Mickey's Day
Mickey passed on 10/29/06
See the last entry.

I have an impromptu series of messages running over on Illinois Horse online (www.illinoishorse.com) that sort of started off as "Mickey's Day" where I would write about events in Mickey's life or what ever else was going on with the "Herd". I have already added a few introduction messages about myself and the gang on this board, but I went back and collected some of the Mickey's Day messages from Illinois Horse and though I would share them here, since a number of folks have shown interest in my writing.

Now, what follows is long... and some messages will not make specific sense as they are answers to other messages, but generally will fit in.
Much thanks goes to Illinois Horse Online and Laura and Tess who operate it. I think of it as a sister site to my own defunct Midwest Ho
rse Stables Directory.

Now, without further a do: Mickey's Day.....

Jan 19th, 2002, 7:29pm
Oh, where to begin... Hmmm... between myself, my wife Pam, and a friend of ours, we own 3 horses. It runs something like this... about 12 years ago I started riding on a regular basis. Read that as I went and rented a horse for an hour once a week at a livery stable. Well, they got so tired of me showing up they put me to work on the weekends doing your typical barn work and leading rides and watching the trails. That is where I began riding Mickey (the wonder horse! It's a wonder hes a horse.) Mickey was in the livery herd, but to fast for most livery riders, so that ment us expendable barn rats got to ride the unrentable ones. Needless to say, Mickey and I over the years became quite the team of catching the run away livery horses. Mickey is your Old (or original) Style Appy.

In 2000, after about 10 years of weekends at the livery stables, I bought Mickey and moved him to a stables a little closer to me on the southwest side of Chicago. Moved him there because a friend of mine had retired her horse there. This being Duke, a retired carriage draft Belgian.

Duke is one BIG love bug, loves to be around people, and mug for treats. Hes also careful about not stepping on your toes, as he weighs close to a ton.

Now what to give my wife for a Christmas present in 2000? Cant really give her Duke, as he belongs to our friend, though we share board on him... Hmmm... What about a Mini Duke? Just so happens another friend of ours owns a pony, a pony that my wife used to work with in her former job. Bingo... Purchased Pony - in comes Snickers to the herd.

So I think thats quite enough in the way of horses now. I ride Mickey, and sometimes Duke. Pam does not ride, but is going to do a little natural horsemanship training with Snickers, who is 8. Mickey is mid-20'ish and is actually been going slowly blind to now hes at the point he cant really see any more. Still does not stop us from getting out on the trail though. Duke is 28 or so, may be 29 by now. All are in good health for their ages.

I, for 25 years, worked at a nature museum down in Lincoln Park in the city. Pam used to work at Lincoln Park Zoo, but moved on to a different job last year. I am a computer programmer and technical guru by trade. In my spare time (HA!) I operated the Midwest Stables Directory at www.stablesdirectory.org (Used to be known as the Online Chicago Region Stables Directory, but we branched out.)
Feel free to pop me an email to horse@centaur.org or whatever. Would love to try to get together with other local folks from the site here.
More fun later!


Jan 23rd, 2004, 12:17pm
Well this kind of caught me off guard...
The vet was out at Horseman's today on another call, so I asked him to look at my appy Mickey's sheath. For the last month or so I have noticed it being much dirtier then normal, and what with the holidays we have not been out to see the heard much...
When we moved the herd to Horsemans I noticed the sheath seemed much more gunked up. Now Mickey has always had a fairly large sheath, and more so since hes been retired and does not move around much due to his blindness..
Anyway, the vet discovered a fairly progressed carcinoma on his penis and sheath. It does not look good for Mickey. He does not seem to be in too much discomfort and is eating just fine, but at some point it looks like we will have to have him put down. No timeframe. Im still just gathering information here. Anyone else ever experience anything along this line?
Mickey is a good old trooper, blind, did over 10 years as a rental livery horse with kooks on his back (including me), and has paid his dues in this world. I'll do what makes sense and what I can for him.

Jan 23rd, 2004, 1:16pm
Yea, hes an Appy. No one is quite sure of his age, but whats left of his teeth puts him in his late 20's. Might even be up to 30. Hard to tell. He went totally moon blind these past 4 or 5 years or so, and is beginning to show arthritic changes in his front knees. He still does some light riding, and can move real good when someone is steering. He has always had a little crusty-ness on the bottom of his sheath, but none of the vets that have ever seen it said anything beyond old age changes. go figure.

Feb 1st, 2004, 10:30pm
Was out by Horseman's today with the camera. Took some shots of Mickey, Duke, and Snickers out playing in the snow.
All the pictures are here: winterhorses

Duke loves a good roll in the snow...

Update on Mickey: Hes still acting his old self. We will be taking him to a clinic once things warm up a little more and get a second opinion on his condition. Thanks for everyone's kind words and pointers to things.


Feb 5th, 2004, 3:58pm

I know nothing about breeding, and I know only a little about the "appaloosa" as a breed other then I suspect Mickey is not 100% appy, hes got too much tail and has more bone mass then purebred appys I have seen (and as been pointed out, Appy is a color breed, as there are different appy types. When I think Appy, I think of the horses by the paloos indians). I do know Mickey however, as himself. If he is a representative of the appy traits then hes is as loyal a horse and as hard working a horse as you could ever hope to have. I believe there is some draft in him somewhere in the past(or at least some type of heavier horse), thus the fuzziness and bigger bone structure, which is good by me, because hes been nearly bomb proof in all the years I have know him. Hes a trusting horse, 100% blind now but will still take you for a ride. In his time he went from never having seen a water crossing to a ride with 6 and plowed right through them! Hes a smart horse, was always first in for feeding back in the old days. Hes not really an alpha horse, he liked to hang out with the quieter geldings. Hes a sturdy horse, only time I ever knew him to be lame was when he charged in for feeding with the herd and slipped on the concrete walk and went down on his haunches, was off for a week. Hes a fast horse... in his day he could beat just about any of the 60 some livery horses down the straightaway with my fat butt on his back. Hes a predictable horse... he had his quirks and we always came to an understanding about them to our mutual satisfaction. Yes, some can say they are bull headed, but then again we can be as well. There has never been anything that was not worked out. Hes a horse that loves to do his job, and knows when hes done it well. To this day hes always been a gentleman for the farrier or the vet. You can just about do anything with him and he hardly complains. His cancer cant be any fun, but hes hid it so long that it went unnoticed until just recently...

So if Mickey is in any way representative of the Appaloosa traits, you could not ask for a finer horse. Not to say other breeds can't be the same, I simply give you my experience with this one great guy.

Feb 18th, 2004, 12:18pm
Ill be taking my horse Mickey over there tomorrow to have his cancer looked at. It was a quick call to set up the appointment, seem like nice folks, Ill let you all know how it goes.

I maintain a list of vets and clinics over on the stables directory at:


Feb 19th, 2004, 8:40pm

As some of you may recall, my old appy Mickey was diagnosed with a type of skin cancer a few weeks ago. At that time it did not look good for him. I did a little study up on the internet, and also decided to take him in to a clinic for a second opinion. Hes an old boy, and some day time will catch up with him, but hes still got alot of spirit (even blind as he is) and I wanted to at least see what a second opinion would be..... Well, to quote the vet today: "Some day this horse will die, but not from this!"
Basically, yes, its a cancer, there is a lump in a lymph node down in his belly by his sheath, but the vet said that one should not be a problem in the long run. The skin cancer on his sheath and penis are easily treatable with this topical cream that will kill them off. Yes, he was a bloody icky mess up in the sheath, but the vet deftly cleaned a great deal of the tumors away, a bunch just about fell off...
Mickey was given a little Ace to get him to relax and drop his member. He went through it all like a trooper. The hardest part was the initial loading of Mickey into the trailer. Its a foot step up, and Mickey kept balking. So we tossed his "seeing eye pony" Snickers in the trailer first, and then with the help of Horseman's son Luther, we finally got Mickey up there.
They encouraged us to bring Snickers along with into the exam room, and both horses were very well behaved the entire time. Even while the vet was working on Mickey, the worst he did was some fidgeting around and to pick up a rear leg, but never kicked out. Snickers was very happy to just stand around and watch and happy that it was not him getting worked on. Of course everyone thought Snickers was just the sweetest thing and he got petted by everyone in attendance.

With the help of Luther, Mickey will be on a 3 week treatment of the cream to kill the cancer, and we will take Mickey back at the end of next month for a checkup. My great thanks to Luther and Horseman, and to the attending vet Dr. MacHarg, and to all the staff at Kendall Road Equine Hospital. It is quite the place and Dr. MacHarg gave us a tour as Mickey was perking up in a holding stall. They showed us all the stalls, regular and isolation, and the specialty operation room for the colic surgeries, its quite the place. Leaving, Mickey remembered how to step up into the trailer and hopped right on... gotta love that horse. Back in his stall, he went right back to munching hay and looking for dinner like nothing even happened.

So things are looking good for dear old Mickey... his clock is still running!

Thanks for everyone's kind words and support for Mickey. More as I know it!

Feb 22nd, 2004, 12:17am

Harumph... Mickey must learn to cooperate....

Ok, so today is the day we start with the topical cream on Mickey's skin cancer. The vet said to give things a couple of days to heal from when we had him at the clinic, and then start on this cream on the tumors on his sheath and shaft...
Well, the sheath - no problem.... but the shaft Ok, vet says we use the old trick of 2CC Ace in the mouth under the tongue, it will get absorbed there and in about 45 minutes Mickey will be all mellow and drop....

WELL, the old fart aint cooperating! He always was a modest one.

Im darn glad I bought many pairs of latex gloves today, and I must have had my baptism of fire because next thing I know I got my hand up in there past my wrist and I still cant get ahold of him... grumble...
Im muttering to Pam that I have my hand up in there and its an utterly new experience thats to be sure....<cough>

No joy... so he gets another CC and we wait some more... he peaks out a little bit, and i say Quick! give me the cream.... but before I can get it on the tumors he sucks it back up... grumble grumble... Goofy horse... We are trying to help here!

Well, didnt want to give him any more ace for the day.. of course hes standing around really mellow... gods only knows what was going through his head as I had half my arm up inside him..... I AINT gonna tell you what was going through mine... Grumble Grumble.... Least I wont have to pay a vet anymore to clean his sheath... aint much I dont know there now!

At anyrate... I think i got a little of the cream up in there... Tomorrow we get Luther to give it a try... may have to pop Mickey some ace with a needle...

Ok, You all can quit snickering...

grumble grumble... silly modest horse.....
(got to love him though! )


Mar 18th, 2004, 10:40pm
So today we bring Mickey back to the vet hospital to look at his skin cancer.... hes been on treatment for 3 weeks. The outer sheath cancer has been pretty much killed off with the topical cream, and the vet says its looks good.
However, the old fart prude that he is has not been letting us get to the tumors on his shaft very well. Even after being popped with close to 3 cc of Ace for 5 days in a row hes still not dropping all the way and we have not been able to get the medicine on the tumor. Even today when the vet popped Mickey with the ace IV, he still didnt cooperate very much. (Vet says he must have great kidneys to be flushing it out fast.)

Anyway, to keep poor Mickey from becoming a pin cushion with another few weeks of shots and then fishing for his privates, the doc suggested a small operation to remove the tumors and the a coating of the medicine to take care of everything in one quick swoop. So next Thursday Mickey goes back and has his private parts worked on (OUCH!). There is always risk in any procedure, specially where one where he will be put under, even for a fairly short time. So wish us all luck and hopefully this will solve the major problems. Mickey still will have a little tumor under his belly, but the vet says its not going to bother anything in the long run.
So looks like Mickey will be fine for a while yet.
The vet was impressed we have Mickey trained to step up and down in the trailer, what with him being blind and all. Comes from me working with him over logs and curbs and stuff as he was going blind.
Oh, and Snickers came along again and behaved nicely and was fawned over.

The hospital, unlike the last time we were there, was quite busy and had a number of horse patients there in stalls. Saw my first horse hooked to an IV drip, impressive. Its an interesting place.
More to come!

Mar 20th, 2004, 8:59pm
Well the folks who didn't come out missed some fun.... Ill let Patch give the details on most of it, but here are some pictures from today. Enjoy!

Mickey and Chris
Riding Mickey for the first time in many a moon. Down the road and over by the stream. Took 7 or 8 tries, but got Mickey to walk down into the stream and through the water. Not bad for an old blind fart.

Riding Mickey
The wind was a blowing! I had to lean to one side to stay on. For a horse that had not had a saddle on his back in 6 months, we mostly walked, then trotted a little, and even cantered a length after he had warmed up. I know hes not as spry as he used to be, but then neither am I.

Duke and Snickers
Donna came out to visit, and here meets Duke and Snickers and a 30 mile an hour wind...

Duke, Mickey, Snickers
Free for all! Duke, Donna, Snickers. Mickey & Patch. At one point they all had Donna pinned up against a wall begging for treats. (Well, not Patch, but you know what I mean.

More fun later!

Mar 28th, 2004, 10:09pm
Well, back on Thursday Mickey went in for his little operation and things apparently went very well. This was to remove the skin cancer growth from his privates. The cream had worked on the outer sheath, but it was just to hard to get in the right spots up inside. So Dr. Macharg suggested a small operation to clean things up. Mickey (and Snickers along for the ride) spent the night so the operation could start first thing in the morning so he could be watched in recovery.
Mickey was put all the way under and did well, though I hear that it was good that Snickers was there because Mickey was not a happy camper as he came out of the drugs until he was put back with his seeing-eye-pony.

We go back in 3 weeks for a checkup. Mickey's sheath looks fine and he seems to be his normal self. Here is the Stables Directory herd from this weekend over at Horsemans.
Duke, Mickey, Snickers
Large, Medium, Small
Moe, Larry, Curley
Got Treats?, What's this? Grass?, I'm Cute so feed me.
- etc.


Apr 15th, 2004, 5:40pm
So its been 3 weeks since Mickey's little <ow> surgery <ow> on <ow> his <ow> penis <oooowww> and the vet wanted him back to see how things are doing. Well Mickey is doing just fine. No signs of the skin cancer reoccurring as of yet. So for now we are set for another 4 to 6 months before we need another checkup. Keeping fingers crossed here. There is still the little tumor up underneath his tummy, but it dosent seem to be a problem.
The interesting event of the day was with Mr. Terror Pony who comes along for the ride as Mickey's security blanket. I figured while I had the boys at the vets I would get them their spring shots and flu spritz. Well Mr. Pony gets his vaccination in the butt (because if you give it to him in the neck he has a stiff neck for 3 days) and is ok with it so far.... however when it comes time for the spritz in the nose he takes off into his HI HO SILVER AWAY! impression. Ok, so Snicker's evasion routine it to rear up on his hind legs and try to stare you down. Well the little cuss IS only 10 hands after all and even though we know it is improper behavior, it is kinda funny to see. Yes yes... I know... he needs to get that trained out of him, but what can I say. Anyway... Mr. Napoleon-complex does not want that tube stuck up his nose and it takes 3 of us and a squeeze cage to get it in him, the little fart.

So that was most of the days adventure. Mickey is doing well. I was very impressed at how easy hes getting in and out of the trailer now... his 4th ride in 2 months and hes got it memorized.. step up and in... step down and out. Can't see a thing but he can be a clever horse when he needs to be.
We got them back home to Horseman's place and tossed them out in the pasture with Duke (aka The Potted Plant) and much grass nibbling ensued. The herd even got to meet a new border horse and much grass nibbling continued unabated; enough for everyone, what hay.

So there we have it for now, the herd is happy and healthy and things are looking good. If anyone ever wants to meet the herd, let me know, we can perhaps do lunch out there some weekend.

Apr 28th, 2004, 6:06pm
Got this in an email today. A friend from my old riding days at Hawthorn Hills/Happy Trails sent me this picture of Mickey from 1991, back before I knew him and back before I started to ride him on a regular basis. With him is the person that rode him mostly before me.

Mickey is 13 years older now, blind, and has the bout of skin cancer, but is still quite the fellow, and seems to be doing just fine. To see him out in the pasture at horseman's munching away on the grass and wandering about, you would never know hes blind. Just a little older and slower. I love this old fart.
Young Mickey
Just for comparison, here is Mickey from a week ago. A little grayer, but still a happy camper.


Apr 29th, 2004, 7:48am

Yea, Mickey has kinda porked out, hasent he... Alas.. so have I... AH well... Perhaps both of us could stand to loose a pound or 3.
I just have to get my butt in gear and ride Mickey some... For the last few years both of us have been out to pasture...<heh>

It perhaps was only a few years after that first picture was taken that I started riding Mickey, he was still in his prime and my riding skills had advanced enough that I could handle him. Mickey's trick was lighting his after burners and blasting home. We eventually came to an understanding - He listened to me when I needed him to do something, and I would reward him with a fast trip home later on. When he was a bad boy he got backed alot, so the sneak taught himself to nearly trot backwards. He learned and I learned.
When we were doing our "job" out at Happy Trails, out watching the trails for trouble with the livery riders, we could turn on a dime and catch anything out there. That was a time!
Now I think hes enjoying his retirement, save hes still looking for a buddy horse to groom with. Like me, Mickey loves getting his back scratched.


