Wednesday, July 28, 2010


My thoughts are with Kate, over at A Year with Horses. She had to say good-bye to her 30-year old quarter horse, Noble. He was an amazing horse. RIP, Noble.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Update on those Fargin Bastages!

Well, it's official. My BO's mother says it is the worst year for flies that she can remember in her 40 years of living on the property and caring for horses.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I am endeavouring to keep a fly mask on Gem and have asked the barn helpers to make sure he has one on when he's turned out. I will further research some of the products suggested (I am particularly curious about the predators). For those of you that indicated interest in Breathe's suggestion of vanilla, I found a very simple recipe on line at

Pour one bottle of sugarless vanilla extract in to an empty spray bottle. Take your now empty vanilla bottle and fill it up with water. Pour the water in to the spray bottle and mix by shaking. Spray on your horse's coat. It is important that you do not use vanilla that contains sugar, as this will attract insects.

You can actually include a little bit of Skin So Soft in the mixture if you so desire.

On the same site, I found this recipe:

Pour 16 ounces of vodka in your empty spray bottle. Add 1/2 ounce of citronella oil, 1/4 ounce of lavender oil, 0.15 (3/20) ounces of tea tree oil, and 16 ounces of jojoba oil. Mix well. Spray on the horse, being careful not to get any in the horse's eyes.

Hmmm, would I want my horse to smell like fresh baked goods or a vodka soda??? Well, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn't be spraying my horse with 16 oz. of vodka - I would be drinking it!!! So, I guess my gentle giant will be smelling like a cupcake shortly. :-)

What was I thinking....?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fargin Bastages!

The heat has really taken its toll. It's like every living thing is deflated and working in slow motion. The heat has also brought out the horse and bot flies. Holy crap. I called Gem in the other day (yes, he came!) and I could HEAR the buzzing well before he got to me. When I was haltering him, one flew into my eyeball - eewwwww! He is covered in bumps and his eyes are quite irritated (a fly mask helps, but sometimes it's just too hot to wear one). I use spray on Gem, but it only gives him a reprieve of about 15 minutes.

All of the horses were dewormed in June and I try to do my part by scraping bot fly eggs off of Gem's legs (gross). I have heard that the variety of flying torturers that our horses have to endure can actually cause weight-loss because your horse is constantly swishing and walking to stop the flies from landing, or your horse just becomes too darn tired of the annoying critters and stops grazing. A number of horses, including Gem, have chips in their feet from stamping their legs to get rid of flies. I can tell Gem is glad to see me, but I can also tell he is sort of down. Could he be a bit depressed? Why do we have these nasty fargin bastages anyway? Is their sole purpose to torment living beings near a barn?? Well, they do provide food for birds and frogs and the like, and they do pollinate. So, I guess they have a purpose in the big scheme of things. But, holy crap.

I rode on Friday evening and Sunday morning with Jean. We were trying to out-smart the heat and beat the flies. Didn't really work. :-( Gem and I are still getting re-acquainted after my absence from riding. It's just been too hot to ride, which means that I have only been on Gem 5 times since mid-June. Friday's ride was a short one - only about 30 minutes. I couldn't take the sweat dripping into my eyes any longer. Sunday I rode for about 45 minutes and then worked with him on the ground.

On Sunday, we rode in the arena to get out of the direct sun. While we were walking, a fly buzzed around my ear and tried to work it's way under my helmet to get at the sweat. Grrrr! It's hard to have soft hands when you are swatting at dive bombing thugs. I asked Gem for a jog and got one. I then asked for a trot and got this sideways, bendy, pulling-on-the-bit thing. I asked again and a little head shaking was thrown in for good measure. I wasn't quite sure what to make of this. Tail swishing started. OK, now I am getting a little nervous. I certainly didn't want a fight, but I didn't want to give in either. I walked him in a tight circle and asked again. He complied, but begrudgingly. Once in the rising trot, he was fine; good pace, head tilted slightly inside. I, on the other hand, looked like a turkey trying to fly; arms flapping, legs no where near "on", my hands moving to their own beat. I guess I haven't got back what little riding skills I had before my break. We got into a nice rhythm in spite of my bouncy turkey impression.

We went around the sweltering arena a few times and then we slowed down to a walk to air up a bit, and then to a halt. Transitions were a bit choppy, but he responded quickly. When I asked him to jog again, he started to do a little dance on the spot. He was shaking his head, swishing his tail and sort of kicking his hind feet. What the heck??! This didn't feel like a "I need to persuade him" moment. There seemed to be something not quite right. I sat solid in my saddle and spoke calmly to him. I asked Jean what she thought was going on. As she approached she noticed that Gem had a number of flies feeding on his side and chest and near the base of his tail. Poor guy was just trying to get rid of them! These fargin bastages were sabotaging our ride!! My guess is that once we stopped, the flies acted on the fact that their target was stationary and converged on his body. I swatted as many as I could reach and I convinced him that if we moved, they would fly away. Off we went at a jog.

