Wednesday, January 24, 2018

2018 begins......'s been awhile since I've updated our blog.  Lots of things happening at the farm in the last 6 months.  This update will be about our black Arabian mare, V, that we purchased last spring.  As you'll remember, she was a difficult horse!  Bad handling had made her scared and untrusting of humans and borderline dangerous to work with.  It took a LOT of time and a lot of patience, but she has turned into a safe mare to handle from the ground.  She has very good ground manners now, she has learned to trust humans (for the most part), her striking and rearing in defense seems to be a thing of the past now and she has finally gained weight and is healthy.

She came home for the summer and for the first time in her life, learned what it was like to be in a big pasture with other horses!  She immediately developed a deep friendship with our yearling, Pearl.  Pearl showed V how to drink out of the pond, where the best grazing was at, the best path to come up to the barn for shelter, etc.  I credit a lot of V's mental growth with Pearl.  Pearl is a laid back, no nonsense type of gal, even with being just a yearling.  This was the perfect buddy for V.

Then in the fall, V went back to her trainer.  It was time to start her under saddle work.  The trainer has spent a lot of time on desensitization.  V was very reactionary to begin with.  She now has a very solid base to build upon.  She wears the full western saddle with no issues, has accepted things flapping and hanging off the saddle, she thinks through a situation most of the time now instead of just reacting first, she's had a couple of rides with a bosal, etc.  We cannot believe how much she has changed in the last 10 months!!  We're so happy we took the chance and went down this road with her.

She'll be bred to Klint Black this spring, for a guaranteed homozygous black Arabian foal next year.  We're hoping for a filly.  If a filly, she'll stay on with our family.  We're also hoping that foal will be an outstanding western pleasure show horse in the future!

Until the next update, stay warm and rest up, as spring will be here before we know it!

Photo of V during a work session in January 2018.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Wars of the Roses

Am I speaking about the English civil wars of the 1400's?  No.....I am speaking about my war against these nasty "wild rose bushes" and briar berry patches that are hell bent on taking over my pastures!

I've sprayed them in the spring with a chemical that is supposed to kill them off when they are just beginning to grow.  It does kill the green, then I bushhog down the patches, then they come back even thicker in just a few months!  I've read articles that say to dig up the roots after the green of the bush dies off.  Well, I can't dig up 3 acres of field!  I can't tell you how many dollars we've spent over the last few years, trying to get rid of these nasty things!!!  Some of them are wild blackberry bushes too.  Trust me, they aren't worth having around for a few buckets of berries.

So this year I have had it.  I am spraying them with Killz All.  Yes, it will kill any grass in that area too.  The briar patches tend to kill off any grass in their midst anyway, plus the livestock won't eat in those areas either, so I don't think I'll be losing any forage by doing this.  We'll see if I can keep them from coming back by doing it this way.  If so, then I can overseed grass in those areas next spring.

When spraying chemicals, be sure to chose a day that is not windy and where there is no rain predicted for a few days afterwards.  Remove the livestock from the sprayed areas until a rain does occur. 

Keep your fingers crossed for me to win this war this year!  If anyone has any other ideas on getting rid of this nuisance permanently, please send me a note and let me know!  Thanks!

The blogs will be every 2 months during the summer this year.  If I can squeeze in some more time in between, I'll try to post more often.  Thanks for understanding!

Monday, April 3, 2017

And the dream begins!

In my last blog, I mentioned that I was on the search for a new Arabian mare to add to our family, with the hopes of her producing my future black western pleasure show horse!  The search has ended!!  What I thought would be a simple purchase, turned into a logistical nightmare and we're now facing a LONG road of training for this mare.  This is not exactly what I had in mind, however her pedigree and genetics are worth it (to me), so I'm very pleased to have found her.  Let me explain......

A little background on myself first.  I'm far from a naïve horse owner.  I've owned and ridden horses for over 50 years.  I've trained and competed my own horses in my younger days and I've achieved good show results with those horses.  I've stood up to 4 busy breeding stallions at a time and we used to have about 10 foals a year.  I did all the initial handling and training of all those foals.  I'm proud to say that my vets and farriers over the years have always complimented me on how well behaved my horses are.  I've also bought and sold horses over the years for both myself and my clients.  So.....I'm in no way "new" to this field.

