Tag Archive | horses

Fancy Lawn Mowers

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Here at the farm we have a fancy pair of lawn mowers.  They are grass powered and self-propelled.  They do an excellent job, with a clean, close cut.  Steep hillsides are trimmed with ease.  Edging is a breeze.  They even provide some fresh fertilizer from time to time!

In the spring the horses need fresh grass and we need to keep ahead of the rapidly growing lawn grass.  Horse lawn mowers work out very well for us.  The fence is not even electrified.  The horses are so trained to the fence they stay inside.  Sometimes they get excited and prance around a bit, tearing the ground with their hooves.  The damage is minimal and quickly repaired.  Our four-legged lawn mowers are tireless and always eager for work.h2

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Dogs and Horses Playing

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Horses and dogs like to play together.  My animals have always done so, all the dogs and horses I’ve owned, throughout the years.  The current horses:  Vista and Maddie, and dogs:  Holly and Otto, are no exceptions.

The game is chase.  Dogs pursue horses and horses go after dogs.  There is plenty of pretend kicking and snapping, but the hooves and teeth never connect.  It is a game all the animals thoroughly enjoy.  When they’re tired, they stop and rest together then are off again.

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Vista is getting old, she’s 25, so she does not participate like she used to.  Maddie, who is 7, is always up for a game of “Let’s Pretend to Crush the Dogs.”  She feints killing blows with her hind legs, puts her head down to rush the dogs bare-teethed, and bucks and kicks around the pasture.  a4a3Holly is an intrepid horse gamer, showing no fear.  Otto, who is younger and more wary of Maddie, has just recently begun to join the play.  He is catching on quickly.

If I thought there was any danger, I would not allow the play to go on.  It is obvious from the opportunities Maddie has to truly injure a dog if she wanted that this is all entertainment.  The horse always starts the game with a duck of her head and a sidelong glance at Holly.  That’s the cue the dog is waiting for.  She rushes toward the horse and off they run.  There is very little barking, another indicator that this is a communal game, not involving fear or intimidation.a5

The romping is hilarious to observe, and a bit terrifying.  There is always a chance of a slip or accidental connection of hoof to dog.  Yet, as with much of the fun in life, the best play has a touch of danger.a6

 

Black Flies

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Once the scourge of Maine in the spring and fall, black flies have become a constant the past few years.  These nasty pests are tiny, black, fast moving flies with bodies maybe 1/16″ long.  They begin appearing in late May or early June and last through the first deep frosts.  Black flies hatch in fast running water.  It used to be that during the high summer the rains slowed down, Maine dried out some and the black flies went away for a few weeks respite.  Thanks to the global weather changes, the effects of which I have witnessed in this area in my lifetime, our weather has become much more rainy.  And our black flies are now a permanent summer feature.

Black flies form clouds, what can seem nearly solid masses.  They encircle your head, flying into your eyes, nose, mouth.  They land on your hair and work their way down to bite your scalp and feed on your blood.  The bites cause intense itching that can last for several days and significant swelling.  The flies will bite any exposed place on your body but prefer the head and face.  For horses and other four-footed animals, black flies are a torment.  They crawl into ears or land on the underbelly, biting in huge numbers until the skin is raw and bleeding.  This can happen in a matter of an hour.  For horses to graze in peace, a fly mask and regular applications of insecticide are crucial.a1

An essential for any tack box, a good fly mask covers a horse’s eyes and ears.  It is made of a very fine plastic mesh, preferably black or white, that the horse can see through but flies can not penetrate.  The masks protect ears from black flies and eyes from larger face flies that  can cause pink eye.  Fly repellants are also entirely necessary to protect horses.  Most repellants only work for a couple hours or less, no matter what the product manufacturer claims.  Some repellants don’t work at all.  My choice for a spray on fly repellant this year is Bronco E.  It seems to last about 2-4 hours, depending on the flies that are present.  I spray the horse’s entire body, except the face, which is covered by the fly mask.  Special attention is required for between the front and hind legs, the neck and chest, and along the mid-line of the belly.  These are areas all flies aim for.a2

In the photos of Maddie and Vista, swarming masses of black flies can be seen.  Yet the horses are able to eat in comfort because the flies only hover and do not land.

The Horses

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At Phoenix Farm there are two horses, Vista and Maddy. Vista is 24 years old and Maddie is 6 years. Both came to the farm when they were under one year old. Vista is sorrel, the darker red horse with red mane and tail. Maddie is a shade of chocolate palomino and has blond mane and tail.

vistavista2 Vista is three-quarters Saddlebred and a very kind, gentle, fun to ride horse. She loves to go and will try to do anything the rider asks of her.  Although she is getting older, Vista sometimes gallops around like a filly, kicking up her heels and rearing in the pasture at play.  On trail rides she will happily go all day.

Her full, registered name is Ace’s Special Vista, she is in the Half-Saddlebred registry.  I’m fairly sure her mother was half Quarter Horse.  Vista’s gaits are so smooth and comfortable, her ride is like being in a big old Cadillac.  An excellent mother who raised one son, Vista considers any young horse or even ponies that come in her pasture to be her foals and cares for them.

Maddie’s full name is Platinum Madrigal, she is half-Saddlebred.  Her mother was a small brown paint Saddlebred and her father was a full Paint Horse.  She came out an unusual shade of light brown with cream that is considered chocolate palomino.  I have always wanted a palomino horse so was thrilled to find her when she was nearly one year old.  Maddie has many Arab-like characteristics with a small, dished face, lovely arched neck and an extended trot that looks almost like she’s flying.  She carries her tail high like an Arabian when she moves.  This young mare is very canny, almost too smart for her own good.  She is a quick learner and is doing well under saddle.  When Vista retires Maddie will be my riding horse.

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