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The hunt is on – candidate 4

The hunt is on – candidate 4

We’ve had a busy horse-related weekend. We’ve been to two horse shows and checked out a fourth horse. Meet “Cash”, a 5-year-old spotted registered Tennessee Walking Horse. He’s about 15 HH, has a calm temperament, is trained and of course flashy. At one of the shows, we ran into some friends who were much more into horses than we thought. They were showing that night and during our conversation it was mentioned that they have this walker for sale. The guy bought this horse for his wife but she prefers black and white spotted coloring. She bought a black and white TWH three weeks after they bought Cash and although she loves them both, she’s only able to keep one. Mikki and I rode him a few times Sunday to get a feel for him and the ride went very well. Later Sunday we had an opportunity to ride him for a couple more hours on the theory that it’s much harder to hide bad behavior on a two-hour ride than it is on a 15-minute ride. We like him so much, we asked if we could keep him for a few days to see how he does at our barn.

The ride went well. We rode him through streams, wooded trails, hills, around cows, around other horses…nothing fazed him. Mikki rode Valentine (it’s so cool having a trailer!) and the two of them hit it off nicely. Although they did seem to want to race each other, we were able to hold them back. Once one went into the TWH gait, the other automatically shifted into that awesome gait, too. Cash trailered nicely, loading and unloading without concern.

So on the positive side, he’s met all of my qualifications. Shari even likes him. The only negative we can find is his feet. One front hoof is a little longer than the other and his feet are pretty rough. It’s probably because previous owners shod him themselves. We’re going to have our farrier out to check his feet. He could also use a little weight, which is something we could work on quite easily.

So at this point, we favor both Cash AND Romeo. I wish we could buy them both. We’ll see what we can do. I still plan to ask to take Romeo on a longer ride but we know his history and reputation so I’m less concerned with testing him out. I know he’s a good horse.

BTW, my shirt in this picture says “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway,” a John Wayne quote. Thanks for the shirt, honey 🙂

The hunt is on – candidate 1
The hunt is on – candidate 2
The hunt is on – candidate 3
The hunt is on – candidate 4 (this post)

The hunt is on – candidate 3

The hunt is on – candidate 3

Romeo is officially candidate number three. He’s owned by a neighbor who really doesn’t want to sell him but has moved on to a more powerful horse. Romeo is an 8 year old appaloosa gelding, about 14 HH and is well-behaved and rideable by anyone. Mikki and I spent a few hours checking him out and riding him. I rode him in fields, across bridges on pavement, through the woods, up hills, etc. and the ride, although a little slow, was easy and enjoyable. When I wanted him to go, he galloped with a little prodding. Romeo can plow and neck reign, can be ridden bareback, has been ridden double and triple and has even barrel raced, with ribbons to prove it. He has a clean bill of health, uses our same farrier and is in good shape from being ridden almost everyday. So I’d say he’s a strong candidate and probably our forerunner. I think I only snapped one picture of him without an identifiable human in it (below).

So even though he’s a little small and the asking price is a little higher than I wanted to go, maybe Romeo is the right horse. He’s a horse I could build my confidence on, break into some amateur barrel racing for fun and enjoy while I’m working on my project horse, Moonshine. And if I outgrew him, he’d be perfect for the Kid.

Plus we almost have a romance theme going in our barn. We’d have Romeo and Valentine. Moonshine might need to be renamed Juliet!

The hunt is on – candidate 1
The hunt is on – candidate 2
The hunt is on – candidate 3 (this post)
The hunt is on – candidate 4

Horse Search Update

Horse Search Update

Candidates 1 and 2 have both been ridden by our horse friend, Shari. I trust her opinion and because of that, we’ve decided to eliminate candidate 2, “Misty”. She’s a beautiful horse but spooks somewhat easily and hasn’t been ridden in three years. She doesn’t seem to know much and other than her awesome natural gait, which is quite special, can’t seem to keep any particular pace. And I don’t have the time for another project horse. Man, she’s beautiful. Oh well.

Candidate 1, “Snowball” is still a possibility but Shari thinks we can do better. So we’ll keep looking. I don’t want to rush, after all.

