Friday, December 17, 2010

Is Zat YOU Santa Claus?

I plan on a couple of killer posts to come back from my bloggy hiatus SOON! I have been having a BLAST with Jackson! Wait till you hear all we are doing NOW! I think with over 1,000 pics to weed through, I have become overwhelmed! Until then, myself ,and MY special Santa--who brings me all of life's greatest gifts-- wish you a simple, peaceful Christmas with your loved ones-- furry and human!
Mindy & Jackson/Santa

Monday, September 20, 2010

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park

Parking lot of trailers...and two had just pulled out
Four hour ride yesterday. Seriously the longest and most strenuous Jackson and I have done in awhile, we were both beat by the end, but WOW this State Park is to die for! Pretty much attached to Sawhorse Farm it is 7,000 acres of well marked horse and bike trails. And the horse trails are JUST for the horses! Nice. People trailer in to ride here, but we have our own personal gate, how awesome is that? When my friend who I came to stay with here in Florida heard that the farm borders this park, her mouth dropped open, and her comment was just, "Wow, that's incredible." Now I know what all the hoopla is about. It really is! We ambled about, trotting alot, and the footing is great on most of the trails. You can pretty much find sand or grass with packed sand beneath it. We did find probably one of the crappiest trails in the park at one point, and it was loaded with tree roots, but MAN, there is NO rock. My barefoot horse says, "YES!" On most of the trails you can ride side by side. It was kind of funny at one point. Jackson was just doing his ground covering trot, and Bugs the Morgan was cantering beside us at the same speed. I have officially decided that I hate my Australian saddle, and will trail ride in my flat jumping saddle from now on. I can't handle the way the Aussie throws me out of position. It may be my particular saddle, or the fact that I just am an English rider and can't handle the loss of contact either. Anyhow, next ride will be back in my Bates Caprilli. Enjoy the pics, not many great ones, I only took a few. I was quite absorbed in the forest!
Off-roadin' it on horseback! :)

                                             Can you spot the bridge?

I am looking forward to getting myself in better shape, and I'm actually very surprised that I am not more sore today! I guess riding four days a week is already working on me. The sand and the hills are excellent conditioning for the horses. There are areas of grass with sand underneath, and areas where its ankle deep and white like at the beach. Yeah. Can you tell I'm super excited about the footing? Sorry. Texas rock was harsh! There are going to be many rides in this park, I can't wait!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Walking the walk...

So, I mentioned in my previous post that Florida is going to be more riding, less talk, and I suppose this is applying to my blog too. But really, I'm having so much fun in my little horsey world, I haven't had the time to blog, haven't been taking pictures, nada. Riding? OH YES! Jackson and I are jumping, practicing in the arena, and conditioning for endurance rides on lots of lovely trailrides in some of God's country, no joke. It is so darn beautiful and the footing is to die for! Lots of new cantering, which is our big  deal, (or mine) he will still occasionally stop on the forehand and lean on his bit, he isn't sure what's up yet. That is on the flat when we are out with another horse. When we jump, he comes out of the jumps with a beautiful canter that I can ride all the way around the jumping arena with a smile plastered on my face. I figure the bit leaning and the ultra stops on the forehand are due to, (no not me) but the fact that we are riding with a fast (let's race!) Morgan, and they are feeding off of each other. Jackson was bred for speed and gets really mad at me sometimes when I won't let him GOOO! As in racing on the way home, go. Then I have to remind him that he is not the Black Stallion, and I am not his boy! ;) As long as I know what's up, I'm good, but I'm not ready to gallop yet! :) Especially home!  Lots of things to do in this area, ACTHA competetive trail ride in the first part of October and in November, little jumping schooling show in October, hunter derbies (which I really am amped about), and at some point, a nice 25 mile endurance ride to enjoy with Jackson's Morgan buddy, perhaps further later on, but we gotta get everyone in condition, including the humans! Kathy, my BO also has lots of obstacles that we've been working at here and there. Yesterday was a big piece of rubber on the ground. The black contrast against the grass was NOT OK. So I got down and led him across it, and it was if he said, "Oh! That's all this is? OK!" Honestly, he is usually like this with most things except for dogs. He had a bad experience in Texas with some dogs attacking him, and the other night did a nice crow hop when the BO's poodle ran right at him. I stayed on, he regained his composure, and all was well. I can't say that I will ever blame him for not totally holding it together with a dog running straight at him, I don't know that I would! I'm still feeding the 28 horses three nights a week-- I truly enjoy it. Too bad real life steps in or I'd never leave the barn! :) The feedings, mucking, and watering has gotten my upper arms pretty ripped really fast! I have definition in my upper body that hasn't (ahem) been there in longer than I will admit. Even the chicken fat under my arms is gone. Downside: the pain in my left shoulder never really goes away, (broke it 3 years ago--cantering my green thing) but I just keep moving, doing, and popping Ibuprofen and an excellent herbal remedy my friend turned me onto. So update. I'M WALKING THE WALK in the riding realm! Next: finding the proper jumping instructor. Interview time! Yesterday one came out who is recommended by an Olympic medalist in the area. She looked to be twelve. But looks can be deceiving. Still. I like older instructors. I just feel like they've been there, done that. By older, I mean my age-ish or greater. But hey. She may work out just fine. I'd rather take the Olympic medalist, but probably couldn't afford her, and where we are now, she would be stupid or desperate to take us on...  :O) Happy fall riding everyone! It's going to be SUPERB! Various pics I stole from Kathy my BO cause I've been too focused on feeding, mucking, and riding! Lots of pics of the obstacles she has available, and these are only a few. She has this contraption that you use to teach horses how to push which prepares police horses to become comfortable with pushing through crowds that is really interesting!