May 17th, 2004, 12:19pm

Just though I would drop a note about Mickey and the herd. We spent much of the day Sunday out by the boys and things are going along well with Mickey. Just watching him confidently stride around the pasture at Horseman's is good to see. Where he was before he was in with the boys, but in a mud turnout that was relatively small and had a hot wire top. Mickey didn't move much because he could not see where the hot wire was. Not that it was done on purpose, it was what was available to us at the time. Anyway, Mickey was toodeling around the pasture like he could see where he was going. He has the lay of the land by feel, and since the pasture is on a slope he seems to know he can hang around on the flat bottom side and not bonk any trees. Snickers seems to like to hang out near Mickey. Im sure we could anthropomorphize that all we want, but Mickey will, every now and then, lean over and nose Snickers, just to gauge things.
Snickers is still his same furball little self. Bopping back and forth between grazing and having to inspect what everyone else is doing. He got brought in and put on crossties for a while and brushed out and curried some. He was a good boy and stood quietly on the ties in Horseman's new barn.
Duke was playing Mr. Aloof. The old fart is really retired and living in a world of his own. He ignores you with this stately stare of his like you are beneath his dignity to recognize and goes on about his business. Unless that is you have a treat, then he's your bestest buddy. He still is impressive as he sucks your entire hand into his mouth, lips deftly removing the treats from your fingers, then daintily giving you your hand back with this aire of "You may continue to gaze upon my continence as long as you pay proper respect and homage.. Tithing may continue."

Pixen came to visit the herd. She met Mickey, Snickers, and Duke, and another boarder horse Kona who gets turned out with the gang. We didn't hang out with them too long as it was Nat City going on out there.. Nats everywhere, not bothering the horses, but flying in our face and eyes. So we let the gang go back to munching and we went in a visited Horseman for a few.

Horseman is still in need of prayers and good thoughts. His Radiation/Chemo is really hitting him hard. While it apparently is working on the cancer it has also affected his throat to the point hes having an extremely hard time eating and drinking. The Chemo is also taken the wind out of his sails and as some of you have noted, hes not posting much, though he is keeping a weather eye out on the boards. So keep the good thoughts and prayers coming.

After we left Horseman's we drove up to meet Laura and Tess for Dinner. We found this great Italian place in Woodstock we all like. Before dinner we sat around their house and talked and played with their dogs. Seems the event of the night was for me to toss the doggy toy and for one of their dogs to leap into the air and bat the toy so it would bounce off Pam. After this happened 3 or 4 times Pam just started winging the toy at me so I would wind up with dogs in my lap. Im innocent I tell ya.

Dinner was great... Chat turned to politics.. that kept us buzy most of the evening.. After dinner was a stroll around the central square in Woodstock, a very lovely and interesting area.

Tess is doing surpurb in her battle. It was great to see her out and about. Again, fingers crossed and many a good thought in her direction.

Laura also enjoyed showing off the new additions to their place, their new mare and their 12 new chickens who are growing in leaps and bounds...

All in all it was a great day! Thanks to everyone.

That's about it for now. Mickey is doing "spiffy", he almost broke a canter while I was lunging him yesterday. His engines are kicking back up.
More fun later

May 23rd, 2004, 8:46am

Rain... Lots and lots of Rain....
This week's adventure out by the boys was basically a non-event. Everyone was inside, what all with the periods of rain then dry then rain again. Not that the horses would have cared, god knows thell eat grass and roll in the mud - rain or no. But they were kept inside anyway.
So during the dry spells Pam took Duke and Snickers out for walks or brushing. The most interesting event of the day was when she took Duke out for a walk and a bite of grass. Duke started to whinny up a storm. This was interesting as Duke almost never makes a sound, hes a very quiet horse - Something got him going and hes calling and talking and generally carrying on all the time hes out side of the barn. We didnt figure out who he was trying to communicate with, but as soon as he was back inside he shut up and went back to his old self. He was having a "horsey" moment I guess.

I talked to Mickey as I finished up some electrical work in Horseman's new barn. Horseman wanted lots of light in the barn (we all hate dimly illuminated barns) so I was adding some extra lights in the aisles. I would call Mickey's name as I worked and talk to him and tell him what was going on. He would pick up his head and turn his ears towards me and seem to listen as I went up and down the ladder near his stall. We got lots of light in that barn now, let me tell you - Every stall has its own floodlight, and the rest of the barn is just as well lit. Outlets near each stall for fans or clippers, etc. Stalls are huge too. Anyone looking for boarding out near Elburn/Maple Park should give Denny a call.
Speaking of Denny, his Chihuahua dog Lucy had her pups. TINY little things. 4 of them... We will try to get some pictures next week. They are cute little buggers. Lucy is being a good mommy.
Horseman himself appeared to be a bit better then in recent weeks, hes still got a long road ahead, but he was up and about more. All good thoughts and prayers needed still.
Luther and Marcelino were puttering about the barn doing chores and such. There will soon be a fresh coat of paint on the new barn so I hear.
Thats about it, we had a pleasant day out there, dodging rain drops. I wish I could put a hydro-electric plant on the stream running through the property, I could have made a mint in electricity yesterday.
More fun later!

May 31st, 2004, 8:48pm
This will be a visual Mickey's Day.


Gotta love them horses.


Jun 1st, 2004, 8:47am
Ah , but what you did not see was Mr. Prissy Pony - 3 rain drops fall and hes at the gate ready to come in... He does not like to get his 'do wet. The little stinker.
So he was in while Mickey and Duke ignored the rain and munched away.

Later when Mickey was in getting trimmed it turned out hes got a case of thrush. My fault for not keeping up on picking his hooves as often as I should. Got him on some thrush buster for a little now... should fix him up.

Anyway, it was a nice weekend, in-between the rain that is.

Jun 14th, 2004, 10:48pm
Well, ok... not so much Mickey, but herd is in here at any rate... These are pictures from taking the Family out to visit the horses and for Pam's mother's 75 birthday celebration at the Fisherman's Inn nearby.


More fun later!

Jun 22nd, 2004, 10:30pm

This weeks adventure with Mickey was on Saturday he bonked up his head. Poor guy got an owie. Had the vet out to give him some shots and patch him up. Hes doing ok. Must have been a glancing blow, as the cut was on the right side and the swelling on the left side. Anyway, hes fine, and we are just keeping him in for a few days.
In truth, Im surprised hes not bonked himself up before this, what with him being blind and all. Perhaps another horse was picking on him, don't know, no one saw it.
At any rate, here are some pictures - and some other fun stuff, including a few pictures of Duke's mysterious owner Michele.


Jun 27th, 2004, 9:41am

Oh Mickey is fine. The swelling is greatly reduced. He was turned out and happily munching grass like nothing ever happened. Thats one thing I have to say about Mickey, not much phases him.

Well, we are leaving soon to head back out to Horseman's for the fun day... see folks there!

Jul 5th, 2004, 8:52pm
Some photos from this weekend: http://www.centaur.org/mickeys4th/

I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday!

Jul 6th, 2004, 6:59pm

When I worked at the livery stable we had upwards of 60 horses in the herd.. there was quite the dynamic. We had little groups of horses marking out their turf. We had a studly gelding that would keep his 2 or 3 mares over with him... we had the b1tcH girls - Bonnie the biter and Queeny the kicker - over in another corner, they had no use for any of the geldings, especially my poor Mickey.
We had the old farts club - a couple of older geldings that were low on the totem pole - that would hang out together to have safety in numbers.
(Two of the low totem pole horses would go into the standing stall together for their grain rations, so that when the pushy higher horses would gobble their grain and then go looking for other horses to displace to steal their grain they could not displace these two because there was no way to squeeze into the already packed stall. Who said horses arent clever?)
We had the loners. We had the "you cant catch me" bunch.....
we had all types... but for all of it there was almost no fighting. This i believe because it was made clear from early on that the humans were alpha. Mostly through looks and movement, they caught on fast that you dont mess with each other when there was work to do. Of course it also helped that they were in a good sized pasture where they could all get their own space. But when working they were all in under the covered pen. Its quite a sight to realize as you are walking through a herd of 50 some odd horses that they are getting out of your way because they respect you. Well, all except Bonnie... some mares are just like that! LOL.

Mares form up their pecking order and woe to any gelding that tries to sneak in there. You can try the one-on-one rotation. Break up the group and try the girls one at a time with the gelding, then add the girls back. But most of all I think you have to impress on them that you are alpha, and that bad behavior will not be accepted.

Jul 12th, 2004, 5:30pm

Mickey gets a bath and other assorted events of the day.


Jul 14th, 2004, 8:38am
Interesting event tomorrow (Thursday)... There hopefully will be an new addition to the Stables Directory Herd. Stay tuned to this station.

(Well, the herd is made up of 2 geriatrics and one crazy pony. All geldings, so unless there is a star in the east, you can draw your own conclusions. )

Jul 16th, 2004, 9:54am
Meet Scout - New Herd Member
Thanks all! I never had any thought of owning another horse beyond Mickey. Mickey and I have a many year relationship that can not be put into words. I barely had any relationship with Scout beyond that brief year he was at the zoo with Pam. I just figured what the heck, IH was phasing out their back pasture horses, and Scout is an "interesting" looking guy, what all with his bicolored eyes. Anyway, Scout did his duty for folks, and I had a hard time with him being abandoned, even if he was doing ok out on pasture. (Hey, 3 years of pasture and the worse I can find on him is a sun burnt nose and he needs the farrier.)

So the price was right, and the board was fair and within my means, so home he came, not even knowing if he was rideable. We knew he had been driven, so at least knew that, but there was some question over his riding abilities. Shortly after we got him home I gave him a bath, and then sucked up my courage and tossed my saddle on him. After minute or 2 we were off walking around horseman's farm.
After another few minutes he remembered how to neck rein, so we had some time part plow reining and part neck reining, we ended up western. As I expected, hes not much on leg cues or going forward yet. Wither due to training or simply not being ridden in ages I dont know. I was not about to force the issue beyond a pleasant walk around to see the sights. We did do a few trot strides, so I know that gear is there. He did balk at going down hill once. Possibly due to his feet needing a good trimming. He tried to pop up on me there, but I quickly calmed him down and we tried a few things. He still refused to go forward down this one spot. Here is where my experience with Mickey came into play. Mickey has a very eazy reverse gear. When Mickey used balk at going forward with me, we wound up backing Mickey through the problem spot and then going forward from there.
Sure enough, I backed Scout down the little hill, reminding me of Mickey all the way, and once to the bottom things were back to normal and we continued on.

Well, not wanting to push on the first day, what all with him being pulled from one pasture, getting poked and prodded at the vets (he got all his shots and coggins) and then winding up at his new home, I turned him out to pasture and he went exploring the field and getting to know his new pasture mates.
Also, we noted that hes an easy load, hoped on and off the trailer as if it was nothing. He also picks his feet up very nice, so should be no problem with the farrier.

As to his breeding, I dont see any Arabian in him either, but Michele swears there is. This was a matter of some little contention when he was at the Zoo, because his old owner says there is draft cross in him, Michele says there is not, and in the end his sign on his zoo stall simply read: "Scout - Horse".

So we shall see what happens from here. Not that I was looking for another horse beyond Mickey. Hes still my best buddy, old and googleyed as he his. He can still carry me for a walk down the grass, but I would not push him beyond that anymore. Hes still sound and loves to be ridden as he seems to enjoy getting out, but he can't go as far or as fast as he used to. (Of course me losing some weight might help there....)

Thanks all for your kind words. Again folks are invited to come visit the "herd" when we are out there. Or talk with Horseman, he likes visitors. (Of course call him before hand.)

How do I get myself into these things?

Jul 16th, 2004, 6:12pm
Just talked with Horseman for an update on Scout. His words: "Hes acting like hes been here all his life."

Thats what I like to hear. He seems to be one laidback fella. He was great during his time at the zoo back in 2001. And last week when we went to see him to make the decision to get him or not - I just walked right up to him and grabbed him under the chin (no halter) and said "come hither" - and he just came along with like it was the most commonplace thing to do.
I suspect, that barring some deep dark secret (Horse turns into axe murderer, Film at 11!), this will all work out just fine.

Anyone got a horse cart or buggy they wanna lend me? Im half tempted to try driving him someday.
(Duke: Good, better him then me!)


Jul 18th, 2004, 9:28pm
Scouts Day -
What a great day to be out by the horses. Lovely temperature, not too humid.. we rolled out to Horseman's place and had some fun with the herd. Mostly Scout's turn. After beating away Sanchez I finally got Scout out of the pasture and brought him on up to the barn. Lathered up his nose real well with cream and sunblock. Hes got a case of the crispy sunburnt nose from his old pasture days. Today he also got himself a dose of worm paste - with only a minimal amount of fussing and this "icky" look on his face as he swallowed. Like they could not make that stuff apple flavored or something?
Anyway, time to toss the saddle on him and see what happens... He stands nice for tacking, Ill give him that. And where he beats Mickey is in mounting. Mickey always was a stinker and you had to mount fast as he tended to walk off. Scout stands nicely with only minimal movement, but still something we can work on.
Once up there we were off around the property again. We walked mostly, and he balked at a turn or 2, but I waited him out and we eventually went where I wanted to go. Things settled in nicely so I decided to take him halfway down the road from the barn to see if he would pitch a fit going farther away from "home".
Not a problem, he just toodled on along at a walk and a trot as if it was nothing. (Look ma! A non-barnsour horse!)
So I go to turn him around to head back and now he balks! Silly horse keeps wanting to go farther away from home and heading for the highway.... (Look ma! Crazy non-barnsour horse!)
Well, I'm not going to have any of this, so we begin a 5 minute routine of me trying to back him, turn him, sneak him around back down the road... hes not having any of it, and finally in a huff he does a Hi-Ho-Silver! on me. He pops up and rears. (Im sure it was impressive looking if I was on the ground watching, except I was up top.)
He came down quickly enough, and since he had upped the anti, I responded in kind, and basically gave him a shot across the neck with the end of the reins along with a very startling NO! and this disaproving growl...

Instant Angel Horse... "Ohhhhh.. you wanted me to head back this way! Ohhhh... Ok... Gotya..."

And we walked back up the road to the barn. It didn't take much I guess, just he was testing me and I was not going to let him win.
We farted around for a little while longer, and even cantered up the hill for a few moments. I know it will take alot more then this one time to get him all fixed up, but at least he listens if I express myself the right way. I rode Mickey for months, if not years, before I figured out most of his quirks and pushbuttons. Hopefully I'll figure out Scout's a bit quicker.
At the end he got untacked and praised and a few treats and a brushing. When I put him back in the pasture he rolled and got himself a long drink. (Yes, that worm paste is icky!) And he wandered off up the hill and munched grass. Sanchez didn't show.

The rest of the herd was fine. Mickey was out in his pasture with Snickers and 2 other horses. Pam spent a long time watching Snickers and Mickey. And yes, snickers will, at irregular intervals go over to Mickey and nose him. Mickey noses back, just like "checking in" and then Snickers will wander off again for a while. If this isn't akin to Mickey's Security Blanket, I don't know what is. We also noted that Mickey has his own little eco-system going. Since Mickey tends to wander slowly about the pasture, as opposed to the other horses, he quietly stirs up the bugs in the grass. There were 3 little birds following Mickey - all feasting on the bugs he stired up. These birds hung out with Mickey for hours.

Duke was Duke. Out in the big pasture with this: "If you have not brought me a treat, i don't know you" attitude today. Although he did come over by the gate later to see if he missed anything.

Well, thats it for now. Here are some pictures from today: http://www.centaur.org/scout2/


Aug 7th, 2004, 6:51pm

Lesson learned today: Scout does not like spurs. Hossdriver warned me of this, but I needed to see how things would go.

Two dump-off's later I figured that was enough of a test.
Mr. Scout was quite full of himself today. Would not go forward for anything, kisses, leg, spur taps, butt goosing nothing. He had it in his mind to go sideways into the trees, into the bushes, into the corn field, into the ditch. Nothing was working including a quick standing martingale. He was being quite the hissy fit horse.
I did get a few nice walk back and forths down the road out of him between HiHoSilver dumps, but that was about it.
I'm surprised I remembered how to bail as well as I did, for I have not been dumped off a horse many a year. (Mickey was good to me like that.)

At any rate, I was not prepared for such behavior and was not in the position to do much more with him today, so he got himself the equivalent of being put in the corner for an hour. Ill guess Ill need to start a lunge routine with him before riding, or at least see if it was really his aversion to the spurs. Not like I used them much at all anyway, but he sure tossed quite the fit.

