Friday, December 27, 2013

Lovely Ride at the Watershed

Yesterday, Monica, Julie and I loaded up our horses and headed for the Redmond Watershed.  We went to meet some friends there and made an early start to miss all the hikers/bikers/strollers etc that would come out in the afternoon of this gorgeous day.

We met up with our friends and started out, but as our whole idea was to have a relaxing ride, we soon peeled off. 

We weren't looking for a long ride, as my ankle is still a problem and Julie needed to get back home.  We put in around 1 1/2 hours of riding, walking and trotting and the horses were relaxed and happy (and so were we!)  The light was fabulous - huge sunbeams coming through the trees and fog.  It was rather cathedral like. 

We made it back to the trailer and I just had to take a photo of the horses steaming gently in the sunshine.  They weren't really hot (in fact, Danny had only the tiniest bit of sweat under the saddle, but because it was still chilly, they were steaming through their coolers.  I'm kind of proud of this photo, especially as I took it on my smartphone.


                                               Monica and Danny and Julie and Andy

A nice lady took some photos of the three of us together, but I must say, I like this one the best.

It was a great start for conditioning for next year's rides!  I might not be riding much distance, but dang it, I'm going to the rides!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year to everyone!  Have a wonderful day.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Brrrrrarn Party!

Yes, I stole that name from Aarene Storms because it was so appropriate!  We had our Cascade Gold Fun Show and Barn Party yesterday.  While it was a beautiful sunny day, it was also a beautiful frigid day, topping out at around 24 degrees.  Now, I know our Midwest and MT and CO friends are laughing a little - 24 degrees?  Don't even need extra socks for that!  But, here in the misty Pacific NW, we're more used to a damp 40ish degrees in the winter.  So, while the sun is welcome (although my kids cry "My eyes, my eyes, the sun burns my eyes" yep, they can be dramatic) we just don't have the tolerance built up for freezing temps.  We get out our layers (and layers until we look like marshmallows), stay inside and build up the fires and well, whine a little.  The horses whine a little too, as the ground is frozen into a rutted mess and their water buckets and tubs have ice on them.  But, the sun is nice!

So, anyway, we had our Barn Party and Fun Show yesterday and had a very good time.  We had lots of yummy food (lots of hot stuff, blew the fuse in the barn, woops), coffee, hot chocolate, etc.  We did our eating and some socializing in the sunshine before moving to the Fun Show portion of our day.

                                              Alice adding to the goodies out to munch on

Our Fun Show was very low key - I took my cues from the very fun Fun Show that Margaret Pomeroy had at her barn about a month ago.  Fun, silly games, not too long, not very high expectations and lots of smiles.  Kay Gurley (who did the organizing for the show at the Pomeroy's) helped me out.  Cindy Balogh did a bang up job of decorating and cleaning all week.  All the stalls have their stockings hung, there were parking stripes in the parking lot and lots of holiday decorations. 

                                                Cindy taking photos of the Fun Show

We did about 2 1/2 hours of games - just enough that everyone got to play, but not enough so that everyone froze.  We did egg on a spoon, musical feed bags, Simon Says, and a trail course.  We had several young horses come out being led, and Sparky and Nadia, Reggie and Julie and Mahri and Keiko did great.  Wendy Ford came with her boy Taz and Alice and Gus made a strategic appearance too.

                                           Nadia and Sparky, along with Cindy, Max, Oliver and Emilie on the rail


                                         Three sons of Astrachan, Ari with Aarene Storms, Danny with Monica Bretherton and Andy with Keiko Young (or Duana, can't tell which lady it is).  Alice and Gus also participated in the Trail Class, but it doesn't look like I have any photos of them.  There are a bunch more photos on Facebook though.


 
                                         After the show, us hardy souls retreated inside for cake and coffee.  We had lost a bunch of our number by then to the biting cold (they just got too cold and headed home, nothing else!) 

Everyone had a fun and festive time!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

BARN PARTY!

It's been another busy month (or so) here at Cascade Gold.  We've been getting ready for cold weather and rain by finishing sheds (thank you Larry!) and working on drainage and footing.  We got new footing in the arena too.

I have gotten a few rides in between all the projects and we've been on the trails a few times.  Galen feels that I could do a lot more.

Anyway, big news this week is the Barn Party!  It's going on from Noon to whenever on Saturday, December 7th.  We will be having a Fun Show first, so if you want to bring a horse, please feel free.  We'll have about 5 classes of fun games, such as egg on a spoon, two riders connected with toilet paper, musical feed bags and a trail course (assuming the weather cooperates).  I have some great endurance rider style prizes (useful stuff and chocolate!) and several of the boarders are going to be helping out.  Cindy B has been a whirlwind of activity this week!

And, after our Fun Show, we'll go directly to the eating and socializing, so bring a dish to share.  I'm making a big pot of chili and we'll see what else shows up.

Hope we see you here!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Teke Trek 2013

It's been a whirlwind month so far.  I spent a good portion of it traveling, mostly horse related stuff, so it's all good.

I started by heading to Minnesota for the 2013 ATAA Conference and 2nd HorseFlicks filming on Thursday, October 3rd.  I met up with Jas Shearer-McMahon at the Minnesota airport and we headed out to the hotel where the Conference was.  We got there around 7 pm or so and found out they had no food at the hotel!  There is a restaurant, but it seemed to operate in a very limited fashion.  So, we ordered a pizza and had it delivered.  Then we went and soaked in the hot tub and did some catching up.  (We had stopped for alcohol on the way to the hotel, so it was all good). 

Friday morning we got up at 0 dark 30 to head to the barn where the HorseFlicks filming was to be held.  Jon had asked for an 8 am start.  The directions said it was 38 miles away, so we figured we'd give ourselves plenty of time.  Well....I don't know if it was the directions, us, the lack of coffee or what, but it took us almost 2 1/2 hours to find the barn.  Several people who came later said "Oh, I just used my GPS..."  Yes, I WILL get GPS on my rental car next time.  We arrived right around 8 am and Jon (Jon Mays, the HorseFlicks film maker) was already there.  We got to do some catching up as we waited for people to arrive.  By around 9, we had our first horse in the arena filming.  Unfortunately, the weather did NOT cooperate.  It was rainy and drizzly, so we filmed in the indoor.  We had Terri Fender's stallion Jack start us off.  He looked great and his rider, Staci, did a great job.  Next was Araghan, under western tack with a rider whose name I was told and then promptly forgot.  Sorry!  He did a nice job and has some western showing in his future.  Then, Jas rode The Akhal-Teke Stud's stallion Goblet, who is with Terri on lease.  As she had never ridden him, she warmed him up outside.  He was willing, but seemed a bit rusty.  We later found out he hadn't been ridden in quite some time.  They ended up doing a lovely job and I think Goblet slept quite well that night!  Then we had Staci riding Eramay, who had come from Texas for this filming and was then heading on to the Kentucky Horse Park for the next showing.  Staci did a great job and I think there was some lovely footage.  Then, Tiffany Dietchler rode her gelding Ivan over some jumps and Brad Sherman showed off his stallion (an Astrachan son!) Thor at liberty.  Jon did some interviews and we were pretty much done by 2 pm.  Terri, Brad and Vicki (and maybe another person?) provided lunch for us and coffee and sodas, and it was greatly appreciated.  We all got to mingle a bit, meet the people we had only talked to via email and then we all headed back to the hotel.  This time it took us a lot less time (more caffeine and better directions!). 
Jas and Goblet

Eramay and Staci
 
We met up at the bar for our ATAA Board meeting around 6 pm and then the Meet and Greet was around 7 pm.  We all hung out and chatted for a few hours until it was time to hot tub again. (at least for Jas and I!)

