Thursday, June 16, 2016

The big 3-0!

Okay, so it's not Moon's 30th. I can only hope he gets to be that old, like Mr. AJ over with Rlil.

Nope, I'm talking about my munchkin belly reaching 30 weeks! We're in the final 10 week countdown, and guess what?? I'm still saddling up :)

Love being behind this pony head!
Except Moon has been either insanely lazy for a horse that is in BEAUTIFUL body condition, or else he's been warned to behave for the next ten weeks. I'm not sure which.

I can tell you that on our Saturday ride, he had the SLOWESTWALKEVER. It was painful. I tried kicking. Digging my heels in. Slapping him with the reins. NOTHING. I seriously felt like I was back at a riding school with the old nags that barely move.

I got him out to the road and gave him rein for a canter....he went maybe a 1/4 mile at the slowest canter ever and then that was it. Wouldn't even trot really in the downward. Gave me another 1/4 mile canter back towards home, but still just so slow. I know I should appreciate how well he's cantering now, but lord, my legs were killing me by the end of the ride from having to use them so much!

Oh, and I *almost* fell off when he shook, while standing totally still. How can I canter just fine, feeling perfectly in balance, but that horse can shake so damn hard I end up clinging mane and neck?? :P Thankfully he's a shorty, so I'm pretty sure I would have just stepped down onto the ground if I couldn't hold on.

So beautiful after a recent thunderstorm <3

I'm still loving having him at home. Our rotational grazing program has been working well and we seem to have lots of grass coming back. The sacrifice paddock isn't even devoid off all grass, though he's broken a lot of the smaller trees scratching his belly.

I love it <3 Even when I'm not riding, I love getting to see him. I love that he's slim and not porking out, even without a grazing muzzle. I've ALMSOT gotten rid of his scratches, just one spot on the 2nd leg to get infected. And his tooth/gum issue seems to be fixed up too :) The only thing was yesterday he was a little stocked in his hind legs, mostly the one he debrided of all the skin a couple summers ago, and I know and expect this as it gets hot and he's not moving/working as much. He didn't show any signs of lameness and was still getting around fine.

Hoping to keep on riding, right till the end <3 I keep expecting it to feel weird or uncomfortable or awkward, but it really hasn't. The biggest thing is that when mounting my saddle tilts more because I *may* have put on a pound or two I didn't previously have to drag up there ;) But it's a good way to always make sure my girth is tight ;)
Seriously, how is this not heaven? Right in my own backyard <3




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Manure Geek.

I was standing out in Moon's paddock on the weekend, taking a rest of picking poop. And as I gazed off towards the sacrifice paddock, I found myself smiling. For the simplest reason. I could see my pasture management in action.

The sacrifice paddock is still hanging onto some grass, but it has deep paths worn in it, rocks are churned up, the dust blows across the dry soil that's exposed in some areas and it looks more grey than green.

The middle paddock, the one I was standing in that Moon had spent the last 10 days in, was also getting that "grey haze" over it. The paddock he had come from previously, had a nice green to it, but the paddock he hadn't yet been in was tall and lush with green grass. None so tall it had gone to seed, but a nice healthy length ready for eating.

I'm a geek, but look at the left paddock that's growing green (regrowth), the middle paddock Moon just finished grazing (now rest), and the right paddock that's been untouched!! Fabulous rotational grazing!! The sacrifice paddock is in the front of the image. 

As I gathered up the last trailer load of poop, I appreciated that not only were the paddocks looking healthy and so far I've managed to time my rotations well, but no grass was being lost to the poop. Horses don't graze where they've pooped, and their poop contains weed seeds and worms. Good grass can be lost under the poop and less desirable weeds can spring up. While I don't get super excited about picking paddocks (and there were two trailers full from this middle paddock....and it's bigger so takes longer to drive around), I really appreciate the benefits of poop picking. Even when I'm sweating away on a hot Sunday afternoon.

It makes me feel like I'm actually managing the manure and the outputs/inputs of our farm. And that matters to me.

Beyond all the poo picking, not much has been going on. A couple of short rides, a couple of lunge sessions. I spent a week on a work trip, and the husband G did an AMAZING job looking after the whole farm. You can imagine how I felt when he messaged me that Moon wouldn't come up to the barn to get dinner....so my husband walked it out into the field for him the first three days. Nothing says love like your husband loving your horse. Heck, yesterday he even asked if I minded if he fed the pony!! Um, of course not!! It's awesome to see Moon actually come up when G goes to feed him now, where before he was distant.

Two of my loves, wandering in the field <3
(it's extra brown and crunchy bc we hadn't had rain in weeks at this point!)

When the farrier came for trims last week, I was thrilled when she commented on how awesome his body condition was. Score one for the non-plentiful grass!!

I've also almost got his scratches cleared up; the one hoof has one tiny patch, and the other has two. Just a few more days of treatment (I had run out of cream). I also have his gums looking better around that bad tooth of his. Unfortunately though, he managed to sunburn his nostrils, so he's got some skin peeling in that area. It's even in a spot where his fly mask doesn't reach. Poor pony.

Sunburn :( Flymask doesn't cover here. 

Of our 20 chickens, we still have all 20 and they now live outside. It's awesome to let them out of the coop as they run around. They're way less adorable as they get older.

Getting big!

Outdoor chicken coop

I can honestly say that third trimester fatigue is hitting me now, and I have a hard time staying energetic. I'm really, really glad we did as much as we did when we did.


Cause we needed this big of a garden too... ;) 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Getting my Aggie on.

I'm sure I've said countless times how I spent 4 years in university studying agriculture. All the joys of manure management and rotational grazing and...I work in public health. Go figure.

Well, this weekend we OFFICIALLY have a farm! Okay, not a real legit farm with enough production to make it count, but we have something other then a dog and a horse. Two livestock species makes a farm right??

Start small ;)

Dog and a chick??
Pardon me while I divert from my tales of ponies for a second...

Cat and a chick??

Friday we got our first batch of chicks!! The day-olds arrived at the local store for pick-up at 12:30...and it took until 2:15 for me to get mine thanks to the learning curve of the staff in handing these things out. I rushed home with our box of 20 and since I was heading right out and the delay was so long, agreed with the husband to lock them up securely in the basement furnace room. In their dog kennel brooder with a heat lamp...

20 chicks in a box...let the adventure begin!

I got them all settled and headed out the door...

The thing I didn't think about was how much cooler our basement was and that the chicks would knock over their waterer....

I came home at 10pm to find that they were soaking wet, on chilled bedding and one poor fellow had not only gotten soaked and chilled, but I guess semi stampeded by his siblings and was laying prone off in one corner of the kennel. I was pretty sure he was dead.

When I picked him up, he took tiny jagged breaths, eyes held tightly shut.

Okay, these are $3 chickens that we're raising for meat. Culling it wouldn't be the worst thing.

Death, after he started to look a little better. 
But nope. I raced the kennel upstairs to the warmer pantry and lowered the heat lamp. I quickly changed out the bedding and gave everyone a rub down to dry them off. Fresh water and food, and then time to take care of "Death".


Chick magnet....
I thought "Maybe I could warm him in the microwave??" Nope, probably wouldn't end well. What about the oven?? Nope, too crispy. The steam shower?? Too humid. I opted to rub him briskly and wrap him up well. He couldn't keep his body upright so I put him in a tupperware container to prop him up, and under the heat lamp he went.

After about an hour (yes, I pretty much stared at him until 11:30), he was able to hold his little head up. So I dipped his beak in water a few times (full of sugar), and he seemed to take a few sips. Another rubbing and back in his cup. I kept checking on him all night long...


