Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rocking Horse 3 Phase! We Did It!!

Earlier this month, I competed Tucker in our first full three phase since his second and more severe bout with EPSM.
All I can say is, what a journey it has been, from 2012, where he could barely pick up a canter and not be able to maintain it, to being able to compete and finish all 3 phases in one day!
I was pretty apprehensive about our weekend at Rocking Horse, but show jitters are normal for me. I had a restless night, dreaming of every possible horrific event that can happen...from driving the truck and trailer off the Lake Jesup bridge into its 15,000 alligator infested waters, to falling off Tucker on xc and of course, being utterly embarrassed and forgetting our dressage test.
Tuesday and I had made the wise decision to haul Tucker and Nebo up to Rocking Horse on Friday, so that they could be settled in and figuring on an early morning dressage test, I didn't want the stress of rushing to get there on Saturday. It was a wise decision, we arrived, unloaded horses and tack, set up their stalls, waited out a storm and with the lightning finally moving off into the horizon, we tacked up and headed out to the cross country, which was open, to learn our course.
I had new boots on Tucker and I was interested in knowing how well they would hold up to galloping through the water, so as we approached the water complex, we trotted and cantered back and forth through the water. (the Woof Wear boots held up just fine with no slipping or turning.)
I was surprised to see a bank and a ditch on the course for beginner novice, albeit smalls ones, and later that day, I called my daughter Jen, who evented at the upper levels, and expressed my concern that the jumps were maxed out and while it was a straight forward course, the jumps looked big to me! Ha! What a weenie I have become!
Saturday morning, we warmed up for our dressage test. My husband, Peter, came along and he could not understand why Tuesday and I were the only ones wearing coats for dressage. I can't speak for Tuesday, but for me, it is all about tradition and looking your best.
We entered the ring at a nice forward trot and laid down a pretty respectable test. Our personal best to date, we scored a 32! Most of our scores were respectable 7's with his canters scoring mainly 6.5's...definitely something we need to work on. The judge commented on our test sheet that it was a lovely test! The test was good enough to land us in first place!
We had a bit of a break and the awesome crepe vendors were at the show, so I enjoyed a strawberry and banana crepe and walked the stadium course with Marcea and Tuesday. I changed shirts and then tacked up for back to back show jumping and cross country. We literally had about 13 minutes to go from the stadium ring out to cross country, so navy electrical tape was applied over Tucker's boots, Peter had my vest to hand off to me as we exited the ring and we headed out for a very brief schooling over fences with Marcea. I jumped about 3 times, declared that he was ready and into the ring we went.
God damnit, I had a bit of a mental lapse and we almost overshot fence 2. Really? On my husband's video, you can hear me declaring "Oh crap, 2! There it is!" and we make a tight right turn back towards the jump that I have ridden past and jump it on an angle. As we land, I hear the dull thud of the rail bouncing off the ground and I know that I have just blown my blue ribbon. We continue on and thankfully finish the course with no more brain farts and just the four penalties. We exit the ring and Peter hands me my vest. Tuesday is right after me and I watch her knock the same pole to the ground and then we head out to the cross country course, at a leisurely walk. I had made the decision that I was not going to rush out there, and it was a good choice, as they were just finishing up the tadpole division as I arrived.
Ten, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.....and off we go!
After we got past jump #2, a bench which I have never liked, I realized that HAY! I am having fun!!
The course was straight, up a small bank and into some trees, around the big bank, over the ditch, a smattering of coops and feeders. I did not even notice there was a photographer after one of the fences, nor did I realize I was being followed the whole time by the one jump judge on an ATV! It was just Tucker and myself, two beings becoming one as we fell into a steady rhythm of Tucker's heavy footed gallop.  Past the starting box, thankfully the tree that I hate was not on this course, into the big field, through the water, bend right into some more trees and head for home! I not only enjoyed myself, but I realized that the jumps were not that big, which photos and video confirmed! We finished clear and within time and dropped to 3rd place.
I was so pleased with Tucker! My fears about eventing an EPSM horse fell away. He can hold his own and his recovery was pretty spot on, with him drinking and eating well.
I realized that we are pretty competitive and after doing a few more at beginner novice, if for no other reason than to build my confidence, we will be ready to move up to novice!

We have worked long and hard for that trot!
Getting it together in show jumping after a near disaster!
 
Those jumps are tiny!
Well done!
 

A successful finish to cross country! What better way to share than with friends! Tuesday and Nebo!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Finding THE Perfect Boarding Barn

