A Love Story

This one is going to be mushy, and sweet, and I have to say, I just don’t care. So, before I run off down this rabbit hole, let me rehash Zeus’ story for any of you who don’t know.

I bought Zeus about a year ago because I needed a horse for my husband to learn to ride on. We had just had disastrous results with a percheron we had bought. He was sold to us as just being rusty, and the initial ride appeared that that was the case, however as time went on it became clear that horse needed a serious amount of work. The final straw was when my husband was kicked in the back for trying to lead him in a circle.

I went hunting for Zeus and knew I was looking for a unicorn. Michale is 6’4″ and not a small man. He had never been able to learn, despite wanting to, because of his size. Our budget was limited and it needed to be something I could trust. Michael had become a bit skittish.

Zeus was listed as a tennessee walker, but I had never seen one as built as he was. He was the next state over, which is further than I will normally go, but he was gaited. Thinking of Michael’s lack of balance this seemed like a good thing. I went and test rode him with my best friend. I did not bring a trailer which some would disagree with, but I find it best practice.

The woman who had him was nice enough, but specialized in Quarter Horses, and didn’t have much use for him. When I asked why she was selling, with a sigh she explained he was the product of a failed relationship. The man was gone but the horse was left. She didn’t have use for a gaited horse in a lesson program, and if he didn’t sell he was going to auction. I asked how long she’d had him. Her answer was less than 9 months, and didn’t know anything about where he came from.

I test rode in the days prior to Irma hitting, and the wind, shaking, and off balance riding didn’t phase him. He seemed great, but certainly was an introvert. I brought him home as soon as I could, and like in his previous home he was low man in the herd, fine by me.

The strangeness came when I first tried to pet his ears. He had never had a problem bridling, but he didn’t seem to have any idea why I’d be coming at him without tack. He didn’t like being caught, and he didn’t know about stroking his nose either. He was strange about gently picking up his feet and preferred them to be yanked up. He was unsure of taking treats at first as well.

I tried to lunge him for the first time and he acted as though I was going to kill him with the whip. When under saddle he was fine, but anything else he acted as though he had no idea how to interact with humans. I began to piece together his likely history through is behavior.

Horses don’t tend to go far when sold. With him being large, strong, and gaited he likely came from a series of trail riding stables. Chances are, based on his behavior, he didn’t stay in one place long, and definitely didn’t have any understanding of affection. No one necessarily abused him (though I am suspicious of his interaction with the lunge whip) but likely no one ever really loved him either.

My work began. I started with catching him just to groom him and then releasing. I got him used to getting treats, and slowly let him come to us for petting. He watched Holly as the leader. She had been loved completely her entire life, and with me for the last 6. Slowly but surely he began to come around. We aren’t done yet, but we are getting closer. I now present the first ever selfie he has ever let me take with him. It is wobbly, and not great, but its one of my favorites.

The Full Progress

Since it has been a minute I figured it was time to give you an update about what is going on around the farm, and what to look for updates on.

 

Our Irons in the Fire

-Selling our duck eggs

-Raising chicks (we’ve bought new barred rock chicks and have successfully hatched at least one in our incubator)

-Trying to get the barn finished

-Integrating a friends things into our tack shed

-Caring for the geriatric horse recently added to our herd

-Continuing to settle Zeus in, and letting him be a horse

-Planning next year’s garden (perhaps with a bit more luck)

-getting blueberry bushes in the ground

-Managing our rooster flock (aka weedeaters)

-Reconsidering hay storage

  • A ton of fencing work. A royal ton.

 

It is strange to find myself in a position where none of this are insanely pressing.

Updating the Masses

Hello all! Apologies for the absence, that was the “school starting back” chaos. I am starting back and ready to go with tons to share. I was stock piling stories in the last month, so even if they didn’t get to you, I have them. So first, a bit of a story, a bit of a serious one, about #teacherlyfe

You see, I have friends with kids so I understand how frustrating and out of control it can be to but school supplies. Half the time they are asked to buy things they don’t even use. From an inside perspective I can tell you a common practice is for teachers to collect all supplies and redistribute. I don’t like this at all because it means that some supplies that your child may have had a preference for they don’t get. If they complain or become upset they become a complainer. Best way to avoid is put your students name on everything. I understand helping students in need, but I feel that should be a choice for parents to make about helping out. I started with all of this because I wanted it known that I see and understand that, but…

It is the second month of school and I have already spent $700 in school supplies and need approximately $300 more worth of supplies. I am not buying premium brands or technology. I’m talking basics we use nearly every day. Sometimes we get money for things, and sometimes we don’t. So far this year, nothing. I am sharing this because I wanted everyone to know, we are not kidding about how much it takes to run a classroom you want your student in. We aren’t talking fancy decorations that cost that much. My bills were mostly books, notebooks, paper, glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, markers, scissors, mini white boards, folders, organizing tools, and printer ink. The fact that I need other supplies for teaching? Good luck to me. Just sharing, love on your teachers

A Little Help

As many of you know, I am a teacher, and what you may not know is that I work in a low income area with special needs students. I spent $500 this year so far on supplies alone. There are some things I really need for my students. Right now Donors Choose will match donations if you use the code RIPPLE, so please if you can help, it would mean so much.

