Life on an Arabian breeding farm in Capitan, NM.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


We have two yearling geldings.  They are a little behind where they should be in ground manners for various reasons. That’s for another post. I have been working with them more intensely since I was laid off from work. It’s the silver lining of not being able to find work.

When cleaning stalls I always take the opportunity to work with the young’ns. Since stalls always need cleaning this ensures that they get plenty of attentions. Yesterday I worked with Ser-Haat.  First I worked him in his paddock area. Once I got all the bucks and jollies out of him, we began the real work. Now normally Rudy has done all the training, he’s a trainer after all. Now there’s no one but me. This has done a lot for me giving me self-confidence in my own abilities, and my own instincts. I have had to do things I always wanted to do but never had the opportunity. Watching Rudy all these years, has taught me there are two ways of doing things, the safe way, and the stupid way. I can’t be laid up for any reason, because there is only me, and I have an aversion to getting hurt. At sixty my body doesn’t particularly like having to heal and repair itself. It’s so tiresome.

I went and got my tools and Ser-Haat’s lead, and tied him for the first time. I tied him close to his sire for comfort, and a pole that would not move no matter how many times he sat back. To my delight he never tried to set back even once.  I had been working on his feet but always when he was eating his goodies. This was totally different for him. He was not totally forth coming with his feet, but I was able to clean all four feet, and trim his frogs. Afterwards I untied him and walked him around. Of course he also got tons of praises and hugs. He did well and he knew it. It was a good day.

Today I finished up the stalls with Lance. It was his turn to get the same lessons as Ser-Haat. As with Ser-Haat I worked Lance in his paddock first. He got all his jollies out and it was no problem tying him up next to his dam for comfort. Again as with Ser-Haat I left him alone for a moment, and again there were no issues. He was more interested in playing with the lead, always a good sign, yeah right.

I put everything I needed close by, but out of harms way in case he should not be quite as good as Ser-Haat, safety first for horse and human. He gave me his first foot, with trepidation, but so far so good. I started cleaning it and he was doing fine, then I don’t know if he lost his balance or what, but next thing I knew his foot was on my foot. Thank you Lord not on my toes. He’s not that big so it hurt, but not as bad as if he stepped on my toes. I yelled at him, and he picked up his foot, but we both lost balance and I ended up on the ground. That startled him, and he pulled against the lead. Bad move on his part, he reacted the expected way, and sat back pulling as hard as he could. I told him it wouldn’t do any good, but you know how some kids are they just don’t listen.

He finally calmed down, and back I went for the same foot. This time it went better. I did all four feet and he sat back a few more times. Each time I gave him plenty of reassurances. At least we got through it without any more tumbles. You don’t want to push little ones to hard so even though his frogs needed trimming that would wait for another day.

The next big trauma was getting his mane & tail cleaned up. Now while Ser-Haat has no issue with being sprayed with either fly spray or mane tamer, Lance has never allowed me to spray him. He also takes issue with my combing his tail. Every horse I have ever known loves getting their tail groomed, but not Lance. He just has to be different. I gently lifted his mane so he wouldn’t feel the spray, but he pulled away anyway. All this time I’m talking to him in a calming voice. He calmed a little but was still panicky, so I sprayed the mane tamer into my hand and then started brushing. Eventually, he allowed me to spray his mane and finish combing it.

Then came the tail. The good thing is that they can’t feel the spray on the tail so this actually went a little smoother. When we were done I told him what a good and handsome boy he was. As with Ser-Haat, I walked him around with the lead, and he was perfectly calm and quiet. It was another good day.

I had planned to ride our TB mare, but the wind came up, and it was more than a little chilly so I opted for a muscle relaxer and a short nap. There’s always tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow will be an uneventful day. Lizzie is an off the track mare who has been a brood mare since being taken off the track. She needs the exercise as I plan on breeding her next spring. She’s an older mare, and I want her to be as fit as possible to give us at least one baby. Good Lord willing I won’t be racing tomorrow, but will have a nice ride. Today was enough excitement for a while.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What a Whoose!

Today was another beautiful day in Capitan. Thank you La Nina. Next year will probably be cold and wet with lots of snow, but this year we are enjoying a mild dry winter. Yes, I know it’s not good since we depend on the winter snows for water, and in the high desert water is all precious, still I will enjoy all the riding I can get while the weather holds. We really need an indoor arena, but like we can afford that? I can dream, but it will be a long time before that is more than a pipe dream let alone a possibility.

Today I decided to set up some small (very small) jumps. I brushed and combed Ibn with high expectations. Silly me. I warmed him up and walked over to the first jump. I let him sniff it, after all it was something new, and it might be dangerous. Then I walked him over to the other jump and he proceeded to knock it down, like it’s not hard to walk over a jump that is only 10” off the ground. All he has to do is to pick up his feet.

