Happy Birthday ‘Merica!

The Fourth of July was filled with equine successes on the GHLHF this year. Usually we travel over the Fourth of July because it is the week after our wedding anniversary, and a great way to cram several celebrations into one fun filled week. This year however, we chose to stay home in order to participate in the 100th Anniversary Belton Parade. Sadly, at the last moment due to the Chamber of Commerce making the rules up as they go, we were informed that our parade entry would not be allowed in the parade. I won’t rehash the details, but this post will get you up to speed.

We really didn’t have a game plan going into the holiday. The one and only thing on our agenda was, whether or not we were allowed into the parade, Beau Pony would be impeccably groomed, and hitched to the easy entry cart decorated for the holiday. Offspring and I would enjoy a little jaunt around the neighborhood ensuring that some of our fellow Bell countians would have an opportunity to see what the parade was missing. Other than that, we were flying blind on holiday celebrations. Our holiday celebrations started on July 3. We went to a cookout in Falls County, because the city of Rosebud sets off their firework display at the “Gin” aka Ag Co-op the day before Temple or Belton. It was the first firework display Offspring has stayed awake for, and he was a huge fan! Offspring thought he was big stuff hanging out with a group of teenagers in the driver’s seat of a truck watching multi-colored explosions.

Beginning of Beau’s braids before flights were added.

The next morning I bathed and braided Beau for his Fourth of July drive. Now I may be biased, but many people, some of them total strangers, stopped us just to say that Beau by far trumped any of the equine entries they saw while attending the parade. The Fourth of July was extremely windy, and made getting photos of every grooming detail difficult but suffice to say we went all out. My draft braid in red and white was totally on point. I made custom flights (the things that stick up out of the braid) with rose buds wrapped with royal blue ribbon. Beau had custom feather plumes created by Pony Up N’Plume in blue and white. His harness pads were blue, and the inlay of his harness is blue. The cart was fully decorated in red, white, and blue tulle complete with a USA sign and tinsel “fireworks” shooting out the back. I even purchased a blue driving whip. Of course Offspring and I had our flag outfits to top off the look. I was told Beau was featured on the Home Owner’s Association website, the Bell County Republicans website, and posted on a few other sites by people that fell in love with his patriotic look.

By the time we returned from our holiday drive, Offspring was exhausted. I put him down for a nap, and since the weather was so nice I decided it was time to try another idea I had been kicking around. For those of you reading this that have horses or ponies, I don’t have to tell you how expensive farrier services are. We have 11 equines on the farm that get a visit from our awesome farrier every six weeks. However, the cost of outsourcing all of my farrier work is getting a little ridiculous when I have the knowledge to do basic farrier work myself. Growing up my father was our farrier, and over the course of my childhood had attended more farrier clinics and classes than most of the full time farriers in the area. He passed this knowledge on to me because I was expected to assist him when he was trimming our horses.

All of our current horses have good hooves, with only one animal needing specialty or “expert” care. While I would still prefer to have our riding horses trimmed by a professional, I was pretty sure that I was more than capable of trimming the ponies. Our newest pony, Summer Cloud was due for a trim because she was still kicking and biting during the last farrier visit, and I won’t subject a farrier to bad behavior. After a month of groundwork with Summer, I figured it was time to test my skills and she had the greatest need. Summer’s first farrier experience was a few days before she was sent to auction. Her toes were long for a freshly trimmed pony when she arrived, but I’m assuming the farrier could only do so much without making her sore during the first trim.

I set up shop in the barn under the fans, and decided to give it a go. Summer still isn’t a model citizen, but I managed to get a decent first trim. It took me somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour (our farrier could have done this in 15 minutes tops). My pony would only stand still for around 30 seconds before becoming unruly. Also, I would trim, check angles, and measurements, and then do some more work. I’m sure the more I do this the better my “eye” will get, and the faster I can complete a trim, but I was pleased with the results all things considered.

