Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘This Old Horse

Confidently Incorrect

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It was a simple mistake. It could happen to anyone. They look so much alike.

The farrier appointment was scheduled for 1:15 yesterday afternoon and I had gates closed and halters on all the horses by 1:08. She showed up on time and I was ready to hold horses while she trims and files hooves.

However, at the very same time, a very large pickup pulled up, and a person from the cable installation company hopped out with flags in his hand to mark the route for burying fiber cable up to our house.

I excused myself briefly from the barn and talked fiber route as I walked the guy up to our house, pointing out the buried hazards that must be taken into account.

As soon as I could, I returned to the paddocks to find the farrier trying to deal with Mix, who had allowed only one hoof to be trimmed before deciding the flies were too annoying for her to remain standing still. A little fly spray on the legs and my hands on the lead rope allowed Heather to get on with trimming Mix’s other three hooves.

Next was Swings and everything went flawlessly for her turn. Meanwhile, two staff from This Old Horse arrived to provide additional support. While holding horses, I noticed one car was coming up our driveway as the cable guy was driving his truck out and they each decided to drop one wheel over the steep edges to pass one another. Not the way I’d have solved it, but it avoided either one needing to back up. (Backing up is what I would have done.)

I’m feeling increasing pressure to have the driveway shoulders sloped by the excavating company that raised the base so high in the first place. But that’s another issue.

As the trimming progressed, I was still holding horses for the farrier, now working on number three of four. That’s where I screwed up. Somehow I mistook Mia for Light. They are both very similar-looking chestnuts with the main difference being their blaze.

I thought I was holding Light, who usually stresses out over the trimming process. Heather and I were so impressed it was going as well as it was. Of course, she had no clue who she was working on and was relying on me to identify them. Then came time for me to get the last horse, who I mistaking still thought was Mia.

She did not want to come up under the overhang. Sometimes Mia can be like that so the behavior supported my confusion. But it was Light and she really did not want to stand and have her hooves worked on. I got subbed out to let Tom from This Old Horse hold Light and I went to calm Mia (still thinking it was Light) who had been removed from the workspace and was temporarily trapped between paddocks.

Are you following all this?

At this point of the increasing panicking by Light, I figured out my mistake. It’s funny, I first noticed the name on a halter and assumed I put the wrong halters on each of the two. Then I took a closer look and realized the halters were correct, I was completely convinced which horse was which for the longest time, but I had been confidently incorrect.

I blame the distraction of simultaneous demands on my attention from the fiber cable installation guy and horse duty. Oh, and the fact my lovely wife wasn’t present to catch my goof and correct the identifications.

We eventually gave up on trimming Light this session. I feel bad because we probably would have handled it better if we all knew precisely which of the two chestnuts were being trimmed at the time.

My mistake. A rather humbling misidentification.



Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2022 at 6:00 am

Foot Work

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With a fresh glaze of wet snow covering the ground and mud reaching its peak on the trails and in the paddocks, yesterday the horses had an appointment with their farrier. Convincing the horses that they should accept a halter for a few hours even though they weren’t particularly interested in doing so became a challenging dance of slippery, muddy footsteps.

With the added help from two representatives of the rescue organization, This Old Horse, the process went just fine and the herd is good for another 8 weeks.

We already had the herd separated between the two paddocks so Cyndie just had to occupy one horse while another was getting trimmed.

The last few times these four horses have been trimmed, Light was the least cooperative about standing on three feet and only received partial service. Yesterday, she didn’t relax entirely, but she did hang in there long enough for the farrier to complete all four hooves.

I’d say they all look really great now, except for the fact it’s hard to notice because their feet are submerged in mud most of the time.

When we are done at the barn and ready to head back up to the house, it’s time for the boots on our feet to get some attention. The residual piles of plowed snow provide the perfect boot scrubber.









Too bad the snow is disappearing so fast now that these few remaining piles will be gone long before the mud is.

The boot scrubbing brush outside our front door is an alternative, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as the old snow.



Written by johnwhays

March 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

Minor Trim

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The mares received a visit from the farrier yesterday and got their feets fixed. They are all standing on good footing now. Like the previous time the new farrier, Heather, was here to work on our girls, Light got a little too upset to tolerate the attention.

As a result, they made a point of starting with Light first. She wasn’t much better this time, either. Next visit, Tom is going to remember to bring a little something to calm her nerves before they start.

The other three horses stood reasonably well and allowed Heather to finish what she started on each.

Here is Tom holding Swings while Heather capably plies her trade. While the horses mostly stood in place well, none of them were all that relaxed about having their legs picked up.

I think I’d rather toss 250 bales of hay for my workout than repeatedly hold up a resistant Thoroughbred mare’s leg while trying to file it.

We had closed all the gates and put halters on the horses at the start of the day in anticipation of the scheduled hoof trimming appointment. As soon as each one is done, they get freed from the halter and sent on their way.

The two chestnuts walked down to the still closed gate to the hayfield and held vigil until I showed up to open it.

I was waiting until Mix and Swings were done so as not to create any distractions while work was still in progress.