Saturday morning was our General Membership Meeting.  We didn't have a huge turnout, but everyone that came had great suggestions.  There were a couple of "Duh" moments for me, when someone suggested a simpler, easier way to accomplish something.  That was wonderful!  We have quite a few plans for the next year and will start working on those soon.  It was so great to have such a motivated, enthusiastic bunch that owned their ideas.  I think the next few years will be amazing. 

Then, it was a break until the Awards Banquet.  Catrina Quantrell and Betsy Wandler did a great job with the awards.  My only sniffle was that I wasn't eligible for any of the discipline awards as I didn't compete this past year.  And those awards were NICE.  They also did Achievement awards and gave out some lovely coffee mugs that had original drawings of our horses on them.  I did win 2 of those - very nice!  Those mugs are safely in my trophy case now, so no one actually USES them and possibly breaks them.  Then, I gave out awards to the Board members.  Terri and I had come up with the idea of nice photo frames with photos of the person and their horse in them.  I found the frames, but unfortunately, my printer wasn't working, so the photos will have to be added later.  Several people did find that their original drawing (we were given the original drawing that went on our mugs) fit perfectly.  I put my drawing of Galen in my frame.

Winners of the Silent Auction items were also announced.  I ended up bringing a bunch of stuff home that will get sent out soon (as soon as the checks arrive, lol)

Sunday we drove up to Terri Fender's farm, through lovely 'Seattle' weather.  It was rainy, cold and windy, not the best photo taking op!  But, we got to meet all her horses and she provided lunch.  Jas and I had to leave pretty much as everyone else arrived, to make it to the airport for our flights. 

The next stop on my journey was Upper Michigan to visit my parents.  I grew up in Houghton (not Houghton Lake, HOUGHTON, home of Michigan Tech University).  My mom and I did lots of yard work, bagged up lots of leaves, took off screens, and did some hedge trimming.  We also went out to several favorite local restaurants (yum Tostada pizza from The Ambassador!) and visited some of my nieces and their families.  We also went to visit my dad twice at the home were he is living (Alzheimer's).  It was a very nice visit and then early (really early) Friday morning I flew to Lexington, KY, home of the Kentucky Horse Park, where our third HorseFlicks filming was to take place.

Now, I absolutely love the Horse Park.  It is the horsey version of Disneyland.  If someone gave me a choice between the KHP and Disneyland, I'd take the KHP in a heartbeat.  It is gorgeous, perfectly groomed, the horses are all well taken care of and happy and there are about 1200 (I read somewhere) acres there, all dedicated to horses.  What isn't to love?  I think this is my 4th time there now and I'd be happy to go back many more times.  We were participating in a 'Breeds Weekend' as the guest breed, so we had 4 shows we had to do over two days.  The Breeds Barn has a rotating show twice daily that showcases different breeds.  Their program said they have at least 40 different breeds at the KHP, so there is a lot of rotation that can be done.  Our bit came after their program when we were announced as a guest breed.  We had 11 horses come, so to make sure everyone got a chance to be in the film, we did some brainstorming.  Our filming was only to take place on Saturday, so we wanted to showcase the most advanced horses, but everyone was to get a shot out there.  Also, we had 8 stallions, 2 mares and a gelding, so there was a little working around that to make sure everyone kept their minds on the job.  Our first filming of the day came around 11:15, and we started with Gidasp and Adamek doing dressage and then I think it was Garpun, in his search and rescue gear. Then we had Adamek and Zak jumping, then  we finished with the mares Mari and Guli in costume along with the gelding Ki being led.  I think that was the order of go...anyway, it went off very well, the horses and riders did a great job and then several of them waited for after the presentation when the public was invited to come and pet the horses and talk to their riders.  We did another one in the afternoon, this time with Eramay and Grygy in western gear and Goklen in costume.


                                                           Keven and Grygy getting ready

Goklen and Eron meeting people on the lawn after a presentation.
Eron also rode Gidasp in a third level dressage test (there was a big dressage show going on that weekend) on Saturday and then another one on Sunday.    I don't know which tests they were, but I can safely say that the one above was the most photographed test of the day - we had at least 4 cameras going, along with Jon with his video camera.
 
 
We went to the local Cracker Barrel that evening and I tried some southern cooking - interesting.  I always try something local(ish) when I'm in a new place.  We had a nice time chatting with pretty much everyone that had been at the Park that day.  I was staying with Cindy Sither, so we headed off to her house. 
 
Sunday was more of the same.  We didn't have Jon there to film, so we mixed things up a bit.  After we finished the 2 pm showing, I headed out to the airport and flew home. 
 
It was a really wonderful 10 days and I'm really glad I went, but I'm STILL catching up.  Oh well, gotta pay to play!
 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A little 'procedure'

Last Monday, I had a little "procedure"  Lest you think this is some horrible thing, it had to do with my (sigh) left ankle.  That is the one that I had operated on in August of 2012, where a longitudinal tear was repaired.  It's been over a year now and I'm still not back to normal (yes, this is a bit of a whine).  I have been able to ride for about 2 hours but by the 2 hour mark I have been ready to saw my leg off.  As my preferred type of riding/competition is endurance, 2 hours doesn't get you very far.  Now, one person did suggest I just ride faster.  Good idea.  I did that in 2012, figuring if I could ride faster, my ankle wouldn't hurt so much.  It did get me 3 top ten awards, but I was doing those rides in around 3 hours, so faster....might be a stretch.  It was also suggested I drop down to trail rides.  My competitive spirit just won't go for that.  I figure I can do THAT when I'm 90.  Anyway, I went back to the doctor and told him what was going on.  He suggested we try breaking up the adhesions (most likely one of the big reasons there is still pain, along with age, lack of strength and lack of stretch).  So, off to another office where I had dye, anesthetic (that was wonderful) and steroids injected in my tendon sheath.  Kind of a neat thing, they showed me the tenogram (I believe that is what it is called) afterwards. 