There have been lots of articles and blogs lately that talk about what makes the perfect boarder or what makes the perfect barn manager. But none of them have addressed what I have felt makes for THE perfect boarding barn.
I have been on both sides of the fence. I had my own farm that I leased and ran as both a boarding farm and non-profit rescue facility for 6 years. I also have managed farms and I have been a boarder. So I know what it is to be both a boarder and a barn manager.
When I leased the barn, I was probably the happiest I have ever been as a horse owner, because the barn was run exactly as I wanted it run. And you know what? My boarders must have been pretty happy as well, because the only time they left was if they were moving from the area. I did kick one boarder out, she was my first boarder. It was very frustrating that she would haul her horse 3 hours to her barrel racing trainers facility and when she returned a few days later, it was apparent that she had loaded her sweaty horse directly onto the trailer and hauled him home without rinsing him off. He would step off the trailer with dried sweat and utterly exhausted. She would tell me how her trainer would spend 2-3 hours running the horse in circles in hopes of improving his time. And then, Monday morning, he would colic. Without fail. I was unable to make her see the connection between what I regarded as abuse at the trainers and the Monday morning colics. I finally had enough and asked her to leave.
Her replacement was with me almost 6 years. She left twice. A college student, she took her horse home one summer and then she tried to find a barn closer to her home. I told her I would see her in a few months. And I did. Two barns and 6 months later, she returned.
When I ran the barn, I like to think that I was pretty easy going. I would feed whatever the owner wanted. The horses always had clean, good quality hay and the water buckets were dumped and cleaned daily and refilled with fresh, cool water. Water troughs were dumped daily and scrubbed of algae. The fencing was safe and kept in good repair, I always had grass and good footing. Stalls were mucked daily and bedded deeply. I blanketed in the winter and horses were hosed off in the summer. I really had no rules, other than keep the barn clean and leave things as you found it.
And isn't that really what we all want as horse owners? Good feed, safe facilities, fresh water, clean stalls and ample turnout with grass?  I don't think that the services I provided were above and beyond what every horse deserves. I think that is what every horse and its owner pays for and should receive.
So why is it so hard to find a barn that cheerfully offers these basic services?
When I gave up the lease on my barn and became a boarder again, I admit, it was hard going from having total control of your place to placing the care of your beloved horse in someone else's hands.
I found I had to make a list of what was most important for me. Besides the obvious, which I mentioned already. Because I have a "special needs" horse, it was important to find a barn that would adhere to his diet (Tucker has EPSM. His diet was planned by a vet and is crucial to his well-being) and due to his extreme allergies to bugs, he could not ever be turned out at night. That was hard, as most barns in Florida turn out at night during the hot summer months, and finding a barn that would bring him in by noon and not leave him out all day in the heat and storms, was hard to come by. It seemed that I had to choose either option A or option B and there was no wiggle room.
Finding those 2 criteria meant that perhaps some of my "basic" requirements" may have to take a back seat. The trick is to find what you can live with and what you can't.
After a few moves (one barn quickly went down the tubes as the manager decided that running a barn was hard work, another barn decided not to be flexible with turnout), I found a setting that was a bit of a drive for me, but allowed Tucker to eat what he wanted and go out during the daytime. But fencing sucked (they did have hot wire, so I was able to live with the unsafe fencing) and I had to understand that I would have to clean my buckets (and eventually dump them daily when that stopped happening), that the stall was not going to be immaculately cleaned (just add some additional time to the barn visit, and go over the stall yourself) and dump and clean the troughs yourself. This worked fine until the care unexplicably and utterly deteriorated. Then it became a situation where boarders were teaming up to cover for one another if one of us had to be out of town. We knew horses would not have buckets topped off during the heat of the day, they might be forgotten and left out in the heat or a storm, hay might be forgotten and god knows what else. For months, we covered for one another, until one by one, we were able to find new barns. During that time, manure and fly management ceased to exist, grass turned into sand and weeds (and some toxic weeds for some fields), and the suddenly quiet and happy barn turned into nightmare with boarders complaining nonstop and weekly arguments between boarder and barn management. My happy place was no longer a fun and happy place. Some boarders were lucky and found great barns, others were not so lucky and went from one hell hole to another. I stuck it out longer than some other boarders because I had to stick to my list and I did not want to trade one set of problems for another.
I finally found THE perfect boarding barn and moved Tucker there last May. And it hit me. I finally realized what THE perfect boarding barn was all about!
You see, at the barn I am at now, there are boarders who have been there for TWENTY years! One doesn't have to be a genius to know what the secret is.
It is all about giving the paying customer what they are paying for! Just as I used to give my paying customer  what they were paying for, so does this barn. There was no question about what I was feeding Tucker. When I was looking into new barns, I actually had a barn owner tell me that Tucker would be just fine eating what the other 19 horses in her barn ate, never mind his EPSM or what the vet said. The arrogance on the other end of the line was mind boggling and I quickly ended our conversation. Not only could Tucker eat what he wanted, but EVERYTHING on my list was being checked off: morning turnout, check. water buckets cleaned daily and replenished with cool water, check. Good quality hay, check. Stalls cleaned daily, check. Pasture, manure and fly management, check, check, check. Lots of grass, safe turnout and no weedy fields? Three more checks.
And because the barn owner was giving her paying customers what they wanted, I noticed something amazing. There is so much respect and love and admiration for this barn owner, that when something happens (dog sick, gotta run to the vet; sick/injured horse, hurricane approaching), boarders appear almost from thin air to help! With the approaching hurricane last week, numerous boarders showed up to help finish barn chores and get the barn safe. The son of one boarder appeared first thing the following morning and picked up the tree branches that were blocking the driveway and disappeared before anyone knew he was there.  I have never once heard a boarder complain, and there is no barn drama whatsoever.
When I travel, I get text messages letting me know Tucker is fine. I get cute photos of my barn cat Hobbs, whom everyone has fallen in love with! We meet up for lunch and breakfast and when a boarders horse died recently, there was a collection taken up for a donation to the Morris Animal Foundation to help find a cure for cushings, the disease responsible for this horses death.
So what are clues to finding THE perfect boarding barn?
Well for starters, ask how long other boarders have been there. Is there a trend of longevity or is it a revolving door policy? If the barn is advertising every month for stalls available, that could be a clue. The barn I am at does not need to advertise. My farrier, vet and a local tack store owner all recommended this place. I just had to wait 6 months for an opening. I had never even heard of this barn, yet one of the local dressage judges boards here, so I knew that is must be a good place. So just because you have never heard of a place or seen it advertised, don't think that THE perfect place doesn't exist!
It goes without saying that you need to visit the barn and I suggest making a few visits. One barn I moved to looked great when I first checked it out, but when I moved my horses there 2 months later, the weeds were overgrown, there was trash everywhere and the tack room was a disaster.
When you visit, speak to boarders and listen carefully! They may be reluctant to tell you that they are unhappy, but you may be able to pick up clues from what they are telling you.
And of course, look at the horses. Are they in good health? Happy? Stalls clean, pastures in good condition? If a potential barn owner cannot accommodate you to stop in and visit within a timely manner, or they keep rescheduling or giving excuses, then something is wrong, especially if they are advertising for boarders.
If you are unhappy at your current farm, be sure to do your homework and evaluate a new barn very carefully. You do not want to go from a bad situation to one worse. I have many horror stories to relate of both myself and friends who ended up in worse situations. And be sure to ask friends, your farrier, your vet and even the local tack store what they have to say about a potential barn. And ask them if they can recommend a place if you are having a hard time finding one on your own.
If every barn owner and manager gave their paying customer what they are entitled to, there would be a lot more perfect barns and a lot less grumbling and barn drama!
The perfect barn will have clean and safe aisleways, which besides looking nice, help keep flies away.

The perfect barn will have ample grass, no weeds, and safe fencing. The horses should be fat and shiny and happy!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fall Is Coming And We Venture Out For Some XC Fun!

