Archive for January, 2011

Off to school!!

Monday, January 31st, 2011
That's Amelia in the foreground, George with the white on his face

That's Amelia in the foreground, George with the white on his face

Last Saturday, Amelia and George, our rising 3 year olds by Khamian’s Curious Kiwi went off to Lindsay Gerber to be backed.  These are the first homebreds we’ve sent to the trainer.  It was almost as big a day as sending our kids off to kindergarten for the first time.  Like kids, they even had new clothes for the occasion, thanks to Gillian at Tudor Tack; she managed to rummage up two different colors of the same blanket in size 69″.   They loaded easy, but were pretty much bush bunnies when they unloaded.  After checking the blankets for fit they were turned out with 6 other young horses belonging to Hertzenbergers Quarter Horses.  They then gave an amazing display of their identical gaits and why these two have to go in harness as a pair.  Amelia Bedelia is out of KVS Amore and Curious George is out of Wynona.

We have a new puppy!!

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

We really weren’t looking for one and this gentle little guy is certainly available to a good home, but if we can’t find one, we don’t mind keeping him.  Cant’ get a good picture of him yet, as we can’t get him to hold still.  But he kind of found us.

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We were on our way home yesterday from BC Horse Council’s Education Conference in Kelowna.  We were just a little east of Morley Flats between Canmore and Cochrane on the TransCanada when we saw an animal in the median ditch.  We couldn’t tell if it was a fox or a coyote.  Anyway, he barely missed being hit by the car in front of us and by that time we had slowed enough to let him cross.  Well, it wasn’t a fox, nor a coyote but a young large mixed breed male pup, about 3 months old.  We pulled over to the shoulder and stopped.  By that time he had gone to ground across the ditch and into the trees on the south side of the highway, but calling and coaxing brought him out. 

We just couldn’t leave him on the side of the highway.  He’s been on his own for awhile and while thin, he still has enough of a milk belly that he’s not in too bad a shape.  He needs a good deworming for round worms and for all the little friends he is carrying, but he is sure a good natured pup.  But oh, my the size of the paws…

He does have a bit of a coyote look about him, so he may be a coy-dog.  We’re open to names (and to offers of a good home).  So far we’ve been considering “Rufus”, “Ruckus”, “Rumpus” and “Fergus”.

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Friday, January 14th, 2011

But it is January.  It’s amazing how we forget just how much teeth gritting cold we we can get during an Alberta winter.  We don’t get usually get this much snow in December and January, but our water table is still recovering from the drought 2 years ago, so it’s all good.  La Nina hasn’t released her fury on us, as she has on the U.K., Southeastern States where they just don’t get that kind of weather and the flooding disaster happening in Queensland, Australia.

Anyway, if you can’t sit by the fire in with a good book during the winter months when else can you do it? I’ve had some great reads lately and I’d like to share them.

Tami Hoag: mystery writer

Dark Horse and Alibi Man, both these thrillers are set in the winter horse world of Florida, with Dark Horse being more specifically within the showjumping world

Joann Ross: romance writer

Has several novels set in the horse racing world of Ireland and the United States. I’ve just finished “Legends Lake” and felt like I was visiting a familiar place, as I was reminded that I had read her writing before.

Laura Moore: romance writer

This is a new author for  me and I am thoroughly enjoying the accuate portrayals of show jumping at the Grand Prix level and the dichotomy of money/influence vs. those who haven’t got it, set on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.  I’ve read “Ride a Dark Horse” and “Chance Meeting” and my “10 minute before sleep reading habit” has caused some very late nights of page turning.

With my love of the Medieval time period, I am also enjoying the translations of Jan Guillou’s trilogy of Arn, Knight Templar, beginning with “The Road to Jerusalem” centering around a young Scandinavian, an exceptional warrior candidate, raised by monks.  A key thread running through the the first novel of the trilogy is the Saracen horse breeding program initiated by the monks.  Although, a little flat, as it is a translation, it is refreshing to read the intriques and politics of a different country during the turbulent times of the Second Crusade.

The big bonus to Jan Guillou’s books is that they have been made into two major motion pictures focusing on two different aspects of what is essentially a love story.  If you don’t mind reading subtitles, “Arn, Knight Templar” is Friday night with popcorn to equal “Kingdom of Heaven”, “Pillars of the Earth”, “Robin Hood” or “Gladiator”; be sure to watch the special features to find the name of the second movie.

But the absolute shining star of my new discoveries has to be “The Legend of the Great Horse” series.  I found “Eclipsed by a Shadow” by John Royce on Sony-E books and became so involved I went to the website.  www.thegreathorse.com and ordered the second in the series (haven’t read it yet), and registered to be one of the first to receive the third when it is published.