 This is the people mover. (I forget the real name!) This is Kasi and Cash at a State Hwy. Patrol event learning how to effectively push through a crowd! We have one at Sawhorse Farm, I call it the ZAMBONI!
Bugs, Jackson's trail buddy
My jumping buddies Katie and Sonny

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jubilant Are My Feet--He's HERE!!

My new barn...
Standing at the gate, giving me the eye. I'm driving the Rhino with dinner. "Mom, WHY aren't I FIRST?"
Only locked in to eat. Otherwise he has an open door policy per my request... A horse should be a horse, OF COURSE! :)
Tack room and wash rack. One of three.
I promised a post on the new barn, and MOST importantly, Jackson's arrival--here it is! Jackson arrived Monday night around 8:30 pm. Due to the driver thinking my BO had contacted me of his imminent arrival, and vice versa, I was not there! I was so upset, but he was very well taken care of, and the driver was superb. He had been calling me frequently, giving me updates, and was very good with the horses, their care, and his rig was top of the line--this was reported to me by Linda who was there for his pick-up, and Kathy, who received him. Circle S Transport. Would use him again. He stopped to sleep, took the horses out of the trailer to clean it and give them breaks, a consummate professional, for sure. Insured, licensed, with lots of testimonials.... I was surprised not to have heard from him. Mix-up. Oh well. So by 9:30 pm I drove out to the farm, figuring I would catch him as he arrived. Kathy, the owner of the farm, had called to tell me where he would be put for a couple of days, (normal isolation) with a  huge pasture and large stall of his own to get acclimated. So, I drug my buddy out with me, and in the pitch black started making my way to the barn with a tiny flashlight until I could reach the barn lights. I just headed for the place she was putting him, and when I arrived at the gate--and, BOY, was I slow to get it--I realized his halter and long lead with the leather popper at the end were hanging there! I did about three double takes, looking at this equipment. I was in shock. The halter is very one of a kind, and there defintely weren't any look alikes at the barn. I knew this for sure, as I had been working there three days a week for three weeks, but my mind was NOT getting it. Until it did. So I tried to open the gate, and despite the fact that they are made for dummies, could not get it open. So I launched myself over it, chanting "Jackson?, Jackson?" the entire time. So, I face planted OVER the gate. The girl who routinely goes over fences and gates rather than bother with the latches and chains, etc., was SO excited, that I totally got over, albeit FACE and right hand first--NICE set of scrapes on the palm that caught my fall. No stopping, already up and running, shining my flashlight. Then I heard his knicker to me. OH JOY! I found him already making friends with his new barn mates over the fence at the far end of the one acre plot. I grabbed him in the biggest hug EVER, and did not let go for several minutes. Ummm. Yes, there were tears--of JOY! He was a bit sweaty, but looked great. Of course, I got his lead on him to show him off to my friend (also a Kathy, not to be confused with the BO)! She seems to have a way with horses, he took to her right away. He can be aloof with strangers! I could tell he was adjusting from the trip, wondering where he was, and relieved to see me! :) He was given electrolytes the day before, and during the trip--he can be a worrisome drinker-- and hay only the day before, during the trip, and that night. The next morning he was started on his feed. He is doing great with the Seminole Feed (a very popular local brand made in Ocala, FL), and is now back on his ground flax seed, along with an added hoof supplement and electrolytes. Tasted the electrolytes. Salt. Apple flavored as advertised? NO, not so much! ;) Kathy uses a bit of corn oil to get it to all stick together, and it works! No more NOT buying what he needs cause it will be found in the bottom of the bucket! I am a strong advocate of ground flax seed, less sure about hoof supplements and the electrolytes. Too many opinions, placating horse owners--and making money off of them--is frequently the basis of the supplement industry. But shiny, shiny, shiny on the flax! One of the things that cemented in just how much Kathy cares about ALL her horses was the fact that they all get a piece or two of carrot with every