Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cross one off the bucket list...

One of my dreams was to see a performance of the Lipizzaner stallions live and in person. Not a video...seen 'em. Watched the You Tubes a bazillion times.

Last Sunday, the Lipizzaners came to Rochester. I got tickets for me, Mik and T awhile ago. Great tickets. Amazing seats. I was soooooooooo excited. When the first horse came out from behind the curtain, I burst into tears of joy. I don't think I breathed for two hours. It was the most amazing, beautiful, awe-inspiring performance I have ever seen. Such beauty. Such grace. So much power. Wow.

I have about 100 pictures from the show. Here are some of the best...

And the horse of the day? The man I fell in love with? It was the Andalusian stallion...try not to drool on your keyboard....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Olliver FAQ 1.0...

While I wait to get the photos from my weekend adventure off of the camera and uploaded to photobucket, I thought it might be a nice idea to compile a FAQ on Olliver. So here are the most frequently asked questions about my boy and the answers...

How did Olliver get his name?
Olliver originally had the barn name "Dealer". Yeah. I know. Not so cute. Especially considering some of my past aquaintences (ahem). Once Mik and I decided Olliver was THE ONE, we sat down to decide on a new name for him. His breeder wanted him to be registered as "Geramiah's Holy Dealer" - which we were cool with...but he needed a barn name that we gave him. Mik likes "O" names. We picked Olliver because he had such a rough start in life (Oliver Twist reference here)...and "Oliver" means - The olive tree. The biblical olive tree symbolizes fruitfulness and beauty and dignity. 'Extending an olive branch' signifies an offer of peace. I added the extra "l" just to be different. To be honest, everytime I look at my boy, he offers me peace and I forget all the stress of my life and my job. The name suits him perfectly!

Can you ride him?
No. Absolutely not. At least not for several years. And no, you can't set your baby on his back either!

Why not?
Because he's a baby. You can't ride baby horses. They have to grow. Their bones and joints need to develop. I don't care that he's half Thoroughbred. And that TB's run races at just 2 years of age. He's also half Friesian. Friesians grow slowly, sometimes until they're 8 years old. He needs time to grow and develop properly. He'll most likely be 4 years old before his first backing.

Well then, why'd you buy a baby if can't ride him?
Why not? Especially when it's been my life's dream to take a baby from weanling to riding partner? And yes, I plan to do a lot of his training myself. But, I'm not afraid to call in the professionals when necessary. His breeder also trains (dressage) and has offered to help with whatever aspects of his training necessary. Just the little bit of groundwork that we've done to this point has been so rewarding. Developing our bond has been a complete joy.

How big is he?
I can finally answer this question. We got the tape out on Friday and Olliver got his first "sticking". He is 13.3 hands. A hand is 4 inches. You measure from the ground to the top of his withers. So he's just about 4.5 feet high at his withers. He's still a little bit behind height-wise, but he's catching up from the unfortunate events of his early life. He weighs approximately 564 pounds. He could stand to gain a little weight...but he eats like a pig - he's a growing boy!

How big will he be?
Best estimates put him at just over 16 hands...that's pretty big. And he'll probably weigh close to 1200 lbs. He's gaining great bone and is showing every sign of being "warmblood" in his body type. His mom is over 16 hands and his dad is still growing and is just around 16 hands. I wanted a big horse and I got one!!

What does he eat?
Well...he's a hay burner. He gets all the hay his little butt cares to eat. Plus...he gets 5 lbs of Equine Junior, 2 lbs of Purina Mills Strategy GX, 2 lbs of sweet feed, 2 lbs of oats, 1 cup of Purina Mills Amplify - plus, for the winter, he's getting 3 ounces of Cool Calories 100. A day. That's a lot of food...BUT - he's a growing boy.....oh...and I forgot to mention, he gets treats too - apples, carrots and other horsie treats....

What is Olliver's job gonna be?
My plans for Olliver include trail riding and some dressage training. He's bred and built to be a 3-day eventer, but I don't know that I'm up for all of that. He'll get plenty of work though, and the dressage training should keep him challenged (me too!)...

Hmmmm....that should about do it for Olliver FAQ 1.o. I'll keep track of questions as I hear them, and provide v.2.0 in the future.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm Officially a New Mom...

