janice

Sep 022015
 

I love living in a region where there are distinct seasons. ( Even if some of them are fleeting! ) I get so excited as each season approaches as if something ‘new’ is coming. Change is in the air, new and exciting things are on the way ! YAY! 🙂 But the more I think about it – really the WHY does it stir something in me? I think the change of seasons resonates deep down inside of me in part for the exact opposite reason – it’s not that something new is coming – it’s something familiar. On it’s way back.  There is a scent to each season…..an energy that changes……a different pace……there are ‘traditions’ every year, for different seasons, year after year.  The seasons, like waves on the beach rolling in and rolling out……..they don’t stop, they come they go.

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Aug 252015
 

At my age, out of practice, long absent from the scene…..jumping back in, it was bound to happen. I’ve been stung & dumped. Dumped from my horse that is.

In fact, I’ve been dumped twice in two days over the past weekend. Some of it was my fault. I tend to jump in with both feet, I can act impulsively, and buying Casey certainly proves that. I’m not unhappy with my decision. Yes, she’s a lot of horse, yes she’s got some anxiety issues, she’s green, she’s a challenge. But so far, I’m ok with that. (not that I haven’t had moments of questioning my sanity and wondering if we’re right for one another).

Dumped from my horse

I discovered pretty early on that my horse is quite herd bound. I’m not completely sure what to do about it (though I have some ideas). She goes out fairly willingly with a group but I just knew she was going to have trouble on her own. Still, only one way to find out so Saturday I decided to just try to hack her out by herself. I knew almost immediately this was going to be a challenge. The farm backs to state parkland and the path to the back gate is through a long field. We barely made it half way up the first hill and she was hesitating, getting anxious, stopping a lot, sideways walking. But we managed to crest the hill and headed into the back part of the field. And that’s when she chose to make her stand. Urging her forward resulted in her attempts to go sideways (‘but Mom, I’m moving my feeeeeet!’); correcting her forward caused to her to go lateral the other way. Constant correction to try to maintain forward momentum finally resulted in her ‘hopping’, pawing the ground, and generally becoming very agitated. Mind you I’ve only been on her a handful of times so far, and I’ve not been on a horse in 20 years. so I decided to dismount and lead her the rest of the way through the field to the back gate.

Here she is on one of her many ‘breaks’ – head up checking her surroundings sure a huge horse eating predator is going to leap out from behind a tree

horseback riding

Upon exiting the field, I needed to get back in the saddle. There is a stack of blocks to help with that and I climbed on, got Casey positioned, put my foot in the stirrup and heave uuuuup. Um, not so much, the girth was not tight enough. Back on the ground, adjustments made, dancing horse, trying again, I over compensated and pretty much threw myself up…….

and over as she started off.

Niiiice, right?

This was not her fault at all. Yes she could have stood completely still, but her motion was forward and not abrupt and I went off her FORWARD so it wasn’t her. It was me.

Thank goodness I landed somewhat softly (UGH) and was able to get up and still walk. (remember now, I’m not the spring chicken I once was)

Casey ran off through the woods but stuck to the fence line – remember, she’s herd bound. She had no desire to run off, and not a lot of desire to come to me as I was the one taking her off property to begin with, but after a few minutes she determined the gate was the only way to safety, so back she came.

I determined we’d both had enough of that ‘test’ and maybe a little ringwork would serve us better. Back through the gate, up on the blocks, back in the saddle, halfway through the field and she was so worked up she was up on the bit, prancing and carrying on, so I got off and lead her back. We did a little ringwork to end on a ‘good’ note and called it a day.

Cue Sunday and more adventures in landing softly, this time with some added excitement.

I had no plans to ride on Sunday.

None. Whatsoever.

I arrived at the barn planning on a grooming session and back home to help my son get ready for his first day of High School. (HIGH SCHOOL! I know, right???) Another gal was arriving at the same time and invited me to ride with her and a few others but since they weren’t leaving for a little over an hour I declined. Then an hour later I was just about to turn Casey back out when one of the other gals asked if I wanted to come, they were leaving in a few minutes. Oh what the heck I thought – I knew (pretty certain) that Casey would hack out in a group and what a great way to put events of the previous day behind us both soooooooooo, I said yes.

Casey was wonderful. Only slightly hesitant heading down the back field, someone else took care of the gate, so I was able to stay in the saddle, and out into the woods we went. One of the gals was testing her horse in lead but he wasn’t happy there so I moved Casey forward and to my surprise she went! She never really hesitated though she looked sideways at a few things and snorted here and there. Until we got to a small stream. That took some coaxing, she danced around a bit and I thought we might have to have someone else go across first – but then – she went ! She is building confidence! YAY us!

