Despite a wintry mix this morning, things had cleared up and warmed up so Porsche, in typical CA fashion, was soaking up the rays (all the horses were actually!). A good grooming session, and she was putty in my hands :)
A Happy Camper, no blanket, no clip, lots of space (I swear this horse wants to be feral as much as possible, LOL)
The other boarders have opted out of turn-out time in the snow, but after watching Porsche play in it (mostly rolling, but I saw when she walked into a drift above her knees, she stopped dead in her tracks, and sniffed and then carefully backed herself out (such a little smarty-pants) I felt that her self-preservation skillz were legit, and she wasn't gonna do anything silly, so Porsche is getting 24-7 access to the arena and LOVING every minute of it. Her run is underneath the roof drainage, so I'm glad she can be out of the swimming pool there as much as possible.
She is obviously enjoying it: she left a Snow Pegasus napping in the sun!
and in exciting news - I secured our spot at the new facility, and Porsche and I will be moving there around April 1st! Hooray!
I headed out to the barn on Sunday afternoon - icy mud season is here, so it's been hard to actually work Tesla at all: she's been a bit of a fire-breathing dragon, but I do like to bring her out, give her a good grooming/stretch, and let her roll/walk a bit in the round-pen.
Trainer A got a new dog, a terrier mix puppy named Mutt who is about the size of a Yorkie (so itty-bitty!)
This little guy was super cute in his tiny winter coat, and as I walked Tesla over to the round pen, he wanted to help. He was trotting politely beside me, then he thought jumping was more fun and was hopping up to touch my hand, then he leaped WAY UP into the air and snapped at Tesla's face and she was like GAME OVER. She was whirling and then slipping in the mud/snow: She tried pretty hard to nail Mutty and I did my best to rein it in, but she came within inches of ending him. Just when I would get her walking forward and listening, the little instigator thought it was great fun to get her stirred up again. Trainer A noticed the kerfuffle (and probably my loud "NO"s, and called Mutty over: he didn't want to leave the good time he was having LOL. Finally, Trainer A. grabbed him: enough fun for one day, little man.
This winter was a bit hard on the Porsche. With the crazy snow, wind, and temps; even unclipped and with her liners + sheet, she dropped a bit more weight than I liked...seriously, I blinked and suddenly there were ribs, ugh!
While I had upped her hay, this barn has some very particular rules: hay isn't allowed to be composted and must be hauled out and spread onto the trails behind the property. (side note: I have never heard of this - is this actually a thing?) When I upped her hay, Porsche decided to go on a stem strike and only eat the leaves (such a little stink!), despite being up-to-date on her teeth.
So instead of adding more hay, I put her on Manna Pro Safe Performance, and when she still looked only racing fit, I added some Renew Gold to up her fat intake, and added a morning and evening ration (so probably ~4-5lbs total grain per day)
OTTB thy name is bottomless pit LOL.
I definitely like the results I'm seeing 2 weeks into our new regime. Her ribs are no longer visible, and her coat is coming in super shiny & soft.
In the last hurrah of winter, there was a snowstorm on Wednesday (when I was scheduled for barn chores). It was a nasty wintery mix and the roads were icy slick, so I notified the barn owner that it was unsafe for me to drive out to the barn due to the weather conditions (school buses were sliding off the road...))
I then contacted S. and offered to pick up one of her chore days, since she would have extra mucking to do (BO doesn't do mucking) and we both agreed I'd pick up her chores on Sunday evening and call it square.
I got the following message from BO the next morning:
Since I didn't hear from you about a solution to missed chores last night, and S. comes tonight and we will have double the manure load, my recommendation would be she not muck Friday, and you will have that double manure on Saturday. I hope this is a satisfactory solution, no answer means yes.
...yes satisfactory to everyone but the horses standing in their own filth so that we can play petty let's get even. (This after I showed up around noon on a weekend and the horses had not been fed. I did the morning chores and there was zero talk of making "a solution to missed chores".
I can't even. This woman has no business running any sort of horse establishment.
It fired me up so much, I called around to see if any place had openings: and I absolutely lucked out with a place opening up on April 1st near to where the new house will be :) There is lots of trails and pasture turn-out and unlimited hay - so it will give me peace of mind knowing Porsche is being well cared for (by folks who love horses) while I get my own set-up in place.
