June 20-24: 5 openings for horse camp
Be a part of the horsey fun. We have openings for a five day camp. Campers do everything from bareback riding to English to Western. You learn everything from grooming, tacking and basic horsemanship. We will be taking trail rides on over 220 acres of forest and fields. Horse show for family and friends on Friday evening. Located less than one hour from southwest St. Louis.
The weather has been very warm for early February. The daffodils on the south facing slope are coming up. Not a good thing. No matter what the weather, our thoughts are definitely turning to spring and getting to ride more. We ordered sand for the upper arena quite some time ago. They finally were able to come last Friday. The ground was nice and frozen in the morning but things warmed up quickly. The big ol’ truck was guided into the arena along the south facing slope. The thinking was that the slope had dried out. Life lesson number 3,731 or so. The truck just sunk, not slowly, just all at once. So, the sand was emptied right there. There was no other choice. Big blue pulled him out. The next load went through the packed barn lot. Much better results. The poor driver was definitely gun shy by then. He only brought 2 of the 4 loads ordered. Gary spent the next several hours moving sand from the hill to the arena and spreading the two delivered loads. We now have half of an arena in terrific shape. The weather was so amazing on Saturday we put that half to good use. No telling when the other two loads will show.
For the first time in over a week I’m not putting on my down booties. Warm weather is on the way. Perhaps a little too warm for late January but I’ll take it. Last week got old with the cold!! It was such a delight as the week went on to reduce the no. of layers I was wearing. I started out with six on my torso early in the week and this morning I was down to three and started to sweat. Woo Hoo!!
Thursday afternoon was the light at the end of the tunnel. When Marina got home we did a quick little bareback trail ride at sunset. It was lovely. The body heat of the horses kept us warm. As soon as we got off we got the shivers. When the sun goes down, cold temperatures come ’round.
Friday was really looking promising in the morning. Some kids came over around one to trail ride. Now these are country kids and I really expected them to come prepared to be out in the cold. KIDS! All they had on was little sweat shirts, one pair of pants and sock caps! I’m here to tell you, when you’re sitting on a horse for any length of time when the temperature is around 28 F, you get cold. The morning was nice but the afternoon things were changing. First of all the wind picked up; always a bad sign. The kids decided to ride bareback. Good decision. It didn’t matter though. When we came to a split in the trail and had to make a decision to go on or go home to warm up, they all said warm up. I loaded them up with hot cocoa and off we went again. This time I made them wear a coat. I had no arguments. Good thing too as the clouds came in and the wind was stronger than ever. After the ride, no one hung around to play with horses. I must say though that inspite of the cold, it was a nice ride and the kids have stories to tell and maybe even learned something. I can always hope.
Marina and I did another ride on Saturday. The weather was much improved and the ground was still solid enough to be safe to ride. We even used saddles!! We weren’t home today and it was lovely in deed. However, Gary said it was really sloppy and slippery. Warm weather has its pluses and minuses.
It is only Wednesday but I feel like I’ve walked enough for two weeks. Monday was farrier day. (That is the guy who trims horse feet and puts on their shoes.) We have to plan a day ahead for this event since our horses are outside horses. Sunday was a cold one so the horses got to stay out in the pasture all day. That meant that we had to walk in the six horses that were going to have pedicures so they would be at the barn early in the morning on Monday. Our farrier puts us first on his list. That means he is here as soon as it is light enough to see the bottom of the horse’s hoof. Those six stayed in the paddock just east of our house. Well five of them did. Gary and I were out there before daylight to put the horses in the pens. Remember the temp. on Monday? Something like 7 degrees F. Gary started to get Sheriff, as he was not with the other five. ”He’s gone!” Gary shouts. ”How could that be?” I replied. ”He ducked under the electric wire.” says Gary. ”He’s with Nosy. I’ll go get him.” So went the first half-mile hike in the cold for the week. Sure ‘nough, there he was standing in the paddock that was open next to where Nosy and the others were grazing. (Sheriff and Nosy are full siblings; the only ones we have. They are a year apart in age and never met each other till Nosy was about one and a half years old. They immediately became best buds and have remained so ever since.) I got the boy and walked him back to the barn. The farrier was there when I got back. The temperature was probably about 10 by then. I was sweating under all those layers!! Thank goodness the wind was not an issue.