The hunt is on – candidate 2

The hunt is on – candidate 2

Yesterday we went to look at candidate 2 in our hunt for a new horse. This time we looked at “Misty”, a 7 year old (her birthday is today!) spotted Tennessee Walking Horse. She’s quite beautiful. Unfortunately although I took a ton of photos while we were there, the one below is best. She’s on the right. The filly on her left is hers. Her owner feels he’s too old for his horses now and he has a disease that impairs his balance. In fact he told us a story of how he fell down a hill on his farm and couldn’t walk on one of his legs. Misty came to investigate and put her head down so he could grab on while she slowly pulled him up. She then walked slowly back to the barn while he leaned on her.

So here are the pros and cons:


1) She seems to be gentle
2) She’s beautiful – spotted like a paint with a multi-colored tail, mane and hooves. Her mane is almost twice as long as Valentine’s.
3) Her owner is a pretty well known TWH trainer, though he hasn’t been doing much these last few years due to his age and health.


1) She’s not registered, though the owner has her notes so maybe it can still be done. I don’t know enough about the process.
2) She’s FAT. Apparently she’s not pregnant but she clearly is a chunky monkey. The owners wife says he feeds her twice a day and their pasture is beautiful so maybe she’s just eating too much. I just want to make sure her weight isn’t indicative of a health problem.
3) She’s been ridden but not in a few years. Our friend Shari is going to ride her this week for us. I don’t really need another project horse.

We plan on riding Misty and Snowball this week, once the hay has been put up. It’s going to be near 100 today in east Tennessee and it’s quite humid. Hopefully it’ll cool down some before we ride.

So what do you think of Misty?

We also bought a horse trailer this weekend! We’ve been busy! I think Mikki is writing up something about that so expect to hear about it in a day or two.

The hunt is on – candidate 1
The hunt is on – candidate 2 (this post)
The hunt is on – candidate 3
The hunt is on – candidate 4

The hunt is on – candidate 1

The hunt is on – candidate 1

Since Sinbad left, we’re in need of a new backup horse. I have to admit, I’m still nervous about riding Moonshine so I need another horse to ride until we figure out what to do with her. This is a great time to be a horse buyer because the combination of the closure of the slaughterhouses and the high price of hay from last year has led to a lot of owners selling. Of course, that’s not good for horse owners who are strapped for cash or have too many horses. If you’ve been reading our blog, you realize we’re the kind of horse owners who have trouble getting rid of horses. So this next horse has got to be a keeper and for that we’re willing to spend some time looking. So far we’ve found some sellers in our area with beautiful horses that we could practically get for free, but we’re not jumping in too fast this time.

So what am I looking for? I want a horse 15 years old or younger that’s easy to ride and not aggressive. I’m embarrassed to say this but looks matter. If I’m going to be stuck with this beast for my ridable life, I want it to look good to help me look good. I need all the help I can get. A solid black to match Valentine or a solid white to contrast him, would be nice. I love colored paints, too. Besides that I’m not sure if I want a gaited horse or not. It would be nice to have another Tennessee Walking Horse so Mikki and I could ride at the same gait and learn together. But I really like the smoother cantor and trot of non-gaited horses.

A search of Craigslist revealed candidate 1. I will call her “Snowball” (I would find a new name if she’s the chosen one). Snowball is a 3 year old cremello Tennessee Walking Horse, about 15 HH. She has a gentle disposition and was easy to ride, obeying all of my commands on a hair-trigger. I didn’t have to force her to do anything, except when I tried to pull her away from the gate at feeding time. She’s cremello in color and not albino. Apparently albinos have gene issues. Cremellos aren’t actually white but the color looks white. I think Snowball would make a nice addition to our herd and she seems easy to ride. Here are my concerns with her:

1) She’s a mare and we already have a strong-headed mare in our pasture. With no paddocks, we have no way to separate them if they decide to kill each other. Also, some mares, like Moonshine, don’t like to be touched or ridden when in season.
2) She’s not a registered TWH. I don’t plan on showing her or breeding her but if things didn’t work out and we wanted to sell her one day, lack of registration could make her less attractive.
3) She’s young, though she doesn’t seem too spirited. It’s hard to tell with one visit, though.

