Miss you

Miss you today and every day. Some days more than others. I can't help but think what you're doing. I can't help but check the MSPCA website every day, sometimes more than once a day, to see if you're on there (you're not). I can't help but wonder all the time if they put you down. If they thought your issues were too severe to ever make you adoptable. Or if they're giving you time to just be a horse and evaluate later. Miss you and love you always.



Spring is coming (even though we're getting hit with another winter storm tomorrow)! We have mud, sunshine, and shedding ponies!

I've also noticed a HUGE change in her condition in under three weeks. I really, really like the ration balancer I have her on.


A fresh start

Things continue to go really well with baby. Last week she had her feet trimmed and she was a rockstar. She doesn't crosstie yet, but she had no problem patiently standing in the aisle on her rope halter while farrier shaped her tootsies. Next week she gets Spring shots and my vet gets to meet her and look her over for the first time. We've basically just been focusing on the same routine every day: pull her in from turn out, tie her in her stall, groom, pick feet, and do about 20min of ground work in the indoor. She has definitely started to feel her oats since getting on the right diet, putting on some weight, and getting wormed. Her personality is really starting to come out!

The past couple of weeks we've started looking for a barn closer to home. While I absolutely LOVE my barn, I do not love the commute. It's an hour without traffic, and up to two with traffic. Since hubby's work schedule changed and I am working more hours I find myself going up to the barn during high traffic times and 4 hours!!!! on the road to spend an hour with her just doesn't work. When we started looking I knew I wanted to look everywhere and find the perfect place. I don't want to keep moving her. Another reason I want to move her is because she is in Finn's old stall and every time I pull up to the barn it hurts not being able to see him. I really miss the little guy and it's hard to move on when I don't see him in the paddock and see her in his old stall. Also, she is currently in individual turnout. My barn's turnout situation is not the best. There are three large paddocks: one for geldings with either front shoes or no shoes, a paddock for geldings with four shoes, and a paddock for mares. Then there are 6 very small individual paddocks, that you have to pay an extra $25 a month to keep your horse in. You can see the size here:

She could go out to in the mares paddocks, but the mares are absolutely BRUTAL with each other. There isn't a week that goes by that one of them doesn't come in with a bad injury. There have even been a few injuries that have required surgery. That doesn't work for me! I want her in turnout where she can really run and play like a baby should, preferably with other horses that aren't vicious. She was part of a herd and I bet now she's thinking what is going on here?? So the search began. I looked at a couple of places:

One was really nice, with good turnout, but 40 stalls and an active lesson program. My current barn has nearly 40 stalls and a somewhat quiet lesson program and it is still very busy. I love all my barn friends, but most of the time I just want to do my own thing. I was concerned that a barn that big, with that many lesson kids, would just get too crazy. I realized after looking at that place I wanted somewhere quieter, but still with all the amenities. I made a list of things I wouldn't compromise on:

1. Indoor with good footing and lighting
2. An aisle way with good lighting-- I have been in a few dark barns, and it's awful
3. Fenced in outdoor
4. Large, all day turnout with only a few horses to a turnout, preferably grass (but not a must)
5. Hay 4 times a day
6. A barn manager, or someone, that lives on property and does a night check
7. Hot and cold water
8. Less than 40 minutes from my house, and preferably right off the highway
9. Adequately bedded stalls with shavings. Current barn has switched to sawdust and it is SO dusty and doesn't absorb anything
10. Well maintained, clean, safe property, with a competent barn owner

It is really tough to find these ten things! I looked at a few places without indoors and quickly realized that not having an indoor, in Massachusetts, in the winter, was CRAZY. I was having a tough time finding a small barn with everything we wanted and needed. All the barns I liked were 40+ stalls, didn't feed enough hay, factory-like, no personal attention, and $1200+ a month. Then while searching online one night I found a barn 20 minutes from my house, a barn I had never heard of. We went to look at it the other day, and I really went in thinking it was too good to be true. It ended up being absolutely PERFECT! My husband calls it a backyard barn on steroids. 16 12x12 stalls, all with windows, heavily bedded. An indoor with rubber footing and mirrors. Heated tack/viewing room. A fenced in outdoor. It also has a wash stall with hot and cold water. My current barn has the best wash stall, but no hot water, which I don't like! 4 flakes of hay a day. And TURNOUT!! Oh the turnout. She will be in a large grass pasture from 7am-6pm. She's currently turned out 10am-2pm. There are two older broodmares that she will be turned out with, which is just perfect. The owner lives on property, and I really, really liked her. It is just a private boarding barn, so there are no lesson kids. It is quiet, peaceful, a great place for a baby to grow. There are also acres and acres of conservation land to walk her on, and later, trail ride her on. The commute couldn't be better. We move May 1st, and I can't wait!!! Here's a couple of pics:


