November 29, 2014


Gentry is half thoroughbred, half clydesdale. When I bought him he was unregistered. A lot of horses like him go unregistered and are just called "grade". Those horses end up in a kill pen far too often. No matter what my horse's breeding is I think it is really important to have some sort of registration papers for the animal. Despite my best intentions for a fairytale life for my animals, one never knows what will happen in the future. So I think it is the responsible thing to do, to register them. Even if the breed registry doesn't have all that high of standards or that great of a reputation. At the very least the animal has proof of age and lineage, which may be just enough to keep it out of a kill pen. Sometimes the only thing that saves OTTB's are their lip tattoos.

When I first started looking at my options for Gentry, the American Warmblood Society (AWS) seemed to be my only option.  Side note: I think the AWS would do themselves a huge favor by changing the name to the American Sporthorse Registry, which is what they really seem to be. Then less people would have such a poor opinion of the registry. For those of you wondering what the difference is between the two...the American Warmblood Registry (AWR) does not allow draft crosses. The AWR does have a better reputation than the AWS, I think because they are really trying to develop an american warmblood breed. That is the reason they don't allow draft crosses. Still even the AWR doesn't have a great reputation.

I more or less resigned to the idea of going with AWS, and told myself I really didn't care so long as I got him registered somewhere to prove age/lineage. However, I couldn't swallow it easily and desperately continued to debate my options. Mostly because the AWS does not have an inspection (required) anywhere near us. I didn't want to have to drive that far to get him registered just for registrations sake. I started to have a glimmer of hope that I had more options when I found out that there is a Draft Cross Registry of America (DCROA), which he would qualify for. They seemed a little easier to register with than the AWS. Still, I had never heard of them and that made me question the reputation of the registry.

But then...

I discovered the Performance Horse Registry (PHR) which is run by the USEF. That I decided was my ticket. The registration is open to any horse of any breeding (or lack there of) and is affordable at $75. All you need to do is give them as much info on the pedigree as you have, birthday (use January 1 if you only know the year), your horses breed registration (if it is registered), USEF, USDF, etc. numbers. Then BAM! Your horse is registered, has paperwork, and even qualifies for year end silver stirrup awards through the PHR which of course are tracked by the USEF without any extra effort on one's behalf. Best yet, you can optionally pay more for DNA registration if you have a mare or stallion. I suppose you could do it for a gelding if you wanted to, but I felt that the DNA part was a bit pointless on a gelding that is microchipped.

So there we have it folks. As of this morning my USEF membership is renewed, Gentry has a lifetime USEF card and USHJA membership, and his PHR paperwork is in the mail. It feels good to have it all taken care of. Merry Christmas to Gentry...too bad he doesn't know just how much he should appreciate the security blanket I just concocted for him.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Fun

We got pounded with five more inches of snow two nights ago followed by warm weather...which means melty slush. Slippery melty slush. Then the wind picked up. So very windy. Apparently another cold front is blowing in. As such, I'm not really inclined to go for a ride today, despite the warm weather.

Right about the time I started lamenting lack of riding on Turkey Day, I heard about a barn fire at fellow blogger's barn. Luckily her horse got out okay, but others did not. I cannot imagine what those horse owners and the barn owner are going through right now. So despite not riding today, I am so thankful that our horses are safe, sound, fat and happy.

Despite the melt and the wind, the sun was out and I decided to pick up my camera and take some photos. Unfortunately, it has been so long since I used my SLR I had forgotten about some focusing issues I had been having with one of my lenses. I promptly remembered after uploading them to my computer. So, sadly some photos that would have been awesome ended up being deleted. Se la vie! I still got some fun ones to share.

Napping in the sunshine

Fat and happy...coming down to search for treats see me

All my boys

Mid chew...looking good in his winter chub

Because...this photos is just awesome!

