Saturday, December 27, 2008

Introduction - Part 5 (last intro post)

Since we're pretty much up to present time...I thought I'd share the pics that have and let you know that I am living my dream. Olliver is wonderful. He's smart. Patient. Infinitely patient. And he's going to need that patience, since I'm learning just as much as he is. I'm really limited with how much work I can do with him right now. It's winter. It's cold. Footing is bad. The wind can blow really hard at the farm. Spring can't come soon enough. Ollie and I hung out yesterday. We did a little work, but mostly we just hung out. It was 40 degrees...but foggy...misty...yuck. He's learned how to take a treat from my hand. He knows his name now and my car. He comes to the gate when he sees me pull in at Traci's. I noticed yesterday that he has grown a lot since we brought him home. He was avrunt...but he will catch up. We'll have to watch the protein levels in his feed - we can't let him grow too fast or it will damage his joints--the vet warned me about this. That can happen to Friesians. If they grow too fast, they can get problems with their stifles or OCD (no, not that kind)...or other bad things. We'll probably need to cut back on his protein levels.

Taggart has forgiven me for bringing Olliver to Traci's. See....Tubby hasn't been my best buddy since I brought Olliver home. I think I hurt his feelings. He was my best buddy. He'd let me hug him and breathe in his horsey smell for as long as I needed to - which could be a really long time after a bad day at TWRMC. Yesterday, when I was checking everyone over for scrapes and bumps, I noticed blood on Tubby's chest. He had 3 nasty cuts on his chest. Poor Tubby. They had stopped bleeding, but looked pretty nasty. I cleaned them up, put some Fura-Zone on. I gave him a hug. Lately he would tolerate a hug from me. And just that. He tolerated them. I hurt his feelings. I brought home another horse. Not to replace him, but he doesn't know that. Yesterday, he leaned back into me. Wrapped his neck around me. Hugged me back. He hasn't done that since I brought Ollie home. He's forgiven me. Thank you, Tubby.

Introduction - Part 4 (Meet the Herd)

Before I go any further, I should introduce you to the herd at Traci's. I don't have pictures of Windsor "The Old Man"...he's too scary looking to take pictures of. He's a 30+ year old Quarter Horse that is so gray he looks like an Appaloosa. He has almost no teeth. He's a literal bag of bones. And he HATES Olliver. Olliver gets to stay inside at night. Old Man doesn't. Enough said.

Here are Traci's horses...

From left to right, Taggart (Tubby), Dancer (Mama), and Shadow.
Taggart (Tubby) is my bestest buddy. He's the horse I spent the summer riding. He smart, a little lazy, but overall a good guy. He's a 12 year old POA gelding that out grew his POA status. He's just under 15 hands.

Dancer is a QH/Paint cross. I think she's around 9 years old. She's got a white spot on her belly that you can't really see unless you are underneath her. Which Traci can attest to, is not a good place to be. She's the only mare on the place.
Shadow is a coming 2 year old. He's Dancer's baby. We were hoping that he and Olliver would be grand friends...note the usage of the term "were."

This is Winchester (Olliver is grazing behind him). The last horse in the herd. He's a 16 year old QH gelding. I use the term gelding loosely. He's a little under 15 hands (he looks smaller in the picture because I'm standing uphill). Traci is holding him. Mik is up on his back. Taking her first ride!!

I love Winchester. I've always had a special place in my heart for studly geldings. The poor man was a breeding stud for the first half of his life. Then he was gelded. And Traci bought him. And somewhere in his brain, his neurons were burned into the studly pattern and there they remain. He doesn't get along with Tubby. Ah heck, he doesn't get along with most of the horses. We were most worried about him and his reaction to Olliver. Honestly, we were afraid of what he would do to Olliver.

We gave everyone a day to get to know each other over the fence. Olliver inside. The herd outside. It seemed okay. Tubby was very curious about him. He stood at the fence, ears perked, breathing in Olliver's smell the whole time. Dancer was being a little snotty - but she's a mare, she can't help it. Shadow laid his ears back at Olliver. Every time he looked at him. Shadow lays his ears back at everything though. Shadow is a teenager. We're trying not to hold it against him.

Traci took some treats and led everyone down to the opposite end of the corral. I let Olliver out of his "house." All hell broke loose. Dancer wheeled around and took off full speed, teeth bared, screaming after Ollie. She seriously wanted to kill him. Seriously. OMG. I've been a horse owner for all of 24 hours and my horse is going to be killed. Ollie took off running. Jumped over a hay tub (beautifully, may I add) - and I jumped in between the raging mare and my baby. Luckily Dancer still had half of her brain working. Traci opened the pasture gate and I chased Dancer out...she was followed by Tubby, Shadow and the Old Man. We closed the gate. Uh Oh. Where's Winchester?

We just knew Winchester was going to be the problem. He was sneaky. I knew he purposely stayed back just so he could be alone with Olliver so he could be the one to kill him. I whirled around. There was Olliver and Winchester. Nuzzling. Olliver doing his cute little mouthing thing. Submissive. Winchester eating it up. Dancer walked up the fence line to get as close as she could....ears pinned...teeth bared. Winchester swung around so that he was between Dancer and Olliver. Defensive posture. O....M......G......!!!!

