldn't allow the kids (or myself) to ride without helmets, so she came up with authentic looking helmet covers! She also 'blinged' up the boy's bridles and came up with some non-authentic, but authentic LOOKING a-la-jas. Hurray for ingenuity! Then, a bit later, Callie and I did the Warhorse Challenge! We had seen this last year at the Horse N Around Days and it looked like great fun. Callie and Ari did some practicing at home, knocking buckets off of jump standards and Ari really got into it, up to knocking the buckets over with his nose before she could. I hadn't practiced at all with Galen, but figured that if we can trot those winding trails in the woods and break off branches at the same time, we were fine. Callie and I went in together, starting with a spear each to spear through 4 rings hanging from standards. We both had to figure out how to hold the spear and not whack our horses. I did pretty well, getting all the rings, but Callie was having a hard time managing the heavy spear AND steering her horse. But, she preservered and we stuck the 'boar' (a bale of straw) and took up the sword to chop off the enemies 'heads' (pop bottles on standards). I chopped the head and got the other rings, but Callie was once again having trouble keeping everything balanced. We had practiced with light, plastic swords and these were heavy, wooden swords. But, she finished the course, and left the arena saying "I had better practice more for next year!" We also only trotted, instead of the full out gallop the veterans did - the announcer called it 'The saunter attack'. I figure we would have gotten the enemy stragglers. But, it was great fun and the horses enjoyed it.So, we were done for the day and poor Andy had had enough. He started pacing his stall but happily calmed down enough that I felt safe leaving him. We finished up our day with card games, treats and stories back at the campsite. Sunday morning we skipped our 6 am practice time, as the kids were pretty tired from the day before. As soon as people started showing up, poor Andy was a basket case. I finally put Galen in the stall with him, which annoyed Galen to no end (Andy can be a bit of a butt), but calmed Andy down. Andy spent the rest of the day hanging out behind Galen, resting his head on Galen's back. We talked to the public and didn't have anything set up until 3:30, when we did our demo again. This one was even better than the day before, with us all knowing what to do and how to do it. Andy jumped higher and better, the girls did an even better job and Galen was super. Andy then was a demo horse for Barb Apple to demonstrate some ground training techniques and then was done. I then rode Galen in the Warhorse Challenge again, although I still didn't gallop, but got all the rings and cut the 'head' off. Our 'saunter attack' was excellent. The kids got to see some of the other things going on, we had a good response from the public, and we started packing up and were home by 8 pm Sunday night. I couldn't have done this weekend without the help of Margaret Pomeroy and her girls, Tayler riding and Rachel being flag-girl and general helper; Cindy and Larry Balogh for letting me take Andy and taking loads of stuff to and from the fairgrounds; Monica Bretherton riding Andy and her husband Bill Drescher helping her; Callie for riding and Zach for his stellar salesmanship and flag-holding , and my husband Larry and my daughter Alex for taking care of the barn at home. It was a very good weekend, I'm sure we're all pretty pooped today, cause I sure am, but it was fun and we're already planning for next year's Expo!Cathy

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Rainy Day!

I had all the best intentions of heading out and doing a nice, long trail ride today. But, it's pouring rain and even the most diehard trail rider would be hard-pressed to get excited about being wet, cold and muddy. So, we had some lessons in the arena, and now I'm sitting in front of the computer, updating my websites and wondering if reading a book during the day, while not actually ill, would make me feel too guilty. Juries still out on that one.

Things have been going fairly well - Galen and I did our first 50 a few weeks back and I'm ready for my next one. We have one planned at the end of the month - the Klickitat Trek, and until then, we're doing conditioning rides, I'm working on getting my saddle a bit more comfortable and working with some of the other horses. You can read the story of our first 50 at

I have two mares due to foal a bit later this year - Alav is due June 28th and Ria is due July 13th, so I suspect I won't be doing any rides for a few weeks there. I am looking forward to these foals, although I hope I don't have the same problems we had last year. We had three mares with red bag deliveries, most likely due to fescue toxicity. Alav and Ria will be switched over to alfalfa only fairly soon (which I suspect they won't mind at all!) so we (hopefully) won't have the same problem this year. I need to get some of the youngsters started under saddle, and breeding season will be starting very soon for us. Khano, my stallion, thinks we should have started a few weeks ago, but I really don't like having foals too early, as they then have to contend with cold weather, mud, rain, mud, and more mud. June or July babies tend to have warmer weather, no mud, more green grass and everyone is happier all around. Tekes don't have futurities or a mandatory January 1st birthday, so there is very little reason to have very early foals like there is in QHs or TBs. The warmer weather also makes for a much nicer foal watch - I often spend at least part of the nights on foal watch in the barn, even though I have a video monitor, and freezing isn't much fun.