I rode Wednesday for about 30 minutes...very good, no pain.

I rode Thursday on the trail for about 60 minutes...pain at around 40 minutes, but I was able to do ankle rotations and finish the ride with minimal pain.  Also, I wasn't dead lame when I got off, which has been the case up to now.

                         Galen's ears on our Friday Trail Ride at Mann Road, Sultan, WA


                                                      Monica and Mahri.  Mahri was a star!

I rode Friday on the trail, only for around 30 or 40 minutes (Mahri's first trail ride, so it was short and slow), but had very little pain.

So, am I fixed?  Probably not, but at least it's a somewhat more optimistic outlook than I've been having. 

Will I be on the endurance trail next year?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guest Author!

Today I have a lovely story about a mare that I bred and sold.  The horse is Kamileshen (Aliger x Anastasia) a 2006 purebred Teke mare.  Here is what her proud owner has to say:


The Water. Every rider has attempted it, most riders have conquered it. The moment of indecision on your horses part as it decides to skirt the menacing site, or indulge its riders and get its feet wet. This feat is particularly difficult when your legs only descend half way down the ribcage and your strength limits your ability to steer, or stop.

Ears fluctuating back and forth as she attempts to make out her riders confusing cues, she looks to me for a clue and then focuses again on her rider. Legs thumping the sides, hands pulling back and somewhat to the side towards the water. She looks at me for one final look of approval then delicately sticks her feet into the murky depths. She is rewarded by hearty pats from her rider.

At the time of this feat Nola, the rider, was four, Kamileshen (or Shen) the horse was six and we were at a local cross country course. It was an open day, a day where riders bring their horses out for practice and exposure. Shen and I had just finished working over some jumps when Nola stated she wanted to try the water jump. We were done, and I would often let Nola sit on Shen’s back while I cooled her down, so I boosted her into the saddle and clipped a lead line onto her bridle so she could try the water ‘jump.’ The entire feat took about five minutes – I stood quietly on the end of the lead – letting them decipher one another’s cues as they would. I was so busy watching them that I did not notice the audience that had built up. Spectators on foot and on horse were also watching. Many were probably just awaiting their turn at the water jump, but none wanted to interfere or disrupt the delicate balance until the ‘jump’ was complete.
                                                             Nola and Shen, Pas Pascucci photo
 

The walk back to the trailer was an eventful one, with riders and walkers smiling and commenting on Shen. The questions almost always started with, ‘What a nice horse, how old is she?’ Followed by ‘Really? What breed is she?’

I could understand their skepticism. I had a field full of geriatrics – my old eventer, my hunter jumper, my mom’s endurance horse, my dad’s trail horse. All still perfectly capable of packing a young child, but instead I chose the youngest horse in the lot for my four year old daughter. The reason, I strongly believe she cares about Nola, to her we are her family and I have learned that Tekes do their best to take care of their family. I have many examples, the time the gate was not opened all the way and Shen would not let Nola lead her through – rather she stood firm and whinnied for my attention. The time I was riding in the mountains and a misstep left me dangling from the end of the reins - she stood legs spread, head down until I scrambled up the side and back onto the trail.

I purchased Kamileshen in 2008 with dreams of getting back into eventing, but she has a home for life because she is family. Breeders place an awful lot of importance on ‘Tekes in Sport,’ but no one noticed Shen’s clean clear round that day – but they all noticed the small child, her tongue sticking out in concentration and the quiet patience of her mount. It is not their athletic ability that makes them invaluable, it is their spirit.

Today, Shen shares the field with two other Tekes, and I make it to maybe one event a year. Nola and Shen are now competing in schooling classes and light horse shows where she proudly sits upon her golden mount and announces ‘She is an Akhal Teke.’
 
Darla Dickinson, Hope BC

Monday, August 19, 2013

Another Busy Weekend!

This past weekend, Monica and I took Danny (Magdan) down to the Northwest Equestrian Center in Yelm WA to do some cross country schooling with a few friends.  Monica and Danny have been doing quite a bit of show jumping and he definitely has the trail experience, so this was a logical progression. 

We headed down around 10ish on Saturday and arrived around 1 (quite a bit of traffic, but that is Seattle) at the Equestrian Center.  It's a very large place with huge fields, lots of cross country jumps and rows of temp stalls.  It was very low key (sign the waiver and pay your fee), which was pretty nice.  Catrina and Jeremy Quantrell were already there with Mazaly, so Catrina schooled while Monica walked Danny around and then tacked up.  Amrita wasn't there yet and we later heard her truck had overheated about 5 miles out.  I did some film of Catrina and Mazaly making it all look easy.  They did some beginner novice jumps and then started moving up.  By the time Amrita showed up, Catrina was pretty much done and they headed out. 

Amrita, Monica, Stella and Marina (two of Amrita's junior students) were all taking a lesson with Vicki (I didn't catch her last name).  Vicki did a lovely job, getting everyone on the same page and warmed up.  I trundled along with the video camera and huge tripod, wishing for the pony and cart that had been zipping around earlier.  Happily, I had a little pull cart or there would probably be a lot less film of that day. 

I didn't take any still shots on Saturday, so these are from Sunday's playing, but they are over basically the same jumps the ladies did on Saturday. 
 Marina and Kegas
 Monica and Danny
 
Amrita and Paktaly
 
Stella and the totally cute pony Puddin

Amrita was schooling over the largest jumps, doing some of the preliminary jumps (I'm pretty sure I got that right) with Paktaly making it look easy.  Danny is just starting over cross country jumps, so he did the beginner novice jumps and ended his day doing a drop into the water and out up the bank. 

Everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun, horses included and I really, REALLY want to get back into the saddle.  Maybe not to go over big jumps, but doing my thing.  Soon!


 

Monday, August 12, 2013

HorseFlicks filming at the Washington State Horse Park, August 10th, 2013

This past weekend was our first HorseFlicks film shoot for our new Akhal-Teke promotional video in the Rare Breeds series "Extinction is Forever".  This is the first of 3 film shoots, which we did to be able to include as many horses and people in the US as possible.  We've had a very good response and I think the finished product will be fantastic.  This is from my perspective - I brought 4 horses to the Washington State Horse Park for the filming.  There were 6 other horses that came, although we had invited everyone in the Pacific Northwest.  It went very well though, all the horses were great, the people were smiling and Jon Mays (the film maker) said he got some excellent footage.