It may be hotter than hades, but by the time we make it to Labor Day weekend, I realize that I have survived another brutal summer, and while the days are still hot and humid, the mornings are staying cooler longer....it is 83 degrees at 10 am rather than 95 degrees, and the evenings are cool enough to resume walking the dogs.
It really helped my attitude this year in that my husband and I traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia over Labor Day for a wedding and then spent a few days at our daughter's in Arlington...which meant a trip to Middleburg! Being able to see the first pumpkins of the season and eat freshly harvested apples, really helped to put me in the mood and for once, when we returned to Florida, I did not gripe about how hot it was.
When I saw the post on facebook, that Marcea, my eventing trainer, was planning an outing to the Florida Horse Park for some cross country schooling, I immediately replied that I was coming. I contacted my friend, Tuesday, to let her know that I would be by to pick her and her horse up at 8 am and that she did not have the option of not going!
I have not schooled Tucker over cross country since last spring, our last outing was to a schooling show at Rocking Horse Stables in late May and I have been barely making it through each hot, humid and miserable summer day, looking forward to cooler weather. While I have been to the horse park as a spectator and vendor, I had never had the opportunity to school or show there, so I was ready for an adventure!
There were 9 of us, including Marcea. It was a bigger group than I was used to, but we were mostly riding at the same level, so it wasn't really an issue. Tuesday, who has only been the in the states for about s year, was not sure about what it meant to go schooling with a group, as apparently, things are done differently in the U.K. Her mount, Nebo, a very talented Thoroughbred, is green and was feeling quite fresh and full of himself. About halfway into our schooling, as we were practicing drops and banks, Tuesday echoed my sentiments, in that it was great going out in a school with an instructor, as we were being pushed and jumping things that we probably would not consider jumping if we were by ourselves. We spent nearly 3 hours tackling the hills, valleys, drops, ditches and water complex that make up the Florida Horse Park. Located just an hour north of Rocking Horse, the terrain is pretty similar, but the park is creative in how they have added valleys and change of terrain to make it different.
Tucker was very excited to be out on the course. He tackled everything with his usual gusto. Our only hesitancy came at the ditch...when Marcea asked for the first rider, we immediately volunteered, but as we neared the ditch, I realized it was a bit wider than the one we normally jumped at Rocking Horse. Tucker slammed on the brakes and then, not able to decide whether to jump it or walk it, he managed to step down into the ditch with his left foreleg and down onto the other side with his right. I thought for sure we were going down, but he quickly recovered, and we jumped the ditch a few more times without incident. I think that of all the jumps, the ditch will always be the one I dislike the most, and exactly for the reason above...I have a deep fear of the horse falling into the ditch.
I have to insert just one bit of complaint about the day...now I love the people who event, they are one of the reasons I was drawn to the sport, with their generosity and helpful attitude, something you rarely see at hunter shows. In the past, of all the years that I have been cross country schooling, everyone has been very considerate of their fellow eventers, waiting their turn or going to another part of the course to school.
I was dismayed to see riders who disregarded the fact that we were a group with an instructor, and would regularly cut in front of one of our riders to jump a line. This happened over and over. The offenders were mostly from the same few, who were also riding in a group with an instructor. At one point, while I was coming through a valley and up the other side, I actually had to yell for someone to move out of my way, as he had parked himself and his horse right in our path to a fence.
Cross country courses are large areas of land, in case you hadn't noticed. There is absolutely no reason to be rude and ignore general eventing protocol and etiquette. I sincerely hope this was an isolated experience and not a trend, as there is no place for this behavior in eventing.
Other than that and with the exception that it ended up being a warmer day than I would have liked for September, it was a beautiful outing with great friends and talented horses.
What better way to spend a day?
 
Tucker after XC at the Florida Horse Park
Tucker slathered with poultice back home after XC

Friday, July 22, 2016

Product Review: Fleeceworks, Neue Schule and Total Saddle Fit

So I figured I might as well review three products. Two of them are pretty new to my tack box and the other, has been around for a year.
The one that has been around for a year, is the Shoulder Relief girth from Total Saddle Fit.
I had never heard of the girth until last year's Rolex, when my daughter steered me toward their booth. After Rolex, I came across a great review of the girth and in the next few weeks, several friends purchased girths and were raving about them. A few weeks later in May, a box arrived from my daughter for my birthday, and it contained a Shoulder Relief girth.


Now don't laugh and ask why are they including instructions for how to put on the girth. But that first time you tighten up your new girth, you are going to want to put it on backwards, especially if you have used any belly guard girth...not that I have. But even with the D rings and common sense shouting at you to put the girth on one way, you might be like me and the second time you use it, you are going to put it on backwards. That is why they include instructions. For idiots like me.
The design of the girth is to keep the saddle from interfering with the shoulder. The girth changes the position and angle of the billets and as a result, if you have a problem with your saddle sliding forward and interfering with the shoulder, this should stop that problem.
I have never ridden in anything other than your standard contour girth and was quite happy with my Stubben girth. If it isn't broke, why fix it, right?  I have never noticed an issue with my saddle sliding forward, but I will say, that after using the girth, I did notice freer shoulder movement. He seemed muck looser in the forehand and if possible, even softer through the back. Being a draft cross, while Tucker is a lovely mover for his breed and size, I will take any help we can get on the flat. I loved the suppleness of the leather and there was never any chaffing or rubbing...except the time I put the girth on backwards.
Fast forward nearly a year. About 8 months into the daily use of the girth, I noticed that the girth was cracking and there were even small holes in the leather. Now I am anal about my tack being clean. I religiously wipe my tack down after every ride. So there really wasn't any explanation for the leather to be falling apart. I mentioned this to the reps at their booth at Rolex this past spring. They were horrified, apologized profusely and immediately sent me a replacement girth. They get a 100% for customer service.
The All Purpose/Jumping girth retails for $150. Looking through the SIX pages of girths in the Dover catalog, I have concluded that this is a bargain, with some, no, make that MANY girths, retailing in the $200-$440 price range. Wow! Who knew?
Based on the price, customer service, and more importantly, the results with my horse, I highly recommend this girth.


Last month, I purchased an NS or Neue Schule bit. Tucker has been improving in his dressage lessons, getting more supple, rounder and forward, but Bill Woods, my dressage instructor, suggested a different bit from the 16mm loose ring snaffle I used every day. He thought something in the 12-14mm range, perhaps a twist, might get Tucker to respond better to my aids. My friend Sandy, and her daughter, Nikki, ride in NS bits and were very impressed with them, so I decided to rack up the visa card and purchase the Tranz angled lozenge loose ring. At 14mm and with a Salox mouth, it was touted to encourage a "true, consistent contact and a higher level of responsiveness." Hmmm....sounds like exactly what I am looking for! In addition, the rounded center lozenge is set at a 20 degree angle, enabling more cleanly defined rein aids.
I swapped out my bits and the first thing I noticed was a much quicker level of responsiveness to downward transitions. Halt, please. YES! was the immediate response. I felt that he was rounder, especially though the poll and he was more relaxed through the jaw. Never have I felt that this bit is severe or abusive in his mouth, something I am very concerned about. I was skeptical of these high priced bits with their fancy metals, but I have clearly learned that there is something to be said about some of these bits. There appears there is more saliva with the bit. I am not sure how to clean the Salox, so I use the SOS pad on the stainless steel rings and just wipe the Salox with a wet sponge and then rinse with clean water.
The bit retails for $135. Like the girth, this appears to be a bargain! I highly recommend this bit if you are looking for more responsiveness from your horse.


