Archive for April, 2012

Dakota is HIGHLY food-motivated. Great news for training, but leads to some interesting days sometimes. I have to be careful about hand-feeding. She’ll take a treat or two without issue, but after a little while, gets a little too eager, and can get a little pushy. She’s a big horse, with a BIG mouth, so other than carrots, I have most other people give her treats by dropping them in her bin.

Occasionally, she decides to help herself to what she wants. Case in point:

1. Make sure Mom’s not looking.

2. Grab hay bale, and drag it over:

3. Flip, and enjoy!
Dakota consuming her ill-gotten hay

The mare just cracks me up sometimes.


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Winston Churchill said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”  And it’s true – something about spending time with them, bonding with them, and the feeling of freedom that comes from riding, is very, very good for those who know it.

Humans – especially women – are drawn to horses in a way they are drawn to few other species.  I don’t know too many little girls who grow up wanting a pet elk.  Those who grow up on a farm may want their own goat, or sheep, or cow.  But city and farm girls alike can identify with the desire for a pony.  Many of us can identify with the way the breath catches when watching a horse – or a herd of them – gallop freely across a field.

Almost everyone who meets Dakota – or sees a picture – remarks that they’d love to have a horse, and then asks “How much does a horse cost?”

The answer – it varies, but in short – a lot.

Owning horses is deceptively tempting, in that it isn’t buying them that necessarily costs a lot.  It’s keeping them that is expensive.   So if you’re thinking about bringing one home, be sure to do your research on whether you can afford it.  And remember, a horse can live to the ripe old age of as much as 40, so you should plan for your horse’s retirement as you would plan for yours.

Here are some great places for information on how to calculate the real cost of a horse:

Learning Horses



Lucky Pony

Bear in mind that the board costs they give in these are nowhere near the top end farms around here.  One of the fancy-schmancy show barns in my area charges nearly $1500 a month for board.  Many seem low initially, but charge extra for everything other than food, turnout, and shelter (changing blankets, worming, feeding supplements or medicine, etc.)  While you can find barns that charge very reasonable fees for the care provided (I’m at one), you really need to do your research.

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Boulder has always been one of my favorites up at the barn.  I like all the horses there, but Boulder is one of those that reminds me of when I was taking lessons as a kid.  He’s cute, speedy, and has a lot of personality.  He’s the pinto in the background of the picture at the top of this page, behind and to the right of Dakota.

I remember the day the horses from one field decided to take down the fence and go mingle with their neighbors, before the new fence went in.  When I got to the barn, and looked out the door into that field, Boulder came running up, skidded to a stop, and whinnied at me as if to say “this is the greatest day EVER!”  Then he spun around and was off.  A little while later, everybody was back where they belonged, but he still looked like the proverbial cat that ate the canary.

Marcy’s been looking for a new home for him – he’s not doing much, and needed a place where he’d have stuff to do and people to pay attention to him.  And this morning, he left with his new family.  The great part is that he’s gone to someone we know, so we can be sure he’s in good hands.

Coming on the heels of Gracie (pictured below) also getting a new home with someone we know (her previous owner ran into some personal issues and couldn’t keep her), it’s been a good month.

Gracie, an Irish Draught mare.

Wishing both Boulder and Gracie all the best in their new homes.

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About that “news” I told you I had…

After “Foal Quest” last year, I did a lot of thinking about where we wanted to go. As I have written previously, I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason. I started thinking about a rescue foal – rather than breeding, why not give one a chance that had a rough start in life? And so I began looking for foals. PMU (Premarin) foals to start, and then those bound for slaughter.

Enter Jax.

Jax - petfinder picture

Found him on Petfinder, offered by Gerda’s Animal Aid in West Townshend, VT. I emailed and heard back very quickly. After forwarding some information, Gerda called me and talked with me about Jax over the phone. His story is a sad one, with a very happy ending thanks to Gerda. As she describes it:

“We came across a group of unhandled horses, not having human contact, this band of horses broke our hearts because they were doomed from the start, especially the handsome stallion they are (or were) a Belgian/Quarter horse crosses. when the auction ended they were the last group to run through, this herd of horses, hey were let to run through a gated trail that led into the opening of the auction arena, when they blasted in they were bombarded by bright lights, NOISE ,people sitting in the bleechers! Panicked they huddled and ran like circus horses in a tight band with a baby in the middle of them the whole time, when the stallion turned they all turned it was really something, the baby ever protected by the family..we bid on the stallion, and he was culled from his herd, they tried to follow but were stopped by a door that slammed in their faces, next the k.b. were bidding on the rest (who all were marked for slaughter, last the baby a filly, I turned to another rescue inbehind me in the bleechers, and through all the noise I asked “if I buy the baby will you take her?” she nodded but had misunderstood which we found out as we were all leaving..(we had no room on the trailer! Thanks to Ben and Sara (friends from back in Vt.) who brought their own trailer (just in case..) and that’s when we figured we had to (compress 3 minis) in to a slant stall! Everyone in and we were the last to leave!”

Only later did they discover that the “filly” was, in fact, a colt – Jax.  I made arrangements to visit Jax on Saturday (the date of this post), and my hubby and I made the scenic two-hour drive to Gerda’s house, where Jax was still residing.  That’s where the horses are kept in quarantine before moving to the other farm.  I found out then that poor Jax had still been with his mom, nursing, until the day of the Unadilla auction.  The poor little guy had been weaned by having his mother torn away from him and put on the slaughter truck.  Gerda had been able to save nine that day – the others went to killbuyers.

Under the watchful, ever-present eye of Sir Richard, Jax’s dad, I introduced myself to Jax. He’s got a lovely winter coat – looks a bit like a yak at present, and Gerda leant me a shedding blade to get to work. We brought Jax a new halter, which he was really good about having put on. He was unsure, a little nervous, but never once offered to kick, bite, or do anything wrong. He is simply a baby, and he’s not quite sure of what’s expected of him. As soon as he knows, he does what he’s asked. He’s got a wonderful kind eye, but it’s a sad eye too – as if he’s still trying to sort out everything he’s been through.

As big as Jax is, it's easy to forget he's just a baby!

So the end result? We’re planning to bring him home on May 8th. Our barn family is very excited to meet him. I am told that Jax has himself quite a dedicated fan club, who expect regular updates and pictures. I will be happy to take care of that.

Gerda’s Animal Aid is doing some great work. All the animals at that farm – the blind minis, the cranky little chestnut filly, the impressive Sir Richard, and Jax – are very well cared for, the facility is impeccably clean, and they seem to understand that they are safe. But doing the work they do there takes a great deal of funding, and with the hay prices this year, it gets ever harder to do it. If you have a few bucks, please consider donating to them. You can find their latest news on their Facebook page.

On the way home, we made a few stops – first, to the Grafton Village Cheese Company (yum!), then a stop at the Barrington Brewery, and then over to Catherine’s Chocolates, where we picked up some goodies for ourselves, as well as for some of our Pie Hill family.

And now, I’m headed online to Schneider’s and Smartpak for some baby shopping…

Jax and his cool-as-a-cucumber daddy, Sir Richard

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Long Time, No Post

Yes, I know, it’s been a while. Winter here was pretty mild, so Kota got to stay out all the time, which makes her happy. She gets a little zooey when she is inside too much.

And…teaser…we may have some news shortly. Keep positive thoughts for us…

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