Worse part was in one of the bails I caught my watch and popped the band. Ah well. That I can fix.

Funny thing is then Scout stands there like: I didn't do anything. He was just being a very bad boy today and refusing to go where I was pointing him. I don't think he liked the fact that I kept getting back on him and not allowing him to think he won. He must have learned this brushoff/backing/rearing somewhere in his past, and Ill do what I can to work it out of him. I'll prolly need some help along the way, since I am by no means a horse trainer, just somewhat lucky with horses.

Anyway, that was today's story. Glad we forgot the camera, as I dont need any photos of me sitting on my butt.

Mickey and Snickers are fine. Duke is ok as well. Things were otherwise quiet out at Horseman's place.

More fun<ouch> later!

Aug 9th, 2004, 8:42am

AH well, at least my reflexes are not too bad and other then sitting on my butt the first time I didnt let him get me down like that again. I could tell when he put his @ssend down he was getting ready to pitch a fit.
I think Ill do him around inside the arena next go-round and try to keep him in the middle. Hes not a bad ride when hes being a good boy, just something set him off on Sunday. He was ripping corn stalks with his mouth and pawing and doing the whole nine yards. We will find it and work it through. Im sure Horseman and Luther can give me a hand. (Applause as I go sailing through the air?)

More fun later!

Aug 15th, 2004, 9:43am

Good morning folks!
Todays plans: Go back out by the "herd" and work some more with Scout. We have now determined that in his previous life he learned every evasion in the book, including the HiHoSilver rear. So I had some help from Luther, a much better rider then me, yesterday and we are getting Scout's head straightened out. I put scout through his initial paces and he was mostly ok, but he got to a point where he decided he had my number and that was that. Somewhere in his past someone let him get away with this trash and thats what he has in his head. This horse was mollycoddled and was left to get away with it.
Well, Luther set him straight and within 15 minutes Scout had figured out that there was now a rider on his back that takes no guff. This will take some time, as I have to get myself to the point of being able to react correctly to Scouts evasions and working through them. There are things we are going to work on and the outcome should be a good trail horse. We have already noticed that Scout tends to want to watch everything off to the sides, so we are going to find him a set of blinders or a hood to keep him focused front and see if that helps.
It will all get worked through, we know he can do it, its just now a matter of getting him past his evasions and getting me in sync with the boy.

So its off for some breakfast, then out by the boys again. Mickey and Snickers were so cute yesterday, they share a big stall, and it was fun to watch Mickey (15HH) groom Snickers (10HH) while Snickers tried to reach the top of Mickey's back and could only get his sides. Its the Odd Couple for sure.

Enjoy the day everyone!

Aug 15th, 2004, 10:16pm

Ah, I'm catching up.
Today I ratcheted myself up a notch and brought along my western bat (Slap/big pop noise). I had not used the thing in years, Mickey never really needed it.
Well what a sudden improvement in Mr. Scouts attitude when he got "popped" in the rear and was made to move forward instead of one of his evasions.
We spent about an hour going through all the basics again, walk, trot, canter in the ring. He tested me many a time, but I won the tests for the most part. He did not even pop up, but was mostly just trying to see if he had to pay attention to what I wanted. I suppose some of this is also my learning curve getting to know the horse, but at least today he was not allowed to get away with his previous week's BS.
All in all it was a good work out, both horse and rider needing to get in better shape! LOL.
After some consistent circles in the ring I tried him back out down the driveway where he gave me so much trouble last week. He began his test "balk" and one good pop on the rear resulted in "OH! You want me to go forward! Oh! Ok... I can do that."
And we walked down out to the entry and back and things began to relax.
I don't believe for a minute that hes all done with the tests, I know this will be an on going process, after all hes been allowed to get away with that stuff for many a year. But I will give it my best, to at least give him a purpose as a reliable trail horse. In all other manor hes friendly, an interesting looking horse I believe, and a generally good guy. I feel better knowing I am learning to work him through this. Thanks to Dennis and Luther for help and advice.
As for the rest of the gang, Mickey and Snickers live in their stall, Mickey happy as a clam grooming Snickers and using him for his security blanket. Snickers always on the lookout for some trouble or mischief to get into.
Duke out in the pasture still playing the old retired fart carriage horse, and on occasion letting George the Mini stand under him for shade.
And there you have it for the week... more fun next week Im sure! Going to get my score better!

8/21/04: Scouts Day:

Today I worked Scout for about half an hour. We seem to be coming to an understanding. His evasions are met with a swift pop on the rear with a western bat and a loud NO! This seems to put him in a frame of mind to listen and go where I point him. He does Not always need this, for he starts out quit nicely, its only after a little while he either gets board or frustrated with having to work and begins to get a bit uppity. A quick reminder and he settles down some. Now we just have to work through this enough where he settles down all on his own. Another problem is I have been taking him out alone, I suppose he'll be happier going out with another horse. Just have not had the timing right to try this yet, but we will get there. At least hes not pulled another HiHoSilver rear, though I know hes still holding that ace card up his sleve somewhere. I'll just have to make sure I have a better hand then his when he tries to play it.
Of course Mr. Scout had to go pop one of the fence wires and wander out into the far pasture, taking George the Mini with him. I had to go all the way out there and shoo them back and fix the fence wire. Of course Scout knows Im the one that gets on his back and makes him work, so his idea is to walk as far and as fast away from me as Im trying to catch him. I usually catch him up though after a few.

As for the rest of the gang, Mickey and Snickers were in their stall, and Duke was out back watching the goings on as I tried to catch Scout. Mickey is looking older, hes still fat, but his top line is diping and his spine becoming more pronounced. His muscle tone just aint what it used to be, but for a retired blind old fart hes not doing bad at all. Got to watch the terror pony though, as I think hes been swiping some of Mickey's grain when Mickey isn't looking. (Which is always....)

I put in some time to clean and rearange my tack box. We had not cleaned it out good since we moved in back in Janurary. Now that the new barn's tack room is done up we moved the tack box in and I spent some time cleaning tack and harnesses and sorting through 3 horses worth of various things. Boy, the odd stuff one collects with horses.

Anyway, after packing up we headed over to Laura and Tess' house to say HI and get some dinner. Little did I know we would walk in to the Great Chicken Roundup. L&T have 12 chickens they were just moving to a new and larger coop. Well just as we got there one rooster "Mr. McNuggets" decided to fly the coop and got out and 4 people set out on a merry chase to catch the jail bird. After about 15 minutes of scrambeling all over the back yard he was finally herded into the old pen where he was deftly captured by the intreped Laura and tansfered to the new coop. Things were buttoned up and we promptly all went out for a Chicken Dinner...

8/22/04 Scouts day 2
Went back out by the horses today. Tacked Scout up and took him out for a spin. Much the same as yesterday. Did fine starting off, then a little hissy fit which I corrected him on, then he was fine.
We walked mostly around the farm, then I took him in the outdoor ring and we did some cantering in various directions and patterns. Im getting the feel for his mouth.
The Big surprize was Sanchez showing up in the middle of things. He wanders into the ring like hes the big cheese and come for us, thinking hes going to huff and snort at me. Well I turn the tables on Mr Sanchez and charge Scout at him and wave my western bat at his nose. Sanchez gets one of these "Ut Oh" looks to him and hi tails it back out and gets back into the pasture and glares at us then wanders off defeated. Scout, since hes kept in the same pasture with Sanchez was not bothered by him at all, Sanchez ment to have me for lunch, but I don't let him play that game. Smartass donkey.

While I was there futzing with things I also repaired a break in the pastures' hotwire fence. One or more of the pasture horses (including scout) found a way to sneek out into the far back pasture. Well, they are in for a "shock" if they try that again. I stood there for 10 minutes watching little George the Mini rub and bump up against the back pasture gate trying to get it open. Horses are wierd like that, there is nothing better in the far pasture that they dont have in their main pasture, but for some reason they insist on wanting to explore back there. Duke, the draft, was standing there watching George, egging him on. They did not get the gate open, and it will be interesting if they try the hot wire later. <heh>

Other then that, it was a lovely day. Denny was up and about a little. He still recovering from his apendix surgery, still painful, but slowly getting back with things.

Mickey and Snickers were doing their usual thing. And that was fairly much that.
More next week!

Scouts Day 8/29/04

Well well well, an interesting day with Scout. Today we had another rider for company and scout seemed to enjoy that. Erin, who has some horses out at Horseman's place, was working one of her mares. Scout and I tagged along for a walk down to the pond and around the bean field. At the pond Erin and her mare went down along the side then out across a corner of the water. Well, I decided to see if Scout would follow. We had a few "arguments" which included a HiHoSilver rear which I quickly put an end too and then with the Erin's horse still standing there in the water I convinced Scout to go down into the water and stand there next to her. So yea! Hes not spooked of water. He did however get back at me by pawing and splashing pond water over all of us. <heh>
So then we wandered out down the road and walked around a bean field through some brush and back up to the barns.
Then I tested him a little more, we went back down to the pond alone and I took Scout out in to the water. He was unsure at first, but we did it, and then did it 2 more times for good measure. This was working very well.
I then took him over to the dried stream, that has a drop off at its bank of about 18 inches on a slope. This I could not get him to walk down in to. I guess it looked like the grand canyon to him. After a number of attempts to coax him down into the dry bed at a few entry points I dismounted and walked down first. After he saw that the "canyon" didn't eat me I was able to get him to follow. I got back on and we wandered up and down the stream bed a little ways and then back up the bank and up to the barn.
I then took him alone out to the arena and we trotted and cantered just to get some more feel for that and to start getting in shape. We are both in need of some workouts.
I think Scout will make a good trail horse for me, hes a good size, seems to carry me well. Hes not yet to the point of fully trusting me, but that's understandable since its been so short a time, but each week we seem to get a little farther along. I did not have to chase him all over the field to catch him up this week, of course having a handful of grain helped some. ;)

Mickey and Snickers were doing their thing in their stall. Duke was out in the back munching hay. Various folks were coming and going and Luther was putting the finishing touches on the new barn tack room. The weather was great and after we put everyone away we just sat there in the barn looking out over the pasture where the horses were happily grazing. I was very proud of Scout today, and look forward to some time when we are ready to trailer out and go on a ride with folks. A good close to a good day.

Scout's Day 9/5/04

Another good day with the horses. Tossed Mickey, Duke, and Snickers out in the arena where they all rolled and then puttered about.
Got Scout out of the back pasture and tacked him up. A handful of grain helped to catch him up. Then we were off again for another walk around the farm and things are getting easier each week. This week we wandered down by the pond and then over to the dried stream where he refused last week. This week there was some fussing and a swat or 2 on the rump but he did go down into the stream bed and we wandered about down there a little then up at a steeper bank. Scout will make one gem of a trail horse once hes all settled in with me. We then went out down the road again and circled the bean field, tromping through some high grass.
Each week seem to bring improvement. Less resistance and less hissy fits. I know there can be some more problems, but so far so good. With each new thing Scout seems to accept that Im not going to get him eaten by the places I want him to go.
On our way back we cantered up the grassy hill, and Pam saw this and commented that she was very impressed with Scouts presents, movement, and stature as we came charging up the hill.
We talked about this a little, as I compared Scout to Mickey. Mickey is always my first and foremost mount. But as people are different, so of course are horses. Mickey, Mr. Appy Speed Demon, was always the stalwart, reliable, dependable and predictable ride. Not overly flashy, not a high ranking herd horse, but to me my companion and compatriot. You could tell, and can still tell that Mickey "listens" to you.
Scout, on the other hand, is an impressive and somewhat flashy ride. Reliability and dependability and predictability yet to be determined. I firmly believe Scout will make a super Trail horse. But it can be seen that Scout is not yet "listening" to me, and is doing what I want not yet in partnership, but more in a subservient to alpha mode.

After the ride I turned Scout out with the rest of the boys in the big outdoor. I then got a lunge line and had some fun running Mickey about in circles. Even after all this time, Mickey still loves to move and with the lunge line Mickey is free to trot along without fear of running into something. So we exercised Mickey a while as he happily ran in circles. Duke and Snickers watched from the sidelines.

Then the interesting event of the day took place… Sure.. there are Cow bred horses, Ranch bred horses, Working horses….. But HOG bred horses?
While we were all in the outdoor 4 or 5 small pigs that Horseman has on the farm come wandering under the arena gate and into the area where I am with the horses. Mickey of course can't see them. Duke could care less. Snickers ignores them… but Scout sees them coming, pins his ears, lowers his head and charges the pigs as if he was a cow horse trying to heard cows! Hes serious and means business too. The pigs scatter for a hole under another gate with Scout in hot pursuit - forehooves flying like hes trying to kick their butts! Now of course Snickers sees there is something "fun looking" going on so he has to charge over behind Scout and play copy cat. The pigs duck under the gate and run back to their home down at the lower barn with Scout standing there with this "…And your Little Dog too!" look to him, then he wanders back off to munch grass.
So don't it figure…Cow Horse? Noooooooo….. I wind up with a Hog Bred horse…. Nothing is ever normal in my life. :)

More fun later. We will be out of town next week, at a Utah Phillips concert up in Madison, so talk to everyone later!

Scout's Day Part 1 9/18/04

I'm saying part one because we will be seeing the horses twice this weekend. I was out to visit them alone today (Saturday) and Pam and I and Pam's aunt from Sweden will be with us tomorrow. Always an opportunity to show off the horses. ;)

Today had an interesting non-horse event, but Ill come to that later… Got there and Horseman and Luther have been really working on the place. They are having a Team Penning there next weekend and have set just about everything up to support that. Cattle pens, the arena, parking, the stables, etc. This is going to be a big todo.
In any event, after looking the place over and finding Scout (hes now down in a lower pasture because the big pasture just got mowed) I took him up to get tacked. Oh, did I mention I won a trail bridle set in Lazy Maple's raffle? J Blue nylon halter with a clip on bridle/bit. Oh, did I also mention the saddle I ride in I also won on an Internet give away contest many years ago? So now Scout is decked out in all won tack. <heh> Ok, I bought the blanket…oh… wait… maybe that's the one I swiped from when Mickey was a trail horse… nevermind…
Anyway!… Took Scout down to the arena and did some laps with him. He was a little funky as we warmed up… he kept trying to slow and stop as we neared the exit gate.
Well, I was not going to have that, especially when I was asking for a lope… so had to again pop him a little on the tush to keep his mind focused at the task at hand. He still likes to pay attention to everything except his rider. After warming up a bit more I got some good laps out of him with him putting some effort into what was asked. He's a good boy, and I can't really blame him for not being super attentive after not having been ridden in years. Scout is coming along nicely, I just got to get more time in to him. He is now also sporting a pair of front shoes, which should help out on the gravel roads. We worked some more out in the arena and then after some consistent effort I untacked him and let him roll, which he did happily.
While I was there there was a woman who had not ridden in a long time and just bough herself a mare. She asked me to ride her mare and give her my opinion. I'm probably the last person to ask for an opinion on a horse, because I'm basically a 1 horse rider (Mickey, ok, now Scout too…) But I'll try anything once, twice if I like it…. I tacked up her mare and hopped on. Now here is my take on riding a horse: If the horse goes where I want it to go, do what I want it to do (nothing fancy, just good honest effort), and everyone is relaxed, then that's all I can ask and I'm a happy camper. Well this mare was fine. She preferred direct reigning, but did neck as well. She went where I pointer her and we walked/trotted/cantered… I rode her about 20 minutes and got down and put her owner up on her. I'm standing out there giving tips and direction and things seem to be going just fine. Now what the beans am I doing out playing riding instructor is beyond me, and one of my instructions is to make her some "kissy" noises to get her to speed up, etc… you know… a cluck-cluck or kiss-kiss noise… So there is Luther coming up to the fence to see what's going on… Mr. Cowboy hears me telling the lady to make kissy noises and the next thing I know he's cracking up and telling me I get to hold a Chris' Kissy Riding Seminar at the team penning next week…
Ah… Geeeeee… thanks Luther….. NOT! ;)
We all had a good laugh… but kissy noises still work. Anyway… we packed up and put everyone away and were up in the barn yacking for a while…
Took Mickey out and brushed him some. Earlier in the day while he was turned out in the arena he was moving along at a good clip in little circles like he was lunging himself. Once in a while he would bump the fence, then find his way back to the middle and start circling again. He's a clever cuss, isn't he? J Snickers and Duke were their normal selves, Snickers into everything and Duke ignoring everything.
Here is where the "interesting" non-horse event takes place. Kane County Sheriff pulls up in the yard… "Keep everyone away from the fence by I88, don't let any strangers on the property…" and takes off. Turns out there are cops all over the place around I88 and route 47 for an hour or so with flashing lights and road cones keeping an eye on everything. Not sure exactly what it all was, but the obvious conclusion is a VIP motorcade. Rumor has it it was the VP, but I don't know, didn't hear anything on the radio. It was not Bush or Kerry, as they aren't in town I believe. So there you have it.
We will be out to see them again Sunday and we shall see what we shall see. J