This award winning juvenile novel is a great read for anyone who loves horses.  Royce has managed to insert facts and history into his legend with a minimum of distruption to a great story.  Although the main character is not as fully developed as she would be from a female writer, she does carry the story off to satisfaction.

The fantasy novel has all the earmarks of good literature and rates equally with “Harry Potter” and “Narnia”.  Despite the awards already earned, the book is easily a coveted Newbury Award for Exceptional Childrens Literature candidate, if it can find an audience outside the horse world. 

The story begins with the tragic delivery of an orphan filly born of the heroine’s mother’s retired show horse.  The family has experienced the financial upheaval of the recession and all the hopes to provide a horse for the daughter are resting on this foal.  Then strange things begin to happen. 

Not the weirdest one of them, the entrance of a mysterious, wealthy old lady who takes an interest in family and filly.  Through an invitation to lunch she imparts the knowledge of “The Legend of the Great Horse” and cautions the mother and daughter of the legend’s warning that the “Great Horse of this century must never be ridden, for to do so would result in catastrophic results. 

Predicatably, the filly is the great horse and circumstances deem, the daughter must use the horse to escape her would be captors.  Then begins the time slip, as Meagan finds herself located with a wild herd, about to be driven over a cliff by prehistoric hunters.  She must now use all her knowledge, trivial and practical, about horses to survive in unknown circumstances.  The settings continue through Ancient Rome, to the steppes of Mongolia to Medieval Europe, before the first novel ends. 

The reader will find themselves caught up the trilogy and want to find out how Meagan will get back to her own time period.

Now time for me to bookmark my place and get my butt off to the Horse Owner’s and breeders conference.

No Excuses!!

Saturday, January 8th, 2011
Josiane on Amy

Josiane on Amy

I just haven’t been to my blog.  The longer I leave it, the more it starts to feel like an overdue termpaper and I want to go lie down until the “call to action” fades away.  But we’re seriously snowed in today (25 cm last night and 25 more to come), so I can’t leave it any longer. 

WARNING!! THIS IS LONG ONE!! GET A CUP OF COFFEE!!

Here’s a quick summary of our lives since I last wrote in August.  We are expecting  4 foals, 2 from Illusion, one from Selle Francais, “P.S. I Love You”, and one from Caspian, “Blaze”.  Two outside Thoroughbred mares are also in foal to Illusion.

After Josiane left with her parents, we had a booth at the week long Alberta Barrel Race Finals.  Then one last rush to get Illusion ready for the Gorsline’s Fall Classic and the two mares ready for the CWHBA Fall Classic Select Sale.  We sent Sunny to Lindsay Gerber for a refresher in Basics, Amy to Gorsline’s for Hailey to ride, and Nora to Nancy Delong for some more schooling.  It was nuts trying to keep track of horses in 4 places.  I also had to return Aubergine Rose to Brian Donagen at Drogheda Farm in Strathmore. 

Amy sold to Trish Mrawkwa at Willow Grove Stables at the sale; none of the broodmares except one got a single bid, so we brought Sunny home.  We’ve since decided she is a wonderful mare and not a hardship to keep around, especially as we learned a little more of her history.  She is an “Einseidler”, and with my penchant for rare breeds, is a keeper.  Nora sustained a soft tissue injury and is home until we can get her restarted and sold in the spring. 

The weekend after the sale, we were off to Chiliwack for The Mane Event.  Then I agreed to work for Ray Sham from CalTack at Dodge City at CFR for 10 days.  With one week in between, I was off to Regina for Agribition.  I had planned on staying in my trailer but with -20 degrees, I had to find a room in a city with ”No Vacancy”.  Glen was going to drive down with me and then fly home, but with frozen water at home that didn’t work, but he was able to fly down and help me pack up and drive home together, so it worked out fine. 

The month of December flew by as we tried to sort out our hay problem.  We purchased our hay from a former client who has supplied us with hay before.  With careful pasture management, we didn’t need to start feeding until mid November.  Despite paying premium price for hay that supposedly had no rain, the first round bale was ugly, and then next 4 weren’t much better.  He did take it back, minus $300 for delivery but then we had to scramble.  With so much rain this year, there is lots of cattle feed and not much horse feed, so we have been picking 8 bales here, 6 bales there, not to mention the time.  We also had to secure straw, which was something we expected to do, but now it was in addition. 

