Ponies have arrived!

This weekend was pony weekend (but isn’t every weekend?). On Saturday, Richal, Audrey, and I headed to Tulsa to pick up Moe and Gina. After admiring my ingenious tuna can bridle hangers, they helped me load my meager possessions into the trailer. We caught the horses and both of them loaded into the trailer like total pros. Neither horse has ever been bad about trailering, but I am always grateful when they hop right on without any fuss.

They unloaded quietly and were quickly led to their new homes: two stalls with dry lots off the back in the breezy shedrow. They aren’t next to one another- between them is a mare and her cute Paint/Fresian foal. Both horses spent some time pacing and whinnying; Moe was also terrified of the foal. (He’s terrified of all tiny equines.) They settled down after a little while and were munching hay when I left.
“GINA OMGZ WHERE GINA, NEED SOMEONE
TO BITE ME ON THE BUTT”

On Sunday, I went out to see how they were coping; both horses were turned out in a big field. I rode Gina in the small indoor, just to see how she’d do. 

“This looks a lot like work…”
Gina was good; she didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking around or calling for Moe. She put in some really excellent trot work, let me open the gate to the outdoor from her back, and walked around the outdoor arena sanely. (It was a nice change from Fred, let me tell you.) I gave her a good scrubbing after our ride, which she desperately needed. She was grimy with sweat and dirt and general grit. She pulled back once and broke her lead rope (sigh), but I just grabbed the spare in my tack trunk and proceeded as usual.
Monday I rode Moe, who was delightful as always. The minis, Peanut and Charlie, were hanging around in an aisle close to one corner of the arena. Moe was completely terrified of them and spent a few minutes standing completely still, staring at them. He refused to go very deep into the corner (lest a mini attack) and spent the entire ride in the indoor giving the minis some serious side-eye. For their part, the minis ignored him. I took him out into the newly mowed hay meadow and we cantered for a bit; it felt good to have space to run. It also felt good to just ride my favorite old horse. I gave Moe a bath after our ride and turned him out, where he thoughtfully rolled in the grass.
“Did you need us for something?”
I also rode Freddie on Saturday and Monday. Dear old Fred has pulled her right front shoe again, so we are continuing the ever-exciting walking routine. I rode her in a borrowed dressage saddle on Saturday, which made her feel super downhill. She was good, though, and I felt like I was using my seat and legs better, so we’ll keep it in our rotation. On Monday, I dug out my breastplate to see if it fits her; it does, and she looks extra legit in it. 
The best at looking like a majestic creature.

Fred was good. She’s starting to respond to halt requests more readily and seems to be beginning to understand bending. If only we could keep her shoes on!

One last note: Carson has found a new home! A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied Audrey and Richal to a nice hunter barn in Tulsa who was interested in trying him for their lesson program. They thought he was too forward (again, LOLZ) but thought he’d be a good fit for one of their students. He stayed there on trial, and his new owner recently commented on one of my posts about him that she’d just bought him. I wish her the very best with Carson (who is now renamed Moose); he was one of my favorite horses and I won’t say I didn’t shed a few tears when we dropped him off at that barn. 
Back to the work grind today; I hope y’all had a great Labor Day weekend!

The pole incident

The barn where I board Moe and Gina has exactly one set of jump standards. I brought two sets of jump standards, eight ground poles, and four sets of jump cups with me when I moved there. I am very diligent when it comes to moving the jumping equipment. I always take it down when I’m finished, it’s always set out of the way, and the few times the barn manager has requested I move the whole lot to a different area, I am quick to comply.