Scout's Day Part 2 9/19/04
Back out to Horseman's to see the boys with Pam's Aunt in tow. She had a nice time. We brought Snickers out first so she could see how cute he is. (Notice we have not posted any pictures of him of late? Haven't taken any of the ding-dong since he let a couple of goats chew off part of his mane and tail, which is only now slowly growing back out.)
Then Duke came out. Did his typical Duke thing: Treats? No? I'm going back in my stall, bye.
Then Mickey's turn. Just had to call his name and he picks up his head and slowly orients on me. We gave him a good brushing out in the aisle.
Then I went down and got Scout, tacked him up and we went out to the arena and worked there some more. Much more responsive then yesterday, and didn't try as hard to slip out the exit gate. I worked him up slowly from walk to trot to canter until we had a few good canter laps under our belt. I'm beginning to notice that just about any "talking" to him slows him down. He's not only taking "Whoa" as the signal to put on the breaks, just about anything, including a "Good Boy!" brings on the tail lights. We will need to work on this. As I have said in the past, he's got great breaks, and almost stops better on voice then he does on bit. I'm going to assume this was from his driving training.
In any event, Pam and her Aunt watch for a while then bugged out to go to the local farm stand to buy some fresh veggies while I took Scout down the driveway for a ride around the farm.
Seems Mr. Scout still is not quite over this Testing routine when going away from the farm alone. We hit this one particular spot along the driveway and he pitches a fit. Even got in a HiHo Silver rear on me for which I again had to open up a can of whoop-ass on his tush. This drove him forward and then we stood there a little while as I tossed a few choice words at him. He fidgeted and backed and danced some then everything calmed down and I guess he resigned himself to the fact he's going where I point him because we then quietly walked down the rest of the driveway and out into the fields.
The soybean field had been harvested, so we had a big open space to ride in. I walked him all over, up one side and down the other. Across the field and along grass paths. Yes, he whinnied a number of times, calling like he's the last horse in the world. Ok, so he likes companionship, I can't hold that against him. But whinnies was as far as he took it for we had a nice little ride around, even took him over logs, which he did nicely. I then even took him down into the dry creek bed where he had given me so many problems the weeks before - This time he went on down as if it was second nature, not a complaint at all. I guess we road around for about 30 minutes, exploring the open fields and checking out nooks and crannies. Very little phased him, though he is very attentive to all around him, and I even caught him once or twice cocking an ear my way, though I bet if you were to ask him he would deny it. ;)
We headed back on up the driveway and cantered up the hill to the barn. Here I simply asked him to go in the aisle door at one end and wanted to walk through the barn and out the other door. In the middle of the barn he stalls out. Scout gives me this "Hey, It's time to untack me. I don't want to go farther." Well, sorry, as much as I love you Scout, you still do have to listen to me. I'm not trying to be mean here, but for the Rider/Horse relation it is what has to happen, no? So some more fidgeting, and a little slap or two on the tush and some dancing.. (yes, I know.. It is not safe to ride a horse in a barn aisle, no lectures please. ;) I finally convince Scout to walk on and we do a number of loops through the barn just so he gets it in his head that I'm not asking the impossible of him. We all know that you should not leave your horse on a sour note. So after he did all that was asked of him he got untacked and got an apple treat and a good roll out in the field.

That about covers it. Dennis and Luther were around working on the finishing touches to the place for the big Team Penning next week. Pam and her Aunt had a nice time out in the fresh country air, and we all headed out. We played "open the car window and suck the flies out" all the way home. J
Till next time,

Mickey's Day 9/25/04
This is going to be a short one, Im beat.
I have been out at Horseman's since 8AM this morning. I helped set up the tech stuff for the ISTPA Team Pening going on there this weekend. Everyone is having a great time. There must be 100 people here all riding and pening and such. Then the evening's dinner, mmm mmm good!

At any rate, during a break between classes I got old blind pew, er.... I mean Mickey out and we went for a walk about. Left Snickers in the stall, and Mickey didn't like this because hes whinnying and whinnying and trying to find a familure smell amoungst all the ton of new horses wandering about. We explored a little then I put him back.
Here are a few shots of us while we were out.
Riding Mickey
Mickey POV

Snickers got lead about for a little while later on, and he was only interested in finding some grass to munch.

Duke was out in the pond pasture with Scout, as most of the new barn stalls got rented for visitor horses.

We are going back out tommorow, just to try to get my otherside sunburnt now.
More later.

Mickey's Day 9/26/04

You Looking at me? (I can't tell, are you?)

Hello gang!
Well, what a weekend. Horseman and Luther put on one heck of a team penning! Lots of riders, lots of go-rounds, lots of food and fun. I heard very favorable comments from folks on how well things were run. Today then ran more runs then the announcer can ever remember before. Pictures can be found over at the Stables Directory.
Anyway, Pam and I got there in the morning, and while I was snaping photos Pam took Snickers out for a walk. Well the little goof was walking on a lead rope then suddenly spazzed out and pitched a hissy fit. Pam calmed him down and put him back in the stall with Mickey. I think Snickers just got overwhelmed with all the new sights, sounds, and smells. However, this does not excuse what he did a little later in the day....
Later in the afternoon I gave Mickey a treat of a handfull of grain, and gave Snickers a tiny handfull as well. Well the little snot sucked his down and then went and nipped Mickey on the nose to try to get him to drop some of his! Ohhhh.. bad pony! I blasted into the stall and gave the little ding-dong a swift kick to the rear as he tried to hide behind Mickey (now his best friend of course). I got ahold of Snickers halter and gave him a dressing down, where he did his Hi-Ho Silver rear. Now on Scout this is impressive, on Snickers its like "That the best you got kiddo?"
He will think long and hard before he pulls another stunt like that on Mickey letmetellyou.

Anyway... the day ended with the Youth penning, which was fun to watch some of these small kids chase the cattle around (and some mighty fine looking ponys and horses there were as well!)

About 6pm everything cleared out, I said goodnight to Mickey, Snickers, Scout, and Duke, and headed home. All in all a great weekend. Thanks Horseman and Luther!

A short tail, but with a lot packed in it.
My sister and her husband and their 2 small boys are in town for a few days, so we took them out to see the horses this afternoon. They got introduced Mickey, Snicker, Duke, Scout, all the dogs, and even got to ride George. (The boys are only 2 and 4, and "The Terror Pony" was being persnickety, so I borrowed George rather then use Snickers.) So we puttered around Horseman's place for an hour, looking at the horses and other assorted animals. That was fairly much it, the kids got tired and we got them back to their hotel, my "family" obligations accomplished for this month at least. ;)
While there though I presented Horseman with a framed picture of this composite of Luther's win at the Team Penning last week -

So there you have it, other then Mickey having bonked up his head again, everyone was fine. I need to find a way to attach curb feelers to his halter or something. ;)
More next week!

Scout's Day 10/10/04

Well we rolled out to the barn this afternoon. Found AmyB there looking in on her horses. She gave Sandman a bath, and of course he goes right away and rolls in the dust once she turned him out. Why do horses do this? :)
I look in on the Herd, Mickey is in his stall munching hay, Duke and Snickers are out in a turnout munching hay. Do I see a pattern here? I wander down to get Scout from the pond pasture - hes standing around not munching hay. Oh well, he comes right over and I halter him and take him up to the barn. I want to get some trail time on him to see how he is behaving. I ask AmyB if she would like to go with and she goes and gets her Appy: Cooter.
Im tacking up Scout, and I cant get the belly band on him… the sneek has puffed himself up. Ok, finally let the belly band out to the last hole on each side to fit him, later of course its way loose because he unpuffs after he figures out Im riding him come hell or high water.
We start out down the driveway, me on Scout and AmyB on Cooter and we get to the place where Scout likes to pitch a fit. He only stops briefly to sniff noses with Cooter and we continue on. In reality we get an hours ride in with nary a problem at all. A gentle walk along the side of the road and across some fields. Scout and Cooter don't even flinch as we get near a harvester in one of the fields taking in soybeans. They give it the "eye" but then walk on as if it was no big thing. AmyB and I had a nice ride, and we pass by a stable on the other side of the road where there are some other horses out. Scout has to through a few whinnys out to see what answers he gets, and then we continue on. We wind up coming along down the side of a gleaned field and in to the back of Horseman's place. Scout did just fine, not a spaz or a spook out of him. He did still pay more attention to Cooter then he did me, but I can live with that for now. The pleasant surprise was after I untacked him and put him back out in his pasture - He went and rolled as he always does, then instead of walking off as he is want to do, he came back over to me at the fence and I scratched his face and neck for a while. He likes that at times. So that was cool, a nice ride and some focus of attention. Things are coming along.
I wormed the herd today, and youll never guess who gave me the most problem getting the past in the mouth.. Old Blind Pew! Yes, Mr. Mickey is a snot when it comes to getting the plunger in his mouth. I know he is, and it takes me a few tries to get him not to toss his head. He settles in after a while, which I knew he would, and he gets his ivermectin. Duke is mostly a quickie. Snickers puts on his show: Hold Halter, put tube by mouth, Watch HiHo Silver rear. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. After about the fourth time hes all worn out and gets his paste. Scout got his on the crossties and after a false start or 2 got his as well. Yea, I don't blame them, that stuff is icky.

That was the day. We chatted with Dennis and Luther some and headed home.
More fun Next week!

Can't be Mickey's, Scout's, Snicker's, or Duke's Day... we kinda got side tracked going through Peoria. ;)

Pam and I headed down to watch Luther at the ISTPA Team Penning finals in Peoria on Saturday. However, by the time we got down there after taking care of some personal stuff the runs were over. But everyone was off to the nearby riverboat casino, so we figured what the heck, lets make a weekender out of it. We got a room at a hotel (Us doing something without reservations! Almost unheard of!) and headed off to the casino with the cowboys and girls. Horseman treated Pam and I to dinner at the casino buffet . Thanks Denny! Then we entered the boat. I hear tell there was a fair amount of activity at the blackjack tables. Pam and I though, we simply play the slots. Some hours later, and Pam is to the good by $30 and I'm wiped out. Ah well, impromptu vacation adventure.
We went and crashed back at the hotel for the night.
This Sunday morning we headed back over to the penning and watched a few hours. It was cold at the arena. Saturday had been cold and windy they said. This morning Luther got some good runs in and I hear pulled down a First and Forth. We left about 11am for the drive back up… Oh the Illinois River Valley there in Peoria is absolutely beautiful now, with the trees all turning fall colors. It was a pleasant drive back. I like driving, and the I-55 run is not too bad.
So that's it for now. Didn't see the horses this weekend, perhaps I'll sneak off from work during the week and go ride Scout.
More later!

Scouts Very Big Day 10/24/04

Ok, so I have owned scout for what? 3 or 4 months now? Get out to see him and the rest of the Herd on weekends. The horse had been on pasture for 3 years or more, and now I get an hour or so of riding around the farm in on him now and then. Including the stretch of time where he dumped me and was being mostly ok, but testing every once in a while just to see if he could..
So here I go on an all day trail ride, arranged with Nikki and her friends, at the Big Timber forest preserve, just to see what Mr. Scout will really do.

Well, I have to tell you he was an absolute GEM! For a horse that had been on pasture for years, and then in his new environment for a few months, he really showed his stuff.
The day started by Nikki coming down to get Scout and I, and Scout hoping up into her trailer like: "Oh boy! Are we going to a party?" So this was a good omen.
We get to the trails, and meet up with some other of Nikki's friends and off we go. 7 of us all together and Scout does not miss a beat. He seems happy in the group and does not whinny like he does when out alone. Very content to walk and trot along with the new horses on the new trails like he's done it a thousand times before. We head deep into the preserve, across nice groomed trails, up and down hills, and the fall colors are wonderful.
Then we get to a water crossing, a nice size stream, and I have no good idea how Scout will handle this. I had never had him across water before, though we did stand in the pond at Horseman's place once.
Again, a pleasant surprise as Scout simply follows the other horses down the bank and into the water. Turns out Scout likes to play in the water. Halfway through he's got to stop and paw at the water splashing it everywhere. He seemed to relish this, as he would first paw with one fore hoof then the other. I had to goose him to get him to continue on.
Another surprise was his level transition changes.. going up a good size stream bank, or down a steep hill, Scout seemed to take them with ease. You know, ever been on a horse that you have to hold on for dear life when the hopped up an embankment? Well, that was what I was expecting - But it did not happen. His transition changes we smooth and comfortable.
At this point I'm thinking to myself that his previous owner, the one that said she could not ride him, must have been a total twit. Scout is quite literally proving to be a fine and capable trail horse. Here I have to make myself not compare him to good old Mickey, as Mickey is a one of a kind and the horse that taught me to ride - but darn, Scout is doing what I ask him to do and getting the job done. Can't ask for much more then that!

We are out for 2 hours on the first ride, all over the place in the back woods, across some good size water crossing, one up past his knees, and through a big viaduct and up and down some muddy hills. Only at one point did Scout give me a little trouble. I wanted him to stop and stand while we waited for some more of the group. He got a little pissy and sidestepped me into the bushes and was getting ready to pop up on me. A quick couple of swats on his rump with my western bat moved him forward and he gave up on that idea. That was the extent of his misbehavior for the day.

We got back, gave them a breather, got a little food, and a few of us went out again for another hour. Along through the paths along some lovely scenery, not too many bugs, and the occasional charge up a hill.
Now I had not ridden this long in quite a while, and while Scout showed little sign of tiring, I can tell that I am the one out of shape. I will feel this on Monday! But it was well worth it. Nikki and her friends were very nice, and everyone had a good time.
Packing up, Scout pops back on the trailer without a fuss and we head home. Back at the barn I toss him back in his pasture and of course he rolls, then wanders off to nibble grass as if nothing unusual happened at all.

Darn if he isn't turning into one nice trail horse. :)

Pictures here: trailridenikki


Scout and Mickey's Day 10/30/04

Subtitle: The Goofy Leading The Blind…

I rolled out by the horses alone today. Pam stayed home. Just as well, the weather was marginal. Dry, but mondo windy. So windy in fact that when I got to the barn Horseman told me that a friend of his' place had suffered a micro-burst or a mini tornado last night that took the roof off their old horse barn, knocked the grain silos over, and did other assorted damage to the place. No one was hurt, but it was a shake up. This place is only a few miles from Horseman's too. The winds were gusting good as I went down to fetch Scout. There is an electric generator windmill on the other side of I88 that we can see from the farm - it was spinning so fast I could hardly see the blades go around. None of the horses in Scouts group were in the pasture, they had all wandered in to the barn down-below and were keeping out of the wind themselves. I fetched Scout up and brought him to the new barn and tacked him up.
Let's see.. what interesting things can we do today? Well, Mickey has not done much of late, let's see if I can ride Scout and pony Mickey along. I get good old Mickey on a long lead rope and mount up on Scout and head off down the driveway, wind whipping us along.
It takes Mickey a few moments to get with the game plan, which is just as well, as when we hit that "spot" on the driveway Scout stalls out. A few choice words and a swift kick or 2 gets him going again, and Mickey begins to tag along without pulling my arm off.
We get down to the dirt road and begin to move out. Out of nowhere comes Sanchez trying to sneak up on us. The pain-in-the-ass ass loves to sneak up on you and bray in your face (or nip you if he can get close enough.) Well I see Sanchez coming and knowing he's all bluff we charge at him. He turns and runs towards the farm, with this "Curses! Foiled Again!" look to him, and that was the last we saw of him for the day.
Back on the road again, it's taking a little while for this odd couple to settle in, as Scout is generally ignoring Mickey and looking to both sides, so he's not keeping a straight track. Mickey, can't see any of this so every so often bumps his nose on Scouts butt. Scout is not impressed and puts his ears back. Scout slows, Mickey comes up along side, Scout tries to nip him. Well, I'm not having any of that and give Scout the "what for!" verbally and a swat across the neck.. Ok, now things are sorting themselves out. Scout begins to keep a steady pace, Mickey keeps up along side, and we toodle down to the end of the road. Another reason I wanted to bring Mickey along is to key him some time on the gravel road to help his hooves wear between trimmings. He's a bit long in the toe at the moment and I wanted some natural movement to take place.
At the end of the road is some grass, so I let them munch for a little then we turn around and head back to the barn. Mr. Scout of course has to do this at double speed, this behavior I will work on later. In this direction the wind is blowing Scouts tail out and in the direction of Mickey to the side and rear. After a little Mickey just places himself with his face being tickled by Scouts tail and we have perfect spacing. :) We trot the way back to the barn and I put Mickey away.
Now, I'm not quite ready to put Scout away, I want to work on this little barn sour, or slow pace out - fast pace back routine he's pulling. So we head back out, and I take him on a different trail, and he's doing OK. Then we head in the direction of the trail home and bingo, there he begins to pick up his pace and gets snotty with me. Well, I can get snotty back, so instead of a straight line home, I begin to serpentine him back and forth across the road, making him go 10 paces to the side for every pace forward. He doesn't care for this one bit, and gives me a hard time. I had to yell at him but good and added a few swats on his rump when he was really being a jerk. Notably though he never tried to rear on me. We come to an understanding finally and he settles down. So now I take him up past the barn and turn him again and head back out.. Each time I set my sights on an area we have to reach with out him complaining. I praise him when we get there and we move a little closer to home. Then I set up again to move to a place not on the direct way home and see if he gives me a hard time about it. Each time we get to a place without him getting snotty or moving too fast I move him a little bit closer to the path home. And when he gives me a hard time we go back and repeat things till he behaves. Needless to say, Scout is no dummy, and after a while he's resigned to doing things my way. We get back to the barn, I give him a little treat and a brushing. He loves to rub his face on the brush. I take him down and put him back out in the pasture. George the mini greets him and they wander off to go much some hay. I gotta give the horse credit, for the little time I have to work with him, he's following the game plan just fine. :)
I say good by to Mickey, Duke, and Snickers, and then to Horseman and Luther, and head home, a pleasant day. Thanks all! -Chris

