Saturday, June 15, 2013

Quick Storm but Lasting Problems

On June 13th, 2013 we had a bad line of thunderstorms crossed over the St. Clair Red Mule Farm! I got home from work and barely had time to move my truck and horse trailer out of harms way and let the dogs out for a bit before it started kicking up! We ran for the house! We sat in the living room and listened to the wind blow so hard. I have never heard my house creak and moan like that before!  The power went out!
Jamie my neighbor called me and said the giant pecan tree in their yard had broken in two! I went to the side door to see it just as the rain hit! It blew some more and rained cats and dogs for another 30 minutes. I looked in on the mules and donkeys and all five of them were loaded into the stalls together! I took a short nap!
Soon it was over, the rain let up and the sun peaked between the clouds. I went out and checked for damage. Found tons of sticks down in the yard and some singles blew up off the corner of my roof. After a quick call to my roofer, to get on his list, I went to feeding and checking fence lines.
I found one of the smaller trees at the bottom of the pasture was snapped in half and laying on the fence in the back. I quickly switched the sheep into that pasture and the mules and donkeys into the other pasture. The Mules were already chewing on the down tree and I did not want to get them sick from eating it! I would have to deal with that tree later!
I drove out to see if I could find something for dinner. I found my neighbor Larry's big tree was down in his front yard and covering the whole road in front of his house. The city workers were already there starting to clean things up. Such a shame to lose such a pretty tree.
The power was out in much of Zebulon but when I did find Taco Bell and Arby's had power they also had a long line of people waiting for food. I decided that I would go home and just have some cereal.
On the way home I spotted a rainbow and as I arrived home one of the most beautiful sun sets I have ever seen! Of course I took some photos!

The next morning still no power, my hopes of it coming back on quickly were dashed when Jamie told me the main wire was down in her side yard.  I got dressed and headed to work. Found that the power was also out there too and no idea of when it would be restored, I headed home to deal with the problems at the farm.  Debbie had power and offered to let me bring over all my food so that it would not spoil and fill up a 50 gallon water tank! Then we went to lunch! My neighbors kids played all day in the downed pecan tree like it was their new jungle gym!

As the day went on I started getting backed for my trip to Virginia but was still not sure if I could leave with the power still being off. At 2pm the linemen showed up and put the line back up! Then at 4pm they turned on the power! YEA!!  I decided to leave my food at Debbie's house till I got home and still take the dogs as planned to Judy's for the weekend. Christina would come and feed everyone else for me!
So I got a shower and took off for some fun and REST with my parents!

Wind whipping through the leaves in the huge oak tree!

Mules and Donkeys not worried a bit about the big storm coming.

Storm approaching.

Neighbor's pecan tree.

Roof Damage!

Rainbow after the storm!

Most beautiful Sun Set EVER!!! 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Riding with More Friends! 6/9/2013

Another fun day of riding and friends!
I rode Twila and Debbie Richardson brought over he new awesome donkey named Blue.
Reed Tucker rode Ted and Amy rode her horse Fiona. Tara, #2 came over for a ride on Sadie Mae!

Great day, a little humid but we made it work!

Twila got to wear her new Bridle! I picked out the sliver and Circle G Livestock Feed-Goods fixed it up for me and made the brow band bigger!!  Twila approved of it! !
The view from Twila Merrill 

Heading through the all grass

Debbie and Blue

Amy and Fiona/Reed and Ted

Tara and Sadie Mae

Amy and Fiona

Twila Merrill and her new bridle! 

Two Mule Rides & A Delivery

Had two nice rides with Suzette today! She rode Sadie Mae while my first ride was on Meadow in the pasture and then on the trail with Seven. 
We rode over to the river by 64 Bus. between Zebulon and Wendell to see the river AWAY over it's banks and running hard! We got about 6 inches on Friday from the first tropical storm of the hurricane season. 

Then we wished the old Ray's Restaurant was open for a late lunch. 

I left Meadow tied to the back of my trailer in the shade while we rode out. I had to laugh when I came home and found a delivery from FedEx. I can't imagine delivery guys surprise when he walked into the yard and came around the back of the trailer to see Meadow standing there. I bet the both jumped! Nothing but good training for her!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Riding with Friends 6/2/2013

My friend Trish came down to visit the mules. I have not seen her in well over 10 years. I used to show Quarter Horses with her daughter and I also used to house sit for her. We had a great time catching up and stayed up way to late the night before!
Sunday we dragged ourselves out of bed and got breakfast ready just in time for my friend Carol to show up. We pulled out all the mules and started getting everyone ready to ride.
Soon Christina showed up with her horse Oakley and then Tara with her horse Tye.
Soon the trail ride was on!
We had a wonderful ride! All the equines were good and the weather was wonderful with a cool breeze blowing!
Once we returned, we were treated to lunch that Tara brought, a salmon pasta and some delicious bread! Then it was time for birthday cake! We sang Christina, Happy Birthday and then made a big dent into a strawberry torte cake!
It was a lovely day with some lovely ladies! Not a day I shall soon forget!
Trish and Tye

Carol and Sadie Mae, Carol's first trail ride!

