Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dog Days

After I die I want to come back and be a dog, horse, cat or some sort of pet on this farm! We have quite an assortment of dogs, most of whom you have read about and/or seen pictures already. We have Trooper the 3-legged black lab mix, Bush the coon hound, Bear the schipperke, Bugle the border collie mix and Bella the border collie.

One of my favorite videos of some of the dogs taken in December 2007:

Bear says "Daddy, I promise to be a good dog for five whole minutes if you skip the bath"

Please, please, PLEASE don't give me a bath

Making sure he gets Jason as wet as he possibly can
Bear hates to be bathed but he looooves being dried with a towel; I have no idea why
Trooper the 3-legged wonder sleeping in the flower bed in front of the barn
Bugle was sleeping right behind Trooper
Bush was enjoying the sunshine and the grass

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Welcome Asterik

Asterik is our newest retiree to join us on the farm. He made the trip down from Long Island a few weeks ago. Asterik is a Holsteiner by the famous show jumping stallion Cathargo. Asterik is dearly loved by his owner who is understandably devastated at having to retire this talented horse at the young age of thirteen. Asterik stepped on a nail at a horse show and it went through his foot. After exhausting all resources for Asterik as far as diagnostics, testing and rehabilitation his mom came to the hard decision to retire him. She told me he would probably be sound enough for flat work for awhile, but his future was too uncertain for her to be comfortable enough to sell him to a non-jumping home. So she made the decision to retire him and we are the lucky ones who have been chosen to host Asterik in retirement.

Asterik was a wonderful horse and showed (and won) in both the hunters and the jumpers. In addition to having the scope for the jumper ring, he had the movement, stylish jump and soft way of going for the hunter ring. He also has a big personality and loves to play and interact with horses, humans, and anything else that happens to be in his path. Welcome Asterik, we are thrilled to have you with us!

Asterik easily cleared this fence with mom; you can tell he isn't even trying

Asterik's first day with us; he loves to strike a pose for the camera

Trying to introduce himself to Cloudy

Playing with a stickHaving fun
Trying to follow all of the chickens around
Asterik especially loved the goats; he thought they were awesome
When the goats would go in their house Asterik would stand there with his head in the door and watch them
Asterik with Sebastian, one of his new roomies
Trillion, Asterik and Sebastian were intently focused on something

Monday, October 27, 2008

Meet Harmony

You have already had a brief introduction to Harmony in this post. Harmony is an Argentine bred Thoroughbred mare, bred for polo and out of a star polo mare. She has been owned and loved by Cathy for over 18 years. Cathy said the first time she ever saw Harmony she had just bucked off a prospective buyer into a mud puddle. It was right before a polo game in Illinois and the prospective buyer was wearing his whites . . . which were not very white anymore. Cathy says that she is positive Harmony was laughing, and I believe her! She learned later that day that Harmony had broken her groom's collarbone right before the summer season and her owner was furious at her, thus she was for sale.

Cathy and Harmony in October 2002

Fortunately for Harmony the muddy polo player bought her anyway! His groom however did not get along with Harmony either, and that was when Cathy started riding her. She quickly became Cathy's favorite. She said Harmony was just a very active-minded mare and if you gave her something to do she was fine. Simply canter around in circles and she would spook at everything. Harmony reacted to bad hands with rearing and a poor seat by propping on her front legs. But if you gave Harmony a lovely ride she gave you a lovely response.

Harmony in 1985. I love this picture, she looks so young and still has a dark mane. What a gorgeous mare she was and is.

Harmony gave Cathy a good scare pretty early on in their relationship. She colicked badly and spent the night in the horspital. The attending vet gave her only a 20% chance of survival without surgery but Cathy stayed with her all night and walked her in between rounds of IV fluids. Thankfully Harmony pulled through just fine.

