This is not my beautiful horse

Where did this contemplative, calm, confident horse come from? Every other time I’ve moved her (5 times) she’s been insecure and hyper and very worried. She picks fights or at the least makes nasty faces at other horses, and she paces and worries and frets. But not this time!

M and I walked Dixie and Billy over this morning. I led Dixie around the whole pasture, pointing out stuff, then unclipped the lead and let her wander off. She got silly and cantered back to me once, but mainly she looked at things and walked around and thought about stuff. The north side horses came running up to their fence, then one of them ran away snorting, and she just stood and watched them. She had a couple of really good rolls, and she thinks dried out dead cheatgrass is delish, and she seemed to have a perfectly good normal day. Ate, walked, stood with her head in the shade. She touched the top hot wire with her nose, got tingled, and never tested the fence again AFAIK.

Billy the goat was totally stressed out. Walking him over was awful, and he stayed glued to Dixie for a good four hours, but I think he’s settled in too. He had a tough time with the fence, too – he kept trying to chew on it or stick his head through it and getting ZAPPED. I saw him touch hot and ground and get fried no less than five times, and I’m sure he tried it a few more times. It’s like it’s a personal insult that such a wussy looking fence keeps biting him!

Cersei ran through the fence once and got lucky, then ran through it again and got ZAPPED – she squalled and ran away, and she hasn’t tried the fence again. She goes through the gate with me now!

I have a 100 gallon tank for horse water, an 18 gallon bucket for goat water, and a little bucket for dog water. The chickens love the dog water, Dixie likes the 18 gallon container, and Billy prefers to giraffe his head into the 100 gallon. Oh well, at least everybody’s drinking, right?

I spent two hours sitting out in the pasture with them, then did a pretty good job organizing my tack and cleaning up the horrible junk between the barage and the fence. I turned a minefield of boards and crap into one fairly neat (huge) pile against the barn wall, then raked up four trash bags of stuff from the ground – dead sage, shingles, bits of wood, coke cans, shredded plastic, etc.

My theory is that if Waste Management will take one wheelie bin plus seven extra bags, and I give them seven extra bags a week, I can get this place cleaned up some time in my lifetime. And it’s much less daunting to shove a bag full of sagebrush every night than to try to fill up a truck and Go To the Dump. Ugh, going to the dump is overrated.

This might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen 😀

Fence and horse both HOT

Bad news first: I had my first RO pull today. C and I went off to the NEDA (not AERC) ride at Red Rocks today, to merrily complete 25 miles each. Except Diego came off the trailer lame, and Dixie refused to drink at the 10 mile pulse and go and ran completely out of gas at 13 miles. We slogged up a big hill (of course the GPS is in the truck and I’m too tired to go get it tonight) and she kept walking slower and slower then just stopped. I got off at the false summit and slogged up on foot, pretty much dragging her up, but even when we got to the real summit she was done.

I did all the health checks I could – pulse not too high, not overly dehydrated, gums good, still peeing yellow and pooping normal poop, ok gut sounds, no cramps in any big muscles – then shrugged and started walking back. I definitely made the right call – she didn’t perk up when we turned around, and she didn’t even mind the other horses passing us in the other direction. I walked for about 2 miles, but then I was played out so I got back on and rode her on in.

It was really hot today, near 90 with no wind at all. Dixie has a thick coat even in July, and by mid-September she’s started growing her winter coat. I think she just got too hot and too thirsty and couldn’t go on without a buddy. I really hope she learns to DRINK when there’s water. And perversely, I’m very glad she gave up. Horses that just never quit are so much harder to manage, so much more responsibility for me. I’m glad she trusts me enough to say “no more” (and keep saying it, because I did think she was faking at first.)

When we got back, she drank pretty good then started slowly but steadily munching on some alfalfa. C and I sponged her down well, then had lunch. I led her back to the trough and she tanked up again before we loaded up and headed home. I’ll update tomorrow with pictures and GPS info.

Not sure what to do about Comstock. I think I will clip her neck and chest; it should be early enough for her to grow a good coat anyway. And I will probably wait til Wednesday to decide for sure, but I think if it’s this hot next weekend I should try for the 25, and if it’s cool I may possibly still go for the 50. Any input is welcome!

