Sunday, December 27, 2009

Icy Ride

Our weather has been down right bizarre lately -- snow, rain, ice, sleet, warming, then temperatures dropping again....


It was really icy here, especially on the flat surfaces that had been plowed. There was a melting, then a re-freezing, making those flat surfaces as smooth and slick as an ice skating rink.


We got a cover of snow on Saturday, and it was not real cold. John and I wanted to take a ride, but the icy conditions concerned us a bit. A walk thru the woods proved that the trails were not slick -- just the roadways. So we decided to walk the girls to the abandoned railroad line, and only ride once we were in the woods. This worked out great -- we walked on the lane, keeping the girls off to the side where it was easier for them to get their footing.


The snow was falling and it was just beautiful. I could have kicked myself because I did not have my camera with me!!! The snow was in those great big flakes that we get whenever it is lake effect snow. (Around here, Lake Michigan creates strange weather patterns -- we are directly south of the lake, and that causes what they call "Lake Effect" snow. It can be blizzard conditions here, but if you go 5 miles either east or west of us there could be just light snow or none at all.) Our mares just love the snow. They really wanted to cut loose and run, but we did not dare -- if they hit a small ice patch that could be disastrous.


We have to go on the street between sections of the railroad line, and at those times we walked them. We got to the last section of railroad line, and sure enough, someone had blocked it off by cutting down some large trees. This is really infuriating -- I have written before about the people who keep trying to block the railroad line. We thought this problem was solved, but evidently not. So we could not ride the last section of railroad line. It was when we turned back from there that we had our little incident for the day (something always happens on our trail rides it seems!!).


John and Zora being faster, were already turning off from the street onto the trail. Divna and I were still on the street when I heard it -- a snowplow was coming our way. I just knew this was not going to be good. Sure enough, it turned and came up the street we were on. Thank heavens I was not in the saddle. She saw that large machine, and heard that blade scraping on the street, and saw the snow flying and she just lost her little mind. She wanted to bolt in the worst way, and was dancing around and jumping......thankfully the snow plow driver had enough sense to see and appreciate what was going on. He slowed down and lifted the blade until I got Divna under control and walked her up to the entrance to the trail. My heart was pounding!


Back on the trail everything was good -- both girls were calm, and we started the ride home. By the time we got close to home, the sun was setting and the temperature had dropped a bit. The streets were really slick then, and my riding boots are smooth on the soles. I was the one having trouble staying standing!! We also came across the snowplow again, this time both horses had a meltdown. By the time we got home we were exhausted....it was a lot of walking, and a lot of work "saving" the girls from the "killer snowplow."


But it was just so beautiful with the snow falling....on the way home in the fading light it looked like a black and white photograph. I wish I had had my camera with me!!!

The Chickens' New Roommate

Because I have a 9-5 job, and John has the more flexible schedule (he runs our real estate business) he does the morning feedings. He called me at work one morning last week to say the chicken coop had a new resident -- a possum (or is it "an opposum"???) !!


He somehow got past the electric tape around the fence surrounding the coop, and took up residence in one of the nesting boxes. Here he is....


At first this sort of freaked me out -- I was afraid he would kill the chickens. When I got home from work I went out to see for myself, and sure enough, there he was just sitting in a nesting box. The chickens were all sitting on their roosting ladder-type thing just a couple of feet away from him. No one seemed concerned. Still, John and I were trying to brainstorm ways to get him out. We did not want to risk picking him up...........


When it seemed apparent he was not going to eat a chicken, we just left them all alone. He was with us for about three days. We went out one morning, and he was gone. It will be interesting to see if he comes back.....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bareback Riding and Creative Outlet for John

It has been cold, cold, COLD here, so there hasn't been much riding. The other day we went out believing we were going to ride, but instead John just lunged (I never know how to spell that) Zora, and I rode Divna bareback in the pasture.

I only mention that part because this is a "horse blog" and I feel strange if I don't mention something about horses or riding. But actually, I want to introduce everyone to an endeavor John has embarked on.

We started out thinking we would both write on this blog, but it hasn't turned out that way. I have been the one who has been doing the blogging here, and I have really enjoyed it.