Olliver got happy. Running, bucking...prancing. Did I tell you he has the cutest prance? And the most gorgeous trot?? Moves like a dream??? Okay, okay. I love my horse.

Traci was really nervous about leaving Winchester with Ollie. There is always the chance that he could change his mind about Olliver and kill him. We haltered Winchester. Led him into the pasture. Haltered Shadow. Brought him in with Olliver. Opened the side gate to the small paddock behind the shed. Major trouble. Shadow's pissed. He's separated from his herd. Shut in with the interloper. Olliver wants to play. So Shadow kicks. Nips. Olliver isn't too phased though. He kicks back. We decide to let them work it out.

I spent the day watching. Olliver spends much of the day at the fence with Winchester. When I go down to the fences, Shadow won't let Olliver anywhere near me. Attention hog.

The first part of the week is nerve-wrecking. By Wednesday night, Olliver won't even try to approach me - because when he does, Shadow attacks. We have to catch Shadow just so Olliver feels safe enough to come into his "house" for the night. On Thursday, I tell Traci I can't take it anymore. Olliver is stressed. He kicked at me Wednesday night. It isn't fair to him to keep having to put up with Shadow's abuse. We've got to do something different.

Since I don't work on Fridays, I asked Traci if we could leave Winchester with Olliver in the morning and turn Shadow out. She agreed to give it a trial run since I could be there in case Winchester changed his mind about liking Ollie. When I got Traci's Friday morning, Ollie and Win had been alone together for a couple of hours. Olliver was relaxed. He was able to
greet me at the gate without being punished by his pasture-mate. There was finally peace...

Introduction - Part 3 (Olliver comes home)

Since I'm on a roll, I'll continue with our story...just to get everyone caught up, so I can get to present time...

We spent the rest of October and all of November making a couple trips a week out to Kenyon to start bonding with Olliver. Oh yeah - his name. Mik and I spent an evening cuddled on the couch talking names. We decided that we would register him with the name LaDel gave him - "Geramiah's Choice Dealer" - but that we needed a name that would suit him and be easier to say. Needless to say, we weren't crazy about "Dealer." Mikayla likes "O" names for some reason. Not sure why. But I've learned that there are somethings you don't question kids about. We talked about Othello...but that was just too much name for such a little boy. There were a couple others that escape my memory right now - but they couldn't have been too great, if I can't remember them now. Then we said "Olliver"! Perfect!!! I said there had to be 2 "L"s...just to make it a little different. he has a name. He's going to live at Traci's. Traci agreed to provide his day-to-day care when we couldn't be there. We agreed to be her back for chores, so she could have a life too. We'd already been providing back up for chores, so that wasn't a big deal. I started doing more research on feed, reading about natural horsemanship, checking out piles of books at the library. I had just about 2 months to get ready for Olliver to come home...and we were gonna be ready!

I made an appointment for Olliver to get his vet check. I recommend this to everyone who wants to buy a horse, no matter how old the horse is. And a be sure to get a vet that specializes in horses and is NOT affiliated with the current owner. Olliver passed his vet check with flying colors. He wasn't too crazy about being poked and prodded (including having a rectal temp taken and his little testicles felt up), but instead of spooking, kicking, bolting or biting as colts tend to do, he just kept trying to walk away. So, I wrapped my arms around him and he stood still. Good boy, Olliver!

December 6th. Saturday. It was the day for Olliver to come home!! I jumped out of bed. It seemed strangely quiet. I looked outside. Crap. Snow. Falling. Fast. UGH! This can't be happening. Not allowed. My baby was coming home today. 30 miles of highway and country roads. Not what you want to be driving in with a horse trailer. This. Is. Not. Happening.

Andrea and I were supposed to meet at LaDel's at 11 to load up the little guy. LaDel had been training him on the ins and outs of being a good boy in the trailer. She said he was SO smart. Jumped right in. No problems. It would be easy. Uh huh. Sure. I'd like to find out. If there wasn't a blizzard going on outside. I called Andrea...she said let's give it a couple of hours and see what happens. Amazingly, the snow stopped. The plows came out. We went to LaDel's at 2. Olliver jumped right into the trailer. And we headed to Traci's...Olliver was headed home :)

We got him to Traci's. Led him out of the trailer. He looked around. Head up. Alert. Traci's herd gathered at the gate. Olliver let out the cutest whinny to say hello. I led him up to the gate and he was instantly submissive to the herd. Submissive body language. Working his mouth. You could almost hear him saying, "I'm a baby. I'm cute. Please don't hurt me." We took him through the gate and into the shed where we set up a stall for him. I gave him a bucket of Equine Junior. He started eating right away. He wasn't even phased by being in a new place. And I was worried that he'd be traumatized....hmmmm....this is too easy....

Introduction - Part 2

Merry Christmas!!!