When I got home I got back to work on my Horse Knox fence. It is hot now! The guy at Green’s lent me a fence tester, but the little LEDs aren’t very bright. So I touched the tester to a hot wire and a ground wire and couldn’t see anything. Yall know my motto is “well fuck it,” so of course I touched the hot wire. Tingly, about like before. Then I grabbed the ground wire with my other hand and got zapped mightily. I leapt back, cussing and jumping up and down, then called G. I tried my best to explain to him just how hot the fence really is but of course he had to come test it himself. He walked to the furthest point from the ground rods, fiddled with the fence tester for a bit, said “well fuck it” and grabbed both wires. He got shocked so hard his leg spasmed and jacked his knee up. That fence is HOT.

I got the moldy straw shoveled out of Dixie’s run-in and the rest of the junk removed from the paddock. The straw went into the manure shed – it’s 2’x8’x4′ of jank straw, which should make totally amazing compost with some poop and some water and a bit of mixing.

Chicken update, cause I know yall love my chickens: They think slightly slimy cilantro is delightful. They have realized that humans bring good stuff, and they mob us whenever we wander out of the patio door. G is not as thrilled by this as I am. He swears 30 chickens attacked him today. I can count 13 at any point during the day, but never find more than 11 in the coop at night. Two of them are hiding somewhere. Good luck, little idiots!

Edited for anonymity!

(Lack of) Update

Somebody asked when I’m going to bring Dixie home. The answer is “as soon as I get the damn fence hot.” All I have done for the last week has been work and fighting with the fence. My husband has helped and handled all the other little disasters. I’m not out of ideas, but I’m getting pretty discouraged.

Today after work I’ll dash to Green’s feed and get two more grounding rods and more polywire and more insulators. I’ll try adding ground rods, then if that doesn’t work (and why should it, nothing else has, grumble grumble) I’ll add three more strands as ground strands. At that point nothing, except maybe a hen, can climb through without touching at least two strands and getting jolted. I think.

Tech details: I’m getting about 4k volts near the ground rod but nothing 50′ away.

Please pretend the following sections are neatly bullet point-ed.

Obstacles overcome: 1) only one outlet in the barrage works. 2) the fence is a LINE, not a circuit – the trench I dug to go under the gate was totally unnecessary. 3) there is no substitute for electric fence wire and you might as well just wait til it comes in 4) if you mail order some parts, open the damn box, preferably before the return period ends, and make sure you didn’t order fiberglass rod insulators instead of t-post insulators. This is a good reason to shop locally, btw.

Questions: 1) I want to wire in a switch so I can switch off the bottom wire when it snows. Do I put the bottom wire line on the top of the switch and the hot line on the same-side bottom of the switch? 2) I have been pigtailing the wires together, screwing on a wire nut, and wrapping the whole thing in electrical tape. Is that right?

I am pretty grumpy but not appalled or ready to give up. I spent so many years doing construction and remodeling, and I can tell you that this really does happen to everyone, no matter how experienced they are. I just think I’m due some easy success for a change!

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Storybook horse

When I was a horseless kid, I read anything with horses in it. I dreamed of having a brave steed who would carry me for miles without flagging, who would face down monsters with me, and who would bravely stick by my side.

In my late 20s I finally got a horse. Champ was a king among horses, but he wasn’t a storybook horse. If you also grew up dreaming of a horse, you know what I mean when I say that the reality of horses is kind of a letdown. What do you mean, they spook and run from rabbits? And if you get off and let go of the reins, there is a decent chance your horse will give you the finger and head home without you? And horses have only three speeds – dawdling walk, Death Trot, and dead gallop from evil bunnies??

Of course, they’re wonderful anyway – we all agree about that. But old dreams never die, and I’m delighted to tell y’all that I finally had a storybook ride this weekend.

I took Dixie and Cersei out on the short 5 mile loop on Saturday. Dixie was a dream to ride, even after 2 weeks of virtually no work. A little spooky, a little extra spring in her step. We meandered out and up the hill, a mile or two, then I asked her to pick up the pace and we flew for the rest of the loop.

It was effortless and perfect. I didn’t have to urge her on or hold her back. All I had to do was stay balanced and steer and watch out for traffic. We followed three four wheelers and two pickups down the road out of HV, then veered off and passed within 100′ of a guy warming up his dirt bike. She didn’t flinch once.

She rolled through all her “gears”, too, just like I’ve always wanted. She flowed from a trot to a rack to a canter to a pace and back. I have always thought that real strength of a gaited endurance horse is that different gaits work different muscles, so the horse can swap gaits to keep from fatiguing her muscles. That definitely seemed to happen Saturday.

Sometimes my pretty pony really is anything a girl could dream of.

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