Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Montage

On this Memorial Day, I’m just posting a few photos from around the hill.

Thanks to all those who have served our country, both in the past and the present.  Thanks especially to Big Bill, my husband's dad, who served as a US Marine both in the Pacific in WWII and in the Korean war, and to his wife Alice, who kept the family together while he was serving in Korea.  They both passed away last year and we miss them.

This first photo shows what I am certain was the start of a tornado.  I was in the pasture, scratching Dee, and the county's deputy sheriff (who stopped by to ask me about my neighbor's loose cows) had just left.  The deputy told me there were tornado warnings in Bradford County, PA, just across the border.
Terrifying tornado cloud
So as I'm standing there, I looked up and saw a HUGE, disk-shaped dark cloud.  It was circular and wide, like a big hockey puck.  Then, under it, I saw whispy clouds forming, low to the ground.  It looked so strange that even the horses were staring at it. 

Then the whispy clouds connected to the big disk cloud and all of a sudden I realized that this could start rotating at any moment.

I'm not afraid of much, but the thought of a tornado terrifies me.  And they are so unusual in this part of the country that we just don't have a tornado plan.

I snapped this picture and was trying to figure out what to do, where to run, when the strong wind blew it up over the hill and it was gone.  There were tornado reports all over the place that evening, so it may have finished forming elsewhere.  

The next picture was my view from my truck as I tried to go to work one morning last week.  Mind you, I had already chased the cow thugs off our property that morning, causing me to get my work pants all wet and making me late for work.  Sorry about the quality.  It was taken through the windshield with my iTouch.
The Cow Thugs captivity was short lived and they are out in force.

The final photos are what I saw this morning when I went out to the barn.  All five of the horses were lying down around the round bale, and Hudson was flat out, sound asleep. 

We had two long, loud thunder storms last night, and I'm wondering if between those and their extra-long grazing period yesterday, they were just zonked.
DeCato and Hudson

Dee, Starlight and Hudson's big white butt

Stormkite snoring

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dee stands for Delightful, make that, Devil

I have mentioned in this blog that Dee, in the past, has shown the schizophrenic ability to appear to be completely cheerful, then, without warning, perform the baddest of bad horse behavior.

Instead of Biltrite Smokin Dee, she should have been name False Sense of Security.

Wish I could ride a bucking paint horse this well.  Of course, this horse is dead and stuffed.  Hmm, don't give me any ideas.
Unfortunately, she reminded me of her changeable nature the other night.  I had just completed an excellent ride on Starlight, who took me quietly around our nine acre hay field south of the house, an area that she had never seen before.    I then groomed, saddled and bridled Dee and hand walked her around the property before getting on.  I did not ground drive her, as I have not the last couple of good rides with her.

She was good at the mounting block and walked off well.  After about 10 steps with no warning, she was suddenly…what do you call those things?  Oh yeah.  A bucking bronco.  She bucked hard, each buck raising that back end higher and higher.

To my credit, or perhaps to my stupidity (see my previous post mentioning recklessness and stupidity), I stayed on quite a while, long enough to break my tailbone on her saddle pommel from repeated pounding.  But, because I am too stupid to lean back, thrust my legs forward and grab the grab strap, and instead try in vein to yank up the head, I eventually ended up on her withers.  This gave her the chance to launch me like the human cannonball and I hit the hay field, hard.

My husband, who was lying down at the time, heard, “Dee, no!  Dee, no!  Dee, no!  Dee, no! DEE NO!” and got up in time to see me storming after the fleeing Dee.  I caught her by the barn, led her back down to the mounting block (armed with a crop), got on, and we rode past the bucking spot a couple of times and out into the field.  By that time, the shock and anger were wearing off and I decided I better put her away and check my injuries.

Broken tailbone and injured shoulder.  When I saw the doctor a day or so later, she proclaimed the shoulder injury to be a sprained rotator cuff.  Since rotator cuff injuries are common with horseback riders, at least the kind who hit the ground, I am relieved that this is just a sprain and not a break or tear. 

In fact, it’s been a few days and I’m starting to plan my next rides.

One huge regret I have is that I have been alternating between getting the Point 2 air vest and the Kan-Tek vest.  BOTH have better shoulder protection than the Tipperary I wear.  I put it off, because I read about the Point 2 Hybrid coming out, which will combine a racing jockey’s protective vest with the air bags, so you don’t have to wear two separate vests.  I’m going ahead and pre-ordering mine now.

