Horse & Pony Aug-Oct 2017

Bouncing back
    Learning to take the good with the bad, or the bad with the good is the key to happiness. A life with horses presents many opportunities to check the level in the resiliency tank. Nailing a training milestone, winning a ribbon, or a relaxing hack through the field can be overshadowed in a split second by a career ending injury, the death of a foal, or a scary fall. You can cry a little (or a lot) and nurse your wounds, but ultimately you have to move on and get over it. 

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Horse & Pony Feb-April 2017

Knowing when

    We have a good dog. The kind of dog who comes around once in a lifetime. If you’re lucky. He’s the dog who hears his name no matter where he is on the farm and comes running, lies by the barn door until chores are done, carries the paper up the lane each morning, shares his food with the kitten, and quietly requests a brief belly scratch every evening – if it’s not too much trouble. 
    He was the last puppy, a leftover, in a final litter of Bernese-Labrador crosses. The five-month-old quiet, gangly pup who we named Dodger had very big shoes to fill. We brought him home after the death of Chester, the elderly and by then blind Shepherd cross that I ran over with the horse trailer one terrible hot day in July (ALWAYS check under your vehicles on hot days before you drive away). Chester, the tiny unwanted puppy who arrived randomly one day tucked under my husband’s arm, grew to be pretty close to perfect himself.  

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Horse & Pony May-July 2017

Biting bugs and horse math

    Two years ago at about this time I bought a pony. I’m a big fan of the under 14.2hh set. They work well for kids and older people. I am closer to the latter and it’s comforting to know the ground is two hands, or eight inches closer if I happen to end up there. My budget was small. I didn’t need a world beater, just a decent moving, sensible pony to have some fun with. Generally ponies are less costly to care for, and can be more easily wrangled if necessary – a theory my chosen Kijiji steed put to the test immediately.

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Horse & Pony Nov 2016-Jan 2017

Easy as pie

    I’m wondering who coined that phrase? Was he or she referring to the eating of the pie? If so, it makes sense, but frankly making pie is challenging. It’s not easy at all. Maybe for someone more practiced than myself – someone who stuck with it, soldiering through batch after batch of crappy tough pastry before finally nailing the perfect, delicate, light, and flaky crust.
    I googled the phrase and found another idiom to use in it’s place – “as easy as rolling off a log.” Now, that’s more like it! If you are reading this, chances are at some point you have both rolled off a log, and rolled off a horse. Much easier than making a pie.  

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Horse & Pony Aug-Oct 2016

Learning to fly
    I spent the last few months on baby watch.
    In March, a pair of Red-tailed hawks set to work raising a family in a tall spruce tree on our lawn. Through rain, snow, and heavy wind they worked away – first building the nest, and then taking turns sitting on their precious eggs. I often caught sight of mom flying out, and dad stepping in to keep the eggs warm. Our lane is a wind tunnel – a precarious place for fragile eggs and tiny babies. Many mornings I woke after an especially stormy night fearful the nest would be on the ground. Finally near the end of May, one fluffy white baby appeared teetering near the edge of the nest. They did it! 
    On roughly the same timeline my daughter and her husband were nearing the end of construction of their new home before their baby arrived. The final months (with him working away like so many Maritimers) were a flurry of final decisions, and trips between building and baby supply stores, all squeezed in around work hours.

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Horse & Pony May-July 2016

Lots of green
    The frogs are peeping and the grass is greening. It’s almost time for spring pasture. It was interesting to follow a recent thread on Facebook addressing the financial implications of horse ownership – something most of us try not to think about. The economics of pasture board came up. There seems to be a general assumption among those who have never swung a fence mall, dropped $5 on one fence post, screwed in insulators with frozen fingers, or spent hours trying to figure out why and where the electric current is grounding out, that horses on grass can pretty much live for free. Not so. Green requires “green.” We’re going to try to get to the bottom of the economics of horse keeping. Watch for that (heartbreaking) story in a future issue.