When I first met John, he was a writer and desktop publisher. It is a long story, but he realized he did not like working in an office, so he went to the Carpenter's Apprenticeship program and began working construction and then eventually rehabbing houses. Over the years he has sent out entertaining e-mails and invitations to friends which showcased his writing skills. He has a knack for comedic/sarcastic writing that our friends have found really entertaining. People tell him all the time that he should continue writing. With the slow real estate market, he has decided he needs a creative outlet.

Therefore, he is launching his own blog -- myotisrules.blogspot.com -- and as it happens, his first post is about horses. The next one that will come in a few days is a Christmas Letter (fictional -- not the story of our lives for the past year). So check him out if you like. I realize everyone has a lot of blogs to read and follow.....but you may like it, or want to recommend it to someone.

To explain the name of his blog -- we live in a very small town (175 people) named Otis. One of John's very best friends is an entertainer (singer-guitarist-DJ). Whenever we go to a bar where he is working, he always introduces us as "the Mayor and First Lady of Otis." Most of the time no one knows where Otis is, but sometimes people do...One night, after our introduction, a guy stood up and yelled "Otis Rules!!" We use that expression a lot, and it sort of has a double meaning...

I hope you enjoy his writing. There is a link on the left of my page here under "Blogs I Follow."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Ad

We are fortunate enough to have a friend who is a graphic designer, and also a true, generous friend. He designed some new ads for our real estate business. We do all kinds of residential and vacant land real estate -- working with both buyers and sellers, but since we own horses we understand what buyers and sellers of equine properties need, so we are carving out a niche in that specialty.

The ad we used to use featured Divna and me. Now that John has taken over the real estate business, and I had to get a "real job" we needed the ad updated to feature him and Zora.

He made three versions of this ad. I like this one because the horse is looking at the camera. The picture of John and Zora is smaller on this version than on the other two. This way we have different "looks" for the different types of advertising we will do. I am excited about these new ads...

I hope they bring in lots of new business!!! Wish us luck! (If you click on the ad, it will resize so you can read it if you like.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friendship


Last week, before we had our first dusting of snow, and before our temperatures plummeted and the wind brought us below zero chill factors, we had a nice, sunny, late fall day. I was working in the house, and happened to look out the window and saw something that kept my attention for at least 10 minutes.


Divna (my mare) was laying in the sun. Marco (our black goat) was pawing at her tail, which was on the ground stretched out behind her. I kept expecting Divna to turn around and toss her head at him to make him stop, but she just lay there, doing nothing. Then he walked up near her head and started nuzzling her! It was the cutest thing! He was just rubbing his head on her neck and the side of her face.....Then I noticed she was responding to him, nuzzling back at him. It was just such a sweet exchange of affection I was mesmerized.
Of course I went to get the camera. I took this photo, which is really not very good (it doesn't help that they are both black...). I wanted to get closer to get a better shot, but was afraid if I opened the door they would move, Divna would get up, and it would ruin the moment. So I tried to video it through the dining room window, zooming in. The quality here is not the greatest, but I believe you can see some of the nuzzling that was going on. I am so glad I saw this.....

video

Monday, November 30, 2009

The 4 Rides Since Vacation

We have had four great rides since coming back from our vacation. All of the leaves are down now, and things look so different. We were lucky to have some cool, dry weather. It rained the entire time we were in Mexico, so it is a mud pit around our barn and the water trough, but the trails were nice.


First Ride -- Dunes at Dusk -- We went out to the Dunes for our first ride back and met our friend Dee Dee. Karen wasn't with her this time (we missed you, Karen) so it was just the three of us (6 of us counting the horses). We had a nice ride out there, but it was too short because we were late getting there. We were late getting there because we had a flat tire on our horse trailer. This is the 2nd time that tire has gone flat, and both times it was a leak around the air stem. But John got it changed pretty quickly with help from our neighbor, Roy, who happened to come by. After the ride we stood around Dee Dee's trailer, and her horse kept sticking his head out the window....he was so cute. I think he was trying to get in on the conversation. Here he is.....











Second Ride -- Our Otis Trails -- The next day we went on the trails around where we live. Divna started having water and mud issues again, which really surprised me since I thought the water issues had been resolved. She will go thru a flooded area up to her chest, but when it comes to a small (and I do mean small) stream she freezes up with fear. She did just that on this particular ride, and also tensed up at a muddy spot.... Zora handled it all perfectly, so naturally John took this opportunity to talk about how "superior" his horse is to mine.....


