Monday, February 23, 2009

Bea Yewtee

Bea Yewtee is out of our own Jeddien, by the grey 1990 17.1h Westfalen, Da Vinci (shown here).

Da Vinci, owned by South Gate Farm, was standing at Cornell University when Jeddien went through quarantine there as part of our move from England.   Since he was accepted by the KWPN, we used that visit to breed Jeddien.   Once she was done with quarantine, they simply moved her to the breeding barn and did the deed.   :-)

Bea is Big Ben's "sister".   Ben and Bea grew up together, sharing a big pasture for the first two years of their lives, at first with their Mom's, then with another young playmate during the weaning process.

Both Ben and Bea are registered KWPN Dutch Warmbloods.   Both are chestnuts.   Both were imprint trained from birth and handled daily ever since.   Both are very friendly and really enjoy being groomed & scratched in the right places.

And that is where their similarities come to an abrupt end.

Bea's personality is best described as "sharp".   She is edgy, sensitive, quick, and clever.   She is a fast learner, but not a pushover.   A lot like Jeddien.

Watching Bea play in the pasture this weekend, I wondered how many horse people would think she was part Arabian instead of pure Dutch Warmblood.   Tail in the air, showing off incredible movement, throwing in tempi changes for the hell of it, snorting and blowing, she makes us laugh.

Bea will be 3 years old in June.   Sigh.   The 2006 babies are growing up.   :-)   It's kinda sad, but also so great to see.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Riding Ben

Today, for the third time, I rode Big Ben.   Until he is better at working in driving lines, we are still at the early stage of just posing for photos....

...and going for "pony rides".   Sure, I know "pony ride" photos are not exactly exciting news.   Unless you are the pony's mom.   :-)

But then, Big Ben is only 2 years, 10 months old.   And still growing like a weed!   We have nothing but time ahead of us.

What's important right now is that Ben is becoming accustomed to the idea that humans can sit on him, and not just in his stall when he's lying down.   :-)   All while he's still unfit, unbalanced, and a bit unsure about this new activity.

Over the next few weeks, we will continue working in long lines, "driving" around the arena, developing responsiveness to verbal commands, and getting "pony rides".   We have no deadlines to chase.   Just positive experiences to share.   It's a precious time for the young horse and his first trainer.

(Thanks to Kyle for capturing these photos for us!)

2009 NEDA Omnibus

Winter blues so are easily crushed with the arrival of the NEDA (New England Dressage Association) Omnibus.

The 2009 issue arrived this week.   Before I even left the parking lot of the post office, I opened it up and soon found Kearsarge Meadow's full page ad on page 37.   Aside from the fact that the publishers goofed a little and used the 2008 ad instead of the 2009 ad submitted to them, it's still good to see....

Doing advertising is something I had to get my head around when we started the Kearsarge Meadows business.   However, I enjoy the design work involved.   I use Open Office, "The Free and Open Productivity Suite", to do all my presentations, spreadsheets, and advertisements.

Enough advertising for today.   Now we return to our regularly scheduled program.     :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Perfect Storm

Once again, we are getting hit by a wintery storm.   When checking the horses at 10:30 tonight, we had to trudge through 4 inches of new snow.

A quick pass up and down the driveway with the plow soon looked pretty pitiful with the snow still falling quite heavily.   But, according to Chief Meteorologist Mike Haddad on WMUR News 9, the back edge of the storm is not far away and hopefully, when all is said and done, we should top out somewhere between 6 and 9 inches total.   Fingers crossed.

Best part, however, is that the storm will have completely passed by the time we turn out the horses after breakfast.   Snug and comfortable in their stalls all night, this storm has no impact on them or their schedules.   Tomorrow, they will have sunshine, fresh snow to roll and play in, and lots of hay to munch on in the pastures.   Now THAT is a perfect storm.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ben's Second Ride

President's Day brought lots of sunshine on a crisp winter day.   During the afternoon, I went to Ben's pasture gate, called, and soon had his warm breath on my face.   We went into the barn, tacked up, and started another training session in the indoor arena.