Well, I think I've overcome my guilt about curling up on the sofa and reading during the day and it IS Mother's Day, so I think I'll go do that.

Until next time,


Monday, April 21, 2008

Grizzly Mountain Ride, April 19th, 2008

I'm here in front of the computer with a dog on my lap. I'm pretty sore from the ride this weekend, so am catching up on emails, blogs, etc. I wrote a complete report on the ride on another blog, so I won't go into a long-winded recount here. I was lucky that my husband and kids took over the farm for the weekend and did a lovely job taking care of things. My 10 year old son, Zach, even did the grains on Saturday night, as his big sister Callie, was at a sleepover. She usually does the grains, but Zach stepped up and helped out. I'm still unloading the trailer and camper, although as we're planning on heading out again on Friday, I'm not doing a complete unpacking. After this next weekend, it will be several weekends before our next ride. I don't remember which one is next, off the top of my head. It was a very fun weekend, and our friends David and Jennifer LeBlanc camped next to us. We didn't coordinate very well for meals, so will have to do better this coming weekend!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Another lovely weekend

Went riding with my friend Wendy on Sunday down at Griffin Creek outside of Fall City. Nice trails, and lots of them! Something that really made me grin was the little wood signs on many of the trails - someone has a great sense of humor. Names like "Wee Owl" and now I'm blanking on some of the good ones! But, decent footing, although we had to walk some sections because of big rocks. In and out of the trees was great fun and Allie and Galen loved it. He's getting fitter and wants to go faster and longer, so that is wonderful. He's also discovered a huge walk, which he's never had before. We went out with some friends several weeks ago on somewhat green horses, so we walked the entire time of about an hour and a half. Galen was very practical and said "well, if we can't trot, then I'll walk as fast and big as I can". Fine by me! We were keeping up with a big walking Morgan mare and were faster than the Rocky Mountain mare. His walk has always been his weakest gait, but I'd say Not Any More! The funniest thing was that my back was so sore after that. His trot is very smooth and the canter the same, but that walk was like being on a seesaw, back up, hind quarters under, thrust, back down, repeat. I'm much more used to it now though, as we've been practicing!

We're getting ready for our first ride of the year down in Madras, Oregon. I sure hope the weather cooperates, cause even if it doesn't, I'm going! The camper is pretty much packed from our aborted ride at the end of March (the passes were closed and roads were icy), so we just need to repack the trailer, put our perishables in and load the ponies. It should be a lot of fun and I'm hoping we'll see some other Teke folks down there.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Akhal-Teke blogging

This is sort of addicting! Rainy, blustery Sunday out, so I'm working in the nice, dry computer room.

So, I was writing about Galen. Poor boy! Yesterday I went out to give him his morning grain (he's one of those 'hard-keepers', lucky boy!) and he was looking absolutely miserable. After a five minute panic - 'Oh my goodness, he has some horrible, life-threatening disease', I remembered he'd had 3 shots on Thursday when we went to get our 6 month passport, coggins and brand inspection. Huge sigh of relief and then I got some bute into him, rubbed his poor little ears and put his hay up in a haynet. So, he gets a few days off from riding, until his neck is all better. He's feeling better today - brighter eye, less pitiful looking. I'll know he's all back to normal when I turn him out and he runs around for an hour.

