Sunday, January 30, 2011

65 Wonderful Degrees

The last few days we have seen the best that middle Tennessee has to offer for winter weather, 65 degrees and sunny. In fact I think it actually might have topped out closer to 70 this afternoon. This makes me much happier than snow. It was so nice to working outside wearing jeans and a long sleeve polo shirt and not feeling the need to be bundled up and layered up. The horses were very happily walking around naked and caking themselves with every last bit of mud and dirt they could possibly find. I hate it when people visit the farm this time of year since their scenic view consists of shaggy, dirty horses. One good roll and they look like they haven't been groomed in weeks! The horses love it even though I try to tell them this is bad for our image. They don't seem to care. We joke that we are going to sign the horses up for some marketing and public relations classes.

I made the time to have a quick ride on both Bonnie and Sky this weekend. The weather was just too nice not to ride. They have not been ridden in 2011 and for the most part have hardly been ridden at all the last few months simply due to a lack of time on my part. They thought they had joined the ranks of the retired horses and were quite happy about that. Sky was standing quietly in the cross ties while I attempted to remove the layers of dirt and dust in search of the grey horse I knew was lurking underneath. The look on her face when I walked towards her with the saddle in my arms was truly priceless. It could best be summed up as shocked disbelief. If she could talk she would have said "but mom, we don't do that anymore!" complete with a hoof stomp.

Everyone and everything on the farm has had a smile the last few days. The people, the horses, the dogs, cats, The Don, the goats and the pet cows all gave two thumbs up for the weather. We have a couple more days of this and then we get rain. Blech.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!


Gus on the run

Tiny and Stormy were watching Gus run around

Winston, Chimano and Romeo with Faune hiding in the background

Homer hanging out with Elfin napping behind him
Elfin was napping hard in the sunshine

Grand and Apollo

Hemi and Thomas

Hoffy and Trigger

Maisie was running around . . .

. . . then she stopped and looked at me as if to say "did you get that"

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Noble is a gray thoroughbred gelding who joined us for retirement this past fall. Noble was born in Indiana and is by the stallion Noble Novice and out of the mare Little Feisty Gal. Noble's grandsire is Wardlaw who was a Santa Anita Derby winner, and his great grandsire is Decidedly who was a Kentucky Derby winner. Noble raced at Mountaineer Race Track in West Virginia. He had a total of 13 starts, all small claiming races, and he won three races before his short racing career ended. After his racing career Noble moved to a hunter/jumper barn in Pennsylvania, and he lived at this barn until his retirement with us.

Noble and his mom getting some last minute instructions before going in the ring at a horse show

The trainer from the h/j barn purchased Noble for one of her clients and he began his new career as a hunter. A few years later Noble's mom began taking riding lessons at this same barn in 1999. She had ridden some as a kid but had never had her own horse. She began riding again in her 30's and taking lessons at Noble's barn. As fate would have it Noble came up for sale a few months after she started taking lessons there. At first his price was too high, however waiting for Noble to sell was holding up the divorce settlement of his previous owners, and they dropped his price significantly in hopes of a quick sale. In March of 2000 Noble was a surprise gift to his mom from her (now former) husband, and she officially owned her first horse!

Noble as a youngster; he is either a weanling or a yearling in this picture and he needed to grow into his ears! Look at how dark he is!

Noble looking around on his second day at our farm; he is now all white, including his mane and his tail

Noble's mom said the first time she rode him that her thought was that he was like riding a Cadillac. He has a big rocking horse canter and she said his trot was like a carpet ride. He also had a very soft mouth and responded beautifully to lateral aides. The one thing he did not love was trail riding as he found things like deer, rabbits and birds to very scary.

Noble in the show ring; you can see how his coat, mane and tail are still dark in these pictures

Noble and his mom did a lot of showing together in their early years. They started in the beginner and green hunter divisions and worked their way up to the adult amateurs. One thing they did have to work on a lot together was Noble getting strong to the jumps. Noble's mom said they probably were not the ideal match for each other since they both tended to be anxious and spooky. She feels he would have gone a lot better for a more confident rider, however they worked through things together and formed a wonderful partnership for eleven years of riding.

Noble playing with his friend Joey at his barn in Pennsylvania

Although they did a lot of riding and showing together Noble and his mom also had a great time just hanging out. Noble's favorite game involved grabbing the back of her jeans while she was bent over picking out his feet. He also likes to wrap his head around you while having his feet picked so he can give and receive kisses.

Noble and his mom at their barn in Pennsylvania; he still has lots of dark areas in these pictures and definitely isn't the all white horse we know today.

Noble's mom credits him for helping her become a more confident rider. As she said Noble would challenge her and push her past her comfort level while she was riding him but then give her kisses afterward. Learning to conquer her fears and forming a partnership with Noble also translated into her daily life and her career. A classic example of how our relationships with our horses teach us about so much more than just horses. When her marriage dissolved Noble also took on the role of therapist and his mane soaked up many tears. But they made it through the hard times together.