feeding. Lots of BO's would only be concerned about their own horses, but nope. Each and every horse gets a bit of carrot, every feeding. Pampered? Yes, these horses are pampered.YAY! My boy deserves it, and I couldn't be more thrilled knowing that Kathy is looking out for his well-being when I'm not there! I have already ridden a few times, nothing big, just getting Jacks acclimated to all there is to see. Last night I enjoyed an invite from Kathy to join in on a dinner party, and watching her eight month old Golden Retriever Harley in the pool--which is totally inside a screened in porch, along with a bar--playing with his ball and launching himself into the pool, was the best entertainment. Her husband is a Mounted State Highway Patrol Officer, and seemed to enjoy BBQ'ing--also safe from bugs in the pool compound--and making us all yummy margaritas! I was also able to thank Hailey, the girl who gave me Kathy's number at the local feed store, and to meet Bette who owns a horse she boards on the premises. Kathy has invited me to accompany her and Bette on an ACTHA camping trip in October, and then another in November! The answer was, of course, an emphatic "YES", and I am looking forward to the experience, not to mention the fun and comraderie. I LOVE horse camping! So, enjoy the pics, the jumping arena is not exactly what I envision in the future, (let's hope I get past 2'3!) but for now--and I'm sure for longer than I would like-- is just fine! I say this only because there are not that many jumps--not so much the height, I probably won't ever get super high--but, eventually I will need bounces, a full course, etc. I can keep costs down by building my own jumps when the time comes! (With permission of course!:) And honestly, those of you who know me will be VERY surprised to note that I haven't even been out there to check out the jumps, what is really there, or how high they will go! Not because I don't want to, but it has been SO hot, we have had rain and thunderstorms like CRAZY! Oh, Florida! Not to mention that every bit of energy has so far been expended on learning how to properly take care of 30 horses in the way I would want my own taken care of! Add riding Jackson around the farm to acclimate him to, ummm, LOTS of new horses; the jumping area hasn't been the priority! We were cantering in the round pen the other day, and he actually BUCKED to show off to the others! I just gave him a swift kick, and onward we went, but I was cracking up. Kind of. Those of you who know my history, know that cantering has been a big thang--lost my nerve big time after a broken shoulder and lots of internal damage three + years ago!-- so I pulled the big girl britches back up, they had started to melt down to my shins--and kept cantering! I'm a bit proud that this was on our first ride at the farm, but it wasn't a huge workout and we just kind of fell into it in the round pen! :) Tomorrow night's endeavor is the jumping arena, and popping over a couple of lil' uns. I am looking forward to the lessons I will be with Ursula (Ushi), a beautifully accomplished rider from Austria. Jumping. Dressage too, as I need the "schooling" on my greenie. But I do admit it. I just want to jump, and trail ride--had to be perfectly honest--but I know the dressage helps a TON! I don't have dressage aspirations--not really--but I love how much it has helped Jackson and I as a team, (greener than grass to start, and still working...) so half dressage, half jumping lessons at first may be perfect!  I just want to be the best rider I can be for my horse, enjoying the ride all the way. I had agenda out the ying yang in Texas--along with a forty minute drive, a fear after breaking my shoulder cantering after I first got him, riding alone, a kiddo, and a full time job too-- I have hereby decided Florida is going to be more ride, less talk. Where is my riding going to go? I dunno. But I bet I have more fun doing it, don't you? By that, I mean I don't have that "Gotta, gotta, gotta, mentalilty. It just will be. So much I want to do. Hunter Derby this fall if I can pull it together, along with the ACTHA camping trips and trail rides spell FUN! And I now have a ten mile drive to my barn! Much betta'! Well, enough babbling. Sorry. I know I'm not that interesting.... But happier than I've been in a long time? FOR SURE! The other day I was mucking a stall, stopped, and said to myself, "Oh, my gosh, I AM HAPPY! This is where I want to be!" It was a great moment. Me and the manure. :)