While I was setting up jumps for a lesson I was giving last week, I noticed I only had seven ground poles. I was running behind and in a hurry, so I thought maybe I’d simply miscounted or missed a pole that had rolled away from its pile. After the lesson, I was putting away equipment and recounted the poles: seven. I searched around for the missing pole and couldn’t find it. I was puzzled.
Then I noticed the bowed section of fence that Moe and I like to jump had been replaced. With a pole that looked suspiciously like one of mine.
I thought through several reasons the barn manager would have used a pole he knows belongs to me to repair this fence. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. There’s another guy who occasionally works on repair projects around the facility; he knows I use the poles for jumping, but I don’t think he knows they actually belong to me. I thought perhaps the other guy had fixed the fence, using my pole because he assumed it belonged to the facility. 
Yesterday, I saw barn manager for the first time since The Pole Incident; I was holding Moe while the dentist was working on his teeth. Barn manager greeted me cheerfully. I said hello and politely said, “I seem to be missing a ground pole, [name redacted].”
He said, “Oh.”
I crossed my arms, leaned back against the barn, and replied, “The new pole on the fence looks a lot like one of my ground poles.” 
The barn manager turned red and mumbled, “Well you know, I had to fix that section of fence, because it was sagging so bad that you couldn’t even nail the old pole back up there, you know? Haha…”
I said nothing and stared at him in what I like to think was a cold, calculating fashion.
He looked away and mumbled something about replacing my pole that day.
Now, I am not an unreasonable person. I’m pretty laid back, and I don’t often get my knickers in a twist over things that are ultimately trivial.
But I am fucking pissed about this.
I am pissed that the barn manager used something that belonged to me without my permission and didn’t immediately ‘fess up when confronted.
Did he think I wouldn’t notice? Did he think I wouldn’t care? If it was an emergency (which it wasn’t- no horses were motivated to hop over the 2′ fence- not even Moe or Gina), I could understand using my pole. If he just wanted to use it, I could understand doing so, then notifying me with an offer of replacement. I wouldn’t have been pleased, but I wouldn’t have reached the level of fury I am currently seething in.
Some part of me thinks I’m overreacting and shouldn’t be upset about something like a $10 ground pole. But this incident, combined with a long-simmering (and unvoiced) suspicion that the barn manager isn’t feeding my horses twice a day (as agreed when I moved them there) has prompted me to begin the barn search anew with plans of moving Moe and Gina by the end of August.
What do y’all think? Have you ever been in a similar situation? 

Home

I’m very pleased to report that I’ve found permanent housing for my two brats horses! Hooray!

As you may recall, a few months ago I quit my job as a therapeutic riding instructor. I’m happy to report that life has gone super well since then. I am less anxious, less stressed, less depressed, and am much more pleasant to the other members of the household. Johnny and I are in the midst of making home repairs/renovations; since I am indefinitely unemployed, I have the questionable luxury of spending large blocks of time on these projects. It’s nice. Being unemployed has also allowed me to pursue other activities I enjoy, like cooking. The house is also cleaner than it’s been, ever. A hiatus from work has certainly been a marvelous improvement for everyone.

Except, uh, the horses. When I left my job, I needed to move my horses. They were living at my boss’s farm. While I didn’t leave on bad terms, it seemed inappropriate to keep them there. It was also inconvenient to everything except work (e.g. my house, grocery stores, etc.). My friends graciously let me ditch the ponies in one of their small paddocks on their ranch. The ponies were out on good grass, being neighborly with my friends’ cattle. I’m eternally grateful to have such wonderful people in my life. I think the horses secretly enjoyed living there; while there was zero shelter from the howling Oklahoma winds or frigid winter temperatures, both horses stayed hale, hearty, and in good weight. They grew extremely thick coats; the only time I’ve blanketed them this winter was when the wind chill was -20.

I didn’t want to infringe on my friends’ hospitality for too long, so I doggedly searched to find a boarding barn in the Tulsa area that offered full-service pasture board for a reasonable price.

And that’s why it took me two months to find a place. The good people of the Tulsa area apparently value their facilities much more than I do; I’ve seen pasture board offered for $650/month/horse. Now, for most of my life, my horses lived at my house, so perhaps I am just not up on the costs of boarding a horse. But $1300/month was way out of the question.

Happily, I found a nice facility that doesn’t cost nearly so much. There’s plenty of pasture for Moe and Gina to roam. Hay and feed are included. Someone will see them every day, twice a day (in addition to living on-site), so I know if they’re missing a leg or an ear or an eye, I’ll get a phone call. There’s no arena, but there’s a huge flat area and I’m welcome to bring jumps. Everyone I’ve met is very pleasant, and no one has advised me on how to ride or care for my animals. The place is smack in the middle of Tulsa, so I can easily incorporate errands into a visit. There’s a QuikTrip half a block away. (If you don’t know the joy of QuikTrip, I am so sorry.)