Lastly, my Fleeceworks bamboo eventing saddle pad arrive this week and I love it!
I am a saddle pad junkie...who isn't? My criteria is that it must be durable, breathable and fit well....I have returned many pads that simply were not long enough in both directions....I want a pad that doesn't end at the cantle and I want it to come down past the end of the saddle flaps, not stop there. I don't mind spending more than $50 on a pad, but it better last me more than a year, especially if I am rotating my pads and it is being used only once or twice a week. I have purchased fancy schmancy pads off of etsy, that looked really cool, but the binding has worn away after only a few months. Additionally, the pad has to be breathable and lightweight enough for our Florida heat and humidity and be easy to wash off or throw in the washing machine.
I saw the bamboo pads at Rolex and Judith offered to send me a custom pad. I requested a white pad with navy trim. I also purchased a set of shipping wraps made in the bamboo material. I haven't had the opportunity to use them yet, but I appreciate that they are long enough for Tucker's height and appear to be lightweight.
The advantage of the bamboo is that it is breathable, pulling heat and moisture through the cotton flannel and away from working muscles. It claims to be able to store 35% of its own weight in liquid, is elastic, which will provide relief from pressure points and is a sustainable, natural fiber. The quilted cotton flannel lined with bamboo offers a firm support to assist in muscle fatigue. As a result, "total protection from excess heat/moisture equals total protection against one of the top reasons for back injury in performance horses."
Since Tucker has EPSM, the fact that this material claims to assist against muscle fatique is a big asset.
Apparently the way it does this is by Fleeceworks placing bamboo between the horse and any foam in their saddle pads. This will draw sweat and disseminate heat through its fibers. This can not only enhance performance of the horse, it can prevent muscles from overheating. According to Fleeceworks info tab, each fiber is hollow and becomes plump and elastic as it absorbs sweat. This translates into effective relief from pressure points.
Not only are the bamboo pads breathable, they are also machine washable.
I have used Tucker's new pad several times this week.
It looks great on him!! Functionality aside, I just love how this pad looks, with the contour eventing cut and the ample length in both directions.
I was impressed with how well the pad handled his sweat and heat in our high temps and high humidity. There were no uneven marks on his hair when I removed the saddle and pad. I just hosed the pad off and it came remarkable clean for just using the hose on it.
The contour pad retails for $69. For such quality and benefits, I find it well worth every penny.




Here you can see a difference in the size of my old loose ring and the NS loose ring

Fleeceworks Bamboo contour eventing pad

Love the fit of the Fleeceworks Contour eventing pad! Ample room all around!

Fleeceworks bamboo Contour eventing pad and Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief girth

 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Surviving The Heat

I unfortunately live in Florida. I am not bashful about proclaiming my hate for this state, with its lack of hills, swimming holes that don't contain a gator or two and no fireflies. Born in West Virginia and raised outside of Pittsburgh, I would leave tomorrow if I could. We have two seasons here in Florida: Hot and Warm. We used to have decent winters....heck, it has even snowed a flake or three, but it has been several years since I have had to pull out the really heavy blankets for Tucker. I miss the winter of 2010, when the horses were in blankets for a record 45 days straight. Ah, those were the good old days!
I swear every year that summer comes earlier and earlier, probably because it has been eons since we had a long and decent spring.
We have been experiencing a heat wave this week....temperatures are hitting 92 already by the time I arrive at the barn at 10am and the heat index has been averaging 110. You wouldn't think so, but it actually makes you appreciate the days when it tops out at 92 and the heat index is in the low 100's!
So short of not riding your horse for 4-6 months of the year, how does one cope with horses and heat?
Clothing:
I was hard to convince, but I love long sleeve technical shirts. I am cooler in them because I don't have the sun baking my skin. There are plenty of options to the expensive shirts available at your local tack stores. I found some shirts last year in Target, made by Champion for under $25. Uniglo also makes their airism shirts, which retail for under $20. I don't like that they are super fitted, but I will wear one underneath a lightweight polo or t-shirt to give my arms protection from the sun.
For breeches, I love Devon-Aire's All Pro line. They are available in ribbed or smooth and in a variety of rises and colors. They are much lighter than the Tuff Riders and wear much better and at under $65, they are affordable. The All Pro line is a moisture wicking, high tech fabric, perfect for hot, humid weather. I also wear Devon-Aire's Signature Madrid. They are also a high tech fabric and light weight, but cost a bit more than the All Pro's. At $109, I tend to save them for lesson days and for showing.
I also make sure that I put sunscreen on my face and neck. I wish that I had been more diligent about this when I was younger, but better late than never.
Hydrate!!
I am a tea drinker. I drink unsweet iced tea all day long. At the barn I bring two containers, one of ice water and one of unsweet tea. I am easily bothered by the heat and my blood pressure drops quickly. It is important that I drink and I snack on Kinds granola. I like the peanut butter variety and I add in dried apricots.
So what about your horse?
It is important that your horse stays cool and comfortable as well. When I was younger and lived to compete and the heat didn't bother me, I thought nothing of riding in the middle of the day during the summer months. That way both my horse and myself were acclimated and were fit to compete. Nowadays, I would rather have a root canal than show in the summer (we volunteer to jump judge instead!) and there is no way that I would ride in the middle of the day. When I was on a different schedule and leased my own barn, I rode before 8 in the morning. Now I don't get on until 10. Tucker has already been out for a few hours and so I hose off his chest and legs when I bring him in (unless he is really hot and sweaty, then he gets a complete rinse off, pre-ride.) Our rides in the summer are short and sweet and to the point. Some days, if it is especially hot and humid, we just walk under the trees and focus on halt halts, leg yields, turn on haunches, etc. I always forget how beneficial it is to just walk and I sometimes feel that I have accomplished more on those days then when we actually add in trot and canter work. If there is a good breeze and I can tolerate it, we do add in more work at the other gaits, but we get to the point and I rarely ride more than 20 minutes.
My horse comes first post ride. Tack is swiftly removed before I remove my helmet or gloves or check my phone for any messages ( I refuse to ride with a phone...that is my time!) Tucker is not much for drinking from a bucket if I offer him after a ride, but he will drink from the hose, so we get to the wash rack, get the water spraying on him and I offer him the hose to drink from. I make sure I rinse under his tail, not only to remove sweat, but that is an area that will help cool down your horse quickly. I was visiting at a high end show barn once and watched horse after horse be rinsed off and not once did anybody ever lift the tail. Yuck!
Tucker is cooled out with some hand grazing under some shade and once I have finished up with him, he is in his stall for the rest of the day, fan on and 2 buckets of cool, fresh and clean water. Some barns prefer night turnout schedules. Due to Tucker's allergies, he only goes out during the day. In the summer, his schedule is shortened due to the heat and storms, but after a light lunch, he is content to nap until his next meal.
I do offer electrolytes to Tucker in his lunch, although for him, he gets them more for his EPSM. Electrolytes help to replenish minerals that are lost during sweating. Once in his stall, he is fed lunch, which is a mash, which is a great way to get water into your horse. He is pretty good about drinking water from his buckets and I usually have to top off his buckets before I leave the barn. And speaking of water, one of my pet peeves is not having cool, clean water available for your horse. When your horse is turned out, dump out the water and fill it with fresh water. This is why I don't like big water troughs, as they are a pain to clean. I prefer using muck buckets for outdoor water troughs, as they are easy to dump and clean. By doing so, you can check for any critters that may have become stranded in the water, and you can keep the algae away. I am always shocked to see barns that do not dump the water daily and the horses are left to drink warm or even hot water. I have seen some barns where the algae was so thick in the trough that one would never know if there was a dead animal contaminating the water. If the water buckets and troughs are not something that you would want to drink out of, what makes you think your horse will? And while you are at it, put a stick or rope into the water, so a wayward squirrel or bird can get themselves out of the water.
Champion high tech shirt & Devon-Aire All Pro breeches, help me deal with the heat!