The other thing I did was talk to Cornell about spaying Dee.  She was in heat when this happened, and I’m starting to think that her schizophrenic behavior is related to hormones.  For the record, I’m an avowed mare lover, and my other three mares are steady, even when they are in heat.  But Dee has a violence in her that she display at such times.  Kicking (usually other horses, but sometimes me) has been her prime method of showing her feelings, but let’s now add bucking to the list.

Cornell said she sounded like a good candidate for the procedure, but I may try her on Regumate first, to see if the behavior changes.  That will be a good indication as to whether the spaying will even out her personality.  Or, I might just go for the ovary removal.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’m healing up and will soon be back at it.  I’m hoping to get myself and at least one of these mares in shape for some upcoming hunter paces this year!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Patient, determined, rather reckless and a little stupid

I remember how, in kindergarten, our teachers wrote progress letters, since there were no report cards used in my school.  I don’t recall, anymore, what they wrote about me, but I think if one were describing me now, she would be totally on target if she wrote:  “Patient, determined, creative, rather reckless and a little stupid.”

Case in point, today we got the call, my husband and I.  It was the call that told us the delivery van was about 40 minutes from our house, and we better get our butts home and prepare to unload the haying equipment.

Neither my husband or I know one thing about
1.)   Unloading heavy equipment from a van with a tractor
2.)   Heavy equipment
3.)   Haying equipment
4.)   Haying

And yet, there we were, chains and straps in hand, Bobcat compact tractor revving away, ready to unload heavy, haying equipment from a van so we can subsequently make hay out of our hay fields.
The 1300-pound object and I.

God bless educated, heavy equipment van drivers.  Brian, the one at the wheel of this particular van, guided us, as first I, then my husband, drove the tractor.  He used little finger gestures, up, down, forward, backward, tip the loader this way, that way, gestures that most farm types would recognize right away, but which we had to pause to interpret each time, before attempting to obey.

After a few, terrifying minutes, we had one 900-pound, plastic-covered object at the top of the driveway and one 1300-pound, plastic-covered object half in the road.  The terrifying minutes included the point when my husband was attempting to lift the 900-pound object with the loader and the tractor tipped, with one front wheel leaving the ground.

Brian assured us we could pull them down the driveway with our tractor, as long as we used the strap and got the loader under the edge to lift slightly.  Then he drove away, probably shaking his head and alternately thinking, “Those two will be trying to move that stuff until they are 80,” and “I’m glad I got them to sign the paper that said the equipment was delivered undamaged.”

My husband and I futzed around with the objects and the tractor for a while, and then he, in a bit of a state, had to go back to work.  I waited quietly until he drove away, then pulled out my “patient, determined, creative, rather reckless and a little stupid” persona and got to work.

I attempted to position the loader blade as instructed by Brian, and accidentally hit the forward pedal instead of the brake and pushed the 1300-pound object off the road (yay) but into a very awkward position in deep grass (boo).  Knowing I would be in big trouble if I left it there, I again tried to imitate Brian’s combination of front loader position and strap location.  No go.  This went on for about half an hour.

Finally, I just wrapped the strap around the wooden skid the object was sitting on, threw the Bobcat into reverse and dragged the damned thing down the driveway to safety.   I don’t think this was textbook, but it worked, so that’s where the reckless and stupid can come in handy.

Then, just repeat all previous steps with the 900-pound object (minus the accidental acceleration into the long grass), and both objects were safe.  
I then unwrapped them to find the cutest little pieces of haying equipment I have ever seen.  They are made by Small Farm Innovations, and are just the right size for our Bobcat.

I still have no idea how to use them, let alone put them together, but I have faith.  If “patient, determined, creative, rather reckless and a little stupid” don’t work, I can always count on dumb luck.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twin Tiers Horse Events, Memorial Day Weekend, May 27 – 30

Here are this weekend's horse-related activities in the Twin Tiers.  The schedule is a little light this weekend, due to the holiday, I'm assuming.   

For those who want to see some of the best horses bred in New York, head to the Breeders' show in Syracuse.  