By morning he was out of his cup and traipsing around with his siblings!! :D I was thrilled. Over a $3 chick :P

Good puppy. 

Cutting my chick story a little shorter since this is a pony blog, I'm happy to say that today we still have all 20 chicks and they're doing great. Death is named and marked, and let's hope he's a she and I can convince hubs to keep her around as a layer ;) Even though she's a broiler ;)

Chick asleep on the dog...

_________

Okay, pony stuff.

I got some rides in last week, which was awesome. The scratches seem to have really gone down; just a bit on the outer edges still seems a bit crusty. Hoping we're through that soon.

Pony ride

Moon I'd say is totally settled in. He seems like a normal happy horse, doing normal happy horse things. He still hates his beautiful run-in, but what can a girl do. And he's taken to galloping across the paddock which is just beautiful.

Flies are getting bad so he's masked and blanketed now. He doesn't seem to be dropping weight, though we really need some rain because the grass is all brown and not doing so hot.

Happy and content pony face. 

Saturday I spent an hour and a half and picked all the poo in the paddock, which felt AWESOME. I loved it. Total aggie (someone who studied agriculture) moment. I love manure management! And clean paddocks! No flies making worms! No weed seeds gathering there. No loss of grass because the horse won't eat where it pooped! Just nice and tidy pastures!

Got an entire quad trailer full of poo :) Not bad for a week! I'm hoping to stick to the once a week picking.

One week. And a lot of that is dead, dried grass...we need rain. 

I even got to start our muck pile!! :D That was exciting. It seemed a bit dry, so Sunday I added all the bedding with some water from our chicken coop! Composting makes me excited lol.

One fence wire came down, but it was a ground wire. I got that hammered back up Sunday as well. Nice thing about picking poo is it's a great chance to inspect all the fencing and wires.

I also spent Sunday evening, though I was utterly exhausted, installing eavestrough on the shelter and then connected the eaves to the water tote. So if it actually rains this week like they promised, we should have a decent collection of water in the water tote, for filling the trough. Right now I'm hauling 2 garbage bins full of water to Moon every 3rd day. It's a lot of work.

Sophisticated poo pile. Beside our composting grass pile....

He got his blood taken for an Eastern and Western Encephalitis titre study, and his West Nile Vaccine as well.

I'm still loving him at home, because even when I'm tired, I still have a reason to go see him. And it takes all of 5 minutes. No matter how tired you are, you can spend 5 minutes throwing food at a happy horse.

That's my story. Farrier comes to our new place for the first time on Saturday. The trees are finally budding out and we've got the start of leaves. It's wonderful. Shade! Chance of snow for Friday, but I'm sure it won't amount to anything.

Just keep on trekking.
Ride shadow

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

First Ride @ Home

Omg. If anyone, anyone out there wants to tell me it's horrible having your horse at home, I'm not listening. 

Normally the drive to the barn is just under 40 minutes round trip. Which isn't bad considering it was once closer to an hour. But yesterday it was *awesome* to hop on the quad after supper and scoot out to the pasture. The only thing that would improve it is getting that tack area finished. I had to haul my gear out there bc i really didn't want to leave my saddle and bridle so exposed, and ended up having to go back for my girth :P

Pony face came over to greet me again. Somehow he had managed to break one of the leg straps on his flysheet already...I have no idea how. I jimmy rigged it back together, since the other one he broke last year anyway :P Horses. 

I wanted to put his flymask on, but was a little nervous about leaving it on overnight in the dark. I opted to leave it off for one more day so that he could really memorize the paddock, and then I'll probably leave it on starting today. The flies have all come out and I'd rather they're not all over his face. 

So I groomed and tacked him up. His leg is about 75% unswollen now, which is really nice. I think there might be some scratches going on his other hoof, but I can't be sure. Started treating them both and hoping it helps. He was maybe a little sore at the trot, but I think the terrain might have had something to do with that too...

We headed out of the paddocks into the pasture surrounding our place. Followed the deer trail. It's thick old grass that's fallen over, and plenty of rocks under that. I'm already expecting him to have hooves of wonder by the end of summer. Seriously, some great hoof building terrain here. 

I rode him to the dugout at the back of our property, which is all dry. He was NOT interested in going in there, probably a throwback to that time we tried swimming in a gravel pit...

I got him through anyway, and it was great to have a spot to work on his back muscles. Then we wandered to the road allowance, and did a nice trot up it to the road. We went up the road almost a mile, where I let him look at the neighbour's cows and horses. He just turned around and wanted to go home. So we did. I just *felt* that he wanted a run, so I let him canter. Lord I'm in love with his canter. Such variability and I could slow it into this beautiful uphill thing where we barely covered terrain but he was still cantering. I'm 24 weeks pregnant now and felt 100% at home on him even at that pace. I really felt like I could put a total green rider up on him and they'd be totally fine. Which is weird considering how much of a dick he'd gotten to be at the barn. Still a good ride, but nothing like he was yesterday. 

We rode back down our driveway, stopped in the excavation hubs was working on for his garage and then headed down the trail back to the pasture. I honestly was thrilled by the whole ride. I was sore and can definitely feel the physical difference (wow, did my butt hurt!), but it just felt so good. Maybe it was the throw back to the early years when I first met him, and we were exploring this area together in our early relationship?? I don't know. It just felt calm and peaceful. We were a team. 

I rode back into the paddock and took his bridle off, and the jerk trotted off for what I was SURE was going to be a roll!! Except he was still saddled!! Insert me chasing him across the field and him running faster because now I was a crazy person :P I did stop, walk over, he stood and I led him back to undress properly. I totally should have known to at least put his halter on :P 

Legs treated and a quick brush, I let him out to roll. Then reblanketed him. I tossed his grain in his bucket and he gave me the "I'm still not sure about the shelter" face. But I shook the pail twice and the sound of the grain was too tempting; he came in to eat ;) 

After I went and sat on the quad and couldn't help but notice that he walked a pattern, over and over in the paddock. Not like a fence line pacing type thing, but up one fence line; stop in corner, look around. Poop. Down the front fence, stop in corner. Look around. Cross the field, and he would either check his grain bucket or shove his hay net around and eat what fell out. Then he stopped for some water. Followed by circling a tree, heading to a deer trail, backing out of the deer trail, and then walking back up the first fence line. It was weird, because the pattern was so consistent. He'll easily have marks worn in by the week's end. 

And he seemed to have "places" for things. Almost all of his poop was in one corner. Every time he rolled, it had been in the same spot; that dried patch of grass where the dance floor was, probably because it's dustier? He always seemed to pee a couple feet away from the poop spot. He always backed out of the deer trail, not turn around. 

I really don't know. My friends have all assured me that horse do walk patterns in the paddock, and as long as he's eating, pooping, urinating and drinking, don't sweat it. And he's not running the fence line or calling. 

So we'll go with that for now. I'll just keep watching him. 

I'm currently thinking I'm going to try to ride three evenings a week or so, so that he's getting lots of exercise and stimulation. Tonight I'm going to plant our potatoes and move dirt from the garage excavation to fill in some of the low spots on the drive to the back field. That'll help hubs finish the work he's doing on it, and the path will have less potholes before the next rainfall. So no riding until Wednesday. 

Thursday I'm going out to the barn for a visit and watch the girls ride. And Friday our chicks come home!! :D Plus I'm going to a baby gear sale with the girlfriends. So no ride until Saturday after Wednesday. Hubs is spending the day with his buddy, so you know I'm gonna go for a nice long ride and then spend the afternoon getting my chicken coop ready for its new occupants. 

