Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Liebster!

Oh boy, have I been a slacker... for some reason I decided to plan EVERYTHING for the month of July, and I still have a week to go! While there's not much going on in Lilly land (she's happy, doing great, and I couldn't be more comfortable with her current barn), I wanted to at least take a moment and thank everyone who nominated me for the Liebster award!

I was nominated for this award once before, but it seems as though the rules have changed since then. This time you have to learn all about me, and I get to answer your questions! Thanks to Marissa Rose at Horseshoes and Hearts, and TBA at Thoroughbred Adventure for the nominations. Lilly and I are very thankful to you and all our followers.

How to accept the award:

The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued. Here are the rules for accepting the award:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
6. Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them.

11 Facts About Me:

1. I am terrified of heights and have no plans to visit the Grand Canyon... ever.
2. I love tomatoes more than life itself. Campari tomatoes are my favorite and I think they're sweeter and more delicious than any dessert I've ever tasted. My husband thinks my love of tomatoes is unhealthy and slightly creepy, but I could eat nothing but tomatoes for the rest of my life and be a very happy lady.
3. I was in the Marine Corps for 4 years. It was the most challenging thing I've ever done, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
4. The only dessert I can successfully bake from scratch is cheesecake. I can whip up a mean, homemade cheesecake, but ask me to bake a pan of homemade brownies and you can forget it. You'll break a tooth.
5. I don't eat things that come from the sea. Shrimp, lobster, crab, fish... can't do it.
6. Since we're on the topic of food, I really, really wish I liked egg rolls. I keep trying them, and I keep deciding I still don't like them.
7. I worked at a Standardbred breeding farm when I was in high school. We used to stand a very aggressive stallion and he once picked me up by my shoulder with his teeth and slung me across the driveway. I never understood why anyone wanted to breed their mare to him.
8. I have seen very few of the so-called "classic" movies of my time. My friends hate talking to me about movies or famous lines from movies because I've never seen them. Name a classic movie... I bet I haven't seen it!
9. I'm very political. I won't tell you which side I'm on, but sometimes I get a little too passionate. I've lost two friends while discussing politics!
10. I don't own a single tube of lipstick. (Can you tell I'm running out of facts?)
11. I am a huge football fan, both college and professional. Go Steelers!

Questions from Marissa Rose:

1. What is your biggest accomplishment with horses?
When I showed 4-H, I leased a horse named Jack. He was awesome and we did everything from showmanship to english to jumping to dressage to driving and even speed classes. He was truly a "Jack of all trades". We won reserve champion in our division one year at the fair and I'm not sure much else can top that memory.

2. Do you have any hobbies apart from horses that you love?
I really enjoy bird watching, going shooting, gardening, and scrapbooking (although I hardly ever have time for that these days).

3. What is your ultimate goal that you are working towards with your horses?
Mostly to have a successful partnership with Lilly and to be successful in the show ring, but I'll know our hard work has paid off when we win a blue ribbon in a western pleasure class.

4. What is your favorite tv show?
Criminal Minds

5. What kind of music do you listen to?
I enjoy pretty much all kinds of music, but country is my favorite.

6. What is your personal love story? (With a husband/boyfriend/ex? If you don't want to go that deep, with a hobby? Or more obviously, with horses?)
I met my hubby at work when we both lived in Virginia. I sat by one of the only printers in the office and noticed he printed a LOT of papers. He later told me he was printing junk so he'd have an excuse to come see me. :)

7. What is your favorite love story? (Movie, books, etc?)
I love the movie Somewhere In Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. It's an oldie from 1980, but I just love it.

8. What is the most important thing to you when looking at a horse boarding facility? (Obviously our horses care is the first and foremost thing. So lets skip that one and be really picky and selfish. So basically what is your favorite thing at your barn that you couldn't live without, or the thing you most wish you had. Lighted arena? Indoor Arena? Covered tack area? Trail access?)
I think I've finally found that perfect barn! (knock on wood!) The only thing that could make it better is a smaller price tag. I finally have an indoor arena and that's something I've always wanted.

9. What is the most lavish thing you have ever had at a barn? Or, considering a lot of us board at something that is awesome for the horse and not so awesome for us, what do you wish you had in your wildest barn dream? (Air conditioned riders lounge? Heated tack area? Showers and lockers for riders? Couches?)
Ooh, showers would be super nice to have! An air conditioned/heated indoor would also be nice!

