"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tractor Supply

We turned the girls out Tuesday in their semi-private turnout, and this was the first 10 minutes:

Lily found the MUDDIEST parts of that small field to roll in. Over and over and over. Both sides. Of course I had turned her out naked because it was supposed to be in the 50's during the day...
Jez, who very rarely rolls in mud, outdid herself too-by the time she was done, her pretty red blanket was clay-colored!

My favorite part was when the girls decided to go splashing and pawing in the mud hole by the water trough (these are the two mares that insist they are afraid of water and mud, by the way...), and the 4 studly boys next door lined up on their side of the fence (there is a walk way between the two paddocks-the horses can't even touch noses), extending their necks out and watching attentively. It was HYSTERICAL. Like men watching girls mud wrestling...I made a crack about Lily's and Jez's milkshake bringing the boys to the yard. Lol!

The milkshake..I mean, mudshake, caused quite a stir; the geldings next door started arguing over who would get to stand by the fence to watch the girls roll in the mud, which turned into lots of galloping, which in turn made the boys in the far field also start galloping. The guys continued to run around in circles long after Lily and Jezebel had settled down. (We figured out that if we threw some hay out for them, Jezebel would stop to eat, and thus so would Lily.) Sally and I had to walk over to their paddocks and call them over to get them to stop galloping like madmen. After that, all was quiet.


We hung around for an hour or so, just to make sure that the girls stayed calm. We had the opportunity of testing BQ's theory that if the herd stampeded to the lower field (adjoining the mares' paddock), Lily and Jez would run the fence line. They did not. They just hung out by the fence, and their friends from the main herd came over to say hi and ask why were they on the other side of the fence (you should've seen their faces of bewilderment). Harpo, the new pony (he's a retired therapeutic horse) and Lily's most recent boyfriend, stayed by the fence with his new sidekick Arrow (a horse in his late 20's who suffered from a broken pelvis a long time ago) long after the other horses had meandered back to the upper field.

Sally and I decided to make the trip to Tractor Supply.

Our first week back at the beginning of November, I was still waiting for all of my horse stuff to arrive in the U-Box, as I had nothing to groom my mare with or pick her feet, and I had decided to take a hike to the Tractor Supply in Leesburg, VA. I figured, "Ok, so this is a part of VA that's next to MD, so it should be close to home." (This is when we were first living in Alexandria.)


I had left the barn and been driving for 40 minutes, and my surroundings were getting more and more remote-I was quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Darkness was falling, and this was back during deer season (I developed a phobia of deer at night-I was terrified I'd hit one), and still my GPS wasn't indicating that I was anywhere near civilization. I flipped ahead on the thing's directions to see when exactly would we be arriving anywhere, and realized that I was going to have to take a ferry to get to Leesburg. Uh...no. I looked at the map on the GPS for the first time, and that's when I realized that VA actually wraps around 2 sides of MD. Leesburg might not be that far from the barn mile-wise, but it was far, faaaar away from Alexandria!

I later learned that that ferry is Whites Ferry. Whenever a horse needs surgery at the equine hospital in Leesburg, they hop on the ferry to get there, as it is the shortest route.

Whites Ferry

I kept on driving trying to find a place where I could turn around, and found myself in the little town of Poolesville. I pulled off the road by a paint shop and turned around in the parking lot...and discovered there was an equestrian shop there! It was a tiny place called All About Equestrian. And not only that, it was still open!

I raided the store for all sorts of grooming stuff, and lingered as much as I could, then got in the car and drove home. It took me over an hour to get home.

So that was my failed Tractor Supply adventure that day. This time, we went to the one in Mount Airy, which Sally had gone to several times. It was only a 30 minute drive, but we went past several horse farms, houses with acreage, hay fields and corn fields. The town of Mount Airy is beautiful-it feels like a real country town, but it is clean and well kept, and there is lots of space.