Friday, June 10, 2016

It's All About the Horse!

(The blog below originally appeared in my other blog, Smart Horse Keeping. In an effort to consolidate my blogs, I am reposting and will be reposting other blogs from that site. You can visit my facebook page,   www.facebook.com/CommonSenseHorseKeeping  As you can see, I changed the name on my facebook page! Enjoy!)
Proof that I rode before I walked!
 
Fresh, cool water....everyday!
 





It's all about the horse. That is why people run stables. Or at least, that should be the mantra of stable managers and owners, but unfortunately, it isn't in many cases.
The purpose of this blog is to educate not only stable owners and managers about how to properly run a barn, but to educate the boarding horse owner, who should be savvy enough to know how to get the most for their dollar and to make sure that the barn believes that "it is all about the horse." In other words, making sure your horse is getting the best possible care. Unfortunately, many horse owners have no clue as to basic horsemanship and rely on the words of someone who may or may not have an idea of how to run a barn.
What makes me qualified to tackle this topic?
I have been involved with horses my entire life. My grandparents had a 38 acre farm outside of Pittsburgh, and Grandpa always made sure there were horses around for me to enjoy. My grandparents and my mother all rode and my grandfather was my first mentor in the horse world. Many of his remedies are outdated (like giving a horse tobacco to worm him) but other lessons I learned from him still hold true today, such as feeding a better quality feed will save you money in vet bills down the road and horses should have clean and cool water available all the time.
When we moved to Florida, and I was able to get my own horse, since money was very tight, I had to go the partial boarding route, which meant learning how to muck stalls, choosing the right nutrional program and how to keep my horse safe and sound so as to avoid costly vet bills.
Eventually, I could afford full board. But I was never happy with this arrangement. There were always some concession, and it was my horse who paid the price. Cheaper feed, cheaper hay. Limited turnout. No shavings on mats. Services paid for that weren't delivered. And I wasn't the only one. Other people I spoke to were not happy with their boarding arrangements, but due to work, family, etc., they had no other options.
The stories I heard, not to mention my personal encounters, were jaw dropping:
Boarders who paid premium prices, only to have supplements sit unopened on the feed room shelf, never fed to their horse.
Stables who took the liberty of keeping horses drugged to make them easier to handle.
Horses fed the wrong feed.
Colicing and injured horses that owners were never notified of until after the fact.
Stable workers who were abusive to horses.
Boarders who paid for trainers to ride their horses, which never happened.
Water buckets that are never dumped, are full of hot water and slime.
Unfortunately, the list goes on and on.
Over the years, I have seen it all. Many of the above examples I personally experienced. Too many people think that having a barn is fun and glamorous and exciting. Then reality sets in. It is hard work. You are on call 24/7. In all kinds of weather. And it is expensive to run a barn. Feed is expensive. Shavings cost money. Things break. Things break ALL THE TIME!
So barn owners start cutting corners. They forget that its all about the horse. They feed cheap feed. Cheap hay. Provide less bedding. And unfortunately, it is the horse that pays the price. They lose weight. Their condition level suffers. Their coat becomes dull. They become injured or sick.
So while the barn owner thinks that they are saving money, in the long run, the owner is losing money, because now their vet bills have increased or they are no longer competitve at horseshows.
It's like the person who puts cheap gas in their car or doesn't bother maintaining it with regular service. In the long run, you will have expensive repair bills. Same theory applies to the care of your horse. Take good care of him now, and you can avoid expensive expenses down the road.
I have managed my own barn, managed barns for others and run a non-profit horse rescue. I have been involved with the United States Pony Club, which is in my opinion, the greatest youth equine association on earth. The lessons learned are endless and I love that they put the emphasis on horsemanship, not competing.
And so, I hope to compile what I have learned, and share it with my fellow horseman, whether you are new to horses or an old pro. We are never to old to learn! Please share your boarding stories with me, either as a manager/owner or a boarder.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why Are We Showing In The Heat? But We Did It!!