I'm also headed out to Ottawa in a week and a half, so super excited about that :) I can't wait to have a mini vacation. And hubs will look after pony face for me ;) Lucky man ;) 

Monday, May 2, 2016

He is home.

I can't even describe the weekend in proper details.

Friday felt like Christmas eve. Only I knew what my present was.

I woke up Saturday nervous and anxious. I kept thinking about how if I'm this nervous about bringing a 900 lb horse home, what'll it be like with a 9 lb baby?!

I barely choked down a piece of toast and then headed to the barn. The air was silent. I struggled to find words to even keep conversation with my best friend; I struggled with the mix of guilt and joy that went through me. I was leaving her place for the summer, but I was taking my boy home.

It's hard.

Pony home <3 (And that weird brown patch is where our wedding dance floor was!)

I gave him a bit of a grooming. Put his shipping boots on. H wanted to load him because she was worried about me getting bumped while pregnant. So I worked the back end. She did amazing with him. At first he was obstinate and kept turning sideways to the trailer door and refusing to budge. But after maybe 5 tries she got his front feet in. Then he touched the roof once, but she got him back in and stepped up nice into the trailer. I was sooo proud <3 I put the bum chain up and closed the door, and was thrilled to see him loaded in my trailer. I worked so hard to refinish it years ago, and this was his first real trip in it!

H told me to drive, so I hopped in the cab, and almost started crying when I unwrapped the little gift she had left me on the steering wheel. "I love you to the MOON and back" read the little sign <3 I love her.

But I had to drive, so I compartmentalized and headed out. It was a slow drive, and I swear I only got up to 80 km/hr once, but we made it. I stopped in front of our house and H unloaded him. He came nicely out of the trailer too. We walked him out back together and I let him loose in a big field of brown grass.

Paddock A; grass is still brown

That afternoon we did more work on his shelter, putting the roof sheathing on and adding the support braces. My husband kept laughing because I'd be off gazing at my pony instead of helping with the build lol.

Moon took a few canters and gallops around when I first let him out, and then settled to eating. He pooped, rolled, peed and drank water. Seemed content enough.

That evening I went out with the quad (we have 15 acres that's a 1/2 mile deep; our pasture is the back 5 acres, and the front 10 is all trees...so can't see the horse from the house and it's a five minute walk to get back there). Moon had unfortunately developed Scratches, also known as Mud Fever on one pastern, and his leg was stocked up when I loaded him on the trailer earlier in the day. He also had a bit of a hitch in his step.

So I led him back to the house using the quad!! I couldn't believe how awesome he was about it! Walk and trot!

Then I cold hosed his leg, which had already gone down about 50%. The scratches is a decent patch, and I'm gonna try to get some ointment for it today or tomorrow. The only thing I've done in the past with other horses is furacin sweats, but I'm not even sure where to buy furacin and if it really worked.

I also started treating his bad tooth with the mouth wash, so hopefully that clears up with regular washes. Saturday we also dewormed, so here's to a worm free pony!

I went with my "go to" mixture for injuries for now...Bactine!! And a side of BlueKote since it's anti-fungal :) That covers both infection types!

I'm hoping as well that the dry paddock he's in now will help cure it as well. Where he came from is a lower area, and while they have WAY nicer grass because they get more moisture, it also means the ground is wetter in the spring. There is seriously no winning.

After I treated Moon I put him back out in the field. I couldn't believe the way he walked and trotted around with me without any halter or lead rope. It was amazing. I feel like already, our bond is really coming through. We need each other. I love it.

Sunday morning after breakfast I headed back out to the field with hubs and we finished fencing in around the shelter. Then I put up some temporary cross members to keep him out of my "tack" area. It'll eventually be a proper room.

Makeshift tack area :) 

For now, I hung up his blanket and his grooming kit :) And a lunge line and while. The essentials.

Then I let him into that area, and fed him from his bucket in the shelter. You could tell that he wasn't totally in love with the new space and a little scared of the shelter. He did enjoy the cool water out of his new big trough that H got us for Christmas <3 We set up the water tote beside it, and I just need to add the eavestrough to the shelter to collect rain water :) I put the trough in the shade behind the shelter so it wouldn't get hot and gross for him hopefully.

Not quite in love with his shelter yet...love how he's keeping one leg out of it ;) 

Then I lunged him a bit, which was fun. I need to clear some of the rock piles left from our wedding still, and you can totally see where our dance floor was!

He's almost floating in this picture!! <3 Even with the sore leg. 
Such a good boy. 
When I came to check on him in the evening the bugs were out, so I put his KoolCoat on. Love that thing. Helps his dark-ness keep cool in the summer sunshine, plus protects him from bleaching out. He really is a chestnut!! And keeps the bugs off.

I found three woodticks crawling on him so chucked them off too. Tonight I'm going to try his fly mask, so they're not in his eyes and ears, and to keep his pretty white nose from sunburning again.

I spent probably 30 minutes just watching him. He grazed. He tossed his hay bale around a bit. He went for a roll. Peed. Pooped (I need to buy a muck fork to start cleaning up after him!). Looked off into the distance. He called once when the neighbour's donkey was breying.

Going for a roll in the "sacrifice paddock"

Checked on him again this morning and he looked fine. Still alive anyway. Hubs told me to go give him a pet, and he came right up to the fence for me. When I got back in the car, my husband smiled and looked at me. "You two have something special" he said smiling at me with this look in his eyes like he really understood.

We do. <3 6 years. Countless miles. Adventures. Harrowing experiences. Challenges. He's my boy.

Tonight I hope to actually saddle up and go for a ride down the property!! :D I can't wait! To think I could even squeeze it in before supper! :P

Our beautiful shelter; I even put the sign that hung on our wedding podium up :) 

Okay, so one other thing. A lot less exciting.

I'm feeling guilty. I've had so many people comment on if Moon is "lonely". Why I brought him home when he's a herd animal. If he's scared. Alone. Misses having friends. I honestly spent hours just watching him this weekend, wondering if I made a selfish move. 

Moon doesn't know about how much easier it is for me to see him when he's this close. He doesn't really care that I feed him 7 days a week now instead of one. He doesn't understand that this move means I probably get to ride him two or three nights a week. He doesn't understand that it means I'll actually probably see him once our baby is born, and the weeks right before hand. 

He just knows that he's somewhere else. 

I moved him for me. I guess I appreciate that he's out on pasture a little earlier, but I also know it's not as nice of pasture. He's going from really nice green grass, to my dry uncared for prairie. It's an old cattle field that hasn't seen hooves in years. I really hope to improve it every year, but it's not as nice as where he came from. Though again, I appreciate that he's out of the mud while his scratches heal. 

I don't know. I googled "How to tell if a horse alone is stressed", and couldn't believe the number of people who said it was cruel. Selfish. Inhumane. Terrible. Should never be done. 

I try not to humanize him, but sometimes I think Moon's an introvert. Just like humans, yes, they're creatures that are social. But I could honestly spend a week puttering around home totally content without seeing another face. Hubs is the same way. Sometimes I think Moon is the same. And every day I'll see him. And in a few weeks we'll add some chickens to the mix. We have deer and birds and squirrels. He's got sunshine and green grass (and brown grass) and cold fresh water. A shelter with shade and rain protection. Dust to roll around in. 

He's not running fence lines. He's not calling. 

I know when I've moved him before, he's run the fence. I know separated from the herd at H's, he's run and run and run that fence line. He hasn't done that. I can tell he's started to make a track along the fence line, but he seems to wander up and down it as he grazes. He's alert, but he's also in a brand new place. I'd expect him to be alert. 