The proper diet

When I first started researching getting another horse I knew I wanted something that wouldn't be as high maintenance as what I had. I wanted something that could potentially go barefoot, and didn't require tons of food to stay at a (barely) acceptable weight. Finn was on nearly 6lb of grain a day (EquiPro Fiber Max), 5 decently heavy good quality flakes of hay a day, a 5lb bucket of forage/ dengie at PM, 2 scoops of beet pulp with PM feed, and rice bran at PM when we felt his weight needed a boost. This diet kept him at a decent weight when he wasn't in heavy work. When he was getting worked on this diet he would get ribby. Oh, and the supplements. I'm completely embarrassed to say how much I was spending a month on supplements but here goes... He was on:

1. SmartCombo Ultra- $114.95. I chose this because it gave me the highest level of what I thought he needed (hooves, joint, digestive, and omegas)
2. SmartGut Ultra- $66.95. I chose this for suspected ulcers. This really did seem to help.
3. SmartCalm Ultra - $29.95. I chose this for obvious reasons.
4. SmartSox- $51.95. I chose this after his bout of laminitis over the summer. It was supposed to help with heel soreness, as well as horses with weak hoof walls and growth. After 6 months on this his hooves looked AMAZING!!! But I also switched farriers and shoeing type completely so it's tough to know whether I can attribute his changing hooves partly to this, or to his farrier, or maybe a little of both.

I split these four supplements into two feedings to be fed with AM and PM feed. He had two giant drawers in the grain room, and I'm sure my barn manager just loved the twice a day.

That's $263.80. A MONTH. For supplements that may or may not have helped him. I feel so embarrassed about this. But, at the time I was just so, so desperate for anything that could possibly help him. If there was a witch doctor who promised she could cure all of his ailments I probably would have paid her whatever she asked.

So now I am determined to keep it simple. Healthy, happy, and simple. That's my new motto. When I first started seeking out a good grain/diet for her, I wasn't entirely certain I wanted to use any of the barn's grains as they were really designed for older horses, and she would need nearly 6lb of whatever I put her on to meet the minimum for a growing horse. This seems like a ton of feed for a little, easy keeper breed, in no work. My barn allows for us to buy our own grain, if what they have doesn't work, and gives us a discount on board. While researching starter grains, everything needed to be fed in large quantities. Then I came across something called a "ration balancer". I had never heard of it before, but liked what I read on COTH forums, as well as other websites, especially for breeds that are considered easy keepers. A good quality ration balancer should provide a horse with all of the necessary dietary essentials, and along with a good quality forage, should be enough to meet their dietary needs. My filly has never been on grain before, as she was on 24 hour pasture and Bermuda grass, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to introduce her to grain, but knew she needed more than just hay to meet her fullest potential. I started talking to a rep in my area that carries Buckeye's Gro 'n Win formula, and after reading reviews on this particular feed, felt like it could be a good fit. Here's what the website says:

Forage- either hay or pasture- is the most natural and preferred feed for horses providing the foundation for all equine diets. Although forage should make up the main part of the diet, and can meet your horse's energy requirements, it alone does not meet all of their nutritional needs. Different types of forage provide different levels of protein, vitamins and minerals that may not support your specific horse's needs. However, using the Gro 'n Win range of products, it is easy to tailor your horse's feeding program to meet the unique nutritional requirements for work and various life stages. Ration balancers such as Gro 'n Win are designed to provide all of the vitamins and minerals your hay is lacking without providing nutrients your horse doesn't need. Gro 'n Win is scientifically proven to benefit your horse's overall health by providing essential amino acids for muscle development and fatty acids to aid in immune response. By utilizing a diet with low starch and sugar, you can help prevent or regulate many nutrition-related disorders, such as Laminitis, Insulin Resistance, Tying-Up, Cushing's Disease, EPSM and HYPP. By decreasing the insulin spike in your horse's diet, you can also lessen  hyperactivity creating a quieter performance in the arena or the barn. 