BUT! I do want it said that Texas has been the impetus for any future I have with my horse. Mainly due to a couple of very good friends--you know who you are!-- and an excellent instructor. Please don't think I am not aware of where OUR roots were started, and the love and encouragement I received! Never forgotten, my friends! And Texas won't be forgotten either--good and bad--but mostly, just cause ya'll were in it, and our paths crossed..... xo....
My chariot. Bugs, the Morgan checking things out--wondering if I remembered his feed--of course I did, Bugzy!.... I took the Rhino up to 34 mph the other day. Bad idea. I removed bugs out of my eyes for an hour afterwards!! :)

I never liked paints that much until I met this absolute Sweetheart. Her name is Pie. I just found out she is for sale. I want my roomie/friend (also Kathy) to buy her! She is INCREDIBLY sweet, and awesome in too many ways to go into here. I think I NEED her! Gotta ride her now. This could be bad.... I have never automatically fallen for a horse like I have for her....

Taz. As in Tazmanian Devil. So fitting. He doesn't know he's a pony! He LOVES kids. And food.
Did I mention the food part? :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Destination Destiny

Gainesville, Florida. YES, I made it! For those of you who may not have known about it--perhaps wondering about the blog, and where I've been--the move and all it entails have been occupying every thought, idea, and ounce of energy I may have had for the past few weeks! I have moved in with one of my best friends who I've known since my Key West days--which is a bit of time--she is such a great gal! AND, I totally lucked out with my new barn. I had been to two places, liked one, and not the other, but the one I really liked had no openings! I got my friend to drive me to the nearest feed store, oftentimes there are bulletin boards with all kinds of listings. Not so here. All AA circuit barns. And none of them as close as I wanted my barn to be.... I walked back into the store and announced to my friend (who knew one of the employees) that all I could find were super expensive barns, mostly in Ocala which is a 30-40 minute drive. Had I put him in Ocala, I would have boarded him at Karen and David O'Connor's boarding barn! Now that is a neat place! But I want my horse closer than that!!! The young girl behind the counter perked up, and told me about her friend Kathy, who is now my new BO! Her acreage backs up onto State Park land, 7,000 acres worth of riding available! She also is very involved in ACTHA--American Competitive Trail Horse Association-- activities and competitions, and has lots of obstacles set up to practice with. Her husband is a mounted Highway Patrolman and she is very involved in search and rescue which I have wanted to start doing since I GOT Jackson! And, yes, there is a jumping and a dressage arena! Hooray! I have already met the barn instructor a few times--she is from Austria--and she teaches it all. Jumping, dressage, you name it! The best part of this, is the fact that I am totally working Jackson's monthly board off by doing the feeding for all 30 horses three evenings a week. I absolutely LOVE it.

Jackson will be here TODAY (Monday) barring unforseen complications, I am SO thrilled about that I was up all night as if awaiting Santa again when I was five! It is only when I see him getting unloaded from the trailer that I am truly going to believe it though!
I will take you through a limited picture montage here, just the house, and it's surrounding environs, and --of course-- my pets! The new barn pics will come in the next post after I get my boy!
Piper P. McPiperson enjoying the Italian couch

Sugar with her "baby"
About 1/2 mile away from the house...

Pond with algae bloom and lily pads!

Swamp with alligators in it!
Portion of my the ceilings. I detest low ceilings!
Does anyone know what type of spider this thing is? Bleeeccchhh!
Part of my mushroom montage. Fascintating to take pics of them!
View in yard when you look up!

Part of my new residence--typical Florida house. Circa 1955!

 Fireplace in my room...

Homegrown Frangapiani. You may know it as Plumeria!