10. I think my questions have been pretty awesome, but I'm seriously running out of steam. Did you guys like my questions?
LOL! Yes!

11. Who is your hero and why?
To every little girl, her father is her hero. My dad is definitely my hero, even now.

Questions from TBA:

1. What equestrian sport that you've never done before would you like to try?
Cutting. Those horses are amazing and I'd love to ride one someday.

2. If you could ride any horse (living or not), who would it be?
That's a tough one... I think I would probably choose Rugged Lark. I have always admired him.

3. If you could buy one tack item, no matter the expense, what would it be?
I'm quite practical when it comes to tack, so I'd be happy with a nice western show saddle.

4. Why did you start blogging and who in real life knows that you blog?
I started blogging to keep track of my progress with Lilly. I didn't think I would end up with many followers, but I'm so happy to have created this extended blog family! Mostly only my closest friends and family know I blog. I don't think any of them read this blog, though... except for my mom. Hi, mom! :)

5. Besides horses, what is your favorite hobby?

6. Second favorite animal? (horses are obviously your first :)
German Shepherd Dogs

7. Favorite color?

8. Least favorite equestrian fashion fad?
Tuxedo shirts with vests... although I wore my fair share of them!

9. Black or brown tack?

10.What is your favorite place to go besides the barn? (can be a travel destination or someplace close to you)
Anywhere with water. I love the beach!

11.Favorite food that you couldn't live without?

Since I'm late to the party, everyone has already been nominated and participated, but I at least wanted to thank those who nominated me and get their questions answered. Now you can all sleep easy having learned more about me than you probably ever wanted to know. :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bailey - April 1999 - July 15, 2013

It was October of 1999 and I had just settled into a new rental house outside of my duty station at Camp Lejeune. I really wanted to get a dog, so I went down to the local animal shelter and found a very sweet, very skinny German Shepherd mix. She was really shy, but after looking into those eyes, I had to have her.

She was 5 or 6 months old at the time and I spent quite a bit of energy and resources trying to get her healthy. It didn't take her long to come around, though, and before long she was a happy, healthy puppy and we were enjoying our time together.

She traveled around with me from house to house, all the while being a super good girl as I served my country. When I moved back home after I got out of the Marines, she went with me, but after being home for just a few short months, I decided I wanted to move back down to North Carolina. My parents offered to let Bailey stay with them at their house to make it easier for me and I decided it would be a great idea. My parents have 10 acres and I knew she'd love having all that room to run around.

For the first couple years after I was gone, she stayed my dog even though she lived with grandma and grandpa. When I would come home for visits she would stick to me like glue and my dad would tell her what a traitor she was. As time went on, though, she became my dad's dog. She was always happy to see me, but she was much more loyal to him, and they were best buds. She would ride around on the Gator with him, take rides in the truck to go get hot dogs, and follow him around the yard like the loyal Shepherd she was.

As is the case with most Shepherds, though, as she aged, her hips got worse and worse. They tried several different medications to keep her comfortable, but the one thing that seemed to work the best was Carprofen. Once she was started on that, she had a whole new lease on life and was doing really well. But over the last couple months, the pills hadn't been quite as effective as they once were. She'd been slowing down and having more trouble with her hind end, but she was still doing the things she loved. We all started to wonder about how much longer she would have, but the vet said as long as she's still doing what she loves, let her enjoy it.

Every time I went home to visit, I'd give her an extra hug and kiss and tell her how much I loved her just in case it was the last time I got to see her. We shared our last moments together this past Christmas because she was laid to rest this afternoon.

I hope Annie was there to greet you as you crossed over the bridge. Rest peacefully, sweet girl. You'll be missed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The New Place

Lilly is settling in nicely at her new home. So far she's transitioning well on the grass, and the barn manager (we'll call her J) has been keeping track of all her turnout time on the white board. She's up to an hour and a half, three times a day. So far she's looking really good! I think the grass, along with the constant access to hay while she's in her stall (through her slow feeder net), has been good for her. It provides a more 'natural' environment for her digestive system, and she hasn't started gaining any weight. At least not yet.

Doesn't she look great!?
She's being turned out in a little pasture on the front side of the barn. It still has a lot of grass in it, but it works better for them regarding her turnout. I've heard she's been a bit of a booger when it's time to come back inside, but who would want to leave the green grass to stand in a stall?