I ended up buying two bags of it. It cost about $75 for two 50lb bags, but is fed at a much smaller rate than grain. The max she will be on is 2lb a day, which means that two bags will last me a little under two months. Because she has never been on grain before, my barn manager started her out at .5lb a day, and is working her up to the 2lb a day. She will be on even less as she ages, if it works for her. 

When she stepped off the trailer she was skinny. Definitely skinnier than I like. She has the lanky baby look, but her ribs are pretty prominent as well as her hips. I will have to take some pictures without her blanket on tomorrow. The first thing I did was worm her, and I'm fairly certain that she will be packing on the pounds quickly. 

After deciding on a feed for her, I got to thinking on supplements. I knew for sure I didn't want to put her on much, if anything, but decided to stick her on:
1. SmartOmega 3 Ultra- $25.55. I chose this basically because I love what it does for a horse's coat. But beside that, like that it includes pre and pro biotics to aid in digestion, and has what is missing from a pasture free diet. 
2. SOURCE- $11.55. I have used SOURCE in the past, and it is pretty unknown, and I think it's a great bang for your buck. It includes essential trace elements from seaweed, and I'm not sure how it works, but it just makes horses look awesome! Shiny, sleek coat, healthy strong hooves, and in great condition/weight. 

That totals $37.10. I am MUCH happier with that number, as opposed to what I used to pay for supplements. This is what her diet looks like:

6AM: 1lb Gro 'n Win with 1 flake of hay
NOON: 1-2 flakes of hay
4PM: 2 flakes of hay
5:30PM: 1lb Gro 'n Win, supplements, a small scoop of rice bran (just for right now to boost weight), as well as a scoop of beet pulp (barn standard to feed all horses soaked beet pulp)
9:00PM: 1 flake of hay

I will have to take before and after pictures to compare her condition and see how this diet works for her as she grows. 


Scary things

Last fall I got a GoPro camera. We used it a few times for hiking, but I never had a chance to use it riding because Finn was always off. Now that I'm training this little one I think I'll use it a lot more! Today I introduced her to lots of "scary objects" (noodles, metallic windshield cover, a plastic table cloth, a feather boa, and hula hoops). I let her explore everything on her own first, and then led her through and walked her around the indoor. She wasn't scared of any of the things and willing walked over/through everything. She is very, very curious and although she is still skittish, she basically just freezes if she's scared. She has been in her stall since last Friday because her individual paddock doesn't open up until tomorrow. Luckily, the barn manager has been putting her in the indoor for a couple of hours a day though. She also doesn't even mind being inside, but I'm sure she'll be psyched to get out tomorrow. I really didn't even know it could be this fun. Is this what I've been missing? I just love her so much!!



It's really nice to have a horse I want to spend every second with.

Exploring the indoor

Exploring my pockets



“The most important thing is to enjoy your life- to be happy- it's all that matters”. -Audrey Hepburn

Prior to losing Finn I thought long and hard about the right thing to do. In the two years I had Finn I spent more money and more time than I care to say on an animal that ultimately I couldn't help. While I am happy that I have the closure of finally finding out what was wrong with him, I really regret trying all sorts of alternative treatments for two years when his back was always the issue, when I should have just paid the couple of hundred dollars it would have cost to x-ray his back. It would have costed me a lot less heart ache in the end.

When I made the decision that I wasn't going to keep Finn anymore, which was really more like 6 months ago, then just a few weeks ago, I thought about giving up horses. My family, my parents, are not advocates of horse ownership. They feel, or I think they feel, that once you have a child, your world should revolve solely around your child. No career, no date nights with your husband, no friends, no nights away from your child, and definitely no horse. Because I am a total people pleaser, especially when it comes to them-- I really do want their approval-- I did think that maybe it was time to “grow up” and give up the whole I want a pony thing. So, for a while that was where I was headed. Settling into the “mom” role, where absolutely everything revolves around your child, not for me, but for the people I wanted to please. I do not have a bad relationship with my parents, they've just never been the sort of people that understand the horse thing, and while they did take me to all my lessons as a child, I know that they always felt I would grow out of this.