This session was the first where lines were attached to the rings of the bit as well as the halter.   Attaching the lines to both the bit and the halter would help stabilise the bit and lessen the movement it would have in his mouth.

Ben lunged fairly quietly on long lines at walk and trot.   At the walk, using the bit & halter for directional guidance, we did figure eights around the arena on driving lines.   Ben also quickly learned that the word "Ho", which he knows means "slow down" or "stop", was followed by pressure on the bit if he did not respond.   Once he BEGAN to respond, the pressure was released.

The work was generally calm and quiet.   There were a couple bucks and squeals, but nothing major.   And so, after a short session on the long lines, we switched back to a lead rope on the halter, removed the driving lines, and headed for the mounting block again.

Following the same routine as on Sunday, I stood above Ben, patting him, bouncing up and down against the saddle, and finally climbed on board.   Again, he stood still and enjoyed lots of praise and a few mints.

This time, Georg led us up and down the arena, left, right, around and around, stopping, going, and finally finishing the ridden work with a mint.

Sounds like boring work, huh?   :-)   However, watching Ben's big eyes get a little bit bigger, it is far from boring for him.   He is on a steep learning curve.   Every little step is a big one for this young horse.   And so far, he's making great strides.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I love orchids.   Have for a very long time.   In England, I grew many Cymbidiums, most of which were in "resting periods" when I purchased them and, thus, very inexpensive.   These are what I refer to as "The Big Hawaii Orchids".   Inaccurate, but one of the impressions of my one and only trip to Hawaii was the Cymbidiums.   Bringing them back to full bloom was a job of patience and reward.

Wonderfully, for Valentine's Day, Georg took me to the New Hampshire Orchid Society's annual orchid show at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua.   Now, having visited England's Kew Gardens and their wonderful orchid house, and having read a fair number of things about orchids, I already appreciated that orchids come in an amazing array of shapes, colors, and sizes, but I had NO IDEA!   This was my first orchid show.   It blew me away!   And it wasn't even a big show!
By the end of our short visit at the show, my brain was overwhelmed by the immense variety of orchids on display.   I was most blown away by the absolutely miniature flowers which I had no idea even existed.   And scented orchids, while I knew they existed, were not something I had encountered in person.   What a treat!

By the end of the afternoon, I had collected the business card of a new orchid garden based locally in New London, NH that I will visit shortly, if nothing else but to get some orchid fertiliser, and had purchased 5 plants from another exhibitor, Marlow Orchids of New York.   After many years of owning the big Cymbidiums, the lady slipper Paphiopedilums, and a few "moth orchids" or Phalaenopsis, I found myself taking home orchids new to me.

Go add to my little collection at home, I now have 4 young Cattleyas as well as my first Oncidium, which won me over not only by it's miniature flowers, but by it's lovely scent of a hint of chocolate.

Orchids.   I consider myself a pre-novice, but I love them.

Ben's First Little Ride

Today, Big Ben was ridden for the first time, being led at the walk about 25 feet with a rider sitting in the saddle.   And that was the end of the lesson.

I know this reads like such a little thing, but anyone who has trained a horse from the very beginning knows today's lesson was a key milestone event.

Getting to this point has involved many hours of work scattered across the past year.   It included daily handling, groundwork, lunging, lunging under saddle, and lunging in full tack with a bridle & bit under the halter to which the lunge line is attached.

Today, while tidying up Ben's rather shaggy winter mane, he stood quietly in the crossties wearing his bridle and halter.   For the first time, he was able to eat Canada mints while wearing his chunky Herm Sprenger KK bit.   Another little milestone.

After the grooming session, I put his saddle on and lunged him a bit.   He was well behaved, happy, and as friendly as always.   When Georg joined us, he led Ben to the mounting block in the middle of the arena.

Standing on the mounting block, I wiggled the saddle, leaned on Ben, patted him all over on both sides from above, jumped up against his back, and finally, climbed astride.   All the while, Georg stood at Ben's head, letting Ben watch me while also making sure Ben paid attention to him as well.