Third Ride -- Knee vs. Tree - Tree Wins -- Thanksgiving was really hectic and rushed for us. For some reason this year it just seemed like a blur. We had the dinner at our house, and it was over way too soon -- leaving us with a real disaster in the kitchen. So on Friday we decided to take a ride on our trails again. There is a pretty good sized hill on the trail, and usually we take the hill going down. This time we decided to take that part of the trail on the way home, so we took the hill going up. At the bottom of the hill is a pretty serious muddy spot. It takes up the whole trail, and the trees are close around the perimeter. I could feel Divna hesitating, and looking into the woods for an alternate path around that mud. I kept urging her on -- I didn't want her to be making the decision at that point. Finally she starts moving forward, but then I detected something....I have had this horse for 9 years, and I just know what she is thinking sometimes. I knew she was going to head for the edge of the mud pit. I was trying like crazy to keep her in the center, but she was determined not to get too much mud on her dainty hooves, and kept bearing to the right. My right ankle is the one injured at the moment, and all I could think of was protecting it from the trees at the edge of the mud -- I knew Divna was headed there. So I lifted my leg up and behind me, and sure enough, she got too close to a tree and my knee hit it pretty hard. But at least I protected my ankle!!! Here is the damage.....













Fourth Ride -- The Horseshoe Is On the Other Hoof -- On Saturday we were going to take care of things around the house that need to be done, run some errands, and stuff like that. But after breakfast we decided "to heck with it" and hitched up the trailer and headed for the Dunes. It was about 50 degrees outside and sunny. We saw a fellow member from the Midwestern Saddle Club, which was pretty cool. I also got my revenge on this ride.....the Dunes has wooden bridges here and there on the trail that go over streams and marshy areas. It was on one of these bridges where John learned "what goes around, comes around." There was a large muddy spot at the end of one of the bridges. Divna and I were in front, she crossed the bridge and went thru the muddy spot with no hesitation. However, she did do it with a lot of flair -- mud was flying. Zora saw this and decided she wanted no part of crossing through that mud. It took John quite a few minutes to coax her through that mud. I was up ahead on the trail laughing and talking about how "superior" my horse is to his!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Too Many Rides to Write About


We have been back from our mini-vacation to Cancun for one week and two days now, and have had 3 rides. But also during this time we have had a dinner party with overnight friends, hosted Thanksgiving, and I have been buried at work from being gone for a week. Not to mention the ton of laundry to do, large pile of mail to go thru, and who knows how many pounds of horse and chicken manuer (spelling???) to clean up. Our neighbors took very good care of our animals while we were gone, but we do not ask them to clean the pasture and coop....that is a bit beyond "good neighbor" tasks. As a result, I have not had time to blog -- to read or to post. I really miss reading everyone's blogs. I feel like I am out of touch.....

So we are off to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore today for a long ride, and our "last fling" of what has basically been two weeks of vacation. Tomorrow is going to be reserved for getting ready for the first full work-week in 2 weeks and catching up on things (like my blog). (Above photo is the moon rising over the Indiana Dunes -- I took that on our 2nd ride after the vacation -- we were at the park riding with our friend DeeDee)

I will be reading everyone's posts and putting up some of my own soon..................

Happy trails to all out there. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday. We all have so much to be thankful for. See you soon..........

Sunday, November 22, 2009

We Are Back!



I have been out of the blog world for a while because we have been on vacation. We got home on Thursday, and since then have managed to get in two trail rides. I will post on those soon!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Short but Sweet

Busy weekend -- too many social events planned, so we only had time for a short ride on Sunday. But what a perfect day for it! It was so beautiful outside -- warm and clear.

We had to fix a broken spot on the fence while we had daylight. We think a deer must have gone thru it -- that happens sometimes. Once that was done, we only had about an hour for riding, due to the really early nightfall since we moved the clocks back, so we decied to stick to the trails through the woods around our house. We hadn't ridden them in a while, so it was nice to be out there again.

Zora (John's horse) was way too charged up, so we put Divna in the lead. When we got to the spot where the little stream sometimes trickles (and I do mean "trickles") across the trail, I was surprised that Divna was afraid to cross! I thought we had gotten past her water fears....here is a horse who goes in water up to her chest when the Dunes are flooded in the spring. Now she is having a problem with a little, teeny, tiny stream of water! Well, she had to learn that I was not going to ask her to do anything that would hurt her....I just kept urging her to move forward. She finally got brave and went across, and I just kept petting her neck and telling her what a good girl she was....

