Saturday, August 20, 2016


One of the high school boarders graduated this year, and she left for college last Sunday. So, Saturday all of us regular trail riders met up to enjoy the morning together and have a going away ride with breakfast to follow.

The previous weekend had offered really nice weather in the early morning and we were hoping for more of the same.

I woke up at 5:45 and was at the barn by 6:30. We were trying to beat the heat but that just wasn't going to happen. We had a relapse of hella hot. The same as two weeks prior. My boy was standing under the shed in his night paddock, his neck and shoulders damp with sweat. The sweat was also trickling down my neck and back before I started grooming.

he sweats while doing nothing

I noticed in the pic I posted of my saddle last week that it wasn't sitting quite right on my pony's back. I have an adjustable gullet and fixed that issue pronto. By the time I finished tacking up we were both ready for a sponging. Razz lives at the bottom barn with two other horses whose owners don't come around all that often. I am incredibly thankful that I more or less have this whole barn to myself. It also means that I am in the dark concerning any goings on at the top barn. The rest of the riders came down to meet me as I was putting on my boots and chaps. I only needed to bridle the boy and we were off.

Walking out of the barn I see we are one rider short. The graduate wasn't there. She overslept for her own ride. Turns out she's been really nervous about going off to school and hasn't been sleeping very well, and didn't get to sleep until 4 that morning. 

The rest of us decided we would try to go in the Croatan. It's been several weeks since anyone tried going in there. I knew the trails were still overgrown but after the two prior awesome rides in the sand pits I suppose we all thought mayyybee we could pull it off.

The ride over was uneventful. hot as hell, but uneventful. We went about a half mile into the Croatan before we turned around and came right back out. The trail was really overgrown but I could deal with that. The horses could not deal with the biting flies though. They were all extremely irritated, as they should have been. Razz was hopping up on his front legs just like he would for a buck, but instead of extending his hinds out he tucked them underneath and was smacking his belly to rid himself of insects. I was using my crop to reach under and sweep across his belly in assistance. We got out of there quickly and the bugs left us alone. 

From there we went right back over to the sand pits. It was so much nicer in there. No flies. I don't get it. These are two forests right beside one another, why is one infested and one not? 

OK, so the Croatan might not be you average forest. It's several thousand acres and pretty damn wild in the summer time. The sand pits are about 40 acres and not as thickly overgrown. But they are less than one mile apart with the same wildlife and pine trees that the deer flies and green heads love. 

Ultimately it doesn't matter. We need a place to ride and if the sand pits fit that bill I'll take it. I like it in there anyway. There are traces of the stupid housing development showing up sadly. Not long after I moved Razz up to this barn, the news came out about plans for a gated community with a club house, pool, convenience store, basically everything you need without having to leave the gates. It's to be geared toward military families. This is a huge project that had to be voted on by the town, and water and sewer has to be ran before construction starts. Well, the trees have been blazed with purple paint, orange streamers have been tied to some branches, and little orange flags are appearing staked in the sand. My plans are to move back to the western part of the state next year once my daughter finishes high school, and based on how slow the work is happening I probably won't be here to see them destroy our beloved trails. It is still devastating to all my friends not moving. And the barn owners, I really feel for them. The soybean/corn field that joins the barn property is included in the development. Even though the barn is a really nice facility we have no resident trainer or any kind of program going on, and the boarders board here because of location, location, location. It just won't be as desirable of a locale with half our trails being consumed. 

But this is a subject for another day.

The rest of our ride went off without a hitch. We untacked, hosed down, and took off to the same breakfast joint that we ate at the previous weekend. We still had to wait forever on a table. The graduating senior also showed up for breakfast. 

On Sunday hubby and I went up to the barn around 4 in the afternoon. I wasn't going to ride. Just groom, bathe, and treat. Razz's grazing pasture is a decent little walk from the barn and once he sees me coming he generally meets me about two thirds of the way out. But this day he was just holding his head up looking at me. What the hell Razz? 

Naturally I assumed we had such a hot ride the day before and Razz was thinking "nope, not today". I caught up to him and attached the lead rope to turn back to the barn but he planted all four feet and refused to move. This is entirely out of his character. I checked him over looking for injuries or any reason as to why he was acting in such a way. He had two bite marks across his rump and one on his left hind but they were not bad bites, the skin wasn't even broken. Just missing hair. Barn owner recently got a new horse and he was put in the pasture with Razz, making a herd of three. I understand that this changes herd dynamics and expect some biting. Razz has always been the dominate one. 

Until now. This timid, 14 hand bleached dun pony is kicking my horse's ass.

I finally got Razz to walk with me back to the barn with some encouragement. As we passed the little guy, he charged over and took in after us. Razz galloped off, headed toward the barn. I threw the lead rope over his back as he took off, hoping like hell he wasn't going to step on it and yank his neck out of socket. The little horse charged after, ignoring me and running about halfway to the barn before he stopped. Hubby was waiting on us at the gate. He retrieved Razz. I met the little horse as I walked back alone and he stood over to the side, giving me plenty of room. His expression seemed to say "I don't want any trouble". Worried about the two legged, totally ready to whoop the four legged. 

They have since worked out their differences (I think) but it is concerning when this kind of activity is taking place in narrow chutes with no where to duck out. 

Some of you might be asking yourselves "why not just swing wide and avoid that rotten pony?". The above diagram is my rendition of the bottom barn & paddocks. One, two and three are all razz's daytime grazing pastures. His little herd gets rotated between them every couple months. He's currently in three. The x represents Razz, the star is the rotten pony. Rotten pony was just chillin' under a huge tree, controlling the flow of traffic into and out of the pasture. That pink chute is about five feet wide. I'm not sure how long it is, but I've counted my foot paces out before and its roughly 350 steps down to pasture two.  

After getting him out, I bathed him, medicated his bites with my homemade bee salve, and gave him his beer and cubes. The store closest to the barn has a wonderful assortment of tall boys for under two bucks, and Razz has been trying them all. Full flavored Bud, Yuengling, Miller lite, I've gotten him one of everything except for IceHouse and Steele Reserve. I just think they might have too much alcohol content. I don't know what the legal limit is for an 1,100 lb animal is so I stick to the stuff I know is alright. I'm guessing none of it would really affect him.

better than a huge bowl of ice cream

And the rest of the week has been more of the same. Cool hosing and cubes. Looks like we might catch a break this coming week, and I may be able to get some arena riding in. We'll just have to wait and see. All the fitness I worked on over Spring has went right down the tubes this summer. That's why I had to adjust my saddle. His topline is pathetic frankly. There is just no way to safely exercise him when it's so oppressive out. The arena is not shaded at all, the path around the cornfield is covered in flies and mosquitoes, and I'm not disciplined enough to get any real work done in the woods. Jumping any height is definitely on hold, I don't hesitate to pop him over two feet or less though. I feel like he handles that with minimal effort.

I have contacted two trainers about some lessons, neither is available (for different reasons). I don't really want to ride with my old trainer. I would like a fresh perspective on us. I have another month or so before the weather finally cools enough to use the arena comfortably and by then I'm hoping I will have found an affordable instructor to come out and teach.


  1. At our old barn there was a pony that lived in the field which surrounded our covered arena, and she would bite Carlos whenever we passed by her, eventually I got fed up with it and carried a stick to the outside and gave her a good whap in the nose, she never did it again!

  2. Sassy ponies are the worst! Hope Razz is all healed up soon :) Crossing my fingers for you finding a good instructor, so hard to find good people!