Ok my brilliant stallion isn’t quite so smart after all, or maybe he is. We’ll do this on the ground. Leading him, we both walked over both jumps, see that wasn’t so hard after all. Then I led him at a trot over the jumps. Good he actually jumped. Mind you I haven’t jumped in over ten years and if I remember correctly, the last time Moraddinn dumped me.  I have considerable trepidation concerning the whole affair. The purpose of this exercise however, is not to turn Ibn into a jumper, but to hone his sense of balance, give him some confidence with something new, and to exercise muscles that will not be used in walking in the hills. It won’t hurt my confidence either.

I get back on Ibn, and we walk over the jumps a couple of times. He seems fairly ok with that, it’s not too much work. Then I ask the unforgivable. I cue him to trot and he of course stops. It’s a favorite thing of his. If he doesn’t want to do something he stops, out comes the quip. Ok I guess she’s serious. We trot around, and yes, he actually jumps over the jump. This is progress. After a couple of times he figures that’s enough and tries to skinny around without success. Life is so hard. We keep at it and he actually goes into a canter, maybe this isn’t so bad after all. I of course am not ready to canter him over the jumps, and besides I’m supposed to be the one making the calls not him, so we canter around and when we line up I take him into a trot and over we both go without incident.

He’s done a good job with something new so we quit on a good note. We still have about an hour to roam the hills. We leave the arena and he pumps himself up for Marina who is no longer in season but in her “kill” mood. Still he prances, always the showoff. I try to tell him you really don’t want to go anywhere near her, but he pays no heed. I take a different route today, and sadly remember I forgot the camera. Oh well too late now.

We go across the road to the east. There’s a valley below that at places is a bit rough. We come to the first crevice and he baulks. Somehow my macho stallion has been replaced by a whoose. It’s a little crevice with a few loose rocks. You’d think I was asking him to go down a steep gorge. My great stallion has become a prissy city slicker. I keep telling him he’s an Arabian. He goes anywhere, does anything, he is fearless in the face of unbeatable odds. But that’s scary, hey at least he went into the woods without baulking. We are making progress. We get past the gully and I see a buck with a medium size rack. Ibn thankfully doesn’t see him, and I turn him in the opposite direction. Does are fine but bucks can be nasty if they think they are being threatened. There are huge sinkholes, and gullies, and we continue north and east as far as we can. Finally we get to Brewer’s fence line, which is pretty much down. We continue north until the terrain gets to thick and rough for us to go through so we turn around and follow the deer track we’ve been following back to the rode.

At this point Ibn thinks, great back home to the girls. He has become such a homebody. After some convincing I head him back to the direction we were going the other day, only this time we go beyond the gate. This part of the rode is not maintained. The land to the east is owned by an electrician in town, and our neighbor keeps an eye on it for him. In exchange he keeps his horses there. I can see the tracks he has made taking down rolls of hay. Again Ibn says no way am I going down there. I give in to him for the moment and we go up the ridge to the west. I’ve not been in this area in years. We climbed up to the power lines and then headed back. We saw numerous deer, and every time Ibn saw, smelled, or heard one, he stopped. The thing of it is every night the elk and the deer are in our arena or somewhere around the horses. We’ve actually caught them visiting with the horses. He knows they’re there. He knows what they are, and he knows it’s no biggie. I should have started taking him out a lot longer ago, and I would have if I had only had the time.

I loop around and we are headed down that really scary road again. This time, with some encouragement we make it down. As I said our neighbor keeps two of his horses there and once down the hill, he perks right up and starts prancing. He even neighs at them, several times. Ibn has always ignored other horses that weren’t part of his herd. Now because he hasn’t seen other horses in a long time, he has to announce his presence.

Time to go back. One last sight was our little falcon. Evidently he ventured too close to the ravens (they might have found a kill, maybe even his), and they were chasing him.  We continues up the hill back towards home, down to the “Y”, and back to the house. It’s a steep climb and perfect for conditioning. Ibn was poopered until he came in sight of Marina at which point he puffed himself up to look good.

If the storm stays north of us tomorrow Marina and I will go out. That should be fun. At lest she enjoys going out on the trail.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Endurance Riding

photo by David

The Aulrab lines are known for their versatility. Aulrab had championships in Pleasure Driving, English Pleasure, Park, Ladies Side Saddle, and Costume.  He sired champions in Dressage, Endurance, Halter, and sires here and abroad. Because my husband and I have had to work full time while supporting our breeding program, we have not spent the time with Ibn that we should have. In addition, we have not found that one thing that he enjoys more than anything else. Since my husband is the trainer in the family, and he is on the road, I am a little stuck as to what to do with Ibn, besides being a gentleman stallion that is. I spoke to my friend and while there is much to be said for endurance riding she gave me a basic idea of what I need to do to prepare Ibn and Marina for the Ft. Stanton ride in July.