We got there around 4 pm on Friday, as I didn’t plan on riding that day.  We got the horses (4 bay boys, Astrachan, Andymn, Arzuw and Magdan) settled in and walked around looking at what was what.  Gorgeous facility, lovely trails, really nice arenas and cross country.  Jon showed up around 6 (I think) without Joanne, his assistant, who had food poisoning and was recovering in a hotel in Seattle.  We took him around to the places we’d found to see if he thought they were ok.  He agreed (he is SO nice!).  People started coming in, Catrina and Jeremy first with Mazaly, then Shannon and Craig and Tommy and Octopelle, then Erin and Kiyallah and Corbin (their 2 year old son) with the lovely stallion Kuwwat.  I fed everyone hamburgers and hot dogs and we planned Saturday. Jon headed back to his hotel around 8 I think.  Then it started raining, really really hard.  A guy I met Sunday said it rained 5 inches in 2 hours.  Lightning, thunder!  I was hoping we’d have good weather in the morning and maybe the rain would cool it down a bit (it was over 90 on Friday)

 
 
Several of our riders and horses, from first horse back:  Monica Bretherton and Magdan, Angela Kay Davenport and Arzuw behind them, Dani Scott and Andymn, Wendy Ford and Alpowa behind him, Sofie Wohllaib and Meshhurlyk on the rail in back and Catrina Quantrell and Mazaly (I think) way in back.  Tom Wohllaib photo
 
Monica Bretherton (blue shirt) and Magdan chatting with Sofie Wohllaib and Meshhurlyk (Diva) during a break.  Tom Wohllaib photo.
 

All of us in the arena at once,  from left to right:  Erin Heatherstone and Kuwwat, Angela Kay Davenport and Arzuw, Dani Scott and Andymn, Monica Bretherton and Magdan, Sofie Wohllaib and Meshhurlyk, Catrina Quantrell and Mazaly, Wendy Ford and Alpowa, Cathy Leddy and Astrachan and Shannon Mayfield and Asil Tumay.  Tom Wohllaib photo.
 
 

Early Saturday (I woke up around 5 am), we got moving.  We were going to start filming at 8 am, the skies were clear and there was no dust!  Temps were around 65 to 70, so we started with Western riding.  Jeremy was a great sport, in that Catrina and I had talked about him riding and he knew NOTHING about it.  I figured we needed at least 1 guy in the film.  He grinned and said “well, I haven’t ridden in a year, so can I see the horse first?”.  I put him on Andy, who was a little wound up, but he’s pretty mellow all around.  Now the problem was that Jeremy has only ridden one handed with a shank bit and Andy is dressage trained.  There was some confusion on both parts, but they did a great job.  Jeremy tried to do a reining pattern…well…there might have been a few good spots but both he and Andy were great sports.  I think they needed a day or so of practice!  But, he was smiling and did a great job.  Andy got a tack change and I put Dani Scott up for trail.  Shannon rode Tommy in her western show gear – gorgeous!  Bling to the max.  She got some time in the ring by herself.  Then, we brought out the dressage/English people who rode together.  My friend Sofie had shown up with her Teke mare by then and they cantered (for the first time) twice.  Everyone behaved great.  Then, we got everyone in the ring, including me and Khan.  Shannon did a tack change and came in her homemade Turkmen outfit – really nice.  Erin rode Kuwwat for a while in her endurance gear and then put on her costume too.  All of us walked and trotted around, 9 horses strong.  My friend Wendy had shown up with her NP mare Allie by then too, so we had some color besides bays.  (Allie is a roan appy and Kuwwat is buckskin)  We did some riding around, Jon filmed each person individually a bit and then we all lined up and the cameras clicked and clicked.  Then, Jon had us all shout ‘Akhal-Teke’ at the same time for the film. 

 
 

9 of the 10 horses and riders at the Horse Park, with Jon Mays in the foreground filming. Tom Wohllaib photo

 
 Me and Astrachan (who came out of retirement for this) and Shannon Mayfield and Asil Tumay.  My endurance gear really pales next to Shannon's gorgeous bling! Cindy Balogh photo
 
Then, we moved on to the trails and obstacles.  I put Khan away, as he’d done his 15 minutes and we were both toast.  Jon set up along the trail and got photos of them trotting by in the beautiful light and trees.  Then, after a bit of that, we moved to a ravine that had trail obstacles and a big hill.  I’d sent Catrina to the water obstacle to school, as Mazaly had never done this before.  The horses did some great up and down the hills, over the obstacles etc.  Then, Andy and Ari (both had done great, but don’t have much recent exposure and were done) went back to the barns and the rest of us continued on to the water.  Now, the park director and I had come to an agreement that there was NO JUMPING.  Well….we got to the water and had Catrina and Mazaly, Erin and Kuwwat, Wendy and Allie, Monica and Danny.  I think Shannon peeled off because Octopelle was sure this was an endurance ride and couldn’t figure out WHY we kept stopping and coming back.  So, horses started walking through, then trotting and then cantering.  At one point, we had all the horses in a line snaking back and forth through the water at a trot and canter.  Big whoops and grins all around, horses included.  Jon said during this “I think I need to get rid of my Arab and get a Teke”. 



Monica and Danny through the water
 


Catrina and Mazaly galloping through the water.  I'm really bummed that I cut off Catrina's head, as otherwise it's a pretty good shot.


Dani and Andymn, Monica and Magdan and in the back I think it's either Erin and Kuwwat or Wendy and Alpowa galloping up the hill.

Then we went to the road and Jon did some film of horses trotting up and down and then galloping.  At that point, it was pretty much noon and he had everything he’d planned on getting.  We headed back to camp, put horses away and he did some interviews.  He interviewed one of my riders – a very new to Tekes person, then we had lunch (more hamburgers and hotdogs) and then he interviewed Wendy, who owns the NP mare and a QH x Teke cross and then me.  By then it was 3 or so, so we just all sat around and chatted.  Some really great visiting was done.  Jeremy even said that this was so much fun we needed to get together EVERY year and do a trail ride or whatever and then potluck.  I think it’s a great idea and later could work into a show.  Everyone else agreed that was a great idea.  The WSHP is a nice central location and it really is nice.



We had the bunch trot and canter up and down the road, there was some whooping and hollering going on, along with big grins.  Wendy and Alpowa are in front, then Monica and Magdan, then Erin and Kuwwat, then Shannon and Octopelle and I think it's Catrina and Mazaly in back.

People started leaving (it’s so close that Seattle people just came for the day) and the ones of us left, me, Monica, Catrina, Jeremy, Erin, Kiyallah, Corbin (their son), Alice, Keiko and Kay (those three are from my barn and Alice was a champ all day, delivering water, brushes, etc)  Jon headed back to Seattle to pick up Joanne and catch a red eye. So, those of us left had pulled pork, a great rice dish that Erin called “hippy dippy food” and watermelon.  And wine and beer.  Lovely evening, we made it until almost 8:30 and then pretty much pooped out.  No problem sleeping for horses or humans!
 Jon Mays from HorseFlicks enjoying our 'wrap' party.  Monica Bretherton photo

Kuwwat, Erin, Kiyallah and Corbin Heatherstone taking a family walk at the WSHP.  Monica Bretherton photo
 

Next morning, Monica and Keiko went out on a trail ride while I broke camp with Alice and Kay’s help and cleaned stalls.  Then, we loaded up and headed home.  Whew!
 