Christmas and New Years were quiet.  Greg came out quite a bit and Mark and Nicola were here for a couple days.  We started hauling Goldmine into Holly Yelic’s at Mistral Winds Meadows for Hailey to ride and for Taylor to have company.  He’s going to be a great small pony hunter.  I’m still waiting to find out when I can get Illusion started for this season and am hoping to send George and Amelia to Lindsay to get started at the end of January.  I’m supposed to be working with Joey and Tamara to get them in harness, but it’s not happening.  I think I’m going to phone Neil Dimmock and see if he will take Joey to start in harness.

Hailey and I  a couple of trail rides over the Holidays on the snowmobile trails.  The oil field leases are open to allow snowmobiles access to the Ministik.  The first ride, I rode Primadawna and actually think I may be getting my seat back.  We had one hair raising episode.  We checked very carefully for cattle guards going into the lease, but didn’t think about it again.  Hailey and Goldmine were in the lead and following an oilfield road with no tracks, when Goldmine stepped into a Texas Gate!!  He didn’t panic and carefully picked his way through to the other side – what a good pony!  Then we had to figure out what to do, as we were on opposite sides of the road.  Luckily, I found a gap in the fence and was able to ride Dawna through.  Snow is a poor man’s sand and we had a wonderful full out gallop down the range road home.  It was a first time gallop for Hailey and she loved it, despite a couple of “feel good” crow hops.  The other time, I was driving Illusion with the sleigh.  The snowmobile roads proved a little deep for pulling.  I was so scared he was going to tie up; even now he’s not to impressed with me.   I think they will be a “discussion” the next time I harness him. 

Oh, I also managed to get in my coaching course at the beginning of December.  Linda Finstad of A Sharper Image Photography had planted the thought seed, earlier in July that I should aim our goals for Marsh Haven Farm as a driving center.  Well that’s the little seed that has sprouted, although it will be a slow grower.  But towards that goal, I have now got two easy entry pony breaking carts and will have some harness and a cart for sale in the spring.

I also spent a lot of time updating the website and the changes should be live and edited and complete within the next week or two.  Most of the pictures I have been promising will be up there.  I spent some serious time getting to understand Facebook and now have “The Innovative Horsekeeper” up and running, but in Glen’s account not mine, so I have to bear in mind what computer I use.  I’ve also written some press releases, redesigned some of our ads, placed ads on Facebook and updated my Google Advertising, as part of a renewed marketing strategy.  We are trying to take advantage of Ventipulmin being banned by Equine Canada for competition, by focussing on the Hay Steamers and OxyGen products. 

Bert Wort, formerly of Tudor Tack has been advising me to sell gloves; something everyone needs.  I keep telling him I can’t compete with SSG’s when the guy with the gloves from China is just down the way from me at Trade Shows.  But I have been listening and surfing, so now I just have to make it so.  We are going to incorporate a “Pony Patch” into the trade show booth, as although not everyone has a horse or a need for our products, everyone knows a horse crazy kid.  This is part of the reason I worked with Ray at CFR; I wanted to see what kinds of things sold and at what kind of margins.  So we’re quite excited about it.  We’re hoping it will eventually be a venue to promote and sell our ponies through.  What also evolved through the Pony Patch was that the Breyer books are great sellers.  After being asked several times if there were any stories about boys, I did my research.  They are few and far between, so I’m going to try my hand at writing some.  Many people have told me I should write a book and I know I am a good writer, but the inspiration has escaped me until now.  I came up with 4 pages of story starters based on experiences of Greg growing up and incidents with animals on farm.  So now that I have the 5% inspiration, we’ll see if I can follow through on the 95% perspiration. 

There has been some interesting developments with North American Sport Pony and with me at the helm, we are hoping to launch a Quest for the Best Pony in the West similar to the Royal’s Pony Star Search.

Greg had an extra week of leave and spent most of it out here working with Glen on the outbuilding that will become my breeding barn.  I’m so excited to finally see some of my ideas take shape. 

Next week, we are off to Horse Owner’s and Breeders Conference in Red Deer and the week after that to Kelowna for B.C’s Equine Education Conference.  There is a possibility I may be able to get a job for February and March through my friend Darcy Kublik driving gravel truck for oilfield reclamation based in Edson.  It would be me that has to go, as Glen is the one who knows how to fix the tractor and deal with frozen waterers, but it would be a great opportunity to relieve some of the financial pressure. 

So with my facebook page “The Innovative Horsekeeper” up, what my plan is, is to keep business/product updates and events there, as well as any discussions regarding the things we sell, plus trade show photos.  With the blog, I’ll continue to write about what we are doing on the farm and our ponies. 

I promise to get better with pictures.