Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Pot

Honey pot

Curly had the bucket stuck on her nose for a minute or two. Sadly for her, it was empty.

Yesterday the horses got fall shots, including the dreaded Strangles intranasal vaccine. This year we have no stalls, so convincing horses that they wanted to stand still while the syringe is stuck up their noses was, well, challenging.

Curly, usually the mildest member of our herd, is the most difficult when it comes to the Strangles vaccine. She can sense that it’s coming and, even when in a stall, she does not make it easy.

The options: bribery and a rope twitch. Curly is very, very motivated by food. So she got a handful of grain to set the mood. Then she had the twitch applied to her nose (don’t be too worried about her, the action of the twitch releases endorphins and it’s over in less than a minute). Bingo, the vaccine was administered and no one got hurt (I’m shocked when my vet tells me

Winnie the Pooh

The classic Winnie the Pooh illustration of Pooh getting his head stuck.

that some people refuse to twitch their horses, preferring, I suppose, to let the vet take the brunt of displeasure.)

After the traumatic event, Curly got a bit more grain. I left the bucket on the ground and turned around to see it hanging off her nose! It didn’t worry her in the least. Just like Winnie the Pooh and his honey pot.

Memorial Day Hunt

Monday's hunt

Our route on Monday took us on wooded trails, past a pond and down a dirt road (for an all out gallop)

Our last official hunt of the season was yesterday, and it was a great one! Hounds were cast across the street from our new barn. It was great to be able to ride across the street. No trailering!

It was still Freedom’s turn. I knew this would be a fast hunt and he’s a blast to ride on the hunts where he’s allowed to move out. He’s also so sure footed that I never worry about galloping him on trails or down hills. He was keen but listening. There was a lot of loft in his gaits.

Freedom was in for a treat, though. After the check we were able to ride up with the huntsman. There were a couple of good runs in that last piece and when we got back to the trailers, Freedom looked like he’d just finished a race. I probably looked about the same — it’s exhausting to keep up with him.

Here are some of the photos from the day.

Marianne & Anders

The hunt started and ended in front of this lovely pond. This was the first hunt for the gentleman on the left. He had the same smile when we finished, so I think he’s hooked.

Freedom Estabrook

Freedom before the hunt. He is always deceptively quiet while we are waiting for the hounds.

Staff horses

Staff horses conferring about their strategy for the day.

First Check

It was a steamy morning and the hounds enjoyed a swim at the first check.

Bartok

Our Huntsman and her horse. You can tell he’s looking out for the hounds.

Hunt Horn

Calling the hounds into the second check.

End of the hunt

The end of the hunt — in front of one of the most beautiful ponds

After the hunt

Freedom — tired and finally relaxed after the hunt. He enjoyed a bath and a good roll.

Exploring

Exploring

Using Map My Run is a great way of tracking my route and giving me a way to get back if I get lost.

Moving barns is giving me the chance to explore a whole new trail system. I’ve hunted through some of the territory before, but there are so many more trails than those I’d seen.

The first few days I felt like I was in a do loop. The wooded trails all looked the same and I kept ending up in the same

Field

I rode by this beautiful field. I can’t ride in it but it sure looks fabulous.

place (luckily back home).

Armed with a trail map and Map My Run on my iPhone, I branched out. I love using Map My Run — it keeps track of miles, route, and time. Plus, if I get lost, it lets me know if I’m heading back in the right direction.

Most of the trails near the barn are wooded but there are several ponds and some lovely

Wooded trails

There is a warren of wooded trails that abut the new barn.

fields that I pass. I know that I can ride in some of them but since, when we hunt, we sometimes have special permission to go on private land, I still need to figure out which ones are fair game.

Freedom and Zelda are both game for exploring. Years ago there was a boarder at my barn who said that she couldn’t take her horse on new trails because he hated to be turned around if she got lost. I’d hate to have a horse that wasn’t bold — and I’m not sure how he knew that she was lost anyway.

One thing that is surprising, given my confusion over the many trails, is how accurate the horses’ sense of direction is. They always know the way home, even if I don’t. And so far they are always right.

How about your horses? Do they enjoy trails?

 

 

Spring Hunting

Freedom hunting

Today was Freedom’s first hunt of the season. The photo shows one of the rare moments when he was standing still.

This spring we’ve had  short hunting season. We had so much snow on the ground for so long that when it was finally warm enough and dry enough to hunt, neither I nor my horses were in any kind of shape.

Now, suddenly, the season is coming to an end (this is the last weekend) and I’ve snuck in four hunts (with one more on Monday).

Berlin

We hunted in Berlin, Mass. and left from this lovely field.