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, except for having to backtrack around a fallen tree (another project for John and his chainsaw). We got to a harvested cornfield, and let The Girls stretch their legs and run a bit. When we got to the other side we could hear voices -- we had ended up on the backside of this really cool spot someone made. It is a place called "Dave's Pond." There is a little pond (hence the name) and they have a fire pit set up, a bunch of benches, a small trailer, and another small box-car looking thing that I suspect is a kitchen of some type. This place is just set up too cute -- there is a group of friends/family who use it for parties at warm weather holidays and birthdays, etc. We are always ingrigued by this place and the ingenuity that went into it. Well, they were all gathered there for some reason on Sunday. They heard the horses, and the next thing we knew, our Girls were getting loads of attention. It was pretty neat.

We got home just at dark, and The Girls got well deserved treats of carrots, and then of course their grain and dinner. Another really nice ride!
Divna Zora

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Eventful Ride

This time of year we wear orange -- too many hunters out there!

We actually rode twice last weekend -- a short ride (about an hour) on Saturday, and then a longer one on Sunday. I really should have waited another week or so to let this ankle heal up a bit more, but it was just too nice outside, and it has been too long.

The Saturday ride was pretty uneventful, outside of the pain. On Sunday it was much more interesting. We had seven riders in the group. We haven't ridden with that many people in a long time. The ride started at our place. Our friends Tom and Dolly came with their Quarter Horses, Dee with her Rocky Mountain horse and her friend Juliette with her Tennessee Walking Horse. We were to meet Karen on her Tennessee Walker at the park. I got photos of everyone except Karen....
(From top left --Dee with Shawney, Juliette with Beauty, Tom with Hawk, and Dolly with Duke)

The Quarter Horse riders decided to ride the trails thru the woods around our place -- not necessary to go on any roads or cross any railroad tracks. They were into a more leisurely ride. The gaited horse crew took the abandoned railroad line, across the toll road, then back on the line all the way to the park so we could meet Karen. We did not have to do much street riding thanks to John -- he cleared a trail around the big washout area on the first leg of the railroad line. I will have to get a photo of that.....

We were quite the sight with three black Tennessee Walking Horse mares!!

We should have known it was going to be an eventful ride. I rode with my injured ankle out of the stirrup most of the time. Thank goodness for the saddle horn...We were only on the trail for a little while when we thought we saw two deer on the trail up ahead. John and Zora were in the lead, and he yells out, "Those aren't deer! They are coyotes!!" Sure enough, the two coyotes ran down the ravine and disappeared into the woods...thankfully none of the horses spooked.


Dee and Juliette cross the Indiana Toll Road!


We made it down to the park in really good time, and as soon as we got to the park grounds we ran into Karen. She had just become a grandma for the first time, and was just really glowing. Karen and Dolly decided to head back up to our place. The three black mares wanted to stretch their legs, so we turned them loose a bit on the deserted wide grassy area near a bean field. It was pretty neat.....Then when we were slowing down and coming around the corner of the field, the horses spotted a "horse killer." It was one of those strange bicycles where the rider sits low to the ground with their legs straight out in front of them. To make matters worse, the bike had a long pole attached to the back of it with an orange flag -- most likely a safety feature. Well, Juliette's mare saw that and made a really fast move to the right. Juliette had too much momentum going, and ended up falling -- actually more like sliding out of the saddle. She hung onto the reins, and everything was OK. No one hurt, no big deal.

Then as she was getting back on, down the path comes a group of "horse killers." It was a miniature horse pulling a cart being driven by a woman, a teenager on a bicycle with a dog on a leash, a young girl walking with a dog on a leash. Well, this group was more than our mares were ready to deal with. Zora starts acting up -- she can't handle all these strange looking critters. Everyone was very gracious and knew what to do. We all worked together to handle the situation. We turned the horses around, and the group passed us. All was calm until we overtook them.....when we got close to the group again, the miniature horse (who had blinders on) could sense something was going on behind him/her, and started getting really agitated. So again, our two groups had to work together to get thru the situation. We stopped our horses, the woman driving the cart turned it around so the little horse could see us and calm down. The guy on the bike with the dog on the leash rode way up ahead and out of the way. It all worked out once more.