When I decided that it was time to seriously look for a new Arabian broodmare, I made a list of "wants" for this mare to possess.  Of course, the more items on the list that she ticked off, the more value I would place on her purchase price.  Two things that I said were not negotiable, were that she must test negative for agouti (bay color gene) and that she must be a no drama type of horse.  I was to change my criteria on one of those items.  Here's the complete list that I began with:  I'd like to find something within this year, but not urgent. She has to be the right fit, in order to add her to the family! Must be registered full-blooded arabian. Must be a NO drama type of horse and must NOT be a regumate mare. At least 14.3h, but would prefer 15.0 h or taller. Either black or chestnut. Must have color testing to prove that there is NO agouti (bay) allele hiding in there! Would prefer Varian or western bloodlines, but will consider others. An older mare is OK, as long as she is breeding sound and again, NO regumate. I'd prefer she be under 20 years old. A younger maiden mare is also OK, but would prefer her to be at least 3 yrs old. Anything in between is OK too. If younger or middle aged, I would like to be able to ride her, so if she's not broken to ride, I would like her to have the mindset to accept that training. She would be a trail mount and would have a few babies for me. She needs to have great ground manners, sweet personality and load in a trailer easily. Again, NO drama!! She must be tested CA and SCID clear. It goes without saying that she needs to be conformationally correct, nice neck set, pretty head and big eyes and NO steep croup please! I want her to produce show quality western babies for me. I have a reasonable budget for this dream horse, but I don't have a crazy high budget. The more boxes she ticks off, of course, the more she would be worth to me.

So the search began.  Since the goal was to produce black foals, I needed either a chestnut mare that tested negative for agouti (bay) or a true black mare.  I can't tell you how many lovely chestnut mares I looked at!  One in particular stole my heart and lived up to all of the "wants" EXCEPT she carried an agouti gene and that is an absolute no-go.  So the search continued onward.  Finally, I found a black mare that seemed to fit most of the criteria.

She was 14.3h (and still growing).  She was a 4 yr old.  She was black.  She had great bloodlines and good conformation.  Her training wasn't what I would expect it to be for a 4 year old, however the owner swore that she had (quote) "basic halter handling". I stated to the owner that this meant to me that the mare could be haltered and lead, tied quietly, you could groom her and she stood for the farrier well.  He said she was a very friendly horse, a bit shy, but was fine for all of that.  I just didn't have a warm and fuzzy feeling about her level of handling, so I even spoke directly to him on the phone and reiterated what level I needed her to be at and explained that I now have rheumatoid arthritis and just can not fight nor wrestle with a horse any longer.  He assured me this mare would be fine for me.

We proceeded with the genetic testing and color testing and she passed all of that with flying colors.  Purchase agreement signed and vet exam scheduled.  That's when things got interesting and NOT in a good way!  Owner sends me a note and says the mare had a good exam and it all went fine.  Vet calls me and says the mare is (again, quote) "wild with no training".  He couldn't even get close enough to complete a basic health exam!  He also told me there was NO WAY this mare could transport with a regular horse transporter!  Two months of testing and waiting was now in jeopardy of going down the tubes!!  I now knew my gut feeling about her level of handling was spot on, but what to do about it?? 

Luckily, when I first doubted her training, I had contacted one of our local trainers and asked if she could take the mare for a couple of months when she came to SC.  I wanted to be sure the mare was gentle enough for me to handle safely this summer, then the mare would go back to her (trainer) in the fall to be put under saddle and then she'd come home next spring and be bred.  I called the trainer to update her on the situation and couldn't believe my ears when she said "I'll go get her"!!  2,000 miles one way, and this busy trainer stepped up to the plate to go for a week and get this mare safely for me!!  She knew that was the best road for this mare to go down and I have to whole heartedly agree!

The mare arrived at our SC trainer's farm in mid March.  She had limited handling and what handling she had been given, was given forcefully.  She trusted no human.  She was scared of being touched.  She had never eaten grain and refused to touch it!  She did not lead.  She did not tie.  She did not give to pressure.  She would not allow her head to be touched, so you could not remove her halter!  She would not allow you to pick up her feet.  Grooming was out of the question, as was hoof care.  Her defense when she got scared, was to strike and/or rear!  She had been living in wet and muddy conditions, so she had scratches on all 4 legs (fungal/bacterial infection).  She probably had thrush in her hooves as well, but we couldn't check her feet!  She had thick scabs under her jaw from a too tight halter that had been left on constantly.  So basically, a wild horse!!