Our ride ended on a positive note. From the ground, I worked with him on whoa, back up, wait and come on voice and hand signals only. He is doing very well in this area. I could tell he was tired though.

Suggestions on how my boy can get some relief would be welcome. Can you imagine what it must be like being bitten day and night? No wonder these fargin bastages drive horses mad! They are driving me mad, for cripes sakes, and I am not even getting bitten!

What was I thinking....?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Marissa over at Tucker the Wunderkind has highlighted that
Solitaire Mare at A Good Horse is up against some difficult decisions. Her horse, Rugby, is very ill. Please take a moment to show Solitaire Mare your support by sending your positive thoughts her way during this time.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Feeling hot, hot, hot, hot.....

It has been way too hot to ride. In fact, even the RCMP won't ride in temperatures like we have been experiencing. We have been hovering around the 33-35 degrees Celsius (92-95 F) mark for the past week. The humidity is also very high, making it feel hotter and making it difficult to breath. Humidity and I are not friends. I dislike the way it tires me. I also dislike how it makes my hair get bigger, and BIGGER. So while some people here manage to survive with just a glow on when we go through these heat waves, I tend to look like a damp Brillo pad. I am hot, but not in a good way!

Jean and I had arranged to meet out at the stables last Sunday afternoon. When I arrived, she was sitting just outside the barn under the trees with RB, catching the breeze off the side pasture. She informed me that there was no way she was riding in the heat. Jean is 20 years younger than me, and I took pleasure in telling her she was a big baby and I was riding. I pushed my fuzzy mop away from my face, and off I walked to get my boy.

He was standing under the trees on the far side of his small pasture. The last 3 times I have been at the stables, I have stood at the gate with a little treat and called him. Surprisingly, he would walk over to me when called!!! I thought it was a fluke each time. I couldn't believe that he may now really recognize me and would come to be with me willingly. So, Sunday I stood at the gate and called his name and whistled. He turned and looked at me. I called and whistled again. He TROTTED over to me at the gate! He looked magnificent....mane flowing, tail up. It took my breath away. It's not a fluke! He knows me! OK, it was probably the treat he was after, but could this mean that I will no longer have to walk through the seasonal obstacle course of flies or ice or muck to get him? Yeah, baby! I gave him his little treat and haltered him. As I haltered him, a trickle of sweat ran down the side of my face. Yep, it is warm out here. I brought him into the cool barn.

Once I had him in the cross-ties, he started to doze off. I think getting into the coolness was a relief to him. Realistically, it's probably only about 4 or 5 degrees cooler in the barn - the loft full of hay provides insulation against the sun and the floor and 1/2 walls are cool cement - but that is a big difference when you have been outside for a period of time. I started my grooming routine.

About 5 minutes into my routine, I had sweat pouring off my body. The sweat was running down the back of my neck to the waistband of my jeans. My underclothes became damp and uncomfortable. Every time I bent over, sweat would drip off the end of my nose. My feet were actually sweating and starting to slide around in my shoes. My eyeliner was suffering, but thank goodness for waterproof mascara! My damp T-shirt showed me that the spare tire from my car had somehow managed to make it's way over to me and attach itself to my midriff. And my hair continued to get bigger and bigger, in spite of being tied back.....

Gem did not seem to be suffering the same way I was. I know I could have ridden Gem without issue or complaint from him....his breed is known for their willingness and toughness and is aptly nicknamed Little Iron Horse. Oh, sure. He might give me a bit of attitude when he believed the session should be finished. My point is that I know he would not refuse me and would go willingly out into the heat with me on his back. There was a split second when I actually considered it.....but then sanity came back to me. I realized that I may be taking advantage of Gem. Why would I ask him to do something uncomfortable that, if the roles were reversed, I wouldn't want done to me? I left Gem dozing in the cross-ties and went to inform Jean that I was not riding.

Instead, we took my beautiful boy outside and gave him a nice cool bath. If he were a cat, he would have been purring up a storm. After toweling him off, I hand walked him. I was reminded, as we were slowly walking up and down the lane, that I didn't have to ride him to feel a connection with him. In fact, as we age or if circumstances changed for either of us and riding was no longer an option, I would be quite content walking or lunging Gem forever. I am excited to think that we are starting to have "that" connection that all my other riding and blogging friends talk about. Sweat continued to run down my face and neck. We stopped and I rubbed his face and looked into his big brown eyes. could I have entertained the idea of riding him in this heat...I mean, really?.....

What was I thinking....?

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Best wishes to my blogger friends south of the border for a great Fourth of July celebration. Enjoy your family and friends over your long weekend!