Archive for May, 2010

Illusion is a daddy!!

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Late Saturday night we had a new arrival on the farm.  I checked Wynona at about 9:00 and thought she’s going to foal tonight, but it was so cold, I thought she’d put it off a few hours until the temperature rose.  I was wrong.  Sunday morning, two horses greeted me in the paddock.  The filly was so strong and completely dry, so she was foaled not long after my last check.  I took one look at her and named her “Fiona” because she was born in the mud and is a princess.  She is the spitting image of her mommy with her daddy’s head.  I think she is the nicest we’ve had from Wynona, except maybe Gidget, who is getting a very “breedy” look to her as a yearling.

This is the first foal we’ve had not pasture born.  In a paddock, and I missed it.  I still can’t believe how wet the stall was; there are definite advantages to pasture birth.  Mommy is getting a little stir crazy and we’ll move her to a bigger paddock when I leave with Illusion for the States on Thursday.  I know she wants to be in the pasture, but Fiona needs to be a little older as she is the only foal this year.  Wynona has such a protective instinct, she isolates herself for the last three months of pregnancy, but once baby is on the ground, she is the alpha, even displacing Sunny.  She’s starting to pin her ears at us, allow she is far good natured to get really mean.  She just needs more space.

Presenting: “Marsh Haven Fiona”, to be registered 1/2 Welsh and North American Sport Pony

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On a completely different note, I can’t believe how hard it is to take two horses to the States, one returning, one not.  I’ve been through 6 inches of paperwork in the last three days.  I’m lucky I found out on Friday when I could still get it done instead of arriving at the border with my health cert, Coggins, and travel permits in hand.  There is DOT number, Service Carrier Alpha Code, ACE E-manifest, brokerage and US Federal Vet check.  All of this adds up to over $100 per horse.  Yet, slaughter horses coming into Canada only have to have a health certificate and Coggins.  This doesn’t seem right in the context of NAFTA.

I’ve just had a long opinion piece published in The Western Producer and am getting quite a few calls of congratulations from readers.  The trouble is I’ve written so many letters on slaughter and our culture of rescue, I can’t remember which letters I’ve written to whom.  In any case keep your eye out for a PDF file containing a letter to your MP to get support for the producers and primary users in the horse industry.  NAFTA enforcement would be good for the industry on both sides of the line.

Lotus Land

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I’ve just arrived home from Just Horsin Around 2010 and inaugural horse expo put on by volunteers in Nanaimo, BC to raise funds for SPCA horse rescue efforts.  This show grew from ideas tossed around last February when 27 horses were seized and rescued from near Vernon, BC.  At the time I was working with Cathy Cross on the sale of a horse and she convinced me I should make the trek.   Now on the otherside of the trip…oh, mama… that’s a long way to go.  I was gone a full week and am on day 2 of the recovery phase.

I had an amazing time and met some wonderful people, starting with overnighting with Cheri & Joe at Barriere (I found them from their ads on Kijiji and really appreciated their hospitality).   It was a chance to show some of our products to Islander’s that never make it to the Mane Event.  Starting with the ferry over, I met Glen from G&H Horse Transport, who works parttime as a deckhand on BC Ferries.  I’m looking forward to some reciprocal business with him.  It was late when I finally arrived at Ferris’ (Ferris Fencing).  I had brought with me a mini/shetland cross pony I found Ferris’ purchased for their granddaughter.  So Thursday we put the little guy through his paces.  I also drove Goldmine, as he was supposed to give a demo at the gala on Saturday night and has only been in the shafts twice previously.  If you know me, …, you know about my good intentions and how I’m always scrambling to keep up. 

Friday, I was late moving into the show, as I had used the day to drive again and clean my truck/trailer.  A stop in Nanaimo for groceries and last minute copying saw me move in about 8:00.  There I finally met show organizers Jacque, Shannon and Pat, along with Kevan Garecki from W4 Horse Transport.  I was cooked and elected to set up in the morning.

That was a mistake, as our product line and display has become way more than a 1 person job.  Shortly before show opening I was seriously threatening to pack someone in the Bale Buster Hay Steamer and bury them in my composter when I got home.  However, although I didn’t see much, the show was amazing and all done by volunteer instructors, clinicians, saddlefitters, nutritionists, etc.  If anything they had too much going on with a lecture center, 5 round pens and two instructional arenas.  They raised over $8500 for BC SPCA Horse Rescue.