Since our first ride had gone rather well I was all excited about taking the two horses out for regular rides. Wouldn’t you know it, I came down with the stomach flu that brought my husband home for two days. I was not pleased, but what can you do. I had to take care of my honey after all.

The terrain here is rather rugged, and all hills and valleys. If that doesn’t get Ibn in shape, nothing will. Actually for not being in shape, the hour and a half ride we did last week, didn’t faze him in the least. What I’m hoping is that the hills will build up his shoulders and chest. The altitude (nearly 7,000’) has never bothered him, however he has a narrow frame and appears to be slight even though he’s not. His legs are strong and straight, and he has a back end to die for. My tush should be so nice. I have another thought as well. In addition to riding an hour or so every other day as recommended, I want to set up our jumps. I remember when I first saw Ibn at Sandy’s there was a fallen tree branch in the paddock area he was in, and he was running around having fun. He jumped over the branch (it was not small) as thought it was nothing. Small jumps should be good cross training for him. We’ll see if I remember anything Rudy taught me about jumping. At any rate it should be a nice break for him if we don’t do the same thing all the time. I thoroughly believe in cross training. It not only gives the body a break, but the mind as well for man and beast.

Marina is another thing altogether. When my friend said you will notice them getting stronger as you continue your regime, I about had a heart attack thinking of Marina getting stronger. Then she had to mention the thing about taking it long and slow. Right, Marina doing anything slow is an oxymoron. “Slow” simply is not in her vocabulary. Marina is the old style Arabian, small, compact and explosive. When they describe the Arabian warhorses riding a hundred miles, carrying their masters into battle, and back again, they were talking about Marina. I have never known a more powerful little mare. She loves doing anything and everything. It does no good to chase her in the arena before a ride, because she just simply does not tire. She’s more like a coiled spring that never gets unsprung.

There is one other thing to consider. I had thought I could have a friend of mine help me with the conditioning. She could ride Marina and I could ride Ibn. I remember once when we first moved here Rudy rode Marina, and I rode Ibn (or the other way around) on the trail. He doesn’t recall so maybe we rode the two girls. The problem is Marina hates boys unless she is in season. Ibn on the other hand, is totally, and categorically terrified of Marina. He wants to play nicey, nicey, and she wants to kill. When teasing, if she is not ready, he gets as far back in the corner of the teasing stall, as he can conceivably get. It is really quite comical. Here is this big macho stallion all excited until he sees who has come to visit.  He tentatively reaches out his nose to get a sniff, there’s a blood curdling scream, and Ibn retreats as far away from this small 14.3 hand mare as he possibly can. No one messes with Marina. He’s also totally in love with her and ever hopeful. On the other hand when she is ready, she can’t get there soon enough.

Both horses are well trained to behave themselves under saddle so I’m not that worried. It will just be interesting. Once I actually start working with both horses I will give updates. I’d also like to work Jeri, he’s our old man. Sandy told me his previous owner rode him bareback in the fields so I know he’s broke to ride. When we first got him Rudy got on his back and ended up with a hernia. I rode him that one time and he was fine for me, but I haven’t ridden him since. He’s a mare form of Marina without her temperament, small, compact and explosive. He doesn’t understand that he’s over 21 and should be slowing down. I also love the idea of an old man competing against younger horses and putting them to shame, and I know he can do it. He’s a phenomenal horse. He’s only ever been ridden by one woman save Rudy and I that one time, so it could be tricky. Still I’d like to try. If only I were 30 years younger, I would have the energy to be able to do all the things I want to do. Still and all I will do what I can, and we will see what comes of it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

On a Clear Day

Rudy got me up at 5:00 in the morning to take him down to the gas station. Last night we drove down, and dropped off the truck so he could take off first thing in the morning. He was still a little sick, but much better than the day before. I kissed him goodbye, told him to be careful, and sent him on his way. I went back home to snuggle back in bed. Four hours sleep just doesn’t cut it. My bed was still warm and I quickly drifted back into that wonderful thing called sleep. With an hour taken out of my nights sleep, I overslept. Surprisingly everyone let me sleep. KC (KC Chaucer my Goffin Cockatoo) finally woke me at 7:15, just in time to make a cup of coffee before Rudy called. He was in Las Cruces only there was no one there. Calls were made, and come to find out they sent him to the wrong destination. A couple more phone calls, and he was all set again. He had a load of live Christmas to take to Phoenix.

After talking to Rudy I went down to feed. With our little snow the air was bright, and crisp, and clean. There was an occasional brisk breeze, but it was perfect weather to ride, provided the winds didn’t kick up. I said a prayer that the weather would hold, and off to town I went to get hay. Mark was about 20 minutes away so Penny and I sat and talked until he got there with a fresh load of hay. It was beautiful in Capitan, but then again it always is. Capitan is down in the valley and they don’t get the winds quite as bad as we do on the plateau.