I know that he comes to see when when I walk up to the fence. But he won't come up to anyone else in my family. My dad even tried holding treats out and he couldn't be bothered with him. But when I show up he comes sauntering right over to me for scratches. And I *never* bring him treats. 

Is it possible that my horse really does have a personality like me?? I mean, I've been totally content when out with friends, to camp alone in my own little tent. I like my space. My chance to putter and do my own thing and feel free. Am I projecting onto my horse based on what I want, or is there a chance that he really doesn't need a big social circle to be happy? That him and I, we're friends, so he comes to visit, but everyone else? Meh? 

He called only when the neighbour's donkey was breying, and I think I told myself that was more like a "What?" when he heard him, then an actual "I miss horses!" scream. 

I don't know. The only world says I'm a cruel person. Hubs thinks the horse looks content. I worry if I'm a great big jerk. Everyone else I know went out and got a 2nd (or third) horse as soon as they brought their horse home. Am I mean? Am I making him suffer? Is this torture? Is he falling apart inside?? 

How do I know?? His poop is normal and plentiful. He's grazing and eating hay. He's drinking water and peeing. He's rolling. He's listening great on a lunge, and behind the quad and seems almost even more easy to work with. He's had a few good gallops to stretch his legs, but then just wanders about. He's not pacing. He's got scratches, but it's not caused by stress here at home (I know stress can weaken immune systems and in turn make them more susceptible). Tonight I'll see what he's like under saddle. He just seems quiet and peaceful and maybe...

I guess he feels a little like an old fellow. 17 next week. He seems 17. Quiet, dependable, does what I want. 

Why does that worry me?? Compared to the cranky gelding who was biting the other horses and chasing the boys around and hoarding the mares, and being a total jerk to the other feeders at the other barn? And calling at the rail and screaming, and jumpy? 

Seriously, Moon at home seems like a horse with a sedative compared to the charged creature he seemed lately at the barn. 

Is the bossy cowsish jerk the happy Moon, and this sedate beast the stressed horse?? Or is he content to be spoiled and not have to look after anyone else? He really did have a hard time when he took over as herd lead at H's when Manwell passed away; maybe he's happy to be retired from that job now? That he did it because someone had to, but now that he doesn't, he's happy to just be a pony in a field, eating and pooping??

I don't know. 

I wish like hell he could tell me. I want him to be happy. First and foremost, happy. 

Is this a happy horse?? Or a stressed and lonely horse? 

Friday, April 29, 2016

One more day!!

:D

So Moon comes home tomorrow! Last night I fed at the barn for the last time before winter, and packed up the last of Moon's gear. Just his halter, a brush and shipping boots were waiting at the barn still. It was bitter sweet unhanging his sign after the four years it's hung there.

I'm heading off with the weirdest mix of excitement, nerves and eager anticipation.

So in love with this boy, even after 6 years <3 
I spent four years in university studying animal production. I'm an Aggie. I studied agriculture in school, and LOVED everything from feed formulation to rotational grazing to throwing metal squares into a field and counting blades of grass. This is my dream world. I don't work in it 9-5, M-F, but the idea that my evenings can be a passionate pursuit of agriculture?! I'm beyond excited. It's more then just bringing Moon home. It's an opportunity to farm.

I'm getting to farm.

I know some people think, it's just horse keeping. Fence off some grass, let a horse eat. Supplement some hay if they're looking skinny. Keep them watered.

But I'm talking about Manure Management. Stocking Densities. High Intensity Rotational Grazing Systems. Natural Parasite Control Methods. Pasture Improvement.

I know. Some folks would roll their eyes and yawn, but for me, this is my passion. I'm seriously EXCITED about managing manure.

Now, I don't know if we're going to do best on a harrow system where we spread the manure out, or maybe we should cover and compost, and then spread at the year end?

I know that one horse produces enough manure in a year to fertilize 1 acre of land. Which to me, means if I accumulate and cover it, I should be able to compost this summer's worth, and then in the fall when Moon goes back to H's, spread that manure over 1 paddock. And after 4 years, I should be able to have fertilized every paddock once. And then start again. Which is a perfectly manageable level of fertilization. I'd also like to introduce some new seed stock next year with frost seeding. That's when you seed the grass in the spring, where the spring frosts have opened little cracks in the soil for the seed to fall into and germinate. The downfall is that it means keeping the horses off one paddock until the grass becomes established there, but I'm thinking if I divide one pasture in half and make it the last pasture grazed in the rotation, I could have everything seeded in 6 years. Without much loss of production. The first year would be rough, but after that, the improved yield of the seeded areas would compensate for the loss of area.

I also hope to do a soil sample back there to determine the nutrient levels. I've had the soil tested for compensation, but not to actually determine the health of the soil.

I'm probably going to ask for a manure spreader and harrow for christmas ;)

I'm learning also that a good manure pile has lots of space for air, which means I need to make sure to add some leaves and lawn clippings and weeds and such to help the manure aerate. Which is great because we always have tons of grass clippings and leaves to deal with!

We also will have the bedding from the chicken coop, which is another great thing to compost! Plus whatever vegetable bits come off our garden this year :)

My math says that we'll have 5 rotations per paddock, if Moon stays until the end of October. Granted, I doubt there'll be much growth after September, so it's possible it might just be a hay bale supplement in that last month.

I'm hoping that every time I move Moon into the next paddock, I'll run the lawn mower over the area to cut down all the weeds. The biggest issue is going to be the rocks in the field, but I guess I'll slowly pull them out, plus hopefully he's not munching it so short that I need the deck on the mower crazy low. At least we have the riding mower for out there.

I'm also really hoping to pick poo every other day or so back there, so it never accumulates. That's gonna be a wait and see one, but if I can keep to doing it, it'll be a HUGE advantage.

What more can I say?? I'm excited! I'm prepped...kinda. I'll finish prepping tonight. I have this weird anxiousness to me, that I really hope Moon can't read tomorrow morning!

I still get a little worried when I think back to the move I made to H's, and Moon went down on the fence post. I just keep thinking about what if he breaks a leg or impales himself on a tree the first day at my place?! I'd be horrified.

Really, it's like anyone making a change in the world of something they love. All I can do is hope I've covered all the bases, and know that if something happens, it's just a freak accident. Freak accidents happen.

So tonight's busy schedule includes picking up all the debris (bits of wire I cut off the fencing, bits of fence posts and such). Then I need to jumper the last couple of new fence lines. Test the fence to make sure it's energized properly. Run the last of the wire for the sacrifice paddock (including the gate). Put out his water trough and fill it with water. I might find two tires and put his food and a second water bucket in the first paddock just for while he's waiting for us to finish with his shelter area.

Move the wheelbarrow out to the back field and look for some sort of manure rake. And make sure I have an area to be my muck pile :)

And I need to find my flagging tape and put that up all around the fencing :)

I wouldn't mind trying to find my plastic tack box and putting Moon's rain sheet and grooming gear in it. A couple of fly masks too as he should start wearing them. His tooth cleaner that he needs.

Hours. Just hours away from a lifelong dream. It's crazy. I keep checking if I'm ready. Am I ready? How will Moon be??

By this time next Friday, we'll have a horse and chickens on our farm. We'll be a farm. Our garden goes in in a couple of weeks! Maybe Sunday I'll hang my clothes line and put laundry out for the first time. Ride Moon around the paddock :)

I was thinking about not putting the east gate in, but finally opted to do it, and I'm pretty happy that I can kinda "sneak" next door to ride in the open cattle field.

Man I wish I could jump. Seriously, I really really wanna jump. I know that's not happening (hello 24th week of pregnancy!), but a girl can daydream. Even just getting to hack down the the path to the house or up the road is going to be amazing.

