September 21, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

It's good to have everyone together again- for at least a little while! The past few weeks have been hectic.  All the humans have scurried around here going about our human-style business- horses and dogs. Meanwhile the animals have carried on business as usual.

Gary and Amber made a journey into the mountains of West Virgina to the West Virginia and Mountain State Futurities- they brought home several Championships! Tara's horse Chevromotion (known as Kramer) performed well for both Tara and Amber and a good time was had by all. Back at the farm, the preparations for the Congress Super Sale continued as well as general horsekeeping such as Fall vaccines and pregnant mare checks.

Wayne had business which called for a short trip to California leaving Sheri and I to hold the fort down at Canine Companion. Although it was nearly a full house at the dog hotel, everything ran along just fine. Brittney even found time to move into her first apartment AND help out at the kennel and barn while everyone was scattered hither and yon.

So, the beginning days of this week find us all back in our regular roles- dogs, horses, and people alike. We are expecting a visit from mare owner Christa today and she will meet her 2010 foal Vegas for the first time. Like a stage parent, I've prepped Vegas for her grand appearance and am anxiously hoping that she will hit her cues and make me proud!

Oh, and on Sunday- I stepped back into an old set of shoes when I (together with an exciting group of other ladies) repurchased a large dog kennel and grooming shop that Wayne and I formerly owned. I have a strange sense of deja vu as I tabulate budgets, make a list of repairs, and begin an old journey anew. But, rest assured, there will be a lot of new faces and animals to appear in future blogs! For now I'm glad that we are back into our regular routine- there certainly is no place like home.

September 17, 2010

Ten Hearts

I have been doing some extensive house cleaning recently. A friend recently suggested that I review my personal gratitude list. When I did so, I realized that it needed a little fixing up. Much like a room which needs to be updated or redecorated, my gratitude list needed a little refurbishing. Here is a list of ten things which fill my heart today.

10. I have a job. In fact, I have several jobs and am thankful for the success of our businesses.

9. I have a nice house to sleep in every night.

8. Reality TV (I know, but I'm still thankful for it!)

7. I am vital and healthy.

6. Team Chevy- this ever-growing network of customers and friends with whom I share a common bond.

5. I am daily thankful that I was born an American citizen and enjoy the rights, privileges, and opportunities that it affords.

4. Bacon. Sometimes it's the simple things in life that give us the most pleasure.

3. My own personal animal kingdom. I get to walk on the wild side everyday!

2. Chevy. I am blessed to share the life journey of a great horse.

1. I am surrounded daily by people who truly know and care about me.

September 14, 2010

Courage

Ace was a Bernese Mountain Dog. He more closely resembled a black bear than his Saint Bernard cousins. Although he had never seen an Alp nor been close to a cart, his dense fur and massive bulk told the story of his heritage. To a human, he was 130 pounds of pure canine; to the other dogs around him, he was a chump.

Since he was a puppy, he had dodged confrontation. He often averted his gaze to avoid eye contact with other dogs; was satisfied to eat after everyone else had their fill; and preferred his master's gentle pat of approval to a tone of displeasure. He could not remember a time when he did not accept his fate, go with the flow, or obey a command. As a young puppy, he attended obedience school and outshone his fellow students. His nature was to obey blindly. He was a follower and it served him well in his lot.

Now, Ace spent most days lying in the sunny spot at the end of the barn aisle. Sometimes he moved  when people walked through but usually they just stepped over him. He had become a fixture and was part of the furnishings of the stable. He was a doormat for the cats- literally, they liked to wipe their paws on his black fur when it was wet outside or after a particularly dirty hunt. He would lie in his usual position and it was commonplace to find a cat or two curled into a ball on top his mountainous bulk.

He looked out the doorway through half-closed eyes and enjoyed the feeling of the evening sun baking him. His thick fur served as an insulator to both heat and cold- so it took a while for the radiant energy to reach his flesh beneath.

"Well hello, big guy,"  a male voice spoke from behind him in the darkness of the barn. It was late afternoon- the feeding chores were finished and he had thought he was alone without the people who tended the horses for a few hours. Customarily, they would return later to close the barn doors against the cooling night air and check on the equines who stood in the stalls around him. But for now, he should have been alone.

A chill crept across his gut like a long shadow. He liked people and was always ready for a pat on the head or to meet a new human friend. This one, however, was unannounced and inside his barn. Ace allowed his frame to rise to a sitting position- a great effort for this time of the day. He wanted to get a better look at this new voice. He pushed the shadow in his gut down and cocked his head sideways. Ever a smile on his big face, he wagged his tail slowly sending a friendly volley across the space to the man standing a few feet away.

The gesture was met with a nervous smile but Ace became uneasy when it did not reach the man's eyes. Why was this man standing here breathing short nervous breaths? Why did his eyes dart side to side as if they had a mind of their own rather than meet his warm brown gaze? Ace began to feel an uneasy ball roll around inside his stomach. Different than hunger, the ball rolled against the back of his stomach and he knew he was unsure about this person. He wished that there was a barn person here to greet him in the usual manner- to shake his hand, smile, and inquire about his business. But Ace was alone, here in the barn with a stranger, and he did not like it one bit.

Somewhere to his left, a mare whispered quietly, "Ask his business." With a low nicker, her neighbor- a chestnut mare with light hair sprinkled throughout her brown mane said, "Someone must send him away- he should not be here."

Ace looked down the long barn aisle as if wishing would make a familiar person appear before him. His rich brown eyes always held a hint of sadness, now they were quickly filling with worry. He knew this person should leave the barn. He could not imagine who would tell him to go. Furtively, he glanced behind him. Where were the cats now? Perhaps they would enter en force in all their feline fury and drive the intruder out.

But, alas, there was no cavalry to be seen. Ace was running out of options. The ball rolling inside his stomach was getting larger and causing him to be more uncomfortable. He was becoming agitated by it. A quiet voice whispered to him, "You know, you could tell him to leave."

He cocked an ear to discern the direction the sound came from but could not find the source. He continued to watch the suspicious man and noticed that his arms hung stiffly at his sides. His hands opened and closed into fists in a rhythmic motion. Ace knew that he was a big dog. He had always used caution when he moved close to people so that his bulk would not cause them harm. He had never before contemplated that his size could be used for any other purpose.

That idea settled upon him like a cloak and the ball suddenly settled within him. A tiny seed of courage sprouted from it and began to grow. Faster than an idea can travel from a dog's heart to his mind, Ace opened his smiling mouth and said "Woof." It was a small woof but his sheer size dictated that his voice was baritone and rich. The man took a half step backwards. Without pausing to think again, Ace said a bit louder "Woof."  He liked the way his voice felt rushing across his throat and threw his thick jowls.

Courage welled inside the black beast like a wildfire now. His voice boomed and he was bolstered by the nickers of approval coming from inside the stalls around him. He stood up- an impressive mound of hair, flesh, and teeth and enjoyed the sound of his booming voice as it echoed through the rafters and off the concrete floors. The intruder was retreating now- and quickly. He had come here not expecting to be greeted by this bear in dog's clothing.

Ace watched as the man disappeared out of doors at the other end of the barn. He still felt the ball inside him but now it had moved upwards and was filling his heart. He did not feel afraid nor meek at this moment. He felt proud and vital. He walked the length of the barn once and back again- huge paws falling softly on the hard surface. He accepted the congratulations of the admiring horses as he passed their stalls and beamed.

Once he reached the sunny spot at the end of the barn, he settled back onto a lump resembling a furry rug and let out a satisfied sigh. With half-closed eyes, he resumed soaking up the remainder of the long evening rays of sun.

September 12, 2010

Tornado

The bay mare blew through the pasture like a cold wind. She stretched her long legs with each stride feeling the soft earth below her feet. In the Spring or Fall when the grass was moist and the earth held the rain inside it, the sound of the her hooves would have been muffled. Now, it was Summer and she thundered across the paddock- four feet echoed until it sounded like twenty four feet. The earth was hard and dry. It ached for a hint of rainfall.

She raced headlong toward the farthest end of the field. Like a tornado, her path was erratic yet relentless. She careened toward an unknown destination mindless of anything in her path and destructive in her velocity. There were a handful of horses who shared her enclosure- and they stood quietly watching the tornado mare race across the dry ground. In her wake, a cone of dust and debris swirled into the air only to settle quietly back to the earth a few moments later.

Just as quickly as it began, the burst of energy was over. The bay mare snorted once, slowed to a trot then a walk. The only evidence of her tornadic activity was the harsh sound of air rushing out of her nostrils as her lungs struggled to recover. And in moments, the paddock was calm and serene again.

September 8, 2010

If I Only Had A Brain

Here is a Top Ten List of things that I would do if my brain were larger.