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Horse & Pony February-April 2016

Making a mark

    I just heard the news Lloyd Newcomb passed away. Newcomb was ring master at horse shows and exhibitions throughout the Maritimes over the last half century. He kept classes moving along, and schedules on time. He was also a sport horse breeder, host of the Fundy Hunter Show, and a fine man. As I sourced old photos for this issue, Newcomb appeared repeatedly – smiling, and stylish in his tie and sports jacket. Anyone winning a ribbon in Nova Scotia between 1960 and 2010 likely has his photo in their collection. Newcomb’s warm presence and contribution is missed, and HP sends condolences to his family and friends.
    It was a treat to work on the pony breeding story for this issue. Eastern Canada has produced a great number of notable ponies over the years. There are an equal number of passionate “pony” people in the region. Ron Rogerson of Oaklawn Farm Zoo – a horseman of the best kind – generously shared stories about his pony mares, and his wonderful stallion Khoraff. He also talked about the Hackney Horse breed, and how the trappy athletic horse has fallen out of favor over the past decades. The breed now sadly sits on the Livestock Conservatory’s critical list along with the Canadian Horse and Newfoundland Pony. 

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Horse & Pony November-January 2016

Being prepared
    The warm season went by too quickly. Our daughter’s wedding made summer a cleaning, painting, weeding, kind of blur – with riding and horse time squeezed in. Thunder boomed for hours in the distance, but the heavy rain held off, and August 22 was a perfect, happy day. 
    Four days earlier we were sweating it out stuffing an extra 400 bales into the loft. Being short on hay was not an option after the long winter of 2014-15. We aren’t alone, based on Jana Hemphill’s findings as she put together this issue’s “Horse owners prepare for winter.” A good part of doing the best we can for our animals is simply being prepared. Not so simple is the care of our buildings during winter. A shocking number of barns and indoors were lost last winter due to roof collapse. Curt Gooch’s “Dos and don’ts of barn snow removal” first appeared in the April 2015 edition of Rural Delivery. Good information in case we have a replay of last year.

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Horse & Pony August-October 2015

Winning with horses

    Winston Churchill said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” If the smile on the face of our cover girl Maggie Stagg is any indication, it’s even better for the inside of a child. 
    Kids with ponies often have a good handle on real life issues long before they head out into the adult world. Winning, losing, disappointment, and sometimes even grief, all come wrapped up in the horse owning package. 
    The Hornbrook brothers from New Brunswick, featured in this youth issue, know a little bit about all of the above. HP features writer Judith Scrimger drove eight hours for the story, and came home a little awestruck, saying simply “These kids are really living the life.” 

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Horse & Pony May-July 2015

Digging out, digging in
    The winter of 2015 was a good one for skill development and creative thinking. Those of us keeping horses discovered new and not so exciting ways to solve problems and get things done. We found muscles we didn’t know we had, discovered alternative uses for tools, and perhaps expanded our vocabularies. Each time we felt thoroughly beaten by the snow on our windy farm with the long lane, so pretty in the summer, we reminded ourselves we could be on Prince Edward Island. 

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Horse & Pony February-April 2015

A Royal Adventure
   I love animals, food, and exhibitions, so visiting the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is heaven! I committed to seeing everything during my three-day visit, staying fueled on potato rösti, fresh lemonade, noodles, tacos, and cheese. It was fun to feel the excitement of a packed Ricoh Coliseum during the National Holstein Show where the judge explains the placings in the cattle classes. It would be interesting for spectators if the same could be done in the Governor General’s Cup class, with so many stunning young horses to choose from. 

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Horse & Pony November-January 2015

Spending Time
  Time passes quickly when you’re watching a baby grow. We spent a little while most summer evenings handling our foal. Learning to lead, stand, and pick up feet, (and NOT bite!), is much the same as learning to share, and to say please and thank you. Necessary skills that go unnoticed, unless they are not taught or learned. As horses owners we must make an effort to raise respectful creatures with the skills to go out into the world, and to be good, useful citizens, even if it means getting a few bruises in the process.
    Recently I had the good fortune of working with a group of Hants County senior 4-H members who exemplify these principles. Their positive attitude, organization and communication skills are proof that country kids with responsibilities, and with animals to care for, have much to offer the world.

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