Somewhere a little further up the trail we all stopped (4 of us riding) and someone else took the lead and we ended up third which was great to give Casey a mental break. That ‘break’ didn’t last long as the lead horse went over an underground bees nest (yellow jackets), they woke them up, the second horse started getting stung and stopped after a couple of steps to properly freak out which left Casey and I standing right about on top of the nest (I’m guessing).

And THAT is when all hell broke loose.

Dumped and Stung

I can hardly describe the chaos that ensued with Casey being lit up by yellow jackets, coming up off all fours, head practically between her legs, and spinning wildly in a circle. I stayed on far longer than I could have imagined. But off I came, quickly scrambling through the sticks and leaves to get out of the way of a thousand pounds of terrified horse flesh. I think half the nest of bees came wit me.

The girl in front of me was dumped from her horse as well and Casey and her horse took off like greased lightning back in the direction of the farm. I took off too, trying to get the bees off of me…they are quite persistent little buggers. They were stuck in my hair, down my shirt in back and front, and stinging me to their little vicious hearts content.

I was traumatized. Seriously.

And I still had to walk ALL. THE. WAY. BACK. TO. THE. FARM. Up and down some big hills, through the woods, over a small stream…..did I mention that I’m overweight and out of shape?

It was a party all right.

Both horses were standing at the gate waiting for us when we got back. Poor things. Casey banged up her legs some and was completely worn out. So much for a confidence building ride.

Tomorrow’s another chance though – right?

Until then I’ll just be over here itching. And scratching…..

and counting my bruises and bee stings.

And blessings.

Yes, you heard me. Counting my BLESSINGS.

I know I’m blessed to have this opportunity to own a horse again – and despite everything, I’m so happy I made the leap!

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I mean JUST LOOK at that face!!

🙂

 

Aug 112015
 

After a very long absence due to injury and illness I found myself making jewelry this past weekend!

I finally found time (made time?) (took time?) (used some time?) – ok, slight detour here- because this is part of the whole point of this website – to examine how I (we?) view time. So maybe the most accurate description is that I took time to be in the studio (although where did I take it?) *scratching head* I certainly can’t MAKE time, time already exists. . . . I didn’t really find it – it’s right here, I’m immersed in it continuously – I guess right now ‘used’ time seems most accurate. I used some of the time that I have/had to be in the studio making jewelry.

YAY!

Things went surprisingly well. I seriously had not touched my tools for at least 3 months and was a little fearful that I might just wreck everything wasting materials. Only happened a little bit. I really had no idea what I was going to make, I just knew that I needed to get started again. After initially milling some wire WAY too thin to be useful, I turned my attention to a large size low dome wire figuring a simple bangle would get me soldering and then I’d add something, details, texture, stones, something.

After soldering I decided on texture using horizontal lines to section off areas before adding a geometric textured pattern. Patina and voila’ – success!

Making Jewelry - Handcrafted sterling silver bangle - by artisit Janice Fowler of Doxallo Studio

And it looked pretty good — but I really wanted to add some sparkle and wanted to set some stones so I went back the following day and added a faceted stone to each non patterned section – 5 total.

A little added visual interest and a tiny sparkle.

I think I like it. 🙂

art jewelry, handcrafted jewelry, artisan jewelry, amethyst jewelry, sterling silver bangle

I am hoping to be back in the studio making jewelry on a regular basis. I’m not sure what that will look like, how often, or what days, but I have some ideas based on some older work of mine and I’m excited to get at it!

Aug 032015
 

How do you go about finding the right barn for your horse?

Sometimes it’s easy to find the right facility and other times, well, it can be quite challenging.

Since picking Casey up near the end of May, she’s been to 4 different barns / farms. Granted, one was a one week stay with a trainer, but still, it’s a lot of moving. While she was originally down near a friend’s place with the idea we could ride together over the summer, her greenness made it obvious I should bring her up near me where I could work with her daily, so after a week with a trainer (2nd farm) I brought her up the road (third farm) and then after 3 weeks decided I needed a different situation so we just moved a couple of days ago (fourth farm) (in what, just about two months?).