When we got back to our house, the Quarter Horse friends met back up with us. Dolly lost her cell phone somewhere along the trail.

What a day! What a ride! Uusally we come back to our place nad John throws something on the grill for a meal, but this time Dolly brought meatloaf and bread, Dee brought shrimp cocktail, and we all had beer. It was so nice of them -- Dolly even brought the cutest fall-themed paper plates and napkins. So we gathered in our dining room and had a great meal and talked about our adventures. It is fantastic to ride with friends!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Peak Colors

(My attempt at creative photography-I put the camera on the tree trunk and shot the photo straight up...)

Here in Northwest Indiana, we had our peak colors of fall in the last two weeks. That is all over now, because it has been raining and the rain knocks all the leaves off the trees. I believe most people in the country don't think of Indiana as a beautiful state, if they think if Indiana at all...but actually it is really pretty here; and at different times of the year there are specific times where it is particularly striking. In the fall, people come from around the midwest to our state parks to see the colors at their peak.


That is one of the best times for horseback riding --in the fall at the peak of the colors. That is what I missed this season...but I do have some photos of scenes around where I live. Of course the pictures do not do it justice. We had a lot of golds and yellows this year. On my drive to work there are two spots I go through that I swear just glowed with the color.



So here we are, another fall season about gone......you know what comes next!! Snow!!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kiva -- Loans that Change Lives

When John and I started our real estate company, Dunewood Homes, we decided to do something when each deal closed. We feel very fortunate in our lives, and though things have not always run smoothly, we have a lot to be thankful for. So we decided that at each closing, we would give a monetary donation to a charity. At first we would send something to the local Humane Society and the battered women's shelter. In looking for other organizations to give to, we found the Unity Foundation. It is an organization in LaPorte County that sets up endowments and gives regular donations to a number of local charities. Then the war broke out in Serbia. John has relatives there. And while we could not send anything to Serbia while the war was on (our government put a ban on the postal service delivering there), after the war was over we were able to help his cousin. The country's economy was in shambles, and she is a single mother who really needed some help.

Recently, I saw an interview with Bill Clinton the PBS news program "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer." He was talking about microfinance and how it helps people in poor countries. One of the organizations is called "Kiva" and they make small loans to people who are struggling to get their small businesses to succeed. These people do not qualify for traditional loans thru banks because they are too small, have no start up capital, or things like that. Many times, these loans help people get started on a venture that lifts them out of poverty. I was really intrigued, and went to the website kiva.org to find out more about it. I have a link to Kiva on the upper left corner of my blog here. I also put one of their banners at the bottom of the page. I think I am going to change to a different banner -- this one looks sort of lost there. For $25 you can help someone....

We had two closings recently (unbelievable -- the market may be beginning to pick up) so I selected four people to loan money to. It was hard to choose....I wanted to send something to an entrepreneur in Eastern Europe, but they were all funded. I also wanted to send something to someone in Vietnam because I believe we have a lot to live down in that country, but they were all funded too. But I did find 4 -- two in Asia (one in southeast), one in Dominican Republic, and one in Africa (because John wants to go there and I refuse).

I thought I might let all of you know so you can check it out for yourselves.

Monday, October 19, 2009

One Week Down. How Many Left to Go?

I have been out of commission with this sprained ankle for one week now. It is just making me crazy, because this is a really great time for riding in Northwest Indiana. Our trees are almost at peak color, and the temperatures are mild.

Sunday was particularly difficult -- it was really nice outside, and it was exactly the kind of day when we would have gone for a ride. I was in the kitchen cooking and I heard a friend's voice calling out a "hello" to me. Sure enough, it was Dolly, Tom and Terri stopping by for a visit. They had been out riding -- I was so envious!!! Here they are, on their horses getting ready to leave. Look at these pictures of them on their horses and enjoying a wonderful fall day....



Now look at this picture of me with this contraption on my foot, unable to ride.....Who do you think is having the better time????
You have to look up on the deck of the house to see me.....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Count Your Blessings

This happened about a week and a half ago. I cannot seem to get it out of my mind, so I thought I should post it.

I was driving to work, and stopped at a red light. The car in the lane next to me was a big, beautiful Mercedez Benz. I sat there looking at that car and thinking about the person driving it. I was thinking things like “Wow…it must be nice to be able to afford a car like that. This person must really have it made – no money worries or anything.” As I was thinking this, a small face appeared in the window of the backseat – it was the face of a child with Down’s Syndrome.