As I blogged last week, I had entered Tucker in the Rocking Horse Stables schooling trials. I had missed the winter season and summer was upon us, and I really wanted to attend, 1) so we could say we had finally gotten to a trial this year, 2) to focus on show jumping and dressage and 3) so we could push ourselves a little in the heat.
I hate the heat. I hate Florida, and I hate summer in Florida. Since menopause, it has gotten harder and harder to tolerate the heat and there is nothing more torturous than trying to ride when it is 95 degrees out and you are experiencing a hot flash! I admit I am a total wimp when it comes to the heat. I will take snow and ice over the heat...and yes, I am from the north, so I know what winter is like.
The week leading up to Rocking Horse was actually decent, but of course, Saturday morning, the day of the show, summer officially arrived and it was just plain miserable, even at 9am as I was loading Tucker. To make matters worse, I had eaten something the night before that disagreed with me and I had a good case of show jitters. Not a good way to start the day.
We arrived at the show and as luck would have it, they were behind schedule in the stadium ring. Figures.
We did a short warm up...the sweet thing about Tucker is that he doesn't need much jumping. He is uncomplicated and thankfully, we can get the job done without a lot of sweat before hand.
I had entered the 2'6 and 2'11 classes, with no expectations, other than to work on my form, our leads and my head game. I used to love jumpers, did it for years on my Sir Tally, but being out of it for years started to cause my brain to play mental games....I am always worried of making a total fool of myself, whether by missing a distance, knocking a rail or just by having bad form. Watching the 2' class erased most of those fears, as I watched some really bad rounds. I only hope that they were beginner riders, but shame on their trainer for bringing a rider to a show who has no idea of how to release and is yanking the mouths of their mounts.  I felt pretty confident as I entered the ring, but had absolutely no expectations, other than to enjoy the ride.
And we did, as we hit every distance. We didn't get every lead, but I had the presence to ask for simple changes and get them. We didn't have Marcea school us, but I think I did her proud and followed her instructions for riding into the corner and flexing him to the outside, which helped for a straight approach. All was great until about the 3rd from last jump, when I think Tucker and I both had the same revelation, which was that it was wicked hot and what the hell were we doing? I decided in a split second that I had nothing to prove to anybody by trying to ride in the heat. We somehow finished the last three jumps, though I doubt it was pretty! We finished clean.
By the time I got back to the barn, to wait for the next class, which was an hour away, I decided to scratch. I was hot and light headed and feeling a bit miserable.  I was pleased with how our class had gone and decided to just ride our dressage test.
Thankfully, there was a bit of a breeze for our test. We rode BN B. When we finished, the judge asked me what size circles I was doing. She said that they weren't 20 meters but that they weren't 15 meters. I just laughed and patted Tucker as we exited. I thought our circles were on the mark, but who knows? We did receive a 33 for our test, a personal best, so I was happy.
When I went to collect our test, I took a gander at the results board. While we were just out of the ribbons for our test...first place was a 24....we did win the jumper class!
And what did I wear? Well, lucky me, my Devon-Aire Signature Granada field boots arrived on Thursday. I have been riding in boots that are a size too big and didn't realize how much it affected my leg until I rode in the new boots! What a difference! And they are so comfortable! They felt completely broken in on Saturday. I wore my tan Madrids and the navy Ariat shirt. I think I looked pretty fashionable!

Blue looks good on Tucker!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Disaster Planning for the Horse Owner

*UPDATE*
September, 2017:
Hurricane Harvey hit Texas last week with devastating effects that will take years to recover from. The only good news was that the people learned their lessons from Hurricane Katrina and animals had more of a priority in evacuations this time around. The downside was that horses, cows and other livestock were not quite so lucky. While many horse owners did evacuate, there were those who were caught off guard and to this day, animals are still be rescued from the floodwaters.
With Hurricane Irma looming not so far off the coast of Florida, with no definitive set landfall location, it is encouraging to see that many horse owners are being proactive now and ready to evacuate. There are two excellent facebook sites:
Florida Equine Evacuations Locations https://www.facebook.com/groups/346108115474253/?fref=mentions
and
East Coast Equine Evacuation and Assistance Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/EAST.COAST.EQUINE.EVACUATION.AND.ASSISTANCE/?fref=mentions&pnref=story


These sites provide excellent resources for anyone needing to evacuate or for those with trailers and stabling to offer.


Remember! Better safe and sorry. You cannot wait until the last minute to evacuate with horses and livestock.


This is a repeat of a blog that I wrote a few years ago. As the DC for our pony club, I would invite the local fire department to come out to the barn every year and talk about disaster planning. On a side note, every farm owner should invite their local firemen to come out to the barn. They will inspect your barn and tell you what improvements need to be made. They will also welcome the opportunity to learn how to halter and lead horses, something which could someday save the life of your horse.




Pictures from Hurricane Charley in Central Florida, 2004:
                            





Disaster Planning

Blizzards in October. Hurricanes and flooding in Vermont. Tornadoes in the mountains. Sound like the latest disaster movie? No, unfortunately, that was the weather pattern last year in the United States. Hundreds of people and countless animals were killed, injured and left homeless. Ironically, Florida was one of the few states to not experience a natural disaster in 2011. But don’t let our quiet year fool you. That just means we are one year closer to our next big disaster. Will it be 2012? There is a good chance that we will be affected by a hurricane or tornadoes. We are already in a drought and experiencing wild fires.
No matter where you live, you need to have a disaster plan, not only for your home, but for your horses. Do you?
It isn’t that hard to plan one. The first thing you need to do is to identify what type of disasters your area may be subjected to. For Floridians, that means hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes and wildfires. Unfortunately, we don’t have much notice to inact an emergency plan with the
latter two, so it is all the more important to know what to do when Mother Nature comes calling.





Hurricanes, Tornadoes and Floods

Should I stay or should I go? No, not a question posed by the rock group The Clash, it is a serious question that you need to address in the event of a hurricane.
Usually, we will have several days notice of an impending hurricane. Except in 2004, when those of us in Central Florida had only 6 hours notice to prepare, when Hurricane Charlie suddenly changed its course. If you are going to evacuate, you need to do so when the first evacuation order is issued. Otherwise, if you wait until the last moment, you may find yourself sitting in a parking lot of bumper to bumper cars on the interstate. Identify what will cause you to leave. For me, living in the Orlando area, it would have to be a category 3 or 4, coming in along Cocoa Beach, to force me to leave. Another major factor to consider is whether or not you are in a flood zone. How close are you to a river or lake? Tropical Storm Fay in 2008 caused major widespread flooding for weeks. Many horses in Hurricane Katrina that were left behind, suffered a horrible death when their barns flooded. Remember, wherever you decide to evacuate to, the aftermath of the storm will most likely follow you, short of heading out of Florida and then going further west.