It really went very well, no real naughtiness, although there was some tension (wonder why?) and Andy and Ari’s brains did melt after a few hours.  Can’t blame them, both are very inexperienced and they did great until it was too much.  But, no problem, they just got to go back and chill and were fine.  Andy's trail ride with Keiko the next morning was excellent.  Everyone else’s horses looked great, huge smiles everywhere, not a harsh word the entire weekend.  Just compliments.  Before I left, Leslie (the park director I’d been dealing with) came and shook my hand and thanked me.  I thanked her too, as the facilities are excellent and everything was pretty much perfect!
 
We all headed out and I made it home (with a detour through Seattle, don't ask) around 1ish.  Then it was barn work and then rest!
 
I will add photos as I get some.  Now on to the next filming, October 4th in Minnesota.
 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

SAFE Schooling Show, August 4, 2013

We took 2 boys down to the SAFE schooling show this past weekend at Donida Farms.  We took Danny (Magdan) and Andy (Andymn).  I had the luxury of being the groom and groundsperson and Monica rode Danny and Keiko Young rode Andy.  I had been planning on riding Andy myself, but after having sore ankles from ONE ride during the week prior, I realized there was no way I could do the warm up and riding for the 4 classes I had entered.  Thank goodness Keiko was such a good sport!

We trailed down early Sunday morning, passing a roaring trailer (car or quad) fire on the way.  We got the boys there and settled in (sort of, Andy was NOT happy to be in a strange stall).  Keiko and Monica took them on a walk about while I got the numbers, show schedule and such all organized. 

Even though this is was a schooling show, it was pretty big.  Multiple arenas, indoors, outdoors, LOTs of horses and lots of activity.  It really was quite a test for Andy, who has been rather sheltered the past years.  Danny, who has been out doing endurance rides and conditioning, took it pretty much in stride.

Andy in the warm up ring with Keiko Young.  Cathy Leddy photo.

Danny warming up with Monica.  He started with a lot of 'forward', but ended the day with several second place ribbons and with Monica grinning ear to ear.  Cindy Balogh photo.

Andy did 4 classes, including 2 intro dressage tests in the indoor arena (big, scary mirrors!) and while his first test was a bit hesitant, his last one was pretty nice.  Keiko did a great job with him and he really listened to her.

Danny did 6 classes, including 2 dressage tests - one Training level and one intro.  Sort of unfortunately, his training level test came before the Intro, so he was a little 'looky' in the indoor for that one, although he did settle down and got a nice score in the second test.  Both boys were in the middle of the pack for their tests, with respectable scores for their tests.  Not world beating, but that isn't really the idea for a schooling show!

Danny and Andy in a green horse class.  Cathy Leddy photo
 
Danny (on inside) and Andy were in 2 classes together in the main arena.  Andy and Keiko got a ribbon in the equitation class and both boys did a good job.

After Andy's classes, I took him and we went out to graze, which made him very happy. 

We headed home after the last class and all got some well deserved rest.  I think we're ready for this next weekend's HorseFlicks filming at the Washington State Horse Park, which will most likely be the subject of my next blog.  Thanks again to Monica and Keiko, who both did a great job with smiles on their faces.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Our newest addition - cute foal photos!

We had our one foal this year (for us, I did foal out a boarder's mare back in April) on July 23rd.  Aya went into early labor around 8 pm or so, so I checked on her hourly all night long.  She was pacing, but not seemingly in much of a hurry so I didn't camp out in the barn.  I checked on her at 7 am and she was just standing by the water barrel in the arena.  At 7:20, I got a phone call from Nadia, who was in the barn to feed horses "There is a baby".  I told her no, no baby yet.  "Yes, the baby is on the ground!".  That woke me right up.  Sneaky mare, had that kid between 7 and 7:20.  By the time I got out to the barn, the foal was up.  I checked the important parts and let out a big sigh...another colt!  But, he was big and healthy, so that is ok.

He didn't seem to be finding the milk bar as quickly as I like, so we moved mom and baby to the foaling stall, where it's a little more contained.  He still wasn't getting it.  He bumped around the stall, trying to nurse on the wall, on her legs, on me.  I was starting to get worried.  Foals should have their first meal ideally within 45 minutes of being born and we were along about 2 hours now.  I kept trying to direct him to the milk bar, squirting milk in his mouth and every once in a while he'd latch on and get a few sips.   But, not the healthy guzzle you like to see!  I've had many foals born here and can pretty much see when something isn't quite right. Better to catch something like this right away, than hope and have the foal crash.

So, a call to Pilchuck Vet Hospital and Dr. Hollohan was on her way.  She did a thorough check of him and we got him up again (Stand UP! turned into Stan.  Sorry kid!).  Finally, with quite a bit of help, we got him drinking decently.  Aya was a champ the whole time, being very patient with all the human activity.  He had his first poop (important) and Dr. Hollohan took blood for an IGG.  I often don't worry about an IGG (to see how much colostrum they've ingested basically) if the foal is bright, normal and nursing well.  Stan wasn't quite there.  If the IGG is low, you have to go to the big guns, which cost quite a lot of money.  The results came back as 600 - low is 400-600, normal is 800 plus.  So he was high low...but was now much brighter and nursing very well.  He was bouncing around the stall like a rubber ball, so after consulting with the vet, we decided to wait until the next morning and pull blood again. 

The next morning, the results came back:  2300.  Obviously, he'd been doing a VERY good job of eating all night long.  Whew!  Out of the woods!

Since then, he's been a normal kid - Aya has taught him how to walk beside her (which really is kind of funny, watching a mare school her foal).  We put her out in the front pasture next to Cady, Xena and Annie and I swear she was telling Cady "THIS is how you do it, silly"


Stan figuring out how to keep flies off - 2 days old. Monica Bretherton photo

Stan is now a bit over a week old and is walking out to pasture each morning and coming in with a halter and lead (easy to just start that way, then they never argue) and all the mares (Cady, Annie and Aya) and Xena are out together.  I need to get some photos of Stan and Xena - she's almost 3 months old, so is quite big and robust and then there is small, slender Stanley.  The funny thing is, he's in charge.  I think Xena was a little startled when he started chasing her.  The moms just watched to make sure there wasn't too much 'horseplay' and then let them be. 

Stan at two days old - Monica Bretherton photo
Stan at 3 days old, Angela Davenport photo - do you see a theme?
 