Scout's Day
Things started early today, as we had to meet Nikki at the barn around 10AM so she could trim Mickey's hooves. We all got there about the same time and she cleaned Mickey up while I tended to the other herd members. After Mickey's hooves were finished Horseman kindly let Nikki borrow his horse Toots and I rode Scout and we went for a walk around the now bare fields near the place. We rode around for an hour or so, just happy to get some horse time in. Pam headed off into town to go shopping at her new favorite place: Farm-and-Fleet. After we got back Nikki headed off and I was about to untack Scout when Luther shows up. He invites me along to go riding and exploring over at a forested area across the way. So he takes Toots and I ride Scout and we head off across the fields again, this time crossing a few streets to get to the forested area. This was very cool as we saw deer and coyote tracks in amongst the trees. This was also an area frequented by the property owners kids who play paint ball there and there were little "forts" and other barricades and paint ball splotches here and there.
We continued on and made a few loops through the trees and came out the other side (somehow covered in stickyburrs!) and out into bare fields again. Scout was being a very good boy and as usual was keeping an eye on everything, and tossing out the occasional whinny to see who would answer.
We must have been out for an hour or more, and as we started to head home we came to a big open field that had just been cleared. This lead back to Horseman's place and we decided to open up the horses and let them have their head. Well, first of all Toots is younger then Scout and a top notch cutting horse that Luther uses for his team penning. So Toot's goes from 0 to lightspeed in 2.4 seconds. Scout hears/sees this and goes up into a canter with this "ME TOO!" attitude… and then to my minor amazement he kicks from canter to flat out gallop trying to catch Toots. This was the fastest I have ever had Scout since I have owned him. Now, I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid… and I know both of us are out of shape, and Scout is 20 and only has 10 or 12 hours riding in on him in the last 5 or 6 years!… I did not have to worry though, as Scouts burst of speed only lasted about 10 seconds as he dropped back down to a lope with a bit of a pant thrown in. :) There is Luther and Toots egging us on, running back and forth and doing spins… but Scout and I are happy just to lope up. For a few seconds there I was reminded of Mickey in his hayday. Mickey had quite the set of afterburners on him when he was younger, and that acceleration you feel knowing the horse just shifted gears and is really digging in. Anyway, that was a fun surprise, to know Scout could kick it up a notch, but that we are not in any shape at the moment to sustain it for any length of time.

We got back to the barn and I put Scout away with great praise and a good scritch on his face where he likes it. Pam got back from shopping and for dinner we took Horseman out to this all you can eat Chinese buffet he likes. That was about it, it was becoming late, and we headed home. Thanks to Luther for the ride company, and Horseman for the use of Toots, and Nikki for doing Mickey's feet. Another nice day with the horses.

Scouts Day 11/14/04

Pam and I rolled out late to Horseman's place. Got there about 2:30 or so. Denny's computer has blow its power supply, so he will be off line until I can get it fixed. We yacked with Denny for a while and then went out and rounded up the horses. Mickey, Duke, and Snickers were not hard, as they were in their stalls. :) We checked them, gave them treats, and I cleaned Mickey's feet good and spritzed a little koppertox to keep the thrush at bay.
Then I went down to get Scout. He saw me coming and started to head out into the pasture. I yelled out to him that he was a bozo and I was not going to chase his sorry butt all over the pasture and that if he knew what was good for him he would get his buns over here!
Smartass horse stops, turns around and walks back to me and lets me halter him. I kept looking around for the candid camera..
Anyway, another boarder was up at the barn, a mother and her daughter, on a horse the daughter was learning to ride. Horseman suggested that I offer to take them for a trail ride, and we pressed Toots into service again for the mother. So I tossed my saddle on Scout, did the same for Toots and got mom up on her, and the daughter on their horse and we set out across the plowed field. Mom had not ridden in a while, and Toots gave her a good ride. We wandered down the back of the field, turned around, wandered off in another direction along a tree line.. The sun was setting and it was a lovely red sunset with bands of clouds and a crisp tinge to the air. The wild geese were flying in formation above us, calling to each other as they passed. If you tuned out the rumble of the traffic from the highway you could imagine yourself deep in the wilderness blazing a trail on horseback. Until however we came around a corner and there was Sanchez, who had to let loose with a bray. I just gave him a razzzberry and we continued on. The three of us finished off with a gentle jog back up the road to Horseman's. You know, as I write this, I suddenly realize that I was not all that much paying attention to riding Scout. Since I was in effect leading a trail ride, like I use to do with Mickey back in the old days, I was sort of in my "Trail Guide" mode. Even though we were maybe only out for 30 minutes, Scout didn't give me a lick of trouble, and did everything I asked of him. I was not having to outthink him at this point, as my attention was on the others. We are getting along better and better. I am noticing now the time it takes for Scout to warm up. Just like all of us the joints loosen up with use, and later in the ride its easier to get him to move out. But for this ride we walked along, and added a little trot in later. Didn't need to have Toots take off with mom. :) As it was things were fine and everyone had a good ride. We all got back and put everyone away. Scout had a good scritch of his face on my back as I lead him back down below. We take after each other, I love a good scritch myself. <heh>

Pam was playing with Snickers when we got back, and she put him away and everyone headed off. It was dusk now, and the horses were finishing off their evening hay and beginning to sack out. I could see Scout down below standing around with some of the other horses in the pasture. George the little mini wandered past Scout in search of who knows what.
That's it for now, a fun day with good horses. More later!

Chris' Day 11/20/04

Ok, Ok, can't really call it Scout's Day or Mickey's Day or Snicker's Day or Duke's Day.... Although we did see them all, we just wused out and didn't do much with them.

We got out to Horseman's place about 2pm, dressed in a bit finer clothes then one usually wears to a barn. Later in the day we were heading off to the Illinois State Team Penning Association dinner and awards presentation. Luther came in Reserve Champion in his class and we were all going to say hello and take pictures and celebrate, etc etc.

But before then, we did look in on the horses, and everyone got treats and checked over. Mickey, Duke, and Snickers in their stalls - we took them out and gave them a little scritch. Kept them all in the barn though, as the temperature outside was getting downright cold! But we did notice everyone fuzzing up well, so things look good for them. I went down below to the pasture where Scout is, and called to him waving treats in the air... He began by giving me a look from across the pasture and was going to be content to stand there and mostly ignore me... That is until he noticed a pasture mate making a B-line trot for me and the treats! At this he goes: "Ut oh... that interloper is going to get MY treats!" and he started towards me at a trot and neatly cuts off the other horse. Scout wanders up with this "It's MINE!" look to him.. so I give him his share. (I slip one to the other horse as well, consolation prize.)

While we were at the barn AmyB. showed up to look in on her charge. We said Hi and chatted a while. A new boarder had brought in her horse, so we looked him over. Another boarder came along with her child and were working with their horse. Its been a busy week down at the farm.

Then Pam and Horseman and I headed off to the dinner. We hade a nice time. It was down at a place in Marseilles, and took us about an hour to get there. We had some drinks, and then dinner, and then the year end awards were given out. Luther's award was a rifle with a plaque on it. The pictures are here: istpa3

We stat around and chatted with folks till about 9:30pm, then we had to head out, it was a 2 hour drive home. We did stop for a few moments though, in the dark, at the (in)famous landmark down there - the crashed plane. See the very last picture.

That about covers it. Oh, this Thanksgiving, if you watch the Fields Jingle Elf Parade (or, do they call it the Target Parade now?)… watch for me driving a horse and carriage in the parade! I do it every year. I usually have the cast of the Goodman Theater: The Christmas Carol, because I dress in top hat and look like an English Hackney Driver. And I usually get to go through the parade a couple of times with different guest riders. (We bring one set of people though the parade route, drop them off, trot back to the beginning staging area and pick up another set of passengers. :)

And Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!

Scout's Day 11/28/04

Off to Horseman's place, got there about noon. I wanted to get some time in on Scout. Found most of the barn horses turned out in the back pasture, all save Mickey. He tends to walk into the wire fence in the back, so they usually put him out to the side pasture fenced in 3 board. But while I was there I turned him out out back so he could hang with Snickers and Duke and the other horses. One rotten barn mate comes up and gives Mickey a hard time, so I bean a small stone of her butt and she squeals and heads off, leaving Mickey alone. Snickers prances up and noses Mickey, then Mickey wanders out into the middle of the big pasture and stands around, occasionally nibbling grass. Duke is oblivious to the goings on, hanging around down by the gate. Snickers runs back and forth trying to engage other horses in cow kick tag.

AmyB is at the barn, we are going to go for a trail ride. I go down to the lower pasture and fetch up Scout. He is being a good boy and wanders over and lets me halter him. For this he gets a couple hay cubes. I bring him up to the barn and sigh.. Mr. Scout is one muddy mess. Much effort is spent in cleaning him up to where I would not be accused of horse abuse when riding him. In truth, most of the mud is dried and comes off with a curry. I don't try the lower legs though, that's not coming off any time soon; maybe it will fall off as we ride. ;)

Now AmyB is going to ride Toots, who is turned out in the back with the gang, and it's a bit muddy out there. So I offer to go ride Scout out there to fetch Toots up. Well we head down there and here come Snickers and the other mare from before all bucking and leaping and shooting hooves and squealing and being general pains in the asses as I'm trying to round up Toots. They are feeling quite full of themselves and I'm cussing at Snickers to get out of the way. Scout is being a good boy and actually ignoring the miscreants, and focusing on the job of herding Toots down to the gate. We finally get Toots in, no thanks to Bonnie and Clyde.. You can tell the horses have some excess energy to spend in the cool weather.

AmyB gets Toots and we go for a nice little ride down the street and out along a tree line. Pam takes off in the car to go shopping a her favorite store - Farm & Fleet. As we ride along Scout hardly misses a beat, save that one brief stall at his usual spot heading out down the driveway. He just has to convince himself he is going on the ride there. We didn't push them at all, and mostly walked. It does take Scout a bit of time to warm up, what all with my weight on his back and him being 20ish, I don't blame him. Toot's on the other hand warms up in seconds, and is raring to go. On the way back in we let them do a slow canter down the gravel road, and once Scout hits his stride, he's a fairly smooth ride.

It's dinner time now and the horses are getting brought in. I untack Scout and return him down below as the rest of the horses are being caught up at the gate of the pasture. Three horses are on lead ropes, and then there is Duke.. Duke is walking himself up the hill and towards the barn all by himself. As Pam is returning from her trip and pulling up in the driveway she sees Duke wandering up the hill. She relates that Duke looked at her with this: "I'm pondering.. Should I run off down the path and into the field?.. or should I wander into the barn and into my stall where I know dinner is? Ah heck, running off is too much work, I'll go eat." And of course Duke does exactly that as he puts himself away and has dinner. He's clever like that, the kindly old curmudgeon. :)

So that's about it, save we dole out the apples and carrots we brought with us. All the Herd gets some. Mickey loves carrots, and nibbles a few small apples. Duke gums the carrots to death (he hardly has any teeth left) and makes quick work of the apples. Snickers does a job on his snacks and then tries to sneak out of his stall as Pam is talking to another boarder.. "Back! Back ye foul demon pony, back to the depths of ye pit I say!" :) And I take some apples and carrots to Scout down below, who happily munches on them and I slip an apple to little George the mini, and carrot to another horse there.

That puts the horses to bed, and we leave the barn to the satisfying sound of horses munching hay as we turn out the lights.

More later! -Chris

Mickey's Day 12/15/04

We had to be back for Pam's Father's 80th birthday party this evening, so we tried to get out by the horses a bit early. As it was it was cold and damp and muddy out there, so we did not do a lot. Snickers and Duke were out in the back pasture with their group. Duke doing his stately potted plant impression. Snickers occasionally charging around the field when he got up the energy, which was not often. Scout was down below, and I walked down and greeted him. He came over to the fence and I slipped him a few treats. Little George, the mini, looked on with a rather board expression, then decided to amble over to see what was going on. It was a rather dull, low energy day to be sure.
Mickey was in his stall, and I took up and put him out with to other horses to the side pasture. This is the pasture Mickey hung out in all summer, save now it has some permanent outdoor residents. Mickey had a conflict between finding his old familiar ground and the occasional interference of the other horses who would come over to investigate. Mickey had a few moments trouble with this one bay who was trying to play tough guy, and would walk towards Mickey in an attempt to displace him and bluff him. Well the poor bay could not for the life of him figure out why Mickey would not respond to his shows of bravado, and eventually there would be some squealing and a few hooves tossed as they bumped each other. Well, Mickey is no fool, and knows how to duck. After a few rounds of this everyone spread out and went back to being bored. Well, Mickey wandered along the fence line a few times, bumping his way along, till he got himself situated in his space in the center of the field. Them Old Mr. Mover begins to free lunge himself. Yes, they are not very wide circles, but Mickey has figured out that when he wants to exercise, if he can find an area where he does not bump into things, that he can spin himself in tight little circles and allow himself to move at a brisk walk. That's my explanation and I'm sticking to it. :) God knows if you hook Mickey to a lunge line he's happy to trot around, so without a line I think he has figured out how to do it himself. He will walk 10 or 20 times in a small circle, stop, smell the ground, check what he can hear around him, and then do it some more. He has to be doing this because he wants to all on his own, as he could stop at any time and munch grass which is still available all around him. I believe Horses are amazingly adaptive animals. All in all Mickey is looking very good for his age and condition. Everyone is nice and fluffy. When I was giving Scout his treats I reached up under his mane and boy was it warm up under there. He will have no problem keeping warm outside, as he has been these past 3 years.
We said good bye to the horses and took Horseman off into town to a Mexican grocery store that he has been telling us about that also serves food. We had some real tacos and bought some groceries for home. We also brought back some Mexican treats for the barn man, Marcelino, as a holiday thank you for taking care of Mickey and the other Herd goofs. We dropped Horseman back off and headed home for the birthday party. Happy Holidaze all! More fun later.

Mickey Buys a Goat. 2/27/05

Pam and I went out by the horses Saturday. Its mud season, so we didn't do much, just checked on everyone and cleaned up the herd. When we got there Mickey, Duke, and Snickers were on turnout and were just getting brought in. Basically Marcelino just goes and gets Snickers and leaves the gate open for Duke. Snickers has to be lead in, but Duke is quite content to just walk himself across the yard and into the barn and right into his stall. He once got so set in his ways that when they opened the side door to the barn to bring everyone in he went and stood outside the closed main door until it was opened for him.
Now Mickey was farther out in the field, and there is not much worry about him running off, seeing as he just stands around. Sometime he will come when you call him and he homes in on the voice, but today he was not going to move. Stuck to Mickey like a shadow was his goat. During the winter there were a number of goats on the farm, lets just say they were not there for milk... anyway, this little male was left and was kept down in a pen below. He had some problem with his front knee and was lame and well, for what ever reason they brought him up and put him in the stall with Mickey and fixed up his leg over time. Now Mickey usually hangs out with Snickers in the pasture, but Snickers has been quite the little rat this winter, and also some of the other horses have picked on Mickey when in group turnout. (Though Mickey still holds his own, he cant quite see where the hooves need to be shot at or where the fence is when he needs to spin.)
So all of a sudden this little Nubian Cross has become Mickey's best friend. Mickey orients on him, sniffs him, grooms him once in a while - and the goat hangs out with Mickey keeping him company and interacting with him.