10. Balance the check book on the first attempt
9. Build a better mouse trap
8. Find my way out of a corn maze
7. Be smarter than the Border Collie who checked in for training
6. Crack a top secret code to something
5. Break the bank in Vegas
4. Not lose my cell phone at least one time each day
3. Invent an I-Phone App or Facebook or something
2. Be a one woman think tank
and the #1 thing that I would do if I had a larger brain is...One word...World Peace (oh, wait...that's two words)

September 6, 2010

Love and Loss

He stood at the doorway  watching her walk away and knew that he would probably never see her again. Each warm breath left his body and was like a wind that carried her further away from him. He caught himself holding his breath- hoping that it would keep her close to him longer. But it did not.

With each step, she became smaller and smaller. He watched until he could no longer see her outline. Even then, he watched a while longer, at the place where she had disappeared. Barely breathing, afraid to blink lest he miss a final glimpse of her blonde hair, he felt as though his heart would stop beating.

It faltered once inside his chest- obliging his fear. Momentarily, the pain ceased but then his heart sputtered back to life and he felt as though he may die yet again. Each hollow thud of cold pain inside his chest was followed by a swish of hot emotion flooding his senses. Every thud of his heart emptied its chambers reminding him that she was gone. Every swish filled the emptiness with hot blood and served as a reminder that he would go on living without her. He could not escape the pain- his heart would not allow it.

Somewhere in the background, a horse whinnied. It sounded far away and he tried not to notice. The voice called again and seemed closer. Chevy did not turn his head but a single ear freed itself from the raging battle inside his body and turned toward the sound. Autonomous and independent, it listened to the voice- soft and feminine. It was intrigued. The ear dispatched a message to his brain hoping that it would arrive at its destination safely. The onslaught of emotion sieging the horse below was threatening to win this war.

The entire war lasted only moments- battles within his body were won and lost in milliseconds. Suddenly, a new emotion arose within the stallion. Something soft and feminine passed across his memory. She was bay and tall and younger than his usual concubine. His heart lost its grip upon him as his soft muzzle absorbed the new smell. Her scent wafted through the air like a perfume. And Chevy turned to see the new mare walk into the barn.

September 5, 2010

Time for some new "old sayings"...

The animals at Fields Quarter Horses (with contributions from Canine Companion as well) have decided that it is time that we create some new cliches. They are tired of the old ones!

Here is a list of their suggestions:

Instead of run like the wind, they suggest "gallop like a goat". Example: She is participating in her first marathon today, she is going to gallop like a goat.

The cats at the barn have taken particular offense to the saying Fat Cat and would like to suggest Roly Poly Poodle. Example: She is a big TV star and lives like a Hollywood Roly Poly Poodle these days.

The Hedgehog would like to suggest that pleasantly plump objects now be called "fat as a broodmare" instead of "fat as a hog".  Although appropriate, this saying is likely to never make it out of committee as the broodmares have a lot of lobbying power here.

The  Jack Russell contingency who is spending the weekend at Canine Companion have suggested that the saying "bark is worse than the bite" be abolished. I totally agree.

From the cats at Canine Companion, the suggestion passed that "looking a gift horse in the mouth" be replaced with "don't ever look a raccoon in the eyes".  They felt that this advice was interchangeable with most phrases and relevant at all times.

Gary and Amber nominated that "everything but the kitchen sink" be replaced with "everything in the tack room". Example: Instead of saying "She packed everything but the kitchen sink for the show," one would now say "She packed everything in the tack room for the show."

Ringo would like to replace "Every dog has his day" with "Every Raccoon is the King of the World."


Moving forward, "Hold your horses" shall now be interchangeable with "Sit. Stay."

Ace the Bernese Mountain Dog asked for amnesty for the cliche "Let sleeping dogs lie." At this time, this suggestion is under review.

"It's raining cats and dogs," will now be referred to as "It's raining colts and fillies."

The mares of the barn are tired of hearing "Look what the cat dragged in." They suggest the following: "Oh look, it's a mouse."

And finally, "To err is human." All of the animals at Fields Quarter Horses and Canine Companion agreed that this saying suits just fine and should be left as is.

September 4, 2010

Big Asses, Little Asses, and Smart Asses

There's a new sheriff in town and his name is Eddie. He's about yay tall (imagine my hand held waist high here), very opinionated, and has an attitude that is disproportionate to his size. Eddie moved to the farm about 2 months ago and is a miniature donkey Jack (this means male donkey with testicles).

His owners were in sore need of a Summer sabbatical and so was the group of Nubian goats he lived with. His ardor was unwelcome among their species and his frustrations were vocalized upon the entire neighborhood. Eddie had become a scourge.

When he arrived at the farm, he immediately was introduced to the sister donkeys Connie and Sara. They are regular sized Jennies and were without their usual male escort Rico this Summer. Both had given birth to baby donks last Summer and were now clamoring to be mothers again. Eddie gladly obliged them in short order.

The next few weeks passed blissfully and Eddie will likely remember them fondly. The three donkeys frolicked like children among the Summer grasses- food and love were aplenty. Then, as if the Fall winds heralded an end to the season, the sisters began to prefer to eat their choice patches of clover alone. They turned their backs on Eddie and sometimes their heels. Still he longed for the days when he stood between them like a sentry- feeling much larger than his diminutive size. At dawn and dusk each day, Eddie would sing a mournful song across the farm. Plaintive and pitiful, his voice sang of lost love, despair, and longing.

And now it is nearly Fall. Eddie still walks among the jennies but holds his head a little less high. He follows them dutifully around the paddock as they discuss baby names and such. It is indeed a new season and Eddie is adjusting to his new role. Life runs in cycles. Eddie is learning about those now.

September 2, 2010

It's The Little Things

Little things are important in my life. I'm not talking about small details nor do I speak of finding pleasure in life's small surprises. Rather, the important little things in my life are usually furry, sometimes bite or kick, have more legs than I do, and seem to require a lot of care.

Whether it's a horse, a dog, a raccoon, cat, llama, donkey, hedgehog, or some other beast which happens to be in my care- they are all important. I sometimes wonder if other people see animals the way I do. In my world (which I share with you occasionally) each little thing has a voice, a personality, and a story.

I look at a small dog checking into Canine Companion for a weekend visit while his owners go on vacation and he instantly tells me a story. These stories are usually complete with nuances such as distinctive voices, ethnic flair, a diverse and rich garden of emotions to choose from. I walk past a mare and foal standing in a paddock and instantly imagine their conversation. Or do I?

We've already established that I have a vivid imagination (if you only knew!) but some days I do ask myself who will tell the stories of these animals if I don't? Who will explain the anguish that Brownie will feel when her foal is weaned in a few weeks. Who will share the sage wisdom that only a raccoon can offer? Who will explain the airy thoughts that bounce through a Jack Russell's brain when he chases a ball? So, I suppose that I will resume this task. The little things around me are clamoring to have their stories told. Right now Rondo the poodle is pestering Ringo the raccoon to help him write his name. It's infectious- this giving animals a literary voice thing.

August 29, 2010

Being Barry White

Being Barry White comes with certain privileges. One can be as prickly as one feels on any given day. Curfew is nonexistent. People do not expect you to come home at any particular time or even day. In fact, a hedgehog can go missing for days without the slightest fear of censure or repercussions, merely exaltation at his homecoming.

Barry White is an albino African Pygmy Hedgehog. He has an attitude, a baritone singing voice, and a penchant for large winged insects. Like all new parents, it has taken us a few months to appreciate the depth of Barry's rich personality. We've taken our time getting to know one another and Barry White is slowly but surely finding his own literary voice. He has offered up a few blog submissions but as of yet the Editor-In-Chief of All Animal Blogs Raccoon has not accepted his contributions.

"Too wordy, "
"Not enough character development," 
"Unbelievable story line."

Ringo sends each creative tidbit back hoping to forever squash the Hedgehog's aspirations of becoming published. With each rejection Barry White's resolve has strengthened; his literary voice has grown. With a vocabulary that extends beyond his three months of life and a rich heritage of culture and intercontinental danger to draw from, Barry continues to tap out tales with his ten tiny Hedgie fingers.

 Whilst other season-old Hedgehogs snuffle around in search of a stray grub or insect, or stretch their fragile legs on special Hedgehog supporting exercise wheels, Barry White is driven to pen the plight of Hedgehogs everywhere. He is mature beyond his months and oft gruff. Not satisfied to spend his days sleeping and his nights on the prowl, he tackles life with a vengeance seen in only the most talented and driven individuals. In the halls of his new home, Barry White already commands respect and admiration from his peers. They call him poet. They whisper that he is the voice of his generation. All but one that is. The Raccoon watches him shuffle by with a barely concealed glare. Barry White feels the heat of the Raccoon's gaze on his back but it does not penetrate his spiny exterior. Inside his white pin cushion of skin- he is safe, at least for now.