I got home, unloaded the hay, and took the truck back to the house. I had a makeshift saddlebag, which I filled with water etc., and went back to the barn. I put the bag with the first aid kit, and other essentials for human and horse in the saddle bag, got Ibn saddled, and called a friend just in case. When you have no one to ride with someone needs to know where you are and how long you will be out.

I warmed Ibn up a little in the arena, and off we went. He was fine as long as we were on the road, but the neighbors put a gate up across the road. Sometimes Ibn is such a whoose. I turned him into the forest and he about had a cow. That was the wild woods, and he wasn’t sure about it at all. There might be something in there that just might want to eat him. We got Ibn when he was six and mostly since that time he has been a gentleman stallion. He’s such a playboy. He likes strutting, and getting nookie, and as far as he is concerned that’s all he’s supposed to do. He was shown, but that’s all nicely paved roads, and nice raked arenas. This was the wild woods!

Needless to say he didn’t win the battle and off we went in search of deer and elk trails. It had been several years since I’d been in that area, and I forgot how beautiful it was. I brought my camera, and although there were some times when the color was off, I was surprised to find that most of the pictures came out just fine. I say surprised because getting Ibn to stand still was nigh unto impossible. I had to encourage him to go forward, but each time we changed directions he was suddenly full of vim & vigor. No we weren’t going back home.

We went round in circles between the state land that butts up to our property, and a few of the neighbors. I was surprised to find many atv trails. It’s clearly posted no atv’s or vehicles of any kind, but people don’t care. They don’t understand that they are destroying the habitat for the deer and elk.

The one photo I missed was our little falcon. I don’t know what species he is but his territory is around our house. It may be the Aplomado falcon. Some have been released on the Otero mesas. All I know is that it is a beautiful site to see. He has no mate (that I know of), but I’ve seen him many times. One of our ravens flew with us as we rode, but when the falcon came by the raven disappeared.

The clouds became heavier, and we had gone round in circles more than enough times so I headed back to the road. Down the road we went past our house to the “Y” and then I took him back up the rode to the house. It’s a steep climb, and part of the purpose for the ride is to get him back in shape. Stallions generally keep pretty fit, but you can tell in his chest that he hasn’t been worked in years. I will have to investigate the other side of the road to see if we can go farther in that direction, if not we will pass the gate. It goes down into a valley then climbs up again, and goes on and on. Although we only rode for about two hours it was a perfectly enjoyable ride. The air was brisk and cold and the scenery was as always to die for. I have to take it slow with Ibn so as not to make him sore or over stress his legs (especially his shins). If he does well enough I just may go to the endurance ride at Ft Stanton next summer. Every year I say I want to go, and every year it passes us by.

I have a friend (acquaintance), who lives in either Tule or Alamo, who does endurance riding, and goes to the Ft Stanton ride every year. We’ll see what she says about my taking Ibn and perhaps Marina too, if Rudy can take a little vacation. It’s a three day ride, and only down the rode about 15 miles as the crow flies. Meanwhile Ibn and I will keep going up and down the hills and valleys to build him up so he really looks dashing for the girls. You know boys, it’s all about the girls.

We ended the day on a good note. He was tired (not too tired to act up in front of the girls though), and I wanted a little pit stop before I had to feed so I went back up to the house. It was really cool by now, but I didn’t worry about Ibn. He had hardly a sweat spot anywhere, and wasn’t overheated. I put him in his stall, went back to the house for a few minutes, brought Ibn back some carrots, and then went to feed. There was as usual a spectacular sunset with the moon rising in the east. The reflection of the sunset tinting the clouds was an added bonus to a perfectly wonderful day.

The winds have started up again as I write and I’m hoping that tomorrow will be a repeat of today. A storm is supposed to be rolling in on Monday, and of course we will probably only get wind, but you never know. I may get in a ride tomorrow and then again starting Tuesday the rest of the week. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter's First Snow 2010

It’s a week before Christmas, Rudy is on the road, and I don’t really expect to see him anytime soon. Change of plans. He had a haul to Artesia and I will have my husband for one night only. As I said when we decided to go this route I will take whatever I can get. As it turns out he may be here a little longer. He woke up at 1:30 in the morning sicker than a dog. Well at least he is close to home and I can give him some real TLC. He comes in and boy is he sick. His eyes are circles of white and his cheeks are flushed. He thought it might be food poisoning, but one look tells me no he has a bug. I doctor up a can of chicken soup, which goes right through him, and put him to bed early. Nothing got done except feeding as a storm is rolling in and the winds have been around 35 – 40 mph all day. I let the little ones (inside dogs) out to find that it is snowing. About time. La Nina is in full swing, which means unlike last year, this will be a dry windy winter. Living on top of a plateau we get the full force of the winds, which are sometimes up to 70 mph or more. No one told us about the winds when we decided to move here.