Click Here to help

Little Joy

School started so as a teacher you know I’ve been crazy busy. Hence the hiatus. I’m excited share we’ve had our first eggs! And they are delicious next up, the ducks

Lack of Posts

There has been a lack of posts because it has just been quiet on the farm. There is an exciting project on the farm, our stable is going up. Originally Michael wanted to put the barn further back in the pasture, meaning it had to be bigger to accommodate moving the tack and hay to it. Instead, his dad suggested putting it closer to the other out buildings which means we don’t have to move the tack, feed, and hay storage to a new building. I pointed this out in advance, but Michael listens to his dad better than me.

Anyway, I’d take pictures to share, but right now all you would see is a bunch of poles in the ground. Also, we managed to prevent the duck escaping, but they haven’t exactly made it easy. Boring post I guess, but quiet on the home front.

My Country for a Barn

When people think of a farm they automatically think of what of these:

barn

My property hasn’t had one because it was split from a property next door. So, we are getting one this weekend but we have been trying to figure out how it is going together. I want a center aisle, with stalls, and storage on the sides in lean tos. I think Michael is wanting to put the stalls into the lean tos. I’m iffy on that thought because the horse’s head height is so important, Also, I want the barn to have some function as a run in shed. Short post today, just wanted an update on what is happening in the farm life, but I’m a little scatters on any other thoughts.

Summer Catch

As a teacher who owns a farm, I had been looking forward to summer for quite some time. I have lived in Georgia my entire life, but in spite of that I had forgotten something key that should have been obvious. Georgia is hot, and humid. My readers out there you are probably saying duh, but I had forgotten because I was focus on something else.

What does that call to Captain Obvious have to do with anything? Well, I was looking forward to summer for the opportunity to get more things done. My summer is nearly over, because teachers in my area go back to school early (seriously, earlier than anywhere I’ve ever worked). I am of course now feeling the panic of not having gotten my projects even close to done.

Now, I am looking forward to fall just so its not too hot to get anything done! Epic fail I know, but I just have so much to do! And of course, the cheaper way to do things are the ones that take longer. The ways that are cheaper and better to do require more time in the sun, and as a person with what I call, bad skin, I can’t be in the sun that long. At least I can enjoy all the seasons, but I have a week and a half left of summer, and I plan to make the most of it, even though I’m also having to start thinking about what I need to do with my room. Yikes!

A Bit of a Scare

willy

Some dog owners out there will know what I mean when I say a dog is more than a dog. The logical part of my brain, and the one trying to make this farm happen (at this point just trying to break even!) knows that it will cost dearly for a dog to be family. Willy is more than family, and that will certainly have both monetary and emotional costs.

Why am I having this downer train of thought? Well Willy has given us a bit of a scare and it hasn’t been completely resolved. Willy has been limping for the last few months. We tried a vet in our area that I didn’t like at all and the results showed no improvement. The limping has continued so I decided to take him back to his vet from before I moved out here. That vet has always been great, and works with a rescue I used to work with.

Upon doing additional Xrays the vet determined that it was inflammation with a possible fracture. The problem was the possible fracture. He couldn’t determine for sure if it was there, and also why it would fracture. Before he had gotten the xray the vet was worried about cancer, but there was no tumor on the xray, thank god. The problem is the vet isn’t sure if there was a fracture and if so why. If it is very early cancer, it could have caused the break.

So what now? Working on getting UGA to look at the Xrays for more information. In the mean time I sit on pins and needles praying that he is just a big clumsy dog rather than something more sinister.

A Mystery Solved

After working in camp barns over the years, I have encountered a huge variety of horse breeds. To name a few I’ve worked with Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Percherons, Appaloosas, Arabians, Haflingers, Welsh Ponies, Belgians, POAs, Warmbloods, TWH, and quite a few others. I mention these to demonstrate why I say that typically I do a decent job of figuring out a horse’s breed.

My Zeus though, has been a mystery. I bought him as a Tennessee Walking Horse however I didn’t not think for a second that is what he was. He was strong, gaited, and not spooky. He seemed too thick boned to be be a TWH, and rather level headed. I liked TWHs, but he just didn’t seem to fit the bill.

I was going to pay for a DNA kit, but then, I had the good fortune that Zeus was due for a chiropractor visit. Now, my chiropractor is amazing. She not only does chiropractic, but also magnawave, massage, and saddle fitting. She also has a talent for knowing breeds and knowing them well. My vet came out too and agreed. Drum roll please….