Tara and Twila Merrill

Carol got Sadie to get on the stand! 

The Group!

Tara and Twila

Christina and Oakley

The group between from between Seven's Ears! 

Trish, Tara and Tye

Meadow spent the day learning some patience! Good Girl! 

The Unplanned Addition

Welcome, St. Clair's Meadow Lark, to the Red Mule Farm. 
I was judging a show at Flintrock Farm when my friend and mentor Jay told me I needed to go and look at a new mule he had for sale...... I really dared not to look but then he told me she was a buckskin color and super quiet.  Besides he said, "Your mules are getting older and you need another one coming along." Sounds reasonably. So I went to look..... UH OH.....

Could not stop thinking about her...... so I had to go and look. Noelle had been riding her and was doing a very good job. Noelle even rode her right over some obstacle that I brought with me.
I rode her and then took her out on her own to ride her around the barn areas.
When I returned Jay said, "So before you tell me what you like about her, tell me what you don't like about her." I had to think for a moment but I answered, "Nothing" He agreed that he also had not been able to find anything he did not like about her either.
So a deal was struck and I loaded her up and took her home......UH OH....

Woke up the next morning and could not believe what was in my pasture. A beautiful Molly mule, buckskin with lots of Dun markings, super friendly, calm, about 14.3 with an inch or so to grow and a nice start on her under saddle. She is three and will be 4 in July.  I would not have had any interest in her if she had not also been so good minded!

Sadie Mae was very jealous of her and I thought Seven would be too, but I ask Seven help me, "Show her the ropes" and I think that helped!
So now I have a long term project.......   She follows me around the pasture like a dog and wants me to do something with her.  I rode her the other night and she had a good fast ear flopping walk and went right over the two bridges I have in the pasture and the tire rings! No Problem! So excited about the possibilities for this young mule!

Me trying out Meadow at Jay's place.

Shining golden in the morning sun! Wanting to come out and play again!

Meadow's Dorsal Stripe and tail with cream around it! 

Some of Meadow's interesting colors. 

Please Mom, don't go to work, say and play with me! 

Obstacle Course Weekend, that was not to be........

Thing were in full swing at the farm. We had mowers and weed whackers working on the farm. Mom was down to help with the gardens and get the house ready. Things were coming together and I was expecting about 30 people with their equines for the RMF Obstacle Course Fun Weekend on May 24-26th..... Big plans made.....
And then I came down with the FLU!!  Have not been that sick in over 10 years! Thankfully Mom was there to take care of me and feed the animals too! I don't know how in the world she did not get sick either!
So I had to cancel the big event! It was such a shame as the farm, house and gardens looked amazing, but I just could not risk infecting anyone else!

We will reschedule for the FALL!

St.Clair Red Mule Farm: Sheep Update

I sold the black and white ram and traded the baby ram for a new one and took Blackie the other big Ram back to Tara.  Then Tara and I both added to our herds with some sheep from a farm in Virginia!
Here is a photo of some of the new crew!  So I now have 8 ewes and two rams.  The new Herd sire Ram is a Dorper Hair Sheep and I call him Muffin. He is really roly poly cute and does this funny move in the pasture like the skunk Pepe LaPue!
Think I might have to change the name of the farm to the 
St. Clair Mule and Sheep Farm. Just kidding! 

Levi and Strauss update

Strauss is settling in. He has decided he really likes the mules and donkeys and tries to kiss them over the fence. He does chase the cat with a little too much excitement so we will have to work on that some. He and Levi run and play all the time. Strauss doesn't like Levi's red ball but he does enjoy chasing Levi when he goes after the ball so they both get exercise! 
They both enjoy several games of tug of war each night! So much so that I had to go and buy a big rope that would with stand the pulling! 

Strauss making himself comfortable

Endless games of Tug of WAR!!! 

Levi and Strauss and not sure about the new door way gate

The Diamond and Ginger Project

Some things just happen so easily with no problems and things just seem to fall into place like they were meant to be.  This thankfully turned out to be one of those cases! 

An old friend called me out of the blue. She, well rather her mules needed help. Her husband had passed away unexpectedly about 6 months ago and she had to sell the farm.  The farm was going to closing in just a few weeks and she needed homes for the two mules. 
Now I usually don't take in rescues but these are two really good mules and I have known them for years! So a few days later I drove down to pick them up! They needed shots, deworming, farrier work and general grooming. Both jumped on the trailer like they were excited to be going some where.  
I took them straight to a vet friend of mines farm and she gave them shots and pulled Coggins for me. I am sure the two mules were wondering what was going on.  We arrived home and I set them up in one of my paddocks.  
Over the next few weeks I got all their needed taken care of and was ready to start thinking about finding them a new home!  I had someone in mind right away for the red mule Ginger. I called my friend Jeanette and told her about Ginger. The next week Jeanette and her twin sister Lynette came to spend the weekend and see how she got along with Ginger.  The two of them hit it off right away and she took Ginger home that weekend.  
Now I was a little more worried about finding a home for Diamond. Being a bit older and not in as good condition I had to find just the right home for her. I posted the below photo of Lynette riding Diamond on Facebook with some other photos and just mentioned that this mule was looking for a new home. Right away, I got four responses from people interested in her!  
Soon Diamond was being visited by a mother and adult daughter. I have known the daughter since she was a 4H kid so I knew she would have a great home. Her Mother wanted a easy walking trail mule! PERFECT!  
Turns out they both really needed a special friend and the two of them just love each other! 

