Thursday, December 31, 2009
Yesterday when I got home from work, I started to get a sore throat - ugh. Allen got home on time and we collectively did the barn chores together :) The horses even got some time to romp in the snow and the doggies got a nice [cold] walk in! Bliss!!
I made another recipe from my new cookbook - this one was called Chicken Spaghetti - another A+ in Allen's book. Sweet! Works for me :)
So this morning, I woke up feeling like a train wreck. My throat was throbbing. As I was getting my muck boots on, Allen came in with the dogs and said, don't worry about it, I will take care of the horses. "REALLY?" Yes, really! He did! Now mind you, it wasn't without a few murmurings under his breath that I heard as he had to come in and go to the basement for water since the outside spicket froze. But he did it, nonetheless, and was still in a good mood when he left for work! Did I mention it was about 2 degrees this morning?
Don't think I did nothing :) I packed his lunch and then still went outside before I left to open Gypsy's window.....and maybe to check on them and make sure they all got enough hay for breakfast! I know, I know, someday I will be able to resist the urge to check up on my husbands horse care skills!
So today I am at work, drinking hot tea like no ones business trying to rid myself of whatever is plaguing me, and I get a call from the hubs. I figure just a routine 'Hi, how is your day going' lunch type of call. When, in all actuality, he was home! He finished his job early and got to go home. HE already had all the horses turned out to run around ....AND.....he was going inside to change his boots so he could go clean the stalls! MAMA MIA - I think I just fainted. Really? Really?? Am I dreaming? Someone pinch me.
Don't get me wrong, the hubs helps out a decent amount with the horses....okay, a lot.....when he wants too! But this span of a good mood and good fortune for me from him is worrying me! What lies ahead? There has to be a catch!!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I started riding lessons again and then found a local rescue that had recently started up and decided to start volunteering. I figured it was the best way to dive back in! The more I learned, the more I felt I was ready to take on! I knew, one day, I’d make it my goal to adopt a rescued horse. But not anytime soon!! I figured somewhere down the line, when I was much older!
Apollo at his time of Rescue, Circa, March 2004
When Apollo came to the rescue, I had about 6 months of volunteering under my belt and I was enjoying it. I did not, however, think I was in the position to be adopting a horse; never mind the fact that I had never even leased a horse before, let alone OWN one! Actually, from the stories I heard about this horse, I wasn’t too eager to meet him; I heard he had ‘issues’!. He went out on a 4H lease before I started volunteering. That summer, I went with Lauren (the rescue’s President & Founder and my horse mentor) to see Apollo and his 4H buddy show at their county fair. I remember seeing him in his stall, and then out in the ring, and not thinking too much about him. I figured after the 4H season, the family would decide to adopt him and that would be the end of it.
Then one day, an email came through the rescue’s inbox; it was from Apollo’s current 4H family. The season was over and they felt it best to bring him back to the rescue. If I recall, their main reasoning was that he would not load into a slant load trailer and that was the type of trailer they owned! C’mon! I remember thinking all I knew of this horse was that he had a history of bolting and was not for the inexperienced. *Gulp* For some reason, a pit grew in my stomach. Subconsciously I think I knew I was going to be meeting my match; something to throw my confidence off guard.
I still remember the day he was hauled back to the rescue. I was sitting in the barn and watched him come off the trailer. He looked like a ball full of skittishness and arrogance all at the same time. And I was none to hurried to make acquaintances with him!
After Apollo got settled, it was time to try him out under saddle, to see what he learned or forgot, and somehow, I ended up being the lucky one! (Again, I subconsciously knew this was coming) Nervous as all get out, knowing his history of bolting, I saddled him up and said a prayer!
As you can see from the above picture [ok, I cannot find the pic anywhere, but when I do, I will add it! It is a doozy I promise you!] of our first ride together, I was beyond nervous and searching for my comfort zone! I still laugh and feel embarrassed at the same time when I look at this picture. Shame on me! I know better than to ride with such horrible form!
However, something in me that day changed forever; it was certainly not the best ride I ever had [clearly], but after I got off and looked Apollo in the eyes, I felt as though he said to me "Please don’t let me go; I'll teach you everything you need" - and BOY was he not kidding.