Current pasture.
Once her turnout time is increased and she's been transitioned to the grass, she'll get a much larger pasture out back behind the barn, and she'll be next to the boys. There aren't any outdoor shelters but they all have very large trees that will provide them shade if they need it. Because of the 12/12 turnout rotation and the fact that they bring them in when it's going to storm, I'm not too concerned that she doesn't have shelter. Normally that's a must have for me when looking for a barn, but I've never really had this kind of dedicated care before either.

This will be Lilly's pasture when she's ready for full time turnout.
I haven't ridden her at the new place yet because I just haven't had time. I've longed her in the indoor a couple times, though, to watch her move and make sure she's not getting foot sore. There isn't a round pen, so I had to dig through my stuff and find an actual longe line. I wasn't sure how she'd do since we haven't longed that way in years, but she was fantastic. I'm looking forward to our first ride!

Nice and big, with plenty of room to longe and ride.
No one really uses the outdoor arena, but I plan to ride in there quite often. I enjoy being outside, so as long as it's not super hot or rainy, that's probably where we'll be. I don't think we've ever worked in a grass ring before, so I'll be curious to see how she does with that kind of footing. The thing is huge and I love that I don't have to zigzag around jumps. We can do whatever we want!

Giant, and oh so green!
I've taken over one corner of the tack room with my equipment, but it's a very large area and they told me I could take up however much space I wanted. Of course I plan to expand, but for now I'm trying to keep myself under control.

Tack trunk and western saddle!
Something else I've never had before... mirrors in the indoor! They're a bit dirty, so I might not be able to keep my OCD under control for much longer. The Windex might travel with me to the barn one of these days. Lilly is hysterical with these. She sniffs and sniffs and sniffs and sniffs (you get the picture) the mirrors trying to figure out who is in the arena with her. I have to drag her away, otherwise she'd stand there all day sniffing.

Greetings blogosphere!
I mentioned there were four other horses at the barn. Two mares and two geldings. One of the mares is a Clydesdale named Manda, and the other is a Percheron cross named Sabrina. Sabrina is super anti-social and wouldn't come close enough for me to get her picture, but Manda said she'd allow one photo, as long as I photographed her 'good side'.

Manda, posing for the camera.
The boys tried to be social, but the fence is pretty high, so they did the best they could. Dakota is the big Appy and Dobbins is the black QH. They're both very sweet. Dobbins is still recovering from a pelvic fracture he suffered when a herd of horses spooked, slammed into him, and knocked him to the ground. He's doing pretty well, but it's been a long recovery.

"Did you bring us treats?"
All in all, I'm happy with the move. I'm having to learn to let go a little bit, which is hard for me. I'm normally super anal with my horse's care, and I just don't trust those taking care of my girl. Past experiences have taught me not to trust. J is super nice, but a bit more controlling than I'm used to and I'm a little afraid I might have gone from one extreme to the other. So far since moving Lilly, J has given her a bath and bought her a new halter. She's also called me about Lilly's supplements twice, telling me what I should do to change them, and which ones she no longer needs. I just thank her for her input, but let her know I'm happy with the way things are for now. The bath thing had me really upset for a while, but I've let it go. If it happens again, or I notice they start changing stuff without asking me, then we're going to have to chat.

Life is good!
On the positive side, though, she always has hay, water, and ankle deep shavings. When she's outside she has her fly mask on and is sprayed with my fly spray. There's never more than one pile of manure in her stall at any given time, and she seems very happy. I guess there's no harm in having a concerned barn manager as long as she remembers at the end of the day, Lilly is my horse.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Moving Day!

Today probably wasn't the best day to move Lilly to a new barn. The weather was NASTY and it rained the entire morning. Luckily, the monsoon rains didn't start until roughly 4 minutes after I pulled her off the trailer, but I wasn't able to unload any of my tack or get any cute pictures of our adventure. Last month was the second wettest June on record for North Carolina. The amount of rain we've had is unheard of. I'm not sure it's ever going to stop! Luckily I board at a barn with an indoor now, so I will learn to hate the rain a little bit less than I did yesterday.

Aside from the rain and the flooded streets, our move was uneventful. Lilly is an old pro at this sort of thing, and she's been at enough shows that she really could care less where she is. "Is there a hay bag in the stall? Oh, okay then!" She did have one minor freak out when I first walked her into the barn. It was pretty dark in there and I think she was having trouble adjusting her eyes to the darkness. She did the downward dog pose and stayed there for about 3 seconds trying to decide what the heck she was going to do with herself. Luckily I was able to talk her out of doing anything silly.

