Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dressage In Raleigh

Seven won his Intro Test B division this Saturday, Dec. 20th! He scored a 68.5 and beat an Oldenburg (a very expensive Warm Blood breed of horse) plus 12 others!!! We improved that score .5 from the last test.
Then we got Third in Training Test 2 out of 10. I improved my score from the first time from a 60.7 to a 65.4 I was very pleased to say the least!!!

Claudia Coombs came to give me moral support and brought a Dressage Bridle for Seven to wear. It had a sparkly brow band which looked snazzy! The nose band would not fit so we had to take the piece off my bridle, which was brown but we decided that no one would be looking at his nose! Two of Claudia's students came to watch Seven go! I was very surprised and honored to have such a great support group!
The father of the girl who got second in the Intro Test B came over to me and congratulated me, told me that his daughter has been trying and trying to win that division and they always miss it by just a point or two. I asked him what kind of horse they had, he said and Oldenburg (My favorite type of warm blood) then he asked what I rode and I had to tell him his Daughter's Oldenburg got beat by a MULE!!! He said he would have to tell her that. He said sarcastically "that will make her feel REALLY GOOD!"
The few moments of sweet revenge for all the bad comments over the years about mules! Claudia laughed after he left and told me, "At least I did not tell him that his Oldenburg got beat by a $700 Mule!"
Thanks Claudia for all the support and taking these great photos!

Strange Experience With Horse People!

This is one of the strangest experiences with other horse people in my whole life!
I drove in to the camp Saturday, Sept. 27th, mid-morning, set up the Mule's stalls and let them drink and eat some hay. Because it was raining a little I decided to tack up both my mules while the trailer was parked right by the stalls. My friends showed up and we got our trailers parked in the camp, I decided to ride Sadie on the trail and leave Seven to ride in the covered pen when I got home, since it might rain and the saddle would get soaked. I untied him and offered him some water then tied him in the stall to the main pole on the side of the stall. The temperature was in the high 70's and the stall is not solid walled so there was lots of ventilation. When I returned from our ride four hours later, there was a bucket of water filled with water at his feet where he was tied. While I was off to the bathroom, some girl looking to be in early 20's came around the corner and asked my friend Holly if she was with this mule. She said yes and the girl told her it was cruel to leave the mule tied up with no water for five hours. Holly told her that we where only gone for four hours and that we had offered him water before we left and where going to when we got back. She also told the girl that she should not have gone into the stall and that it was unsafe to leave a bucket where the mule could have pawed it and hurt himself. She said the girl acted all huffy and walked off. About that time I came walking down the inside aisle of the barn and asked three girls who were there if they had seen who went in my mule's stall. Well they exploded on me and said that it was them and I was cruel to leave him tied for five hours will no water and said that "he could not breath with his tack on"? They said he drank half a bucket of water when they offered it to him. I told them they should not have gone into the stall and that you never leave a bucket where a mule could paw it. That was when they started saying that this was abuse. So I told them to go ahead and report me and then repeated that they where not to touch my mule or leave buckets where horses could paw and get their leg caught. I also told them that if they had a problem with something going on they should have reported it to the staff and should not gone into a stall of an animal they did not own.
Boy do they need a reality check!! I am the most upset by the fact that they went into my stall and endangered my mule by leaving that bucket where he could have pawed and gotten hurt. I am also glad they did not scare him, cause him to panic, hurting one of them. He is a very sensitive mule and is afraid most of the time of new people.
We where all at a loss on this one. All the horses out there who are truly being abused and they worry with Seven being safely tied for a few hours? Good thing I did not put his hobbles on, like I almost did. Everyone I have told this story to can't believe it, including the camp staff. They all know how well I take care of my mules. There was a lot of new material for jokes about my mule abuse for the rest of the weekend!
I think this comes down to the fundamental difference between a working/using animal and a 1,200 pound pet.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sadie Mae's First Book Signing

On Dec. 13th, Sadie Mae showed up at 2pm at the Coffee Hound Books Store in Louisburg, NC to deliver the books that bearsher photo to the Author, Donna Campbell Smith! Great fun was had by all as she greeted guests at the book signing. She did well for the photo shoot, as it was not get first! She sniffed everyone up and down for cookies and let people take their photo with her. For many people it was the first time they had been this close to a mule! She stood patiently for the afternoon to meet her admirers!