I took this picture of Noble in October; it is one of my favorite pictures of him because he simply looks stunning in it.
The last few years for Noble and his mom have not involved any showing. His hocks started to get a bit creaky so they stopped jumping and focused on hacking and flatwork. With Noble's soft mouth, lateral work and comfortable gaits this arrangement suited both of them. Their time spent together both under saddle and just hanging out was all about enjoying each other.

Noble and Spike enjoying a grooming session

Noble made the trip to Tennessee from Pennsylvania in October. He walked off the trailer and has pretty much acted like he owns the place since then. His transition into retirement was seamless. Noble is funny, he still likes to find things to spook at but it is purely for entertainment value. He'll snort and spook at things visible only to him as you lead him up to the farrier, and then stand perfectly still while being worked on like he does not have a care in the world. Then when you lead him away he will start the game again.

Noble grazing with O'Reilly

My favorite part about writing this post was seeing the pictures of Noble, starting as a baby and going through his years with his mom. It was neat to see how he has changed from dark to light through the years, and also that he did in fact grow into those ears!

We hope you have enjoyed getting to know Noble!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I am a little bit short on time this evening and don't have time to write a "real" post. Enjoy the pictures and we'll be back to our regular writing in a couple of days!

this little guy was hanging out on the deck this afternoon
Fuzzy and Chili

Murphy on the run

I look at this picture of Justin and think "stress"

Dutch, Murphy and Wiz

Gus (looking so white and clean!)

Chimano, Asterik, Faune and Winston

they look like little dots but that is Johnny, Rampal, Rocky and Toledo

Rocky and Toledo

Lexi, Sparky and Sky
Toledo and Romeo

Rampal (Rocky and Toledo in the background)

Bonnie, Traveller and Norman

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Myths and Truths: Ouch, the Feed Bill (post written by Jason)

I don't think anyone reading this blog needs to be told that every part of horsekeeping is expensive, but given the recent run on commodity prices and the shellacking this is likely to lead to for anybody buying commodities on a small scale, I thought now might be a good time to have a look at one of the largest ongoing expenses of keeping a horse and that is feeding it !

Myth: The price of feed seems to go up for no reason. The feed store owner must be lining her pockets right now !

Truth: There are a lot of reasons I don't own a feed store, but one of the best reasons is that the margins on feed for feed re-sellers are razor thin. The reason that feed changes price so often is that there is very little margin for the retailer to eat price changes. When the company they buy feed from raises prices, so does the retailer. A typical retail margin on bagged feed is $ 1.00 per bag or less, and I want to highlight that margin doesn't equal profit; this is what they pay the light bill, pay their help and run their business on. The folks who make (and lose) the most money on commodities are those who trade futures and options on the Chicago Board of Trade, NOT the people running your local feed store or local farm supply co-operative.

Myth: The only difference between high end and low end feeds is the price and the shininess of the graphics on the bag the feed comes in.

Truth: I've been kicking around the feed industry a long time and it's my opinion that there are plenty of differences between feedstuffs beyond price per bag. More often than not you get what you pay for in this world, and feedstuffs are no different than anything else. If my myth was actually true I promise you I'd be feeding the cheapest local no-name knock off which currently sells at $ 6.00 per 50 lb bag) to our retirees rather than Triple Crown Senior which we get for $17.95 per 50 lb bag when we buy three tons of it at a time. That said, I'm not a hundred percent stuck on using *ANY* feed so long as it meets my various criteria for quality control, ease of feeding, ease of delivery, and, of course, nutrient profile. I'd be happy to share my criteria for feedstuffs and feed suppliers with anyone who asks.

Myth: My horse loses weight every winter and it doesn't matter what I feed him.

Truth: While some horses are more prone than others to lose weight in the winter, and while any horse's weight can fluctuate a bit at any time, sustained and considerable weight loss every winter is not normal and it is something that can almost definitely be managed. First thing I'd do is take a good long look at the type of forage your horse is eating and if it's possible to do I'd up both the quality AND the quantity on offer. Within reason, and depending on your horse and what you are asking of him or her, improving the quality of forage on offer can play a huge role in maintaining adequate body condition in the winter. When forage has been addressed and if one's horse is still losing weight, then one needs to look at the quality and quantity of the grain on offer. We pay a lot of attention to forage quality and maintaining each horse's body condition on this farm, and when the horses are on spring grass (very high quality forage), our grain bill drops by a third.


(Melissa here). I mentioned in the last blog that there were snowflakes coming down. We woke up Friday morning to about 3/4 of an inch of snow. I'll skip the usual complaining as I have nothing new to say on that front. I will say that the snow did have the common decency to start melting right away and was completely gone by Sunday afternoon. Other than that nothing new to report. I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Jo and Mina, World's Cutest Fainting Goats

Jo with a big mouthful of hay

Rocky and Rampal playing

Lily and MyLight dosing in the sun

Faune, Winston, Gus and Romeo



Faune and Winston
B-Rad, Darby and Ogie

Fuzzy and Clay

Toledo, Stormy and Rocky

snow breakfast

Johnny and Rampal


Trooper, Bear and Bella

Chimano and Asterik

the Big Boys on Saturday afternoon
O'Reilly and Slinky


Tony and Elfin

Levendi and Chance


Leo, Apollo and Ivan