So now I found myself in this weird sort of version of adulthood. Married to a wonderful, supportive man (who totally gets, and loves, the horse thing), with a super smart, independent, funny toddler that I feel like we're doing a great job raising, and we both have careers that we love. Everything seemed to be falling into place. And for most, that would be enough. That would signify a full life. But for me, it wasn't. I didn't outgrow the horse thing, and at some point in these last couple of months I have realized that this is MY life, not the life my parents want me to lead. Having a horse that I work hard to keep and give the best life possible, is something that will always be a part of my life. I want my daughter to realize that her mother is a strong, independent, and dedicated person who has her own hobbies, and things that mean the world to her. I think that lesson is an important one, and one that my parents unfortunately didn't teach me.

I vetted a few horses. Packer types, and a young TB fresh off the track. None of them passed the vet check 100%. There was one, an Appendix, that I was very interested in, and although he was young, vet felt he would need hock injections “down the road”. When my vet first looked at Finn at 7, she also felt he would need hock injections down the road. We see where that got us. After the past two years I didn't want anything that wasn't 100% (which I know is basically impossible, horses are fragile, etc, but you know what I mean).

So I set out looking for a hardy, easy keeper with a heart of gold. I knew I didn't really want a Thoroughbred even though I loved their quirky personalities, and their giant, willing, hearts. I wanted that in something hardy with great feet. I wanted an easy keeper, a horse that was smart, willing, wanted to work, and could go for days. I wanted a smaller horse that my daughter could eventually ride. I have met a few Haflingers in my life and couldn't get over how god damn smart they were, while also being able to do anything and everything well. I've known Haflingers that do endurance, event, jumpers, are little dressage superstars, and bond wholeheartedly with their person. But they are also stubborn and will test you constantly. I like that. I began searching for Haflinger breeders. I found a 10yr old gelding about 100 miles from me, went to test ride him, and he had a lot of bad habits. I started talking to a breeder in North Carolina that breeds the sport horse variety of Haflingers. She told me what she had for sale, and after telling her what I was looking for, she emailed me back with pictures and videos of a 1.5year old Haflinger, as well as a few other older ones. I fell in love with the filly's movement, and her calm, willing attitude. She was described as sensitive, but smart and easy going. While I never, and have no business owning, thought I'd own a baby, after doing a couple of PPE's on horses that were a little more broken than I'd be willing to deal with, I got a full PPE on her from the best sport horse vet I could find in Wilmington, including a full set of x-rays. The PPE and x-rays cost nearly more than her, but I didn't want to find out about any sort of OCD's or anything later on. Of course she passed with flying colors. The vet described her as having a wonderful personality for a baby. While I had never met her, and it's completely insane to buy a baby, I did, and found transport to get her up to me.

Two weeks later she stepped off the trailer. When she stepped off the trailer, after her 20 hour trailer ride, I was in heaven. How could you not love a little golden girl?! She walked calmly up the driveway next to me, and took in all the horses in their paddocks looking at her. She was definitely nervous, but didn't spook. She has spent her life on 20 acres and a run in stall. She has never been in a stall. She walked right into the barn, into her stall, and immediately started eating hay and drinking water. She has been here since Friday and I've spent every day with her since. She is such a wonderful little horse. She ties, picks up all her feet, is great about grooming, leads and immediately stops when saying whoa. I even pulled my clippers out of my brush box yesterday and used them briefly on her--- she didn't mind.

I think the main reason that she was so appealing to me is because she is not broken yet. Not broke to ride, or physically broken, but broken on a mental level. Her life experiences have all been positive. There is nothing holding her back, or holding us back from being everything we want to be. I feel like when I got Finn he had had so many negative experiences in his life that, as much as I tried, I couldn't change the way he felt about anything.              Everyone--- meet Avalon!

In love!