Luckily, this trainer specializes in hard to handle and even true wild horses (mustangs).  The mare has a LONG way to go, but we have high hopes that this trainer will be able to get her gentled and trained for us eventually!  We had not planned to breed the mare until next spring and that is a good thing!  We wouldn't have been able to get close enough to do AI (artificial insemination) with her right now.  I would NOT recommend buying a horse like this unless you either have the experience training wild horses or have a good trainer that has that experience and is willing to take on a tough project.  If you DO take on a horse like this, don't expect miracles!  Instead, have a lot of patience, love and time to give to that horse.  Let them develop and learn at their own comfortable pace.  Pushing them will damage their minds and is NOT the way to go.  They must learn to trust and that takes time.  Trust is the main base to build all horse/human relationships on.  Without trust, you don't have a safe animal to work with and ride.

So.....stay tuned for updates on this mare's progress over the next year!  It will be an adventure, that's for sure!  Here are a couple of older photos of her.  She has all of the right pieces and parts, she just needs some growing, good nutrition and conditioning to bring it all together.  We have HIGH hopes for her!  We call her "V".

The mare as a foal.
The mare last fall, as a long 3 year old.

Until next month, enjoy your springtime and be safe with spring chores.  Next blog update will be early June.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Everyone has a "bucket list", whether you write it down or not!

Yes, I'm sure everyone has a bucket list in your mind, if not actually written down.  You may not think of it as such, but if there are things you want to do, places you want to see, activities you want to participate in, etc....then you've got a bucket list!

As I've gotten older, I've come to realize this and to tick off some of those boxes on my list.  No, I don't have them actually written down.  There are just some things that I've always wanted to do.  For instance, I've always dreamed of showing a halter horse at the top level and placing well in the class.  After 25 years of having this dream, I actually achieved this goal in 2013 at the age of 50 and after some major health changes and physical limitations too!  One of our pinto saddlebred mares and I were named Pinto World Champions in Amateur to Handle Mare Halter.  Yep, 3+ years later and I'm still pretty happy about that one.  😍

I've also always had a soft spot in my heart for western pleasure black Arabians.  I've owned a couple of black Arabian stallions over the years and one of them was a western pleasure horse, but he wasn't a pleasure to ride!  He was always "on" and you felt like you were sitting on a rocket, ready to launch!  LOL quiet, laid back, black, western pleasure, Arabian show horse is still on my bucket list.  I think 2017 may be the year to start planning for this horse in my life!

I think Varian Arabians is the gold standard for pretty western horses, in my opinion.  I'm hoping to find a nice mare to cross with a Varian bred black stallion.  His name is Klint Black (Desperado V x Windsong Bey).  He is gorgeous with a laid back personality and has proven himself over and over again in the western and now hunter under saddle ring!  He's also National Champion Arabian Sport Horse In Hand!  I'd LOVE a foal by him.  Now the trick is, to find a well bred mare that is also conformationally correct, who will cross well with him AND give me guaranteed black foals!  The hunt is on!!

Here are a few pictures of Klint Black for you to enjoy!

On the bucket list is also a covered riding arena.  I've always wanted one but never had the extra money to get one.  The "extra" money always went towards living treasures (ie: animals).  I think in the next year or two, that may become a reality for me.  That is purely a luxury and one that I'd dearly love to enjoy.  I'd like to have it in place, by the time my future black foal is ready to ride!  ☺

So here's to Spring, to a renewal of life and a renewal of dreams!  Fingers and toes crossed that the next blog in April is introducing you to our new family member!!  😆  Until then, I hope that all of YOUR dreams are alive and well!  Take care.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Looking forward......

Spring is a favorite time of year for me.  New baby animals to meet and get to know, Mother Nature coming to life in the plants and flowers, the outside temperatures warm enough to allow you to stop and enjoy the sun on your skin without making you too hot and just an overall lifting of the mood and a renewal of life abounding around us!  Yes, I've always enjoyed the spring months.

This year is a bit more special to me though.  About 5+ years ago, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  It was caught early and the plan was to remove a portion of my kidney and the tumor attached to it.  I should have been back to work in 8 weeks and healed up.  Well.....things did not go as planned and instead, I embarked on a 6 month trip through hell.  I survived by the grace of God.  Yes, I survived.....but things were changed both physically, emotionally and mentally. 

Instead of being self-confident, bold and plunging head-first into life, I was hesitant.  Instead of planning for the future, I was trying to live through the present.  Instead of dreaming and envisioning what could be, I was thankful that I was alive and was looking forward to the present day.  Instead of having the outlook of "I can do whatever I set my mind to do", I now had the outlook of "I'm thankful to be alive, but I'm not sure I can physically do these things any longer".  Yes......things had changed greatly for me!!  For the very first time in my life, I doubted myself and my ability to do what I wanted to do....indeed, doubted being able to do things I had always been able to do in the past!  This was uncertain territory for me and it was territory that I didn't quite know how to navigate.

The healing finally began.  Did it happen in 8 weeks?  NO!  Did it happen in 8 months?  Another no.  Other health issues developed from the trauma my body had been through during that 6 month ordeal.  Diabetes, then Rheumatoid Arthritis came onto the scene for me.  Again, more changes in my ability to do and function like I wanted to do.  I truly think my mind felt a bit defeated and my heart/zest for life began to give up just a little bit.  My soul still struggled onward though and while I tried to get back to being "me", I just couldn't quite get there.  I was hanging on to the "old" version of me and not accepting what the "new" me was. 

Then I had the opportunity to travel with my husband on a work trip for him, to Hawaii last fall!  The trip was planned for the weeks around Thanksgiving.  I was nervous about the long travel time to even get there (20+ hours for us) and the extended flight times.  My body stiffens up horribly with extended car trips and I couldn't imagine having to walk and hurry to catch connecting flights at the airports!  In the past, I had travelled a lot and this was knew it would be a struggle.  I was also nervous about doing a lot of walking for sight-seeing.  Again in the past, no big deal and our vacations had always been jam packed with go-go-go things!  Now.....a few hours and I knew I would be done in, plus knew I'd have to rest the next day to recoup.  So, a lot of changes in how I/we approached this vacation were going to have to happen and I just wasn't sure I could accept those changes.  I approached the trip with a lot of worry and not with the joy that I should have felt.

The time came and the trip was made.  Yes, there were some challenges and we (my husband and I both) learned from them.  In the future we WILL have to make some longer transfer time allowances, etc for flights.  I planned outings to allow me the restful periods that I needed.  I even took a leap of faith and went on a horseback trail ride, to explore some of the countryside!  I wanted to do the 3 hour trip, but instead chose the 1 hour and thoroughly enjoyed it plus didn't suffer from joint pain either!  All in all, a great trip and a great learning experience AND a renewed belief in myself!

Since returning home from that trip, I've felt more alive.  I've actually allowed myself to dream about the future again and start to plan for future projects that I would like to accomplish.  I started to train and work one of our young half arabians on a regular basis and I am ABLE to SAFELY work with him now.  He's a little on the "hot" side and I had been fearful that I wouldn't be agile enough to get out of his way if need be.  Once I began to believe in myself again (while still being mindful about his space and my escape routes!), I was able to just "do" and wasn't paralyzed with fear.

Yes, paralyzed!  Did I realize that I was paralyzed all those years?  NO!  I didn't actually feel fear, but my mind and body were frozen with it anyway.  My heart and soul were fighting against it and I believe that's why I felt unrest in myself.  They were trying to tell me to not give up and to move forward.  Once I let go of that self doubt, my true healing began!

I was speaking to a good friend the other day, who is much younger than me.  She had been injured badly in a horseback riding accident a couple of years ago.  She's doing great now, but she too, had to fight to overcome her own fear of life afterwards!  She and I are sort of at the same point in our mental healing.....we're realizing it's our own selves that have been holding us back, after the physical healing had occurred.  While we compared notes, we found that once we both had acknowledged this, we were both able to begin to move forward and were able to work the horses again in comfort.  Were we the same as before?  No.  But we have to realize that life and living goes on for's just a bit changed....and that's absolutely OK!!

Just because we aren't able to do things exactly like we always have, or we don't look at things like we always have, it's OK!  Change is OK.  Don't quit living, just because you can't physically do what you did in the past.  Make adjustments and make a few changes and remember to ENJOY and DO what your heart desires!!  Don't dwell on the abilities lost, but rejoice in what abilities you still have!  Don't dwell on the "can't do's", but concentrate on the "can do's"!

I thought I was doing this, but apparently I was not believing in myself fully!  Now that I can, watch out world!  I'm back and I feel good!  Until next month's blog, take care and plan for a fabulous spring!  Remember, live your life the way that YOU want to live it.....not how others tell you to live it!