Finding the right farm for your horse

The new farm, from out in the pasture looking back

To her credit, she has settled in very quickly to each location.  When trying to find the right barn for your horse there are SO many thing to consider:

  • Location: proximity to you, proximity to other amenities
  • Care Type: Field, Stall, Combo, feed type/schedule, hay type and quality
  • Size: pasture size, # of head, # of boarders
  • Amenities: tack room, heat/no heat, ring (indoor/outdoor), wash stall, XC trails, pleasure trails
  • Health Care/Support: do they worm or do you, do they have a vet ‘on call’ do you need your own, what farrier do they use…
  • Trainer on site/Lesson program
  • Show barn, pleasure barn, private/public (what’s the ‘temperament’ of the barn – layed back, high stress, competitive, social)
  • Watering system – how will your horse access fresh water?
  • Price
  • Rules: what rules do they have specific to their farm? For instance, are there hours of operation or do you have 24 hour access to your horse?
  • and more.

Some of my thought process to find the right home for me and my horse:

  • Because of my schedule I knew I wanted her close to me, ideally within ten minutes. This was VERY important to me.
  • Also because of my schedule and being a single parent, the level of care became important (hence this final move). I wanted more of a full care arrangement. They feed once or twice a day (as needed).  This will free me up in the fall as my son starts high school.
  • Access to trails is very important to me – and the right kind of trails matters. I grew up riding an extensive trail system, being able to ride all day without crossing the same trail. I wanted that again. (and in fact both farms I landed at this go round have access to the SAME trail system!)
  • For me, price was also a HUGE factor. I can’t afford 600.00/month.

Secondary considerations for me:

I was also interested in having access to a ring or round pen where I can school and have access to jumps. This would not have been a deciding factor, but I am very glad that each facility I seriously considered has at least an outdoor ring.

Some items were negotiable to me – for the right situation I could provide my own feed (as long as they gave it!).

And some things would be nice but I could do without (an indoor arena, hot wash stall).

The barn I’m at now has a hot/cold wash stall, separate tack rooms for each stable, fans in the barns, and is small.  Each barn has 4 – 6 stalls and there is a series of gates and paddocking system that offers separation when and if needed.

I think we will be very happy here – although small has its ups and downs. Right now I’m missing (VERY much) the people from my other barn 🙁 as well as the ‘pace’ of the place. It was nice that there were always other people around and the owner has such an incredible knowledge base having been at this for SO many years. I’m really going to miss it all. However, for where I am in my life right now, this will be a better fit for me in terms of schedule and my horse should fare well.

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From the main barn looking out towards the pasture.

Casey has paced herself silly up and down the fence line for two days as the barn manager doesn’t like to just toss a new horse out into the mix (smart way to do it I think!) Casey has had the opportunity to meet the gang over the fence line before having to find her place in the pecking order.

Unfortunately I had an out of town trip scheduled and wasn’t there to see her get turned out last night

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Way out in the pasture

but I understand she did very well and quickly settled down to happily munch grass. I can’t wait to get back and see her. The first two days she was so anxious I could barely groom her so really we didn’t even do that. I checked in on her, fed her, put some ointment on that nasty rash (and her new cuts) and then let her be. No sense in making us both crazy when she was CLEARLY quite worked up.

I am looking forward to seeing how her head is after having been turned out with the others. Hopefully she’ll be settled down and ready to focus. I long to get into a regular riding schedule for the rest of August before life gets crazy with LG starting 9th grade. ( Those ‘hours’ have FLOWN by, hard to believe we’re starting high school. )

Join the conversation – how did yo go about finding the right barn or your horse?  Tell us know about your barn/stable/situation – what are your top ‘must haves’ and what’s on your wishlist?

If your wondering how to even get starting finding the right barn for your horse in terms of finding options to research, here are a few ideas:

  • Of course, ask others you know for suggestions. If you presently own or lease or take lessons, then you know people who can help.
  • Join some horse related FB groups – then look at their files/resources, watch for posts about barn openings, outright ask in a post for ideas based on what you’re looking for.
  • Find the local horse leagues, boards, clubs in your area. Google is worth it’s weight in gold here. In MD there is a licensing program and you can get a listing of licensed stables in your area – MD Horse Industry Board. There is also the League of MD Horsemen , and the Maryland Horse Show Association has a professional services directory.
  • Search online sites like Equine Now, New Horse – boarding stables, HorseBoarding.com
  • Craigslist – seriously, you may be surprised. This is actually where I found my current barn!
  • Drive the area. If you have an idea where you want to be – drive the area. Many farms have signage with a farm name and a phone number.

And another tip, start your search early but also recognize that if a barn has an opening, they may not be able to hold it. You may have to go ahead and make the move or at least start paying for it.