There was no sun to wake me so I slept in to about 7:15 am. Everything is white. Up till now it has been more like an Indian summer even into fall only going down to the low 30’s at night. Not this morning. I rush to let the dogs out and make a fire. Benji who was my mother-in-law’s dog has never seen snow. She died this past spring and we inherited Benji. Tucson is a might different from Capitan, NM. He stands at the door not knowing what to do. He doesn’t understand why everything is white. I don’t have time for such silliness so out the door he goes whether he wants to or not.

I stoke the stove for hot coals and put another log in the fire. Rudy gets up shortly and still looks pukey. I’m not doing so good myself. My entire right leg aches. Don’t you love genetics?  Take my advise, and don’t get old. It’s the pits, and whoever said these were the golden years was either on something or very young. I take extra pills while I make coffee for Rudy and ask him what he’s going to do. The original plan was for him to go back on the road, but unless he has one of those hospital things under his seat I don’t think he’s going to make it. I go and feed while he decides whether or not he’s going to be able to drive.

I warm up the truck and there is the normal deafening barks of four dogs who are all trying to kill each other, get my attention, or kill me while I try to walk. I get the truck started and go to let the chickens out. They’re all snuggled in their boxes and have no intention of moving. I make sure their water is full. One big problem, even though I left it in the chicken house so it wouldn’t freeze, it decided otherwise. Too bad, so sad, there’s enough there if they want it.

I trip over dogs trying to get to the truck and off we go to the barn. To keep the peace I’ve been letting Bear in the truck while I drive to the barn, and he doesn’t understand why today is different. So what if he has muddy feet and snow all over him from playing, that shouldn’t make a difference. Yeah right, not in my world, he can run to the barn.

When we get there everyone is all excited. So why haven’t I fed them yet, I’ve been there for at least two minutes? Marina voices her disdain at having to wait for me to actually get her hay. As usual I feed her as fast as I can just to keep her quiet. I quickly run through everyone else in the barn stalls, yelling at Espree to quit as she bangs on the stall walls. She gets fed last and is at least as impatient as Marina.

Finally peace and quiet, all the girls and the youngsters in the barn have been fed. Quickly I load up the truck bed with the rest of the fodder for my starving kids. Even though they are nice and plump for the winter’s cold you’d think they never got fed the way they are carrying on. I feed the boys who are running and rearing in the crisp cold air and turn to the girls in pasture who are doing their own winter dance. I take off my gloves to take pictures. This first snow must be recorded. Upset with me for taking pictures they voice their displeasure. Lightning is bucking and rearing, and throwing her head as only Arabians can do. I quickly snap shots and get back in the truck. If I take too long I may have an ugly mob on my hands.

Off I go to feed the rest of the crew, the chickens still haven’t come off their roost. I throw some hay and feed on the ground and still they won’t come out. Ok, as usual I give in and I throw feed in the chicken house. Heaven forbid they should go outside in the freezing cold. I don’t even have a jacket on, but they can’t come out to eat. Yes all our animals are spoiled.

I feed the inside animals and Rudy finally decides that he’s still too sick to go on a run. Duh, like I didn’t say so about a hundred times? I don’t understand why he doesn’t like my idea of a bedpan under his seat. Men! I have errands to do so I put a big log on the fire for him, give him a kiss (on the cheek of course), tell him I love you, and off I go.

 I get home in the early afternoon and by now my legs and arms are voicing their complete disregard for my comfort. I have to break down and take a muscle relaxer. Rudy is going back to bed for a nap, and I lay down on the heating pad hoping to convince my body that it really likes the cold. I get some relief just in time to feed again.  When I came home from my errands, I put a chicken on and by now it is falling off the bone. I take some of the stock for real chicken soup and put it to simmer while I feed. We have a lovely evening, I put Rudy to bed early and I come to the computer room to wonder where the day has gone yet again. I upload the pictures from my camera, posting them to my webshots and begin to write.

I thought when I lost my job and had the opportunity to stay home and take care of the ranch full time, I would get all these wonderful things done. Oh the plans I had. Well I have gotten some things done, but only a fraction of what I planned. Most days seem to dissolve and fade before they’ve even started, and at days end I wonder at the fact that yet again another day has passed with out my getting anywhere near what I planed to accomplish that day. Granted I have had issues with medications to control my pain, yet still and all I thought I could really do more. Oh well such is life. We will forge ahead and tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sarashea (Kitten x Serinask)

There are no words to describe Sara. She was a one of a kind horse. When I met Rudy he had been working with Sara for about three years. Sara was owned by a dear friend of his in Tucson. Kitten (her dam) was a champion QH and Serinask (her sire) was a well-known son of Bask. Sara was an extremely dominant mare, so much so she could never be put out to pasture with the other horses. She would kick the living daylights out of anyone who came close, even if she had to chase them down. Since no one would ride Sara, Pat gave Rudy a free hand. I believe he told me it took him 2 years just to slow her down. By the time I met them he was showing her.