Wishing you all a safe and fun Thanksgiving!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 25, 2014

Learning to Crosstie

Although Gentry ties like an angel, the first time I brought him in the barn it was pretty apparent that he had never been in cross ties before. Having PTSD from Rose learning to cross tie, I decided to think through my approach to cross tie training this time around.

In the grooming stall I have my super safe and sturdy panic snap cross ties. However, it's never a good idea to just put a horse in cross ties the first time and expect all to go well. So, I decided to hang up two blocker tie rings and two lead ropes to ease him into the the idea of being tied from each side of his face. Truly a new idea for the little man.

Gentry in the blocker tie-ring cross ties.
First thing first, I put him in a super durable leather halter and kept a lead rope attached to the lead ring on the halter for backup. No rope halter's when it comes to cross tie training (or cross ties in general if I can help it). The first and second time I had him in the cross ties, I attached one of the ropes to a blocker tie ring, and actually just held the other one, eventually just looping it through the ring of the other blocker tie ring and held onto the end of the rope. This gave him more slack and me more room to work with him should things get western. I also kept these sessions short and didn't do anything but praise him and give him lots of treats. He as a little nervous, pawing a few times, and concerned with Hugo's whereabouts, but otherwise he was a good boy and all went well ending on a positive note both times.
Gentry in the panic snap cross ties, post ride and cooling off.
The third time was charm. I started out with him attached to the blocker tie rings. I alternated between praise, treats, and asking him to stand, insisting that he not paw. This time I kept him in the blocker cross ties until he completely settled down and relaxed. Then, because I was feeling comfortable with his expression of acceptance and relaxation in the blocker cross ties, I switched him out to the regular panic snap cross ties. Then I groomed and tacked him up. He was terrific! I am so excited to be able to take him in the barn on cold days and at least groom him even if I can't ride due to ice or to let his long winter coat dry in comfort after a sweat inducing ride. Hurray!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 23, 2014

Over the River and Through the Woods

Due to the arctic weather, it has been a couple weeks since I've ridden Gentry. However, in the last few days we've had temperatures in the 30's & 40's and a lot of the snow has melted. This of course has resulted in a lot of slippery ice, but for the most part we now have bare ground.

EB and I decided that we would tack up the wooly mammoths and head out for an afternoon trail ride down to the arena. This was the first time for both of us and the ponies riding down to the arena. It was also my and EB's first trail ride together...ever! We had a great time. Gentry is a natural lead horse and really walked out well. So much so, that I had to stop and wait for long legged Hugo to catch up with us.

The cows that I had been dreading for so long have been moved to a winter pasture somewhere else, so I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get to see how Gentry would do with them. I am guessing he'd be fine. There will come a point that we will find out about that sooner or later. Definitely not something to fret over.

On our way to the arena we had to cross a small vehicle bridge that the creek runs under. Both horses were terrific about the partially frozen bubbling brook. So, bridge creek crossing check! To get into the park we had to ride the horses through a small, yet horse sized, pass through. They both did great with that as well.
Riding in the park arena at last!

Once we got to the park we rode around in the arena for a little bit. I was pleased to see only one gofer hole that I will need to fill. Otherwise the grass footing was surprising good and even. It was actually weird riding on level ground. I am already hooked though and I cannot wait until spring to mow and/or till it all up! I also have grand plans for mowing a track in the big open field area and build a couple simple cross country jumps.

EB and Hugo in the distance.
After playing in the arena we rode the horses through the woods along the creek following some deer track "trails". Gentry seemed to be having a grand time and was such a good boy. I can't remember having such an enjoyable and relaxing trail ride in years!

Smiling ear from ear, but sadly with frozen fingers (must get winter riding gloves) we headed home. hopefully we can keep these winter trail rides going until spring returns and we can seriously ride again.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 20, 2014

Thinking About New York

I am grateful that the ponies are warm and safe and loving the current 30 degree high temps. Mother nature didn't hand us anything that we don't normally get (albeit a bit early), so it was business as usual around here and continues to be into the extended forecast. However, upstate New York is a whole other matter.