Jul 292015
 

So my pretty little mare is looking a little frightening these days.  🙁    I’ve never had a horse with a skin rash before really. Truly all of my horses have been really uneventful in terms of health.

She first started with a tiny patch of weird dry scaly skin sort of near her elbow/girth area. The patch quickly spread into a larger area and then sort of stabilized. At the same time however a couple of little patches (related?) showed up on the same leg.  And in addition, she had some bumps along her side that I thought might be bug bites — but now I am wondering. Maybe they are hives?

Maybe the whole thing is an allergic response to something?

Warning – these photos look MUCH worse than it actually is – these were taken at dusk and came out kind of scary looking (to me anyway)  – the poor quality makes it look worse. you can tell that the photo doesn’t even represent her true color…..

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I also noticed that there are a ton of small bumps now to the left of the area above.  Not sure if they are hive-y or if they are going to crust up like that mess to the right of them.  🙁

And then below you can see what was a few bumps which seemed like bug bites are now multiplied and could be hives..?

 

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She doesn’t seem terribly bothered by any of them but they are bothering me to no end and I really need to figure out what they are. Anyone have any ideas?

I’m starting a betadine like shampoo on the elbow area for a couple of days and will see how it is looking in a couple of days but will then call the vet out if it’s not looking better.  Poor baby.

Jul 272015
 

Despite the fact that Casey has sharkfin withers and we are having trouble finding a permanent saddle due to saddle fit issues, we’ve been under saddle now several times. I had picked up a used very plain English saddle and it seems to fit her fairly well so for now we’re using that. We’ve been twice in the ring and then once out on the trail.

She has a habit of dancing around a bit when I’m trying to saddle her and she’s not completely placid with a resting head when being bridled but overall she’s getting better.  In all instances, once saddled, she’s really been very well behaved.  I’ve tried two variations of aussie saddles and neither saddle was a good fit. Fitting her is going to be a challenge due to her withers and since she needs to put on some weight and build some muscle I think we’re just going to stick with what we have because her shape will change (I hope) over the next 6 months or so) .

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Riding in the ring

 

 

We didn’t have cell phones when I used to ride so the ability to take photos this easily is new to me. Of course, I probably should have both hands busy with my horse, but. . . .I’m a risk taker, what can I say? Just don’t expect to many that are clear. I think most will be blurry.

She moves along in the ring nicely with her ears forward – always a good sign. 🙂

Out on the trail her ears were back and forth, back and forth….partly because there are a lot of sounds and movement out in the woods. Some of it may be nerves.  She did exceptionally well though. We even went through the river though I avoided anything much over her knees. Some of the horses went into deeper water but I was happy to keep her along the shallower areas while we continue to get to know each other and build trust.  She was curious about the water, drinking a little, but didn’t really do much pawing (many horses really go at the water with a hoof, splashing everything nearby). She went confidently into the river and walked upstream.
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While on the trail we stayed in the back so she could ‘follow’ and have constant eyes on some other horses. I opted not to put her in the middle as she’s still a little fussy when she feels crowded.

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The small group, 4 of us, worked really well. And overall the ride was a huge success.

My only complaints had to do with the length of the ride (over an hour for our first time out was too long!!) and the condition of the trails. With all of the rain and the overuse of the trails, there were some very difficult areas with deeply rutted and ‘hoof-holed’ sections. I was seriously concerned she’d break a leg and I tried to skirt some of these places but with trees right up against the trail it was impossible in some places. Had I know, we would not have continued on but turned around part way through.

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When we first started out she did a little hopping and bucking – I think she had a major biting horsefly on her (cue dropping of the phone ) so that was my first dismount. Luckily I could let my stirrup way down to get back on and then just adjust it back up.

The other bit of excitement had to do with a huge rainstorm (and I mean a torrential downpour) that opened up on us about 10 minutes from the barn. I haven’t been that wet in a LONG time. Needless to say the phone was safely tucked away by then and I could deal with the water streaming down my face and into my eyes while working with a horse that was a little sketchy to begin with.

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She was also spooked by a deer that jumped off into the deeper brush right next to the trail. I wasn’t upset by that at all – many horses will spook at that (heck, I would probably jump if a deer surprised me like that!).

Near the end of our ride she did refuse one crossing ( after trying everything other than backing her through it I finally had to dismount and lead her across).

So there were a few interesting happenings on our first time out on the trail, but I can confidently say that after this ride, I have NO doubts in my mind that we are going to be perfectly fine together.

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I would say I’m pretty much attached. 🙂