Eeeee!! Wish us luck that this weekend goes amazingly well!! You'll be hearing lots more about Moonpie in the coming weeks, that's for sure!! A whole new adventure for us!

Last time feeding at H's until winter...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

T-2 TWO DAYS!!

I can't believe it. Tonight is my *last* feeding day at the barn before Moon comes home. Tuesday me and my besties went out for our last trail ride together before we all go home for the summer. It's the weirdest thing; almost like boarding school would be, where you spend all year together except "go home" for the summer to live your individual lives. It makes me excited to see how different we all are when we get back together in the fall.

Last trail ride of the summer with the besties <3

Of course I'll be missing out on the fall pony camping trip since "apparently" it's not appropriate to strap a month old infant to your back and race over the hillside for four days straight ;)

But I'm really, really hoping to be back in the saddle this fall after LO is born, and start a new adventure in riding.

It's bitter sweet going home for the summer. I think it's a little easier knowing that we'll be back in a few months, and that for as busy as summer's are, there's the perk of having Moon right there in my own backyard.

I think back a lot to our adventure together.

I got Moon in 2010, having first met him for the first time SIX years ago now. He was just a little 11 year old boy. Next month he turns 17!  It took me six years to get him home, but oh the adventures we went on while we waited.

I credit H, bestie and owner of the place he currently lives, for really taking me from a horse riding and owner, to a horse care giver. I know WAY more about caring for a horse now then I ever did before. And am more confident in myself about the decisions I make too.

The last week has been total exhaustion preparing for Moon coming home. My family came out on Sunday to slog through the joys of shelter building. I have to say, I'm even more impressed by it then I expected! The hydro posts I got from H last fall worked BEAUTIFULLY for a super sturdy post-framed shelter, and we notched them so that the beams actually sit recessed into them. It's beautiful. The shelter part for Moon is 10'x16', with a nice overhang over the front and back as well. Then I have an extra 8'x10' tack and feed room off the side!!!

I'm beyond excited for the tack and feed room! When I started this whole thing I didn't expect that luxury, but it's going to be awesome. I've already decided that I'm going to put a little window in the best side, a nice door out to the paddock area, and a little "dutch window" that opens over Moon's feed bucket so I can just dump his food right in from inside the shelter!

In the long run, I REALLY want to add some solar panels to the front of the shelter and power some lights :)

Last week I rolled out (by hand...on a 100lb spool) the wires to fence in the sacrifice area. The sacrifice area is a smaller paddock where the waterer, feeders and shelter are, that I can keep Moon in when I don't want him destroying the field because of wetness or the grass being grazed too short. It has gates into three rotational grazing pastures. I also added a gate from the sacrifice paddock out to the "track" that I made run around the outside of the fencing, for my longterm goal of making a x-country track out there :)

So the wires are all hung now a few feet into the bushline, and I'm super pleased with how it looks. I dragged myself out last night to install the last hydro pole I had that wasn't the right size for the shelter and an extra, to make a great little entrance gate beside the shelter :) I like how big and tough it looks, and I really want to put a solid gate there in the long run.

The family is coming back out on Saturday to help finish the shelter since I needs the last of the roof sheathing up, and the girt braces around the outside. And maybe a couple pieces of plywood to kinda section off the tack area.

I still need to drag the water trough into place and fill it. I need to finish one run of wire just to close off the sacrifice paddock, but I wanted to wait until we were done the shelter so we have easier access. I also gathered up all the lumber strewn around, and need to quickly pick up all the wire bits and pieces.

I really can't believe how quickly it's come together. I'm totally in love with the whole set-up right now :)

TWO more days!! Seriously, I can't believe it. Sunday morning I'll wake up and my pony will be in my backyard. To just brush him isn't going to be a 30-minute drive. I can just go snuggle him for five minutes for the hell of it! <3

I'm so excited for this summer. So so excited.

Moon's Shelter, 1/2 built! :D Hopefully finished framing this weekend! (sheathing, kkckboards and tack room finishing still to come!)


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

T-17 days!!

Moon moves home in 17 days!!! :D

Not saying things are fully set up for him, but we're gonna be working hard over the next couple of weeks to get there!

We finally are getting some nice weather, which hopefully will get the ground thawing and drying, and the grass growing! The field is still totally brown.

I was out yesterday until sundown (oh my abs!!), and got all the gate anchors installed and even one set of gates :D And I ran the last two fence wires on the front fencing which I didn't get to in the fall :) Somehow it's easier to roll out that giant spool of wire that weighs 100 lbs now :P

The husband is going to spend Sunday helping me install the solar energizer (and ground rods) and hopefully get the sub-dividing t-posts and wire installed. That will leave us with 3 pastures to rotate through, and if the weather holds up, I might even be able to get the sacrifice paddock done and the shelter started :D I'd really like to have the sacrifice paddock done when he gets here, just in case the pasture grass needs a bit more time. It still felt pretty loose yesterday.

Of course, I still need to clean the last bits of our wedding off the pasture too! A picnic table, bbq, sandbox...but that shouldn't take long. And I'll just set them up in the field closer to our garden :)

I'm so excited. I can't even explain it. To think that it's going to be a quick quad ride to see my boy!! Going out yesterday was a blast; a minute long ride and there I was!! Pasture!! I seriously can't wait! I think I'm going to start trying to ride him from the pasture up to the house and then back most evenings :) I just can't wrap my mind around what it'll be like to have him RIGHT there. Anytime I want! I think about how giddy I get when we go horse camping and he's RIGHT THERE! Now that'll be every day!! :D

Our day-old chicks arrive the weekend after Moon does, and I'm so excited to see our place become a real farm :) Supporting all the things we love :) Even the garden looks ready to start planting in the coming weeks :)

I did have some issues with supplies being sold out at the local farm supply store. Those darn gate anchors. Thankfully at the last minute I worked out that I could buy the plastic circular screw in insulators, and use that to affix the one end of gate wire too. I'm just going to make little wire jumpers to carry on the electricity into the gate :) And hubs managed to grab just enough of the proper gate anchors that I can use them on the hook-end of the handles :) PERFECT!

Tonight I'm going to try to finish all the gates, and then roll out some of the wire for the dividing fence line :) Gotta get ready to get lots done on Sunday! :D

That first picture of Moon's big old white nose in his very own backyard is gonna be worth all the hard work <3 Been waiting 25 years for this moment...


Friday, April 1, 2016

Bump Riding

So after finding out I was pregnant, I thought "What's riding going to be like?" and "Do I even keep riding??"

Which of course led to me scouring the internet for forums and blogs where riders spoke about how long they rode, the dangers of riding, what type of riding they continued and what docs thought of riding.

Of course, what's out there can scare the crap out of you. Or in my case, make you feel a little like you're 99% crazy and everyone thinks it.

Take Zara Phillips, who did Polo and Dressage while pregnant. While I've been in the polo circuit enough to know that it's probably outside my own pregnant comfort zone, if I had a local club I was involved in, I might still do some slow pitch and enjoy it.

Dressage? Seriously? When blogs like: THIS ONE exclaim that Zara was endangering her child, I balked a little.

Add in these stating that after 12 weeks placenta abruption is quite likely, or these that claim most doctors just don't support it.

It starts to be a bit of a struggle, when the internet world is telling you not to ride, especially not after 12 weeks. I'm not saying to continuing to ride is for everyone. And I agree, knowing your horse is a huge proponent of continuing to ride. But do we really need to start telling woman they're endangering their child because they keep riding??