At the end of the day it was back to the farm, eatting hay like all the other non-famous mules!

To order a copy of the book "The Book of Mules" by: Donna Campbell Smith call Millie at The Coffee Hound Bookshop (919) 496-6030

Another appreance is being planned at the Triangle Horse Sports Shop in Northern Raleigh for Early Spring!

Photos of Shannon, Sadie Mae and Author Donna Campbell Smith!

Shiloh Loses Her Skirt In The Tractor Supply Parking Lot!

Linda Morris, Shiloh's new owner started out our phone conversation by saying to me "Shiloh lost her skirt in the Tractor Supply parking lot!" Which sounds like a huge problem if you are a lady but a lady Mule with lots of winter hair, not too bad!
Linda decorated Shiloh with a Santa Hat, Sleigh Bells, Big Red Bow and a Tree Skirt for her Christmas time visit to Tractor Supply Company, where Linda works part time. As they stood out front giving out candy and letting kids pet and feed Shiloh treats, her Tree Skirt kept blowing off in the wind. Linda said she had to finally just take it off as she could not get it securely tied on!
Shiloh enjoyed all the attention and stood steady as people with shopping carts and merchandise came in and out of the sliding doors! She gave a few kids a pony ride and made their day too!

Linda and Shiloh are having more fun together than I ever could have imagined! You can tell by this photo that they both are having great fun!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seven's First Dressage Show

We arrived in plenty of time and I tried not to be noticed as I slipped him off the trailer. The Preserve Farm in Washington, NC was a very pretty and nicely laid out place! There were already several trailers with nice looking horses tied to them and people out warming up their horses.
I had clipped Seven and vacuumed him till no dust came out of his coat when you patted him. Not something easy to do with a full winter coat! Claudia and her husband Jack arrived as I was tacking Seven up. I put the new Dressage pad under our English saddle so we at least looked the part! I warmed up and got several warm welcomes from other participants. I still was trying to stay away from the other horses! Seven was being a very reserved and well behaved!
Claudia gave me my last minute instructions before it was my turn to go in the ring and try our hand at Dressage Test Introduction B. So much to think about! I was just hoping to stay in the ring and remember the pattern! Seven rode very well! He stayed between my legs and my hands for most of the ride! I was very pleased and even had a little cheering section when I got done! I was relieved! I learned later we had received a 68 score, which I am told is very good and impressive for our first test.
We then competed in the Sport Horse Versatility Class which is working over obstacles and then another class in hand with a halter. They take your riding score in this class and match it with your dressage test to place the class. I ended up with a 2nd in the in-hand class and a 3rd in the obstacles/dressage test class.
I let Seven rest at the trailer for a while and watched Claudia and Jack take their horses through the Tests and the Sport Versatility Classes too. Soon it was time for me to saddle up again.
This test was more complicated and I hoped to stay on course. Seven was not as light and forward as I would have wanted but we still stayed on course and got the job done. We scored a 60.7 on the Training Level 2 test and placed 4th.
I was very please with how everyone responded so well to Seven. You never know how things will go when you show up with a mule.
In an email Claudia told me that “I think you and Seven really made a good impression on the Dressage riders. I heard so many good comments about him and I think everyone really enjoyed seeing a well behaved and athletic Dressage Mule.”

Thank you Claudia for the complements and all the help and good advice!!
We have another Dressage Show on the 20th in Raleigh! Got some practicing to do between now and then!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mules in the Feed Room!