August 27, 2010

Change

Change happens. It is inevitable. No more than a mere man could stop the tides or control the seasons- he could as likely interfere with the process of change.  Around each of us, the world is constantly evolving and emoting. And I suppose people do the same.

There are those who would argue that all evolution is for the greater good, but I would disagree. Certainly there have been biological faux pas along the way. After all, what was the duckbill platypus all about? I wonder if the changes which surround us in our own lives can sometimes be mis-steps as well. 

Lately I feel sort of like a duckbill myself. I started off somewhere and someone much different than I am now.  Does that mean that I was left behind by evolution- archaic and misunderstood? Or have I possibly evolved ahead of my environment and am waiting for  the world to catch up with me? Either way, it is hard to be out of step.

August 26, 2010

And so are the days of our lives...

I won't bore you with the grisly details of where I've been or what I've been doing during my unplanned Summer hiatus. In fact, your imagination would probably prove far more interesting than my accounting of July and most of August. Instead, let me resume blogging by telling you some things which haven't changed since we were last together.

The days at the farm march on in the way that long Summer days tend to do. The grass has finally stopped growing- but the weeds seem to still wage war on fence rows, flower beds, and the parking lot. Mowing chores suddenly went from 4 days each week to not even two days these past two weeks. In the way that time creeps up on us all, the much loved green zero turn mower has found that it too has not escaped sitting still long enough to acquire a few cob webs. Each of the foals who was born this Spring has grown tall and strong and one by one are experiencing the rite of passage known as weaning. Sundae- born in May is the lone foal who still enjoys long naps in the sun under her mother Brownie's watchful gaze.

As I write this, Eden and Audry (who was just weaned this morning) are feeling the exuberance of adolescence and practicing their athletic maneuvers along the weathered black board fence line. Eden completed a spectacular high kick with both back feet but her landing was slightly awkward. When she landed, she coyly looked left and right as if to make sure that no one had seen her guffaw. School girls and fillies have quite a lot in common actually.

The yearlings are growing larger each day and their increased size makes it easier than ever to imagine that they will be learning to carry a rider this Winter. Jude, Amber, and Maxim among others- all were born at the farm in 2009 and one by one each will pass through that next phase of horsedom over the next 6 months.

The mares we bred earlier this Spring are beginning to bloom with their unborn foals. As the children who take riding lessons saddle them each week, the girths are getting more snug. Sabrina and Essi's unborn foals have begun kicking and seem to like to lope circles within their mothers. Sabrina accepts this with her usual unending patience however the red mare Essi will randomly pin her ears showing her displeasure to her Chevy-in-the-oven.

And that's how things are here today. I hope to be back now and begin sharing with you lots of things that I've seen and experienced with the animals this Summer. Barry White the Hedgehog has provided lots of fodder for my imagination as he continues regular outbreaks from his habitat requiring extensive hunts to locate him. Until tomorrow, hasta la vista and have a great day!

August 25, 2010

Blog for today...

Well, no blog written for today but I'm a lot closer...stay tuned...I'm coming back. The ideas are raging in my brain and staging a jail break...

Khris

June 28, 2010

Sundays...and other days

It's been a while since I updated everyone on the comings, going, inhabitants, and humans at Fields Quarter Horses. June seems to have been a whirlwind- punctuated by the grandly successful Open House, preparations for, and mundane since.

Amber and Gary spent much of the past week involved in horse shows- Amber in Kentucky, Gary in Michigan. But, in true modern style, we all stayed connected via phones and internet. Gary was able to mentor Amber as she trekked to the Kentucky Horse Park for the Mid-East Kentucky Quarter Horse Show with several fledgling two's. It was their first field trip and they were a hit. Snapshot and Grady both minded their P's, showed off their Q's, and began what hopes to be long careers of traveling to horse shows for their owners.

Gary attended the Tom Powers horse shows in Michigan as an official for the NSBA (National Snaffle Bit Association). This event is the inaugural show for two year old Quarter Horses in the United States. It is a prestigious futurity (show for young horses) and the top exhibitors, owners, and horses were there in droves. Chevrolatte (2 year old Chevy colt) made his debut and earned Reserve Champion status with his owner and rider Christa Baldwin. Also, another 2 year old Chevy (Willis) showed with Troy Green and earned a 3rd place award. These are the top horses in the country and a great look at what the competition holds for the rest of the show season. We are excited that the year is under way with some great ones out there showing. Team Chevy continues to burn a candle here at home- keeping and sending word on the victories on the road!

Speaking of here at home, those of us left behind carried on with business as usual. There is always mowing to be done (with 16 acres mowed each week, it never ends). By 8:00am yesterday morning, a tired, sweaty crew looked upon 600 delicious, fresh square bales standing neatly stacked in our hay shed. Hay season is one of the only times that we ever resent the horses here. Our hay producer Jason is rather proud of his 70 and 80 pound hay squares. When buying- this is an amazing thing. When stacking and unloading- this makes one question her choice of profession. So, we unloaded several hundred of the bales Saturday evening and looking at the exhaustion on the faces of my less-than-burly helpers, decided to re-group and finish unloading at 7:00am on Sunday morning. With well-rested, and some fresh new helpers, we finished the wagons in no time at all.

Then, the Gator (machine-for-the-farm-extraordinaire) received some long overdue maintenance and repairs offered up by I-raise-hay-but-can-also-work-on-any-machine-ever-built friend Jason. Wayne and Rachel headed to the Horse Park to help bring Amber and Horse Company home from the show whilst Brittney assumed the helm of Canine Companion for a few hours.

Oh, and in the morning hours, a platoon of lost ducks walked up the driveway to the farm. There were 6 cream ones and two black and white specimens. They were mum about their mission, where they had come from, and who had dispatched them. Ducks can keep a secret when they want to. So, with the aid of a saltine, they marched into a horse stall until their rightful owner could be found. As of the writing of this edition- no one has stepped forward to claim them. I believe they may be AWOL from some larger duck force. The little pod seems quite content to lie in the straw and forage for forgotten oats. A plan will be formulated soon for their future.

And, then a welcome thunderstorm rolled in rather violently yesterday afternoon. Although we were dodging tree limbs and scurrying to latch doors to keep it outside, it was almost as if everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief for the break. Thank you, Universe. Each of us stumbled across a bit of slumber while the rain beat down outside. It was much needed and well deserved.

And, tomorrow, I'll give an update on the mares, foals, training horses, etc. There's a lot to catch up on as everyone is growing, learning, and we are looking forward to the pregnancies and foals for next year. That's all for now- as we assemble this Monday morning for the upcoming week. It's nice to be back to normal and get back into a regular routine again.

June 25, 2010

Already Hot (The End)

In what can only be described as a flurry of wings, beaks, legs and feathers, the pair of geese moved up the hillside toward its foe. Looking more like a platoon of death than forefathers of a feather pillow, they descended upon the coyote just as she reached the near side of the pond. So intent on this brunch for her waiting brood of pups, she did not see the squawking squadron approach until they descended upon her back and head.

Cooper would remember the battle for much of his adult life. He watched the mini-drama play out before his eyes as if it were happening in slow motion. The parents rained down upon the coyote in a feverish torrent of wings, feet, and confusion. With instincts born from generations of survival, the larger of the pair began to peck and poke at her most vulnerable spots. Their large wing spans and multitude of feathers served to confuse the animal and the painful strikes aimed at her eyes, ears, and flanks caused her to yelp in pain. Suddenly the promise of breakfast had taken a diabolical turn and she was fighting for her life. Thoughtless of all but to escape the painful volley of jabs she looked left and right for escape. Finding no outlet, she leapt into the air to find freedom.

For a moment the coyote was free and then she landed on the green surface of the small pond. With a whoosh, the slime separated and the murky water below embraced her. When she surfaced, she beat the water with each front foot- gasping and clawing to find solid footing. In less than one half of Cooper's heartbeats, the geese once again descended upon their foe in a furious flurry. Now, only her head and shoulders were exposed and they continued their assault poking, pecking, pulling, and piercing her soft flesh. Soon, the  coyote grew weak from struggling to stay afloat with the geese upon her and the green pool swallowed her quietly.

With an elegance that belied their ferocity just before, the geese lightly landed on the far side of the pond near their nest. The gander walked rather prissily to the nest, wagged his tail feathers, and settled down upon his brood. The goose herself began a promenade back and forth across the pond's dam a few feet from where her mate rested. There was a quiet calm now suddenly over the paddocks. The domestic dispute from earlier seemed forgotten. Then, with a slosh, the coyote surfaced on the near side of the pond. She dragged her weary, damaged, sodden body up the bank and came to stand unsteadily on all fours. Without looking back at the nest or the geese directly across the pond from her, she began to slowly walk down the hillside.