When we moved from Tucson to Phoenix Rudy asked Pat if she would sell Sara to us but she couldn’t let her go. Off we went to Phoenix and three weeks later Pat called and said she couldn’t bear to see Sara all alone in her stall day after day.  She brought Sara to us and we had our first horse.

Now comes the fun part. I hadn’t ridden a horse in over twenty years at this point, but I had no fears. From the first time I really rode a horse on a friend’s cattle ranch, I had no problem. I had a perfect seat. I knew how to steer, how to move into a trot and a gallop. When it came to rounding up the cattle you kept your feet away from the horse’s side, let the reins loose, and the horse did all the work, facile. I was never saddle sore no matter how many years were in between, so even that wasn’t a worry. Of course I told Rudy I already knew how to ride. Oh, big mistake! I did confess one thing, I had never actually saddled a horse. There was always someone there to saddle for me. Well that had to change.

He showed me how to brush Sara down, how to clean her feet, and then came the saddle. His saddle was one Pat had given him, an old working cow saddle. It was worn and tattered, and he loved it. It fit him perfectly. I repeat it fit him. At this point in time I was a 120 lb accountant. For my size I was pretty strong considering I never really did anything like weight lifting and such. I was also (sadly was) naturally toned without any effort. Rudy brought the saddle out and showed me what to do. I put the blanket on just as he showed me, and then he handed me the saddle, the at least 70 lb saddle. I could barely hold it let alone lift it onto a horse’s back. Ok he gave me a break, we had only been married six months so he put the saddle on Sara and proceeded to let me cinch her up etc.

Now we get to ride, yes. He gives me instructions, what do you mean right lead, left lead. I have no clue what he’s talking about. You get on a horse and they go, no problem. Ok we will walk, and trot. OMG! That natural seat I had, well somewhere down the line of life it totally left me. I was bouncing all over the place like a total greenhorn. I couldn’t believe it. No mater what I did I couldn’t sit my seat. Sara on the other hand was perfect, and Rudy couldn’t believe that. She was as patient and careful as if I were a six-year-old child taking her first ride. This horse that no one could ride because she was so hot, and Rudy had to spend years getting her to slow down because all she knew was to take off at a gallop, was walking, slowly, and trotting, slowly. No matter what I did or didn’t do, she was perfect.

That lesson was fairly short, I knew I would do better tomorrow, wrong again, and I’m starting to what, hurt? How can that be? I’ve never been saddle sore in my life, never, and I would ride for hours. That was only the beginning. By the end of the week I was so frustrated. Rudy was telling me to do this, and do that, and I couldn’t because I hurt so bad I couldn’t stand it. Then he would tell me to take a right lead, and I went right, no you go left when you take a right lead, what kind of sense does that make? It was a very bad two weeks. Eventually I was human again, and all through it Sara was a perfect angel. That is until Rudy got on her back, and then she was a pistol fully loaded. It wasn’t that she was bad, it was just that with Rudy she would get so excited that she would try to do everything she knew all at the same time, and she had been trained to do everything, including cutting, reining, roping, you name it, she knew it. She also knew that I was a novice and she treated me as such. The more advanced I became the more she started to challenge me. She wanted to make sure I knew my stuff. Rudy didn’t train me so much as Sara trained me. I’ll never forget those days and the special bond we had.

It was about a year later when Rudy came home and said there was going to be a horse auction down the road. One horse is hard to share, and we could never go out for a ride together. We bought Marina, and Moraddinn. The big fear was, what would Sara do? We had a little over an acre and we bought some corral panels for the two kids and the rest of the fenced back we left for Sara. The kids were only about a year and a half so the hope was Sara wouldn’t think of them as a threat. I kept telling Rudy “it will be alright, don’t worry, Sara will be fine.”

We set up the corral panels and the day came when our first kids came home. They were so good. We carefully took them in back and led each one to their corral, and prayed.  Sara went over to meet them and she was fine. Ok who is this and what have you done with Sara? We watched them carefully and as night came there was Sara standing in front of the two stalls protecting her kids. She was Queen and they were her kids.

She was like that the rest of her life. I think when she came to us she finally had a purpose in life. We were her people and she was there to take care of us, to raise our kids, and teach them their place. I think coming to us changed her. She was no longer just another horse who had to fight for her place of dominance. She taught me just about everything I know about how to handle a horse. She kept me on my toes so I wouldn’t get lackadaisical about any horse I rode. Rudy taught me what to do, she prepared me to do it.