I came home on Friday (12/5/2008) with a lot to do for the Dressage Show the next day! I saw something that made my heart sink! The feed room door was open and the Mustang’s butt was hanging out of the doorway! No sign of Seven anywhere so that had to mean he was in the feed room! I calmly went in the house and changed my coat and shoes. I did not want to scare them out of the feed room and have them hurt themselves so I quietly unchained the gate, but as I unlatched it they heard me.
They reacted like two little kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar! The horse scrambled backwards and some how did not hurt himself on the tin he pulled back. Then I heard Seven scrambling around with hooves on metal trash cans and cans falling over! He got to the doorway and jumped the three steps down and went bucking across the paddock! I was afraid to see how much they had eaten. It looked like about 20 pounds a piece but I could not be sure. I was also amazed to see that they had not fallen through the floor in that old building! Good think I had put some plywood over the rotten hold in the floor!
(For those of you who don’t know about horses, they can kill themselves by eating too much grain as toxins in their body from the over load poison their systems, plus they could colic)
My neighbor had mistakenly forgotten to close the feed room door when some people dropping off a trailer for some parade hay got her in a hurry, easy thing to do!
I put them all in their pens and watched them both on and off all night. The both seemed to be ok but walked around like they where a little bloated! I kept those two off any more grain for a few days and off all hay that night! Seven pooped all day long at the Dressage Show but LUCKY for Seven and Buckshot they both suffered no ill effects!

Thanksgiving 2008

Mom and Dad came down for Thanksgiving! Some how, I pulled the house together, had Thanksgiving dinner ready when they arrived on Thursday afternoon. Dad wore his vest I gave him for his Birthday and the hat from a few years ago. We ended up dressing alike so of course we had to take a photo with a mule.
Friday I rode Seven and practiced for the dressage show coming up and also rode the Haflinger mule all over the farm and tested him out! He keeps impressing me!
Reuben, Mom's Dog Dylan and the Wild Cat all did very well together until Sat. Night. Dylan was chasing the lazer dot and the cat decied he did not like Dylan acting like that! Shawn the cat got all upset and every hair on his body was standing up. I chased him out of the living room, got my gloves on and picked him up and put him in the bathroom. He cooled out! In 20 minutes we had a nice kitty again!
Saturday Mom and I did some shopping and then we rested and ate the rest of the day! Sunday they headed home but it took them longer than expected because it was raining horribly and cold!

Shiloh's New Home!

November 22 and 23, 2008 was a long tiring weekend! I might just have to not do much but sleep over Thanksgiving! I left Friday night and took Shiloh to my friend Holly's place in Columbus, NC. Then Saturday Holly came with me and we hit the road at 8AM. I was taking my mule Shiloh to her new owner, Linda Morris in South Carolina. I have not had much time to spend with Shiloh and Linda needs an older steady mount to ride. On the way we stopped at this regular looking gas station to get a bring and use the restroom. They had the most interesting crafts and wood carvings all over the store. Framed prints and paintings, wood cravings, hand made signs and pottery. All of a sudden in the middle of no where we were shopping! Holly bought a really nice bear head carved out of a pine knot and a carved gourd for a friends. I bought a walking stick that had twisted wood from a vine growing into it. I also found a poster of South Carolina Waterfalls for a friend who works on my truck who just happens to spend his free time hiking to waterfalls!

We finally arrived at Linda’s Place!
Linda almost cried when I opened the trailer and told her to go in and get her new mule!
The Big Bow (Like the car commercials) was a Big Hit!
We looked are over and I told Linda some of Shiloh’s quirks, then Linda rode her for a few minutes to try her out and to see how her tack fit Shiloh.
I got to see my old Donkey Banjo which Linda calls Brayhoven. He looked very good and happy! We had lunch then messed with Linda’s Haflinger Mule for the afternoon. We left about 4pm and took the mule with me to try out for my friend Beverly. We got back to Holly’s house in Columbus about 5:30 so I went out for Chinese for dinner with Bruce and Holly.

Left Sunday at 6AM, got to my house at 10:30, set the new mule up in a paddock and started getting ready for the Pony Party! Cleaned the paddock (5 wheelbarrows) then tacked up and decorated Chester and Sadie! They looked great with silver hooves, painted stars and hearts all over them! Eight kids came and we have endless pony rides for about an hour and a half and some parents and a grandfather rode too! After they left I cleaned the trailer, unpacked and crashed in my bed!!! Now I have a mule and a donkey with silver hooves and silver stars and hearts all over them walking around in my pasture! What will the neighborhood think?? Hopefully it will all come off in the next rain storm!