Cooper noted her defeated stance and watched her disappear in the summer grass. He watched until the grass did not sway and he could not determine her position as she passed into the valley and toward the creek at the base of the paddocks. He was filled with confusion. He pitied the coyote suddenly. He felt triumphant that he had saved the goslings but the furor he had witnessed had left him a changed horse. He had witnessed nature and brutality and death and life all in the span of a few moments. As he contemplated the meaning of it all, a delicious scent wafted through the air and found its way beneath his nose. It was the smell of June clover. Cooper dropped his long neck toward the earth and grabbed a mouthful of the sweet grass. Oh, how he loved clover in the month of June.

June 24, 2010

Already Hot (Part Deux)

Like a sentinel, the young horse raised his head even higher. Craning to look for the coyote who had passed through the pasture just a while before, he glanced back at the goose nest. His heritage had blessed him with keen senses, he could see, hear, smell a predator from very far. The geese, on the other hand, needed to keep a constant vigil as the coyote could be upon them and the nest without much warning.

Cooper's paddock rested upon a flat grassy knoll. Between him and the nest there was only a rolling hill which dipped downward and rose back up, then the small pond which was surrounded by growing Summer cattails. From his vantage point, he could see several pastures, the hayfield, the pond, and the small woods beyond. He began by scanning the horizon where he had last seen her disappear earlier this morning. Then, finding no familiar dog-shaped form, he began to scan each paddock systematically.  He looked for the geese parents, trusting that they would protect their nest. It was uncharacteristic for them to both leave it unattended for such a long time.

Then, he spotted them. The goose was at the base of the hillside, just below the pond. From his earlier position in the barn, she had been out of sight. She was pacing back and forth, squawking but the wind carried her voice away before it reached him. The gander was slightly smaller than she and he paced a few steps behind her looking as if to console her. Though he could not discern their conversation, he guessed that they were having a marital spat. She angrily flapped her wings. The bill of her mouth pulled into a sneer as the spun to face the gander. He stepped back recoiling from her obvious anger. His mouth moved faster than her- his words also lost to the wind. He seemed to be grovelling, begging, pleading.

Cooper looked away. Unable to watch the argument, but worried still about the unattended nest. He had been raised in a cultured, mannered, civilized household. Convention begged that he not intrude by watching the spectacle but concern for the fledglings insisted that he remain attentive. He scanned the pastures once again, surely other animals must be within earshot of the geese. The clamor they must be making would alert others to this scene. He feared that the wrong animals would be alerted to the family's discord.

His head was inclined toward the drama unfolding on the hillside below him but a slight breeze lilted its way across his nostrils. Genetic programming took over and he subconsciously filtered the scents it carried. There had been a deer in the back woods this morning, musky and wearing its summer coat. The clover in the mare and foal paddock had bloomed yesterday afternoon. The turkey hen's nest had welcomed a new chick early this morning. And there it was. The coyote was nearby. His large dark head snapped sideways in the direction of the breeze. His sensitive ears flicked sharply forward instantly scanning for an approaching force. His eyes began to search for her but he knew this would be difficult. She was also wearing her summer coat and it allowed her to blend keenly into the pastures and undergrowth.

He looked for any slight movement that would give her position away. His equine senses assured him that she was there even if his eyes had not identified her. On full alert, he snorted a centuries old alarm which would have forewarned his herd mates to the presence of a foe. The argumentative pair of geese did not pay heed to his warning and continued their animated argument. She flapping and squawking; he cajoling and consoling.

Then, perhaps due to his especially special height allowing him a better view than most animals of the pastures below and before him, Cooper saw her move. Almost imperceptible, the movement could have been blamed on the wind to a person's eyes. But Cooper was smart. He was alert. And he cared about the nest across the pond. His senses were primed for such invasions, his ancestry dictated it. Again, the movement came. She was creeping ever closer all the time. She was downwind of the geese but from his point on the top of the ridge, Cooper had a front seat to both her scent, her endeavor, and the geese fighting in the valley below. She crept along the ground until she was closer to the nest than its owners. At that point, she dropped her veil of secrecy and stood upright. The coyote began to boldly walk toward the pond, she was now between the nest and the geese below. Experience told her that she did not need to slink now- this was an easy breakfast.


Cooper was overcome with anxiety. Normally, he was carefree and happy. He observed the farm, its inhabitants, and his surroundings with a disconnect. Not today, however. He sounded an alarm reserved for the highest priorities. Lifting his brown muzzle into the air, he pushed the air out of his lungs with great force as he whinnied his alert for all to hear. Like a trumpet blaring across the paddock, it resounded through the valley up the adjoining hillside, across the pond, and bounced back to his own ears. The coyote flicked one sandy ear in the direction of his voice but did not alter her path.


In mid flap, the geese both halted as if frozen. In unison, they turned their smallish heads toward Cooper then together, they turned to look at the pond. From their vantage point, they could not see their nest but could see the tan-colored dog shaped form walking purposefully toward the pond. Cooper could not hear her words but saw the goose's beak mouth the words "No!"...

June 23, 2010

Already Hot (Part One)

He was prone to bouts of petulance and pouting. He occasionally threw temper tantrums that were usually effective. Cooper was a two year old American Quarter Horse but he was Appendix registered. To many, this simply meant that Cooper had some Thoroughbred heritage. To Cooper, this meant that his blood ran thick with a mixture of heritage that spanned from the Spanish Mustangs of the American Plains to the founding bloodlines of Thoroughbreds from the Arabian Deserts. He was a paradox- both to himself and those around him.


He moved to stand near the bright aluminum bars which lined the front of his stall. He liked to stand in the corner nearest the green feeder mounted to the wall- not because it was the feeding place but because it allowed him the best view outside. From this corner, he could see the lesson mares in the paddock beyond the arena, he could see the horses being ridden inside the indoor arena, and he could even see the coyote who trotted across the hayfield each morning just before sunrise.


Cooper stood over 17 hands tall. For a two year old, his height and breadth were impressive. Cooper had grown accustomed to being tall. He liked that he looked down onto the tops of most people's heads. He liked that when he walked, he towered over the other horses. The girl came to his stall door and he heard it slide open- the familiar sound of metal and wood sliding across the track which held the door in place. He did not move from his station but rather stood there watching. He had watched the geese on the small pond in the lesson paddock build a nest over the past few weeks. He had watched the lady goose lay her eggs and then observed them tending, guarding, and waiting. Today, however, both geese had left the nest and he was concerned. He had watched it for over an hour, hoping the coyote did not return early today. Surely the geese would not be so unresponsible.


As the girl walked to his shoulder, she said, "Cooper, do you want to go outside?". Unable to wrest his gaze from the mini-drama at the small pond, he simply lowered his large head in agreement to her suggestion.  Wrapping an arm around his seal brown neck, she slipped an emerald green halter across his nose. It had a cream-colored band on the nose and another on the cheek piece with the letters "Already Hot" spelled out on it. Cooper knew that the halter pleased the humans- it held his registered name on it. People always felt the need to label, claim, or otherwise identify things. Cooper knew who he was and did not understand why it he needed to be labeled. The girl reached the strap over his poll and closed the heavy brass buckle next to his temple settling the halter into place. Even though he had dropped his head obediently, she still reached upwards with her arms to complete this maneuver. Snapping a matching green lead rope to the brass ring at the base of his chin, the pair moved together toward the doorway of the stall. The monumental brown horse waited momentarily as the girl stepped around him- he was always careful when he moved around people to make sure they were safely out of the way of his large limbs.


The girl stepped into the aisle first and the horse followed her. As he stepped through the stall door, his feet moving from the soft straw bed to concrete, they echoed harshly in the morning air. It was a crisp sound as his hooves clipped the concrete floor cleanly. There was a skylight in the aisle just outside of his stall. At that precise moment, the sun beamed through and caressed his back and neck as he breached the doorway. The spotlight caused his coat to deepen and explode with dapples. He was rich brown upon richer chocolate upon caramel circles for a moment standing in the sunlight. A mare across the barn glanced at him for a moment and wistfully thought what a beautiful animal he was. He, however, was both unaware and unconcerned about things such as beauty.


She paused for a breath longer than Cooper cared for and he lifted his front foot in impatience. From the aisle, he could not see the nest and he felt the need to watch it until the parents returned. Reaching his long front leg forward and out, he lifted it in a half raised position asking for the girl to hurry. Cooper was normally not impatient- he had never needed to be. He had always had enough to eat, regular grooming, plenty of attention. He had not known want or need and had thus never experienced adversity.


