Category Archives: horse

It’s been a busy week on the farm

Let’s start with the biggest news from today.  Anna and I had talked for a while about what our criteria should be for the next horse we add to the farm.  Here is what we came up with:

1. Not a thoroughbred.

2. Gelding.

3. Already trained and able to be used in Anna’s lesson program.

4. Young enough to have some go and be fun for Rob on the trails.

So, today we brought home a 15hh, 9yo Arabian mare (Shagya bloodlines) that is still pretty green.  But in our defense, Anna has wanted an Arab (but prefers geldings) and I am interested in limited distance endurance riding.

Introducing Sophie (pending a name change!)  Sophie will be a training project for this year.  Anna will focus on her dressage foundation and Rob will focus on her trail and ground work.  We plan to divide up the work on Dakota in a similar fashion.  The bottom line is, horses will continue to be our main focus.

Backing up a few days, on Tuesday, Sawyer Farm’s Onyx kidded and gave us a cute little buckling named Sawyer Farm’s Smores.  Smores is being raised as a bottle baby and will hopefully find a home for use in breeding.

On Friday, we got another round of snow (about 3″ at our house) and triplets, 2 does and buck, from Longvu Bx Tangueray Texter (Tang).  Sawyer Farm’s Three Musketeers was the buck and the larger doe, Sawyer Farm’s Kit Kat is already reserved and will be leaving next week.  Sawyer Farm’s Twix was the runt at 4.6 lbs and will be raised by Vicki.

We only bred 1 other doe this year, but it appears she didn’t actually get pregnant, so we think that wraps up our kidding season.  Final tally – 4 does and 2 bucks.  Now as soon as the snow finishes melting, we can saddle up the horses!

Is my horse growing enough hoof?

“My horse doesn’t need to be trimmed as often because he doesn’t grow much hoof in the winter.”  I’ve heard this many times over in barns and general discussions with horse owners.  As my clients know, I trim horses every 6 weeks, even in winter.  I do make exceptions for horses that need a trim cycle of less than 6 weeks.  On our own farm, the horses are typically trimmed every 3-4 weeks.  However, due to my recent travel, they went a little longer and got overdue.  Today, I finally trimmed them at 6 weeks and 1 day.  I’ve noticed something before, and it was readily apparent again today.

I trimmed all 5 of our horses in succession.  This isn’t about how well-behaved they were in the cross ties, how the dogs hung out under their hooves eating the scraps, or the icicles on their hair when they came in the barn.  This is about the amount of hoof I had to trim on ALL 5 horses in FEBRUARY.  2 of the 5 horses are over 20 years old.  NONE gets any grain, only hay pellets with supplements per each individual.

I used my nippers to trim the hooves on all 5 horses.  In comparison, I probably only use my nippers to trim around 25% of client horses at a 6 week trim in the winter.  The rest are done with just my rasp because the growth is not significant enough to alternate between the tools.

So what’s the big deal?  I see the difference in hoof growth as a clear indicator of a mineral imbalance.  As my clients also know, I am not a fan of grains for most horses.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “I only give my horse XX amount of grain so he gets his daily vitamins and minerals.”  Do you eat Cookie Crisp cereal for your daily vitamins and minerals? After all, it is fortified just like grains for your horse.  Of course not.  You eat Cookie Crisp for the bits of chocolate in the cookie, just like horses love the molasses in the grain (read your bag tag before you tell me how “Safe” your “Choice” is).

So how do 5 horses on my farm grow more hoof all winter, without grain, compared to some horses I trim in the summer?  It’s simple. They have Free Choice minerals.  I’ve said it before: We only sell products we use and believe in.  Dynamite’s Free Choice mineral program is one of those products.  If you are interested, you can get more details and order here.  Just check out the Free Choice Starter Pack.  What’s great about the system is the horses regulate themselves.  If you still are a doubter, and don’t take vitamins and minerals yourself, buy a good quality vitamin and mineral, take it daily, and track how often you need to trim your own nails.  In fact, Dynamite has human products you can use too.

So, how do you know if your horse is growing enough hoof?  It’s simple: watch your farrier/trimmer and see how much they take off every 6 weeks.  And if Flash doesn’t need a trim but every 8-10 weeks, you have your answer.

 

Christmas 2014

Christmas this year was a small affair.  No familiy visiting from out of town, and no where we had to be.  On Christmas Eve, we joined the Smith’s, owners of Cedars of Lebanon Farm, or their annual Christmas Eve brunch.  It has become a holiday event we look forward to.  The fact that their daughter Natalie is in culinary school and uses the brunch to showcase recipes doesn’t hurt.