So she’s on the list. We’ll be back to ride her more and if she’s the one, we’ll work something out where she could be returned to the current owner if there are problems within the first week or two. She’s kinda pretty, huh?

The hunt is on – candidate 1 (this post)
The hunt is on – candidate 2
The hunt is on – candidate 3
The hunt is on – candidate 4

Upcoming posts…or not

Upcoming posts…or not

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Someone once said “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I’m chock full of good intentions but apparently not always very good at seeing them through. What you don’t see when you read this blog is all of the posts we’ve started but not finished. Mikki has a couple but I have 38. Thirty-eight! I know this because WordPress, the software we use to maintain this blog, reminds me every time I write a new post. So I thought it might be fun to list my unfinished posts to give you an idea what I’m working on. I plan on finishing every one, even though some of them are outdated already. For instance, “What Valentine is Getting for Christmas”. But maybe, just maybe by listing them here I’ll be just a little more likely to finish them soon. I can only hope.

So here’s my list of posts I’ve started but not finished, in order from newest to oldest:

1) Daily barn clothes – we all have them and some of us have good clothes that ended up becoming barn clothes the hard way
2) What Valentine is Getting for Christmas – I was going to share a secret with you guys about what I was getting Mikki and Valentine for Christmas.
3) Quick tie knot – years ago we saw someone tie this cool knot with a lead rope. It’s quick and easy to do and is easy to untie for the human but not for the horse. I want to explain the know and I think we even have a video showing how to do it.
4) Cinch tying – there is probably some fancy equine term for this but when you tighten the cinch, there’s a special “through the rabbit hole” technique. If you don’t do it a lot, it’s easy to forget. So for your sake and mine, I’m describing it here.
5) Horses – They’re Just Like Us! – this is a horse-owner spin on a feature one of the celebrity magazines does called “Stars – They’re Just Like Us!” I realized one day there are a lot of similarities between horses and humans.
6) Salt Lick Art – one day while watering the horses (why do we call it that, anyway?) I saw an interesting shape in the salt lick. Maybe I should have tried to sell it on eBay but instead I decided to write something about it. Since then I’ve discovered some other salt lick “artists”. You can find anything on the internet.
7) Miniature guide horses – I believe this was inspired by an article I saw about miniature horses being used as guide animals. We normally think of dogs in this role but why not a miniature horse?
8) Horse starved to death – owner arrested – an article about this sad case in Arizona made me wonder what would cause someone to allow their horse to starve to death. As terrible as it sounds, I wonder if the owner just became overwhelmed and didn’t really intend harm on the animal. Not an excuse, just a possible explanation.
9) We have a round pen! – A horse friend had an extra one and is lending it to us for an extended period of time. This opens up some great training opportunities.
10) Dead horses in the streets – A morbid title, I know, but I read an account about how common this sight was 100 years ago and it struck me how things have changed in 100 years. It also reminded me of how people sometimes view animals differently than others.
11) Horse decorations – we bought a neat horse decoration for the barn at the World’s Longest Yard Sale last year and it made me wonder how prevalent horse decorations are in homes and barns.
12) Cross fence – It’s time to restrict grazing in our pasture. This is a discussion of our options for fencing.
13) Junkyard Horse – We often pass by a fenced lot filled with junk parts and apparently repossessed mobile homes. Inside the fence is not a doberman but a horse.
14) Stock Tank Secret – With warmer weather comes green fuzzies in the big water buckets. Does this product help keep the water fresh?
15) Using Shredded Newspaper as Bedding – Inspired by an article I saw on the subject. Could this be a good horse bedding alternative?
16) The wisdom of pranking horse friends – The locally infamous story of how I pranked a good horse friend. It involves bigfoot.
17) We need a slide pole – After building a hay loft in our main barn, it occurred to me a fireman slide pole might be fun.
18) Adding a hay loft – With hay seasons being unpredictable each year, we find it wise to store hay when the price and quality is good. So we added a hay loft.
19) Mane length – We’ve seen short and long manes and wondered why.
20) Uses for hay bale twine – We have so much hay bale twine around from feeding square bales, there must be something we can do with it.
21) Trauma from horse injury – A neighbor fell off of her horse and experienced head trauma that could have been avoided.
22) My first saddle – I went with a cheap saddle to start off with, mostly because I was short on cash at the time. I’ll discuss whether that was a good idea or not.
23) Manure Management System – Part 1 – With two and sometimes three horses, we need a way to manage all the manure daily, weekly, monthly. Includes info on aerated composting.
24) New Shoes? No Thanks – One of our horses isn’t always keen on shoeing time.
25) Barn Music – What we listen to and a request for feedback on what you listen to in the barn.
26) Hobby Farms Magazine – A review of one of the horse/farm magazines we receive.
27) Horse Feed Storage – Protecting Your Supply – How do we keep bugs and varmints away from expensive horse feed?
28) Selecting Oats – Supplemental Feed – What do our horses need besides hay to keep them healthy
29) All the Pretty Horses – The book, the movie and…the song
30) Managing a hobby farm without a tractor – We don’t own a tractor so here’s what we do instead
31) Getting ready for winter mud – Started just before winter, a look-forward to the months of yucky mud and how we planned to deal with it.
32) Annual Vaccinations for Horses – Why it’s important, how much it costs, etc.
33) Who’s the Boss? – Establishing pasture boss…every day.
34) Drought and our dry, brown pasture – Last year was rough. The drought hit our pasture hard.
35) Tack Room Security – How do we keep thousands of dollars in tack secure.
36) New Product Idea: Horse Snorkel – A fun idea I had upon observing Valentine drink.
37) How to Make Horse Toys – Horse toys don’t have to be store-bought or expensive.
38) About Our Barn – Some info on our three-horse barn.

