Friday, January 25, 2013

Sometimes Grace Acts Like A Horse!

During my ride last night Grace caught site of a someone with a blue umbrella walking in the distance. She lost her mind for about 30 seconds and seemed rather convinced that it was going to eat her. I had the camera rolling when the scary blue monster went down the dirt road along side the arena. I was able to get her back to business in under a minute. The second clip in the video is 4 minutes later. This is what I appreciate about my horse, she lives in the moment and then moves on.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Slow Feed Hay Net Update Still Going Strong

I’ve been feeding Grace from a slow feed hay net for 4 months now. I am really impressed by how well it has held up and that she actually eats from it. Grace is by far the pickiest horse I’ve ever owned when it comes to hay, supplements, grain, and even treats. If her hay gets stepped on, damp or dirty she refuses to eat it. She does well on an alfalfa/orchard grass mix. I have to be sure to only buy her hay that is grown in Eastern Washington or Eastern Oregon because the hays grown on the west side of the states hold too much moisture and are never really free of the molds and mildews that Grace is sensitive to. I also have to make sure that her hay is free of chemicals and dyes. I bought a ton of beautiful green hay from a dealer last winter when my source was out. It was beautiful hay, but almost too green there was something not quite natural about it. Grace flat out refused to eat it. I believe it may have been dyed and she is sensitive enough to know she doesn’t want anything fake. With all that in mind I wasn’t sure if my Prima Donna would be willing to put out the extra effort to eat out of a hay net, especially one that was designed to slow her down.

The slow feed hay net has far exceeded all of my expectations. Grace actually eats more hay out of the net than she did when I fed all of her hay on the ground. At first I only filled the net with orchard grass and still fed plenty of alfalfa mix on the ground twice a day. I’ve started to add more of the alfalfa mix to the hay net, only leaving a small amount on the ground. The first time I filled the hay net with a few flakes of alfalfa mix added to the orchard grass I was pretty sure Grace spent the entire night eating. I went out to feed her the next morning and noticed that she wasn’t her usual demanding self. She looked tired, like she had been up all night even yawning when I asked why she didn’t meet me in her usual spot. It was then that I saw that the hay net was almost empty; I easily had put 3 feedings of hay in there the night before. I’m still working to find the right ratio of hay so that she eats enough but not gorge herself. The crazy thing is if I had put that same mix and amount of hay on the ground I would be lucky if she finished a third of it by the time she had it spread out and dirty. Now in mid-January I’m still riding 5-6 days a week and the mare is fat. The weather for the last two weeks has been dry and cold including a few nights in the 20’s, it was nice to know on those cold nights that along with the extra blanket that my horse had plenty of fuel to keep her warm. I used the hay net at the horse show in early December and for the first time didn’t leave the stall bedded in hay. It does seem odd that making it harder for my horse to eat would result in her consuming more food, but I no longer question the magic.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Grown Up Inside My Head Can Be A Real Debbie Downer

I had two horse shows to choose from this weekend. I made the decision not to attend either one. The first one was on the show schedule for Sarah’s barn and was put on by the state Quarter Horse Association. It was a 3 hour drive from home and I really just didn’t feel like making that haul in January. The second show was only an hour away at the same place we went in December. I considered going there on my own for the day on Saturday to ride in the pattern classes, but by the time Friday rolled around I really wasn’t up for showing in 25 degree weather on my own. I stayed home and ended up having 3 days of fabulous rides in the 1/3 of the arena that wasn’t frozen.

Something has happened to me in the last few months. A grown up has taken up residence in my head. I haven’t decided if I plan to let her stay long term. She says things like “that’s an awful lot of money to spend on a horse show”, or “you could use that money to pay down your credit card debt” and “will you be financially sound when it comes time to retire?”  Like I said I’m not sure how long I plan to let her hang out, she’s a bit of a Debbie Downer but she makes some valid points. I don’t know what the future holds for me right now when it comes to horse shows. I spent a lot of money last summer when I stepped up to the AQHA shows. When I look at the list of shows this year there are several schooling shows that will require the 3 hour haul and a 3 day committment. After I add up entries, stall, gas to haul and trainers fees the schooling shows now cost what I would prefer to pay for a rated show. I honestly prefer 1 day schooling shows, I don’t mind staying the night before, but I’m not sure if I want to stay the entire weekend.

My job is incredibly busy year round, it’s not the kind of work I feel I can just walk away from. My work week is typically 50 hours long and I tend to take some of it home with me on the weekends. I’m sure this has summoned the grown up in my head. I love what I do for a living to the point that I don’t often take time off. The holidays were extra busy due to customers preparing to go live on their software for the 1st of the year. I still have left over paid time off that I didn’t use last year, the only time off I took was for horse shows. My weekends are precious time to me as there isn’t a lot of down time during the week, especially in the winter with the shorter daylight hours. This makes me lean even harder to only go to horse shows that I personally put a lot of value on. I know that the 3 day schooling shows are a great way to ramp up for the breed shows, but I don’t believe that I can afford the time or money for both.
At the end of the day I need to figure out what my show goals really are. Do I want to show AQHA? I would love to ride in the Ranch Horse Pleasure class; I think it would be a great fit for Grace. Beyond that I don’t know that we really belong at those shows. Then again Grace is doing so well right now, she feels better with each ride. I have list of riding goals that I need to write down and share with you; I focus on them each time I ride. The mare continues to amaze me at how she continues to improve as she gets older. Part of me doesn’t want to show at all for fear of messing up the good thing I’ve got going right now.