This hit me like a ton of bricks. I was reminded of something I already knew, which is – you never know what challenges people are facing in their lives. No matter how wonderful everything looks on the outside, we all have difficulties to deal with. I believe God put me at that red light to remind me of this. Perhaps lately I have not been as patient and compassionate as I should be, and I needed a wake-up call. I can tell you this – I got the message.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Horseback Riding Friends to the Rescue





I did it again...for the THIRD time I have screwed up an ankle! First time was when we were building our house -- I twisted my right ankle and broke a bone in my foot on an uneven stair step. Last summer I twisted the other ankle simply by stepping off a small retaining wall onto the driveway. Now Sunday I twisted my right ankle while stepping out of the barn with an armload of hay. All I did was take a step down onto the ground like normal, like I do at least twice a day every day....I heard a loud cracking sound, and then there was blinding pain, and I was on the ground. I knew immediatelyI was in trouble. And I was really TICKED OFF because we were going to go riding Sunday afternoon........

By the time I got in the house it looked like I had a baseball attached to the side of my ankle. Thankfully we had some Vocodin left over from when John had to have a root canal....

So I am sitting there, bummed out because I can't ride and because I know what I am in for over the next few weeks. The phone rings, and it is our horseback-riding-cell-phone-talking friend Dee. She and Dolly and Karen and Terri are out riding the woods near our house. Of course we told them to stop by. Thank goodness! Made me feel much better to see horses in my yard and be able to have a beer and some laughs with friends.

Here is Karen and Dee arriving on the scene.



The chickens came to visit Dee's horse.

Dolly's horse making friends with Zora and Misho.

Karen's horse -- He is a handsome guy, isn't he?
I should have gotten some photos of us around the table, but didn't think to do that (duh). I took a lot of other pictures, but they are too dark -- you know my photographer skills are not the best.
So I have been to the podiatrist, had x-rays.....it is not broken, just a severe sprain. I won't be riding for a while (BUMMER!!!!). But at least he gave me a boot-type thing so I don't have to use the crutches anymore.
I hope it heals fast................

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Clean Barn is a Happy Barn


I took a couple of vacation days last week -- Friday and Monday -- so that I would have a long weekend. We were supposed to go to the Northwoods to help my brother, who just had back surgery, get his wood chopped and stacked for the winter. His wood delivery guy broke his foot, so there was no delivery. Here I was with four days off work!! First time I have had time off without being sick in a long time!! We decided to put it to good use.




We ordered our hay for the winter (150 bales to join the 100 or so we already have on hand) and figured this was as good a time as any for the annual barn cleaning. Here is John, blowing the dust off the rafters. As you can see, there is a mini-dust storm going on in our barn. It is going to be interesting to see if the barn stays a bit cleaner since we changed the stall floors from dirt/straw to crushed limestone/mats/pellets. It was a big job, but when we got finished that barn just sparkled!! Well worth the effort! I think the animals appreciated it, though it was difficult to tell. The goats just kept staring at me......


We got the hay delivery early one morning following a night out with friends....needless to say, it was a painful day of hoisting up and stacking bales. Our pasture area is a mud pit from all the recent rain, and the heavy tractor and trailer were sliding around a bit when our hay guy delivered. As a result, our outside hay feeder was a casualty -- the trailer slid into it when he was backing up, and just snapped those 4x4 poles like they were toothpicks. No big loss -- we have known for a long time that the feeder was in the wrong spot and needed to be moved. Misho could not resist climbing all the way to the top of the stack.





We took a couple of breaks during the job, and we got thru it. Feels good to be set for the winter. The animals had an "all you can eat buffet" while we were working on the stack. Even the chickens got into it. At one point every animal we have was somewhere on or around the hay trailer. Most impressive was Sonja, the princess kitty who is usually laying on a pillow someplace, exerted enough energy to climb on the haystack.
So that is two big winter jobs out of the way.
Two down, and who knows how many more to go!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Horse Club Campout


Our saddle club had its annual camp out last weekend. Everyone in the club comes to the grounds and brings their horses and some food. We have a campfire, and people can ride in the large show arena and in the smaller practice arena. It really is a good time. We spend most of the summer doing all the work so other people can show and compete with their horses, so this is our time to use the arenas. We had a great campfire, lots of good food, and plenty of laughs. John brought his famous Serbian rakija for everyone to sample (keeps the chill off on an autumn night). I took some photos, but they are just dreadful....I will have mercy on all of you and not both to post them here. (The photo above is our saddles hanging on the fence at The Dunes after our Sunday ride.)