I cannot stress how wonderful the weather was all day on July 4. It was in the mid 80’s, with a strong breeze. Since it wasn’t too hot, and we had plenty of daylight left, I took advantage of the weather, and put Comanche through his paces. I’ve been focusing on his flat work for the past two months. I was dying to see if all of our hard work had made a difference over fences. Comanche was amazing! He maintained a steady rhythm to and away from the jumps. He didn’t brace against the bit, listened to my seat, and collected when I gave inside leg pressure and picked up the outside rein. I’ve been feeling like I was neglecting him, spending so much time training the ponies, but I think the slower pace allowed everything to just click with him! I’m so excited for the fall. I just need to build his confidence when confronted with new obstacles, and we may actually be on schedule for a fall cross country run.

Offspring hadn’t recovered from fireworks the night before combined with his July 4 cart ride. He crashed too early to witness the firework display the neighborhood behind us puts off. A lot of people complain about private citizens setting off fireworks, but I don’t share their hostility toward backyard explosives. For one, setting off large amounts of fireworks on July 4 are some of my fondest childhood memories. I grew up on a farm surrounded by horses, livestock, and any other animal you can imagine, and don’t remember any of them freaking out. Desensitizing pets to loud noises and explosions rather than shielding them from it is safer in my opinion. Fort Hood’s ballistic range is literally right behind our property. It’s a rare week, when they aren’t treating us to a barrage of their arsenal or hovering helicopters directly over our pasture. I seriously would not be surprised if they repelled down onto our property one day.

Darling Husband was working with Battle in the round pen, and I was riding Odessa bareback when the very first whistles, cracks, and sparks burst into the air over the pasture. The working horses paid zero attention to the display, and the other 9 animals continued on with their grazing as if it was any other day. I stopped Odessa and let her graze with me draped over her neck. I definitely had the best seat for fireworks. One house would run out of explosives, and another house would start up. I slid off, removed Odessa’s bridle, and let her return to her pasture mates after about 20 minutes deciding to go feed. Everyone was basically setting off the same stuff. After the first few houses, we had seen everything the local fireworks dealers had to offer. I was pretty exhausted from working with the horses all day, anyway.

I had to work on Friday. Offspring and Darling Husband piddled around on the farm, and watched Cars. If you are new to this blog, for the past three months Disney’s Cars is the only thing that plays in our house per Offspring’s demands. Friday night I took AppleJack for a spin in the back pasture with the HyperBike. For almost a month, my soft laid back pony had turned into a hell spawn diva, but with a constant focus on softening and relaxation she is finally a joy to drive again. Koda (my husband’s yearling mustang) and Tater Tot (AppleJack’s yearling offspring) decided to test AppleJack’s improvements. They would both come barreling past us, bucking, squealing, kicking up their heels, farting, and cutting in front of us repeatedly. There were a few times we had to stop, not because of AppleJack, but because the two hoodlum’s kicks came a little too close for my comfort. I continued my work with AppleJack on Saturday by taking her off property for the first time with HyperBike.

Offspring took his two girlfriends on a rodeo date Saturday night. It was the last night of the Bell County PRCA rodeo, and we joined some friends for a night of bull riding, roping, barbecue, beer, and cotton candy for the kids. We had front row seats. In Darling Husband’s words, “If you go to the rodeo and don’t get cow $hit on you, you weren’t really there.” All three kids were hanging over the railing enjoying every second. Darling Husband knew the headliner trick rider, Ginger. He had met her at the Extreme Mustang Makeover Event that he assisted with in Lexington, KY a few weeks ago. She exclusively uses mustangs in her trick riding routines, and stopped by to say hi to all the kids and let them meet her horses after the rodeo ended.

We spent the majority of our Sunday running errands for the farm, but I finished the weekend with several great jump courses on Comanche, and Moonshine’s first cart drive in the past 3 weeks. It wasn’t quite horseback rides/HyperBike drives on a beach, but this holiday was the next best thing with all of the equine successes we experienced. We’re finally starting to see noticeable improvements in several of the horses/ponies. I managed a better than average trim job on Summer, (only four more pony trims, and the farrier equipment will pay for itself) and there were a lot of firsts for Offspring who usually goes to bed so early that he misses the good stuff! Happy Fourth of July! I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday as much as we did!

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