After we got home, Vicki set to work baking the cookies for Santa, sugar cookies with a pepermint glaze are the appropriate recipe.

That evening, we headed to North Stonington Congregational Church to see some old friends at the evening service, and then back home for a traditional Swedish dinner that Anna put together.  We had meatballs with cranberry sauce (she couldn’t find lingonberry jam locally), ham, potatoes, pickled herring, pickled salmon, and pickles.  Afterwards, the kids got to open 1 present, plus their new pj’s from Grandma and Grandpa.  A fire in the fireplace seemed like a good idea, but as the evening progressed, the temperature outside climbed to almost 60F.  Turbo joined us fo the reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

We told the kids before they went to bed, no presents would be opened on Christmas morning until the animals at had to been checked on and horses fed hay.  The rest of the chores would be deferred to later in the morning.

At 7:30, the kids came into our room to wake us up.  The horses had been fed their hay and Alex had actually completed all his morning chores.  Vicki went to make a pot of coffee for us while we got ready to join them for presents.

After opening gifts, the kids got to play with their new toys.  Since it was in the low 60s, Anna and I decided to head outside and spend 6 hours on a fencing project.  We significantly collapsed the goat paddock and gave a most of the back property to the horses.   By the time we came in well after dark, we were ready for a simple dinner of farm fresh eggs and bacon.

We were also surprised with a very nice gift from some friends and found the perfect spot for our new addition in the kitchen.

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Today was spent loading hay in the barn, loading shavings, riding horses, and time at the gun range.  Merry Christmas from our family to yours, and have a Happy New Year!

 

Pony Club Horse Trials

Every year, Mystic Pony Club and Shetucket Valley Pony Club put on a show together at Mystic Valley Hunt Club.  It is typically the end of October and one of the last outdoor shows in the area.  It was actually cancelled in 2012 due to snow falling the night before and covering the course.  This year there was no snow, but there was definitely wind.  It was in the mid 50s and windy today.

This was the first time Alex and Vicki did this type of show. The show included dressage classes, 2 phase (dressage and stadium jumping), and 3 phase (dressage, stadium jumping, and cross-country jumping).  Alex and Vicki entered in Grasshopper 2 phase which means they did a walk-trot dressage test and a stadium jump course of 10 jumps up to 18″ in height.  They both also did an extra walk-trot dressage test.  Alexis, Vicki’s friend and one of Anna’s students, rode in 2 dressage tests.

Alex and Nike got 2nd in 2 phase, and 1st in dressage.  Vicki and Devil got 4th in 2 phase and disqualified in dressage because Devil decided to exit the ring a little early.  Both of them rode a clear round in the jumping and had a blast.  Alexis and Huey got 2nd and 3rd in dressage.

 

Lyme Hunter Pace 2014

Anna, Alex,  and Vicki rode Dakota,  Nike, and Devil in the Lune Hunter Pace today.  King has been lame this week so we sat out.
It was 8.9 miles of gorgeous trails and fun jumps. The kids got to do a few jumps and everyone had fun. Vicki has been logging more time in the saddle and did much better at this one compared to the pace in June.
They didn’t place overall, but they did win the Don Siluk Memorial award that is sponsored by Mystic Pony Club.  It is an award specifically designed for pony clubbers and a parent/guardian. The kids are looking forward to a trip to The Paddock to redeem the gift certificate.

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Before the start

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After the finish

Introducing Nike!

To celebrate Labor Day, we took the kids to Mystic Valley Hunt Club for a lesson with Maureen Pach.  The second reason for our trip was to pick up Nike.  Nike is joining our farm on a long term lease.  As you can see from the pictures, he and Devil will make a great pair in pictures.  Nike is a seasoned school horse and will help Alex advance in the arena work while Dakota continues training with Anna. In the pictures,  Alex is on Devil and Vicki is on Nike (they switched for part of the lesson).  You know it’s a good pony when the owner and 2 of his previous riders come to see him off to his new home!

WGHA Hunter Pace #3

What does 12 miles in 2:35 on a gorgeous Sunday get you?  1st place in the Trailblazer division for me and 1st place in the Junior division for Alex.  Today was our 3rd hunter pace of the summer and it was a fabulous day.  King and Dakota were rock stars, as usual.