When we were in Ca., we discovered she was a Cushing’s mare. Neither Rudy nor I had ever heard of Cushing’s. She had an abnormally long coat, but that’s just the way she was. The vet never really explained what Cushing’s was, she just told us there really wasn’t anything we could do about it. She also had arthritis and stifle problems but she still had all her fire, and despite her pain, would do what ever we asked of her. Exercise seemed to help so I rode her but not hard. We also found different supplements that seemed to help ease her pain. Rudy didn’t want to give her Bute all the time because it is so hard on the stomach, so we tried to give it to her sparingly. Finally she foundered. We got her over that and she was fine for a while, and then she foundered again. That was it. Rudy couldn’t stand to see her in such pain, and we made the decision to put her down. She was 21. I know she had a happy life with us and in spite of the Cushing’s she had a fairly long life. Sadly if we knew then what we knew now, she would have had a healthier life, could have lived longer, and we could have bred her, which was always my wish. Marina, whom she adopted as her own, and who she taught to be just like her, also has Cushing’s. There is medication you can give Cushing’s horses, and Marina’s Cushing’s is under control. We have bred her since she was diagnosed, and I plan to breed her again this spring as she seems to do better when bred. A veterinarian friend of mine, told me that some studies have shown that Cushing’s mares actually do better when bred, because they do not have the ups and downs of hormonal changes brought on by their cycles. If only we had known.

Sara will always be with us. She was a loving and endearing mare with a great heart. We will always miss her. We will miss her demanding attitude, her mischievous tricks, like letting herself out of her stall along with everyone else. We will miss her no nonsense “I am queen so get over it” attitude, and her gentle protective spirit.   

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Warren Park Stud

Aulrab & Sandy Warren

By the time we reached Auberry, CA in April 2001, we had bred Marina and were expecting our first foal in Feb 2002. At that time we had Sarashea, Marina, and Moraddin.  In looking for a place to live Rudy had noticed a farm called Warren Park Stud. Unbeknownst to me he went looking for another mare for us. He came home with a video of a young flaxen chestnut stallion. I was in love. Remember at this time I knew nothing about breeding, bloodlines, or even that there were specific strains of Arabians. I only knew that this was a horse of extreme beauty. His bloodlines were unique, his Sire being Aulrab (CMK) and his dam Happey Pico a Hearst bred mare, and we had to have him if we were going to breed horses.

Warren Park Stud is the work of one woman, Sandy Warren. For over forty yeas she has been breeding CMK (Crabbet, Maynesburough, Kellogg) Arabians. Ibn Aulrab (Aulrab x Happey Pico) was a young stallion bred by her. The owner wanted to sell him, and of course she had a video of him and his first foal. Ibn had a mini horse babysitter. Earl, his owner didn’t realize that a colt less than two could father a foal and the surprise was a tiny black half-Arab with phenomenal movement. Of course we went to see him and neither one of us could say no to the other. Ibn became our first stallion.

Through Ibn we began a relationship with Dick and Sandy that is as close today ans it was then. It was Sandy who opened my eyes to the Arabian horse world of breeding. She taught me about bloodlines, history, correct conformation, and what to breed for, and look for. She is the most remarkable woman I have ever met. When we first met her, she had just gotten a halo removed. The year before she had broken her back and neck in three places in an accident during a thunderstorm. She had gone out to check on one of her stallions and found that he had gotten his foot stuck in the fence. Dick (her husband) came out with a flashlight, which startled the stallion, who then accidentally threw her against a tree. How she survived without surgery and without being paralyzed I will never understand.

Rudy and I became fast friends with both Dick, and Sandy. Rudy helped out when he could with the foals as Sandy had to be very careful, and Dick isn’t a horse person. At the time it was just he and Sandy at the farm. The farm was on the opposite side of Fresno so I couldn’t get out there as often as I wanted, but I always brought my camera. I would take pics of the horses, and then go and sit for hours while she told me stories.  She knew and rode some of the greats in the Arabian world. She has bred horses that now carry her bloodlines in South Africa, Canada, and Australia. She never received the notoriety of the Varian horses or even the trendy horses, but her breeding consistently produces horses of extreme quality. I can always spot an Aulrab descendent. They are nearly always chestnut with a lot of white. Some can or are double registered as Arabians and as Paints carrying the Sabino gene.

Today Sandy has many health issues. She has survived pneumonia numerous times, Leukemia, Lymphatic cancer, and of course a broken back. Because of weak lungs (she had asthma and never smoked), she is on oxygen 24/7. She has pneumonia again and now she is getting a monitor to determine what her heart is doing. It seems that there is some kind of blockage in her heart valve. How she manages to beat the odds is beyond me, but I for one hope she keeps doing it.

Dick and Sandy have help now and the farm is doing well, not so much monetarily, but with loads of quality. There are still a couple of her stallions I want to breed to. I plan to carry on in my own small way as much of her breeding as I can. We have three of her horses. Angel, Sierra’s dam who carries within her the bloodlines each of Sandy’s foundation stallions, is one of them. We also own Jeri who is a Lewisfield Magic son, and an Aulrab grandson. I plan to add an offspring of GA Topaz and Mystic Aulrab thru AI. This will not be a full representation of her breeding, but we are still a small breeder, and we have too many mouths to feed, and keep as it is. Of the 15 horses we now have, only four are planned for sale. Hopefully one day we will have a farm that is equal in quality to that of Warren Park Stud. We only have thirty more years to go.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Ok so now what?