We finally arrived at the Tractor Supply, and I was like a kid in a candy store. Especially when I heard the chicks cheeping! I figured maybe it was a recording, but then we found them:

They had like 6 metal troughs with incandescent lights, and chicks of different type hens in each one. They also had ducklings. The sound of them cheeping away and the smell of their growth meal took me back home to the island, when my brother and I raised our own chickens growing up. We kept them in our grandfather's backyard, where we'd converted a horse stall into a chicken coop. They roamed the yard during the day, and slept in the "coop" at night. Lucero, who lived in the other stall in the yard, would chase them out of his stall, which I always thought was funny. We had chickens, ducks and geese from the time I was 11 until I was 23, when the last ones remaining died. All of them had names, quite a few of them had stories (the black hen named Ramona that lived to be a good 10 years old, from the original batch of chicks my grandfather got us; the colored Easter chick that we took over from a little boy at my brother's school who couldn't keep her at home, and she grew up to be one of the biggest, fattest hens I've ever seen; the two rumptailed hens we were given by one of our neighbors-both of them were the only hens in 13 years to give us chicks, and one of those chicks lived on to be our main rooster, etc, etc), and we were quite attached to them.

I yanked myself away from them now, before I ended up bringing a few home and insisting we could keep them in a cage in our apartment balcony... Good thing we don't have a backyard!!

We were in there for hours. We were able to find almost everything on our shopping lists. Among a few other things, I got 2 bags of super-fine shavings for when I do Lily's stall on Sundays (the guys get Sundays off; boarders are allowed to clean their stalls themselves on Sundays), a rubber ground feeder, and a bag of Standlee T&A hay cubes, so I can give her an extra meal when I'm at the barn. I prefer Ontario Dehy, which is now owned by Triple Crown, but Standlee is a decent brand. The one drawback is that apparently some of their stuff is really high in iron. I might eventually talk to BQ about ordering hay cubes from the barn feed supplier, since they have the whole Triple Crown line.

Back at the barn, I brought in my uber-muddy mare from the turnout.

She looks half-way decent in this photo...

...but the mud was PLASTERED to her coat, and ground into her back, neck and thighs.

I gave Lily a handful of cubes soaked in warm water, and she scarfed while I attempted to get all of the mud off and tacked up.

Maybe with this routine, she'll start looking forward to me bringing her in...

We rode in the indoor for about 30 minutes-a fairly short workout for us, but I asked a lot more of her. Lines had to be straight, and her head had to be turned slightly to the inside at walk, trot and canter. No more wiggling when going down the far long side of the arena. She was to go straight and stay on the rail. We did 3-track and 4-track shoulder-in at walk and trot, then cantered. Her canter felt odd, but I was riding in the Alta Escuela, so maybe it was discomfort from the saddle? We didn't canter much because of this. Her trot, however, was forward, with lengthened strides-not short and choppy like she wants to be sometimes, and she was seeking contact with the bit on her own. We rode in a frame about 80% of the ride-really nice!

Afterwards, since it was still warm enough that I hadn't had to put my jacket back on, I pulled our new real cooler out of its bag in my locker, and set up all of my bathing supplies in the wash stall. Yes, I gave her a bath. A partial bath, as I only did her neck, shoulders, rump, tail and legs, but a bath nonetheless. I scrubbed all of the mud off her face, neck and legs, then rinsed her off with warm water from the hose. She didn't seem terribly pissed off about it. I then threw her cooler on (it has a neck attachment with a loop that is threaded through the halter to hold it up) to keep the front part of her body warm while I did her back end. Then she got all wrapped up and put back in her stall with her dinner, while I puttered around cleaning tack and tidying up, waiting for her to dry.

Well, with her shaggy winter coat, it took a good 3 hours for her to dry off. When her cooler was fully wet, I toweled her dry as much as I could, then switched out the cooler for her Tuffrider Stable Blanket, which also doubles as a cooler. When that was wet, she was finally mostly dry. It was 9:00 pm by then. I brushed her down, and put her lined sheet on for the night.

She might be getting a trace clip soon...