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...

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.