It wasn’t until 2 months after I adopted him that Apollo showed me his true colors. Sometimes I would hop on and ride in slippery sweats. I’d hang on him, let down my guard and put way too much trust in a horse I was only beginning to know! I recall one day he skirted sideways at something and Lauren said to me “If you held your seat through that, IN SWEATPANTS, then I know you know how to ride!” Ahh, she spoke too soon!
During one of our lessons, something spooked Apollo and out of nowhere, he bolted on me. I tell the story as him taking off at 90 mph. Clearly it probably wasn’t that fast, but it sure seemed liked it! Lauren says I grabbed the back of the saddle. I failed to mention Apollo also had a lot of rear end security issues. That was a No Touch Zone while riding. We were still working on it being ok on the ground for cryin’ out loud! I knew better. I knew to sit deep and bring him in. In fact though, I did just the opposite. Why, I’ll never know. Why would I GRAB the BACK of the SADDLE! I remember thinking to myself “Don’t put pressure on the reins”. I look back now and think “YOU DUMMY, Why didn’t you put pressure on the reins!” Apollo swirled out of control into a circle and just when I thought I was possibly getting him under control, I lost my seat on a turn and fell off the side. Thankfully, my grandmother must have been watching over me and my foot came loose from the stirrup.
Whew – that was an experience! Shaken, I knew I needed to get right back on. And that’s what I did. 10 minutes later, something set him off again and he went bolting into oblivion. This time, all I could say was “Oh Sh!t” I let go, with no will to try, and let myself fly off the back of him. I landed on my back and my head (thankfully I wear a helmet and after that experience, always will!) banged the hard ground not once, but twice, from the impact. This time, I was not interested in getting back on! But Lauren made me, although she took the reins and lead him. And this my friends, was the beginning of my hell, and my truly unexplainable connection formed with this crazy Arab or as I call him, ‘My White Knight’, my ‘Apolloson’… My Apollo!
My Mystical Unicorn, Circa 2006
Apollo has been my worst nightmare and my best daydream and I wouldn't change it for the world. In the past 4 years of my partnership with him, I've learned more that I ever thought I would and have formed such a strong bond that I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought could exist.
Apollo with my Niece & Nephew in 2007 (I believe it was 2007!)
After our ‘incident’, I was truly scared to death to get back on and ride. All confidence I had ever had in myself vanished. I remember telling a fellow horse friend that I felt more comfortable, as if I had more control, when I was in the saddle versus on the ground. I now felt the exact opposite. There was nothing secure to me about being in the saddle. And it wasn’t just on Apollo, it was on any horse! The incident had shaken my confidence that bad.
I didn’t want to give up and I didn’t want to be a failure for Apollo, so I reverted back to the basics. And when I say basics, I mean lead line I walk-you walk, I say ho, you stop type of exercises. I did this more out of comfort and being scared shitless ;) But, little did I know this was just what we needed. We started back at the basics and built a confidence & trust in each other. I progressed from lead work to lunge line work to free lunging work and had Apollo free lunging in the arena, following my verbal and hand signal commands. I taught him clicker training and we did T-Touch exercises.
About a year after my fall, actually a tad over a year, it was time to get back in the saddle. Lauren would always yell at me “It’s time, He’s Ready, Get on!” I’d been on his back a few times since then, but always with someone on the lead. I started by tacking him up and line driving him. This did tremendous wonders for his rear end fears and bonded us together even more. Eventually, I was able to learn his actions and read his body language to the point where I wanted to get on! I’d always work him on the driving lines from the ground before I would get in the saddle and then eventually progressed to not even line driving but rather just tacking up and getting on.
That summer we made huge strides. I trailered him to a local park with Lauren and another rescue horse to ride in their outdoor ring and even attempted a small trail that bordered the park. He was so full of get up and go that we kept it at a walk, but the momentum that I felt under the saddle and the fact that I kept my cool and, he trusted me, was a victory in itself.
I was also learning to feel his body language and hesitation when a bolt would possibly come on and I was able to stop it before it exploded! I remember beaming from ear to ear the first time it happened; I was so proud of myself and of Apollo for trusting me.