I had taken Goldmine and Joey with me to showcase the Caspian Breed at the Gala, Saturday evening.  I didn’t have a clue how weather dependent the venue at Beban Park was, but despite some light showers and cooling temperatures a large crowd remained.  I got Goldmine out way too early and he was upset about leaving Joey at this point.  So, and I know I am the only person crazy enough to do this; I got Joey and ponied him from the cart until it was time to go in.  I basically just gave the history of Caspians while trying to drive Goldmine and used Joey as an exemplar of the breed.  I couldn’t have been happier with Goldmine.  He drove coming down into the bridle, negotiated serpentines around cones, did hard turns both left and right, backed up and worked into a canter; not bad for a very greeny, his first time in an arena.  I got some very positive feedback on Sunday about our demo.

Sunday was a nightmare after the show.  I had truck trouble.  I had tons to pack.  I ran over two stacked tables driving out of the arena.  I took the ponies for grass and Joey got away and after trying to outsmart him for 2 hours left him out overnight.  On Monday, I drove right past Duke Point to Ladysmith trying to catch the ferry.  But I met a great guy on the ferry, a trucker for CFB Comox and he taught me a lot about our new truck and how to maintain it for longer life.   I stopped at Milner Downs to meet Natasha, a contact Cathie had set up for me.  Then I tried to make another call on a client and got hopelessly lost on the backroads between Ft. Langley and Abottsford.  I think its definitely time I invested in a GPS.  The Coke was wet and slippery, but we made it.  I had a place to overnight in Clearwater, but cratered at Kamploops and overnighted the ponies on board at the Husky station.  That sucks because you’re awake when they are.   Tuesday was jusst long and I got home around 9. 

So this weekend, I run the place while Glen goes to Fami Camp.  Next Wednesday, we leave for overnight in Cochrane, a business call, a pick up for Kathleen Rawls of Mr. Dragon Stud in Oregon and we’re off to Walla Walla, Wa for the Western National Welsh Show.

A Week Away

Saturday, May 1st, 2010
The Grandmaster Himself

The Grandmaster Himself

In January, I booked myself into a Josh Nichol clinic for right after The Mane Event (which was a great show, as usual).  My thought was if I had any money it would be after the Mane Event.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  But last Monday, when I was trying to follow up on The Mane Event and get ready, I had to wonder what I had been thinking.

But as usual, it turned out to be the right decision.  A week away just absorbing the atmosphere at Eagle’s Wing Ranch and the hospitality of Josh’s mother Cathy, makes everything worthwhile.  I camped in the trailer and it maybe wasn’t the best decision with the wind, rain and frost, but it was enforced relaxation.

Josh is a master horseman and should have a doctorate in pschology, as everything he relays is bang on and usually deals with life issues, not just equine ones.  You always return home feeling like a better person.  This was my first riding clinic, as I’ve been working on ground work, so I came home feeling a little stiff as well.

Josh’s main philosophy is that self carriage begins on the ground, even when leading and when picking up the reins the horse should just naturally assume the need to carry itself.  It turns everything I”ve ever learned inside out.  But he is truly able to instill the ability to ”feel’ within his students and the confidence that “you will get there”.

It was a great group of people, some of whom I’d met before and some whom I met for the first time.  But Josh seems to attract like minded people, so whatever the mix, it’s always a great one, with all participants being on the same wave length.

All of us were within spitting distance of ”Freedom 55″, as are most of Josh’s students.  I swear that man must be more of an expert on menopausal women than any man alive.

I took Lacey because I thought she would be easy and give me the most opportunity for learning.  While she did give me opportunity for learning, she certainly wasn’t easy.  When I got her from Wendy Kadar, her summary had been “in 28 years of training racehorses, she’d never met one that wanted to run less”.  Lacey had a huge block about moving forward and shut down when any demands were made on her.  This would have greatly influenced her racing career, as you could force her into a gait, but there was no energy.  We finished by being able to do a forward trot on the circle in a balanced cadence, not quite self carriage, but moments of…which had seemed impossible even on Friday morning.  She’s a really nice mare and now I have to evaluate if she really is one we should be keeping because of her kind attitude.

Helen and Silver

Helen and Silver

Debriefing

Debriefing

Josh working with Kelly for an outside bend

Josh working with Kelly for an outside bend

Josh on Kelly's Horse

Josh on Kelly's Horse

Kelly on her own

Kelly on her own

Josh demonstrating outside bend on Max

Josh demonstrating outside bend on Max

Now you know why there are so few pictures accompanying my blogs.  Unless I can find someone else to take them, they are pretty pathetic, but it was a great week; lots of learning, lots of laughs and new friendships.