Friday, August 29, 2008

Ponies on Holiday

The past couple of days have been busy ones indeed at Casa Fry. Last Saturday, Mike and I headed to the farm Co-op in Gainesville, TX, to price weed, seed and feed options from the nice Ag man. We didn't have the trailer hitch on the truck, so although we knew what we wanted, we were unable to take it with us. Mike said he’d come back sometime during the week and pick up the hopper of our custom mixed seed/feed mix. The weeding will wait.

I don’t know if it was a failure to communicate, a misunderstanding, or if I just didn't listen, but on Tuesday afternoon, it became clear to me that Mike intended to seed and feed the very next day. No provisions had been made for the horses; the question had not even been asked: are the horses safe on the property as we spread 170 lbs. of seed and, more importantly, fertilizer (read that: chemicals) per acre?

I was dumbfounded (and pissed) that Mike would even consider doing such a thing without having asked that question. He, in turn, deftly tossed it back on me – I should have asked the question. Well, I would have, had it been clear the implementation of the plan was imminent. He took it a step further, saying I had messed up his plan, and how he was just trying to help ME and make things better for ME and MY ponies. Whatever. He should know by now I don't do guilt, and besides, there’s already a St. Michael. This had all the earmarks of a nasty brawl in the making, but I chose the high road (or the path of least resistance) and pleaded mea culpa. I then began the search for the answer to The Question, from which to create an appropriate plan of action.

To make a very long story not quite so, I was unable to get a straight answer. The best I was able to glean was that the process would be futile if the horses remained on the land. Yeah, okay, but what about my only concern: the health and safety of my horses? We finally settled (or so I thought) on putting the horses in the round pen until I got home from work and could transport them to Heather’s. Mike did ask the Co-op the next morning prior to bringing the stuff home, and they assured him the horses would be fine. Maybe so, but had I been there, I would have put them in the round pen anyway.

Heather had not received my phone message nor had she checked her email, and was taken by surprise when I told her Wednesday afternoon I needed to bring the horses up later that day. This plan had been in place, albeit nebulously, for about 4-5 weeks, and she is nothing, if not flexible, so it was no problem. Jaz would be turned out with the herd, while Poco would be kept separate with the geldings and a yearling stallion, who is already taller than Poco. Call me a sap, but I was actually getting teary at the thought of not having my Boyz at home for at least the next month, maybe longer while the rye grass and oats become established.

The front of the stock trailer still had hay in it from when we loaded it up early this month, but there was plenty of room for the horses. Mike loaded Jaz while I went to grab Poco, who was in rare form. He was trotting around, tail flagged, like "nanny-nanny-boo-boo." I finally walked back to the house and pulled out my secret weapon: the treat we call "horse crack." They are little crescent-shaped apple cookies that, try as they may, the horses cannot resist. They may hate what's about to happen to them, but the cookies win every time. He tried, but in the end, it was like one of those cartoons where the dog floats up in the air on his back, moaning in ecstasy. Another one bites the dust hey hey hey. And once loaded, they thought they had died and gone to pony heaven in the dining car.

When I got there, the plan changed. O (Sugarbush Harley’s Classic O), a magnificent harlequin draft stallion, had jumped the arena fence at 1:30 the previous morning, and could no longer be trusted to stay penned therein. So Pokey and Jaz got to stay in the arena instead, while O was sent to solitary confinement in a stall. He was not happy. I brought all my tack, feed and supplements, so it took awhile to unload everything. We also distributed the rest of the hay from the trailer to some highly appreciative horses. There was a lot more hay in there than it originally looked like. The chickens did their part in helping to clean out the trailer, and Nita even hosed it out for me. I am leaving it there. I was too tired to ride.

Next day, I worked from home (telecommuted) until about 4pm, then headed back up to Heather's for a lesson. Nita rode Quaker, a darling, bombproof QH gelding, I rode Pokey, and Heather officiated. I'll admit, I had my own agenda and mostly did my own thing. Heather helped me with body position, bending, and keeping Poco at an ideal speed for the maneuvers we were doing -- he gets a bit over-zealous and likes to rush. I'm really working hard on #1 communicating effectively and consistently with him, while maintaining control (always a plus, eh?) and; #2 being solid at a trot. I am determined to sit a trot and soon! Poco did fantastic. I got the tiniest bit of attitude, but he worked hard for me. I kept watching his ears and I could tell he was really listening to me. He was responding to leg cues so well, Heather had me take the reins in one hand just to see if he still remembers neck reining. We did pretty well at serpentines but not so well at actually turning. He's a little rusty (a pun, since one of his former names was Rusty), but with a little instruction for us both, I know he'd pick it right back up.

Quaker and Pokey were both sweating profusely, so they got hosed down, then stalled for some grain before being turned back out. Heather, Nita and I sat, drank Gatorade and watched the sun set and darkness fall, as the herd thundered in for their evening visit.

I had thought I might make it up there today again to ride some more, but the rest of life got in the way. There's a chance of rain this evening, which we're hoping is not just Mother Nature being a tease, as she often is this time of year in North Texas. I'm grateful and excited for this long weekend and the opportunity to play some more with Poco. Heather and Nita both expressed an interest in riding Jaz, who first belonged to Heather's ex, then to Nita, so it's like a reunion for them. I'll be headed out there tomorrow for more fun and adventure. Rain or shine, I'll be a happy camper.

And maybe, I'll remember to actually take my camera out of my truck and take some pix! One of these days, with Heather's permission, I'll show you some of her horses of which I'm particularly fond.

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