We rode The Girls in the arena, and it was pretty neat. It is fun to ride the arena, because you know it is a groomed, safe surface with no holes, rocks, etc. I also like to ride Divna around the barrels and pretend I am in competition.

On Sunday we went out and rode in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore again. I just love those trails -- they always look different so it is not like riding the same trail over and over. The vegetation in the Dunes changes so much with the seasons, and the recent tornado in that area "adjusted" some of the trees, and as a result, some of the trails. No falls this time, which was fantastic -- everyone stayed upright! It was a nice, normal ride with a mix of walking and loping. There were a lot of riders out on Sunday because it was such a beautiful day. We are going to have to use these trails while we can -- the park service closes them to equestrians in the winter so the cross-country skiers can have their fun. No problem, because we are fortunate enough to have trails nearby......

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last Horse Show of 2009.....

Yesterday we had our last show of the 2009 season for the Midwestern Saddle Club. It was a perfect day, and John and I had been looking forward to helping out at the show and seeing everyone for the last time this season. On Thursday, I came down with a wicked case of bronchitis, and have been pretty sick.
So there has been no riding, and no working at the horse show for me. But we did go to the show for a couple of hours.....I probably shouldn't have, but we really wanted to be a part of it. So here are some photos from the day...





One of our young contestants getting ready to barrel race.







Another racing contestant.....








And another......

The club holds raffles at each event to help riase funds. We always buy some tickets, and we bought these neat hooded sweatshirts...Here I am checking our tickets. We didn't win. Even though I was sick, and we were only there for a short time, it was enjoyable. I think it did me some good to get out a little bit, and it is always good to be around horses!!!











Sunday, September 13, 2009

John Hates My Hat

Yes, my husband hates my hat. He says it is a disgrace. He feels it should be clean, perfectly formed, and represent me as a "together" person. Well, here is a photo of my hat.


As you can see, it is dirty, crumpled, and generally in shabby condition. And I love it......to me, my hat says "the person who wears this hat has really ridden a horse." It says that I have tackled about everything the trail can throw at me, and made it through (sometimes barely). It says, "The woman under this hat is a horseperson!"




On a different note.....this time of year apples are plentiful. We have a lot of them -- a really good friend of ours has quite a few apple trees in his yard, and he gives us lots of apples. Our animals love this time of year, because we put apples into every feeding. Recently, John and I noticed that Zora "saves" her apple pieces to eat last. Divna will just eat -- if an apple piece comes into her path, she eats it. Zora will actually move the grain aside, eat the grain, and save the apple pieces. She then eats them last. I have watched her do this several times, and today I got a photo of it.


She moved her head aside just long enough for me to get this picture.











And by the way, we had a really nice ride today....a good weekend overall......

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Trail Rides



We have had the best rides over this Labor Day Weekend. On Saturday our friends DeeDee and Karen came to our place, and we rode our trails. I did not get any pictures, so I have none to post and I really regret that. We rode our abandoned railroad line, and got a pleasant surprise. Out of curiosity, we rode to the section where the people had purchased the adjacent property. I have written about this in the past, because these people claimed they now own the abandoned rail line on that section, and were closing it off. They did not want anyone riding horses, bicycles, or 4-wheelers there anymore. They were putting huge concrete blocks across the path. We were devastated, and have not been back there since. Well, on Saturday we rode down to that section out of curiosity to see what they had done. To our amazement, the trail was wide open -- completely clear!! Something happened down there......they have done the exact opposite of what they said they were going to do. Rather than close it off, it is opened up more that it was before! So now we can ride all the way to the county park like we used to. We are so happy about that! After the railroad line we came back up to our house and rode in the nearby on the new trails. It was a perfect temperature outside, and the trails were great. When we got back to our house we put their horses in our stalls and left our horses out in the pasture. We fed all of them, then cooked our dinner on the grill and just had a great time. I made Turkish coffee for everyone, and we just talked and laughed for a couple of hours. It was a great day....



