A Shallary Farm Update

There. I did it. I started riding again this week. I think I deserve a gold star. Seriously! Did you ride this week too? Gold star for you too, then. ⭐️

Sometimes, it is all I can do to muster up the energy to work two jobs and feed myself. Then I have to try to find the motivation to exercise five horses in 20° weather, on an overcast, breezy day, on a sheet of ice buried in a foot of snow. I mean, seriously. What’s not to love about that?! How could it possibly be hard to find the motivation?! But I did it, and that’s why I get a star. So there.

Of course, with some time off, the minis (Coco and Delilah) have gotten fat(ter), and the skinnies (Charlie Horse, Lottie, and Turbo)… have not. But they are maintaining their weight, which any Thoroughbred owner will tell you, is a win all on its own.

Now ask me how my legs are feeling today. Go ahead. I dare ya !

Jello. My legs are jello. And here’s why.

Coco is so thick, she literally looks like she’s pregnant with twins, which gives the ol’ inner thighs quite the stretch. We have just been doing some walk-trot-canter work and continuing to work her over her back and thinking of putting her front end downhill. Yeah. Downhill, dudes. You want to know what happens if you ask Coco to lighten her front end? It comes off the ground, and we are rearing. Rear-trotting. Rear-cantering. Doesn’t matter. She can do all three gaits without her front legs ever touching the ground. So, whatever you do, do NOT ask Coco to come up in front. It hurts the brain to think about that, doesn’t it? It basically goes against everything I was ever taught.

Christian has me ride Coco like she’s a water wheel. The energy is constantly recycled, and the back of the wheel comes up, the front of the wheel has to go down, and all of the energy is contained by leg and hand. It’s interesting; I had read about the energy being recycled and contained by the aids etc. in articles before, and had it explained in a number of different ways, but you don’t really get a solid appreciation for that feeling until you sit on something as well balanced and freakishly uphill as Coco. Now I get it. The front of the wheel must go down. Or we all die.

Also, Coco has been jumping the jumps in the field in her spare time. Two separate days now, I have witnessed her running around with the herd and jumping the jumps. The others usually run at the jumps but veer around them at the last second. Coco always jumps them. Because why not? She’s Coco.

Then there’s Turbo. I’ve been letting him be a bit lazy during rides because he’s not had any sort of real work in… ever. Probably never in his life, if the truth were told. So, we would do some work then let him recover and eat cookies. However, now he thinks it’s really fun to just walk whenever he wants and flail his head side to side in search of cookies. He requires much convincing with the leg to keep the forward happening. Turbo is perpetually exhausted. (We have that in common.) He says it’s really hard to stand around and eat all day. It really wears him out. Sadly for him, I recently decided it’s time for him to start being a real horse and started carrying a stick. The stick seems to help. I think Turbo is still rather perplexed at his new life.

Oh, also! He spent the night in a stall, which was super adorable. Pretty sure he had never done that before. I was leading him into the stall, and he stepped on the stall mat, which made a weird sound. Gasp! Turbo freezes. He looks around like- what should I do?! He slowwwwly backs his foot off the mat. I show him his alfalfa inside the stall, which he can’t resist. He takes this HUGE, tippy-toe, slow motion step over the width of the mat, and buries his head in his food. Phew! We about had an actual crisis on our hands. Those wild Thoroughbreds…

The most innocent face 😍

Then there’s the rest of the loons. They require a decent amount of leg-seatbelt to not get launched to the next county, which of course, makes my legs even more jello-ey.

Dilly Bean has just been exuberant lately, and I have to remind her that the human is indeed allowed to half halt, and her neck does not need to be 3″ long after said half halt. I should buy a neck extension for the red one. And only ride her in molasses. Solid training plan. A+.

Charlie Horse is jumping allllll the things, AND his stupid human has finally realized it’s okay to help him. I owe Delilah and Coco big time. If you don’t tell them what speed to get to the jump, we jump everything like it’s a steeplechase fence. I think my brain is finally putting it all together and has realized that I can help manage all of the horses- even the babies. (I realize they’re not actually babies anymore, but they have baby-sized eventing records and baby brains, so they get to be “the babies” until I say so.)

Yesterday, I made the mistake of setting fences after I caught Charlie, so he had to go around with me (because we still can’t tie the beast without him trying to kill himself). Every time one of the jumps moved or made a sound, he was getting more and more worried. Really, Charles? He gets this worried look in his eye, and his brain goes 9.0 trying to escape the trap I’ve set, which of course is not a trap at all.