Whew, that’s a long list! So you see, I have plenty to write about, I just need to finish these posts and find appropriate photos to go with them. Thanks for your patience and for continue to checkout!

Sinbad Leaves

Sinbad Leaves

Stupid horses. I get too attached to animals and I thought this day might come. Sinbad was a loaner horse and from the beginning I realized he wasn’t mine. In fact, I called him my backup horse since Moonshine is my main horse. Sinbad is old, reliable and super easy to ride. But by the time most of you read this, he’ll be gone. His owner had promised him to a girl who didn’t have a fenced pasture or run-in barn yet. She finally finished those projects and now it’s time for Sinbad to move there.

On the positive side, some girl is probably having trouble sleeping tonight in anticipation of her new horse. Perhaps he’ll be ridden more and will enjoy all the attention. And we’ll never get to see him die. But we’re really going to miss that old horse and we’re all feeling pretty sad today.

I took about a million pictures of him in the past few days. Most of these won’t mean anything to anyone except us but in case you’d like to see my little Sinbad retrospective, below is a small slideshow.


So now what, you might ask. Well, we’re on the lookout for another backup horse. One we would actually own so he/she doesn’t have to leave someday. There are some good candidates in the area. Time to make some phone calls, set up some appointments and test drives. Maybe a gaited horse would be a good idea since Valentine is gaited as well. And maybe a gelding this time, so I can avoid some of the mare-related problems we experience with Moonshine.

Have you ever had to give back a horse you got attached to? Please share your story. BTW, we always read every comment, even though we don’t always reply.

Thanks for sympathizing.

And On a Much Lighter Note…

And On a Much Lighter Note…

Mini FoalIsn’t this just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? This is a miniature horse foal, born on Wednesday. It was a difficult birth, and her mama didn’t have any milk for her, and the owners had to leave town on urgent business, so the vet brought her back to the office where we’ve been bottle-feeding her. She’s thriving so far, so we have high hopes. She’s about 14″ high at the withers, and her mama’s maybe 6 inches taller than that.

If we weren’t all full up on animals at our house, I’d bring her home. She is adorable.

More Details on Moonshine’s Accident

More Details on Moonshine’s Accident

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Here’s some clarification.  First of all, we didn’t have a contract with the trainer – he’s not that kind of trainer.  We live in the country, and it’s a country kind of thing – agreements on a handshake and all.  Believe it or not, I’m pretty comfortable with that, at least in this case.  He’s a nice guy who’s very good with horses and up to this point, he’s done a really good job with Moonshine and with Pistol, our friend Shari’s 3-year-old filly who was there all month too.  He’s completely torn up about this incident and in fact is offering to pay for all damages.  We’ll probably come to some sort of agreement about that.  Again, the country way.

