I woke up to a grey and cloudy day. Ugh. Seasonal affective disorder anyone? Those days seem to zap my energy and normally cheerful spirit. It's why I live in Colorado. We have something like 360 days of sunshine...
Well not today.
However, today is my lesson day and that is motivation enough. Our lovely neighbor, Mrs. Kravitz, sent her husband over with the tractor to dig our trailer out.... the 40mph winds over Christmas created a wall of snow that I'm quite sure our truck would not blast through hauling a trailer. (see why I love Mrs. Kravitz in spite of her binocular watching habit? - she does have a heart of gold)
I loaded Sera and off I went to the barn. The three yellow labs - Molly, Turbeaux and Josie in her puffy periwinkle coat run about cheerfully barking to announce a new trailer pulling in. Jake, the Border Collie, is silent and ducking about watchfully as all good Border Collies seem to do.
Rex's husband Glen was working on the manure pile... using his tractor to load the composted manure into the manure spreader and heading out to the pasture to spread it... a constant sound of machinery filled the yard. Slow and steady.... moving to and from the barn while the unearthed compost steams in the cold...
After a friendly greeting, all the dogs return to galloping along with Glen... out to the pasture and back from the pasture. Happy in their work - following - taking turns riding shotgun.
My lesson was a good one - I rode for half and Rex rode for half. I ask Rex to ride Sera occasionally cuz it's a good check-in for both of us. Rex feels where Sera is at and gives me good input. I get to see what Sera looks like... "Oh! Rex, can you do a turn on the forehand.. she isn't stepping out as wide as I thought she was on the left hind is she? Oh! And can you ask her for a lengthening - she seems very straight and uphill doesn't she? Oh! And maybe ask her for a simple change....yeah, she totally blows me off there too! And what is she doing when you ask for a flying change?"
I always learn something in watching and asking....it's really fun for me.
I cooled Sera out and brought her home. Furry Husband met me in the pasture and while I put Sera out to pasture, he unhitched the trailer. We stopped for lunch and I headed back to the barn to clean stalls. The Sunday cleaner was out of town and I'm the fill in. (Heck - it earns me lessons and I'm a lesson whore so I don't mind mucking stalls a bit.)
I cleaned the pasture run-in's first. Honeymoon, a dapple grey, Holsteiner mare imported from Europe is out here. She has eyes that would make anyone fall in love with horses. The rest of the herd is Rawhide, a red roan, QH gelding, 20 something lesson horse... Dunny, a wooly cushing's dun QH mare approaching 30 (I rode both Dunny and Rawhide long ago...) Cachet, a 20-something bay Holsteiner embryo transfer foal from CSU... she came with Metia, one of the barn horses. My roommate in college leased Cachet. (wow am I old) And Pal, the youngster of the group, a Paint gelding owned by Rex's other sister, Jamie.
In the barn, I started with Metia's stall... she is in her 20's now and retired from PSG level Dressage. She was one of the first CSU embryo transplant foals from way back when. She's registered Dutch... Rex's sister, Mindy, owns her and evented with her before she went to vet school. Once she went to vet school, Metia came to live with Rex. I leased her one summer long, long ago and a picture of me smiling from her back is in our bathroom. They were able to get an embryo transfer from her 3 years ago and I remember all the rectal exams it took for the reproduction work... she seemed to like the exams so we started calling her "Back Door Betty"....
New Moon is next. A dapple grey Holsteiner mare born on the farm out of Honeymoon, out in the pasture. New Moon is injured and we weren't sure she'd make it. She hurt one leg pretty bad and her other leg began to break down from the strain. The last time I came to clean stalls, she was down and depressed. This week, she is up! She is alert and moving around. Her attitude is 180 degrees better. She is rearranging her stall mats and trying to break free of her stall... I don't think she's out of the woods yet, but it looks promising. She won't be a riding horse anymore but her strong personality will still be around and we are all grateful.
Cabachon is the third stall. A bright bay... he seems smaller than many warmbloods to me, yet when Rex is riding him he magically grows in size and looks big. He is also a Holsteiner and a stallion. I remember when he was born. Honeymoon is his dam too... he is always a gentleman and seems to have a very playful way of getting between me holding a forkful of poo and my poop cart... rascal. We think he looks like Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron - that animated movie?
Coyote Moon is next. A dark bay Holsteiner gelding, also out of Honeymoon. I remember his birthday too and I remember his approvals and Holsteiner branding. Yeow! Furry Husband calls him "Wild Child". Coyote has a temper... he doesn't WANT to be in his run while you are cleaning his stall. He gallops and spins and bucks and carries on because you won't let him in... His owner is in NM and he's in training with Rex. I think he's 7 this year.
Magnot, a black Trakhener gelding, is the next horse to greet me. He is from WY and was in training with Rex for his futurities. He developed an unknown growth in his gut... he looks like a bulging pregnant mare but only on one side. It stopped his show career and he stays at the barn because CSU Vet Teaching Hospital is close and no one knows what might happen to the growth (that we all call "Matt"). His owner prefers he's close to CSU vs. in the middle of nowhere WY. He's been to Littleton Large and to CSU and no one can make "Matt" disappear. He seems comfortable and happy for the most part....
Highbrow, another Trakehner gelding from WY is in the stall next to Coyote. He's chestnut with a white blaze ending up in a thin raised eyebrow looking mark over one eye. Rex's mom owns him and rides him... he is the most cuddly horse in the barn and would rather have you hold his head and swoon over him than clean his stall.
Max is next to Highbrow... I forget what breeding Max is... I want to say Holsteiner but I'm not sure. He's bay, tall, beautiful and afraid of EVERYTHING. When you enter his stall with the fork to clean manure... he acts as if he's never, ever seen a fork or anyone cleaning his stall for that matter. He came from OK for training in the spring and we don't know if he'll ever go home? He's doing well and his owner came out this summer to ride and check in on him.
Last and certainly not least is Obari, Rex's riding horse. He is a bright bay and he has PRESENCE. Wow. He's come a long way... he came for training last year and really didn't like people at all - his story was long. His owner wanted to sell him - she was the third in a series of fearful owners and he'd learned to intimidate his riders - people said he was dangerous. After he came so far with Rex, she decided to buy him. Now? Obari goes to clinics and he tries hard under saddle. She plans to show him this season and there's been no more monkey business. Obari comes to say hello to the humans in his life and he is amazing to watch.
I stopped cleaning long enough to chat with students in between stalls. Gail rode Rawhide. Karen, a local veterinarian, rode her Holsteiner mare, Mocha and told some Mocha stories. I talked to Amber who brought Callusaur... another Holsteiner that I remember being born at the barn out of Cachet. He is dark bay - almost black and has a white stripe on his upper lip that looks like a milk mustache. Amber is amazing with Callusaur and he is not an easy horse - she told me he's 15 this year. (did I mention how OLD I am?) He's been laid up with an injury and it was good to see them together!
And there are the horses who have died... Clown, Valkyrie, Kolissa, Chopper.... I remember them all.
I finally made it home and feel lucky to have spent the day at the barn with horses and people I love and know so well...