It was a decent weekend weather wise. After the recent warm weather that melted the majority of our snow, we had a couple days of intense wind, that dried everything out really well...which meant time to ride the ponies!!!

No pictures from the weekend, but we had a grand time. On Friday, Olliver and I just hung out. Spent a lot of time just grooming, picking up feet, etc. He picks his feet up at my verbal "up" now. He's so smart. Good boy, Olliver!

On Saturday, we went riding. I got to ride Talon. He's really starting to settle in and is being more attentive to the people in his herd. He lets us catch him now and will come to us without the offer of food. He and Tubby are getting along better. Most of the squabbles come at feeding time...typical men!

After the ride on Saturday, Olliver gave a good scare. I noticed he was a little off. Not exactly lame or gimpy. But off. I was able to localize the issue to his left hip, in his stifle area. For those who may be horse-illiterate, that would be his hip area, but it's where his kneecap is. Scared the b-jeebers out of me. I was so scared. He didn't want me touching his stifle, kept moving away from me. Olliver's way of dealing with stuff he doesn't like is to walk away - and he kept trying to walk away from me. I sat in his stall and cried.

I called LaDel (his breeder). We decided to give him stall rest for a couple of days to see if that helped. With the somewhat icy footing in the pasture, and being turned out with big boys, he may have mis-stepped, or gotten kicked or something. Of course, as a new mom - I imagine all sorts of horrible things and completely freaked. Thank goodness for the ladies at HT - they helped calm me down and sent good vibes our way.

Of course, Olliver made me look like fool come Sunday morning. He was as good as new after a night of rest. Picked up his leg. Squeezed his stifle. Stretched his leg and did some range of motion. He was fine. I made him stay in all day. That made him a little hyper...all of that little boy energy cooped up all day. What was I thinking???

We went for another ride on Sunday...rode Tubby this time. After riding Talon, I felt like I was on a pony ride at the carnival. He's soooooooo lazy. He's gonna be in for a rude awakening once spring really hits and I get him working in the round pen. Gonna get that laziness out of his butt!! Gotta get him in shape so that he can keep up with Talon. God, Talon can really move out. He's a goer and rides like a DREAM!

So...back to Olliver. I was hanging out in his stall with him when we got back from the ride. He decided that my hat looked like a good snack and tried to nip it off my head. I snatched it back from him - and gave him my "ears pinned back 'here now!'" ("HERE NOW!" is what we say to the herd when someone gets unruly - they all now what that means). Olliver immediately went into his submissive "baby face" posture. I love his baby face. And was so touched that he gave it to me. Really showed me that he sees me as a leader of the herd.

Okay....I've babbled on long enough and have probably bored my reader(s?) to tears...but I'm having a REALLY bad week at work, and talking about the horses makes me feel better :)


Friday, February 13, 2009

Catching up...

Two weeks. Two whole weeks since I've taken the time to sit down and blog. How negligent am I? To be honest, I've been sick. Nasty, nasty cold. Still got it. In my chest. My nose ran like a faucet for 4 I can't stop with the coughing. And talk about TIRED! So, I've been using what energy I have to run my daughter back and forth to rowing practice and spend some time with the ponies...

The family did come to meet Olliver. It was FANTASTIC! He was a good boy (of course). My niece adored him. I have officially given her "the fever." My brother hates me. Life is good :)

Emily got to ride did I. And my brother. And my sister-in-law. He was very well-behaved and minded his manners well.

Last Friday, T took the day off and we went riding. The weather was gorgeous (around 40 degrees). Got in a fair amount of loping. I almost fell off once though. Winchester picked up the wrong lead (he's kinda dumb about that)...the started weaving, and then threw in a couple of bucks for good measure. It was such a beautiful day...everyone was feeling good. Even the Old Man was running...couldn't believe he still had that in him.

We brought Nick home last week as well...a week early. We were dying to get him home and get the farrier to work on his feet. His hooves looked horrible. Luckily, once Larry the farrier got done with him, his feet look much better and he is feeling good.

Nick has some issues though. We need to put a lot of work into him. He runs if you try to catch him. He fights with Tubby like he's a stud. Squealing, screaming, kicking. He basically ignores Olliver - so I'm happy about that. Since he seems to have no idea that his name is Nick, we've decided to call him Talon. He just basically feels no use for or connection to us - time for the round pen.