Sensing that the big horse was ready for his morning exercise, the girl turned to move through the large doorway. As the pair stepped from the concrete barn toward the paddocks, their feet began to crunch on the crushed rock of the driveway. It was a methodical beat, two steps for the girl and four steps for the horse. The beat carried them to the red gate of the turnout pasture. Cooper had been craning his neck to see the nest. As they walked, he could see that the parents had still not returned. As the girl walked him inside the gate and into the board fence enclosure, she unsnapped the lead rope from the halter. Normally, he heard the tell tale click and would rejoice in his momentary freedom by running for a bit. Today, however, there were more pressing matters at hand.

June 22, 2010

The Thinking Tree

ChaChi was an angry colt. Maybe he was angry because he had been born with an ache in his stomach. Maybe he was born with an ache in his stomach because he was angry. No one ever really knew the answer to that question- only that ChaChi was usually angry. He was a red-headed liver chestnut with a proclivity toward temper tantrums.

When he was in the throes of a tantrum, people usually just shook their heads and commented that he was fiery. His father was a great English-style Quarter Horse stallion named Sonny. His mother was also an English-style Quarter Horse named Jazzy. He lived at Fields Quarter Horses where there were occasional English-style foals like him but mostly the foals were Western-style horses. And most of them were the offspring of the resident farm stallion, Chevy. ChaChi felt like an outsider. The other foals were lazy and mostly moved slowly. They did not care to race with him. They liked to stand under the shade trees while he preferred to explore the large green pasture.

In time, the foals were introduced to their destined paths as future show horses. After weaning, they were given elementary horse lessons like learning to lead and stand tied. ChaChi did not like school and did not excel at these tasks. The other foals accepted their instructions meekly, and sought to please their instructors. ChaChi, however, felt anger rise in his throat and would fight the lead rope until he was exhausted. Even then, his mind insisted that he resist.  And then the day came that the foals were to be bathed.

The day started like many others. One by one, the foals walked quietly to stand in the bright sunshine with their teacher. The sun was hot and bright and the cool water falling on their backs felt wonderful to them. They were rubbed with soft rubber curry combs and shampoo which smelled like new apples in late Spring. Then, the cool water rinsed them again. The three people formed a system which looked much like an assembly line and thus each weanling took its turn at a bath.

And then they came to ChaChi. He had heard the other foals talking excitedly when they returned about this new lesson. He was skeptical though. ChaChi did not like new things and did not like school. He did not think he would like this day much either. They brought him out into the sunshine and slowly began to allow the water to run over his chestnut legs. He did not like the feel of water hitting him from below- rain came from above- this was not natural. Within moments, ChaChi felt the anger welling up within him and he determined that he was leaving the sunny spot. In what can only be described as a flurry of legs- horse and human- and a tussle the likes of which no one had seen before, ChaChi decided that he would not have a bath on this day.

His teachers knew him well. They knew that once he had decided to fight them, he would not give in easily. They patiently attempted to spray him with the water hose for the next thirty minutes. Each time, the red-headed colt fought them as if his life depended on it. Nostrils flaring and eyes so wide that they were mostly white, he vowed that the water would not touch his body. Neither force could find no victory in this battle and after a while, the humans regrouped. This situation called for extreme measures- after all, it was three humans against one small carrot-topped horse.

Looking around, the people noticed a sassafras tree standing nearby. It was on the edge between the sunny spot and the paddock.  Also known as a root beer tree, this tree was just the perfect size to hold a 500 pound adversary. They brought ChaChi to the base of the tree and wrapped his lead rope around it several times. Before he knew it, he was standing with his nose against the trunk of the tree. He moved to step backward but could not move an inch. Enraged, he tried to move forward but again, could find no easement. He was snubbed so tightly to the tree that he was immobilized. The exhausted humans commenced to bathing him quickly. First they finished wetting his coat- the deep liver hair turned nearly black as it became soaked. Then, they shampooed him with the sweet apple scent. Standing beneath the tree, the smell of apple mixed with the distinctive scent of sassafras to create a sweet pungent odor that permeated their nostrils.

When the bath was finished, ChaChi was tired of fighting. He stood dejected against the tree- unable to fight the people, unable to fight the tree.  There, tied to the sassafras tree, he ran out of anger. From that day forward, ChaChi began to become interested in the lessons which the people wanted to teach him. Sometimes, he would leave the other foals and stand beside the fence beneath the sassafras tree. It's smell reminded him of something but he could never quite remember what. Like a fleeting memory that is lost before we can hold it. The humans began to call the tree The Thinking Tree. There were a few other foals who visited the thinking tree on occasion. Always they smelled its sweet fragrance and always they spent time thinking about the futility of throwing temper tantrums. Rarely did a foal ever have a tantrum after spending time at the Thinking Tree.

June 21, 2010

Good Morning Sunshine

The colt stretched his long daffodil colored legs and yawned sleepily. Morning had arrived in the paddock- the birds had been chirping for over an hour. A soft dew had fallen over the green quilt of grass and the earth smelled fresh, musky, and alive.

In the grass beneath his nose, a platoon of ants marched noisily past on their daily mission. Cam blinked his eyes slowly, removing the sleepy haze and readjusting to his surroundings. He felt rather than saw his mother standing watch over him- like a yellow tank threatening bodily harm to any who dared disturb her sleeping foal. In an instant, the palomino colt shrugged off his sleepy mask and sprang to life. In one swift movement, he was standing on his tiny creamy feet.

He reached first one hind leg back then the other stretching them, testing to see how long they had grown overnight. He was very proud of his long legs. When people came to see him, they always commented about how long his legs were. Moving to stand closer to his yellow protector, he rubbed his yellow forelock against her side affectionately.

"Good morning, Mother," he spoke in a raspy little boy colt voice.

"Good morning, Sunshine," she replied softly in the voice that she reserved only for him.

June 19, 2010

Writer's Block/ Raccoon Style

This is Ringo Feelds- head raccoon and puppet master behind most of the animul intelligence at Feelds 1/4 Horse. I have seezed the opportunity to send you a report since the mother has been too preoccupied to blog lately.

First came the HedgePig. They call him Barry White and coo and coddle him. He is ugly, prickly, and uninteresting to me. I do not notice when the mother holds him and looks at his beady little red eyes. He is no match for my intelligence and does not eat candy bars. Hmmph. I see no use for him yet.

Then, there was the business of an Open House. I saw the peeple of the barn working for long hours. They cleaned, they brushed the horses; even I got my toenails trimmed. I supposed that there must be a great event coming. I waited anxiously for the feasts. I just knew there would be marshmallows, candy bars, and cheetos. But the day came with neither pomp, circumstance, nor treats of any kind. It was just another day with lots of peeple poking their noses into my business. I tried to take a nap but the talking peeple disturbed me. So, then I was hungry and sleepy. Stoopid Open Houses. I don't know what the big deal was anyway.

And finally, now there is this business with my mother's writer's block. Seems to me that she never really wrote anything interesting anyway. She just tells stories about what we are doing. I'm sure she will come back soon and take the compooter away from me. She told me a funny story just this morning about a squirrel who was gossiping quite loudly while she fed the mares today.

Now, to the business of the candy bars. I heard that the 4-H Club has installed a vending machine into the hallway at the big barn where Chevy lives. My comrade is working on getting the top secret codes to the door so that we can pull off the heist of the century. I also heard that the vending machine has peanuts and Reeses Cups, too. I'll be casing the joint and working out the details.  Yum...

Sinceerely,
Ringo the Raccoon

June 15, 2010

PIctorial Open House

Open Doors, Open Windows, Open Houses

Open Doors, Open Windows, Open Houses

Well, the Open House has come and gone. Today, we are cleaning up, reminiscing, and basically recovering from "work" hangovers. There are so many fun things to remember and so many stories to revel. I'll hit the highlights today in the manner of a top ten list and then begin the detailed play by plays in the days to come!

Top Ten List of Things Heard at The 1st Annual Fields Open House & Free Clinics..

10. Is Barry White here?
9. Who drove the Mazarrati?
8. Are the Hot Dogs ready? (Wanna kiss the cook?)
7. Would you like something to drink, hon?
6. Where can I park my trailer?
5. Wow, there are a lot of people here!
4. Oh, you have a Chevy baby...I'm the mom of "____".
3. Have you drawn for the door prizes yet?
2. Are those real or fake?

and the #1 thing heard at the Open House was...Is Chevy here? Can I meet him?

June 9, 2010

Finding Barry White

The past week has been punctuated by preparations for our upcoming Open House and the arrival of friends from afar. In the midst of the chaos, a tiny little hedgehog arrived at the Fields household. Like all new parents, we prepared his siblings for his arrival. We hedgehog proofed the house. We readied his room (decorated in an African theme so that he could feel closer to his roots). And then he came.