This morning was our 'lesson' morning. A friend and boarder, Kay, is giving lessons to my husband and son in return for my help with her youngster. It's working out nicely, as both guys can really make me crazy during lessons and it doesn't bother Kay a bit. Of course, she's not related to either of them, which no doubt makes a difference. Zach rode his pony, Bella, and did a nice job. Larry (my husband) rode Maz, our 15 year old purebred Teke gelding. Maz is such a good boy! He's had years of training and riding and is so good with the less confident riders. If he's really unsure of what they want, he just goes to the instructor and stands there, seemingly saying "You'd better give this one some more talking, cause I have no idea what they want!". He's got lovely, smooth gaits that make for much easier posting and sitting for the beginner. Such a good boy! I even thought of getting the camera and taking some photos, but then I gave my eldest daughter a lesson on him and it didn't happen. All the family wants to be able to go on trail rides this summer and I think seeing everyone mounted on horses we've bred, raised and trained (or almost everyone!) will be a highlight of the year. We also have an Expo coming up in July and I'm hoping I can get a few kids to ride with me in that. We'll see. Someone has to stay home and mind the farm too!

Well, I suppose this is enough for right now. I'm starting to feel guilty about the time I'm taking to write, vs shed cleaning, horse grooming, arena grooming, etc.

Until next time,


Saturday, April 5, 2008

First Entry

My husband thinks that I need to 'blog', so here I am. I've been breeding, training, riding and raising Akhal-Tekes for 22 years now, so I have some good stories. I'm located in Washington State, outside of Seattle and right now I have (OK, have to count), 1 stallion, 2 senior broodmares, 3 younger broodmares, 2 up and coming fillies, 2 colts (probably both will be gelded), and 3 riding geldings. We're expecting 2 foals this year and are planning on breeding 3 mares for next year.

I think my major focus will be my gelding, Galen. He and I are getting ready for our ride season and perhaps that will make interesting reading. I bred Galen and he's now 8 years old (wow). We started doing some LD rides in the 2005 ride season, took 2006 off (too many foals and breedings that year!) and did one trail ride last year. This year, deep breath, we're going to get out there and compete! Our first ride should have been March 29th, but between nasty snow, icy roads and closed passes, it did not happen. So, we'll be starting out April 19th in Madras, OR at Grizzly. I'm going to do the 25 LD ride, as I want to really make sure that we're both ready. OK, I'm sure he's ready, I need to make sure I'M ready! Then, if all goes well for the next couple of rides, we'll see about a...gasp...50. I know that real endurance riders think that is no big deal, but I'm someone who about 5 years ago said "I will NEVER do an endurance ride". So, even thinking about a 50 is a big step.

One very interesting byproduct of becoming a neophyte endurance rider (I don't think I can claim to be a real "endurance" rider until I've done that 50!), is how well I'm getting to know my horse. Now, I've known Galen since he was conceived, so you'd THINK I know him quite well, but in my hours of riding and conditioning, I'm sure getting to know him much better. More on that later, as it's time to feed horses and they get a bit upset if dinner is late!

Back in the house, horses contentedly munching their hay and grain.

So, back to riding and things I've learned about the horse I've had since birth.
1. Trails are fun! Galen thinks that trails are so very, very much better than working in the arena. For example, we're having some difficulty getting the right lead canter. In the arena, it's a production - ten minutes of head-tossing, ear-pinning, kicking at the leg, crow-hopping and making me laugh. On the trail, I ask and if it doesn't happen, I ask again and there it is. No big deal. He's getting better about arena work, but because it is such a huge issue, I just usually do dressage on the trails - leg yield past that log, shoulder-in up that straight stretch. Half of the time, I think if I threw a bunch of logs, holes and rocks into my arena, that would work too.
2. Saddle fit really is an issue. That saddle that does fine for a few sessions a week in the arena just doesn't cut it for hours of riding up and down hills. I ended up buying a new Specialized saddle last year and I'm still figuring it out. It fits him pretty well, although we have to adjust it all the time as he changes. I'm still getting used to the wider twist. But, it sure helps going up those steep hills, as he has no mane to speak of to grab onto!
3. Treats are optional. You'd think he'd be a treat hog. Not so. He's quite picky about what treats he'll eat. Carrots? Naw. Apples? Naw. Apple flavored horsey bites? Only if they're the RIGHT brand. Of course, whoever I'm riding with appreciates his pickiness, as their horse tends to get all the 'rejects'.

There are tons of other things I'm learning too, about pacing, heart rates, hill work etc. All great stuff, with plenty more to learn.

I did take my camera with me last week on some conditioning rides...but I didn't use it. Too bad, as we were in some beautiful spots. Maybe next time!