And I still remember, plain as day, during one of my lessons with Lauren, that we actually collected and were riding, at the sitting trot, as one. Tears welled in my eyes. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. We were dancing; we were one; My worst nightmare and I! I know it sounds cheesy, but I will never, ever, forget that feeling.
I now have the privilege of seeing Apollo every morning when I get up and every night before I go to bed and he has the luxury of an obsessed stall cleaner that makes sure his stall is picked before every meal! My childhood dream has come true. I have a horse….horses actually….and they are all in my back yard! It gives me goose bumps! Who would have thought!
To this day, Apollo will still test me on occasion, though usually he knows better so he’ll mess with Allen, my husband, instead! He still has that wild flare in his eyes, but I also see love and content and a softness that only a mother would know!
Apollo, my life is now complete having you in it!
Apollo at home at Apolloson Acres, Circa 2009
And yes, for those of you wondering, our farm, Apolloson Acres, is named after Apollo...and me of course! The story (in a nutshell if that is possible) goes...
When Lauren originally rescued Apollo, his name was "Shotgun Bonanza" - I know, I know. One day an animal communicator came to the rescue and saw Apollo in the field. She told Lauren that he said he wanted to be called Apollo. So Lauren called out "Apollo" and sure enough, he threw his head up and came running!! From that day on, Apollo it was. Sometimes as a nickname, Lauren would call him 'Apollo Sun'. Once I met and got to know him, I would call him "Apolloson"...get it, his name and the end of mine together! (Not realizing at first that Lauren would call him Apollo Sun!) So it was only natural that we name our farm Apolloson Acres. My husband asks where his name falls into that equation and I tell him it is the 'A'! :)
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
So yesterday, the snow was comin' down. My boss allowed me to head out a little early from work because I had 4 kittens to get the Kitten Krazy for their trip to the Spay/Neuter Clinic today. Thank Goodness for my understanding, awesome boss!!
The roads were a mess, the kittens were all meowing and the bottoms of my pants were soaked :( UGH! By the time I dropped the kitties off and then maneuvered my way home, it was almost 6 fricking o'clock! Way behind schedule. And please, note to all owners of 4-Wheel Drive Vehicles.....NOT EVERYONE HAS A 4WD VEHICLE - so please, STAY OFF OUR A$$ES! Thanks much!!
So by the time I get home, and mind you, Allen was STILL at work, the dogs were nuts and the horses were all screaming for their hay. INSTANTLY.FRAZZLED!
I threw on my muck boots and took Whinny out to piddle. I decided to multi-task and throw the horses their hay too. Of course, since we have what seemed like 4 feet of snow, Whinny was hyper and excited and all she wanted to do was pounce. So dividing flakes and throwing them to the horses was exceedingly difficult. Then, Whinny decided to piddle on the barn floor aisle; not a big deal, it's dirt, but just irritating :) I then tried to balance two flakes on one arm while lasso'ing in Whinny to get over to the minis. Of course, with her tugging and pulling (Bad Whinny!), I dropped the flakes in the snow. Irritating!
I get to Romeo and see that all day, the snow must have been blowing into his stall :( POOR GUY! I am sure he was thrilled. *Note to self, when it is windy and snowing, Romeo's door has to be closed. You see, I have already suffered through one winter with the big guns, so I kinda know what I am in for, what to expect, come winter with them and their barn. With the minis, this is their first winter here with us and the first time their barn is in use so it is all brand new. A learning experience. Oh joy! Poor Rome!
After I gathered up all the hay I dropped in the snow and threw it to the minis, I proceeded with my dog routine. (Checking the clock....still no Allen!) Of course, when it was time to walk both the dogs, they were in rare form. Okay, maybe not really rare, but whatever. They were so excited over the snow that I felt like I was on a dog sled, only without the sled! I took them on an extra long walk since I was late getting home, but it only resulted in more chaos for myself as two crazy dogs in feet of snow was a tad hard to handle. Allen said to me later that evening, after I told him the story, that he saw our foot prints everywhere in the snow and was wondering what the heck was going on. Nice!