Several days were spent bonding with Barry. Each evening, no matter how late we arrived home from work, we made time to play with Barry. The dogs looked on as we let him explore under our watchful eyes. We learned to hold him without getting pricked by his spiny covering. We learned how to coerce him to unroll from his protective ball pose. I took him outside Tuesday evening under the stars and let him snuffle around a rock which was the home to a family of grubs.

And then yesterday, Barry disappeared. There sat his cage, looking undisturbed and impenetrable but without its tiny white inhabitant. In the midst of our panic, we developed several hypotheses. Did Ringo have him snuffed out? Did Hazel the Sheltie puppy ask him to come out and play? Did someone kidnap our prized hedgehog? Did Wayne secretly find him another home? So many theories, each needing to be researched further.

So, the hunt began. There were still so many responsibilities outside of Barry to be tended to the search parties were varied throughout the day. By evening, it consisted of Wayne, myself, and Rachel crawling around our home quietly looking for one little critter. Imagining that he must be terrified from his ordeal, we tried to be as quiet as possible as we moved furniture, sorted through dust bunnies, and scoured the farthest corners of each room. (As an aside, I must say that my clean house looks much differently on my hands and knees and todays list now includes a thorough top to bottom cleaning of the horrors which I discovered last night.)

We decided to call off the search for the night (after all, it was nearly 10:00pm) and Wayne walked to the master bedroom to grab a shower. There, in the middle of the floor looking more like a prickly rock, sat Barry White. Wayne didn't move lest Barry make a mad dash for the underrealm of the bed or dresser or chest. He called quietly to me to retrieve the animal from his path.

Recognizing my scent, Barry immediately began to snuffle greedily. We all sat around rejoicing in his return (Rachel and Amber mostly happy that he had not invaded their respective apartments). We fed him grubs and Wayne even brought him several teaspoons of water which he lapped up eagerly.

As the evening came to an end, Barry was quietly snoozing on my shoulder while Hazel the puppy snored beside Wayne's lap. All was right in the Fields household again.

On a side note, Barry's cage spent last night in the bathtub. He again escaped but Wayne had wisely plugged the drain hole with a cloth. I discovered Barry curled up inside the green and white dishcloth happily sleeping this morning.

June 3, 2010

Daily Updates

It's been a hectic couple of days. At home, we've prepared for the upcoming Open House by painting, buffing, shining, and spiffing things up a bit. There are new purple flowers flourishing in new tree planters at the barn entrance. There is new hardwood mulch gracing the landscaping; and new rock is freshly spread on the driveway. The lawns are mowed and the pastures are rich and lush- it's June in Kentucky! The foals are growing as are the yearlings and two year old training horses. We are excited to have so many friends- new and old- joining us for the festivities. The llama, donkeys, mini horse, and hedgehog are getting their games on for the petting zoo. So are Gary and Amber.

Speaking of zoo's, Gary has spent the weekend judging a horse show in Alabama, then home to Kentucky, and is now in Oklahoma at the Redbud Horse Show. This large horse show is a coming out party of sorts for the 2 year old Chevy filly named Chloe (Focusonakrymsunimage) who won great accolades at The All American Quarter Horse Congress last year. She is there with her trainer Pierre Briere from New Jersey and Gary reports that she is riding around the grown-up horses looking like the fancy prospect that she is.

After some Memorial Day festivities, Amber has spent this week riding, training, and working on completing an Open House to-do list. She has found time for last minute lessons for several of her students who leave tomorrow for their District 4-H competition. Hopefully Amber and students will return victorious with qualifying ribbons for State.

Brittney and Wayne have held the fort down at Canine Companion with the boarding, training, and grooming dogs. The little Sheltie who was formerly known as Peep has now become Hazel (she's Heidi's little daughter) and officially joined our household. We are now potty-training and trying to keep our leather couch from being chewed upon. Hazel has settled into a routine and has even already made a few visits to the barn.

Of course, we are still finishing up breeding season- checking mares in foal, finding pregnancies and heartbeats. There are progesterone shots to give, vaccinations and wormings, and farrier, dentist, and chiropractor visits. The usual-ness of the days are only interrupted by a little extra cleaning and painting here and there.

And that's what we are doing around here. Hope you will come to our Open House to appreciate all of our hard work- oh, and visit us and the horses as well.

May 27, 2010

No Good Very Bad Wish I Would Have Slept Longer Day

I mentioned on Facebook today that I was having a no good very bad day. In the way that most of my days do, it started full of optimism and promise. I was certain when I awoke of the many things which I would accomplish this morning. By 9:00am, that plan was pretty much shot all to heck.

We've been blessed lately with a smallish and handy man named Mike Stanley who seemed to be able to do almost everything. Mike Stanley reminded me of a leprechaun. Not because of his diminutive stature nor his somewhat elfin features but more because he seems to possess magical powers which enable him to clean stalls in record time, fix anything that ever was broken, and perform basically any task we ask. My very bad day began when Mike apologized and told me that he was needed in Pennsylvania by Saturday morning for his real work (he's not a stall cleaner/handyman by trade but rather a pipe fitter who happened to be without pipe to fit lately). I did take time to appreciate Mike while he was working for us- but was still not ready to see him go. I had so many plans for things that he could do. So many weeds left to whack and so many fences still to repair.

Next, I returned to the office/kennel/foaling barn and found that the mower had mysteriously found its way into a deep pool of mud whilst Wayne was sitting atop it mowing a pasture. It was firmly wedged against a fence post and buried to the axle in slippery chocolate colored mud. The next hour was spent more error than trial on deciphering a way to extract the machine from its watery grave. Finally, with the truck in four wheel drive, and the boards from the fence removed, and the mares and foals looking on at the mud-pie flavored humans, we pulled the mower to safety.

And, then it was time for Maxim's second dose of IV antibiotics for the day. That in itself is a task as the yearling is adjusting to his enforced stall rest and recovery from a kick from another horse. His prognosis is good and he is improving each day but the delivery of IV antibiotics to an animal who is nearing 1/2 ton but has the maturity level of a puppy does not add to the general mood of any day.

The day progressed and I made yet another trip between the barns this afternoon to pick up the video camera. We've needed to catch an updated video of horse for sale Snapshot for a bit and today seemed like a great day. I hopped into my car promising to return with camera in hand in 15 minutes and drove the 3 miles to the office. Before I could get there, a surprise pop up thunderstorm arose. By the time I reached the kennel/barn, there was thunder, lightning, and torrential rains. Needless to say, the videography session was postponed once again.

So, that is the majority of my jacked up day. In the middle of it all, I tended to some of the horses, gave Maxim 3 more doses of medicine, worked on invoices, addressed invitations to the Open House, made phone calls, picked up items at the embroidery shoppe, got a new farm sign, and re-wrapped a foal's hernia wraps on her belly. Now, I'm going to go to bed and put the covers over my head. I'm going to dream of green fields (who someone else mows), fat horses (who someone else feeds), beautiful babies (all Chevy's of course), and sunny days. And tomorrow, I'll wake up ready to tackle the chores which I didn't get finished today!

May 26, 2010

Daily Update

It's been a while since I actually did an update regarding everything that is going on in our daily lives. I thought for the next couple of weeks, that I would shift my energies that direction as we prepare for our June 12th Open House!

The past week has been a whirlwind. We are winding down from Foaling Season but I find I am having some trouble readjusting to sleeping all night. I still wake in the middle of the night and lie there waiting for the phone to ring. Surely there is a mare foaling somewhere. Sleeping with the laptop at my bedside is a January to May habit that needs to be broken post haste. I have absolutely no business checking my e-mails or Facebook updates at 3:00am. Nor do I really need to check Turner Classic Movie Channel only to find an old movie that I just have to watch. There is too much to accomplish in the daylight for me to also have a secret middle of the night life.

The Open House gave us a good excuse to make small repairs as well as clean, spiff, and refurbish fixtures. There is a master list of tidying up that we've begun checking off. The usual items such as mowing, spraying, and weed-eating are on there as well as a few tasks which were in sore need of completion. Painting doors, landscaping, planting flowers have been added to chores such as grooming, clipping, riding, and lunging horses.

The foals which were born a few months ago are growing tall and strong. They have been practicing walking nicely on lead ropes, getting their feet picked up for the farrier, and learning all of the things that baby show horses must learn. Many/most of the foals have begun to travel to their owner's homes but there are several who are still with us. Audry, Eden, Tally, Vegas, Cam, Sundae to name a few- they are each beginning to show their own little personalities and we are enjoying getting to know them individually now.