My horses have found a home, y’all. I couldn’t be happier.

We’re Still Alive!

Yikes! It’s been over a month since I last posted. Gina and I are still alive and kicking, although we’ve been doing a bit less lately. The shorter days have killed my riding time on days I work (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) and I’ve had a veritable horse buffet thrown at me over the last month.

The center’s current director, Linda, (who is the founder and previous director of the program at which I work) has lots of horses. Since she’s 62 and has a bad knee, she offered just about all of them to me to ride. There’s Heidi, a 5 year old Appendix mare; Atut, a 24 year old Trakehner gelding; Xeta, a 4 year old Oldenburg mare; Doc, a teenage Quarter Horse gelding; and Annie, a twenty-something Quarter Horse mare. Linda also has six elderly Thoroughbred broodmares who are enjoying retirement and seven miniature horses of varying degrees of pigheadedness. Linda offered Kyla and me board for our horses in exchange for feeding and mucking stalls a few days a week and keeping her horses in shape.

It’s been a busy month of riding new horses, cleaning stalls, and generally have a good time. I’ve managed to get out and ride Gina a few times- she’s doing well and having a fun time being a fuzzy mess. We’re headed to a hunter pace with Kyla and Cal this weekend; I’m not hoping for best behavior. I’m just hoping for reasonable behavior. Gina is then headed to stay at Linda’s farm for the foreseeable future. Linda’s setup is great- a nice, cozy barn, an arena, large pastures, and about 30 acres of galloping space. I’m pretty excited.

I’ll be sure to get some pics at the hunter pace, but in the meantime, here’s a picture of Heidi being a goober.

Barn Number Two

Anne and I visited a second boarding barn yesterday in hope of finding a new place for G to live. This place is about six miles from where I live and it took me about 15 minutes to drive there, so that was a definite plus. The owner was very friendly and helpful when I called her to get directions (Google Maps sent us in the opposite direction of where we needed to go). When we arrived, we were greeted by a short, pleasant woman who happily took us on a tour of her small barn.

Like the last barn, this place isn’t a training or showing facility. It’s strictly boarding. The horses there are currently a mix of the owner’s and a couple of boarders. They are all in good weight, show signs of recent hoof care, and were exceptionally friendly. Most are Thoroughbreds (the owner rescues OTTBs). The barn was small and homey. It had six stalls, a tack/feed room, and a hay room. The hay was all good-looking, good-smelling grass hay. The feed is Nutrena LifeChoice, which is okay with me. The pastures…well, they were looking a bit rough after a long, dry summer and grazing from several horses. All of the pastures had a couple of round bales, though.

The fences in the pastures concerned me the most. While most of the fence was smooth metal rail, some of the cross-fencing was barbed wire. Barbed wire is a problem. While I’ve never had a horse get snared in it (and this woman mentioned she hadn’t had any problems in the 4+ years it’s been up), I have seen what it can do to an animal. I would prefer that not happen to Gina. The pastures had plenty of trees for shade and one pasture had a nice pond.

The arena was adequate- turf footing, medium-sized. The barn owner said she’d have no problems with us setting up dressage letters or jumps, and said she would be fine if I wanted to take Gina on a gallop through the pastures. It sounds like everyone regularly trailers to the local lake for trail rides, and I’d be really excited to get G out on those.

Overall, I was most impressed with the owner. She was really pleasant and friendly and was clearly comfortable with the horses. She absentmindedly petted one big Thoroughbred gelding and fed him treats while she talked with us, and at her call, her little herd of mares came running. I would feel like Gina was in good hands at this place.

After talking it over with Anne, I think I’ve decided to move Gina to this place, provided she can be in a pasture with no barbed wire. It appeared that one front pasture containing a giant warmblood mare and an Arabian didn’t have the wire, so ideally I’d like G to be in there. If not…well, she might have to be stabled at the other barn, or we’ll just have to keep looking. Sigh.