After the farrier left, we again walked out to move the herd to the dry lot where the six newly pedicured ponies rejoined their friends. The wind had picked up by then, no sweating!
That afternoon they were taken back to the pasture. Tuesday a.m. we walked out to the paddock and brought the herd in for the day. Because of the impending snow, four of the horses get to stay in our primitive, inadequate barn. We do this because they have thin hair coats and/or they just don’t handle the cold as well as the others. Cold without wetness doesn’t bother them but wet and cold is not a good combination for these four. After walking those four to the barn, the herd got to go back to the paddock to munch the night away.
It snowed last night as expected, we didn’t get a lot. Just as well from my point of view. I walked the barn horses out to the pasture in two trips. No need to keep them in those cramped quarters since they were nice and dry. It wasn’t nearly as cold this morning but working in any cold with all those clothes and heavy boots is exhausting.
Marina wanted more snow. She spent some time playing with Pip and hiking around in the snow. This snow wasn’t a good one for “Olafs” or snow balls. It isn’t sticking. But when you’re from the warm climes of Spain any snow is a good one.
It has been a cold week. The snow just made the cold a little more bearable. Marina is thrilled to have a snow day. Personally, I’m glad she had enough for a snow day but glad we didn’t get any more snow.
It was a beautiful day although it started out rather cloudy. Most every morning we bring the horses into the dry lot next to the barn lot. Morgans are extremely “easy keepers”. This means that they can live off very little food; rocks and air for many of them. So most of our Morgans are overweight even now in the dead of winter. They don’t need to eat 24/7 and the pastures don’t need them eating all that time. In the late afternoon we herd them back to the pastures to graze all night.
This morning I was entertained by May Flower and Oreo. Oreo is our Australian Shepard. He is going on two and does a fairly good job helping us to herd the livestock. He stares at them and then will leap up sometimes at them and sometimes just a leap. He decided May Flower needed to move. May Flower decided it was time for a staring contest. Her head was bent to the left with her eyes focused directly on Oreo’s eyes. All of a sudden May Flower popped straight up into the air and kicked out. (In a dressage class she might have gotten a 10 for that move.) Oreo jumped and twisted to his right easily escaping May Flower’s exuberance. It is never boring!
What an amazing life I lead! No, we didn’t win the lottery or build an indoor arena. But, I get to live on a beautiful piece of God’s creation with an amazing husband and lots of wonderful animals. Probably sounds like a nightmare to many but I love it. Through this blog, it is my intention and hope that I will be able to share my good fortune with folks. I hope to do more frequent posts about all of the fun and exciting things that happen regularly here at Prairie School Road Farm.
The pictures above are from November 14. We sponsored a Mother/Daughter Equine Retreat Day. It was a blast! It never ceases to amaze me how through experiences with the horses folks gain insight into their own personas. One of the women commented how working with the horse taught her about how she responds to people. Very insightful lady to take a horse moment and apply it to her life.
January 1 was a beautiful day; sunny, cold and crisp. It was Sugar’s last day. She followed us out to bring the horses in and did not come back. We found her passed away in the middle of a field in the sunshine. We are sad but she had been plagued with a heart condition for over 18 months. Most recently, we could tell she was more and more uncomfortable. She left us doing what she loved most, following us, especially Gary, around the farm.
Today was our first day feeding horses hay in the paddock. The wind is fierce tonight and the temperature is going to be steadily dropping. We decided to give them some hay even though they have lots of grass in that paddock. It has been a pretty warm winter so far, grass has been growing off and on through out the season. The livestock likes that. But when it gets cold with wind, they also appreciate a boost. Marina, our Spanish exchange daughter, and I were riding on the hay trailer. We could look down the bluff through the woods into the horses’ dry lot. There they were eagerly awaiting release to a night of food. That is except for “Crook”. He is the class clown. He had a huge feed pan that had four horizontal legs extending outward from it in his mouth shaking it up and down. That pan is advertised as unbreakable and that horses will not be able to turn it over or pick it up. Those folks never met “Crook”. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.
Prairie School Road Farm is a terrific horse camp. These comments are just a few that prove making the drive to this camp is worth the effort. Come check us out.