I can honestly say I've thus far taken more painful spills navigating our staircase then I have on horseback. Heck, at 16 weeks I was in a car crash that resulted in $5k in damages and am still waiting to find out if my car is written off.

Do you know what the responding paramedics did when I said I was pregnant (and NO, I didn't call them. The other driver was a bit dramatic, and YES, I told the paramedic I felt fine). The paramedic said "Well you should be fine, but if there's any bleeding, don't hesitate to come in."

Because that's what that is. That's exactly how my OBGYN feels too. Pregnancy isn't a disability. If you've been healthy and not had any issues (which I haven't), no reason to turn your world upside down and spend 9 months on a couch.

Heck, my physician even gave the thumbs up to me travelling and flying out of the country at 26 weeks and 29 weeks.

Where I'm going with all of this, is that I really think riding while pregnant is a personal decision, and it doesn't necessarily come with the multitude of guilt people like to add onto it. Especially if those people aren't horse people.

For me, it's the furthest thing from endangering my child. Smoking? No. Drinking? No. I'm avoiding sandwich meats, rare steaks, taking my vitamins and not eating pre-packaged salad. But not riding? No happening.

It's more then just some need to "prove myself" as many people claim on the blog and forum world. I'm not still getting on my horse so people won't think I'm incapacitated because I'm pregnant.

Moon is some piece of my soul. And it goes beyond just his being. It's insanely hard to describe if you've never had the joy of a heart horse, but he's an extension of my being. We somehow almost "feel" what the other needs, and how we move together is more instinct then thought.

Moon and I last summer...we're far from perfect, but perfect together <3

Yesterday I mounted up and the weather was miserable. Strong north winds, crisp air, everything was creaking. We rode away from H and S2 who were gonna condition ride and go in the opposite direction, so I set Moon off at a trot. We trotted a good 1/2 mile before I got him to walk again, and we started doing leg yields down the road. He had a couple of spooks because of the wind, but he's Moon. They're like "stop and stand in place" type spooks, not anything the least bit scary.

We trotted some more, and then let me tell you, I've never experienced this before, but LO (little one) can apparently use my bladder like a spring-board during posting trot...and despite what I was certain was an empty bladder, I spent a good 1/4 mile feeling like my bladder was being pounded and wondering if there were any thick brush around for a quick...lady's break. Not sure how I'd do that discretely while holding an 1100 pound animal, but I was feeling desperate.

Thankfully it was 100% LO-on-bladder related, and when we went back to walking I felt better. I have to tell you, my legs are both in fine shape, and out of shape. I've put on around 15 pounds already, and that's actually a fair bit of extra weight to carry in a fairly short period of time. I can feel my legs start to swing after awhile, and I can feel the muscles being worked. Thankfully no pelvic pain this ride, which is a blessing.

That said, I read an awesome article by a Biomechanics researcher, that said it's not Kegels as the key to a strong core. I've been told over and over "Do kegels" and somehow that'll make all the postpartum stuff easier. Interestingly, what the article spoke about, is that strong muscles are like trampolines, elastic and taught, but not tight nor loose. Overworking and holding a single muscle area, makes that muscle stretch. Which means you have to keep holding it tighter and tighter and tighter to perform, to the point where it's constantly tight, and thereby weakens. A trampoline isn't over tightened, because it would stretch the fabric and thereby make it weaker.

Apparently instead, what we should add into the equation, is strengthening our glutes, but also to learn to relax our muscles. It spoke as though our glutes are the springs to the trampoline fabric; they create the right amount of counter tension to keep everything nicely in place. So if we work both the kegels and the glutes, we're making the whole system strong equally. AND, if we also learn to relax muscles, we're able to not overstretch them in our strengthening.

The whole thing really hit home to me. And made me DETERMINED to focus on an exercise routine that was balanced. I've read so many amazing articles that talk about the power of squatting, and even more, how horseback riding builds those muscles.

So here I am, working key muscle areas while I'm riding. That's a win. But it's more then that. Horseback riding is one of my favourite fitness activities; I don't run, I don't like biking, I'm a terrible swimmer because I hate water...

But riding gets me moving. And moving makes me feel less puffy and inflated. After a ride, even though I got on feeling like a balloon about to burst, I feel "normal". Non-pregnant even. Another huge win!

Next week is my 20-week OBGYN appointment, and I'm excited for it. My doctor has been 100% supportive of my horseback riding, just telling me that it's probably wise to avoid jumping or highly competitive environments (where one would be inclined to shove and rough-house). But every time I go in, I feel like I've reach another milestone, and I don't want to give up on riding anytime soon. Getting on Moon next week, I'll know that I made it 1/2 way through my pregnancy still riding.

And never mind still riding. While that posting trot might have been bladder-ly difficult, and sitting trot is off the books, I still managed a BEAUTIFUL canter through an open field with my boy yesterday. Clocked in at 16mph to boot. Not just because I'm able to open him up and feel his feet pound the earth (something we both need), but because somehow in the last couple of years together (I'm pretty sure it happened during our monster riding session in Spruce Woods last fall), but he now has speeds WITHIN his gaits. Which means I can collect up that beautiful stretched out canter, into this stunning uphill collected one. He moves almost on the spot, in this rhythmic rocking horse gait. Something I only ever dreamed of getting out of my stiff necked giraffe for years.

We covered 3.6 miles in 55 minutes :) Not bad for a pregnant woman ;)

Floating across a field, 4.5 months pregnant, and the world just melting away?? That is bliss. That's the thing that carries you through the next 4.5 months, and that's the peace and serenity you channel in that L&D room.

If horseback riding teaches us anything, it's that tension is bad, be soft, be fluid, breathe. Don't hold too tight to the reins.

Maybe LO will be born on horseback...

Me and Moonpie @ 16 weeks


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pony Dentist.

Probably should have snapped some pictures, but as usual, it was a whirlwind. The vet came out to do teeth yesterday, and I'm pleased to say that Moon needed minimal work as far as hooks and points :) Probably his best turn-out to date.

Of course, he's had that one tooth where the gums have been receding and bleeding, so the vet had a look, gave it a wiggle and told me about how there could be root loss and such, and I got convinced to spend $180 on digital X-rays. That showed a perfectly healthy tooth and root, and just some really upset gums. Le sigh.

So $400 later, Moon now gets an antibacterial mouth wash once a day to heal up his gums, and thankfully no expensive tooth extraction. I'm happy that he's all done before moving home, and I keep counting the weeks.

Four more :)

I'm NEARLY finished my chicken coop, which means hopefully soon I'll really start on his horse shelter. I gotta get those posts in so I can finish off the fencing of his pastures, get the gates up and it's at least ready to contain him. Not a lot of weekends to whip through all of that!!

His transition hay bale is home and stored away, and H is going to save a hockey net or two for us to use at home. I've got to start going through his stuff at the barn and moving it home...which is fun considering it's been like 3-4 years there, so we have a huge messy pile and stuff is everywhere. Don't know where I'm going to stuff it all :P

Oh, and I managed to do 3 miles last week :) Not gonna say it was easy, cause it wasn't. Moon was awesome, but after 2.5 miles my pelvis was aching and I was having a tough go of it. But I pushed and made it home without getting off. Man oh man. We did trot and canter most of the way, which is pretty awesome. My legs got an extreme workout. I'd say I'm still fit and still riding, but the extra 15pounds I've put on already, is a lot of extra weight for the ol'body to lift in a trot! Or hold up at a canter! I couldn't believe it. I even have a tough go pulling myself up onto the fence rail to sit. I can't imagine what it's gonna be like in a few more weeks, but at the same time, I keep saying, as long as I don't stop, it'll be easier to keep going. Hopefully I'll manage another 2-3 miles on Thursday and we'll keep it up. We're at 18 weeks now, and I seriously hope to ride right up until 40 :) Let's see how Moon behaves once he comes home...

