Stormy – Back to Work

Stormy, my 28 year old Thoroughbred, has been retired for many years, since I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now 12.  He gets turned out with Slewy, my 11 year old Thoroughbred.  Slewy keeps him moving.

But recently, Slewy came up lame.  When the vet started talking about possible tendon tears or maybe a fractured point of hip, we were looking at a long layup.  (Slewy is fine – no tendon injuries or fractured anything but that’s another story.)  Which left me with the dilemma of how to keep Stormy  moving around.

So I decided to lunge him.  I was a bit hesitant because Stormy literally has done zero “work” in like 12 years.  But, I put him in the cross-ties and got out his bridle.  (I always lunge my horses in a bridle; they just seem to pay attention better.)

Stormy looked genuinely excited at the sight of his bridle.  He actually took two steps froward towards it, stuck his nose out and opened his mouth right up.  He was always easy to bridle but I was a little surprised at his eagerness.  We went out to the arena and I asked him to move out on a circle.  It was like I lunged him yesterday!

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Stormy!

Doesn’t he look handsome in his bridle?  So now I’ve added him into the rotation of working horses.  I’m lunging him maybe once a week and every time he steps forward and pokes his nose out when he sees his bridle come out of the tack room.

I’m largely letting Stormy dictate what we do.  If he wants to trot or canter a bit more, then I let him.  If he’s done and drops back to the walk, that’s o.k.  Its only been a couple of weeks but I’m already seeing differences.  For example, the first few times, canter was difficult.  And then, yesterday for the first time, he stopped cross-firing at the canter; i.e., he was able to hold the correct lead both in front and behind.

I just laugh with joy to see him step out with his ears pricked happily forward!

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First Farrier Visit

This morning, Smokey, had his first appointment with my farrier.  He’s clearly had his feet trimmed before but we didn’t know what that experience was like for him.  We can clean his feet but his “pony timer” runs out pretty quickly.  So, instead of trying to do it in the cross-ties, which just make him mad, either my daughter or I hold him while the other does his feet.

I took the morning off of work so I could be here to make sure little Smokey had a good experience.  Not that I have any concerns about my farrier!!  Demetri is very kind, extraordinarily patient, loves horses and truly believes that his job will be far easier in the future if he takes the time to lay a good foundation with a horse and gain the horse’s trust.  But, nonetheless, I thought little Smokey would be comforted if I was here.

It went really well!  He stood fairly still quite a bit.  When the pony timer ran out, we just gave him a little break.  He only tried to lay down once.  He did that the other day with my daughter and I – he was tired of us cleaning his feet so he just laid down! It was pretty funny.

So I’m feeling like that was a big success in little Smokey’s life!

The Residents of Stori Stables

Stori Stables is my own little barn, in my own front yard.  Since I’m going to be writing about them more, I thought I would introduce the residents of Stori Stables!

Stormy:  Stormy is my 28 year old Thoroughbred.  I’ve owned him since he was 3 year olds.  Stormy has congenital loridosis.  In other words, he’s swayback – always has been, but it hasn’t stopped him one bit.  I rode him for many, many years.  In fact, he’s probably the soundest horse I’ve ever owned.  These days he’s retired for the most part.  He gets brushed, fed treats, and generally fussed over.

Slewy:  I bought Slewy nearly straight off the racetrack when he was 4; he’s now 11.  He’s a grandson of Seattle Slew (thus, his name).  Slewy is sweet, kind, has trouble standing still and is in to everything.  He takes his friends’ halters off and is always right next to you, willing to be of any “help” that you might need.

Holly:  Holly is our 4 year old miniature horse.  She’s super cute but her name really should have been “Sassy”.

Stormy, Slewy & Holly

Smokey:  Holly’s half-brother and the newest horse addition to Stori Stables.  Smokey is just 1 year old.  He loves Holly, giving pony kisses, cuddling while taking naps and chewing on your boots.

Holly & Smokey

Smokey chasing big sister, Holly!

Stori Stables also has three resident rabbits:  Cookies, Crumbles and Hammie.  They’re brand new!  Just adopted from the local Humane Society two days ago.

We also have a bunch of chickens (my daughter knows all of their names.  I know is which one is Queen Victoria becasue she’s pretty good about taking a walk on her chicken leash.  And these three are Pouf, Dandelion and Sparkle.

Pouf, Dandelion & Sparkle

And, I can’t forget, Flappy, our mean rooster.  Flappy hatched and was raised in my son’s 1st grade classroom; my son is now a freshman in high school.  Despite being handled literally from birth, Flappy is mean.  But he’s pretty to look at and I actually like his crowing.

That’s everyone!  Well, at least those are the current residents.  Hope you enjoy their stories!

When Your “Happy Place” is also Your “Sad Place”

I love my horses and I love spending time in my barn.  Its where I do my best thinking and, even though I often forget it and neglect to spend enough time there, hanging out with my horses truly makes me happy.

But its complicated.  While my barn is most definitely one of my most happy places, its also a sad place sometimes.

My horse, Stormy, turned 28 on June 13.  I was hanging out in the barn with him and, for some reason, my thoughts turned to my beloved first horse, Tori.  Pretty quickly, I was sitting in my barn, balling my eyes out.  I had to put Tori down on September 3, 1997 – that was a long time ago!!!!  But oftentimes it seems like it was yesterday.  Is it always going to seem like that?

Hanging out with my current horses – Stormy, my retired old guy; Slewy, my gorgeous off-the-track Thoroughbred I can’t seem to ride; and Holly, the kids’ mini – is certainly comforting.  But, sometimes I’m in the barn and I’m just overwhelmed with how much I miss Tori, how he was supposed to still be here with me (I know he’s always “with” me).

Compounding my sadness is the fact that I feel like I’m failing Tori daily by not riding Slewy.  Its as if all the time we spent together and all the skills he taught me is somehow being wasted.  That, though, hasn’t been enough motivation to get me back to riding Slewy.

Because Slewy’s not Tori.  They’re both Thoroughbreds and I put Slewy’s bit on Tori’s bridle, hoping that would help. They have similar personalities – sweet, kind, inquisitive, always in your pocket.

I just know that somehow, in my slightly nutty head, this is getting in the way of riding Slewy again.  And I’m just not sure what to do about it.  Logically, I think I would feel better if I were riding.  But logic doesn’t seem to have much to do with this.  If it were all up to my logic, I would have been riding years ago.

My happy place being my sad place makes it complicated.  And difficult to move forward.