Now, onto the horses. Dogs were back in the house. Still No Allen. So I start with the mini's, which was like primitive times since we have no electric there yet. Oh what fun. After I cleaned their stalls, if that is what you call it in the dark, I decided it was probably best to peek in on the dogs. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but two nut cases going to town on a fleece blanket on the couch. THAT's IT!!! I stormed in the house screaming at them like a lunatic in hopes that they'd get that this was NOT OK! I cleaned up the mess, put the blanket away, threw my muck boots back on and said a prayer as I walked back outside. Had it not been 19 degrees, I would have brought a glass of wine out with me. I may have made the sign of the cross too!
So now, onto the big guns. First I had to get their shavings out of my car. Rather than use the tractor, which would have made the most sense, I maneuvered the wheelbarrow to my car. It was a nightmare getting it through the snow and then balancing it back to the barn filled with bags of shavings. We had a couple falls along the way. But why, do you ask, did I not just use the tractor. Well, being the lovely wife that I am, I knew Allen was DYING to use his tractor for the first time in a big snow. I figured when (and if he would ever) make it home, and he saw tractor tracks in the snow, I would have ruined his moment by being the first to take it for a spin! He'd be like a big baby pouting because someone stole his toy *sigh*
Back to stall cleaning. Mind you, the horses are still filthy from their mud baths over the weekend. It was cute for a day, now it is ridiculous; especially since I have been grooming and they still look covered in mud. And Ms. Gypsy could roll herself in clean shavings and somehow manage to STILL be dirty! (Anyone in need of a cardio workout, come groom Gypsy!)
Somewhere during my time cleaning the big guns stalls, Allen came home. I figured he might be in a mood since he got home so late so I wasn't going to push it. I would just nicely ask him to check on the dogs when he came into the barn to say 'hello, I am home' to me. No such luck; he went straight to his man cave, aka, the back garage attached to the barn. I could hear him crack open a beer. Oh boy, must have been a stressful day at work. But he knows he needs to check on the dogs, it is routine. So I figured I would give it a minute. About 15 minutes later, I hear the tractor roar up. YOU have GOT to be kidding me! No hello, no can I help you and water the horses, no checking on the dogs, the 'kid' just hops right onto his tractor! I knew he was dying to take it out in the snow, but c'mon!!!! RESPONSIBILITIES!!!!! I wish I could have came home, poured some wine, and snuggled up with a good book!
So I continue to struggle with a full wheelbarrow of manure through mountains of snow (while he is on the tractor that has a bucket capable of moving the manure) and I continue to fill, lift, drag buckets of water to fill the horses up (while he rutts up grass trying to move unnecessary snow from the yard) and then I get the horses all feed and snugged in their stalls and bring the wild beasts out of the house for another walk. They drag me straight to Daddy, who didn't bother to say hello to them when he got home, because he was too busy playing around on his tractor, in the snow, screaming and yelling things I couldn't make out. It was like Santa in his sleigh yelling to his reindeer. Good Grief!
Their is no moral to this story! The night ended with patches of grass missing in the yard, the back door area a mess from mud and snow and paw prints and me exhausted from being stress for really not much of a reason as I reflect back, and Allen snoring happy as a baby because his belly was full and he got to play with his tractor in the snow. Gesh!
Oh, and did I mention with the wind storm of snow we seemed to have had during the day, some of it even blew into my hay barn and covered a few bales of hay! *DOUBLE SIGH* So I had to pull those out, dust 'em off, open 'em up, and then use them asap. *Sigh....again....*
Monday, December 28, 2009
Enjoy. I can't wait to get home and play in the snow with the dogs & the horses!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Christmas has come and gone for another year! The past two days I have spent just trying to relax, although I always feel lazy if I am still on the couch and in my pj's at 11am!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I had a long day of trying to finish things up. It seems the older I get, the more I procrastinate on things! There is so much to be thankful for; having family to spend the holidays with is a big one!
Today, I'll just share some of my day in pictures with you. I am too tired to keep typing!!
Probably the most important pic, my new 3 kitties rescued, is non-existent at this time because they are all hiding in my office :) Maybe tomorrow we can get that one.
Cheesecakes in the Oven
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
My handsome Apollo
Friday, December 18, 2009
By Evelyn Colbath
I shall wear diamonds and a wide brimmed straw hat with ribbons and flowers on it
And I shall spend my social security on white wine and carrots
And sit in the alley of my barn and listen to my horses breathe.