Anyone brave enough to ride your horse in a parade?  It looks like the Twin Tiers Trail Riders are planning to participate in some, so you can always contact that group and check it out.  I have a stars-and-stripes template, all ready for me to paint a patriotic design on Hudson's big white butt, so we can be fancy for a parade, but I don't know if I have the nerves to bring her to one yet!

Anyway, I'm sure you'll find something fun to do with your horse in our area this holiday weekend.

May 25-26: USEA Clinic/Schooling Show
Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program/Stuart HT Clinic with Bobby Costello
Wehle Farms and Stuart Farm, Victor, NY
For details: Carolyn Wehle, Phone (585)889-8049;

May 27-30: New York State Breeders Show.  All breeds bred in NYS!
8 a.m. NYS Fairgrounds Coliseum, Syracuse
For details: or Naomi Blumenthal (315) 682-1933; Secretary:  Tari Weston, 315-695-1332; E-mail:; Direct link to the show program and entry forms

May 30: Genesee Valley Hunt XC Schooling at Horse Trials Grounds
2:00 - 5:00 pm, Geneseo, NY.
For details: Marion Thorne at (585) 451-8143 or

May 27-28: Lazy H Spring Round Up Horse Sale

Youth Arena, NYS Fairgrounds
Friday - New Tack Sale at 6:00pm.  
Saturday – New Tack, 10 a.m., New and used trailers, noon; horses to follow ~ 6 p.m.
For details: 716-983-6097;;

May 27 – 30: Twin Tier Trail Riders
All Rides start at 10:00 a.m. unless stated as a different time. All Rides will be a saddle bag lunch. See direction sheets for ride contacts or call Jeanne Root 570-596-3653 JoAnn Schwab 607-739-2554 Linda Hendricks 607-342-3534 or Steve Root 570-596-3653. Please verify ride is not canceled before planning to attend.

May 27 – May 30, 2011 - Susquehannock State Forest, Potter County, PA. You must contact Jeanne Root to be included on the camping permit 570-596-3653 or If you plan on a day ride, just give a call to let us know to watch for you to show up. Parking is planned to be at the Twelve Mile Gas Well Head #1, but double check with Jeanne before the ride. With the new rules in effect, we may have more people then allowed at this site.
• May 28, 2011 – Trail ride to benefit ALS (Lou Gericks Disease). Ruth & Ron Luchsingers farm south of DeRuyter, N.Y. 315-852-9866. $25.00 donation, food available for purchase, 8 mile scenic views ride, camping available also
• May 29, 2011 – Trail Drive benefit breast cancer. $25.00 donation, camping available or B & B reservations at Ruth & Ron Luchisingers farm. South of DeRuyter, 10 miles on back seasonal dirt roads. Also open to saddle horses if they don’t mind carriages.
• May 30 2011 - Elmira, N.Y., Elmira Heights, N.Y. and Horseheads, N.Y. Memorial Day Parades – contact JoAnn Schwab 607-739-2554 or for info.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Moving forward with Starlight and Dee

You horse people will understand the guarded elation I’m feeling about my green mares, Starlight and Dee.  They are doing so well with their training that I’m elated, but it’s guarded because I have experienced enough hard knocks, literally, when training horses that I know hubris and assumptions can hurt.

Blurry, but it shows Dee's trot.
But so far, so good.  Last night, I rode Starlight on what I think I can fairly term an actual trail ride.  We went all around our big field, around the pond, down the dirt road that goes around part of the pasture, then up the pipeline right-of-way, to the car road, along the road, then back down our driveway to home. 

We even went  past the last remaining cow thugs  (only called “last remaining” because my neighbor has caught the rest of them and tucked them safely away in their corral. Not because they have been eaten)!

She was just perfect.  I even dismounted at one point and got back on from the ground, which I haven’t done with her before.

The reason I dismounted is that we were about to cross a tiny, six-inch wide rivulet of water flowing in a bed about eight inches deep and two feet wide.  Really little, right?  Well, I could tell Starlight figured I was asking her to leap over the Grand Canyon, so I dismounted, stepped over it and asked her to follow.

Smart move!  She leapt it like it was five feet high.   But that was the most excitement we had during this fun, walk-trot ride.

As for Dee, the other night I had asked her for a trot, and she gave me a few steps and the start of a bolt, then, when asked again, a few lethargic trot steps.   I told my husband,  “Watch, when I ask for it the next time I ride her, she’ll trot right out.”