So I led him over all the jumps at a walk. (18″! Biggest jumps he has jumped in over a year! Progress is being made.) He stepped over all of them, but still looked a bit worried. So I tacked him up and fed him lots of cookies. Back in the field, he was still looking at the jumps out of the corner of his eye like they were not to be trusted. I told him, “Fine. You don’t have to jump them today. You can do them tomorrow.” And with that agenda off my plate, he returned to normal horse. He was like, “OHHHH. So we get to do dressage today?!😃”

Sure, Charlie. Whatever. I don’t really care. It’s January. We literally have nowhere to be. His attitude was content again, so I thought he should at least do the three walk poles and step over the pile of poles. He walks up to them and stops. He says he can’t do it. He turns to look for a cookie. I pat him between the ears. He whips his head around the other direction. I pat him between the ears again. Still no cookies to be found. Charlie goes through the thought process and decides maybe he should try stepping over the pile of poles. So he does, and then brings his head around again to see if that was the right answer. Good, Boyfriend. 🍪 He is then all proud of himself, and proceeds to canter all the jumps and be ultra civilized. What a weird beast.

Lastly, Lottie jumped all the things too, but it’s not nearly as exciting, because she always jumps the things. What IS exciting, is that there was less flailing around, more listening, and actual good flatwork between jumps. A little heavy in the hand, but we are working on that. Better all the time. The stick-horse likes to jump. And she also likes her new barefoot life. This is her first winter without shoes. Happy wallet, happy horse, happy Shallary.

And with that update done, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go torture some ponies.

A Coonhound, a Runaway, and Old Man Winter

It sure was cold over Christmas. We had a few days of subzero temperatures and two days of heavy frost. I must say, if it has to be crummy weather, it at least makes it somewhat more tolerable when the snow does fun stuff at night. It makes waking up to -19° just a little bit better when you walk to the barn and have a photoshoot at your fingertips. And without further ado, a frosty morning:

The Great Horned Owls are back, but nobody was home- or they were protesting the weather out of sight. Probably wise.
This is what I see from my couch every morning while drinking tea. It could be worse.

Oh, also. My aunt and uncle got me those signs you see on the barn door. One says “My barn, my rules” – which is accurate. The other says “Barn goddess parking only”- also accurate.

The life of an equestrian in Wyoming winter, summed up in one picture.

The ponies were super frosty too, but still looked cozy in all their fur.

Coco Chanel models her new leggings.
Dilly Bean has really pretty, long lashes.

So that was the adventure to the barn to feed the ponies. It was too cold to ride, but at least it was pretty!

Later, Jared and I thought we should take Prune on a walk. He came to pick us up, and apparently Todd decided that today was the day that he was laying down the law. He saw us getting ready to leave, climbed the chain link fence of his 8′ kennel and weaseled his way through the 5″ hole between the gate and the kennel roof. He ran over to the truck as fast as he could and had jumped into the back of the truck before we could stop him. Then him and Prune just looked at us, daring us to tell Todd he could not come with us.

The score: Hound dogs-1, Humans-0.

So now we are taking both Prune and his runaway friend, Todd, on an adventure. We stopped at my parent’s house to try to take pictures of their creek, but the lighting was terrible, so we took the puppers to the river instead. Right off the bat, we found this:

Mountain kitty!

Since Prune is a failed lion hunter, I caught Todd and stuck his nose in the track. Nothin’. Not even a peep. Todd is rebelling in more ways than one today, apparently.

The river was feeling photogenic today. Pictures like this really make me love my home.
A close up of the icicles, and the river that refuses to be contained. Lately, I have felt this river running through me. It wants to sweep me away to a new adventure. We will see if I’m brave enough to let it.

Todd decided that all of the best smells are on the edge of the ice. And not the thick ice. Only the thin ice that overhangs the river, eagerly awaiting an unsuspecting hound dog as a sacrifice to the river gods.

We yelled at him. He ignored us.

Eventually, he decided to move on. Him and Prune did hound things while Jared and I watched the geese fly in the wrong direction. I have a new fascination with birds, but that’s a story for another time.

As we were leaving, we found more lion tracks going in the opposite direction. Todd still refused to admit he could smell anything. Sometimes, I guess, even hound dogs need a day off. <3

Turbo Goes To School

12/30/17 Turbo is officially one of the easiest going horses I have ever had the privilege of riding. He is a super quick study and is learning stuff left and right. Look out world, here he comes! Right after he finishes breakfast.

Here’s a list of things Turbo has learned in a mere 11 days at the Shallary Farm:

1) How to wear a blanket and not scoot out from under it when I take it off of him as though he is under attack.

2A) How to wear English tack, and he looks super adorable wearing it, if I do say so myself.

2B) He learned that not everyone throws the tack at him in a heap. He used to duck his back down and away when I would put even the saddle pad on. Now he just sleeps while being clothed.*

*And he has not been cinchy a single time with me. Not once! Happily, he appreciates gentle girth tightening. And girths with elastic on them. And not having to wear a tourniquet.

3) How to use a mounting block and not look so confused when the human doesn’t have to clamber up his side to get in the saddle.

4) How to back up. At first we couldn’t even do this from the ground, and definitely not when riding. Halfway there! I don’t think anyone ever told him that backing was an option.