Our saddlebred stallion, Flash, and myself.  He was "under the influence" for some dental work and I was just embracing the moment!  It's OK to be goofy....don't let anyone tell you that it's not!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Welcome 2017!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!  The New Year can be viewed as either the end of a year or the beginning of the next.  While I take a moment to remember the year gone by, I've always thought of it as a new beginning.  Over the holidays, some friends said they always think of it as the ending of something.  Interesting how different minds look at the same thing in completely different ways.

For me, on New Year's Day, I'm always thinking back over the last year and in the past would always make resolutions and plans for the year to come.  Now, I still reflect on the past year, but don't feel the need to do the resolutions now. I'm thankful for every day that I wake up. I try to enjoy every moment that I'm here. Sure, I still have goals and dreams, but I live much more in the moment now, than I ever have. A friend calls it "life after cancer". I think it's life after ANY major life threatening event. It really changes your whole perspective and indeed, your very soul.

So on reflecting over 2016, we found forever homes for 3 of the horses.  We currently are out of stock on sale horses!  We added in 4 equines to the family.  One mini broodmare, 2 mini young stallions and one mini guard donkey!  We produced 3 lovely foals (1 mini and 2 full sized saddlebreds).  Both saddlebred babies were homozygous tobiano pinto and the mini baby was also a pinto!  It was a colorful foaling season for us!!  Our only horse out showing last year was our mini mare, Lucy.  She did well in halter and also began her driving career.  She will continue on this year in driving with the goal of making it to AMHR Nationals in September! 

Kakos Sharif's Fire in the Hole, aka Lucy.

Zinga (one of the young stallions) is also going to be starting his halter career this year.  He'll also be headed to AMHR Nationals in the futurity class.  We are excited to see what this little fellow can do in the future!  He sure loves to trot!!

DVM Grand Bazinga, aka Zinga.

2017 looks to be an exciting year for us again.  Two mini horses out showing, a 2 yr old half Arabian/half saddlebred gelding beginning his in-hand career in the Arabian Sport Horse shows, 2 mini foals due in March and in May, plus we MAY throw our hat back into the purebred Arabian breeding ring!!  We haven't produced purebred arabs for over 10 years now.  I'm feeling the itch to try for a black western pleasure show foal or two!!  We'll see how this materializes and I'll update you in the future on this endeavor!

Here's to hoping that 2017 brings you all of your heart's desires and a healthy, happy year!!  I'll check back in the beginning of February, with the next blog update.  Take care and stay warm this winter!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On......the holidays.

Merry Christmas to everyone and Happy Holidays!  This can be a very hectic time of year.  Remember to slow down and ENJOY the holidays.  No one will remember how perfect the table was or how spotless the silverware was.....they will, however, remember and cherish the times spent together and the laughter and good times.  As Jimmy Buffet sings, "Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On". 

Even the snow can be beautiful!  Yes, I know it can be a pain in the behind to drive in and it's cold as the dickens too......but forget all that for a few moments and just look at the beauty that Mother Nature has given us!!

Our home during a rare South Carolina snow!

Everyone around our farm gets in the holiday spirit!  Even the critters. 

Keyper of the Legacy on the left and Nick's Supreme Gold Bourbon on the right.  They were looking for Christmas cookies.

We are lucky that in our neck of the woods, we can usually enjoy outdoor winter activities without risking frost bite!  LOL  Even if you are in colder climates, put on the long underwear and get outside to enjoy the scenery!  Go pick out a fresh Christmas tree and have it cut down!  Enjoy some hot chocolate at the tree farm.  Snuggle down in a nest of warm straw and just listen to the animals in the barn having supper, after you've done evening chores.  Go for a drive and look at the Christmas lights displayed.  Wander through a park.  Lots of just have to slow down and take time to enjoy the smaller or quieter things the season has to offer!

Echo and our son Jess on the left, Joy and my husband Shaun on the right.  Great times and great memories!

Christmas 2012 we decided to add a small tree to the dining room too.  It was decorated with Flash and Annie's ribbons from the Pinto World Chamionship Show earlier that year.  It was a fun way to remember and give thanks for a fabulous show season!  This would be a good idea for a barn party too.....decorate the tree with everyone's ribbons from the year's show season!  Reminisce about the season and share the emotions together!

Christmas dinner 2012 with our Pinto World Championship Show Ribbon tree in the background.

So however you celebrate the season, remember to enjoy and hold loved ones, both human and animal, close.  For those that can't be with you, keep them near in your heart.  May God bless you all in the upcoming New Year!  Thank you for sharing some of your life with me here.


See you all in mid-January for the next blog!