While at the barn today, I was chatting with one of the other owners. Porsche had wriggled out of her liner somehow with all the itchy rollies, and S. had pulled her out and re-adjusted it a few evenings ago. As she kept talking, she kept mentioning how Porsche seemed much more at ease with me, and how she had lifted a back leg when she went to take Porsche's blanket off....
and I realized S. was actually afraid of Porsche.
And now that I think about it, Porsche's first leaser G. was also afraid of her as well.
But butter wouldn't melt in my mouth....
and it got me thinking, seriously thinking. As owners it is easy to be blind to our own horses' behaviour. So, objectively what would I say?
I would say this horse has saved my a** more than once. If she feels you getting unbalanced, she will try her best not to dump you. My sister once forgot to tighten her girth, the saddle slipped and she ended up underneath her and this little mare just froze while we got it all sorted out. She is careful and sure-footed: I've never felt unsafe on or around her ever, period.
This horse was bred to be a high octane racing machine. She is never gonna be a stoic, doesn't blink an eye kind of horse. This girl can and does like to GO and likes a job. But she is super tolerant of rider errors, this horse can certainly take a joke (...or three).
Does she spook sometimes? What horse doesn't with abominable snow llamas lurking? But it is never teleporting.
If she steps on your toe will she step off? Nope, you better make sure you are wearing boots.
Does she have some baggage? Yes she hates farriers after being repeatedly hot-nailed (some incompetence and some just bad hoof genes), but will let me do her feet no problem. She is not a fan of her ears being touched, cause she was ear twitched at the track (we are working on it, but it will never be something she enjoys, just tolerates)
Do you have to earn her trust? 100% but it really only takes a few belly rubs and trail rides.
and I thought about S's draft cross who is pushing 30. All they both want to really do is putter around bareback and they are the perfect fit for each other.
We all know there are no perfect horses, but despite all our flaws, there certainly are perfect fits.
With a storm looming, I headed out early on Sunday to do barn chores (stipulated per contract to occur between 4pm and 8pm) so I scheduled my trip so that I could be wrapping up closer to 4ish - to get home before I got snowed in (the barn is at the end of a cul-de-sac and those roads don't get plowed here and I drive a tin can with no-wheel-drive). Everyone got fed/grained, I filled water buckets, mucked as well as I could under inches of snow, and noticed that one horse, Apollo, was basically skating in his stall (this barn leaves the doors open when it is snowing (side note: why??), so the snow comes into the stalls, some worse than others. I felt bad for him, so I spent some extra time shoveling/chipping out as much as I could from his stall (an entire Ursa wagon load, side note: Ursa's are AWESOME I WANTS ONE.)
So I was surprised when I received an irate 2 minute voicemail from the barn owner the next morning, accusing me of shirking my chores: the waters were all very low so I obviously did not fill them up, Apollo's was filthy (it is the responsibility of each horse owner to clean their own buckets, and different folks have different ideas of care), and that even tho' I had bagged my grain, I needed to leave a bag right outside Porsche's stall (OK, guilty as charged here - I have my baggies stored in my metal grain bin (it seems crazy to me to leave them out for vermin to snack on overnight). She proceeded to lecture me that I was staying for free and so it wasn't too much of an inconvenience to do the chores properly - she had spent an hour filling buckets, and she did morning chores as a courtesy to boarders, etc. etc.
I'll spare you the rest.
I contacted her and the only reason she finally believed that I wasn't lying was the fact I had cleaned Apollos stall. (side note: What kind of person would deliberately leave horses without water in freezing temps, and then lie about it?!? I am definitely NOT that kind of person.)
As if that wasn't enough, I heard from the gal whose space I am in that she would be coming back into town Mid-April, rather than the contract date agreed upon of April 30th. The undertone was very clear that I would be expected to vacate ("Shannon had said you'd already found a place" wait, what?) so I will need to relocate Porsche 2 weeks early....which sadly will be the best riding weather for the fabulous trails accessible from this barn.....
Wow. Just so much Drama. I've learned some very important lessons at this barn, and I'll be glad when we finally bid this place (and the ladies here) farewell for good.