If you leave:

Take all your animals with you. Don’t leave any animal behind, you don’t know when you will return and it isn’t a good idea to leave their care in someone else’s hands.

Make sure your vehicle is gassed up and ready to go.

Keep important papers in your truck: vet records, identification and proof of ownership. In a disaster, health certificates are usually waived. Make sure your animals are current on their coggins and vaccinations.

Bring along enough hay and feed for several days. Have extra water in your trailer.

Bring your evacuation kit (below).

Know where you are going. Before hurricane season hits, research places that you can evacuate to. Don’t assume that showgrounds or other facilities will be open for evacuees.

Know back roads. Major roads become clogged very quickly.

Staying put? There is a lot to do to get ready, but you can do it!

The biggest question many horse owners want to know is, what to do with my horse? If I stay, do I leave my horse in or out? This is a topic discussed time and time again on countless bulletin boards.
Ask yourself, is your horse better left inside or out?

Look at your barn construction. In the event of strong winds, is your roof likely to blow off or collapse inward? Metal roofs will blow off. In the event of a collapse, what will fall on your horse? Concrete walls or 2x4’s? Is there a hayloft overhead with hay and equipment that can fall on your horse? If you turn your horse out, you have to consider that in 100 mph plus winds, even the smallest object becomes a flying missile. Tree branches, jump cups, buckets, blown off roof tops, will all cause serious injuries and fatalities to horses. Are there electrical wires near your fields?
What about your fencing? If you leave your horse out, ideally, there should be at least 2 perimeters of fencing, as downed fencing is a reality. In Hurricane Andrew, many horses that survived the storm, later died because of downed power lines in their fields and broken fencing which allowed them to escape and to be hit by vehicles. This is something you need to consider not only in a hurricane, but in an approaching tornado. Don’t assume that your horse can
outrun a tornado! They can’t! Nobody can.
The bottom line is, whether you leave your horse in or out is a decision that you need to make, based on your facilities. Personally, I will take my chances with a collapsing barn rather than leaving them out in the elements. In one of the many tornadoes that touched down last year, one farm in North Carolina lost all of their horses that were outside. The stalled horses all survived, save for one. The truth is, in a storm such is Andrew of Katrina, there is only one good answer, and that is to evacuate!
Once you identify where your horse will ride out the storm, you have a lot of work to do:

Fill every bucket, trash can and other containers with water.

Pick up enough extra hay and feed to last at least a week. Cover it with a tarp.

Pick up and store every possible object that isn’t tied down. Knock jumps over.

Plan on identifying your horse with at least 2 methods.
These include:

Body marking with livestock paint. Available at Tractor Supply. Put your address and a phone # on the side of the horse.

Painting hooves with phone #.

Neck banding.

ID tag on halters

Braid ID tag into mane or tail. Use a small baggie with emergency information.

When using a phone number, it is best to include your # and
a number of a friend of relative who lives out of the area, as there is a good chance that local lines and cell lines are not working . Just make sure the person is aware that you are using their phone number!
Never, never, never attach your horses coggins to his body. Many horses were stolen after Katrina because they had their coggins attached to them. This gives the founder of the horse an instant pass over state lines.
Make sure you keep current photos along with your horses coggins in your personal files, so that you can identify your horses, should they become missing.
It is a good idea to use 2 methods of ID, and leave a halter on your horse. It is also advisable to attach reflective tape to the halter, in case your horse gets loose in the dark.



Wildfires

To me, wildfires are the scariest disaster, as they can occur in an instant. All it takes is for one inconsiderate person to throw their cigarette butt out a car window and disaster can result.
If conditions are prime for a wildfire in your area, be prepared to evacuate at a moments notice. Do not wait! Fire officials will close down roads making evacuation impossible. Therefore, it is a good idea to have your truck gassed and the trailer hooked up and ready to go. Have your
evacuation kit packed, including feed and hay.
To safeguard against wildfires and to protect your farm:

Keep shrubs and palmettoes 50’ from your barn.

Have tranquilizers ready. Low flying helicopters, smoke and fire trucks may agitate your horse and make loading difficult.

And make sure that your horse knows how to load!



Now is the time to prepare your evacuation kit!

Evacuation Kit:

3-7 day supply of feed, hay and water

Bandanna’s (blindfolds)

Batteries

Blankets

Copies of vet records, coggins and proof of
ownership

Duct tape

Emergency contact list

First Aid kit

Flashlight

Fly Spray

Heavy gloves

Hoof instruments

Instructions for feeding and medications

Knife

Leg wraps

Maps of local and alternative evacuation routes

Medications

Non-nylon halters and cotton leads

Paper towels

Plastic trash cans with lids (to store water and
feed)

Radio

Rope

Shovel

Tarps

Trash bags

Twitch

Water and feed buckets

Wire cutters

Water purifier (bleach)

Disaster can strike at any moment in time. Know what can occur in your
area. Blizzards and earthquakes also require forethought.
Be a smart horse owner and plan now!



Horses with their emergency info still painted on them, the day after Hurrican Charley hit Central Florida. This was near Winter Park.


ID tags can be made at any pet store for under $10. Laminated luggage tags from Kinko's for $2. Make sure your info is updated and correct. Include at least 2 phone #'s, stable address, vet info and any medical issues your horse may have. Braid luggage tag into mane or tail, attach pet tag to leather halter.


 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Happy Birthday, Tucker!!

Tucker turns 13 today! Gosh, a teenager in the barn! Unlike human teens, however, he is full of wisdom, he has no interest in talking back, and he is not embarrassed to be seen with me!
Where did the time go? I can't believe that he has been a part of my life for 12 and a half years. I like to think that the next 13 years are going to just be even better and full of lots of adventures! I have learned so much from him, whether it is stuff I would rather not have had to experience (EPSM, allergies, habronemas), or things that I can't get enough of (dressage...who knew!), my time with Tucker has been a valuable learning experience, helping to shape me to become a better horsewoman every day!


Tucker at 6 months old, just after arriving in Florida

Tucker at 3 months old, his photo on the adoption website
Johnnie Showtime, Tucker's sire
 
Tucker's first birthday
Tucker's first ride at 3 years old
Tucker as a yearling
Our first horse trials
Our first horse trials
 
 



We're Going To A Show! Now What Do I Wear?

