Dawn and I started an exciting new chapter today. I moved her to a new barn, where there's an indoor (the barn we were at has none) as well as all-day turnout in herds separated by mares and geldings, with plentiful and high-quality hay both with round bales in the winter turn outs and in the stalls, as well as trail access (not a high priority with Dawn) and a diverse group of boarders doing different things with their horses. Her stall at night is bigger than 12'x12' - it may be 12'x14', there's a tack locker, and they'll feed whatever I provide in the way of vitamin/mineral balancer pellets plus her magnesium/chromium supplement, U-Gard pellets and raspberry leaves (Mare Magic or MareBerry). I brought a number of bales of our grass hay along, and they'll make a slow transition to their hay, which is grass hay but richer than ours. The barns, but not the indoor, are heated to 45F. Starting in June, the horses are on grass pasture, but the grass isn't excessive in amount.
I've been struggling for years with figuring out what the best arrangements are for my horses - I'm sure many horse owners struggle with this. The old barn, where Pie and Drifter still are, couldn't be more conveniently located - it's about 200 yards from my front door. But it's turned into what is essentially a self-care facility - you have to arrange your own stall cleaning (or do it) as well as turnout. At my age, and with my number of horses, this is an increasing burden. And I have no indoor to ride in the winter or when it's raining or too windy - and with a young horse (Pie), a green horse (Drifter) and a feisty mare (Dawn), having no indoor is a big deficiency.
As some of you may know, Pie and Drifter are going for at least 30 days of training starting in March up in Wisconsin at Black Star Farm with Heather Burke, who is one of the few approved Mark Rashid trainers. They may be there longer - we'll see how it goes, and I haven't made any decisions yet about where they'll go when their training periods are up.
Getting over there was the first step, and there was some excess excitement that I could have done without, but it looks as though we all survived so far. Dawn loaded well, but almost as soon as we pulled away from the old barn she started to kick - and I don't mean lifting a leg and registering a protest, I mean full double-barreled multiple, trailer and truck rocking kicks with some bellowing thrown in for good measure. I would have said she was angry - the last time she did this when trailering was in 2004 when we drove to Wisconsin and Maisie was in the slot behind Dawn and apparently this offended Dawn's sense of personal space. That time she put her head into the window, breaking it and got one leg at least briefly hung on the partition. Since then, I've always put her on last and she's ridden just fine in the last slot, including two round trips to Colorado. When I took Drifter and her to Wisconsin in May, she rode in back and had no problems. Apparently something I did this time offended her mightily. Was it that she was in the second slot (of four), which put her next to the stud barrier? Was it that she wasn't in her favorite last slot? Was it that she was alone? Did she realize she was moving? Who knows, I certainly don't. Anyway, since we didn't have far to go I pressed on.
And then, when we got there and I was unloading her, her halter broke. I don't know how that happened - it could have been operator error on my part - I might have thought the trailer tie was completely undone when the snap closed up again. Anyway, the result was as she exited the trailer, she was halterless. Fortunately she stopped for a moment to consider her options - there was a field of horses in sight - and I grabbed the neck of her blanket and held on. Then I pulled up the full neck attachment which I'd pulled back and fastened it at the top, and held that with one hand and her nose with the other. She wiggled around a bit but didn't make a break for it before the barn owner retrieved my lead rope and we improvised a halter.
She was wearing Sports Medicine boots for the ride over, and that may have helped prevent serious injuries. The points of both hocks were swollen, and her left hind is a bit ouchy to the touch, but she's walking sound and bearing weight just fine so I think any injuries are likely just bruises. I cold hosed her before she was turned out in a pen next to the mare pasture, and cold hosed again later before doing a bit of hand walking in the indoor and then wrapping both hinds for the night.
Dawn and I will have a place to ride, and the new place is about a 5-minute drive from my house, which isn't bad at all. But first Dawn has to integrate with a new mare herd - she was the alpha of our mare herd ever since Lily left - this is a nerve-wracking thing for me but she'll take care of horse business in her own way, I'm sure. For the first few days, she'll be in a small paddock next to the mare winter turnout where the other mares can come up and get to know her. Once she's had a few days of turnout with the herd, and assuming she stays sound after all the banging around she did, I'll starting with lungeing and ground driving in the indoor, and I hope we'll be starting a productive new chapter, with much more frequent riding.
Here Dawn is surveying things from her turnout pen:
And there was a bit of this as horses came up to introduce themselves - the ears pinned, strike and squeal:
All very exciting, and March, when the boys move to Wisconsin and the three of us start our (re)training, will be here very soon . . .