Mickey and his Goat Mickey and Belle
Belle Mickey and Belle

He's just a youngster still, and the last thing I need is another member of the herd, but what am I to do? There is the uncertainty of the goat going for its original purpose, and its not friendly to people much anyway. But last week we went out and bought a collar and a bell and put it on him just so Mickey could hear him around.
This week we actually paid Horseman for him. It's not my goat, its Mickey's.
We actually needed to catch him up to confirm that he was a he and we had to chase him around the stall a while before catching him. He kept running under Mickey and behind him and making unhappy sounds when we caught him.
You know what? Mickey got miffed at me that we were bothering his goat! He got all sulky and turned his back to me and stuck his head in the corner and nuzzled his goat. Pam said you could see his demeanor change and he was not pleased with the tribulations his buddy had to endure.
Aw well. Mickey has his goat and he sticks to him like glue, where he goes the goat follows, bell jingling away to let Mickey know where he is. Perhaps over time this summer he will not be so skittish around people if we work with him.
Herd: Mickey, Snickers, Duke, Scout, and the goat.... talk about collecting the missfits...


Scout's Day 3/5/5

Today we were out on a Saturday because we have some stuff to do tomorrow. And anyway, we were trying to break the rain curse. It had rained every day we have been out to see the horses for the last 2 months! Today there was no rain. :) Just mud. :(

We rolled in and said hello to Horseman. He is laid up with his medical problems and will be going in for some surgery towards the end of the month.
Then we went is search of the horses. Duke and Snickers were on turn out with some barn mates and looking for treats. Luther told us that Mr. Snickers had pulled a Houdini on him a few days before and lead Luther on a merry chase down one side of the farm up and the other before they caught him up. Mr. Snickers better lay off that before he gets his butt kicked by something bigger them him. (Which is just about everything!)
Duke has been known to go exploring once in a while... but after looking things over in a thoughtful manner will usually put himself away in his stall of his own accord.

In any event, they were in the side pasture and we went looking for Mickey... He and Belle were in their stall. I took Mickey out on cross ties and picked his feet, Belle standing right along side or in back quietly. The 2 dogs (Jose and Possum) where there as well watching. Jose keeping this weather eye out on Belle as if thinking "It's a critter out of its pen! I have to herd it!" But when he approaches Belle she stands her ground and gives him the "You and what Army!" look. Jose made the mistake of entering Mickey/Bell's vacant stall and Bell charged in there and chased the dog out! Pam and I just looked at each other with this fairly shocked expression. I guess Belle has truly taken up residence and will keep the riff-raft out! We also heard from Luther that when Mickey is turned out that he follows Belle all around the pasture, keeping his nose near her back as she leads the way. Luther says Mickey gets around and doesn't bump into much this way.
Anyway, I cleaned Mickey up, did a little hot compress on his left eye that is gooking up a lot this winter and gave him a bunch of treats. Belle kept her distance from us and didn't take anything. After putting them back I went in search of Scout...

Scout was out in the down below pasture, so I clanged on the pipe gate and called for him. He came around and walked right up to me and I haltered him and took him up to the main barn. Now since it was about 40 and the sun was shining I took this opportunity to blow the dust off my saddle - and Scout - and get up on the boy. Off we set - down the driveway and out towards the road. We were both a little rusty but we kept it slow and easy until we got halfway down the roadway and I began to praise him. He still has this quirk of taking any verbal communication as the signal to stop. So I tell him he's a good boy and he halts. Then tries to pull one on me with the getting pissy and light in the front routine. A couple swift bops on the rear and some stern talking to and some dancing and then we stand there. 30 seconds later its like no big deal and we are on our way again, this time with the verbal praising working the way it should.
We go out for a walk along the side of the fields while Pam goes off and runs some errands in the car. As Pam gets back so do Scout and I and we canter a little down the road chasing after Pam. I get Scout back in and untacked and he gets some treats which he inhales. Back in the down below pasture he of course goes and rolls in the mud. Ah well, at least I got some riding time in! First for the year. :)

That did it for the day, we said goodbye to the horses, dogs, and humans and headed home. More fun later!


Mickey's Day

We got out to the boys a little past 1 and found everyone turned out enjoying the spring day. A little nippy still, but warm sun. Most of the horses out in the pasture, and Scout down below with his group. Nikki was coming today to trim hooves, so I brought Scout up and tossed him in with the others just to be handy. Toots (Luther's horse) had to come over and make sure Scout knew she was in charge of this pasture, but that was no big deal and Duke wandered over to tell the whippersnappers to knock it off.

So we hung around and played with the horses for a while. Dennis' Mother and Sisters were there working on the house some. It's still strange to think of Dennis as gone, and sad he's not there to greet us. Luther was out running errands and came back later in the day.
Nikki came along and trimmed the boys. It was getting late now and as Marcellio was putting everyone away Mr. Snickers pulled and escape and ran off down below. We all piled out to catch the snotty pony but Marcellio caught him up and put him away.
We headed north and stopped over at Powdernsmoke's place to pick up a bag of senior feed for Mickey. Thanks Dot! It was a pleasure to meet you and yours. We chatted for a while and then headed to Laura and Tess to watch the last episode of Carnivale that was taped last week (It was Easter)...
Only problem was that Laura had to run over to her sisters to help her with something, so we had dinner with Tess, but did not watch the show without Laura. By the time Laura got back we had to leave for home. At this rate it will be next season before we get to see the end of this season. :)

More later!



Mickey's Day

Mickey gets a bath -
Oh what a lovely day to be out by the horses. Sun, a warm breeze, and almost no bugs.
Pam and I got out by the herd to find them all outside enjoying the day. Mickey, Duke, Snickers, Belle, and the rest of their companions were in the upper field, nibbling on the new grass just beginning to pop up. Scout and his friends were down below also doing the same.

I went out and said hello to Mickey, and Bell, who was laying down some ways away got up and ran over to hide behind Mickey. As she approached Mickey herd her bell and whinnied and huffed. He likes his goat. I gave Mickey a good scritch and noticed that he could use a little help shedding out some of the winter fur. Mickey is normally a very fuzzy boy to begin with, and the winter fur was loose, but since Mickey does not move around much he has not been dropping it of his back and rump. So with this wonderful weather today I took Mickey (with Belle taking up the rear guard) to the Horsy Hottub and gave Mickey a bath. True to form, Mickey stood quietly in the shower stall untethered while I soaked him with the hose and then soaped him up. Belle was cautious and fidgeted around. I spritzed her too and give her a little bath as well. While Mickey was soaking I caught hold of Belle and brushed out some of her fur. This she was not happy with and was dancing and being somewhat uncooperative. To this Mickey swings his head over and vocalizes making some chuffling noises and other generally miffed sounds. He simply does not like his Bell being bothered, and lets you know it! Well, I had finished with her anyway so she ran back behind Mickey and I proceeded to rinse him down and scrape the excess water and old fur from him. He stood there, occasionally sniffing Belle and seemed content until I sprinkled a little water on his face to try to clean up around his eyes. This he never liked and tossed his head and basically told me to get lost. Bath time was over, and I turned them back out and they both headed back out to the grass and Mickey began munching again and Belle laid down in the sun.

Snickers came over to see what was going on, but aster determining there was no food involved in the transaction wandered back off.

Duke stood around and watched with this aire of "Keep the commotion down please."

I went down below and brought Scout up to say hello. Picked his feet and gave him some munchies. Not a lot else going on so I put him back and we headed off to Farm & Fleet for some supplies. Senior Feed was on sale so we picked up some for Mickey and Duke. And yes, we spotted flies! So we picked up some fly traps and put them around the barn when we got back.

We talked with Luther some, and then we headed north to Laura & Tess' to finally see the last episode of Carnivale - which had been taped but delayed being watched for 2 weeks for various reasons. Well we had dinner and watched the show and now have to wait for the 3rd season!

That's about it for the day! More fun next week!


Mickey's Day
-or- Bell kicks ass and takes names...

Off to the horses on Saturday, now that we have finished watching Carnivale at Laura and Tess' place every Sunday night we are a bit more free to adjust schedules. So on this absolutely lovely day we rolled out to the farm and found things in full swing. Luther, Marcelino, and another helper were busy around the place moving and rearranging stuff for the nice weather, shifting the farm into warm weather mode.
Scout was with his friends out down below, nibbling fresh green grass.
Duke and Snickers were in the side pasture with Toots (Luther's mare) and Comet (a boarder horse) as they normally are, but we did not see Mickey or Bell.
Turns out some horse (ahem, mare) that shall remain nameless got a hoof or two in on Mickey's butt the other day and took some hair off the poor boy, who was minding his own business. They decided to put Mickey out in the big back pasture today which is only being used by the 25 or 30 sheep being boarded at the farm.
So that's were we found Mickey and Bell. Mickey wandering around behind Bell, following his bell out in the middle of the big back pasture, stopping to eat the grass and bask in the sun. Once Mickey settles in an area he will walk himself in circles for a little while, lunging himself, while Bell either hangs by or lays down. Then Mickey will either munch grass or fall asleep for a while.
Now here is where the day's novelty came up - The sheep were farther out back in the field when we got there... Well the main gate to the pasture is left open, and it leads to the old barn area where the sheep sleep at night - This allows the sheep to come and go as they please, and it's also not like Mickey is going to run off through the open gate, being as he can't even see that the gate is open... Anyway, the lead sheep begins to head back to the barn and the other sheep follow, and this bring the line of 25-30 sheep walking near where Mickey and Bell are. 4 or 5 sheep wander over to see who this is and Bell goes ballistic! No white furrballs are going to bother his horse nosireebob! Mickey is oblivious as he eats some grass but Bell begins to kick sheep ass and take numbers! As a few sheep approach he lowers his head and runs at them and then jumps up! He has to do this a couple times as 2 or 3 curious sheep remain - and as Bell charges them they finally turn and run. He chases them all the way down to the gate to make sure they have gone, and then turns and sees a few stragglers, who are not near Mickey, but he runs up and chases them through the gate too. He then returns to Mickey who hears his bell and snuffles him while he stands there guarding his horse. I mean its not like the sheep were doing anything but being curious, but Bell was having none of it! Pam and I just stood there laughing at the sheep herding goat.
Pam went down later and brought Mickey up to the barn, with Bell following right behind, and we checked Mickey's kick. He's ok, just some hair loss. We gave him some treats, and Bell got a cookie, and we put them away for the day.
I brought Scout up to the barn and gave him a once over. He needs a bath but we didn't have time today, as we had to get to Farm and Fleet for some supplies. Senior Feed was on sale, and the 2 old farts go through a lot of it. We brought it back and checked everyone again. The vet will be out Monday for shots and stuff. Won't they have fun trying to give Snickers the flu spray... last time it took a squeeze stall to keep the little fart in place to get the tube up his nose. We keyed up on Laura and Tess to see what shots they were going to give their horses - Turns out they were up at the Horse Fair and having a good time collecting free trinkets. :)
While we were at the farm Donna came over and got her set of Hot Sauces that Pam is giving away. She's still going through her collection. It also seems that the little Restaurant we go to every Saturday morning wants a few bottles to put up on the wall just as a display. It will fit well with the decor there.

Anyway, we checked the herd and it was getting late, so we took off and had some dinner at the Cracker Barrel on the way home. Lovely weather and a great day and a goat that kicks ass. :)


Scout's Day 4/24/05

Said in my best Dr. Smith voice: "The pain.... Oh the pain...." or: Aspirin is a wonderful thing.
Ok, Pam stayed home today to do some work around the house so I rolled on out to check on the boys. Got there about 1:30 and everyone was in the barn. It was cold and WINDY for one thing and they were letting the pasture green up a little more. So as I entered the barn and said hello to the horses - Mickey picked up his head and whinnied a greeting back to me. :) I went in and gave him a good scritch and a pat and he snuffled me and was a happy camper. Bell ran around and hid behind him as usual. [(OK, there is now some question as to belle's gender. We though she was a she... but now there are indications he is a neutered male... We will have to catch him/her up again someday to double check... Not like it matters to Mickey.)]
And then I went on down the line and said hello to Duke, who was only interested in treats, and then to Snickers, who was only interested in escaping his stall so he could go exploring.

I went in the house and talked with Luther, and did some work on his computer. He was busy running in and out and hither and yond on various projects, one of which is adding a new front porch to the house.

Since it was early in the day still and I was alone, I decided to brush the cobwebs off both myself and Scout and take him for a little ride. I went down below and fetched him up to the barn and saddled him, mindful to include the obligatory handful of feed while he stood there.

And off we went on a walk down the driveway and out the road along the field. We just walked and things were fine. I took him out to the end of the road and then we double backed and we headed along a field that boarders the highway. Jose, one of the dogs, came along with us as we road around as he likes the company and takes any excuse to go exploring.

We headed back towards the driveway again, but I wanted to ride a little longer, so I pointed Scout back out the road... here he began to fall into his old tricks of stalling out and getting pissy. Well, he has not been ridden much all winter and I suppose a refresher course on who is in charge is in order... So there is some dancing and I have to raise my voice a few times, but he settles in and we begin to start some in's and out's up and down the road... turning back towards the house, then turning around and heading back out... each time he did good we got a little closer to home... each time he pitched a fit we went back out again... he was coming along... I didn't have to use my western-bat much as he was falling for me yelling at him. (Raise my voice and he backs down and does what I want.) Well... up to a point... he danced me up off the side of the road and backed into the empty plowed corn field... here I tried to turn him back and he popped up with me, a good one too... however he did not buck me off, I lost balance and wound up around his neck below my center of gravity... I could not right myself and with a few choice words let go and fell on my back/shoulders onto the soft earth. Ooch.
-=- The next scene has been modified from it's original content so as to remain in the PG-13 rating.-=-

Can. Whoopass. Open. ;)

After all was said and done I got back up on the dear boy and we headed back out and this time he didn't give me a lot of trouble... but I was tired and figured I would not push it any farther for the day. So then we headed back and I untacked the spoiled brat who was looking for treats like nothing at all had happened. Horses! Sheesh. :)

Anywho, put him back down below with a few parting words which he ignored as he went and rolled. I see I just have to get my butt out there and ride him more, or get him out on trailered rides, as he's an angel when he's not playing Mr. Barnsour. ;)

That's the day! More fun later.



Mickey's Day

The interesting event of the day was getting out of the car at the farm this afternoon. I don't know what it is about this place, but it's a wind tunnel. :) The wind must come down I88 or something and across the fields and get funneled right across between the barn and the house, because let me tell you there was a cold wind a'blowin...

In any event we tumbled out of the car and into the barn where we found no one. All the horses were out in various pastures happy as clams. We looked out the doorways of the barn and watch the horses for a while. Mickey was lunging himself when we arrived... blind horse doing 10 foot circles in the middle of a pasture, and doing a good job of it too. Mickey likes to move, even in his old age. :) After a while he stopped and put his head down to eat grass.

I went out to say hello to Mickey and guess who runs up?

Yes.... Belle The Seeing Eye Guard Goat. :) Who promptly gives me the Eye with this "You touch my friend and I'll kick your ass" look.

So I just give Mickey a treat and a scritch and they go wandering on their way.

We go and check on the other boys. Snicker and Duke are out in the big back pasture with the other boarder horses. Scout is down below with his group...
We take a quick run into Farm & Fleet to get some senior feed and when we get back the horses are coming in for the night.
This is good because I want to pick and clean Mickey and Scout's hooves. I bring Mickey out and clean him up, and wipe his face. One of his bad eyes is tearing up a lot and leaves a streak down his face. I think I'm going to have him to the clinic this spring to see what needs to be done there. In any event I feed him some treats as Belle (who we know believe is a castrated male...) watches with a wary eye. And OH! It's a new month.. Worming Time! So Mickey gets a mouthful of paste and I put him away. I then go down the line and paste Duke (Bleh!) and Snickers (Patooy!)
I run down below and bring Scout up and clean his feet and remind him hes on my $hit list for dumping me last week. He feigns innocents.

As Pam is leading him past our car hes got to stop to see if the bag of horse treats are in reach...

"Anything good in here?"
Smart @ss horse... Ok you want something? Here is your dose of worm paste... :)

Blech Phooy Ick Ick Ick yucky! PatooieBleh!

"That stuff sucks!"

Oh well. :) At least it will keep the worms out. ;)
And with that we said goodnight and put everyone to bed and headed home.


Mickey's Day

Wheeee... warm day.... 85 out by the horses. We got there about 2pm and started checking the group over. Mickey in the side pasture, with Belle no where to be seen until I called Mickey. Then like a shot Belle pops up (he was over behind the shade of the garage) and makes a B line for Mickey - afraid Mickey might get taken without him.

Then out in back in the big pasture was Duke and Snickers and the boarder horses and the sheep. Typical going's on, except Snickers is trying hot wire a truck. They have a truck for sale out at the top of the pasture hill, facing I88. Well to Snicker's mind this is the best thing since sliced bread... Snickers has to explore, prod, poke, and otherwise claim ownership of the truck, since by all rights ponies own everything, if he does say so himself.