So, as the Stan Man is exactly that, a man (male anyway), he is for sale.  He should mature between 15.2 and 16 hands and be big and stout like his parents.  He shows lovely gaits and has the calm, laid back Salam temperament.  Buy him now before weaning and get a great deal.  Buy him and you can change his name!
 
 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Being positive...or Why do I breed horses?

I've been thinking a lot about breeding and specifically of course, about breeding Akhal-Tekes.  I thought I'd expound a little here about my experiences and lessons learned, in a positive way.

Me and Astrachan when he was 4 at one of his first public outings, in 1994


My qualifications to address this:  27 years owning, training and competing Akhal-Tekes and Akhal-Teke crosses.  18 years of breeding with the first foal I bred (for a client) born in 1995. 

Breeding horses (or most likely any animal) is a labor of love.  Very few people make money at it and that old saw about "How to make a small fortune with horses?  Start with a large one" has an awful lot of merit.  I breed Tekes because I love them, their essence, their devotion and intelligence and their wonderful athletic ability.  It's certainly not because I'm making money, ha!  I had this conversation with some foreign guests a few years back:

Guest (as we're passing a casino) "Do you go to the casinos and gamble?"

Me: "I don't need to, I breed horses."
 
Salam and me in 2009

Kind of flippant I know, but it really is true.  Most of the breeders I know buy the best mares possible, breed to the best stallion for that mare (in their opinion and price range) and take excellent care of the mare and the ensuing foal.  You feed the mare well, take care of her feet and veterinary needs, take care of the foal, handle it so it's happy around people and then hopefully sell it as a foal to an excellent home that will take great care of it, train and compete it to the best of it's ability and keep it forever.  In a perfect world, this is what happens.  Of course, there are often snags such as:

You do all the above and no one buys the foal until it's 6 or 7, well broke and then they want to pay $1500.  As I figure it costs ME around $3500 to get a foal on the ground to weaning, this is obviously a losing proposition.  Add in 5 or so years of upkeep, vet work, farrier visits, any assorted oopsies and you're well in the hole.  It would be less if one has lots of land that is paid for or a nice relative in the hay business.

You breed your nice mare to a nice stallion and the resulting foal has some sort of problem.  IF you can get it fixed (money), you might have a saleable horse or you might have a pasture pal.  Doesn't matter if you've done this exact breeding with great results 10 times, the 11th can make you scratch your head and wonder what happened.  If you're breeding, it will happen sooner or later.

You do everything right and the mare has problems and you end up with a huge vet bill and if you're lucky, a healthy mare and foal.  If you're not lucky, you lose one or both and end up with a huge vet bill.

So, why do people breed at all?  Aren't there a million free horses out there?  Aren't there unwanted horses by the dozen.  Yep, there are.  A responsible breeder breeds an animal only if they are willing to keep it forever (see foal with a problem).  In our breed, there is a slowly growing population, but they are still very endangered.  If one believes that the Akhal-Teke (or insert the breed of your choosing) is worth continuing on, we need breeders.   I think it's a great thing that we can now say about a specific horse "That horse shouldn't be bred".  20 years ago that really wasn't an option here.  I'm thrilled when I see lovely geldings these days that 20 years ago would be breeding stallions.  There are mares too that haven't had a foal and never will.  This is ok. 

I also see people lamenting that our breed has so many problems, the people in charge are corrupt, etc etc.  Yeah, so what?  If you look at EVERY OTHER breed out there (at least in horses, although I hear the dog world is worse), they all go through exactly the same process.  We aren't special (just the horses!).  I remember talking to one of the first Friesian breeders in the Pacific NW many, many years ago.  She moaned about how the mother studbook didn't listen, how hard it was to communicate with them, how hard it was to get people to want to even look at the funny, black horses.  I hear some of the same comments nowadays about Tekes.  Yes, there are problems.  When you have more than a few people involved in just about anything, there will be problems.  Yes, things could be better in some ways, but we're a lot further than we were 20 some years ago, at least in the States.

I remember talking to a lovely lady about 20ish years ago who was working at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (it was named something else back then) and  I whined and moaned about all the problems we had with our breed.  She told me we should consider ourselves lucky in many ways and then gave examples of things that have gone on in other breeds.  We're doing pretty ok overall.  Her final comment was "Have you had to have the police come to any of your national conferences?".  I told her no and she gave me several examples of that exact thing happening.  We're really doing pretty good overall.

So, my advice to breeders and wanna be breeders:

1.  Don't expect to get rich.  Make sure that you can afford the occasional problem with your horses.  After all, they are horses and horses can and will have problems now and again. 

2.  Be prepared for the 'buyers' that call and ask for that 16 hand, golden, international-caliber gelding....for $1500.  Yep, I've had tons of those.  I've had people tell me "I can just go to the auction and pick up a slaughter Arab for $200, why should I pay your price?".  Nowadays, you can pick up free Arabs, TBs, etc left and right.  So why SHOULD you pay my price? 

A: it's a Teke and I've carefully picked the sire and dam to (hopefully) produce a better horse than either sire or dam.  This ancient breed has many qualities that you don't find in your average horse.  If you only want a horse, please, go rescue some poor creature.  Sometimes that works out well, sometimes it doesn't.  A Teke is a whole 'nother animal - intelligent, sensible, athletic, smooth to ride and a partner.  If you only want a piece of sports equipment, there really isn't any reason to buy a Teke.

B:  I've fed the mare and foal very well during pregnancy and after.  The foal has the best chance possible to be all it can be. 

C:  I've handled said foal from birth, daily.  It might only be 5 or so minutes a day, but that is all you need.  The foal has had it's feet trimmed, been deworming, gotten any vaccinations necessary.  Once again, everything for it to reach it's full potential.

Nothing better than a brand new baby- Miras a few minutes after birth, Monica Bretherton photo
 

I have people come to the farm to visit and/or look at horses and many are amazed at how friendly my horses are.  Why wouldn't they be?  I take the time necessary to handle my  horses correctly, instill excellent ground manners and I am ALWAYS consistent.  If you don't have time to handle foals or can't hire someone, don't breed.  Showing off a frightened, wild 4 or 5 month old foal that hasn't had it's hooves trimmed or ever had a halter on doesn't do anyone any good.

D:  If the horse is here long enough (sigh), it then gets to be a riding horse and we try to get them out to shows, on the trails etc.  Every little bit helps.

3 Cascade Gold 'babies' at Home on the Range a few years back.  Craig Mayfield photo
 

If I haven't scared you off yet, then welcome to the club.  I started with one mare back in 1986.  She was so special, so wonderful and so great to ride that I felt I needed to let other people share in her fabulousness.  So, I bought a young stallion, another mare and a stallion prospect (who ended up being gelded and was my riding horse for years).  I've never looked back.  There was ONE Akhal-Teke in the Pacific Northwest in 1986.  Now there are at least a hundred purebreds and many, many more partbreds.  Are they all utilized to the best of their ability?  Probably many are not, but the majority do something - either as a favored trail horse, a member of the family, or something athletic.  It would be great if we could get horses to top competitors to promote the breed's athleticism, but that is a whole 'nother blog. 

