4 of 4

Last night, my baling bin broke (say that 3 times fast!) while The Kid and I were trying to get the hay on the ground baled before rain.
We only got half of it done before the bin was in such rough shape that we couldn’t continue.
Instead of wasting 50lbs of beautiful, scythe cut, Mama sweated on,  lovingly raked and dried hay, I forked it over the fence for the nags to enjoy now…instead of in the fall or winter.
And, I just happened to fork it over the fence right beside the smudge, so that nags could enjoy some tasty noms while in a smokey, bug free space.

3 of 4 trotted over, because this is an unusual time of the year to get hay, so it’s exciting and new and they must gobble it down.
Toddlers.
😀

4, though…
Interesting.

The Cookie…eating not at the hay pile…

Right out of the gate, the moment her hooves hit the land here, we knew this Girl had issues with food.
Not aggressive, resource guarding type issues, but anxiety issues.
For the first 2 winters, we had to stick to a strict schedule of when hay arrived in the pasture. It didn’t matter if there was lots in the feeders, or if we fed extra at the right times…what mattered was that it came regularly, when her internal clock said it should.
If it didn’t, she panicked.
It was the same with beet pulp pails…and that’s a year ’round feeding.
Panic if it was late.

1200lbs of panicked toddler is…

Not fun.
Kinda scary.
Really, really sad.

This past year, we’ve seen some amazing and wonderful changes in her. And last night solidified it for me, that I’ve done right by this horse.

I threw 50 lbs of top quality hay over the fence.
3 of 4 trotted over to gobble like piglets.
4?
4 came over leisurely, had a few mouthfuls, and wandered on.
She nibbled the greens just past the smudge, she went for a drink of water and played in the big trough, she wandered back and stood with her head on Sable’s back…and when Ruby and Astrid moved off to eat fresh grass, she and Sable ate hay together.

Simply put, no panic.
No worries that there won’t be food later.
Just a relaxed, normal horse, doing relaxed, normal horse things.

It’s taken 3 1/2 years for her to get there…
It’s okay though, because, her and I, we got nothing but time to work together and work things out for her.
And this relaxed normal horse thing looks real good on her.

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Gotcha Day

3 years.
It is so hard to believe it’s been 3 years since the original 3 came Home.
3 years since the life long dream of having horse came true.
It’s been a crazy roller coaster ride…but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Okay, nope, I’d change one small thing. I’d include a lottery win in that 3 years that made us independently wealthy. LOL
But I think that can be said of any life endeavor. 😉

gotcha-day2016-1-wm

Ruby and Cookie

Sable

Sable

And so, to celebrate Gotcha Day, the Girls were subjected to their new little top hat…

Just a little convincing and Cookie wore it well.

Just a little convincing and Cookie wore it well.

Ruby said "Aw hell no, Mama!" See the hat at the top of the image? lol

Ruby said “Aw hell no, Mama!”
See the hat at the top of the image? lol

Finally though, with scratches and reassurance that it wasn't going to eat her, she wore it...and wandered away from me with it!

Finally though, with scratches and reassurance that it wasn’t going to eat her, she wore it…and wandered away from me with it!

And of course, Sable…

Wore that hat like it was the easiest thing in the world to do. :)

Wore that hat like it was the easiest thing in the world to do. 🙂

Happy Gotcha Day to my original 3…here’s to many more years together. ❤

Scratching Astrid’s Back

Earlier this week, I was telling y’all about Astrid enjoying back scratches.
Little Red **really** likes having her back scratched.
After she finishes her beet pulp, she’ll sidle up to the fence and wait for me…I climb up, and use both hands to scratch…and then, she tries to groom me. lol
Well, since mutual grooming with horses tends to include teeth, I have to (gently) discourage it. We don’t allow teeth to be used on humans period, and, because mutual grooming is a huge thing for horses, I don’t want to have to discipline her for something that is really important in a horse herd.

Normally, during a scratching, I’ll redirect her to the closest horse…unless it’s Cookie. Cookie rarely grooms anyone and only on her terms. She’s a bit of a crab about it. 😉

The day The Kid was taking pictures, the others weren’t near by, so Astrid substituted the fence…

"Oooh! Good scratch Mom. Keep scratching!!"

“Oooh! Good scratch Mom. Keep scratching!!”

"Yeah, that's the spot....right there!!"

“Yeah, that’s the spot….right there!!”

Of course, chewing a wood fence is not something I want to encourage, so I had to redirect her again…poor noodle!

"Not the fence, Astrid." "But Mooooommmmm!!!"

“Not the fence, Astrid.”
“But Mooooommmmm!!!”

When all the itches were scratched, she wandered away to munch happily…

"Feels so good..."

“Feels so good…”

🙂

Earlier this week, I went out to take some pre-dawn shots of Ruby and Sable lying in the grass. The one of Ruby made the local news/weather forecast as one of the weather pictures of the day. That was pretty darn exciting!

Paints in the morning sunlight.

Paints in the morning sunlight.