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Alex is getting into the hunter paces and decided that we needed to match (I agreed).  So, we wore our khaki breeches, blue farm shirts, matching Mystic Pony Club saddle pads, matching pommel bags, and even our protective vests match.  While we aren’t setting any record speeds, I require the protective vests to instill good habits for the future when I expect he will want to jump a lot more than now.

 

 

Alex has also started to figure out it’s not always bad that there are not a lot of boys at the horse events…

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WGHA Hunter Pace #2

Today was the second WGHA Hunter Pace.  Since we sold Calli, and Vicki didn’t handle the distance very well last time, this one was me (Rob) on King and Alex on Dakota.  We did the 10.3 miles in 2:10.  That was good enough for me to get 2nd in the Trailblazer division and Alex to get 1st in the Junior division.

Alex got to choose his prize for winning the Junior division; he chose a new chair.  Once he got home, he immediately set it up in the yard and shared the umbrella space with Amanda.

North Stonington Fair 2014

It was an exhausting weekend as we kicked off the 2014 fair season with the North Stonington Fair.

Thursday, 8 rabbits reported for show duty and spent the weekend looking pretty for the masses.

Friday, Anna and the kids spent the day washing goats, washing horses, and Anna was up past midnight braiding manes.  Saturday morning, we loaded the trailer and headed to the horse show.

Amanda rode on Huey in the lead line class.

 

Jack, one of Anna’s students, also rode lead line on Devil.  Vicki rode Devil in the walk-trot classes along with her best friend, Alexis, who was on Huey.  Alexis actually beat Vicki for the walk-trot championship (in her first show ever).  It does Vicki good to get taken down a peg every now and then.  Alex has no interest in the ride around the arena classes, however, he was keen to ride in the Gymkhana classes.  He did the mounted games at the 4-H show in May with Dakota, so we let him do it again, only this time, we let him canter Dakota.  He did come close to the fastest times, but he maintained control and had fun doing it.  He even decided to add-on a 1 walk-trot-canter class for the day.

 

After the horse show, the kids put on their new Barnyard Buddies 4-H shirts to walk around a few minutes, but needed a food and drink break.  Ruth is another one of Anna’s students who came along for the day to watch Amanda, but seemed to get bitten by the show bug and is talking about getting more serious in her plans with King.

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Sunday was the goat show.  We had 11 goats with 5 kids (Alex, Vicki, Amanda, Alexis, and Selena) our herd.  Amanda got to show Sprout in Pee-Wee showmanship and the Pet class.  Another long day, but everyone had a good time and Alex is actually starting to get more into the goats.  Sawyer Farm’s Onyx won Best Jr Lamancha and Sawyer Farm’s Sequoia won best Jr Recorded Grade.

 

Throughout the afternoon, WCTY was doing karaoke next to the goat show, and the kids were constantly on stage giving it a try.  Amanda and her friend Lily spent almost all afternoon on stage.

2 weeks until the next fair!

Our first family hunter pace

20140601_101514Today Alex, Vicki, Anna, and I (Rob) rode in our first family hunter pace.  It was put on by the West Greenwich Horseman’s Association (WGHA) at Arcadia in RI.  For those not familiar with hunter pacing, it is a long trail ride with optional jumps along the way.  This one had 3 different divisions: Hunters (fastest group with lots of cantering), Hilltoppers (walk/trot with some cantering), and Trailblazers (walk/trot).  We entered Trailblazers, but did some cantering early on with lots of walking towards the end.

The ride was 11.5 miles long and it took us 3:15.  Here are the top 10 things we learned on our first hunter pace.

10. Make sure all the bridles loaded in the trailer have reins (luckily a friend/trimming client lived across the street and we were able to borrow some).

9. Leather braided roping reins stretch a lot when Calli pulls hard.  They now reside in the trash.

8.  Dakota is a ROCK STAR!

7.  Alex is well conditioned for the time/distance.

6.  Vicki is not well conditioned for the time/distance.

5.  Vicki will get really tired and be ready to give up about 6.5 miles into the ride.

4.  Vicki doesn’t like GU gels and won’t eat them to get her some nutrition.

3.  Calli doesn’t like horses with bells trotting up behind her.

2.  Easily accessible snacks are needed for Vicki (and Anna) on a long trail ride.

1.  Despite over an hour of melting down, getting upset with her pony, and wanting to quit (in the middle of the woods), after some lunch and sugar, Vicki can start planning for the next hunter pace.

Alex and Vicki got ribbons for 5th place in the junior division.  Ribbons always make a kid happy.  The next Hunter Pace is in July.  Vicki plans to do more 2+ hour trail rides to get ready.