Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Best Hoof Forward

Life at Watermark Farm has been sailing along at a fast pace. Four children tumbling headlong toward the glorious end of the school year has made for one busy June so far. Yesterday was the long-awaited First Official Day of Summer Vacation.

As if to usher in summer and its horsey delights, the start of vacation began with our regular appointment with Mare The Farrier. The girls and I dragged out our assortment of ancient, one-eyed, permanently lame equines and Mare got to work.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I'm lucky to have Mare as both a friend and a talented shoer. She has a heart of gold and the patience of a saint. We sit quietly while Mare tells us about her recent Journeyman Farrier test (where she had to hand-forge shoes from bar stock for a horse she'd never met before, all within 2 hours, and all done to exacting specifications).

She talks to the children about hoof health, listening to their questions and concerns as if she were speaking to an adult. The girls feel empowered by Mare; they are unafraid to ask silly questions,and are inspired by seeing this pretty, petite woman trim hooves, pound steel, and hunker down under 1000 pound horses.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This was Argus' second trim with Mare; it was his fourth trim since his liberation in December 2007. His fourth trim ever. I am amazed at his progress and how cooperative he is for Mare now.

"He's like a baby," she remarked while trimming him. Mare moves deliberately and speaks gently to Argus, quietly asking him to hold each foot up for her. Argus is very much like a 2-year-old, gangly and unsure of his body. He tries hard to please, works to comply, and occasionally has no idea what you're asking of him.

With the trimming, we take it slow, because all this is still very new to Argus. Argus stands by the pasture gate, where he feels most comfortable. Half Pint is positioned in an adjoining paddock, offering support (you can almost hear him saying "That's it! Put your foot up on that stand and keep it there!). Mare lets me hand-feed Argus when she's got his foot up. It seems to work. I keep Argus plied with a bucket of treats and he gets rewarded for his amazing efforts. We can do this because Argus is exceptionally kind when it comes to people, and although he is eating, he is very much aware of Mare's presence under him. He truly is an incredible horse.

I wish I could get more weight on him. He looks thinner this week than he has in the past, and it worries me. It's time for a progress evaluation with Dr. Miller.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Life at the farm has its funny moments. I've finally taken photos of our silly rooster, Bronze. This young rooster spend his nights sleeping on the back of whatever horse is stabled in the barn. Usually, it's Ginger the Shetland Pony. Yesterday, it was Half Pint, who's on paddock rest due to a bad fall in the pasture a few days ago.

Yesterday, Bronze had no intention of getting up for the day. He spent most of the morning happily perched on Half Pint's back, crowing occasionally, riding from the barn out into the paddock, and back again:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Horsing Around With Martha Stewart

This has absolutely nothing to do with Argus, but it made me laugh and gives a glimpse of Martha Stewart and her horse facility.

Shhhhh....Don't tell Argus about Martha's buffet table, as he might start expecting exotic additives like turnips and mangoes. To my great relief, iceburg lettuce and stale french bread are missing from the spread.


Argus in the Media!

Look for articles on Argus in this month's Horsewyse magazine (Australia) and in the American Quarter Horse Association's publication, America's Horse.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Sunday morning began early with a loud WHOOOOOSH! I was sound asleep in bed, eyes glued shut, dry mouth hanging open, my brain hardly firing on enough cylinders to process an awful racket coming from outside.

Despite the noise, I drifted at the edge of sleep, lost to the delicious kind of slumber one only gets on quiet weekend mornings. Then it came again, that hateful noise, this time louder and more insistent: WHOOOOOOSH!!

Little human footsteps went pitter-pattern down the hallway, past our bedroom door. I heard the front door open and slam shut. Children's voices were excitedly discussing the source of the WHOOOOOSH, even inviting the WHOOOOOSH to come closer.

I shot upright in bed, finally placing the whoooshing sound. It was a hot air balloon, and it sounded close!

Living in the heart of Northern California's beautiful wine country makes for many interesting experiences. Every spring and summer, dozens of hot air balloons drift over our farm during the still early morning hours, taking excited sightseers on undoubtedly spectacular adventures over the vineyards. The horses are used to seeing the colorful orbs dangling high in the sky. Occasionally, a balloon will even land at a neighboring farm (with permission, of course). But low-flying hot air balloons are a source of concern for horse owners at times because they can incite fence-crashing panic among equines.


Sure enough, just outside our bedroom window, in the vineyard next to the horse pasture, a hot air balloon hung nervously, too still, just 10 feet above the vines. The pilot was busily sending flames up into his balloon, trying to make it rise, hence the sleep-shattering whooshing sound.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I ran outside, half dressed, camera in hand. The horses stood, frozen, watching the balloon:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

In the end, the balloon's WHOOOOOSHING paid off, and it rose rapidly into the sky and drifted southeast, no doubt toward a waiting "chase" vehicle and the end of an exciting ride for its occupants. The horses went back to their business, the adventure over, and Argus and I both headed back for the last bit of Sunday morning sleep.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting