Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shinning up those pennies!!

How do you keep others from eating your food??

Take a nap on it!

Going to be talking to the boarding stable owner about them maybe getting too much hay lol!

They sure do love their grooming time!

These boys are such a MESS!!  I really don't think they had seen a brush in a very long time but they sure do look forward to it now! I have been grooming them almost everyday for weeks now and am just starting to see the fruits of my labor. Mane and tails are looking healthier and they are loosing alot of that scruffy winter hair and I cut some of the hair that had begun to mat on their bellies, neck and between their legs. I clean their feet everytime they get groomed too which is getting them more used to being messed with and building confidence.  Flynn is a little funny about his back hooves and tail being touched.  I really think it scared him because he was gelded shortly before I got him and was messed with alot "back there" before he came to me. They poured ice water on his suture area multiple time a day for 2 weeks to keep swelling down!  If that doesn't some horrible in itself the temp. was topping out no more than the mid 20's at that point in the year here in MI!  Can you say "frost bite" OUCH!!  I think I'm gonna let their manes grow out some.  They were obviously shaved down last summer.  I'm not a huge fan of the half shaved mane thing that seems to be the trend for the mini  horse show ring.  A "bridle/halter path" I can understand but I feel like when you shave half the mane off them it looks a little silly and takes away from that natural wild beauty that horses have.  This is just my thought so I hope I don't offend anyone! I picked up some MTG by Shapley's I read alot of reviews about it and people just seem to rave about it so I thought we would give it a try and see if it speeds up the mane and tail growing process.  Plus, Flynn has been doing some tail rubbing I've noticed and I don't want him to start rubbing the hair off!! I should be getting the braided tail socks that I ordered by the end of the week and the goal is to maybe get some nice long bushy manes and tail that maybe drag on the ground a couple inches! Then, IF it ever gets warm out shaving these big wooly pony coats off!! I am very excited to see them look less like furry mules and more like horses!  This will be the first time I will have seen their true colors and markings!  It will be like unwrapping a Christmas gift!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Project Mini"

Fairah brings a whole new kinda fashion to the tractor world!
We made the decision a few weeks ago that having the minis close to us was more important than having all the luxurious amenities that comes with boarding your horse.  Indoor arena, having someone to always feed your horse in good weather and bad, heated barn bathrooms, someone that always cleans out your horse's stall, lots of round pens to work in, unlimited access to jumps and obstacles ect. heated wash rack and so on and so on...  
When we decided that we would start prepping the 2 1/2 acre lot for the minis we thought piece of cake! The ground appeared to be flat, there were only few small trees that needed to be removed, plenty of shade for themunder some pines, no poisonous plants or trees anywhere near the pasture to worry about, the weather was getting warmer, it was PERFECT!  Or so we thought...

The boys got out there early on a Saturday morning to start putting in the posts.  They are all very handy guys and this is far from the first time they have put up fencing.  After just drilling 3 post holes they started to lose control of their auger.  It was actually getting sucked further into the ground than they wanted and was near impossible with FOUR guys to get it back out.  Apparently there was not only ALOT of clay under the soil but natural springs flowing that they were hitting and drive the auger down. What they thought would take 2 days ended up taking 4.  

After digging 50 or 60 post hole, we thought the hardest part of the pasture prep was done... Well, not exactly!  We plowed down the long dead weeds and briars with the large tractor to discover what will be the BIGGEST part of the "project mini" so far.  The new pasture had been a wild jungle for many years that had never been kept up. The weeds in the summer time would easily be up to my head (I'm 5'2). It alwasy apeared to be somewhat flap.  Well... We were VERY wrong!  In fact the field was VERY uneven to make matters worse it was over grown with small trees, SNAKES! thorny wild raspberry and blueberry bushes, SNAKES! huge rocks,  prickly briars, did I mention SNAKES! and holes holes, holes. So guess what my job was besides being the official snake charmer :)

I had the liberty along with about 4 other family members of cutting down all the tiny trees that the tractor didn't pick up, removing HUGE rocks, snipping huge roots that stuck out of the ground, trimming up tree branches from the trees we are keeping, racking up all the mowed over tree branches and weeded grass the tractor didn't catch, and pulling those nasty briars out by the roots (they will soon be sprayed) to try to keep them from growing back.  My next big job is filling in all those wonderful holes! Good thing I love any type of outdoor work.... Expect having snakes popping up on me!!

On the bright side we had GREAT weather 80 degrees and sunny for our first official day of work.  It was the the first and warmest day we have had since probably last August.... Followed of course by 2 weeks of straight snow, hail storms, heavy cold rain, and lots lots of wind. 

Our weather has more mood swings than a toddler! My girls got to come out and help on the warmer days that we had and my oldest got her first official drving lesson on the tractor with her great grandmother and uncle at the age of 3!  She is already turning into such a little country farm girl and my youngest will be too once she doesn't mind getting her hands dirty but she is already obsessed with farm animals! 

Giselle was so proud of herself

We just finished week three of our new weekend mini project about to start number four tomorrow and like week three it looks like it will be another gloomy, wet, windy day.  We hope to have the boys moved over to their new pasture before the biginning of May.  We will put up a temperary shelter for them while and we work on the next project of contructing their very own barn which hopefully will include a heated wash rack for them.  I just know they are going to LOVE their new home! They may get a little more bored not having all the other horses around from the boarding stable but I think they will be perfectly fine with eachother's company. The barn and pasture will have everything a little horse could ask for.   There has already been talk of adding a filly after the boys get comfortable!!  Now we just need a name for our new little mini farm hmmmm..... Any ideas???

Someone thinks Giselle needs to be sharing that popsicle

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Horse With A Big Question Mark!

Well, the boys are here getting used to their new home and new friends but it sure has made it hard for us to do much with them with all the mud and the freezing cold rain and on again off again snow and hail we keep getting.
We get them all groomed out and look shiny and new again to turn them back out to a mud pit and of course being the naughty boys that they are the first thing they will go do after getting groomed is roll in the mud!

Although the rain and snow is nasty it drove us into having to use the indoor arena where we discovered Flynn's natural talent and love for jumping! Someone had left a set of 4 jumps out after practicing with their own horse and so I decided to walk him over the jumps for a little exercise.  But Flynn didn't wanna walk over them.... instead he JUMPED OVER ALL FOUR OF THEM! And was ready to do it again and again and again!  I have been jumping for about 10 minute with him daily now and he gets SO excited when we enter the arena he can hardly contain himself!! I have to limit him to only about 10 minute or so because I think if I didn't he would jump all day long! Most of the other boarders are impressed at how much of a liking he has for the jumping so soon after starting and how well he does with them. It sure has boosted his confidence too!  He struts back into the pasture after his workouts.

Cowboy on the other hand is a little bit of a question mark for us.....
Unlike Flynn, who will usually start to approach the gate when we enter the pasture with his halter and lead in hand and is ready to go. Cowboy usually required a lot more time to get him convinced to come to us and sometimes we have to chase and catch him.  It is rounding 2 weeks tomorrow since we got them and he is still wearing his halter in the pasture.  Flynn earned his halter to be removed when he is turned out in less than a week and has not had a problem yet. Cowboy also refuses to try the jumps and is so stubborn that in most cases when exercising him we can't even get him to trott.  We call him the mule horse!! I worried that something was wrong with him an injury? Was he sick? But the stable owner assured that he was fine she said he will run with Flynn in the pasture and always finishes his meals.
His personality is very different from Flynn's personality.  They are exactly a year and a month apart Flynn's birthday is Sunday, he will be 3 years old and next month Cowboy will be 4 years old.
They are very young horses but most days Cowboy acts like an old man at least compared to the energy that Flynn has.
When I first met him at the farm he was born and raised at he seemed full of life! In fact, we thought their personalities were going to be reversed! I keep wondering if he is just plain sad and missing his home or is it just that he is not used to all the attention and little workouts he is getting. I don't think he has been worked with in a very long time and probably only received one on one attention or grooming right before he was to be shown.  The farm they came from has over 90 mini horses! He seems to really enjoy the attention once we can get him to come out of the pasture and we praise him for it everytime with treats and a good grooming session.
The reason why this is so confussing for us is because Cowboy unlike Flynn has been broke to drive a cart and has a national title in halter.  Flynn hadn't received any training what so ever but seems very obedient and loves to work and please us and has a ton of confidence. 
My head is constantly swarming with could it be this? Or could it be that? They do have a much bigger pasture area and the boarder told us she cut back a little with their grain because they both were a bit over weight when we got them, is he just tired? He has already lost a little weight which I have question whether of not it is too soon to be show slight signs of weight loss.  But again I'm a new horse person and who am  I to question to stable owner! 
I think Cowboy was used to being the top dog at his previous home possibly too and is now the low man on the totum poll with these bigger horses. Flynn has even shown off his confidence/dominance toward the big horses since we started jumping him but from what I have observed treats Cowboy just fine.  He will  even kick at the big horses now when entering back into pasture which is just hilarious to watch this tiny horse scaring off these large horses! Where as Cowboy usually walks with a low head back into the pasture and straight over to the water for a drink.
I notice that even when leading Cowboy he tends to want to walk behind me instead of next to me and doesn't walk with the high alert head like Flynn does.
He is such a mystery to me and I feel so bad that I don't know what is troubling him if that is the case!
I need help!

Muddy, Muddy, MESS!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Christmas Morning All Over Again!

    It was freezing cold, a little snowy and it felt like I was 6 years old again and it was Christmas morning except this time Santa brought minis!!

Urban Cowboy (30 inches) making a new friend at the stables

Here's Flynn Rider (27 inches)!  After his long 2 hour trailer trip.

Cowboy getting his first grooming session

Checking out the new pasture

Preparing for the big day...

It was the day before the boys were set to arrive and was to be my first time in a real tack shop.
We have many tractor supply and farming stores around the area I live in but finding mini horse tack can be a bit of a challenge.  I pleaded my husband to drive the long half hour drive to the nearest tack shop that claimed to have everything we needed for minis. We pulled up to a tiny dark shop in the middle of no where...literally... no where, the shop had really ugly giant long horned bull statue on the roof of the shop just over the doorway and my husband made some sorta snickery comment about it.
He then informs me that this sorta thing was out of his element and I was to be on my own!
My girls were both sleeping in the back seats so I ventured in alone.

I walked in to the smell of leather and a swarm of saddles, cowboy boots, leads, halters, country music blaring, and a whole lot of denim and plaid! I was wearing my usual dressy attire and high heels which must of been a dead ringer that I didn't belong there. I asked the store manager where the mini tack was and she informed me that they were currently out of everything for minis (I had just called the day before and they told me they had everything I needed), so my half hour trip was a complete waste since I could get the brushes and other supplies from a store that was no more than 15 mins. from my home. I decided to not walk out empty handed so I bought just about every kind of brush they made for a horse, shampoos, and mane and tail detanglers.  I walked out with about 3 bags full of supplies . I felt like a first time parent again (you know you always buy WAY more "stuff" than you need when expecting your first baby).  But still no halters or leads and they were set to come the next morning!

After returning to our home I decided to try the local pet shop not expecting to find any halters or leads for minis but I love to visit all the humane society kitties that they bring into the pet supply store even though I apparently am allergic to them.  I brought my little male French bulldog who was thrilled to join me on the trip. The two of us walk straight to the back of the store and OF COURSE THERE THEY WERE! In just about every size and color especially for minis.  I decided Flynn would get the sunflower yellow halter and Cowboy would have the light baby blue halter to match his blue eye of course and  my frenchie couldn't be left out so he pick out a new squeeker toy. We visited the poor humane society kitties by the register and were all set for the minis to arrive in the morning!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Big Names For Small Horses

Soon after making the official phone call to the farm owner that we would not be taking one of her minis home with us but two we found a great boarding stable for our petite little guys where they would hopefully befriend some of their larger roommates and neighbors. The stables that we decided on was not as large as some of the others or should I say not as populated but still had all the amenities that we wanted. Tack room with storage lockers, indoor plumming, indoor wash rack, round pens, jumps, indoor arena and a nice sized pasture for the two of them. It is located just minutes from Michigan State University and homes alot of the MSU polo team horses along with other show and competing horses.

Now that we had found our horses and found them their new stable home the next step was to come up with names.  I wanted my 3 year old to feel as included in the entire experience as possible and since we wouldn't have the horses come until after we got back from our Disney trip about 2 weeks after, I wanted it give her something to be excited about. Although my daughter is a true girly girl and believes that pink is not just a color it is a life style she surprised me at how enthused she was about having two BOY horses come into our lives. Of course she still tried to convince me that a good "princess name" would work for them. 
Like most little girls she is VERY into the new Disney "Tangled" movie, so naturally she wanted her horse to have the name of Rapunzel. I tried not to discourage her from the choice but explained that if she called her horse Rapunzel people would assume he was a girl.  She thought about this for a moment and responded with "Ok.. His name will be Flynn Rider then".  Which for anyone who doesn't know who Flynn is, he is the leading male charactor in the "Tangled" movie Rapunzel's love. She picked the sorrel chestnut pinto to have the name Flynn Rider and that made it official..  FLYNN RIDER!! 

My daughter was completely satified with her choice of name and lost all interest in naming the other mini which  left it up to my mom and I since he needing a stronger name than just "Buck" to stand up to Flynn Rider.  I decided one afternoon out of the blue that the name Urban Cowboy seemed to be very fitting name for the tri colored bay pinto since here we were city people trying to become horse people!  I found out later after deciding with  the name that it was the title for an old John Travolta movie that was well before my time. 

Unintentionally, we have named these two horses after some very handsome and very bold characters!
So now we had a Flynn Rider... Flynn for short and an Urban Cowboy... Cowboy for short. 

Two big names for two small horses!

Love at first site!

Picking our minis was a very tiring and long guilt ridden process of elimination.
So many minis but we could ONLY choose two to take home.
Took a two hour drive on a VERY cold and snowy Saturday morning to check out some geldings at an arabian miniature horse farm.
I took my 3 year old with me, my toes were already frozen before we reached the stables so I knew my daughter (who was dressed warmer than I) wouldn't last very long outdoors.
We walked through the stables a small paddock area.  Turned the corner to see a swarm or very lively, nervous, biting, and kicking minis crowded around the gate area. The horses at this particular farm were never blanketed in the winter and rarely spent the night in the barn and resembled unkept shaggy dogs more than horses. The farm owner informed us that her farm hands had brought up all the wrong horses from the pasture for us to look at. But one still caught my eye.  He was a breath takingly beautiful tri colored bay pinto even under all that shaggy hair with one light blue eye. I asked about him. She responded with " "Buck" was a national champ and was not for sale". Still my mom and I persisted and she finally gave in and said that she could consider him as long as he went to a show home. Soon after meeting him up close we also got to meet a very scruffy looking sorrel stallion who she called "Yes". He was a little smaller than most of the others that were out in the paddock, standing at only 27 inches tall. "Yes" had never been broke or ever worked with in anyway but seemed to be very excepting of us leading him in his halter around the paddock.  His disposition reminding me of a golden retriever more than a horse, just very calm, gentle, and pleasing little guy. We left feeling good about the visit to the farm, although "Buck" and "Yes" carried a heavy price tag and MUCH more than we wanted to spend it didn't take more than 15 minutes after departing to come to the decision that they were the ones for us!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is A Miniature Horse.... Really A Horse?