Sunday was going to church and visiting friends afterwards, so no riding....



Monday, with the day off and it being a georgous day, we went riding again. The girls had a big day on Monday. I gave them their second round of vaccines for the year, and then John took Zora to the neighbors outdoor arena to work in the round pen for a while. Long story, which I will share another time, but the neighbors have this nice outdoor arena and we bought the round pen panels. The round pen is really good for Zora -- it does help calm her down and learn to maintain a speed. So after her "lesson" we took a nice long trailride at a walk for a change (they were tired from the other day!!). When we got back we gave them a much needed bath -- or is "shower" a better description?? Divna gets a little riled up when the water goes over her head and face. Zora handles it all pretty well. They are now very clean and soft. All in all a good ending to the summer of 2009!!

(Zora on the right -- Divna on the left)


Starting to Look Like Fall


I was washing the dishes one day last week. I looked out the window above the sink, and this is what I saw. Fall is going to be here soon!!


Friday, September 4, 2009

New Reins

I got some new reins the other day....some real cheapo's from the Big R store that just opened in Michigan City. The reins I have been using for the past 9 years that we have owned horses were actually English reins. I just cannot use the Western-style split reins. They never feel right to me -- they are too long, and they are always too slack.....I just cannot control them. I also have a fear of dropping one while riding and having a real situation on my hands (or out of my hands, as the case would be!).

So here is a photo of the new reins on their "maiden voyage." They are actually roping reins, they are cheap (like I said before -- $20!!), and they do not match the rest of my tack, and I really like them!!!
It's a holdiay weekend, and we plan to do a lot of riding. We got the trails near out house shaped up, and some friends are going to come out with their horses and join us tomorrow. Should be a lot of fun. The weather is going to be perfect, and we have food to throw on the grill after the ride!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Almost a Tragedy!!!



On Sunday we went to the Dunes to ride with friends. Everything started out great -- we actually rode with them this time! We have met these friends out there before, but we never see each other on the trail...this is usually because John and I are late, and/or our horses are taking the trails at a faster pace. But these friends have Rocky Mountain horses which are also gaited, so we don't have the problem we usually have when riding with Quarter Horse friends. Another thing that made this ride so neat was that we had a trail dog with us! She was great! It has been a lot of years since we have had a trail dog along on ride....almost forgot how enjoyable it is.


A tornado came thru this area of the county a couple of weeks ago. We saw lots of uprooted and broken trees on the trail. The park employees must have spent a lot of hours clearing the trails. I took some photos -- I hope they are clear enough. I am not the best photographer.






On the trail our friends were in the lead, and John and I followed. At one point, we went on ahead to do a bit of loping/cantering. The trails in the Dunes have bridges over the little creeks and other perpetually wet areas. These bridges can be tricky -- they are in the shade most of the time, and develop a sort of mossy glaze on them. When we are moving thru the trails, we always slow down to a walk for the bridges. We were ahead of our friends at this point. Well, we came to the long bridge, and Divna took a few steps and almost lost her footing. About that time I saw Zora struggling to keep her footing -- she lost the battle and fell....
My heart was in my throat. I screamed to John "Are you alright??" and he said yes, he was...Then I said "What about Zora??" He answered, "I don't know....."
We were almost panicky. Zora has fallen many times -- she falls in the pasture when she and Divna are running and playing, she has fallen on the trail before, she slipped on the ice one time in the winter and fell . She always jumps right back up. This time she did not. She lay there on that bridge with two legs under her and two of her hooves off the side of the bridge. She didn't thrash around (Thank God!!), she didn't do anything. She just sat there looking at John. It was strange how small and vulnerable she looked. In my mind I imagined at least one broken leg and who knew what other kinds of injuries. I will never forget the look on John's face. We were both so scared.
I could not help him with her -- Divna kept getting in the way. I think she knew something was wrong. She is so attached to Zora. Our friends caught up to us a short time after the fall. I went back to see if one of them could help him get Zora up. Karen jumped off her horse and started to tie him off so she could help, and we heard John call out "She's up! I think she is OK." I cannot describe the relief I felt!!
By the time we all got to them, Zora was up and walking. Nothing was broken!! She was putting all four hooves on the ground, which we were so happy to see....
We got her home, I gave her some Bute and rubbed her down with linament. She seems fine, but we are going to continue to watch her. What a horrible experience!