Of course, when I finally showed up and opened the gate, neither horse walked through. They turned and followed me to the next gate and the one after that. I guess they just wanted to make sure I got everything back the way they like it, so that later when they really want to get out in the fields, they will be able.

Kids. [shaking my head]



Written by johnwhays

January 18, 2022 at 7:00 am

Staying Put

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Upon seeing Ward’s comment on yesterday’s post, I realized I haven’t written about our decision to keep our rescued Thoroughbreds through the winter. It’s actually been a gradual process for us to come to this conclusion. Recently, Cyndie affirmed our intentions with “This Old Horse” and this set in motion preparations for winter horse care.

They are fully supportive and provided contact information for some volunteer caretakers living near us who we didn’t previously know about. If we find ourselves needing coverage during a time we will be away, “This Old Horse” volunteers can step in.

We might update the horses’ feed rations or nutrition for the winter. “This Old Horse” will bring us heated water buckets for in the barn stalls. We will be contacting their hay supplier to coordinate a plan for when we will be needing more bales.

It is a wonderful partnership that serves the horses’ best interests and gives us the support that enables us to provide them a long-term retirement home.

We are very happy to report the horses are staying put for the indefinite future.



Written by johnwhays

November 17, 2021 at 7:00 am

Just Go

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Figuring out where to start when you have no idea where you are going shouldn’t really be a problem. Just go. From wherever you happen to be, just take off. Doesn’t really matter where you start once you are sailing along smoothly into the unknown.

Take my writing of this post… I have no idea where it’s going.

We had no idea our Wintervale had been added to the list of locations on the website of This Old Horse. Click to see.

Cyndie described quite a scene last night about her challenges to split the four horses into two pairs. With Mix’s pattern of sometimes being excessively “bossy” over the two chestnuts, Mia and Light, Cyndie likes to close gates to separate them during rainy weather so everyone has equal access to the space beneath the overhang.

Otherwise, we have noticed Mix posturing to leave Mia out in the cold rain because Mia is too timid to make her way to the other open side.

While Cyndie was working to isolate the chestnuts, Mix undid a chain and made her way into the barn uninvited. Inside, she found Delilah tethered and Delilah quickly shepherded the startled mare back to where she belonged. Or, at least, back in the direction from which she had come.

Mix came out and took a position on the wrong side from where Cyndie wanted her. No surprise there. Eventually, Cyndie succeeded in reaching the goal of having everyone where she wanted them.

The horses seem happier every day with their situation and surroundings, but they still have moments of dissatisfaction. Don’t we all?

Around dinnertime, the rain started to fall, just as predicted.

We settled inside and took in a couple episodes of “Longmire” to distract ourselves from reality for a little while. We are enamored with the modern-day (2012) western crime drama set in Wyoming, even after stumbling on the lead actor, Robert Taylor’s Australian accent when he spoke out of character for one of the “special features.”

He had us fooled. We had no clue the words he speaks as “Walt Longmire” were with an “acted” dialect. Bravo to his performance.

Too bad I’ve found myself hyper-critical of plot holes and incongruities in my movie and television viewing lately. It has me fully understanding why reading books is better than watching movie versions of stories.

When the storyline involves a ferocious winter storm, I can visualize that precisely in my mind, along with all it would entail, during, and after the weather passes. I would set a fantastic scene in my brain as I read.

When the video-recorded version is produced and doesn’t come close to depicting the visuals of the storm they meant to convey, my suspended disbelief collapses.

“Why is he wearing snowshoes when the snow isn’t deep enough there?”

“Why is there no snow clinging to the branches of those evergreen trees?”

“I thought they said this was the worst winter storm in years. Doesn’t look like one”

Brings to mind the epic Armistice Day blizzard of 1940. Just because it’s warm in the morning during November doesn’t mean it won’t be freezing by nightfall. That was what a winter storm looks like.

Sometimes, I just have to let things go.



Written by johnwhays

November 11, 2021 at 7:00 am

Excited Anticipation

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The day has come for us to receive a new batch of horses to graze our fields for the summer. Everything appears to have fallen into place right on schedule, including a delivery of bags of feed, stacked neatly in the barn a day in advance of needing them.

I have looked at the photo of the horse’s faces for a couple of weeks now and learned to identify them by name so I can make a proper introduction when they arrive around noon today.

We will have our Wintervale flag planted down at the driveway entrance to welcome the truck and trailer.

It’s a little intimidating to find how much we’ve gotten out of the mode of daily caring for large animals. Our chickens are no comparison.

Luckily, Cyndie is very thorough in thinking through details like remembering to ask about restocking our cabinet with medication for treating potential emergency situations.

Between the professional level of detail already shared by the good folks of This Old Horse and Cyndie’s ability to ask pertinent questions about the nitty gritty details of responsibly caring for horses, I feel able to relax and focus on the simple joy of immersing myself in the magical energy of glorious equine beings.

I anticipate it will be an interesting mix of ‘brand new’ and ‘same old’ in the days ahead. I look forward to getting to know the difference between the Arabians we had here previously and the Thoroughbreds that will be here now.

I hope to be an open vessel to whatever messages they might wish to convey as we mingle together when I am scooping manure for the compost pile.



Written by johnwhays

April 16, 2021 at 6:00 am