While sitting on Ben, I continued to keep busy.   I leaned down & hugged his neck, sat up tall, wiggled around in the saddle, swung my legs, and even reached down and fed him a mint, all while watching for any sign of trouble brewing.

Nothing happened.   So, Georg took one step backwards.   And Ben took one step forward.   And then they did another step.   And then several more.   And then we stopped.   Big pats.   More mints.   I jumped off and kissed Ben's fuzzy face.

Little steps, but such a huge milestone for the 2 year, 10 months old boy.   What a fabulous feeling!   Tomorrow, we will try it again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Dangers of Wonderful Weather

Today, we were treated to a preview of spring.   Temperatures topped out briefly at 67 degrees on the farm according to our little Weather Channel weather station.   67!   Truly incredible.

And with that, two long awaited projects swung into action.   First, picking up the collection of winter poos in the pastures.   This is a necessary week long chore usually undertaken once the snow melts.   But, with the gorgeous weather, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get started.

Second, and concurrent to the pasture work, involved thoroughly watering the indoor arena.   Not just a sprinkle, but a real good soaking which hasn't been done since the fall.

After getting the watering started, I drove my fun little Honda Rancher ATV with the little John Deere dump trailer out to the pastures.   Melting down a bit, the snow was not too deep and the ATV was able to travel along just fine.   After gaining lots of confidence in the ATV, I decided to see if I could get the poo to the big poo pile out on the back 40 behind the indoor arena.   Sure enough, I got out there and dumped the poo.   However, as I started to drive back up towards the barns, I hit a deep spot.   And got well and truly stuck.   Stepping off the ATV, I sunk down over 20 inches into heavy wet snow.   Ugh.

Dressed for Spring, enjoying the unseasonably warm air and bright sunshine, it felt like anything was possible.   So, I walked back towards the house, moved the sprinkler as I passed the arena, and got into our Dodge 2500 Heavy Duty 4 x 4 pickemuptruck.   Aka "The Beast".   We would pull the little ATV out of the snowdrift area and get it back onto solid ground.

That was the plan.

Having learned the snow depths around the area where the ATV sat patiently, I drove the truck clear of the deep areas.   A long tow rope would be used.   Getting there was easy.   Turning around and positioning.   Easy.   Testing the run back before hooking up a tow line, there was no grip in the snow!   And the ever so slight incline of the land was not helping matters.

After working up a sweat shovelling & sanding, and making it half way back to the cleared roadway, I gave up.   Tomorrow morning, a neighbor friend and his trusty John Deere farm tractor will save the day.   Again.

That is the plan.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

50 degrees & Snow

The title says it all.   Today, we had temps touch 50 degrees Fahrenheit.   Snow was melting like crazy.   Horsey poo piles long since buried in the snowy pastures suddenly made an appearance.   And all of the horses enjoyed a day of nakedness in the sun.   Rolling.   Grazing.   Basking in the sun.   Equine bliss.

Until it suddenly started to SNOW!   Yes, while it was somewhere around 45 degrees, we had a storm breeze through.   Snow.   Sleet.   Rain.   More snow.   Then warm sunshine again.   Very odd indeed.

New Englanders say if you don't like weather, wait an hour.   Today, this was soooo true!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Saddle Training

October.   Mere months ago.   We had GORGEOUS weather and no bugs.   It was simply marvelous, and some will say, the most perfect of New England weather.

On the farm, October 2008 was a little milestone for our youngsters.   Big Ben is shown below, learning to wear a saddle at the age of 2 years, 6 months.   Using the pastures where the babies and their pals are turned out as the training venue, they do not experience the same levels of stress that occur when being pulled from the field (and friends), taken to a secluded site, and trained.   Nope, we worked with the babies in the field.   And their pals watched.

In dead of winter, with temps dropping into the single digits Fahrenheit (and a few times below zero!), the amount of training we do is limited.   But this coming weekend, temperatures are going to SOAR into the high 30's, maybe even the 40's.   Translation:   HEAT WAVE!   :-)   And with that, another great opportunity to continue saddle training the kids.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Baby Teeth

Last night, a friend and I attended a lecture at TNT Equine in Dover NH.   The subject was "Managing Infectious Diseases", however, the speaker, David Pugh, DVM, MS, DACT, DACVN, Fort Dodge Animal Health, also spoke about general equine husbandry...   which includes, among other things, attention to dentistry.