Once the decision was made that minis would soon be introduced into our lives rose the question
"is a miniature horse really a horse?"
Although, I had never owned my own horse before I had been exposed enough to them to have a general understanding on a horse's personality, diet, and the different types that there were. After hours of research the conclusion I came to was "yes" they are the same with a twist.
 Miniature horses or "American Miniature Horses" possess the same personality, stubbornness, trainability, and basic diet (of course in much smaller quantities) as a regular sized horse. Registered minis are divided into an A and B class.  The classes are divided simply by size alone. The A class size ranging 34" and under.  The B class consists of minis ranging in size 34" to 38" and according to my readings anything above the B class would be considered a pony. The world recoded holder for the "smallest horse" is a tiny mini horse named Einstein, who at birth weighed a mere 6lb  and stood a just 14-inches tall and more closely resembled a wind up toy according to him owners! The average weight for a mini horse at birth tips the scale at 18lbs, a whooping 12lb difference! The tiny pinto stallion resides happily in New Hampshire with his family. 
Miniature horse can also be rode by small children but are not bred to bare the weight of a rider like their larger cousins. Because these horses are not known for their ridability people have found new ways to make these small horses worthy.  Miniature horses given their small size are easily trained to pull small carts under harness, compete in obstacle, conformation, jumping (without and rider), liberty and are always a show stopper! They are also very useful as a companion horse for other farmyard animals and have even more recently been trained as guide and therapy animals.
Although these horses maybe pint-sized compared to traditonal horses they make a big impression!

Friday, April 1, 2011

A New Journey....

Every little girl at one point in her life dreams of owning and caring for her very own horse.  I, like most were one of them.  I absolutely loved animals from as far back as I can remember.  I grew up with many different kinds of house pets but none prevailed over my dreams of owning my very own horse.
Although, I never had the opportunity to fulfill this dream for myself as a child. 
It never completely went away.
I could very much still see myself waking up in the cool spring mornings when the air is still thick with fog and the air perfumed with the smell of wet grass, taking my horse her morning rations of oats and hay before we would take our first mid morning ride.

It wasn't until I became a mother of two little girls trapped in suburbia where seeing a squirrel at your bird feeder would be considered "wild life" that I told myself history would not repeat itself again.  My girls are still very young. The thought of putting my youngest, a very
courageous 1 1/2 year old around a horse scared me to death even though I have been told it is best to start exposing them as young as possible.  My oldest, in all means is the complete opposite of her baby sister. Naturally, she has always had a  fear of even the tiniest animals which always saddened me and I  knew no amount of pleading or bribing would get this 3 year old on the back of a horse... at least not yet.

My eye had been drawn to a local farm outside of town years before I was even married that bred and raised show miniature horses.  You couldn't take your eyes off these forever babies! The farm must of owned close to a hundred of these pint sized horses.  They stood between 27-37 inches tall and were just as majestic and beautiful at a full sized horse.  I always looked forward so seeing the tiny horses out in the fields grazing everytime I took a trip out that way.
My husband was never allowed to have pets growing up and never really shared my interest for horses or animals in general. The idea that I would ever have the opportunity to own one of these horses seemed out of the question just the same as owning a regular sized horse. Still the idea never drifted too far out of reach.

Living in Michgan can be hard to bear in the winter monthes especially when you are cooped up with small children.  Winter weather can begin well into September and last as long as mid-April. Even though we are blessed to be surrounded by lakes we rarely have time to take advantage of the local beaches before the cool weather hits once again. This winter particularly took a huge tole on my health which kept us in most of the time. 
My mom one weekend showed me some pictures of a few minature show horses.  I brushed the pictures aside replying with a simple "that's nice". She then continued to tell me that she thought that we should each go out and find a miniature show horse of our own.  Train them, get some show experience and then pass it on to my girls. The thought puzzled me... Where would these horses live?  We both lived within city limits even though these horses are no bigger than some types of large dogs there was no way either of us could legally keep them on our property. She persisted to tell me that they would simply live at a boarding facility until either of us moved to a more "horse friendly" location in the future. That was good enough for me! It's funny how having you own children suddenly makes you realize that life is too short to leave everything in therory.
So that is how the begining of our journey....