Happy after a fun ride on Dee
OK, that was an assumption, which we know are dangerous, but in this case, I was right!  I rode her down the hill and around the pond, then asked for the trot up the hill. 

Hot damn!  She trotted right out with a nice long stride.  She has a lot of movement, that one, more than I’m used to with Hudson and Starlight, who are fairly short-strided.  I was trying to keep up with her and she did give me a little buck as if to say, “What are you doing up there, you sloppy sack of potatoes?”

But it was a big success and I’m really excited to keep going with her.   Both of them, really.  Starlight is a wily gal who has “I chase cows” all over her, so I’m thinking of starting to learn how to do something like Reined Cow Horse with her.  That would be entirely new to me, being an English-based Pony Clubber of old.

Dee is the scopey one who will carry my butt over some fences.

But before we head off for fame and fortune, I’m just looking to get the freshness off them and nail a good walk, trot and canter.  Little steps!

Sugar Hill Horse Camping Area Currently Closed for Memorial Day

Horse campers at Sugar Hill State Forest may be in for an unpleasant surprise over Memorial Day weekend if the park doesn’t get the funding to open the camp on Tower Hill Road.

This area, located west of Watkins Glen State Park, contains the horse stalls and restrooms that more than 100 trail riding enthusiasts trailer to for the first, big camping weekend of summer
Example of high-tying horses.

John Gibbs, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation regional forester in Bath, NY, said that unless the park gets the funding to employ a caretaker to maintain the facilities in that area, there is a possibility that the favorite horse camping area may remain closed.

“We’re trying to make the case to hire someone,” Gibbs said.

If the area remains closed, it will be the first time in many years that riders won’t be camping there on Memorial Day weekend.

“People have been coming here 40, maybe 50 years,” said Forest Ranger Bill Meehan, who works in the Sugar Hill area as well as all state land in Schuyler County. 

Meehan said the 35-miles of trails that attract riders are left rough, so they can be marshy and rocky in spots. 

“I guess the horse people like that, the challenge and the varied trails,” he said.

Wendy Youmans of High Country Stables, Hornby, is one rider who is keeping her fingers crossed that the camping area will be open.  Wendy and her husband, Roger, as well as their friends and boarders, are among those who regularly camp at Sugar Hill on the first big holiday weekend of summer.
Wendy and Cricket at a trail trial, Crystal Valley.

“It has really nice, marked horse trails,” Wendy said.  “The trails are safe.  They are marked well enough, so if you were out in the middle you could easily find your way back.”

She said there is a good variety in the trails as well, and no four-wheelers are allowed on the horse trails.
“There’s a fire tower you can climb.  You can see for miles, all of Monterey, all across Sugar Hill,” she said.  “The trails are a variety, some hilly, some flat, some that lead on roads and circle back on to state forest trails.  One trail, it’s a long trail, has a beautiful waterfall at the end. One goes past an old cemetery.”

Wendy said that, even with more than 100 campers and 75 horses, the camping area is large enough that “you don’t feel like you’re on top of each other.”  When she and Roger camp there, they use the sleeping quarters of their horse trailer, and they high-tie their horses.

“High ties are really safe, because they can’t get tangled up around their legs,” she said.  “Your have to make sure the rope to them isn’t too long, to tangle their head.”

When the horses are high-tied correctly, they can reach the ground to graze and even lie down, she said.

Her favorite trail horse, and actually her favorite horse, period, is her palomino quarter horse, Cricket. 

“He’s the best one because he is not afraid of new trails, he never acts up, he’s quiet all night.  He doesn’t fuss with the other horses,”  Wendy said.  She added that when she is in situations where other riders are green, she can stick them on Cricket.  “He’ll try all the new trails, so he’s a good lead pony.”

It doesn’t hurt that he is a very handsome horse.  

“He’s a beautiful golden palomino with long, curly blond hair,” said Wendy with a laugh, herself sprouting blond, wavy hair.

Wendy, along with many other trail riding enthusiasts, will be watching the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Sugar Hill web page to see if sufficient staffing will be secured in time to open the horse camping area for Memorial Day weekend.  The web page hosts plentiful information about the forest, including trail maps.

Even if the camping area is not open, riders will be able to access the trails and also the roads at Sugar Hill as well as in other parks, Meehan said.

“You can ride the roads in many state forests,” Meehan said.