Maxim the tall yearling was injured last week in a pasture incident and he is now home from the Horse Hospital and beginning to walk down the long Recovery Road. He has a catheter sewn into his neck and is receiving IV antibiotics 4 times each day as well as regular bandage changes. His yearling friends- Amber, Jude, Hotrod, Smooch are all in various stages of life from growing up to actually beginning future show horse training.

At the barn, the training continues. Lessons continue. Amber is preparing several students to compete at their District 4-H Horse Show. If they do well there, they will earn the opportunity to compete at the Kentucky State 4-H Horse Show. Tensions always run high when horses, moms, and teenagers are put together. I'll let you know how that works out.

And those are the highlights of what we've been doing.  Stay tuned for more to come!

Khris

May 25, 2010

Top Ten List of Reasons to Attend Our Open House

This is a top ten list of reasons to attend our Open House on June 12th! Everyone is invited- come one come all.

10. All the fun people will be there
9. Horses horses horses
8. Great way to spend a Saturday
7. New Friends/Old Friends
6. Petting Zoo
5. Prizes and Games
4. Corn Hole
3. Gary Trubee clinic
2. Chevy will be there.
and the #1 reason to attend our Open House....
All the Animals will be waiting for you!

May 24, 2010

Paparazzi

Paparazzi can be found stalking the celebrities who live at Fields Quarter Horses. These are some of the images they've captured in the past few days.
 
Cooper caught moonlighting as lead singer in an 80's Rock band.


 
Celebrity daughter binges and gains 50 pounds! All in her rump.


Hollywood Starlet caught wasted after night on the town.


 
Actor reported in stable condition after checking into hospital.


And, finally 
 
Alien Invasion...prepare for the End of The World as You Know It, Ringo!

May 23, 2010

Some Day

(This is the story of a young stallion at Fields Quarter Horses named HotRod. The life of a young stallion can be frustrating at times as they grow and mature- especially living on a breeding farm!)

HotRod was a dark brown, almost black colt with soft deep brown eyes. He was a stallion but gentle and kind. He played alongside the other colts in the herd and together the juveniles grew strong and learned to be horses. They wrestled and raced and spent long days in the Kentucky sun.

For as long as he could remember, HotRod had loved the red mare. He had met her when he was but a young horse, barely weaned from his mother. He stood in the pasture beside hers and was mesmerized by the way the wind lifted her reddish blond mane in its caress. Her laughter floated to him across the grass and his heart forgot to beat for a moment. He lifted his black muzzle into the air and her scent called to him like a familiar melody. It played on the wind as it rolled across the grassy expanse and captured him in an invisible snare. He was unable to move as it surrounded and engulfed and enslaved him.

She was older than he by just a foal crop or two and she wore her age with confidence and maturity. She was in the prime of her life and was strong and beautiful. She had come to the farm earlier this year and was meant for the older stallion- she was not here for HotRod.  Still, her essence called to him like a siren. Each day he waited beside the fence hoping for a glimpse, a casual hello, the briefest encounter. His life was pieced together by moments stolen with the red mare.

She knew that the young stallion adored her and casually tossed him an occasional glance. Some days, she was bolder and turned her body so that he could see her long flaxen tail. As he grew older, it became nearly painful for him to breathe her aroma. Yet it was even more painful for him to not see her so he endured. As he grew stronger, he became frustrated. He wanted the red mare for his own. He quarreled with his friends more often. He argued more often with the humans who cared for him. He began to think of nothing else but possessing her for his own.

HotRod began to despair. Surely he would never have such a lovely mare to call his own. He watched the group of mares canter down the hill in the paddock next door and toward the fence where he stood alone. As a herd, the mares broke into a trot and then to a walk and moved slowly past the small brown stallion. He pensively watched the red mare on the edge of the herd thinking how lovely she was. As she passed him, she inclined her head toward him for the briefest moment and whispered, "Someday, little one. Some day."

May 21, 2010

14 Days

Today's blog is a guest blog by a friend and customer who visited us this Spring. Here is her accounting of her time spent at Fields Quarter Horses!  Written by Debbie Spork.

1. I have lambed, calved and babied (as in human....new use for the word). All I was wanting to do was foal. Ladies was that asking too much?

2. For 14 days in March and April, I lived and worked at Field's Quarter Horses. It was fun, exhausting and a learning experience. I was hoping to get lots of hands on foaling and although only KC cooperated, there were still things learned.

3. How phenomenal Chevy really is and how talented, quiet and beautiful his foals are. (Not new knowledge)

4. Khris and Wayne drink A LOT of caffeine.........and I mean A LOT.

5. How to clean stalls bedded with straw. ( I got really good).

6. What a red bag looks like. (Early separation of placenta.....not good for baby)

7. How to treat the above. (Watch baby for signs of brain swelling. Treat baby with IV DMSO. Check IGG level on baby to check if he received enough colostrum.)

8. Learned to look not only for slower activity in a dummy foal, but also ankle swelling as a precursor of brain swelling.

9. What Placentitis looks like. (Yuck)

10. How to treat above. (uterine lavage for mama, SMZs for baby)

11. The procedure for collecting Chevy at Rood and Riddle and how the semen is processed in the lab for shipment. (Very interesting!)

12. Did I mention how much caffeine Khris and Wayne drink?

13. What a great lesson Gary Trubee gives and how talented he is as a horse trainer. How lucky Fields Quarter Horses is to have him at their facility and what a great opportunity for Amber to work with one of the best.

14. While moving loads of hay in the pickup, learned how strong a little piece baling twine really is. (At times, really thought we were going to loose the load)

15.How cute Shelties are..... (Heidi you can come live with me anytime)

16. How to do milk testing.

17. During foaling season, breakfast is at Waffle House.

18. How busy Khris and Wayne are during foaling season, hence the GALLONS OF CAFFEINE they consume.

19. How much caffeine I should have been drinking.

Last spring a friend and I stopped at Fields for 2 days. I went to see Sage and her foal Myah. While there I bought Chevy Metal. During that visit I was hoping to help with foaling. None of the mares cooperated.   This year, I figured if I stayed 2 weeks during breeding season, I would definitely help foal lots of babies. During my 14 days at Fields Quarter Horses, I worked, learned and gained new friends. My only complaint is that the mares were not given a copy of my itinerary.

And the last thing I learned while at Fields Quarter Horses............................................ full moons, a change in weather or low ph milk testing has no bearing on when a mare is going to foal. Just send Debbie back to New Jersey and they will all start popping.

Thank you Khris and Wayne for the opportunity.
Debbie Spork
Owner of future World Champion Stallion, Chevy Metal, aka Ozzy.

May 20, 2010

The Loyal Shepherd Dog

Sugar sat quietly looking through the glass on the lower part of the door. She was a small dog and when sitting, looked through the lowest square panes on the french style doors. Her brown coat was rimmed by a white scarf of hair- thick and dense. She looked like a miniature Lassie but when she spoke, her decidedly Scottish accent and diminutive size revealed her to be a Shetland Sheepdog. Her eyes had been a deep rich brown in her younger days but now were lightening with age and looked more like weak coffee with a hint of creamer.

Although her eyes were aging, her senses were keen as ever and she scanned the doorway for the object of her regard. Brittney had walked outside moments before- carrying her green laundry basket laden with clean clothes. Like all small shepherd dogs, Sugar was a creature of habit and she knew this habit well. Brittney carried arms full of belongings to her white Ford Ranger sitting just outside until there were no more bundles. Sugar looked pensively at the Ranger- maybe today she was going for a ride in the truck as well. They loved their car rides together, windows down, singing slightly off key to the blarring radio. They had spent Brittney's high school years taking many such rides but those yearshad  passed and now they were a rarity.

These days Brittney attended college several hours away and her visits home were not frequent. As the girl grew into a woman, the little Shepherd dog grew gray around the corners of her mouth. The dog slept more and played less. On weekends when Brittney came home, she did not leave her side. She followed her about and was rarely farther than arms length from her master.

Brittney kissed her mom and dad, hugged the little dog and packed herself into the truck for her departure back to school. The little dog sat for a long moment watching the tail lights signal reverse as the white truck backed up and then slowly pulled down the driveway. After a while, there was no sight of the truck. Getting up slowly, Sugar walked down the hallway and looked into the open door of each bedroom. Her small toenails clicked on the wooden floors signaling her whereabouts as she conducted a methodical search of the entire house.

Once satisfied that her girl was indeed no longer there, Sugar stepped down the single carpeted stair into the floor of the family room. She hopped onto the leather sofa and curled into a round ball of brown and white fur. Letting out a long sigh, she closed her eyes and began to dream of the days when she played with little girl.