Sable enjoys the warmth of the rising sun...

Sable enjoys the warmth of the rising sun…

Still working on my other edits…once those are done, I can get into my shots from this past weekend. Rodeo shots. My one and only rodeo for the year. *sigh* Sometimes being responsible and not running off to photograph all the things just plain sucks. lol

Gotcha Day

It’s that time again…

It’s Gotcha Day for Cookie, Ruby and Sable.
2 years they’ve been Home.
Yup, capital “H” Home…until the end of their days.

New, 2 year anniversary pictures below…and to celebrate, they’ll get a little oats in their beet pulp tonight.
I’ve already hugged and kissed everyone and wished them a happy day…even though it’s windy, drizzly and all around miserable weather.
Still, we have reason to celebrate. 🙂

Sable (and Cookie's bum)

Sable (and Cookie’s bum)

Sable and Astrid...with Astrid being a bit of a shit.

Sable and Astrid…with Astrid being a bit of a shit.

I know, it’s not a great picture…I was right in the midst of giving Astrid the “HEY!! Behave!” voice. The shot I missed was the bite she layed on Sable’s neck.

Sable..."Haha! Mom yelled at you Astrid!"

Sable…”Haha! Mom yelled at you Astrid!”

You can see…Sable’s smiling, because Astrid got in trouble! Brat.

My Cookie. <3

My Cookie. ❤

A little unsure. I had a plastic bag on the camera because of the wet, and we all know, plastic bags could kill a 1200 lb horse. Best to stay back, and keep a wary eye on it.
*sigh*
She makes me laugh.

Ruby...not too happy with the weather. Or, to find out she had come out of the willows and I only had a camera in hand. Not treats. :P

Ruby…not too happy with the weather. Or, to find out she had come out of the willows and I only had a camera in hand. Not treats. 😛

Happy Gotcha Day Ladies!!
May we have many, many, many more to celebrate together!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I know I’ve been gone for a while. I promise, I’ve still been taking pictures, and that all is well here.
We’ve been working hard, getting ready for winter, trying to get the chicken coop ready for spring chicks, Hubby’s had some crazy over time at work, and Saturday’s have been split between helping friends rebuild after they lost their house to fire and Kid’s riding lessons.
I have many images to share with y’all in the next little while.

I’m going to end this post with this image…the quote is from a young adult fantasy novel. A friend on Facebook shared the second paragraph, and when I googled the book, I found the whole quote.
It fits how I feel about her to a “T”…

Choose Cookie scaled

Spa Day

Yesterday was Spa Day, and some hooves got some much-needed attention. 🙂

As usual, Sable was out best Girl. She relaxes and enjoys the pampering that goes along with a trim. The Kid holds the lead rope, while Sable goes to sleep.

Astrid was a close second. I’ve worked very hard with her since her last pedi, because she was a complete shit last time, and I wasn’t having it happen again. Now, I will admit, her being a shit was 100% my fault. I was not making enough time to keep on top of her foot lifting manners. I made a focused effort to make time every day to go out and love her up, ask for feet, clean ’em, hold ’em and praise her for doing things with good manners. Yesterday, that time and effort showed, and I was very proud of our Little Girl.

Ruby has improved, but not to the point of Sable or Astrid. I have more work to do with her. She stood nicely once she realized Hubby would have an arm load of hay for her to munch while her feet were being worked on. 😛 That’s our Ruby. She’s works for food.

And then there was Cookie…

Ms Cookie…who was 100% certain she was a kite yesterday.
I kept asking for her to focus on the task at hand, and she worked so hard to do as I asked, but then that wind would pop up out of nowhere, that pretty head would snap up and all was lost.
We had to call it when she spooked, swung around, darn near going over top of Michele (thank goodness she’s got quick reflexes!!), ending up at the very end of the lead rope, shaking and snorting. We got her talked down enough that she came into me, Michele took another couple of swipes of the rasp off her toe, because we couldn’t leave her last impression of hoof work being negative, and she was done. With a huge sigh she pressed her head against my chest. While I hugged that head, I could feel the fight she was having with herself. Tense up to run, breathe my scent, relax into my arm…over and over and over.
In a relaxed moment, I snapped the lead rope off and told her she was free to go. Another sigh and off she went.
Us humans headed for the house, and the coffee pot, to decompress.

Later on, I went out to check on every one, and found Cookie standing like this in the shelter…

"I'm okay...at least, I think I am...just gonna hang out here for a while..."

“I’m okay…at least, I think I am…just gonna hang out here for a while…”

I talked to her, rubbed her chin and blew gently in her nostrils. She stood and nodded, ears flickering to my voice. I figured she needed some decompression time too, so I just grabbed my chair and sat beside the shelter with my book. She’s always a little confused at the beginning, when I do that, but then, when she realizes I’m not asking her for anything, and she still gets the time with me, she relaxes. It wasn’t 10 minutes later that she layed down where she stood.