If you haven't heard they've had six feet of snow and have a few more feet expected this weekend. Cars are buried and people have been stranded on the highway and can't get out of their homes. I even read a story about a poor Dorito truck being ran-sacked when it got stuck and nearby residents got hungry.

I feel for all those people, but it also got me thinking. What about their horses? Are they also buried under six feet of snow? Are barn and arena roofs collapsing under all that snow? What would I do with with our horses if a storm like that hit us?

I have always thought about how and where I would evacuate the horses if there was a forest fire. It seems half of Montana is always on fire every year, and we live very near forest service and state land with a lot of beetle kill, so this is a legitimate concern. However, it never occurred to me to think about what I would do if an honest to goodness legitimate blizzard hit us. I guess I would just put them in the barn, move the feed tubs to the tack room, put a few boards up to keep them out of the hay, and just let them poop the place up, and then pray the roof holds.

Seriously though, what do people do with their horses (and cattle, llamas, alpacas, goats, sheep...etc) in blizzard conditions like that?

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 18, 2014

Arctic Blast

It is old news. Kim Kardashian's backside Crazy early winter storm. Everyone that lives in what we consider to be "tropical" areas of the US, those that have these things called "snow days", have been lamenting the early freeze. I don't blame them though. No one in those areas is used to this weather, so it really does wreak havoc in their lives. Here? Well, the cold snap came about a month late, but also about 20 degrees colder than normal.

Honestly, I would take this weather at this time of year anytime if it meant that I got to have such warm and glorious fall weather (aside from that weird early September snowstorm) every year. October was wonderful and I am still smiling thinking about it.

Now however, winter seems to be here for the long haul. It is snowy and cold. While everyone else in the lower 48 was trying to grasp how to move on with life, I was blanketing and feeding horses in the dark in -15 degree weather. Alone. With a toddler. Because Hubs was gone on his annual hunting trip with my Dad and Uncle. That's how we roll in the winter here. Cold weather? Throw another log on the fire and continue on.

The horses did just fine. I discovered that Gentry has likely never had a blanket on before, and I had to do some (extremely easy) desensitizing work with him at first. However, he seemed to be partial to it, didn't destroy it, and after the second time of putting on his blanket, he let me do it in the field without haltering him. Good boy! As soon as the temps came above 0 degrees, the blankets were history though. The horses are wooly mammoths already and do not need blankets when it is that warm. Yes, 0 degrees is warm. I live in Montana, but I think I covered that already.

Today was glorious though. Night time temps are staying in the teens, so that means no more blankets on the horses for the extended forecast. Yay! It was sunny today in in the 20's. Junior and I got some outside time at long last and he insisted on skiing around the yard. Of course I indulged him and managed to find is baby skis in the garage for him to play with.

Future Olympic Skier in Training

While Junior was showing me up with his skiing abilities (seriously, he has skied all of 20 minutes his whole life and is probably better than me), I noticed Gentry sleeping out in the pasture. I couldn't resist the urge to go out there and see if he would let me approach without getting up. Remember, Rose only finally trusted me enough to let me do this after three years of owning her.

True to form, Gentry let me approach and sit on him. So, I guess I technically rode my horse today. I am hoping to actually ride him tomorrow while Junior is at pre-school. Here's to hoping the weather remains warm and sunny!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 13, 2014

12' Stock Panel Run-In Shed

One of our pre-winter tasks was to put up a windbreak on the run-in shed.Given our limited budget for this project and deciding it was best to match the existing barn siding, we used really inexpensive, one might say "Ghetto", plywood siding. Please don't judge. Someday I will have a barn with heavy wood timbers, with a combination of natural cedar siding and dry stacked stone facade. I will darn it! For now though, I have inexpensive, weathered, but fully functional plywood siding. It works, and I'll take it.

Our dilemma with this project was how to attach the siding to the existing stock panels. The 12' stock panels came with the property and we have no other use for them, so we decided to just keep using them the way the previous property owner's did. Hence our "inspiration" for this getup.

