From Steve Wood, Elk River, MN:
Wow How time flies. We have been driving every day and haven't taken time for a new post until now.
Snow has been good for nearly the entire winter. On the last day of January a warm front came through and brought 45 degree air with it. We lost a couple inches of snow that day but we were fortunate enough to not get any Ice. Horses were sweating very easily for a couple days but, my fingers and toes were thinking they had gone on vacation! Sleighrides and driving the team with Vis-a-vis at wedding fairs were keeping us busy on weekends. As expected, winter came back with a vengence and gave us some snow and a bunch of cold. During one of those cold days I retreated to a local retail store to look for warm gloves. That's a favorite pastime for sleigh drivers don't ya know. Well I wondered in to the bargain room and what do you suppose I found? A wildlife scouting camera for 39 dollars! My mind's eye started to decide what tree I might mount that on where I could take picture of horses in training! It works! I get pictures of every horse that walks past that camera. Now I can send photos to owners showing their horse and his latest task.
Well now it did get warm enought for a couple days that we had a big melt and then we had ice. While the ice was soft I drove spreader loads of hay around on the driveway. The hay froze into the ice the next night, and we were able to keep right on working horses being careful to stay in the woods where the sun didn't melt the snow to create that layer of ice. My neat new camera was pointing up a trail that saw no horses for about 10 days. We got pictures of people and critters walking, but no horses. WE have now moved the camera to a post on the barn and we get photos of us as we pass in front. It's knida fun.
A neighbor had his wildlife camera set to take videos and he got a video of what he thought was a couger. Mountain cats don't get into this part of the country very often so he created quite a stir. After the DNR and the local High School Biology department got a chance to view the video it has been determined that we have a very large grey fox in the neighborhood. Whew! NOw back to training horses. The training barn has had some great progress lately. Here's an update.
Page, our spotted pony trainee has begun working solo. She handles the training shafts and stoneboat combination quite well. She has skid a bit of firewood lately. She loves to keep moving, So right now the hardest thing for her is standing still. Once in a while we have quite a dicussion over where to park. When she decides to give up on her quest to prove perpetual motion she will graduate to the two wheel cart.
Missy, A Welsh pony mare has gone home as a wonderful little driver. She will be competing in the coming years, And I think she will enjoy every bit of it. Good things do come in small packages.
Annie, A Morgan mare is becoming quite a horse. She and her owner are becoming more comfortable with each other each weekend. She is currently at the "I am proud and I know I look good" stage of her life. Her courage is developing nicely. Next weekend her new cart arrives and then a new harness. We haven't gotten a good photo of her yet, but we'll publish one soon.
Knight, a paint horse gelding will be heading home to his new driving career this coming weekend. His courage is changing him daily. He has muscles now where he used to have none. He is quiet, calm, and determined to improve every day. His human Mom and Dad got to take Knight out for a solo drive last week and all went well. This is a rather old photo in his old cart but It shows him nicely. Yahoo!
My Turn, the Halflinger Stallion, went home to work in the woods last week. His owner came and drove him single for a bit and then we hitched My Turn with his new halflinger teammate and all went splendidly. He learned his teamwork with our Belgian Gelding Jim and that made a rather comical looking team, but Jim had his work cut out for him in the early going. My Turn was a bit of a cad about town in the begining and I was real glad Jim was there. We wish My Turn nothing but the best of luck in his new career. Isn't he handsome?
Cassie, a Shire cross mare came in last month. She is currently working very comfortably in training shafts and with the stoneboat. We have spent a few workouts in her two wheeled cart but it's a bit overwhelming for her as of yet , so we have gone back to the stoneboat to gain some more confidence. She works without blinds, and has a mountain of athletic ability. As a riding horse she can side-pass at a trot! When we are working in the shafts, that side-passing at a trot could give me a bit of a workout. We are working at directing all that ability toward calm forward pulling and standing, then we'll work out the sidepass later. Lots of fun in the woods working with Cassie as she has such great control over her feet and body. She will stop and swing a few degrees, then pull forward until I need to swing again. That side-pass is coming in very handy.
Two new horses Came in yesterday so I'll get to know them this week and let you know about them real soon. What could be more fun than that?
Snow forecast for tomorrow, I love this time of year!