For more information on Sugar Hill, including updates on the status of the camping area, go to:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stormkite Comes Out of the Bog

Those of you who have read this blog right along know that Stormkite was definitely a equinus-non-gratis when it came to his integration into the herd.  The mares roughly rid their marely selves of his geldingly presence with charges, bites and kicks.
Weird shot of both Stormkite and DeCato sharing the run-in.

He never wanted to go too far away from them, though, so he spent his first few weeks here, at our new place, standing in the bog that is situated just outside the run-in.   It’s a mess in that bog, made worse by the rainiest spring in recent memory.  I usually felt so bad for him, standing in the rain and the bog, not to mention that I was worried about the health of his feet, so I often interjected myself into the equation, trying to find a way to get the gelding out of the bog.  I would carefully arrange the hay and the mares so there was a spot for Stormkite in the run-in, coax him in, leave satisfied, then look around and see that he was standing in the bog again.  Before I even got out of the barn.

Well, somehow when I wasn’t looking, he managed to get himself into the run-in without my help.  We started noticing him in there once in a while, then more often, and now, he’s in there pretty much all the time.   He’ll still get chased out once in a while, usually when I appear with some particularly desirable treat, but he’s usually in there with the mares. 

In fact, it’s DeCato the mustang who gets tossed out more often now.  She will try everything she can to chase Stormkite out, as she used to, but he seems immune to her pinned ears, bared teeth and threatening butt-end.  I can’t see the difference between the way DeCato tries to get him out and the way any of the other mares do get him out, but he must.   

I actually think the event that sealed his position in the herd was all the mares coming into heat at about the same time. He didn’t know what to do when they start giving him the come-hither, and doesn’t have the gonads to do anything about it, anyway, but they all seemed to look more favorably on him after that.

Now, if I can just get DeCato out of the bog.   

Actually, I’m going to solve the problem by getting rid of the bog, but we still have a couple of months of mucky misery until the contractor can get to us.  Eventually, though, the bog will be a mucky memory.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Equestrian Events this Weekend, May 21 & 22

Oh my gosh!  I forgot to post these yesterday.   Somehow, I skipped Wednesday all together this week.  But here they are, all the horse-related activities I could hunt down in the Twin Tiers this weekend.  If I missed anything, let me know!

May 20-21 Rider Awareness Clinic, Geneseo, NY
Given by Susan Strong Kelley, Certified Centered Riding Inrstructor. Download Clinic Flyer.
For details: Susan at (585) 243-5056 or go to

May 21: High Standard Stables, Dressage and Combined Test
8 am, Dansville, NY.
For details: or contact Amy Becker at (585) 905-9955 or

May 21-22 Michelle LaBarre Clinic
Black Points Farm, Honeoye Falls, NY. For info about Michelle, go to
To ride in the clinic, contact Mary Delton at Auditors welcome.

May 21: WNYDA Challenge Series Dressage Show at B&B Equestrian Ctr
West Henrietta, NY
For details:

May 21: Foxtale Farm Dressage Show
Horseheads, NY.
For details: Email: or Please Call: 607- 215-5594

May 21: Barrel Racing
Fisher Equestrian Center
Sayre, PA
$750 Minimum Added to Open
For details: Fisher Equestrian Center
114 Cotton Hollow Rd
Sayre, PA, 18840

May 19 – 22: NYS Breeders Horse Show - Section 1

NYS Fair Grounds Coliseum

8 a.m.

Free Admission

For details: 315-682-1933 Visit Web Site

Twin Tier Trail Riders
May 21: Linda Hendricks Van Etten, N.Y. Saturday ride will be at her farm with a pass the dish dinner after the ride. The club will provide roast turkey, drinks
For details:  607-342-3534 or

May 22: Linda Hendricks Van Etten, N.Y. this portion of the ride will be the Poker Run at Danby Forest. You can camp at Linda’s Saturday night and follow over to Danby on Sunday or just meet at the Poker Run. There will be prizes again and this is a fund raiser for our club towards stalls and trail improvements. $20.00/rider.
For details: Linda at 607-342-3534 or It has been lots of fun the first 2 years

May 22: 4-H Spring Fling Fun Show , Sweet Water Farm
Click here for Prizelist & class list
Click here for class descriptions.
Sweet Water Farm
ph: (570) 756-3268