I've finally decided to start a blog though I have no clue what the hay I’m doing. What the heck, if I flop I can stop (ooou). My husband says I should have no problem because I always have a story to tell, and am never at a loss for words. When it comes to horses I go on, and on, and on, far beyond where any sane person should go. How to begin is the question. Perhaps I should start with the name of my blog, A Pale Horse.

As a child I read everything I could find on horses taking out 6 books a week (that’s all you were allowed at the library), and returned them the following week only to have the librarian say “You know you don’t have to read them all in one week.”  My reply was always the same, “I know,” and back I would be the next week returning, and taking out six more.

Saturday mornings were the best. I’d get up quietly and tip toe down the hall to my parent’s room and closing their door as gently as I could. Back to my room I’d go, pick up my book and read until my parents awoke and kicked me out of bed.  I’d quickly get dressed and next was the TV. I watched every horse program regardless of how many times I’d seen that episode. Remember Sky King, Fury, Flicka and of course Roy Rodgers & Dale Evens. Now you know how old I must be.

My favorite horse was buttermilk. She was so beautiful with her pale crème color and her black mane & tail with black points on her legs. Now I know she was a double dilute buckskin. Then she was just my favorite horse.

Meeting my husband was a fairy tale dream come true, not only because it was love at first sight and as I always tell him, the perfect man for me, but he was also a horse trainer and totally understood my addiction to horses, though I hadn’t ridden in over 25 years and I’d never had lessons, or owned a horse. It was he who introduced me to Arabians. He likes them because they are always challenging. They keep you on your toes. They are great tricksters, remember everything, and are very lovey dovey. Basically they are oversized puppy dogs. It was also my husband who informed me that Arabians don’t come in Buckskin. I was devastated. I finally find the love of my life and he says if I want an Arabian it can’t be a Buckskin. How could he?

Well it’s nigh unto 18 years later, and I have my Buckskin. Ok, so he’s a half-Arabian stud colt, but I got my Arabian Buckskin.  In comes Aur Sierra Magic AKA Little Big Man.

It took six months after our marriage to get our first horse. Two years later we bought  two two year olds so he could have a horse of his own to start at the beginning, and of course I had to have a baby too. A number of years later we bred his mare since he had never started with a young’un, and that was that. Whether we new it or not we were on the roller coaster ride of being Arabian horse breeders. Mind you this was all for him by my suggestion and to my great delight. Seriously, we are both to blame. He brought home the flier for the stallion we first bred to, and he brought home the video of our first stallion so I can’t say it’s all my fault.

Breeding half-Arabians took some talking, however. In the back of my brain I still wanted my Buckskin. I would spend hours looking at horses at night after he went to bed, or early in the morning before I went to work. Lightning was the horse that broke the ice. We sold a filly to a now friend, and she just happened to have bred her mare to a Cremello QH racing stud. The filly had both a crème and dun gene with a base color of black, a Gruella. When they moved to Florida, they boarded their horses with us until they found a place. I of course fell in love with her filly and we made a deal. 

 I couldn’t get a Buckskin with her but I could get a Palomino or Dun crossed with our chestnut stallions. Besides she was a little sweetheart and still is today. A few years later I managed to convince my husband that we should breed half-Arabians as well. We acquired a beautiful Bay Saddlebred-Arabian cross mare and then I found the stallion that would give me everything I had dreamed of as a child. He’s a sable crème champagne dun, or a triple dilute Buckskin. My husband agreed and last year we bred Angel (100%CMK) to Sierra Hesa Chief from Flying Fox Ranch.

Eleven months I had to wait to see if I got any, or all of the dilute colors, if it were a stud colt, or filly, and most important, if it were a colt, he had to have the conformation, disposition, and intelligence to keep as a stud colt. You have no idea how agonizing those eleven months were. Finally about 10:00 at night Angel dropped her foal. It was a boy, it was a buckskin, and he was soooo big. No wonder Angel moved as though she was carrying a freight train, she was. He was as big, if not bigger, than our two-week-old filly. I call all the babies little girl, or little boy until they let us know what their name is. This was no little boy, this was a Little Big Man. Though we’ve not had him DNA tested, he very well may have gotten all three dilute genes and he possibly is a Sable Buckskin.

Yes I know this is a very long post, and I have gone on and on, but this is my first post so give me a break. Besides, I couldn’t very well just say my blog is called A Pale Horse because as a child I always wanted a horse like Buttermilk and I finally got one. How dull is that? I will try not to get too boring, but I have discovered after all these years, that I really like to write. It was my worst subject in school, mostly because I couldn’t spell worth didilly-squat. Thank you Lord for Spell check, man’s greatest invention. I hope you will come back and see what new and silly thing is happening at ShaRu Arabians.