Wearing my navy Madrids
So the story of my life is that as much as I love to show (or used to, anyhow), I haven't really been to many shows with Tucker. Work, my health, his health, being poor...blah, blah, blah.
We got through the EPSM episodes and I threw myself into dressage lessons with Bill Woods and this year was able to connect with Marcea Funk at Rocking Horse for our cross country and jumping lessons. We were entered in a schooling show last December, just a month coming off an injury to his front left ankle but while he had been sound and appeared on the mend, I pulled him up after our 3rd jump, not liking how he felt.
We pretty much missed our eventing season, which in Florida, is from January to March for recognized events, so we entered the March trials, only for him to come up lame 3 days before the show. Hmmm....was my always sound horse trying to tell me that he didn't want to compete? I was feeling paranoid!
So fast forward, the month of May comes to an end next week...and my husband Peter, myself and Tucker, all May babies, will be another year older. I have been preaching about trying to start making myself deal with this horrid heat and how I want to focus on our dressage and show jumping, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and I entered a schooling show at Rocking Horse this weekend. That, and my friend Tuesday kind of pressured me into going with her. Nothing like peer pressure! We are NOT doing cross country however...it is just too hot for that. One test (USEA BN2) and 2 stadium rounds ( 2'6 and 2'11) will be plenty.

We had our first dressage lesson since March this morning. I picked Bill's brain, as I have never done a dressage schooling show. Do I have to braid Tucker's mane? (No, but I just might anyhow!) And the biggest questions: What can I wear? I have the lovely Devon-Aire Madrids in navy, tan or charcoal. Are they acceptable? Yes, Bill assured me. But, he cautioned me: wear dark breeches with a light shirt or light breeches with a dark shirt. NO pink or purple and please don't wear black breeches and a black shirt, especially on a black horse. No Zorro or Batman styling. As a judge, he has seen it all! So! What do I wear? I am limited on my tops. I have a beautiful Ariat Sunstopper shirt in navy with white polka dots, but it seems to have disappeared.
Ariats Sunstopper Shirt

I wore it last week, now I cannot find it. I have taken to changing clothes at the barn, since I have a new car, with leather seats, and I want to keep it looking new a little while longer, but the shirt is not at the barn. I am sure I will find it. So I am thinking of pairing that shirt with the tan breeches. With my Mango Bay eventing belt in blue. Or, I could wear the charcoal breeches but I would have to get a white shirt. I have ratcatchers, but without a coat, or even with a coat, they don't seem like a very fashionable option anymore. And speaking of coats....I know it will be hot and it will take every thing I have to ride a 3 minute test without passing out from the heat, but the really vain side of me does want to wear my coat. I hate my post menopause bloating that won't go away and I really would like to hide it with a coat. That is one nice thing about the Ariat shirt...I normally refuse to buy anything Ariat (and I didn't buy this, it was a gift!) but this shirt is not form fitting so I feel that it hides the belly a little better than other shirts of similar styles. Oh, #eventerproblems!






As for our lesson? As Bill put it, accuracy, check, impulsion, check. Roundness...well, lets just say it is still a work in progress. Bill would like to be able to check that off, sooner than later. He suggested a different bit for schooling. Tucker goes in a loose ring snaffle, for both dressage and jumping. Bill thinks a skinnier snaffle or even a twist will get a little more respect from Tucker for a more immediate reaction to my asking him to round. Our test this weekend will be a good verification of where we are and what our summer goals need to be. Stay tuned.....




Sunday, May 15, 2016

I am Going To The Grocery Store....For The Horse!

Several of us were talking today at the barn about the many items that we buy at Target or the grocery store... for our horses. Some of these are items that nobody would think twice about...except that the cashier or bagger may think it odd that you are buying enough gauze pads to patch up a literal army of wounded soldiers, while other items are embarrassing enough when you buy one of. When you are buying multiple tubes of Prep-H...extra strength and in large tubes....well, you may see a raised eyebrow or a smirk.
Chances are when you see someone ahead of you with some of these items, you know that they are probably a horse person and you can commiserate with them!


The Raised Eye Brow/Giggle List:


  • Multiple tubes of Preparation H, extra strength and largest size (great for closing wounds that can't be sutured)
  • Multiple packs of maxi pads, extra strength (for packing hooves, stop bleeding wounds)
  • Multiple cases of beer, especially at 7:00 in the morning (for non-sweaters)
  • KY Jelly (sheath cleaning)
  • Desitin (wounds)
  • Vaseline
  • Tucks wipes (sores, fungus)




Then there are the items which, well, lets say you put all of the following items on the conveyor belt, you can be sure that the cashier is going to be curious:
  • WD-40 (great to remove tangled tails)
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Zip Ties
  • Athletic foot ointment (fungus)
  • Saran Wrap (poultice)
  • Baggies
  • Baby Oil
  • Vicks




And then there is the list that no matter how many times my husband is with me, I STILL have to explain why I am getting these:
  • Multiple packs of organic applesauce (every time he reminds me that the kids are grown!)
  • Apple Cider vinegar (fly control)
  • Diapers (see applesauce) (same use as maxi pads)
  • SOS pads (clean bits)
  • Castille soap (leather cleaner)
  • Listerine (we don't use that kind he tells me) (dandruff, linament)
  • Large gauze pads, usually multiple boxes
  • Betadine
  • Saline
  • Hydro cortisone ointment, large tube
  • Epsom Salts
  • Baby wipes

I know that the list is endless....peppermints, Murphy's soap, bluing, Dippity Doo, oil, cornstarch...what unusual item do you buy for the barn?


Farms of Lexington

One of my favorite past times is to photograph horses, wildlife, old cemeteries & churches and barns. I have been known to be cruising along a back country road, only to slam on the brakes, put the car in park and jump out with camera in hand. I have gotten better about this....now I check the rear view mirror for cars behind me and if possible, I pull off to the side of the road. Sometimes I stop in the middle of the road if no cars are coming and will click away from the drivers seat. Honestly, I need a bumper sticker warning cars behind me that the car is prone to sudden stops and driver jumping from vehicle.
Whenever I leave the Kentucky Horse Park,  upon exiting the park onto Iron Works Parkway, I will find a county road to turn down so I can ooh and ahh the beautiful barns, farm houses, stone walls and of course, horses. Actually I do this on all of my road trips. The state of Connecticut even has a barn app for your phone! I think my love of barns dates back to my own grandparents barn that was built in 1903. Standing in McMurray, Pennsylvania, it still stands today. It was the site of my best childhood memories, whether it was digging through and finding antique tack from my mothers youth, jumping into stale piles of hay, climbing into the rafters or playing hide and seek.
Enjoy my special photo essay of the Lexington farms!