Before I pick up where I left off, I'd like to say hello to Kari, my sorority sister, who let me know through Facebook that she has read my blog and is waiting for more - so I feel better, knowing that this blog is not just cyberjunk sitting in space alone and unviewed :) beautiful Tuesday in October - Mikayla, Traci and our friend Andrea (who recommended LaDel to me) headed out to Kenyon to meet LaDel and her herd. I was speechless. I found myself surrounded by 20 or so of the most beautiful horses. Now, remember, I'm a big girl. I'm tall. I'm 6 foot 2. These horses TOWERED over me. Most were well over 16 hands. And every single one was kind. I mean kind in the way that made you want to put them in your pocket and take them home to snuggle. They wanted to be hugged - and they hugged you back. Standing off to the side was a little colt. Just as cute as he could be. He had a little cough. He was smaller than the other colts, even though he was the same age as the rest.

LaDel explained to me that he had a rough start in life. His mama had been leased to a man who wanted to breed her off of her foal heat - so she was sent late in her pregnancy to his farm. He kept her separate from his other horses in a fenced off lane between pastures. When she foaled (right next to an electric fence) the baby rolled under the fence and was separate from mom. He couldn't nurse, wasn't licked dry and was most likely run over by other horses. When LaDel got the call that Holy Choice had foaled, she rushed out to the leaser's farm. Poor mama had a full bag of milk and the baby was in a bad way. She immediately took mom and baby back home with her. She hand milked mom and bottle-fed the colostrum to the baby. That wasn't the end of the colts problems. He had injured his eye, and had a scar on his eye. Literally on the eye-ball. His value was immediately diminished. Then, a few months later, the colt's mama lost her milk and the colt had to be weaned earlier than usual. Poor, poor baby.

Mikayla walked up to the colt. She hugged him. He leaned into her. She was lost. I went over to him. He let me tickle his belly. Pick up his feet. Pull his tail. He looked at me and sighed. I was lost. Mik and I had a little talk. We decided at that moment that this poor little boy was going to be ours. LaDel told us his name was Dealer. Okay. The name had to go. Not a problem. I doubt he was all that attached to it. We'd just think of something better...

We didn't get to meet the colt's mama. She was at another farm for breeding/lease. LaDel took us across the farm to meet Dealer's daddy. Holy Frijoles Batman!!! OMG!!! This stud is GORGEOUS!!!!

Yep...this is Geramiah. Olliver's daddy. Isn't he AMAZING??? He is a total babe. And he is soooooo gentle. Quiet as a lamb. Deep, soul-searching eyes. You just wanna put him in your pocket and take him home to snuggle. Yep, yep. This big boy is all Friesian...

So anyway, we talked with LaDel and shook hands and little Dealer was all ours. We got a grand deal. Suddenly we were horse owners. I was scared to death...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Introduction - Part I

Hello! And welcome to my first ever attempt at blogging. I've kept a personal journal for years, but this somewhat public (if it's ever read by anyone) version is a little please bear with me as I muddle my way through this. I'll have to give my introduction in sections...because this blog should have really started several months ago...and Olliver is already home. Who's Olliver? We'll get to that...

My name is Jodi. I'm 38 years old. And I'm a horse-aholic. Been one my entire life. In my real life, I'm the single mother of a 14-year-old daughter (Mikayla). We have 2 cats (Quiche and Moxie). We live in Rochester, MN and I work in health care administration at "The World Renowned Mayo Clinic"....which from this point on will be known as TWRMC.

Due to some unfortunate losses in my life over the past few years, I've finally come to the realization that life is just too short for wishes and regrets. You've just gotta grab life by the horns and make everyday the best it can be. Enter Traci.

Traci is one of my dearest friends. A horsewoman. A fisherwoman. The bestest, most perfect friend I could ever want. Practically my clone - only a lot shorter and looks nothing like me. She gave me back a piece of myself that I had shut down a long time ago - my love for horses.

I spent much of the summer at her place. Riding horses. Brushing horses. Feeding horses. Scooping horse poop. Building fences. Lots of manual labor. Except that when manual labor involves horses - to me, it's just not manual labor. It didn't take long before that old ache to own my own horse came back. It was all I could think about. I was CONSUMED by the need to have my own. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Traci's horses. But there is nothing like having one of your own.

I started researching breeds. I've always been crazy about Arabians. Arabians are beautiful. And a little psychotic. Not good when you've got a 14-year-old who knows nothing about horses who's gonna be running around in the pasture and corral with you and said horse. Oh, and I did I mention that I'm over 6 foot tall? I'm a big girl. I need a BIG horse. Time to rethink what breed of horse I should consider. Then I remembered the movie Ladyhawke. Remember that one? With Michelle Pfieffer? Matthew Broderick?? And that big, black, gorgeous horse?? A Friesian. Oh yes. That was the kind of horse I wanted. Only Friesians are light draft horses. Not known for having the smoothest ride. Okay...think, think. Google. Google. Here we go....Friesian Sport Horses. Athletic horses crossed with Friesians. Smart, loyal, good bone, big, athletic. And guess what - one of my new horsey friends just happens to know a breeder of Friesian cross sport horses. Just a 40 minute drive away....