On the two existing plywood panels that the old owner put up, he attached them with home made steel brackets. That guy really loved his welding and steel fabricating machines! We don't have the ability to do that though so we needed another solution. After perusing the shelves at the hardware stores and coming up empty handed with anything that would provide a tight fit around the stock panel bars, I randomly suggested zip-ties. To my utter SHOCK Hubs actually thought that would work okay. So, that's what we did folks.

Here is the DIY step by step to our ghetto fabulous stock panel run-in shed walls. Enjoy!

Before: Stock panel mounted to barn and post

Sizing up the plywood panels

Snapping temporary line and cutting plywood panels
Drilling holes on top and bottom, of top and bottom stock panel bars, on left and right side of  each plywood panel. 

Drilling holes
Supervisor, doing his job well

Install the zip-tie around the bar

Installed zip-tie, exterior view

Pause to re-hydrate and appreciate the finished product
Finished! Interior view

Finished! Exterior view
Now we need to put some primer on these babies, and wait until we figure out house paint colors. It might be ghetto fabulous, but it will look much better once the barn has fresh paint and matches our house!

We had one more to do on the other side of the barn. Gentry donated some more horsepower!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 11, 2014

Grooming Stall Complete-ish

There has been so much going on preparing the farm for winter (which is arriving today apparently), that I haven't had much time for blogging. Given that outside the storm is on it's way, evident from crazy wind right now, I am hiding out inside my house with a nice warm fire burning and zero desire to go ride my horse. Gentry is fine in the wind, but I really don't like riding when I have a false sense of speed do to the wind and zero ability to hear anything that may potentially be life threatening, like vehicles driving down the road. I digress.

Prior to Hugo's arrival, with the help of my Father In-law, I finally got the grooming stall in the barn all finished up. It is finished "for now". I would like to add rubber mats to the floor and more boards to the half wall, but that will require digging up the few remaining pressure treated boards in the second garden bed. We are not planning to remove that garden bed, which will be come a gravel parking area for trailers, until next summer AFTER I have harvested my garlic and shallots that I JUST planted. See my farm blog (Fast Forks Farm) if you want to hear more about that.

Without further adieu, here are the before and after photos:
Grooming stall - before. 10' o.c. pole barn posts.

Grooming stall - after. 
I wanted a good separation between the horses and the hay stack, to avoid them trying to desperately spin around and eat the hay. I also wanted a half wall on the other side to separate the grooming stall from the "feed" area and also to keep the horses from spinning their bums out the other way. Once that was complete, I finished the area out with a cross ties, collapsible saddle rack, and a bridle hook.

The boards came from the garden bed that we demolished last month, to convert to more lawn area. I do not wish to spend that much of my time in a garden. At least not at this point in my life.

The saddle rack was built by Hubs years ago when we were dating, and when he was desperately trying impress me. The fact that I had a saddle with which I needed a rack, yet no horses in my life at the time, should have been his first indication that he was in trouble!

I found the bridle hook in one of my many plastic tubs which hold my tack hord, and has been laying around unused from some tack sale at some point in history. As for the crossties, I built them last month. They actually did cost money to build, and you can click here to read the post about that.

For this project I was on a budget that consisted of $0. If I wanted a grooming stall I was going to have to use what we had on hand. Why you say? Simple; buying an old farm that has been vacant for over a year and hasn't had much maintenance in the past five/six years, requires a lot of things NEEDING to be fixed prior to winter and thus unexpected expenses. Luckily, I was able to do this project mostly within my budget. I did have to pay about $17 for the materials to make the cross-ties.

However, for now I am looking forward to having a warmer and wind-free location to play with G-love during the winter!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 9, 2014

Log Jump

Yesterday I decided to get a ride in on Gentry before the predicted arctic blast hit us. Prior to and during our ride we were graced by what looked like a hay fire over the hill. I couldn't ride at any other time during the day, so we just had to bear breathing the smoke. It passed rather quickly though, and luckily the fire appeared to be out and not headed our way.