Harmony looking in the door of Cathy's house; this picture was taken in the early 1990's

Harmony standing in Cathy's garage; this picture was taken in 1999
Harmony blossomed with age - she played polo, she jumped, she ran barrels and poles, and even taught some lessons. In fact she improved so much that at a polo game in Chicago another player made a big offer for her. Harmony's owner - by then Cathy's boyfriend - was inclined to make the deal until Cathy chimed in that Harmony was a really good deal because Cathy came with her! Harmony stayed, and so did Cathy.

Harmony teaching a young rider how to jump; this picture was taken in the early 1990's

Harmony and Cathy in 1992

Harmony outlasted that relationship and most of Cathy's other horses. When Cathy got a job in Toronto in 2000 she moved Harmony and her friend Lacy up there with her. The mares stayed in Toronto while Cathy travelled around and did other things and basically got out of horses. They lived on a small, private farm and had five acres to themselves. It was a great situation for them until Lacy started having trouble keeping weight on in 2006. After a blood panel and a long discussion with the vet Cathy decided to move the girls to a warmer climate for Lacy's comfort. In the fall of 2006 Harmony and Lacy made the trip to our farm in Tennessee.

Harmony in 2005 saying "For God's sake mom, move me to Tennessee. I hear the winters aren't like this!"

I am more than happy to let everyone know that Cathy feels that was a great decision (wink wink)! Lacy fattened back up and looked wonderful until she passed away in December 2007. Harmony continues to enjoy her life of ease and luxury. Cathy ran into the brother of Harmony's original owner and breeder a few years ago and told him she still had her. She said his jaw dropped!

Harmony in 2003

I love how Cathy summed up her relationship with Harmony: "Harmony was a lot of peoples' nightmare, but she was and is my treasure. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the pictures of her grazing in horse paradise, and knowing she is getting a reward for all of those years of hard work." I think that first sentence is just wonderful (I like the rest as well!).

Harmony and Cathy in 2005

Although I have many pictures of Harmony that I could share, and have shared some of them, Cathy had several pictures of her and Harmony that she sent to me. I hope you have enjoyed all of these old pictures of Harmony and reading her story. She is a really special mare with a lot of personality, and she certainly deserves her life of ease here with us!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Elfin!

Everybody please join me in wishing Eflin a happy birthday! Elfin is 19 years young today, although he typically acts like he is a long yearling.

Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday Dear Elfin
Happy Birthday To You

. . . and many more!!!!
His birthday feast
He finally stops grazing and notices the bucket

Moving in to investigate
Grabbing a bite
That tastes really good - and there are so many yummy smells!
Look Mom, I got icing everywhere!
I scraped the icing off for Elfin and he licked it off my hand; he handled the carrots with no assistance
Bella celebrated with Elfin, and helped polish off the carrot cake

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Horse Will Hate Retirement

I don't know how many times I have heard "my horse will hate retirement." I'm sure I have not heard every reason out there yet but I have heard a lot of them:

My horse is a show horse
My horse is used to being pampered (they don't have to be ridden to be pampered but ok)
My horse hates being turned out (ok, so pay for a stall - we offer both!)
My horse loves being ridden
My horse is depressed if he doesn't have a job
My horse loves to go to horse shows
My horse hates it when the trailer leaves without him
My horse is so attached to me, I don't think he can handle not seeing me every day
My horse loses weight if he has to much turnout/not enough turnout
My horse hates to be hot/cold/whatever temperature he apparently dislikes
My horse runs/paces the fence when he's turned out

These are just the most common reasons that I typed out without even having to sit here and think about it. I could write endless blog posts refuting each and every one of those statements based on what I see and watch on this farm every day but I won't do that right now!

Today was a day that us humans don't usually really like, low to mid 50's and raining. I guess if I were a person more in tune with nature or appreciative of my surroundings or whatever I would like days like this. But unfortunately as I was getting soaked through while feeding everyone and doing all of my morning "stuff" I mostly was thinking about how much I wished it would stop raining. I like to think of myself as a tree-hugger on some level, but I have no urge to stretch my arms open wide while the rain soaks me and think about what a beautiful place planet earth is. Call me a cynic. It didn't help that I broke the zipper on my rain jacket this morning so I could only zip it about a third of the way up. Grrrr.