Scout was down below with his group, standing around munching on hay. Since it was a warm day I decided to help Mickey and Scout out with keeping cool, so I dragged them up to the Horsy Hottub and gave them baths. Mickey needed to thin out his coat, so this was a good time. Soaped them all up and rinsed them all off. Even Belle got a light soaking, in which he was not impressed... but that's life for ya. :)

Duke and Snickers were left on their own, since they were way back out up the pasture, Snickers still trying to hotwire the truck... Duke just making the occasional wander to another patch of grass for a mouthful.

Not a lot more to say today... we did a run to F&F for more feed. Oh.. F&F has Farnum Ivermectin paste wormer on sale the next 2 weeks. $6 and change for a tube. I stocked up, as the next cheapest was $8something. Get it while its there to be got! :)

Came back and talked to Luther some. Things are going OK at the farm and he's getting ready for the Team Penning season.

That was it... said goodnight to everyone and headed home. We will be out of town starting Wednesday, heading over to visit friends in Michigan, so wont be back till next weekend late. More fun later!


Mickey's Day

Long day today, much to get to. We first went over to the Garfield Farm Rare Breed Show. It was ok... though not as many rare breeds as we have seen in past years. There was a pretty white shire. Some oxen hitched to a cart, various fowl (common and rare), sheep getting shorn, assorted small animals of the bunny type, and some mules - that didn't look all that rare to me. :) We spent about an hour there, and ran into an old friend who was a boarder with us at the old Daghem Stables. First words out of her mouth was "How's Duke?!"
After visiting the show we headed off to the boys and got there to find everyone out and doing their own horsy thing.
We had had word that one of Mickey's knees had swollen up and while he was not lame he was a little stiff. So they had been cold hosing him for a while during the week. I fetched Mickey up to the barn from his side pasture (with Bell right in place following) and cleaned his hooves and checked his flex. Yea, he didn't care for that at all on the one front knee. I think I'm going to find him some supplements. He was not acting lame lame, just stiff... so I took him back out to his pasture and hooked the lunge line to him. After about 10 seconds of getting his motor tuned up he settled into a nice trot and the motion on the leg looked fine. We reversed after 3 minutes of one direction and he circled in the other for 2 more, then told me he had had enough by stopping and sticking his nose in the grass to eat. Mickey is showing his age, and his top line is sagging around his spine - which I figure is more from lack of exercise then anything. But he still seems happy, and munches grass and suns himself and snuffles Bell when he's nearby.
I fetched Scout up from down below and cleaned and checked him... he's doing his puppy dog routine... Drag him around by his chin and he'll follow me up to the barn (because he knows that's where the handfuls of grain are dispensed from.) While I was working on Scout Marcelino tells us that there is something going on with one of Snicker's eyes. I go down and fetch Snickers out of the back pasture (we earlier I had seen Snickers being "Mr. Tough Pony" over Sanchez and chasing Sanchez around...)
I brought Snickers up and in the sunlight we could see that there was a small bluish white discoloration in the clear part of Snicker's right eye. We will keep an eye on this, but apparently its looked better today then it did the day before. It might be the ding-dong pony poked himself with a thistle or something. I could not see an abrasion, just the discoloration. If its not improved fully soon we will get the vet out. Meantime Snickers is not acting any different, and when we put him in his stall for the night instead of taking him back out so he can be BPOC (Big Pony on Campus) he put up a fuss with his wussy whinny in his stall.
Lastly I ran down to the far end and looked at Duke. Duke wandered over to the fence, looked at me, did not twitch an eye, and then wandered off in his Mr. Curmudgeonly way, as if I was but a lowly peon, not worthy of his royal notice. Such is the ways of Duke. ;)
Pam and I farted around the farm as little more.... let Scout munch some grass over in Mickey's field, since as everyone knows the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence... and then put him back down below, where I had to run roughshod over 1 of the carriage horses that HossDriver has out there as she was running Scout off his hay pile. Rochelle got a rock beaned off her butt for being Queenmarebitch of the pasture.

Then, it was off to Laura and Tess' place! Yes, we wanted to see our friends and they said Tess was up for a visit. So we drove on up (al la the Carnivale watching days) and got to their place. Laura was out in the barn doing chores and Tess was in the house when we got there. Of course all the dogs have to do a happy bounce all over the place and Tess looks absolutely great! She shows us the good sized stack of get well cards she got in the hospital and we talk and catch up on things for a while. I run out back as Laura is finishing up chores and meet their new mare from Oklahoma. A cute girl, who loves to be scratched. We all hang around in the house for a while, talking and yacking and catching up. Its hard to believe the operation was only Monday, but Tess is holding her own and doing very well. Keep thinking her good thoughts so she gets all her strength back and gets back into the full swing of things!

That's its, rolled home... We have some pictures from the day, and Ill see what I can do with them later on. More fun later! -Chris



Mickey's Day - Or- The BIG Blow....

Ya know that storm that blew through here yesterday? Well it REALLY BLEW THROUGH the farm... You can figure it mostly out from the pictures, but basically it must have been a micro-burst that went through the place like a steam train. Luther said there were some cow barns farther south and west that got totally trashed.
Anyway, everyone is OK. All the horses were out when it hit and none seem overly phased by the weather. Snickers and Luther penning mare Toots did take the opportunity however to find a break in the fence and wander into the far back pasture, just to make everyone nuts.

Anyway, as you can see, there was quite a wind. It took the big upper door off the old barn, blew it across the driveway and slammed it into the house where it busted the window Luther was looking out of and knocked the kitchen around.
Trees were blown over and branches came down all over, but mostly where there were no horses. And then the back quarter section of the new barns roof - the side facing the direction of the wind - was blown up and off. Luckily the barn has an inner ceiling, so no debris came in. Another tree in back of the barn lost a branch that came right down across the back door. All in all it was pretty spooky, but thankfully did not last long. Still, its going to be quite the cleanup.

At any rate, all the animals are OK. And the vet was out a few days ago to take a look at Snickers eye. He said it was a scratch, and Snickers is on bute and eye ointment for a week. His eye did look a lot better today.

Ill finish off with some photos of the herd and friends. Mickey and Bell, Old Man Duke, Sncikers the Terror Pony, little Sir George the mini, Scout - down below with Hossdriver's Rachel and Doc, and lastly that old ass: Sanchez. :)


June 19, 2005

Mickey's Day - Or the Honeymoon is over.

A beautiful day! Late start, no one wanted to wake up, we were being lazy.
Got out to the farm and walked in the barn and said hello to Mickey in his stall and did a mental "What is wrong with this picture?"..

Bell is missing! Mickey is in his stall munching hay and the goat is no where to be seen.
OK, time to round up the usual suspects. Way out back is Snickers and Duke, with Sir George and a few other horses, and there behind the mess of them is Bell. Bell is happily munching grass and following George and Duke around! Turns out they put Mickey and Bell out in the arena for a few hours this morning. The arena is next to the back pasture. Bell took off and went to follow the other horses around, and didn't come in when they put Mickey back in his stall. He apparently does come in with Mickey for the night, but at the moment I guess the honeymoon is over.
I took Mickey and put him out in the back pasture while we were there to supervise and Bell did run up back to him for a while then ran off again to lay down in Sir George's shadow. Mickey called once or twice, and Snickers come over. Just like old times they get into a little grooming session, with Mickey grooming Snicker's mane, and Snickers grooming Mickey's side - because that's all he can reach. This goes on for a while then Snickers wanders off and then Mickey went to work trying to roll. Poor Mickey is not a limber as he used to be and kept aborting trying to get down to roll. He tried 2 or 3 times, but he kept tripping over himself and never made it down. I guess its part he cant see what he's doing and part his age. I am going to get him some more joint juice and see if that helps him out. He did not seem overly upset by the ordeal, for when I put him back in his stall he just went right back to munching hay.
Then we got Snickers, the little fart, had to get a hand full of feed to catch him up because he was being a brat. Got him and took him up to the barn. His eye is better, not as clouded up, but there is still some haze there. We will give it a little more time now that he was on medication and see if it clears up all the way. Has not bothered him, he's still the same little brat he's always been. Pam took him in the wash rack to make Pretty Pony out of him and he's rearing and dancing until I came over and smacked him on his butt and gave him the evil eye. Pam then soaped him up and washed him down.
I went and got Scout and did the same thing... a good soaping and a cooling rinse. And you know what thanks we get? Yes, you guessed it. Scout rolled in the dirt the moment I put him back, and snickered rolled in the grass, but then rolled again in his stall right on a pile of Crud! Darn Horses!
Duke, left out back, was happy to not be bothered with any of it. ;)
We dashed off to F&F to get senior feed and some stuff... I got a bottle of fly spray because the knats were out in force along with flies. Oh hey... F&F has a 2.5 gallon jug of livestock fly juice for about $18. Its marked for horses as well, and has the basic makeup of your typical pyrethin fly spray, so Ill pour it in my empty spray bottles and I'll last all summer on that. woohoo!

Got back, checked everyone, Bell still outside in the back, with Pam giving him the Evil Eye for taking off on Mickey. I'm sure things will straighten out, perhaps Bell just needed to go visiting.

That's it for this week. More fun later!

In lieu of Mickey's Day (he was in his stall with Bell) I present a few pictures I shot this weekend of the Team Penning.

There will be anotherone in September -24 & 25- and everyone is invited to attend and watch! Its open to the public.


PS. Oh, all the other horses were in the far back field generally ignoring the goings on. :)

Scout's Day

Well well well… Out on a Saturday because Pam had some clothes and other material we were dropping off at the Wallmart parking lot in Sycamore for a relief truck heading to the hurricane zone later in the week. We did that and then headed to the horses.
I knew something was up when I got there as my saddle had been all retacked and had a lariat hanging from it. Luther was out but would be back shortly.
We checked the horses, Mickey and Bell in their stall, and everyone else out back in the big herd. We drove the golf cart over to the fence and some of the horses came over: Scout, the border Clydesdale, and a mare we didn't know. Duke and Snickers generally ignored us as we did not bring any treats. Everyone looked good and then some of them trotted off to go chase the sheep.

We went back up and I too Mickey out and cleaned his feet and gave him some treats. Luther comes along and explains he had ridden Scout a few days before. (I had given him permission to use Scout anytime he needs, got to put some time in on the goofball any way I can.) Anyway, it seems about 100 head of cows got loose from a farm down the road a few days ago and everyone in the area mounted up to go search the corn fields for the wayward beef. Luther put a friend up on his penning horse Toots and Luther took Scout and out into the corn rows they went. Luther said he did well for about 2 hours then Scout decided he had had enough and started to give Luther a hard time and do his backing up and sidestepping in the direction of home trick. Luther didn't have the time to work Mr. Scout though this or fight him so he sent his friend back on Scout to the barn and Luther continued on Toots. Turns out they didn't come across any of the cows anyway, but most were eventually returned to their home. I understand 2 were hit on the road. L

I think I'm the problem at this point. I don't ride Scout enough, and even though he was good for 2 hours he should be able to do more then that without getting snotty. I'm being to wonder if I need to get 30 days put in on him for an attitude adjustment. Its not like he doesn't know the job, as he is a wonderful ride when he is behaving, but when he gets that "I'm done" thing going he can be quite the pain. Ah well, we will work it out, he's a good horse.

So that's it at the moment. More fun later!

September 18, 2005

Mickey's Day.

Out to the horses. Some interesting news - The farm is getting a hot-walker. This is a good thing because now Mickey can get some exercise and walk himself around in circles without bumping in to things. Once it shows up I'll help install it. Something tells me Bell will follow Mickey around a few times and then lay down.

For the day we took Mickey out (with Bell following) and stuck them all in the horsey hottub and gave Mickey a bath. He was a bit grubby looking beforehand, but was nice and clean now. Wiped him down with some fly spray and put him back.

The farm is jammed packed full of horses at the moment. A few new boarders, some horses being held for friends, even a couple of small cows in one of the pens for a while.

Duke, Scout, Snickers, and the rest were wandering up way out back, and showing no interest in wanting to come down to the fence and we decided to leave them be.
Folks will be happy to know I have made arrangements to have one of the local very experienced horse-woman to ride Scout some and see if we can't whip him into shape. There will be no selling or otherwise blaming Scout because he tossed a little hissy fit after 2 hours of chasing cows in the dark through cornfields. ;) This woman should be able to put some time in on the dear boy and we will get him his attitude adjustment. :)

We went in to town and got some Senior feed for Mickey and came back and poked around the farm a little more. The Team Penning is next weekend and everyone is invited to visit to watch.

That was about it… more fun later!


Mickey's Day 9/25/05

Got to farm about 2:30 - Team penning just finished, everyone clearing out.

Mickey and Bell - In their stall. Mickey got a scritch from Pam, but was more interested in sleeping. Next week I hope to wire up the hot walker and see if I can get Mickey dizzy. :)

Scout, Duke, Snickers, Doc, Raquel, Sir George, and god only knows who all else were in the down below pasture as the back pasture was parking for the trailers. I went down to the fence.. Scout comes over and plays innocent.. like "HI" I'm glad to see you, but I'll still give you a hard time.." Duke wanders over like: "I'm grumpy." Snickers blows me off. Sir George looks at me and wanders off.. Doc and Raquel ignore me.

I help take down some of the penning stuff and then Pam and I bug out to the Morris Sale.

Interesting event driving south down 47.. As im pulling up to an intersection the green traffic light go totally dark.. so I stop and proceed as like it's a stopsign.. and about 30 seconds farther down 47 there is a car wrapped around a powerpole and snapped a few of the high power wires. People were helping the folks in the car but as we continued we noticed power was out everywhere… for miles and miles down 47 in Yorkville everything was dark, street lights, traffic signals, houses, stores, gas stations, everything. That must have been a main feeder for the whole district, as it was not till we got down to Morris that we saw power back on.

Anyway, got to the Morris Sale..

And the usual suspects are rounded up: AmyB, Pixen, Neigh16, Lorna, Paige, RisingSon, BustedupCowGirl, Barb, HorseDreaming, Skeeter, and I'm sure folks I missed. :)

We just went to hang out and see what's going on. Yacked with folks, watched the auction (Hay went for $2/bale) Watched a few horses go through the ring (prices still low) and then after BUC was finished buying tack she and Pam and I went out for a little food.

That was about it…a nice day and we headed back home.


Duke's Day

WIND! Oh yes, it was ablowing and ablustering when we got out to the farm today. Hard to open the car doors and all the buildings creaking and groaning… But we got into the barn and said hello to Mickey and Bell, and all the other horses in there. Then we peeked out the back door to the pasture and there were the usual suspects, all ass-end to the wind and munching on some round bales. Well, Duke has been out on pasture this past summer, and while he has got thinner he really did seem to enjoy being old-fart-in-pasture. He keep the noise level down as when any of the other horses started to stir up a ruckus Duke would charge over and put a stop to that.
But now that the grass is about done in and the cold weather is here it was time to bring Duke in for the winter. So I went down with a lead rope to fetch Mr. Potted-plant. Now the wind is blowing and the horses are all bounding over to me to see if I have treats and they are getting in my face and Duke runs off and it's a mad house for a few moments until I can finally lay hands on Duke and get the rope around his neck. His halter has been appropriated by one of Hossdriver's other drafts spending some time out there. Oh well, not like Duke needs a halter anyway. So we start to go to the gate, with some of the other pasture horses prancing back and forth in the wind behind Duke… I get the gate open and the wind suddenly blows the other side of the gate open as well! So here I have Dukes lead rope in one hand and the pasture gate is blown wide open and a bunch of horses go "Oh Lookie! Open Gate!" I can't reach both halves of the gate and still hold on to Duke, so figuring Duke for the old fart he is and the pasture horses for the "Sharks" out of West Side Story bent on god only knows what…. I drop Duke's lead rope and jump for both parts of the gate and get it shut just in time to prevent the release of Pandora's box upon the world…
So now I turn around and see Duke disappearing up the driveway. ARGH! I go running after him, waving my fist and thinking "I'll get you yet my pretty, and your little dog too!" and praying he does not get into trouble or do anything stupid…
So you know what the old ding-dong does? Trots up to the corner of the barn, around the side, past Pam who is sitting in the car, in to the barely open sliding door, down the aisle, and puts himself away in the same stall he occupied 5 months earlier! He then proceeds to peek out the stall door with this "I'm home now, when's dinner?" look until he gets a ration of senior feed.
So much for worrying about Duke running off. He may be crazy, but he's not stupid. J
So he gets some feed, and a spurt of redcell to help him build up for the winter and we say goodnight to Duke and Mickey and Bell.
We also say night-night to Snickers, who will be overwintering with Scout and the other pasture horses outside. Both Scout and Snickers are quite the butterballs, living on fresh air and a smidgeon of grass and hay.
Before we head off we go in the house and see Lucy's puppies and chat with Luther a little. That was the day. More fun later!