The first three I took Zelda. Partially it was a matter of convenience. Freedom moved to the new barn sooner and she was closer. Partially, it was because Freedom has been just bonkers. He’s so full of energy and so hyper that hunting him was going to be a lot of work. Zelda gets tired; Freedom doesn’t.

I had a lot of photos today that looked like this! The result of trying to manipulate an iPhone while trying to keep my horse under control!

I had a lot of photos today that looked like this! The result of trying to manipulate an iPhone while trying to keep my horse under control!

Today I took Freedom out for his first hunt of the season. As expected, he required an active ride. No chance to be a passenger! I do believe he walked a little bit, but he was, shall we say, energetic. This took the form of a lot of vertical motion. Once again, I will thank the horse gods that he doesn’t buck. I can deal with the jigging, the bouncing and his ability to canter almost in place.

Sand

The territory had quite varied terrain. At one point we went through this very sandy area.

We had absolutely perfect spring weather today and it was a great time to explore a new territory. This landscape had a lot of varied terrain. I wish I could have gotten more photos but I really needed to have both hands on the reins.

Even after we’d been out for 90 minutes, Freedom showed no signs of slowing down. At one point we had to double back on the path and when staff passed us, I had a fleeting fear that we were going with them, no matter what I said. Freedom very much likes to ride up front!

Hacking back

Hacking back to the start of the hunt

Mr. Stickability Part II

Nate Hubbard

Interesting way to finish a race! Nate Hubbard hung on after his horse stumbled in the mud and finished second! Photo: Golden Gate Fields

Here’s another amazing example of a rider (jockey Nate Hubbard), who refused to let gravity and bad luck bring him down.  In fact, Hubbard held on for dear life after the filly, Sweetwater Oak, stumbled in the home stretch. He was still dangling from her neck as they crossed the finish line in second place. The track stewards ruled it an official finish because Hubbard’s feet never touched the ground and Sweetwater Oak carried her assigned weight throughout the race.

Standing Guard

standing guard

Zelda often stands by Curly when she sleeps. Curly is an excellent sleeper and someone has to watch out for danger.

Even before the move, the friendship between the horses was obvious. They look out for each other. They stand guard when their friend sleeps. And they worry when they are gone.

For the two weeks that Curly and Zelda were at the “old barn” alone, they stayed very close to each other. Although Curly didn’t get upset when I took Zelda off to hunt, she was always very happy when I brought her back. She’d start whinnying when she heard the trailer pull down the driveway and would race over to greet Zel.

In their new space, they are vigilant. Freedom in particular is keeping watch over his herd and it’s going to take some time to get them all to relax. At the old barn I’d put Freedom in a back paddock when I took Zelda out to ride. He felt comfortable there and would snooze and eat hay without getting upset.

Now, he’s worried. What if one of his friends leaves and doesn’t come back? This morning Willow’s owner came to ride her and found that she and Freedom both got frantic. They called to each other continuously and Freedom showed off his amazing speed by running laps in the pasture. Needless to say, it was not a fun ride. Funny thing is, Freedom is fine with leaving the herd — he just doesn’t like to be left.

This afternoon I took Zelda out for a ride. Freedom wasn’t quite as frantic, but there was a lot of “communicating” as we rode off. Freedom ran around a bit but either he doesn’t care that much if Zelda leaves or he was just plain tired. He quit running pretty quickly.

Zelda was good about going off on her own. We had only a few stubborn moments, none of which were punctuated with bucks. The way home got a bit dicey as she knew exactly when we got within ear shot and immediately announced that she was almost back. It’s hard to describe the feeling that goes through her body when she’s thinking of running home. It’s a gathering, a collecting, an anticipation of speed, power and willfulness.

I dismounted and walked the last bit on foot!

For the most part, the horses have really settled in well but I’ll be glad when they start to feel at home.

 

American Pharaoh Wins the Preakness

Most interesting thing about the photo? American Pharaoh and Victor Espinoza are clean!

Most interesting thing about the photo? American Pharaoh and Victor Espinoza are clean!

Today in Baltimore the track was very wet — beyond “sloppy” — and Victor Espinoza was worried that American Pharaoh wouldn’t like getting mud in his face. So he made the decision to hustle American Pharaoh out of the gate and bring him right to the front.

Turned out to be a great plan. American Pharaoh overcame the disadvantage of breaking from the number one post position and won by seven lengths. Interesting to see him run a completely different race than he did in the Derby. What an adjustable horse who really listens to his jockey.

How exciting to go into the Belmont with a horse this good poised to possibly win the Triple Crown.