What about the horses that keep going from home to home?  Be prepared to take that horse back.  As a breeder, we have an obligation to our horses.  The best possible thing is to sell them to someone who will love and care for them as we do (and pay us enough to keep going with our breeding program).  Sometimes, that doesn't happen.  I sold a weanling to a lovely woman years back.  She had him for about 2 years and then turned 50 and went a little nuts.  She left her husband, her job, and moved to a far state with a new boyfriend.  The horses were to go too, except that the truck broke down in Oregon.  So, she paid a farmer to board them until she could come and get them...except, she never could come and get them.  I got a call from the farmer (bless him) that she hadn't paid board for 4 or 5 months and he didn't know what to do.  He'd heard through the grapevine that I had bred one of her horses.  Road trip!  We brought the sad, little guy home (he'd never been starved, just bottom of the heap and ignored) and another horse and gave him a few years to grow up and regain trust.  He's now a valued member of a family.  I also have 3 (sigh) retirees.  Khano, (Astrachan, my #1 in the nation once in a lifetime stallion) is a retired gelding, now rather round, but totally happy.  Anastasia, also a fantastic mare has given me many fine foals and when that started to be hard for her, she became  'Auntie Annie', giving younger mares plenty of advice and support.  And Mazzie, my 16.2 hand, golden boy, who carried me through many shows, expos, and my first endurance ride, then arthritis and hoof problems demoted him to school horse and then husband horse.  His arthritis is bad enough now that he's retired, but he's still bright and happy and if he's a bit stiff, well, that sure doesn't stop the playing with his buds.

Really, it's a numbers game.  If you have enough horses out there, there is a bell curve - some will be fantastic, some middle of the road and then the bottom of the curve for whatever reason.  Endurance people are always saying "why aren't there a bunch of Tekes in very high level competition?", which in endurance means 100 milers.  Numbers, folks.  If you have 50 horses total competing in a sport, you don't have a lot of room for the top of the bell curve.  Maybe 3 or 4 horses are up to that top level (FEI), but they need owners that are also at that top level.  In the Arab world there are a million (probably not an exaggeration) competing.  That leaves a whole heck of a lot for the top of the bell curve.  It also leaves a whole lot on the bottom (see free Arabs).  Tekes have actually done quite well if you look at percentages (and no, I don't have those numbers, but I do remember that the first breeder in the States once did a percentage thing on his horses and it was amazing!  He also had big bucks, which certainly helps).  Most of the Teke owners today are 30-60 something women, who also have families, husbands, children, jobs, who love their horses but don't have the deep pockets to promote their horses to the absolute best of their ability.  Is this a bad thing?  No, not in my book.  My main riding horse, Galen, has been competing with me for 9 years now (although this year looks like a wash) and I'm always grateful to get 2 or 3 rides in before the kids are out of school, hay season, etc etc.  Could he have been a huge star with someone else?  Maybe.  He has the athletic ability.  Would I let him go to someone that could do 100s....very doubtful.  Not only is he 'my guy', but I want to enjoy him for many more years.
People that can campaign their horses to high levels of their sport leave me in awe.  I know the time, energy, commitment, talent and amount of money that would take.

Galen and I at the Mt. Adams limited distance endurance ride a few years back.  We're having a blast even if we're not setting the endurance world on fire.  I'm afraid I'm not that athletic anymore!
 

OK, so this is a long winded discourse.  So, say I haven't scared you off from breeding - what can YOU do to make the breed of your choice better and better the chances you don't end up with every animal you've ever bred in your backyard?

Simple:  Be positive.

Simple, but not always easy.  Positive in your dealings with the public, positive in your dealings with other breeders.  Remember the old saying "If you can't say something nice..don't say anything at all?"  Well, try to apply that.  Yes, there are problems.  So, being an adult, see what you can do to help those problems.  If you don't like the national organization (or there isn't one), start one or help out by volunteering.  I started the first Akhal-Teke newsletter in North America (that went more than one issue) in 1995.  I did that newsletter for 8 years and it ended up going to around 20 countries around the world.  I helped start the ATAA (Akhal-Teke Association of America) and I'm still very involved (and doing the ATAA newsletter).

Don't trash talk other people's farms and horses.  Let me tell you, it's a small, small world.  Your comments to a friend in some distant state WILL get back to the person you trashed.  I have tons of 'small world' anecdotes.

Help out other breeders and owners, even if they don't have one of your horses.  Someone is having trouble with a horse?  Don't say "Well, it's because you bought it from x",   Say, "How can I help?"

We have more and more people that are trading mares and stallions around - right now I have 2 lease mares, both much nicer than I can afford to buy.  They will (hopefully) produce fillies for me and then will go home to their owners.  So far, that whole lease mare = filly hasn't been working so well, but I'm sure producing some nice colts! 

Join your association, even if you don't agree with everything they do.  Everything won't be to your absolute satisfaction - remember the old proverb "Please all, please none".  If you get involved, perhaps you can help nudge people in the direction YOU think they should go.   Over the years, many new Teke owners have been turned off from the breed, not by the horses, but by the people involved.  Remember the whole 'small world' thing?  Yep.  Word does get around.

Do your best, in breeding the best you have to the best you can find.  Do the best you can for the mare while pregnant, take fabulous care of the foal and handle them correctly.

Keep in touch with the people that have bought your horses and provide support and mentoring.  I have many good friends that own a horse (or two) that I bred.    

In other words:  Be positive.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

It must be Spring

Yep, if you look at the wild changes in weather, the mud, the flowers, the growing grass, the mud...Also, the mares are starting to come into heat, so you hear strange squeals every now and again.  Non horse people are a bit nonplussed, but I know what is going on.  I don't usually do any breeding until June or July, as I like my foals to be born AFTER mud season.  Otherwise, they end up staying only in the arena for quite some time.  A wobbly foal in the deep mud is not a good thing.

Also, spring is in the air for horse buyers.  It's interesting how the slightly warmer weather starts the emails and calls about the horses I have for sale.  I sold one yesterday and have several more inquiries in process.  I suppose everyone is thinking of riding!