May 19, 2010

The Round Up

The morning dawned to yet another overcast sky. May was usually punctuated with sunshine and flowers and small showers followed by double rainbows. The past few weeks, however, had offered up unusual amounts of rainfall followed by chilly winds and cooler nights. The grass was unaffected by the cooler temperatures and carried out its Springtime march undaunted. This was agreeable to the mares with foals on their sides and they spent long days grazing the green pastures.
Spook was a recipient mare and she had given birth to the embryo belonging to another pair of horses about a month ago. She had carried the foal for 11 months and did not know that Audry was not her genetic daughter. She loved her since before she was born and had proven to be a nurturing protective mother to the muscular red filly. Audry's legs had grown long and strong drinking the large draft cross mare's rich milk. She towered over the other foals her age but then again, her surrogate mother towered over the other mares too.

Spook's past was a mystery to most everyone at the farm. Checkered pieces of history were tossed about here and there- she had been a nurse mare; she had been born in Canada at a Human Hormone Production farm; she had a tattoo on her left hip- these rumors could be neither confirmed nor refuted and her riddle grew in stature. One thing was for certain, she did not trust humans and was not interested in any of the things they offered.

On this day, Audry had a swollen front ankle and the humans needed to take a closer look at it. Spook had lost foals to the humans before and the memory was still fresh. She only knew that the people were interested in her foal and she wanted to keep her away from them. As they walked to her paddock, she instantly sensed that they came with a purpose. She snorted the scent of their intentions loudly and lifted her large head even higher into the air. They approached her and her powerful legs propelled her down the long hill. They followed her- some on foot and some of them in the green machine which moved nearly as fast as she. She was fairly certain as she galloped away that she had secured safety for her and her foal. Yet, they persisted.

As they advanced down the hill and toward her position alongside the swollen creekbed, she galloped freshly to the top of the hill. The small filly followed her obediently, running along her flank in perfect tandem. The humans marched up the hillside and soon were advancing on the pair yet again. This scene played out over and over as the hour progressed. Up the hill. Down the hill. Up the hill. And down the hill again. In due time, the filly was breathing heavily at her mother's side but the mare was too wary to be concerned. 

With each scene of the drama- up and down- the people closed the ever smaller circle around the mare. Her freedom was slowly being stolen by their tightening human net. On her next trip up the hill, the mare found herself encircled by a group of five seasoned horsemen. Like a pack of experienced wolves hunting, they advanced on her step by step communicating in quiet hushed tones. In the age old dance of predator versus prey, she stood poised for flight and they held her confused and looking for escape.

In a moment, as she was deciding between flight or the instinct to fight for her foal, a loud snap echoed across the grassy knoll. SNAP. And the trap was closed. The lead rope connected to the large mare's halter and the game was over. She had been caught and her life of servitude to man beckoned her to walk quietly beside the man as he led her toward the gate. 

The mare and foal walked into the barn and soon, the group of people were snapping x-rays of the foal's ankle. Then, they rubbed an offensive smelling ointment on the leg. As the lead rope released from Spook's halter and she dove greedily into the delicious smelling pile of hay in her stall, she vaguely remembered that she had been displeased about something. Forgetting what her uneasiness from earlier had stemmed from, she dropped her large head back into the waiting alfalfa and grabbed another mouthful.

(As a side note: Spook's filly Audry had a swollen ankle. After the round up which lasted nearly and hour and took an entire crew, Dr. Mather snapped some x-rays and it proved to be just a "whack" on the leg. She received liniment on the leg to reduce inflammation and is expected to make a complete return to normal within the next day or two!)

May 18, 2010

Smile...though your heart is aching.

The Equine Dentist visited the farm a couple of days ago. His name is Mr. Nice (really, truly) and he brushed, flossed, and handed out toothbrushes to his horsey patients. Equine dentistry is a field that has grown exponentially as we have learned more about the care and keeping of our equine friends. Regular dentistry improves the horse's health and overall quality of life. For our show horses, keeping their teeth in good working order ensures that there are no roadblocks when it comes to wearing a bridle and learning to yield to hand cues.

Here are a few horsey dental facts:
Observation of horses teeth dates back over 2000 years.
Floating of horses teeth (which is smoothing out the uneven edges) dates as far back in England to the 1600's.
The Germans had equine dental charts from the 1800's.
Floats and other instruments have been dated back to 1817.
Power tools have existed since 1895.
A horse's teeth continue to erupt their entire life at the rate of about 1/8th of an inch/year.

Mr. Nice comes with a menacing array of dental toys and devices that would intimidate even the most stalwart patient. His thorough exam identifies areas of the mouth where the teeth may be causing abrasions to the cheek, not wearing evenly with one another, or perhaps an occasional reluctant baby tooth on a young horse. Below are photos of Chevy during his routine dental exam.

May 17, 2010

Oh Give Me Land

lots of land under starry skys above...you know the rest. We are in phase 3 of our master pasture plan and are in the process of adding some additional grazing areas to those which the horses already enjoy. The new fencing projects will produce 3 new paddocks and we are very excited to get them finished and open to the horses. Each of the new paddocks are over 10 acres and are standing freshly mowed just waiting for hungry equines to forage to their horsey hearts desires.

This weekend, the existing pastures were also mowed. We take our grass rather seriously- it's an important part of our equine friends lifestyle. Each pasture is carefully managed to make sure that it grows at optimum levels and is grazed then rested in a manner which will allows it to accommodate horses year-round. There are a few tips that we've picked up through the years which keep our grass lush, thick, and healthy.

Each pasture is groomed (mowed) regularly and maintained with the grass at 4 inches. Scientifically speaking for our area of the United States, this is proven to keep grass growing at its peak. They are rested whenever they reach nearly 30% and will usually recover within 30 days. For each active pasture of grazing horses, there is another being rested at all times. The new pastures are new, thick and lush and this year (at least) will be able to house 6-7 horses for quite a while.

Their dappled coats will ripple over waves of fat on their backs as they lift their heads only long enough to say hello. Then, the mares will drop their muzzles back into Kentucky's green gourmet and munch the Summer months away.

May 16, 2010

Facebook At Fields

I thought for fun, that I would create a social application for Fields Quarter Horses so that the animals could participate in Facebook just for once. Brittney and I asked each of the animals for status updates and allowed them to have pretend Facebook accounts just for the day. Here's what we got!

Status Updates:
Chevy is wondering if he can sit at the bow of a boat and yell "I'm the King of the World" at the top of his lungs.
           Ringo (and 3 others) like this.
           Comments:            Delilah says "Can I be your Rose?"
                                        Sunny says  "You are my King."
                                        Delilah says "Sunny, you are a slut."

Rondo the Poodle is getting a haircut. Text me.

Cooper the Tall horse feels diminutive today.

Brownie is all warm and fuzzy. She thinks she wants a date with Chevy.
           Comments:            Delilah says "Brownie, you are a slut."

Ringo says this is stupid, he will just steal the computer and create his own Facebook account.

Sebastian is feeling a little homesick today.
           Comments:            Kathy says "We love and miss you, son."

Kramer is wondering when he will go to a horse show.
           Tara Lytle likes this.

Jude wants to know what Facebook is?
           Judy Mollner (and 2 others) like this.

Red Cline and Grey Ottman wish they could have a Chevy foal.
           Comments:            Delilah says "You are both sluts."

Cam wishes his mother was nice.
        
Delilah joined the group People Who Want a Dislike Button for Facebook.

Ringo is pimpin'- raccoon style.
            Chevy likes this.

Heidi the Sheltie wants to know if Facebook is something she can eat.
            Comments:            Sandi Kempton says "GAHHH!"
                                         Brittney Fields says "Shut up, Heidi."
                                         Heidi says "You shut up, Brittney."

George the Llama has joined Farmville. He needs 10 nails, 4 boards, and a goat.

Nona the Nurse Mare is leavin' on a jet plane.
            Comments:            Tilly Baldwin says "We'll miss you!"
                                         Boo says "Say hello to Vermont for me."
                                         Eden says "Gaa Gaa, Goo Goo."

Sugar the Sheltie is sending a Big Bag O' Hearts to her favorite girl Brittney.

Guenther the Gelding is sending a big shout-out to his boys from Da Hood.
            Amber Tewell likes this.


And that's a little bit of Farm Style Facebooking from Fields Quarter Horses...until next time: Adios!

May 13, 2010

Open House

Not a particularly noteworthy news day- buuuutt, we are planning an open house on June 12th and invite each and every one of you to attend! There will be Free riding clinics with legendary AQHA Professional Horseman Gary Trubee, Open Horse Days (where you can visit and get to know a horse up close and personal), Door Prizes, Pony Rides, and of course, lots of nice people to get to know.

It seems that there will be a nice number of Chevy offspring owners attending and it will be a blast to hear everyone share their stories. Family and friends- both horse and otherwise- will be there so pack your bags, load up the wagons, pull out the maps, and set sail for Kentucky in June! Hope to see you there- we really do.