Monday, December 19th, 2005

Ok, there has not been an entry in a while, so here is a one.
Pam and I went out to see the horses later in the afternoon as we had a big Doctors conference earlier in the day about issues with Pam's father.

Mickey and Bell were in their stall doing what Mickey and Bell do - Stand around and wait for treats. Well, ok, Mickey stands around for treats and Bell keeps watch. Bell doesnt seem to be a treat hound, but is big and fat anyway living off a share of Mickey's grain. Mickey gummed-to-death a number of carrots, and Bell didn't care for any.... oh well, more for Mickey.

Duke, in the next stall, also murdered a batch of carrots and apples. Here though we have a little issue going on. Appears that in the last day or so Duke has come down with the squirts... and this is not a good thing in freezing weather because hes caked his tail and backend in muck. (bad mental image: Wooden wind chimes.. making clunk-clack noise -- This is Duke's tail as he walks, only the clunk is not wood...)
Anyway...Michele is contacted and has seen this before in Duke and is getting him some meds. His attitude is fine and his eyes are bright and other then the squirts-from-hell and being is serious need of a bath hes OK. We picked up some peppermint flavored kayopectate to help dry him up until Michele can get out to see him.
Across the aisle is the terror pony. They had done some heard shifting around for the winter and for what ever reason the barn man brought Snickers in from the outside. I mean fine with me, as Snickers used to be stalled, but he really does not need to be. Looking at him I was surprised at how fat hes got, until I put my hand to his side and it sunk into the fur up to my wrist. Now THATS a winter coat! He too sucked up all the carrots and apples he was provided.
Then down below to see Scout. Now its COLD out here.. something like 7 degrees.. and I don't have my gloves on so I can feed treats... My fingers start to freeze! But I shove a few carrots into Scout as he walks up to the fence. I can remember thinking that he is wider then he is tall at this point. Talk about living off of hay and fresh air, Scout looks like he is pregnant. I toss him another carrot and the other horses see this and now I'm tossing carrots to everyone. Pam of course is sitting in the nice warm car at this time. I finish tossing carrots and feeding Scout and hightail it back to the car.
That was quite enough of being outside. Even with a heavy coat I felt cold, how the horses keep warm is a tribute to mother nature!
Its now pitch black out, and I can look up and see the multitude of stars, and I shine a light out across Scout's pasture to say good night to the horses - their eyes reflecting back like spirit animals, the snow on the ground muting most noises to a low hush. It was a pleasant evening. With that we take off for home.


Mickey's New Year Day

Oh yes, Happy New Year to the herd.
Well folks, I can't believe its MUD season already. Things are cold and muddy out at the barn. Bah! We are hoping for at least a hard freeze or something to keep the mud under control.
Anyway, Pulled up and fund the gang out in pens and pasture. Mickey was in a small pen with Bell nearby. Bell was out exploring but when he saw me coming down he ran back into the pen and stood next to Mickey, giving me a wary eye. I gave Mickey a good scritch and tried to feed him a few holiday candies. He gummed one for a little while and then let it drop. Mickey never really cared for candy or sugar. He much prefers apples and carrots. Even Bell sniffed the peppermint and ignored it. Oh well, more for the rest of the herd.
Mickey looks fair. He could use a little more weight, and his eyes are running with a little gunk like they do every winter, but other then that he's still plugging along, old boy that he is.

Duke was out in a side pasture with a few other horses. Everyone will be happy to hear that his "squirts" have dried up and his back end is clean once again. Duke too is showing his age, his hips thinning, but his spirits high. Duke took no time at all to inhale the peppermints and crunch them up good using what teeth he has left.

We had to go hunting for Snickers... He was down back behind the barn with another pony in a temporary pen. They have had a number of horses in and out of the farm this winter and put up some temporary pens so everyone could get turn out in small groups. Mr. Snickers is about as wide as a 10 HH pony can get - much thick fuzz in his warm winter coat. Boy is he going to be a shedding nightmare. :) Snickers got his peppermints which he to sucked in with this aire of "You should give them all to me, I'm cute."

Lastly I went down below to see Scout. Is in the outside herd of about a dozen horses (and a mule) and he was over in the far corner of the pasture hanging out with a buddy. No amount of waving and calling and displaying of treats would get him to come over to the fence. Maybe he was in the middle of a card game or something, I don't know. He usually comes over for me. Oh well, his peppermints went to the mule.

Pam and I then talked to Luther for a little bit, and headed off to Farm & Fleet for some senior feed for the 2 old farts. Well get this! F&F was closed for new years. :( Oh sure, the Menards next door was open, but they don't have feed. Bummer. We radioed Luther and he said he would pick some up for us tomorrow. So instead we stopped off and picked up dinner for Luther and us and came back to the house and ate and watched MythBusters for a while. :)
The horses had been brought in, so as we left we said goodnight to Mickey & Bell, Snickers, and Duke. I waved in Scouts general direction as we drove out past the pasture, it was dark now so we could not see him anyway the stinker.
More fun next week!


Duke's Day
Rolled out to the boys in the afternoon. Everyone was outside in various pens and fields. We did a spot check and bopped over to F&F for senior feed. Its dark when we get back and it's a beautiful clear night and the stars are shining bright.
Luther is bringing the horses in. Out in the side pasture is Duke, Toots, and Comet (a boarder horse). At the gate stands Toots and Comet, and behind them the old grouch. Luther snaps leads on Toots and Comet and opens the gate to bring them out and up to the barn to put them away. So here we have Luther, Toots, and Comet walking up to the barn and Mr. Older-then-sin-but-I'm-still-going-to-be-first-in Duke trots past the group and makes a B-line for the barn and puts himself away. No ifs - ands - or buts - about it Duke knows where his bread is buttered. Into the stall, and the door stands open while we are farting around with getting the other horses in, Mickey and Bell, and Snickers. Duke does not even peek out, but waits quietly munching on his hay flakes, waiting on his senior feed. Now you try that with some of these young whipper-snappers and they will be in Timbuktu before anyone notices.
Anywho, its "odd numbered month" month and everyone gets wormed. Duke gets a special treat, 10cc's of "Vitaminy Goodness", as HossDiver put it, shot in his rump. A little booster to give Duke a helping hand during the dark season; he is showing his age.
I go down below and fish Scout out of the pasture and bring him up to the barn for his worm paste and to give him the once over. The damn horse looks preggers! Talk about living on air and hay! We all swear he's got a foal in there some where. :) Oh well, he gets a few peppermints and I clean his hooves and run him back out down below.
Mickey and Bell are ok, not much going on there other then Mickey still eats like a horse, and Bell still eats Mickey. Poor Mickey has absolutely nothing but fuzz left on his tail. Ah well, what's one to do?
We locked up the barn, said goodnight to all the horses, hang out with Luther some, and then take a run up to Laura and Tess's place to say Happy Birthday Tess! And have some Birthday cake for the both of us. We hung out a while there talking and playing with the dogs before we headed home.
More fun later! -Chris

So there you have it... more fun later. :)


Mickey's Day

Why is it always 20 degrees colder out by the horses then it is at home? :) At least it seems that way. Anyway, out to the guys to deliver senior feed. Michele will be happy to know we did not forget to bring it with us today, all 5 bags. She drops it off at our house for Duke, and we take it out, assuming we remember its sitting in the other car. LOL. Anyway, the horses were happy to see it and Everyone, including Scout and Snickers got a little handful as a treat.

Everyone, except Snickers, is covered in mud. Oh yes, It will be in interesting time in the spring cleaning the boys up. Mickey was down in his coral with Bell. Actually Bell was out visiting another horse when I got down there and then he ran back in and ducked back under the fence to stand with Mickey. I yelled hello to Mickey and he whinnied back, good old boy that he is. He got a scritch and munched up a handful of feed.

Scout, down below, had to ward off his pasture mates to get his handful. Duke, up above, waited to make sure there was actually something in my hand before coming up to the fence to suck my whole hand in - relieve me of the food - and then give me my hand back appropriately slobbered. Snickers just gobbled his up and stood there looking for more.

Pam dropped a few peppermint candies in everyones feed buckets in the barn for a treat when they come in. That really was about the extent of horse business for the day. We talked with Luther a while about this-n-that and headed for home. You can tell it was SuperBol time as the traffic was nearly nonexistent. No bottlenecks at the toll booths or even in the construction sites. We got home in record time, everyone was off the streets at home or in the bars watching I guess.

And so it goes… :)


Mickey’s Last Day - 10/29/06

I suppose I should bring this full circle and begin at the beginning….
I had always had a love for horses, and the horse form. Though growing up in New York City the only horses one really saw had cops on their backs or were pulling carriages through Central Park. So my curiosity about what it was to actually ride remained just that, a curiosity. Fast forward to Chicago, some 20 years ago now; I am working in a small museum that is trying to expand and grow and offer more to its members. We deal with nature and natural areas around the Great Lakes. One of the programs put forward by our education department was a Horseback Riding/Weekend Camping trip up in the Kettle Moraine State Park. There were many natural features to be descried there and it would both be educational for members and fun. I volunteered to go as a museum representative as it would be interesting and I liked camping as well. For the event we had a gentleman from the area truck in his herd of horses, 12-14 or so, and all of us novices would go out 3 times over the weekend in a guided ride. (These were Girlscout camp type horses.)

I remember the name of the horse I rode that first time – Rudy. I didn’t know how to ride of course, but the horse did sort of listen to me as I remember. Anyway, we did the same trip for the museum the next year, and I looked forward to it – I rode Rudy again. We did it again the third year, again with me on Rudy. Here I was doing my yearly horseback riding thing. We were gearing up in the fall again for the fourth year, and I was all hot to trot (pun alert) when a few days before the trip it got cancelled as all the horses had come down with strangles. I was bummed…

I decided to see if there were local Chicago places to go riding. I asked around and heard of a few trail ride places, but somehow wound up out at Hawthorn Hills Stables in Wauconda. I remember driving and checking the place out to get information, not even considering riding until I was comfortable in what I was getting into.

Well, in the early 90’s there you could go on a Guided ride, or get this- an Unguided ride. You paid your bucks and they matched you with a horse and showed you the gate to the Lakewood Forest Preserve. Well I was not that dumb to think I knew what I was doing, and went out each weekend for my one hour fix of Guided trial ride. Had a different horse each time, and of course Rental horses are Rental horses for a reason (nice temperament, doesn’t bite, doesn’t kick too much, doesn’t run off with the greenhorn on his back, or try to dump them…) and I kind of plodded my way from weekend to weekend looking forward to getting out in the woods.

Not sure when it happened, but I was showing up out there so much they the owner took note of me, and began giving me breaks on riding. Soon I decided to take a few months of lessons there as well to get the formal training in Western trail riding. It got to the point where one day the owner asked if I wanted to help out back in exchange for some riding. So that’s how I found out about the joys of mucking out after a herd of 60-80 horses. This got me out there all day, and more riding time in to boot. I was one of only a handful of adults there, as the rest were all the barn rats (the kids) who could already ride 1000 times better then me. Eventually I got to take out guided rides, and to go out and watch the trails for problems due to unguided riders. (Largest issue – Person that exclaims for all: “I know how to ride. I have been riding for years!” and then cant get the horse 10 yards outside the starting path.)

It was in there somewhere I first started to ride Mickey. He had been in the herd since before I started there, but was considered a horse for a more advanced rider – he was FAST and he would pick up a gallop at the drop of a hat. He was also gentle but well – not very high in the equine ranks. He usually hung out with one or 2 older geldings. He did have this trick of always trying to be first in the chow line though, and usually was.

So Mickey did not get rented out much out of the herd, which left him over for the barn kids and staff and guides to ride. I had been on a dozen different horses, but one day wound up with Mickey as my mount. Guess the manager though I had advanced far enough to try a little hotter horse. (or he was all that was left, this place would do 300 rental riders a day on a Saturday.) So I was out on Mickey… Next weekend same thing: take Mickey. Same the next weekend, and the next, and the next…
Why it happened I don’t really know, but it got to the point that when I showed up I didn’t ask what horse to take, I just took Mickey. After a year or so he got to be known as Chris’s horse. Of course this was but one or two days a week, but he was hardly ridden by anyone during the week anyway.

I can’t tell you how many adventures we had out leading rides or watching the forest preserve trails over the years… But memories of one winters morning, not another soul about.. fresh fallen snow and the only tracks in it made by the deer foraging in the field looking for the last bits of tender shoots under the snow. The ground fog rolling down through the trees and a silence so deafening you were unsure if your ears had stopped working or not. Gentle whips of steam drifting up from Mickey as we rode the trails besides the lakes or along the marsh.

I can barely describe the feeling of being allowed to take Mickey on a distant trailride (since he was not my horse) and finding ourselves facing true water crossings for the first time. I held my breath and urged Mickey to follow the other rides across a good size stream… Mickey stopped, looked down, sniffed the water, stuck his nose in it once and then took a little hop as he started out across the water as if he had done it a million times. And at each of the other 4 water crossings that day he would only hesitate a moment to make sure nothing was going to eat him and then lunge right across where ever I pointed him.

There are not a lot of pictures from the early years, but there are a lot of memories. You may know the rest of the story. He became my horse legally after I purchased him after discovering he was going moon blind. How could I let the horse that taught me to ride seen an unkind fait awaiting a blind horse in a rental herd? And I do mean Mickey taught me to Ride, for it was on him that I suddenly realized I had stopped consciously thinking about riding, position, gate, lead, where my hands are, where my feet are, etc. One day I suddenly realized I had stopped thinking about all of that – Mickey and I were a team. He trusted me to go anywhere I pointed him. It was a liberating feeling like no other I have known in my life.

After leaving Hawthorn Woods (By then known as Happy Trails) we bounced to a couple friends barns for a few years before winding up at Horseman’s. From here the older Mickey’s Days tell the story….

But now for the End of the Beginning….
I had said my goodbyes to Mickey Wednesday nigth October 25, 2006. I hugged him, cried for him, fed him a few last treats. Mickey actually died in my mind when I walked out of the barn that night – as the last time I would ever see him on earth. That what was done was done the next morning means little, save my thanks to the ones who took care of it, strongly indicating I didn’t need or want to be there.

It is a cold and overcast Sunday now, the days are growing shorter and life is slowing down. The corn fields of the area are harvested for the most part, with only a few to go. It is dull and things are grey. Water pools in indentations in the ground left by the hooves of horses and feet of men. The smell of a horse farm hangs around both clean and fresh mixed with darker tones as the fall weather brings things to a more compact state.
I walk out into a field where the earth has been disturbed and there is a mound. I wait a moment and say some words – “I will see you again Mickey, god speed.” And a few other things like Best Horse and all that… but it is small comfort, My Mickey is gone. In the cold lonely air there is a moment of deep despair.

I then hear a flock of geese calling to each other as they come flying high overhead and I look up and watch a couple hundred geese flying in V formations across the sky. There is nothing to compare to the sounds of them honking and calling as they form and break various parts of the V’s. And I am filled with the awe of Nature again, of that which was here before us and will be here after us. I look down the hill and there is Bell, standing next to Duke, keeping an eye on me, wondering what this human was up to. I walk down towards them with a lighter heart. Duke of course has to see if I bear treats, but instead of Bell running and hiding behind him as he is most likely to do since he does not trust human contact – he stands there a few moments and lets me pet him. Is Bell telling me in his own way that “It will be alright.” Or am I reading too much into it?

I feel somewhat better. We go and check on Scout and Snickers in the back field… both are getting furry and are happily ignoring us, being horses in a heard of a dozen or so. We call them goofy names and tell them next time to at least come down to the fence.

Back up to the main barn now and the horses are being put away. The pasture gate is opened for Duke and he wanders into the barn and put himself away in his stall. But things are a little different, because walking along side him is Bell who also walks in to the stall with him. Duke gives hi a little nose butt on his back and then kind of looks at me as if to say: “I don’t know why he’s here, but Ill let him stay anyway.” I go to Mickey’s stall one last time. His halter and lead rope are hanging on the door. Both are Black. Mickey always wore black, he just never looked right in any other color. There was the hideous weekend back at Happy Trails where one of the barn kids put a purple halter on him… Mickey didn’t care, but I put a stop to that right quick! I take the halter and rope with me.. they shall be my tangible memory of him.

We turn to go, the evening is falling and the air stands still about. Some horses mill around in the fields or in their stalls, but the only sounds are from the cars and trucks on the adjoining I88 toll road.. and even they seem a bit muted. As we are leaving I hear a train whistling in the distance with the clang clang of its warning bell as well, and I envision the last of my pain rolling away down the tracks...

I am at peace again. The world is slowing, Mickey has left it, but he has not left my mind or my heart. And thus it is the Beginning of a new Beginning, and that’s how it should be, as Mickey’s Day draws to a close.