Speaking of, I seriously have NOT appreciated just how hot Moon really is. In my mind, he's a really sedate QH. Typical laxidazy slow going old guy. He's turning 17 in May! He's been exposed to all kinds of crazy things, and really is close to bomb proof.

But wow. We were standing around talking while the vet was doing teeth, and of course, while every other horse got a single dose of tranquilizer, Moon needed a double dose. I TOLD the vet he would. He'll seem out, but as soon as you touch him, he'll wake right up. Sure enough, the vet went to open his mouth, and his teeth were clenched down, his head went up and he backed up at high speed away from him. Not so tranq'd.

The whole thing started me really looking at him. So much of how I perceive Moon has to do with our relationship. I felt connected to him from the first time I rode him, and that's developed. It's been what? 6 years together?? 6 intense years. I know him like the back of my hand. He's PREDICTABLE to me. Not only is he predictable, but because he is, I feel confident in how I respond to him. So much of our relationship is just intense familiarity, that we react and roll of each other smoothly.

But around the barn, he's near the top as far as "hotness". A crazy first thought to me...until I take of my rose coloured glasses and really look at him. He's REALLY responsive. He's very alert. He LOVES to run, and *naturally* loves to race. Not the kind where you need to push the horse to race, but as in another horse takes off, he wants to be there running past him. If he can't, he's a snorting, blowing, prancing mess. He was bred to run.

What he's not is dirty. He doesn't use dirty tricks, he has no desire to ditch his rider. He doesn't have horrible trail habits that make him hard to handle on the road. He's not spooky, when he does spook he's a small clean spooker. He's quite easy and light to move around, which means that you've always got good steering and control when you're out there. I STILL ride him in an uber soft bit, and he's never "run away" with me. He's never been one to turn sharp or stop hard.

He's stellar on lead. I totally stopped appreciating it, until Monday when I was leading another horse, who trodden RIGHT on my foot!! WTH?! I seriously screamed and started trying to shove his body off my foot. WTH?! I can't think of the last time Moon stepped on me. Lord knows I would have lost it on him. Without holding the lead, Moon trots and walks off beside me, and stops and stands based solely on body cues. He's even gotten to be a great ground-tier most of the time.



But none of those things makes his "cool". What they make him, is well trained to me. He's still the horse that one cluck means give'er all you've got. He's still Mr. Sassy pants, he's still the boss in the herd, he's still out there throwing a tantrum when his ladies are gone or you won't give him his head so he can chase down whoever just passed him. He is, truthfully, a hot little devil of a horse in a tiny package who's bred to do one thing and he does it well: Race.

It's funny how I love him, and how well he suits me, even though I don't consider myself getting on with hot horses at all. Perhaps it's because he's a sensitive hot. Most of his heat is emotional rather then physical.

And that's maybe what I love most about him.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Two-Up

A girlfriend pointed out to me on the weekend that I was "riding double" on Moon. It was the most sweetest thought. Already, long before our first child has taken their first breath of air, they've already sat atop my sweet pony and ridden through the wilds of Manitoba. That's special.

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about being pregnant and still riding. At first it was an easy no-brainer, the simple adjustment of wearing a saddle and making sure I use a bridle to make it "safer" for the husband's sake. I mean, he wasn't giving me issue with riding, the least I could do was be as safe as possible.

Somehow there was a moment around 14 or 15 weeks when I "popped" and suddenly it wasn't all bloat and morning sickness. Yes, it's still a lot of that, but there's this tiny lump that appears each night, and these fluttering kicks that roll along with it. Our first child. It hits you.

I found myself...nervous. Partly worried about doing something to hurt this tiny life, partly wanting to protect it from all the dangers of the outside world. Sitting at home I worried if I was being an irresponsible mom. I read stories, I worried, I questioned myself. I saw forum after forum of people being attacked for riding after finding out they were pregnant. Heck, quadding, ice skating and snowmobiling were also on the "stupid" list. And I had done all of them knowingly.

I think one huge thing for me is my OB/GYN. "You're a healthy woman with no pregnancy concerns at this point," she said to me, "Stopping being active is the last thing you should do. If you've been doing these things for years, you're doing them safely, then don't stop. They'll help."

Now part of me didn't understand how they'd help, except I can already tell you that my core muscles are stronger then ever because I'm still riding. And my body feels awesome because it's active. I've gained 9 lbs after 16 weeks and I feel great. It doesn't feel like pointless donut fluff, it feels like healthy baby growth with a side of baby fat. Stuff I'm excited about.

When I get on Moon, those nerves fade away. I sometimes still get frustrated when the group goes too fast, or the footing isn't perfect, or I'm worried about something spooking us out of the blue, but I know these are things that exist in everyday life. I've loved having the chance in the last couple of months to teach Moon to listen to ME, not the group. He can still be a bit of a goof about it, and he's definitely more athletic then he's ever been.

Somehow I just feel at home on him. Like he's a little extension of my body. I just melt away, and it's we.

So Saturday we went out with S2 and H, and we cantered down mile roads, crossed two bridges and trotted plenty. It was a hoot. Think we did 7 miles total. Ponies were sweaty when they got home, but it was a wonderful workout for us all. I can honestly say, I'm just as in love with Moon as I've ever been.

The snow has finally melted away (storm expected tonight, but I vote the snow doesn't stay around), and I can finally see my hydro poles for the horse run-in. I started marking them, and Garett and I are going to cut them to size this weekend and move them to the field. Then we'll put the backhoe back on the tractor and start digging!! I have about 6 weeks to get that shelter built. And cross fence. And build the fencing around it. And add gates. Gees it's gonna be busy!!

I'm so excited though. I almost can't put it into words.

When I was a kid, I fell in love with horses at a really young age. And then I remember in first grade going to the school library for the first time to pick out books, and finding this book on horseback riding. It was pictures, with everything labeled on the pictures. The parts of the tack and horse body parts and such. I LOVED it. I swear I took that book out a hundred times over the next 7 years. I loved it so much that I found it at a book sale years later and bought it.

I would ride the bus home and pretend I had a horse. I named him Victory Gallop. Vic for short. He was a buckskin. He'd run alongside the bus in my imagination and jump the driveways we passed. I'd get off the bus and put his imaginary halter on, and then lead him up the driveway to put him away in our mower shed. Sometimes after supper I'd go out to play, and I'd take him out again, and we'd jump fences, or I'd brush him.

I knew I'd never really have a horse in the mower shed, but every christmas I asked for a pony. I fell in love with the horse on the drive to the city who wore the baker sheet, and got one for my birthday a couple years back. When I got Moon, I knew I needed to get him home. In my own backyard, so that childhood dream was reality. To have him out back, wearing his baker sheet, and to walk out to him and groom him whenever I wanted.

I *love* the place where I board, but I can't describe to you what my imagination creates for what it's like to have your horse at home. It takes me about 40 minutes to drive to the barn and back. If I forget anything, I forgot it. I can't stop and grab a bite to eat over lunch. I can't squeeze in a quick gallop after work. I can't even really just go for a snuggle, because driving 40 minutes for 10 minutes of horse hugging just seems silly. It's just different. My mind tells me it's different. It floods with this overwhelming joy at the thought of it all. I've waited THIRTY ONE YEARS to get here. Okay, consciously, something like 25 years. But that's a LONG time to want something. I wanna put that Baker sheet on him and sit in the pasture as the sun goes down, knowing it's a five minute walk back to the house. I wanna wake up and stroll to the paddock with a cup of tea to watch him eat the dewy morning grass as the sun comes up. I wanna be gardening, look over at him laying in the sunshine, and sneak over to snuggle against his warm body. I don't want just pieces of his life anymore, I want his whole life.