I will sneak out in the middle of a summer's night
And ride the dappled mare across the moonstruck meadow, if my old bones will allow.
and when people come to call, I will smile and nod,
As I walk them past the gardens to the barn
And show, instead, the flowers growing there
In stalls fresh-lined with straw.
I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair as if it were a jewel.
And I will be an embarrassment of all who look down on me
Who have not yet found the peace in being free
To love a horse as a friend, a friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the Woman I will be when I am old.
Baggage ~ by Evelyn Colbath
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Currently, he takes the dogs out for their first potty break. I then feed the dogs while he hay's and waters the horses. I walk the dogs while he is still watering the horses (Winter = Iced Water Buckets = Pain in the BUTT) Then, he goes in the house and I finish up by graining the horses...and checking to make sure he gave them all enough hay ;) [Shhhhh!]
While he waters, he gets their feed bowls out of their stalls for me. For some ungodly reason, when he removes Daisy's bowl, he cannot just place it nicely outside her door. He has to throw it out into the black hole called "Morning Time during Daylight Savings".
You see, Daisy's door opens up not into a barn aisle way, but just out into the great outdoors. When he chooses to fling her bowl out the doorway, it's going out into the great unknown. And unlike a smart person, when I go to feed, I do not go with a flashlight. (I refuse to give in to daylight savings!) So inevitably, I end up cussing him out and looking for the dang bowl in the dark (which is black I might add) all while Daisy most impatiently waits for her grain. *Sigh*
Mornings are a very fragile time for my husband :) The slightest remark can rub him the wrong way. So rather than look my gift horse in the mouth, I'll continue to take his help and search for the dang feed bowl every morning. Heck, I only have a few more days until we start gaining daylight again, right?!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
So today I am home sick from work. Actually, I left yesterday about 1pm feeling very not well. This morning I could feel something lingering so since I have the sick time left, and it is use it or loose it within the next 2 weeks, I figured I better stay home and rest up. Better to take a moment to rest rather than run yourself into the ground...but who lives by that motto? NOT ME!
Since I am not deathly ill, I have naturally already created a to-do list for myself today. (It's really hard for me to do nothing.)
1.) GO TO STORE - GET COFFEE
2.) Pick up Horse Feed
3.) Stop at butcher to pick something up for dinner
4.) Get a few more Christmas Shopping Items out of the way
5.) Turn horses out to enjoy the brisk sunshine
6.) Clean horse stalls
7.) Attempt Laundry pile before it walks away.....or eats one of the dogs.....
8.) Make dinner
9.) Make list of "To Bake" within the next week
And there are a few other things I'd like to do, but it requires me going to stores closer to work then home, so I will save them for later.
I has specific instructions from my husband this morning that if I am staying home sick from work, then I have to do just that -STAY HOME - and stay out of the barn and don't go anywhere.
Here are pics from this morning; It'd sure be easier to get into the Christmas spirit if the yard was snow covered....and it'd be easier to keep me at home too.....well, maybe not!
Backyard Sunrise - yes, that is still a Fall Cornstalk Decoration on the left side of the hay barn!
Front Yard - Yes, those are still leaves all over the yard. It's more work that it is worth for me to get out there and rake them all up. And besides, the front yard is HUGE - it'd take a week! They'll be gone in the spring on their own anyways :)
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I have been telling everyone they are all getting homemade canned goods from me for Christmas this year. Truly, if this was the case, I'd probably only be broke, instead of super broke! So next year I will have to plan more accordingly!
The more I work on the canned goods though, for those few who are receiving them, the more I think they really are great gifts! At first I thought maybe it was cheesy. But - the contents inside the jars are delish so who wouldn't enjoy them?
I even made homemade tags for each of the goods and if you ask me, I think they came out super cute!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I add to my bran mash shredded carrots, applesauce and a touch of molasses :)
Here's me getting it ready - my husband thought it would be funny to get a pic of me, dressed to the nines and unmatched, in my barn gear :) Little does he know, I could care less, so I'll post the picture proudly! And yes, those are a purpley-magenta pair of sweatpants with St. Patty's Day socks!!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
A Round Pen for the Horses
A Weed Wacker
New Roof on the House, Mini Barn and Garage