Hearing about the importance of equine dental care was a quiet reminder that in three months time, a couple of my horses are due to see Deme Erickson, DMV, of TNT Equine again for a dental checkup.

Three months ago today, every horse in our barn was checked out by Deme and Super Tech Erin.   For most of the critters, only floating was needed.   However, some of the horses needed a bit more attention.   Especially the babies.

When Ben, 2 and a 1/2 years old, was examined, Deme was surprised to find 4 wolf teeth.   Usually 2 are seen, but he had upper and lower ones.   These little teeth, even if they have not broken through the surface of the gum, can be quite troublesome when training with a bit begins.   Ben also still had caps on his front upper teeth.   So, all of these were removed.   Throughout the whole session, at which these images were captured, Ben was extremely well behaved.   Of course, the mild sedation helped!

That night, Big Ben had 7 teeth to tuck under his pillow for the Horsey Tooth Fairy.   I hear he used the money to buy 35 pounds of carrots, which of course he shared with his pals.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Plowing Pastures

Mow pastures.   Plow driveways.   That is the usual way to do things.   Plowing pastures...   Now, that's not quite as common.

Last winter, we received around 10 feet of snow.   And while we had a couple thaws between storms, the snowbanks eventually became unmanagable with a pickup truck and needed to be moved by tractor.   During one of those occasions, as a goof, I asked my tractor operating friend to clear a little path for me at the gates of a couple pastures.   From there, I plowed a bit deeper into the pastures with my truck.   The end result was that it was easier for the horses to move around, easier for us to get hay out, and easier for us to get to the water troughs to top them up each day.

This winter, starting with the first snowstorm, I plowed paths in the pastures.   And what a timesaver it has turned out to be!   The ATV, instead of a sled, can still be used to deliver hay.   And the horses have the option of walking through deep snow OR walking on a cleared path, which they seem to appreciate.

We have another couple months of winter to go.   But so far, plowing the pastures has certainly helped make things a bit more bearable.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Speedi Worm

No, it's not a new food stuff.   Nor a new product.   It's just a well practiced process.

Every two months, we worm our horses.   We use the same routine at the same time of night, a routine which the horses have come to know, anticipate, and help us execute without stress or issues.

After giving evening hay and topping up the waters, Georg and I work our way through the barn.   One by one, we halter each horse, squirt the mildly pleasant apple flavoured dewormer into their mouth, instantly provide a cup of sweet grain, unhalter, and move on.

The horses know the routine so well that they stand at their feed buckets waiting to be haltered, wormed, and given their extra grain treat.

Tonight, we performed the job at an average rate of 1 minute per horse!   Now, THAT is speedi worming!

The Horse Tax

Q:   How do you make $1,000,000 in the horse business?

A:   Start with $2,000,000....

Last week, all hell broke loose in the New Hampshire equestrian community as Bill HB427 came into view.   The bill proposed a licensing of all equines in the state, as well as enforced vaccination for rabies.   40% of the license fees would go to the towns, 40% to the state in a "general fund", and the last 20% to the office of the State Veterinarian.

Now, I'm not going to rehash what a huge uproar this proposed horse tax created and how things proceeded from there, but I do want to comment about one assumption a lot of non-horse people have been making.   And that is that horse owners are rich and therefore can afford more taxation, or "licensing".

I wish.

There may be some who are, but I don't personally know any horse people who are rolling in dough.   In fact, most horse owners I know are fairly tight with their money and feel pain each time grain, hay, bedding, farrier, and veterinarian prices increase.

At the same time, many horse businesses I know are struggling to realise decent profits as basic running costs increase and incoming revenues from lessons and other fees stagnate.   Yup, the current economic blues are impacting everyone.

Taxing horse owners? Hmmm. Not my first choice for how to improve New Hampshire's budget woes.

Q:   How do you make $1,000,000 in the horse business?

A:   Start with $2,000,000...   Sad, but true.