We're building a little attached feed/tack room on the run-in shelter. I'm already picturing his stall plaque hanging over his saddle, the little row of his ribbons proudly displayed below a picture of him at his first summer showing. I'm seeing his slew of blankets hanging off the wall, each for me to choose from. Maybe he's just gonna wear a sheet because every day I can put it on and off?? Maybe I'll put his tail up in a bag? Hang all his bridles off little hooks?

Needless to say, I'm super excited about this next chapter. With a baby on the way, it seems even more poignant. As the days get longer and I get more tired, to be just steps away from my pony face is utter bliss. I know that we'll probably be down to just walking rides by the end, but I can't think of a better way to spend my summer then with my boy in my backyard.

6 more weeks <3

Monday, January 25, 2016

This adventure we're on.

When I started my blog five years ago, Moon was brand new to my life. Sometimes I can't believe it's been just five years. Do you remember me back then?? I was a twenty-something year old, fairly new in the real world, working a real job and feeling my way through a real career. Learning what it meant to own a horse.

I moved Moon from the place I bought him, to a boarding stable, to a friend's boarding stable. Now I'm counting down the months until I move him home. We still have some work to finish (building his run-in, dividing the fenced pasture so I can rotational graze), but it's happening.

This weekend our barn girls got together and rode 6 or 7 miles into the park down snow covered paths, and stopped at a warming shelter where we roasted hot dogs and marshmellows. We laughed. We joked with snowmobilers who were out sharing the trails with us. Moon stood tried to a log not caring about a thing, snowmobiles whipping past, laughter, saddle bags strapped to his flank, his halter hanging down off the saddle.

Many, many miles...

This is, should be, another regular day in our lives. In the last five years of our lives together. This was the season when he officially became mine. This spring will mark six years from when we met. He was 11. This May he'll be 17 years old. That's that turning point from young spry horse to headed towards old man. My fellow riders who were out were riding 21 and 23 year old horses, and talking about how they were ready to retire. That's just four years difference between Moon and one of them, and yet he feels eons younger. Moon was still spunky and eager and moving quickly through the deep snow. I could tell he wanted to canter and trot and was having a blast. My horse is aging, I'm aging, but we don't feel old.

I think about how my little riders are getting older. 7 and 6 this year. And I'm super excited because they're ready to ride him more. They were riding alone in the ring this past fall, and they're only growing taller and stronger each year. Moon is 17. He's got so many miles still to give these kids. To give me. My friends have mostly all replaced their "old" horses with younger ones. Horses that were euthanized when they went unsound. Horses that are slower, sorer, weaker. There was a time when Moon was one of the young horses in the paddock, but now he's one of the old horses. Yet there he was, keeping up with no issue. Most days I still don't think he's going to be 17. He still races a 7 year old like it's no big deal.

If you're wondering where I'm going with all of this, it's that we're off on another adventure. Moon and I.

Parked at the warm-up shelter. Moon is such a good boy <3


Lemme step back quick and roll through the last couple years of my life...

Moon and I met, and it was fabulous. I fell in love with him and knew he was my heart horse.
That Christmas, I got him as a Christmas present, a huge gift from his old owner as she sold him to me at rock bottom price. Because she knew we were inseparable. I can never thank her enough.
We did some serious training with Coach W and competed. It was AWESOME. I'd never been so proud of my riding and my horse ever. We moved to H's place to be closer to the park for showing, and we really enjoyed our time.
Then I bought a horse trailer and completed refurbished it. Time to travel!
Except my 9 year relationship ended. Abruptly. This meant no truck, huge life changes and moving to an apartment. Getting approved to build a house.
But I fell in love again. With an incredible man. That next summer we built a fabulous home in the country. The next spring, he asked me to be his wife. His forever. It was hands down a yes.
We had a year and a half engagement, which included a huge DIY wedding at the end of last fall. We fenced in our horse pasture to get ready to move Moon home for the summers. The husband left his job to persue a new career and returned to school for a year.

And that's now. Is that not a crazy 5 years??

Cowgirl [Photo by Dave Andrew Photography]

Well it's about to get crazier.

Hubs and I are expecting our first child in August. We're over the moon. Ha.

That means all next summer when Moon is home?? I'll be home too :) How young can you start kids riding?? I have a feeling ours will be seeing a lot of pony before its first birthday <3

I know that when I see blogs I've been following, suddenly start the "kid" banner, I always wonder "Does that mean riding takes a back seat??"

I don't know the answer. I do know that while I've blogged less in the recent years, and that I haven't had the same time for riding as I used to, Moon is still very much a part of my life. I'm at the barn feeding and looking after him at least once a week, every week. I'm still out riding about once a week. I still get awesome trail rides with my barn buddies. I don't plan on letting all of that slide away now. But part of that, is moving him home. Where it's a five minute walk out my backdoor to see him. Where caring for him every day is MY responsibility. Where I can learn with him >thisclose< how to get away on him with a child at home. It learning a schedule and routine that works with the husband and baby.

I guess you could say I'm excited for the challenge. My life has evolved to be so much more then riding, but it's so much more focused on our farm. This is our forever. When Moon becomes our childrens' horse in five or six years, it'll be time to expand the place. It's about getting him used to new livestock, from chickens to goats. New paddocks. Learning about rotational grazing. How many serpentines you can get in before the baby wakes up. How much food you can grow in your own backyard. Can you actually put a horse stall attached to your garage??

It's a different kind of horse life coming. But it's a much more integrated horse life. It's time for me, in my life, to bring horses home. He's not this thing AWAY from where I am, but a piece of where we are.

Because even our wedding was just another piece of our backyard adventure...[Photo by Dave Andrew Photography]


I never had the privileged as a kid to live with horses. Actually, my first three years of life we had horses right next door, and maybe that's what made me fall in love? I want our kids to have that horse infused life. And a farm infused life. Picking eggs from the coop, eating vegetables straight from the garden, riding horses like an idiot through a field.

In the world we live in today, I feel like having Moon at home and learning to make him a part of our daily life, is a huge life lesson for me in being a parent. Because horses are unpredictable and dangerous and scary and magical and freeing and teaching.

I want to raise independent children. I want them to wander the woods by our home, exploring and adventuring. Making up tales in their heads. Creating a world that they can entertain themselves in. I want them to learn to respect animals, and value the creatures in their lives. I want them to learn that some risks end badly. Some risks are worth taking. That perseverance makes you get further in life. That you're not fed by a plastic card and a bulk store. You're fed by a hell of a lot of hard work, hours in the sun and sweat. That the rewards of this, are a life like we have. That your mama and your papa have worked really hard to reach where they are in life, and that means some rewards they get and you don't. That strength is built, not born.

Because country is our life [Wedding Photo by Dave Andrew Photography]

I guess to some extent, I want our children to live the life that I remember living, but with the added perk of the horses in your dreams being real. And never, ever, taking that for granted.

I think it's gonna be a lot of learning. How do you control the desire to give your kids the chance you wish you had, to ride and show and compete and own a horse at such a young age?? To do hockey and gymnastics and eighteen other sports, when you know they'll grow so much more from being sent loose in to the backyard to make their own adventures?

Enjoying a post-ride snack <3


Where am I going with all of this?? It's to say that we're off on a new great adventure, and I can't wait to share it. I can't wait to experience it, and I can't wait for Moon to be part of it.