Rocky Mountain Horse x Spotted Saddle Horse

The guess is they were going for the Rocky’s color and gait with a bit more color, size and gait from the SSH. When he didn’t come out exactly how they wanted, like in the case of many who breed, off he went. Lucky him, he is in the best home now. He is going to be spoiled forever, starting today with his teeth floating.

Take a look at the picture, tell me what you think! Do you think they got it right?

 

Zeus, sorry he looks a bit zonked, teeth floating right before.

Zeus

 

Rocky Mountain Horse

RMH

 

Spotted Saddle Horse

SSH

From the Heart

Many don’t know I have a godson. He is an adult with special needs. I find that being a part of his life has been one of the better blessing in my life. Today I am finally going to share the story of what I was able to share.

My godson (I’m protecting his privacy so for now, I shall refer to him as D) is part of a day group for adults with special needs. The person who runs the program is amazing. I love how she says all the time how she is all about making dreams come true. I already work with Special Olympics, so I was excited to help.

The only problem is, as many of you know, it is very tricky to make sure you can help without getting in trouble. I find requiring waivers is the only way to go about it. I also was thankful to know in advance that I needed to plan for a physical need too.

Horseback riding can be expensive, and to find someone who knows how to keep special needs adults safe as well can be even more difficult. I’m just blessed that I was in a position help. Many of the boys had ridden before, but still felt so much joy at being there. One was afraid, but he helped me lead Holly instead.

I don’t know many people who would trust a 10 year old mare to this job. It is a precious job with even more precious cargo. So, how did I know Holly could do it? She had done this with my nephew, who is fairly high functioning. I was able to watch how she was with him. She stopped when he came off balance, or tried to move under him. She was as patient as could be. No amount of noise the could make or wiggles could bother her. I realized she was something special. She was so slow, careful, and precise with them.

I am not giving a clear picture, or telling a good story. My writing style is off here, and I supposed it is just because I am happy to be a part of it. Sorry for the blocked faces, I didn’t want to share where I didn’t have permission.horse 3

 

horsehorse 2

Safety First- For a REASON

blog pic

 

I am writing today to share a PSA reminder on why safety comes first, in the hopes that it will help others and they won’t need my good fortune.

So a fun fact about Holly that you probably don’t know: she is an amazing horse for children and special needs folks. She loves them and does things for them I’ve never seen precisely. I have worked with other horses who are what we call babysitters, but she takes it to another level. You’ll hear more about this later once I have the pictures to share with the story. All you need to know for today is that we had a group of special needs adults and a child out today for a visit and pony rides.

All but one person had ridden. It was the child whose mom was there and had experience with horses, so I let her handle it herself, and went to talk to the group about the other horse, Zeus. I suddenly hear loud whoa from a parent. I dropped what I was doing and came around to see the reins around her front left leg. I later found out that at some point they fell becauseĀ  the child was hanging on tight to the saddle horn. Normally not an issue for pony rides, but the reins weren’t looped of the horn. For some pony rides I will even just use the halter, but I wanted today’s visitors included one who knew the basic stop start and steer.

So the child was pulled immediately, because Holly immediately stopped and stood. I was incredibly impressed that Holly slammed the breaks when it first pull her mouth so we could try to fix it. I first tried taking her bridle off, but it didn’t work and another pull from Holly trying to move caused her to be in some serious pain. It was slow enough it gave me time to yell for everyone to move, and then she popped up in a small rear attempting to break the bridle. I have never seen a horse in this much discomfort able to refocus and listen. She started to act like she was going to run off, but I was able to grab her lead rope and within a minute had her attention and her stopped. She then stood for us to take the bridle apart to get it out of her mouth.

She immediately had the corners of her mouth massaged, a lot. Now, even more amazing. When horses I’ve worked with have gotten this way in the past they have been high strung and jumpy the rest of the session. Once she had her massage and a quiet moment with me, she was back to social happy Holly. She put on a show while getting her shower (mimicking a giraffe is her favorite), loved on the kids, and was rock solid. I have worked with many camp horses and lesson horses. I am not worthy to have this mare. She is incredible.

Moral for this story: Make sure all adults understand to tie up the reins if they are not in use. Seriously guys, this is a safety issue. As for today, the adults and child had an absolute blast. They loved every second and can’t wait to come back. I am thankful beyond measure, incredibly blessed. I will never have a horse like her again. It makes the temptation to breed insane because I don’t want to lose her or her incredible temperament. I think I will think on it again, but I had to flex out bond hard today, with one adult with a physical handicap who needed everyone on their A game including Holly (more on this later) and being able to get her attention and control when she was scared and in pain. I take our bond for granted sometimes, and I shouldn’t. I’ve never seen a horse do what she did, never felt that strong a bond. God was with me the day I picked the first horse I saw ever when seeing her.