So what happened is this.  Lance was trail riding Moonshine this morning.  He has ridden her every day, at first just inside the arena and paddocks, but as he got more comfortable with her, he started taking her out on trails on his property.  It’s unclear exactly where he was riding her today, but for the last several days she has been no trouble at all, so he was comfortable riding her on open trails.  He came across a neighbor and stopped to chat.  The neighbor was not on horseback, so Lance dismounted and tied Moonshine, possibly to a tree.  She stood quietly while they chatted, as she always has for us too.  Then she suddenly, for no reason he could discern, went berserk.  Before he could grab her she had broken the reins and started bucking like a wild bronco.  Again, she has never done that.  Up till now, her problem – and only when being ridden – was “crow-hopping,” a kind of half-buck.  She nearly ran him over; bucked to the fence, where he thought she was going to go through it; stopped at the fence then continued bucking in another direction, down the driveway where she started half-running, half-bucking toward the road.  He ran after her at a dead run (so she must have been going at a pretty good clip) but she made it to the road, where she ran into a moving car.  The car did not hit her, she hit it.  On the passenger side.  Lance knew the woman, who stopped and talked to him.  She “knows someone” who does body work and says she’ll do it cheap.  A $400 figure was bandied about.  We’ll see on that, I guess.

As for Moonshine, she has a small abrasion on her left hip; she ripped a shoe off (the nails ripped right out, leaving tears in the hoof but the soft structures appear to be okay).  There is no heat or swelling anywhere on her body, so far.  She seems to be a bit shaken but okay.  Lance wasn’t there when we came by to see her tonight, but his mother was keeping an eye on her while he was gone.  She thought he would probably be staying with her in the barn all night.  He has a supply of meds and our vet’s number – she sees all his horses too (on a side note, I’m now working for our vet; I’ve been there 2 1/2 weeks now.  It’s sure a good connection to have at the moment).

We’ll update you tomorrow, once the vet has seen her and her condition is more clear.  Thanks for all your kind thoughts!

Stallions, Mares and Geldings

Stallions, Mares and Geldings

Mare and foalThere are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a horse, and one that people don’t always think of is gender. We have two geldings and a mare, and I’m happy to share our inexpert opinion with you. We love our mare, but I would say this: if you don’t want a lot of headaches, chose a gelding.

Stallions, of course, are notoriously difficult. Without doing a lot of research on why, I’m guessing it’s the testosterone. Having a stallion in your barn, especially if he will be around mares (either at home or at trails, shows, etc.), is a challenge for even an experienced horse owner. They can be aggressive, domineering and hard to control. It takes a firm hand to keep a stallion under control.

Mares…I know people who won’t own a mare because they are such a pain. What makes them such a pain? The months of March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October…longer if you live somewhere warm. Warm weather brings a mare into season. And if you think women can be moody and B I _ _ _ Y (well, this is a family show, let’s say “cranky”); a female horse can teach most women a thing or two about moody and cranky. Like women, mares vary in how they react to their “time of the month.” With some, you can hardly tell. With others (Moonshine!), you wonder where your sweet little horse went. Moonshine is irritable, doesn’t like to be touched and if there are male horses around, she has only one thing on her mind, and it’s not trail riding. Our poor geldings: when she met each of them, she had high hopes. She acted a coquette for days, being as sweet as could be. That is, until she figured out they weren’t going to be able to help her. Then she was just a witchy thing, snapping and kicking and bossing them around. Of course, she goes through the same thing whenever she encounters a new male. The last time we tried to ride her, she was in season and there was a new potential suitor in the vicinity; her mind was elsewhere. So mares can be very sweet, but sometimes not. Both in the same horse. Sometimes in the same day.

And that leaves geldings. Life is so much easier without all those hormones. (As the mother of a former teenager and one about to enter his teenage years, I know what I’m talking about.) That’s a very simplistic view, of course; all horses are different and they can have many, many issues separate from the chemicals that may or may not be racing through their bodies. But starting with a blank slate, so to speak, can sure make things easier.

That’s my two cents. What do you all think? Mares, geldings, stallions, no preference?