Smoke cloud building behind Gentry

The smoke cloud blew our way; Hugo standing along the fence

Gentry, doing what he does best; looking cute waiting for tack
Gentry was a good boy as usual. I am struggling to get used to riding on uneven terrain though. It is hard enough to fine tune a young horse's ability to keep a consistent tempo and rhythm, throwing hills into the mix makes it far more complicated. I need to get the courage to ride down to the arena by myself. I am just weary of those cows! Plus I would like to do it on day two of riding, not on day one. Lately I have only been able to ride once a week, due mostly to weather and lack of evening daylight.

Riding once a week also poses other problems. Despite being a level headed and all around good boy, training doesn't exactly progress much if you only ride once a week. So, that is also a bit frustrating for me, but I am trying to take it in stride. Despite that we did get some W/T/C in and even went over a little log jump (which I am in the middle of building).
First x-country jump!
Junior, jumping the log for size comparison...and cuteness!
I haven't tried jumping Gentry yet, due to lack of jumping saddle. I am not a fan of jumping in a dressage saddle, but I couldn't resist and figured I could walk/trot over a little log in my dressage saddle. He did just that. Walked and trotted over it without missing a beat. Didn't even attempt to jump it. I guess we will have to make it bigger. I will need a jumping saddle at that point though!

Trail ride cool down around the "hood". I am loving this!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 3, 2014

Hematoma Lancing - One Week In

Warning: The following photos contain blood and anyone with a queasy stomach may not want to read this post. However, I found it fascinating. Maybe I should have become a vet...

Thank you for all your helpful comments regarding Hugo's hematoma. It is nice to know that this isn't as rare of a condition as I originally thought. I just hadn't come across it  before. Over the last week the hematoma has stopped filling up and as of today, it doesn't seem like anything is draining out anymore. Here is how the week went in terms of keeping an eye on it and treatment.

Monday: The lancing on Hugo's rump occurred that afternoon. A couple hours later it had filled up with fluid again, as the drain hole was already attempting to close up. EB was still at the farm, so she got some sterile gloves and the hose and got it draining again. Hugo got antibiotics in his grain.

Tuesday: In the morning I noticed fluid was building back up. That afternoon during Junior's nap time, donning my latex gloves, hose, and sterile gauze pads, I opened the drain hole up again and got the fluid out. I was shocked by the pressure build up and how fast the fluid spurted out. When it was all drained, I washed up his leg with shampoo as it was so coated in blood and body fluids that it had a crusty silver sheen to it. He got antibiotics in his grain.

Fluid build up

Fluid draining

All drained
Wednesday: No fluid in the AM. EB came out in the evening and drained the little bit of fluid that had built up. He got antibiotics in his grain.

Thursday: No fluid build up. Drain hole appeared to be staying open and doing it's job. He got antibiotics in his grain.

Friday: Same as Thursday. Last day of antibiotics.

Saturday: Still no fluid build up, but the discharged has turned into a bubbly off-white froth. EB spoke with the vet who said so long as it's not pus (it wasn't), he's not sore to the touch, and otherwise in good health he is fine. EB came out with a can of vaseline and coated below the drain hole and his leg with it to prevent scalding.

Off white bubbles

Sunday: Still some bubbly discharge, but otherwise fine.

Monday: Very little discharge, but no more bubbles. No filling. This morning the drain hole seemed to be healing up, but this afternoon there was still a small amount of transparent discharge trickling out.

Very little discharge
That's where we are today. I was very happy to see the state of his wound this morning. Personally I would have wanted him to be on a 10-day antibiotic course, but he does seem to be doing just fine. I suppose I just get overly concerned about infection when I can't bandage a wound. However, I suppose the constant draining also keeps the wound somewhat clean. At anyrate, Hugo seems to be doing well and I am hopeful that his recovery continues to go so smoothly.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


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