5) How to maneuver consecutive trot poles, and that they trip you if you forget to pick up your legs.

6) That we don’t always just canter one lap and then stop. (Racehorse, much?) Also, the human is allowed to steer while doing said cantering.

7) How to canter over a pile of poles.

8) How to trot three crossrails in a row. We have steering and trotting and thinking. All at once!

9) How to jump a vertical! With an actual jump effort! So cute.

10) How to jump a skinny. What can I say? Most of my jumps were salvaged from a burn pit, and the poles are all rather short.

11) How to have some resemblance of contact and softening to the bit. Although now he has learned that when he lowers his head, he’s a “good boy” and it’s getting a bit out of hand. Now I have to tell him to pick his head UP! Overachiever.

12) How to stand. Why do none of my ponies arrive with this skill? They all insist that they have somewhere to be AT ALL TIMES. Then I have to install Lazy 2.0. Luckily, it’s working. Although, yesterday I did burp while he was standing, which he thought was the cue to start walking. It wasn’t.

13) How to not flail his legs around when I pick them up. And I am proud to report: the farrier did all four feet today, no problem!

And last but not least…

14) Like any good horse, he has learned how to nicker and beg for cookies while we are riding… and pretty much anytime he sees me outside. I’ve become his walking cookie dispenser, and he says he likes that very much.🍪

Buying a Horse: Wyoming Style

We leave Bolt’s house, and I’m pretty excited about Turbo. I call Christian to reenact the last hour. She’s giggling profusely. We decide he seems like a nice boy (Turbo, not Bolt.) (Although, Bolt is nice too.) Christian wants to wait until she watches the videos to make a decision.

Jared kept us in suspense for a good three hours, battling with technology before they could finally be uploaded. So Christian watches them and decides I should buy him. And so I do.

I messaged Bolt to ask when I could pick up Turbo. He says 9 Tuesday morning. I tell him I can’t do 9, but I could do 9:05.

I get to Bolt’s house, and I can’t find a Bolt. There is no movement inside the house. There is no movement outside the house. There is a car idling outside, but I think it may have just been forgotten there overnight. His dog apparently didn’t remember me at all, because it won’t stop growling at me as I poke around the place.

After numerous times of knocking on the door, Bolt finally answers. He looks really sleepy. “WAKE UP!” I yell through the screen door. “Were you sleeping?!?!” I asked, bewildered. He says he was. I simply can not believe this. It’s 9:05 on a Tuesday morning!! Wake up, wake up!!!!! We have horses to catch, papers to sign, money to spend! The day’s a wastin’! Sheesh.

I tell him I am going to go catch Turbo, and I’ll meet him at my horse trailer. I remembered to bring my own halter, which I thought was good, otherwise we would have had to stuff him in the trailer with bailing twine. That is… if I could catch him.

Turbo took one look at me, decided he didn’t want any part of my lunacy that day, and hooves it to the other side of his field. At a slow walk. Like he knew he wasn’t supposed to do this, but as long as he didn’t actually “run away,” I couldn’t be mad. He made sure to stay a few too many steps ahead of me the whole time. I decide I’m not going to chase him. Turbo stops and looks at me, sad I have given up before the fun part.

Bolt arrives with grain. Turbo comes over and happily lets us catch him. Well that was dramatic. I notice Bolt smells like alcohol. Guess that “no alcohol” sign at his house was just a suggestion. We take Turbo to the trailer, and he debates whether or not he wants to go with me. Bolt gives him a tap on the rear. Turbo sighs and gets in. He’s so dramatic.

Now for the paperwork. Bolt has typed up a Bill of Sale, which I look over. He has the horse breed: Bay. He has the horse description: Dark bay. I took the liberty of crossing out and writing things on his Bill of Sale. For example, an actual breed under the breed category, and I added his leg scar and his star under the description. We sign it. Done deal. My brand inspector is scheduled for the next day to finish paperwork.

Right before she was suppose to arrive, I get a text: “Need to reschedule! I’m still shipping calves!” Of course she is. It’s Wyoming. So we reschedule and get her out here to do the papers. Apparently it’s all fancy now, and they print the paperwork on site. This sounds good in theory, but it’s 6° outside. That is not a typo. Six! So her computer and printers are malfunctioning, but they finally print. But my name is misspelled. So now that we are numb, we pick another fight with the computer. We lose. She says she will just print it for me at her house and bring it by in a few days.

It’s been a week. So I just sent her a message asking if it printed. She says: “Yes, and I was going to drop by your house today but the tractor wouldn’t start and the water tank broke so I’m just getting done with my chores.”

Sounds about right. Winter in Wyoming ain’t for weenies, that’s for sure. Hopefully I will have all of the paperwork in my possession before long. In the meantime, Turbo and I have been hard at work. Want to see everything he has learned so far? Then go here:

Turbo Goes To School