Later on this week, the wind is supposed to die down to nothing. That’s when I’ll head out with her lead rope, the grooming kit, and love her up. ❤ Until then, I’ll spend as much time as she can handle just farting around the pasture, as close as she wants me to be, and letting her decide how much she can handle. That’s always the best way to go about things with her.

I will say this though…

Our relationship was bolstered yesterday *by* her spook.
Remember, back in the winter, I told y’all about the incident with Sable, and my huge confidence loss? Yeah, well, yesterday, when Cookie went sideways, I didn’t have a chance to think about that…it was handle the Girl, make sure humans are safe, and think later. Well, because I handled her fear in a way that brought her back into control of herself, we both got a boost. Being able to reel back in 1300lbs of “I GOTTA RUN AWAY!!!” is amazing. Simply amazing.
I realized, again, that yeah, I *can* do this. Be smart, be aware, be confident, and I can handle what the Girls throw at me. In turn, because I was okay, Cookie went “Oh! I can trust Mama, because she’s not afraid! If Mama isn’t afraid, than I know she’ll keep me safe.”
It was shit that she was so scared she spooked, and I am so thankful no one got hurt, but in the end, we got through it, and that gave us more confidence in each other. That’s a good thing. 🙂

Gotcha Day

Today is the 1 year anniversary of Sable, Ruby and Cookie’s Gotcha Day. That is, the day they came Home. It’s a term typically used in adoptions, and has been picked up by animal rescues as well.

For me, it’s a celebration of the day they made it here, to the Farm. Yes, we met and paid for The Paints much earlier…and we met and fell in love with Sable on Nov. 1st…but from the time we put the money down, to the time they arrived on the property, any number of things could have happened to change the outcome. For nearly a month, we were on pins and needles, waiting, waiting, waiting, for the call to say the Girls were on their way. To have a day that we knew they were coming. It was exciting, it was scary, it was worrisome…but, in the end, it all worked out. The Girls came home, and now they are in their Forever Home.

Mere minutes after getting off the trailer...released into their new pasture.

Mere minutes after getting off the trailer…released into their new pasture.

One year later…

Every horse should have the chance to be loved by a little girl.

Every horse should have the chance to be loved by a little girl.

Every horse should have the chance to be loved by a big girl.

Every horse should have the chance to be loved by a big girl.

Every horse should have the chance to be loved by a Papa.

Every horse should have the chance to be loved by a Papa. And she should lift her feet nicely for him. 😉

Herd Dynamics

We have a small herd of 4 horses. As the weather turns towards the colder side, the dynamics of how our herd works together becomes more and more apparent.

This one:

Ruby

Ruby

Is our Lead Mare. She runs the joint, no matter what. Unless the Humans step into the pasture, then she gives control to us. That was a hard-fought lesson for her…if you remember, a while back she kicked The Kid, and I schooled that mare into understanding that we humans are the bosses, not her.

This one:

Cookie

Cookie

Is Second-In-Command. She’s not interested in running the herd, but, she demands respect from her herd mates. When she pins her ears *every one* gets out of her way. Including Ruby. She doesn’t do it often, she really is a laid back, gentle horse. So, when the ears pin, man oh man, look out! And, it will be over food. My Girl still has food issues, though we’ve worked very hard to settle them down. Every now and then though…they crop up. It’ll be something we deal with for the rest of her life.

These 2:

Sable and Astrid

Sable and Astrid

Are under the other 2, and unless there is some sort of serious fight, will always be. Even though she joined the herd last, Astrid’s position is above Sable.

Sable is our Omega.
She’s at the bottom. She takes the most shit from the other 3, she gets pushed out of her food, she gets chased the most…but, she’s also the first one Ruby protects, and she is the one who is always there to comfort the others.

More than once I have pushed Cookie’s boundaries hard. I mean, that horse worked her brain so hard to do as I asked, that when we were done, she walked away sweaty. Sable is *always* the first to come to Cookie with a nuzzle, a gentle touch with her muzzle, exchange breath…it’s all to comfort Cookie, to let her know that she’s okay. I have had Sable do this while I’m pushing Cookie…and I let her, because as much as I can offer comfort, I’m the one asking her to do something she’s not sure of, maybe she’s afraid of, or it’s something she’s never done. Having a herd mate come and offer comfort, shows Cookie that I’m not asking her for more than she can give.

Sable is what makes our herd work. Without her, we’d have a bunch of pushy mares vying for lead…All. The. Time.
Ugh. That would suck, and there would be far more injuries!
It just means that we have to have 2 feeders for hay. That way there is always one place where Sable can go to eat.
Whoever eats with her always changes, which is interesting too. Most times it’s Astrid, but I have noticed that Ruby will eat with Sable when she’s feeling stress.

It also means that when they get things like grain, or beet pulp, I must have 4 separate feed spots, so that everyone gets their fair share. LOL! Sometimes, I stand in their midst, supervising, just to make sure no one *ahem*Ruby*ahem* steals anyone else’s treat.

I am not joking when I call them 1200lb toddlers. 😉