From then on, she was her normal, chill self, even though we couldn't hear ourselves think, thanks to the deluge of rain beating down on the barn roof. She never whinnied once and settled into her stall right away. None of the other horses whinnied at her either. They all just stood quietly snacking on hay. Everyone at the barn loves her and I think she's going to be very happy at her new place.

I did manage to snap one picture of her in the stall, but pictures of everything else will have to wait until there's sunshine... not sure when that'll be. Maybe next month.

New digs!
Because of the rain, she won't get any turnout time today, so she'll start her grass transition tomorrow, assuming it's dry. She's going to love her pasture for sure!

Monday, July 1, 2013


First of all, thanks so much for all your comments regarding the possible new place. Aside from the potential for my horse to develop into an absolute pudge, I was also concerned with laminitis, and to an extent, the cost. I've been doing a lot of thinking about whether or not I could make the pasture situation work and if this place would be a good fit. Your comments were quite helpful.

As it turns out, it was all kind of taken out of my hands. Saturday evening I received a text from the BO that said, "Big news at the barn! Be sure and stop by tomorrow to get your letter." I figured the letter said they had decided to sell, and wondered also if maybe they were going to ask us to leave. They are indeed asking us to leave, and they want everyone out by July 31st. Before, they talked about letting everyone stay until the place sold, but I guess something happened with one of the other boarders and they're just done with it all. I can understand where they're coming from. None of their horses are even there, and it's a lot of work to keep up a horse farm when you're not even reaping the reward of having your own horses there.

So it's time to go!

There was one other barn fairly local to me that I wanted to check out. I went over there this morning, and while the place is nice, they only turn out mares with other mares and that just won't work for me. They'll do individual turnout, but it's $50 extra per month. I got the impression I might be nickel and dimed to death there as well. They charge a $15 'grounds fee' if you have your trainer come out to give a lesson, for example. What's up with that??

Short of sitting around and waiting for something else to fall into my lap, which I don't have the option to do anymore, I have nowhere else to go. I've either boarded there already and left for one reason or another, won't board there because the place is run down or has a poor reputation, the place is too far away, or you'd have to be independently wealthy to board there.

So I went back to the super green pasture barn to chat with the owner and barn manager. We spoke at length about the green grass and they agreed to turn her out in the smaller 'rehab' paddock while they're getting her used to the grass. The owner is going to mow it down as close to the ground as he can and they'll transition her very slowly. We discussed a muzzle, but that'll be a last resort for me. If it's a must it's a must, but hopefully we won't need it. I'm also going to buy Lilly a Nibblenet since she certainly won't need much hay after being out on pasture all night. They said they like the 2" holes, but I'm going with the 1.25" to really slow her down.

The owner and the barn manager seem very knowledgeable and I trust that they'll take really good care of my girl. I'm going to be going on vacation a few times this month and I stressed how important it was that I feel comfortable with them taking care of Lilly. I know the barn manager from another barn I boarded at and I really like her, so that helps me feel better.

So tomorrow is moving day! I figure, why wait? I've learned that once you give your notice, places have a tendency to forget to take care of your horse. Not that my current place would do that, but I don't see any reason to hang around. Might as well get her over there, get her comfy, and that way she'll have time to settle before I leave next Wednesday for my first vacation.

Here's a picture of the inside of the barn. The place actually has 23 stalls, but they're only going to have about 6 boarders. Lilly's stall will be on the right, all the way down on the end. She'll be in the corner so she can see outside.

It's not soggy in here!
The outdoor is grass, which isn't my favorite, but it stays pretty dry and I figure I'll be doing a lot more riding in the indoor anyway. They don't allow jumping for insurance purposes, so I'll never have to worry about moving jumps out of my way ever again. The owner said he doesn't mind if I bring in some ground poles and cavalettis, but he doesn't want a jump course set up outside.

I guess this place used to be a pretty big deal and they had shows here all the time. The owner of the place is now 70 and his wife has terminal cancer, so he's really scaled back. They currently board two mares and two geldings. Both mares are draft horses... one Clydesdale and one Percheron cross, and the boys are a black QH and a giant, handsome Appy. Throw in a beautifully marked palomino Paint and we have a colorful barn!

I sure hope I like it here!