I'm sure you are wondering what all of this has to do with horses and hating retirement. Be patient, I'm slowly getting to the point.

So I'm working my way through the pastures feeding everyone. Normally they are all waiting for me but of course since it was raining of course I had to hunt them down. I was feeding Trillion, Faune, Asterik, Sebastian and Ogie, and waiting for them to finish so I could remove their feedbags. They were all really hyper this morning and when they finally saw me and heard me calling them for breakfast they came charging through the pasture doing their best imitation of the Black Stallion, racing with the wind. As I was removing feedbags Faune ran off before I could remove his. Why? Because Asterik has only been integrated into his family group for a day and a half and Faune knows he comes in to his stall after breakfast. He did NOT want to miss out on any getting to know you time with Asterik.

So Faune is merrily charging around his 20+ acre pasture, with me following him and talking in a pleading voice "good boy Faune, I've got a treat in my hand." Hah! Faune knew I didn't have a treat and wouldn't have cared if I did. His only goal was to stay OUT in the pouring rain with Asterik. Jason and I joke that Faune prefaces every thought with "my mommy is Gillian and . . . " Today he was saying "my mommy is Gillian and she says I don't have to come in today!" as he was gleefully bolting around the pasture with me in pursuit. After chasing him around in the rain for fifteen minutes he finally let me catch him. "My mommy is Gillian and the only reason you have a halter on me right now is because I decided to be nice and let you catch me." Thanks so much Faune, I looove having extra time out in the pouring rain! I can't say that I was seeing any signs today that Faune hates retirement or finds life to be boring!

After the Faune chase I continued to make my way around the farm feeding breakfast. The big boys were in fine form this morning. The "big boys" are a group of young, rambunctious geldings that have been retired due to various injuries. They are a very playful bunch of geldings, but today they put on a performance that was beyond anything I've ever seen them do.

They were pretty quiet as they were eating breakfast, but they charged off after I removed their feedbags. I didn't think much of it as they just ran halfway across their pasture and then started grazing. I was feeding the horses in the next field and turned around to see what they were doing. Normally Elfin is the instigator in this group, but today it was Homer. First I saw him roll which isn't odd, but when he was done he stood up and then would rear up, come down and buck, then rear up again and kept doing it. At first I thought there was something wrong with Homer as he kept doing it!

Then Ivan walked over and started doing the same thing with him, and they would run a couple of steps and then stop and rear and leap. Apollo was the next one to join in the fun, followed by Leo and finally Elfin. Chance would lift his head from his grazing to watch but didn't feel the need to participate. Then they all took off at a mad gallop, all of them throwing in bucks and leaps as they went. They circled the field once, then again, then a third time! I saw Homer in the lead, then Elfin, then Chance, and then Apollo.

They stopped running and gathered in a corner. I thought they were finally done but the rearing and bucking started again. A minute later they were off to the races again. Two more laps around the field, galloping and bucking. By this time the other horses had finished eating and I was voluntarily extending my time in the pouring rain watching their show. I don't think I've ever seen a group of horses having more fun or being more carefree. Apparently someone forgot to tell these horses that they would hate retirement!

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the events of today as it was raining too hard to have my camera with me. Since I'm on my third camera of 2008 I'm trying hard not to move on to my fourth!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I am still way behind on sharing all of my pictures. So I am going to sort through some more and let everyone see more pictures of the residents. I have to say that I think we have an incredibly attractive group of horses retired with us!

Apollo and Ivan, best friends
Elfin's beautiful head
Harmony sharing breakfast in the shed with Bella
The cows also like the sheds
Faune and Trillion
That is Teddy hiding behind all of the grass
Follow the leader: Leo, Finn, Homer, Elfin
Sebastian and Faune