Wednesday 13 May 2015

New Pasture for the Old Boys

I arrived at the farm around cocktail hour last Thursday and went for a walk in the golden, slanting light. Up on the hill, the guys were finishing a coat of paint on our new run-in shed. We’ve reconfigured the fencing up here, to make it more inviting and comfortable for the retired horses.

Last summer, they’d get antsy in this field—bothered by bugs and concerned about what they might be missing back at the barn. After only an hour or so, they’d pace back and forth at the gate. Well, it wasn’t because of a lack of good grass. We had some ideas about how to make them more comfortable.

First, add a run-in shed so they can escape the flies. Second, take away the middle row of fencing that cut across the most inviting part of the slope. (Watch the way horses run in pastures; rather than cross back and forth over ridges, they like to run up and down long, gradual inclines.) Third, move the gate to the side, so (a) it doesn’t directly face the barn and (b) it opens onto that long, inviting slope. We also rounded the corners of the fence line on the side facing the barn, so if the horses do decide to run along there, they won’t be tempted to skid into the corners. It’s the frantic back-and-forthing we want to avoid.

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Our Amish-built shed arrived on a truck.

Our Amish-built shed arrived on a truck.

Beside the pasture a new opening in the stone wall, part of our future riding trails.

Beside the pasture a new opening in the stone wall, part of our future riding trails.

The pasture looks fabulous to me, and Firefly agrees. When I trail-rode him past the open gate, he caught sight of that grassy slope and dragged me into the field. I let him graze and wander up to the run-in shed. Here’s hoping Grappa, Otter and Ray Ray like it as much as Firefly does.

This weekend the weather became suddenly steamy. The old boys can’t shed their coats fast enough. They were sweating under their summer-weight fly sheets. So we brought them in for baths and body clipping. A taste of their former show-horse days; Grappa and Otter are old pros at this. They stand quietly and enjoy the attention. Grappa’s looking mighty fine for his advanced age (28 this year!).

Bath time for Otter:

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Clipping time for Grappa:

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Sunday afternoon we all hung out by the pond. Philip grazing Firefly, the rest of us tossing rocks into the water for the dogs to chase. The birds are in full-chirping chorus these days, and in the breeze and sun we could have stayed here all day. Even pre-renovation, we’re not exactly roughing it.

Philip's in whites because he showed our mare this morning at Old Salem, ten minutes from here. (A nice clear round in the Medium Amateur Classic!)

Philip’s in whites because he showed our mare this morning at Old Salem, ten minutes from here. (A nice clear round in the Medium Amateur Classic!)

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Later that afternoon, we took some friends on our signature champagne Gator tour. We chose a shady spot in the uppermost meadow to pour the Veuve and take in the view. Philip’s devising further Gator modifications to make it even more champagne-picnic-friendly. (Eg., bar-style rack for hanging plastic champagne flutes upside down from the ceiling. Why didn’t John Deere think of that?)

Gator's under-seat cooler ready to go

Gator’s under-seat cooler ready to go

This week, Westchester Tree Life is slated to come back and finish the bridle paths. Can’t wait to ride through our beautiful, peaceful woods!

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