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Posts tagged “ponies

Curmudgeon Report

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This photo was taken two weeks ago. Nothing has changed except the snow on the the barn roof slid off, creating a 5 foot wall of snow the entire length of the run-in. This happened an hour after we spent three hours plowing and shoveling the paddock, the drive and various paths. *Sigh* For weeks I played the blanket game: blankets on, blankets off, double blankets at night for the mare, no blanket for the buckskin during the day. It about drove me to drink. And if that didn’t make me woozy enough we had endless days with sub-zero temps. One morning it took three attempts to get everyone fed, blankets sorted out and the paddock picked to my liking. I had to keep running inside (and I do mean running) because my fingers and toes were on fire from the cold. I’ve learned that while it might not look pretty, it’s possible to run wearing ice cleats! I may have invented a new Olympic sport.

My house is now leaking, my back yard is a skating rink and I hold my breath every time I let the dogs out. Speaking of which, they’ve coped pretty well with being cooped-up for so long. That can only mean one thing: they’re getting old.


Escape Artist

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There’s no excitement quite like hearing your dogs bark, glancing out the front window and seeing one of your horses walk down the street!


Burn

 

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Waiting for the fog to burn off.


Wary

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The horses have been more wary than usual since being run through the fence by a loose dog. Because we get plenty of hikers who go by with their dogs unleashed, they spend a good portion of the weekend watching the trail above with alarm. Time, and no further issues should help their concern abate, but for now they’re still on high alert.


Oops!

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My father-in-law’s surgery went as well as could be expected. He survived the actual procedure, now for the long arduous road ahead. My mother-in-law sounds a bit better too, though she’s still struggling with some mysterious type of back pain. This is a bit odd given she’s never had a back problem. But it very well could be related to all the stress and tension they’ve been through recently. Getting Pop ready for this surgery was nothing short of a monumental feat and I think they were at a different doctor’s office nearly every day for the last two weeks. At 82 and 83! God bless them. So now we hope for a complication-free recovery, however lengthy. Pop’s a trooper and I’m sure he’ll do his best to prevail.

In the meantime, as some people know I own a small farm that abuts a Rails-To-Trails hiking Trail. The trail is better known in these parts as the Airline Trail because it’s actually an old abandoned railroad bed that’s been converted into a hiking and biking path. Over the last few years I’ve been seeing more and more people using the Airline trail with their unleashed dogs in tow. Every single day I see hikers, bikers and even cross country skiers on this trail with dogs running yards ahead or behind them. This leaves the dog owner with no chance whatsoever of grabbing and restraining their dog should they happen to encounter equestrians, wildlife and hikers, who often have their own dogs (either leashed or not) and/or young children in tow. This is not only a potentially dangerous hazard for the dogs running loose, but for whomever or whatever might have the misfortune of encountering them on the lam.

Yesterday as I was waiting for an update on the ongoing surgery I happened to glance out my kitchen window and see a hiker’s loose dog bolt through the woods, down an embankment and into my horse pasture. This very large dog then began to chase my two horses so aggressively that the horses were forced to suffer being shocked by the electric fence as they bolted through it. The only good thing about the entire scenario was that the horses didn’t break out of the pasture and run down the road, but instead, they were trapped in a closed off part of our summer pasture. I immediately flew out the front door and with no thought of personal risk or injury to myself, managed to capture the loose dog before it chased after our horses again. Had I not done this who knows what might have happened? (The dog’s owner was calling the dog from up on the trail, but to no avail) What if I hadn’t been home? What if the dog just kept chasing after my horses? What if the horses had gotten loose and run into the road or ran off into Salmon River state forest? What if the dog cornered my horses and they kicked it, severely injuring or even killing it? What if the dog attacked and injured me? What might have happened if my three dogs had been outside at the time? Any of these questions could have come into play in the blink of an eye. Even more frightening, had I chosen to go to the hospital that morning I wouldn’t have been home to witness this horrible scene or to intervene.

As a result of being chased by the unleashed dog and crashing through the fence, Dharla sustained a significant injury around her eye and a deep rope burn wound to her chest. I have no idea who the dog owner was … I quickly delivered the wayward dog to it’s owner, then ran to my barn to get what I needed to catch my horses. By the time I grabbed halters, lead ropes and ran down to the far end of my property to try to quiet and catch my horses (which wasn’t easy since they were both completely terrified) the person and dog had vanished. A “hit and run” if you will, before I’d even had a chance to assess my horses for injuries!

It’s outrageous to think our horses can’t be safe on our own property simply because we live in close proximity to the Airline Trail. And it’s frustrating to think we have no recourse for the injuries my horse has had to endure. Although I’ve sent an Email (with photos) to our town manager and the head of the department that manages the upkeep for the trail (Parks and Rec dept.), I’m going to assume there’s no way to protect our animals or keep this from this happening again. I’ve tried numerous times to get the town to address the problem of loose dogs with trail users, but they just bounce my concerns from one department to another until ultimately, I get frustrated and give up. It’s been a few years since I’ve rattled anyone’s cage. Time to see if anything’s changed.


Pluck

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The Ballivanich Reel/ The Boy In The Boat/The Stone Of Destiny by Lúnasa from the CD

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When I was a young girl my parents occasionally used load us into the car and pack us off to some remote country fair. To be honest, I have no idea how my folks even knew where half these events were, but they managed to find them nonetheless. Upon our arrival they’d press a few dollars into our outstretched, sweaty palms and send us on our way with a curt warning to mind our P’s and Q’s. They’d tack an additional parting addendum to my warning, reminding me to stay out of the way of the farmers and not to be a pest. They knew the minute I was unleashed I’d bolt for the pony pulling arena, where I’d stay glued to some poor hapless farmer for the next five or six hours.

I don’t remember how old I was when I first realized I adored horses. I think I was born that way. I don’t recall ever having any fear of horses and my earliest memory of being around them is strongly linked to fairs. I was the kid who begged my parents relentlessly to do the pony ride again and again and again, until eventually my parents simply left me to hang out with the poor attendant who was in charge of the ride. I say “poor” because at the same time I was also a relentless chatterbox.  I’m fairly certain I drove the poor attendant nuts with my horse and pony related questions. Between rides, that is. I do remember being told (on more than one occasion) that I had to give the other kids a chance to ride!

When I got a little older I discovered pulling. The pony pulls typically started in the afternoon and were immediately followed by the horse classes that ran late into the warm summer night. As much as I fantasized about owning my own horse some day, I really grew to love the pony pulling the most. Ponies tend to be more animated than their larger cousins and their unique personalities seem to compensate for their lack of size. To put it simply, ponies just have more pluck. Not to mention that their smaller stature made it much easier for me to pet and brush and …. well, pester them as they stood tied to their trailer or hitched to the rail. By pester I don’t mean irritate. No, my idea of a good time was to simply be around them so I could shower my love on those ponies.

The farmers who owned the pulling horses and ponies were incredibly tolerant. Back in those days parents didn’t hover over their kids and so I was loosely supervised by whoever was around the pulling arena. The outsider might think pulling is just a fun form of country entertainment, but it’s serious stuff to the folks who are involved. While the camaraderie may be abundant, the competition is fierce. Every contestant is there to win! So there I was, a child, smack dab in the middle of all the betting, cursing, chest pounding and laughter and they were some of the happiest times of my life.Several farmers took me under their wing. Many of the same teams and owners do the summer fair circuit and so I got to know the men and their horses well. They began to teach me how to handle myself properly around horses and gradually allowed me to do more and more with their teams as my confidence and experience grew. By the time the end of the summer rolled around I was spending the better part of the afternoon and evening at the pulling pens. And I couldn’t have been happier. I didn’t care a whit about the rides the food or anything else, I just wanted to be with the ponies and horses.

I never outgrew my love for summer fairs with horse and pony pulls. I don’t get involved in the politics of pulling, I just enjoy watching the dynamics between the teams and their drivers. Pulling was one of the very first events I tried to shoot when I bought my camera and I had a fair amount luck considering I was a rookie photographer at the time. The next summer my plans to get out to shoot some pulls fell through and I didn’t get a single picture. This summer I’m hoping to get back out there and spend some time at the pulls. I can’t wait!


Happy Trails in 2012!

 

 

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My cowboy! Yesterday we had a nice last ride of 2011 together. I can’t think of a better way to end a long and trying year. Here’s to lots of fantastic trail rides and happy, healthy horses in 2012!


Hey, Good Lookin’

 

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I went to the Equine Affaire again this year. Last year I took my camera, but I decided against taking it this time. It was just as well … it was cold, windy and threatened to sleet. Overall, this year I spent as little time outside as possible. But last fall I happened upon a man out stretching the legs if this young Gypsy Vanner colt. The colt was quite fresh and was giving the man a hard time. Personally, I think I would have throttled the colt, but the man was willing to put up with a lot more crap than me. The problem with most youngsters is that they’re cute, which means they sometimes get away with all kinds of bad habits. Oh, and the man was a relative rookie horseman. Yikes.

This year I noticed the breed barn was heavy on “pretty” and light on everything else. I guess that reflects our current infatuation and emphasis on anything glamorous and our tenancy to overlook the working class. Interesting, that!


Waiting

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I haven’t, for one reason or another, been to any fairs yet this summer. I’d like to attend at least one, just so I can get a few photos of the horse or pony pulls. There’s only a few more fairs left before we move into the fall, at which point I’ll have to wait until next year for the chance to shoot a pull.


Lineup

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Things horses never think about: Does this angle make my butt look big?