I'm still not riding all that much, but my ankle feels better all the time, so I have hope that I'll be out on the trail sooner or later.  I have to keep looking at photos from previous years to keep my spirits up.  I'm going with the power of positive thought.
Here's one from a few years back, of Galen and I at Klickitat Trek.  I'm hoping to be able to make it this year, but we'll see.
So, today, more rain, I'll head out soon to put horses out (sorry guys), clean sheds, give lessons and maybe I'll get a ride in today too.  We'll see.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A step in the right direction

I have been very busy lately, although it's mostly of the 'boring busy' sort.  All the mundane, day to day chores that having a barn (and too many horses) involves, along with keeping the family at least mostly happy.  I will say that my arms have been getting a great workout with all the shovelling I've been doing.

Anyway, we have snuck in a few trail rides and I've been giving some lessons, so my riding is progressing and I'm enjoying the teaching I'm doing.  Yesterday, I had the trailer hooked up and the sun came out (and I wasn't otherwise engaged), so I brought out some of the youngsters for trailer loading time. 

I have a nice big 4 horse stock trailer that is a great one for first loading.  It's a step up, so I put it in a spot that makes the usually 12-14 inch step up into about 6-8 inches.  I tied the doors back, so there would be no banging and slamming, opened all the feed doors and the escape door and then got my grooming tools.  Yep, grooming tools.  All these youngsters have had quite a bit of leading practice, round pen work and depending on the horse, lunging, but not much exposure to getting in and out of trailers.  So, it is time. 

First was Scooter.  He was all for standing with his head in and getting groomed.  No problem.  When that was boring, I asked him to put his front feet in and get groomed.  No problem.  We then backed out and came in several times with grooming in between.  Yawn.  So, all the way in, more grooming, all the way out.  A few bites of grass and he's back in the paddock telling his buds all about it.  Reggie decided he was next.  He hasn't had as much work as Scooter (a year younger), so was much less enthusiastic about it.   So, we stood with his head in the trailer and groomed for quite some time until that was boring.  I asked for a leg in, he did it, but wasn't sure about leaving it.  No big deal.  We got both front legs in and him pretty relaxed and I called it good for the day.  We don't have anywhere we need to go soon, so we'll just set up the same thing another sunny day and do more. 

Then it was the filly's turns.  Mahri was first (of course!) and got her front feet right in.  We did some grooming and backed out and came in a few times.  She would have gone all the way in, but I figured we'd stop on a really good note.

Same with Slari.  She was a bit more hesitant and I spent quite a bit of time grooming before she put her front feet in.  Back out, back in, all done.

While in the whole scheme of things it was only a small amount of work for each horse, it was a step in the right direction towards happy, self-loading horses.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Spring is coming...soon

Yes, the birds are singing and if the temperature gets above about 50 degrees, we see a few bugs and hear all the frogs croaking.    What is kind of fun is that the frogs are very temperature sensitive - we'll hear them for an hour or so and then, nothing.  I suppose they've crawled back into their little mud holes until the next burst of kind of warmth.

Of course, the other things that go along with birds, bugs and frogs - mud!   We pretty much have mud year round - last year I still found some spots in a few of the paddocks in August, but now we're in full-blown mud season.  Over the years though, we've come up with some coping strategies.  Several of the stalls have lovely runs on them now, with gravel and hoof grid, so they stay reasonably dry.  Every year we add more gravel to the bigger paddocks.  A few years back, we did a french drain in one and that has really helped.  I could easily use another 20 loads of gravel though...whenever I see commercials on TV for 'buy your woman this or that', I always think "Why would someone want a big, gaudy ring/bracelet/necklace  when they could have 10 loads of gravel?"  I know it's not just me - several of my horsey friends have gravel envy too when we go to barns with huge piles just sitting there!

So, among the bugs and mud, we have been getting some riding in.  I'm very slowly coming back; Monica and I went to Lord Hill yesterday and did a respectable ride without me wimping out.  I am being very careful, as I've set myself back several times by being a little too presumptuous.  sigh...the old body just doesn't heal like it used to!

Also, I have a young lady who is coming almost daily for lessons and is helping me out.  She's been riding Andre, who is really starting to bloom.  He's now cantering under saddle, although it's not quite confirmed yet.  He's also popped over a few tiny jumps (sans rider) and looks like he will be pretty cute.  Monica continues to ride Danny, who is looking very good.  They are now cantering several jumps in a row and I heard mention of working up to flying changes.  Whoo!

Mahri has had her first 'sit upon' and Ari continues to improve, so it's been busy here.  We will have two foals born here this year; Aya (Aishet) is due in July and we have a new mare in, Cady, who will foal in late April.  She is a sweet Arab-Hungarian mare and is bred to a Shagya.  It should be a cute little foal. 

Our plans for competing are up in the air, as I have a long way to go before I could even complete a trail ride, much less a Limited Distance ride.  But, I'll keep plugging away and if I end up volunteering at some rides, that is ok too.

So, stay tuned and see what adventures we get up to next!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Andre's First Trail Ride

We had a minor 'adventure' the other day.  Monica and I took 3 Teke boys up to the Pilchuck Tree Farm for a short ride.  I rode Galen (of course), she rode Andre in his 2nd real trail ride and we brought Ari for a horseless visitor, Maddy. 

Now, this was a bit of a big deal, as Andre hasn't been out in company before, much less on busy trails.  Ari has been on the back burner for quite some time and his last trail ride was last year with Julie.  This was my second ride and the plan was to ride a little farther than an hour, but only at a walk, as we had two green horses in the group.

The Pilchuck Tree Farm at the Bracken parking lot is great for youngsters - reasonably good footing, tons of different loops, mild to major challenges (you just pick which ones you want).

 
Two of our party through Galen's ears.
 
So, we met up with the rest of our party and headed out, 7 horses strong.  Andre was slightly nervous to begin with, but Monica did a great job of letting him know it's no big deal.  Ari thought that all these horses meant an endurance ride and Galen was right there with him.  Maddy did a great job of keeping Ari on track and Galen got to do lots of shoulder-in, halfpass and leg yielding.  They aren't used to just walking on a trail ride - usually we warm up and head right into a trot.  But, after a hill or two, they got with the program.  Andre was such a gem!  He had a ton of firsts:  first hoof boots, first group trail ride, first hills, first loose dogs, first bridges, first tripod experience and he was perfect.  This boy is really turning out nicely.  Monica kept exclaiming about his comfortableness - very smooth boy!

We didn't stay out very long as I had to wimp out.  My ankle (NOT the one that had surgery!) really started hurting at about an hour and 15 minutes.  Everyone else was good sports and we headed back to the trailers, where Katie took a group photo of us (except for her- but she and her horse were on the trail with us).

From left to right:  Aarene Storms on Fiddle, Duana Kolouskova on Hana, Monica Bretherton on Andre, Madeline Smart on Ari, ? on Horus and Cathy on Galen. 

Then, we all met back at Fish Creek Farm and had a lovely potluck dinner/lunch, complete with homemade wine from Aarene and Jim. 

Such a nice day!