So excited that both mules got great homes and it released my friend of the heart ache and burden of taking care of these two mules. I know she misses them every day! 

Ginger with former owner

Ginger with her new owner Jeanette on their first ride

Lynette riding Diamond for me

Baby Donkey!!!

I have never picked up and Equine before!! How cute is this sweetie! My friend Debbie bought three Jenny donkeys and two were in Foal! This one was born so I had to come over and meet her! Debbie says she will be for sale, but I don't know how she is going to part with her!!

CMA H.Cooper Black Ride

Story by Teddy Royal! 
H. Cooper Black 2013
    As we pulled into the campground at H. Cooper Black on Friday evening, we could see that several folks made an early arrival and were gathering for a community dinner.  We got the mules unloaded and in the barn and joined everyone just as dinner was being served.  What good timing and good food.  The report of the day's ride was that even though the mules were feeling good, everyone stayed in the saddle and safe.  I took this get-together as an opportunity to present Sandra Hyder with her turkey feather headgear to be worn whenever she is around her mule.  (Sandra had an earlier accident when a turkey flew up in front of her mule and caused it to dump her, breaking some ribs.)  I gave her instructions to wear her feathers around her mule to de-spook her.
   On Saturday, two buggy's and three wagons gathered in front of the barn for a picture taking session.  We were joined by the South Carolina Mule and Donkey Association for this ride.  As we headed out, some of the riders left the wagon train for the trails while others followed along on the way to Griggs pond for lunch.  We joined back together just before the pond and continued the last half mile to the pond's edge, together.  The air was cool but the threat of showers held off for a good dry lunch.  As we started back, we once again split up into three different groups.  The wagons went one way, some riders went for a short ride back, but Luann and I decided that since we didn't get to ride on Friday, we would take the longer trail and go by a couple of the other ponds along the way.  We made our way back to the camp just as a few drops of rain started to fall and got in a hurry to unsaddle and get the mules put up before we got wet.  After a short rest, we made our way to the club house for dinner.  We were thankful to have the club house as a dry place to enjoy the food and company, as the rain began to fall pretty hard.  Stacey had once again created another fabulous dinner of chicken  and dumplings, chicken and rice, green beans, and slaw, not to mention all the desserts that were also on the table.
   Sunday began with a cool morning and a more rain.  Even though it almost cleared up for a minute, we decided to forget about riding and to go home.  It didn't take long to pack up and load the mules for the drive home.  Another good ride for the start of the 2013 riding season.
   Our thanks go to Marty and Stacey Sims for hosting this ride and for the delicious dinner.  Also thanks to the SC Mule & Donkey association for joining us.
See Ya on the trail,  riding with Leon,
Teddy Royal
Shannon & Seven, Debbie and Sadie Mae -Ready to ride! 

The Group laughing and already having a good time!

SC M&D Assoc. joined us with several wagons!

HC Obstacle Challenge with 7 & Twila

2nd HC Obstacle Course Challenge on April 20th and I headed down with Twila and Seven. I had to ask for some help to hold Seven while I showed Twila and then help to hold Twila while I showed Seven. Mary announced it on the speaker and about three Cowboys quickly showed up to hold Seven for me!  When it was time to show Seven Bobbie Miller held Twila for me! She fell in love as you can see in the photo below!  Seven won both his in-hand and Masters riding classes and Twila placed 4th and 8th in her classes! It was a wonderful day and so nice to get some help from the crowd since I came by myself..... but I had to keep an eye on Bobbie so she didn't disappear with Twila!!!  

Bobbie and Twila

Seven's groom totes and pay back check

Quest for the Best

Mule Wins the Quest for the Best Challenge
By: Shannon St. Clair Hoffman, St. Clair Red Mule Farm

Last year I started taking lessons from my long time friend Linda Hoover. With her help Seven and I have improved our riding and refinement.  After one of our lessons she asked me if my mule Lucky Number Seven would be available to compete in the Quest for the Best Challenge on April 13, 2013. I said yes and was very excited about him participating!

The Quest for the Best Challenge is a local Southern Pines fundraiser for the Companion Animal Spay and Neuter Program in the area.  Well-known riders from the area compete, and people pay to vote and also Calcutta the riders to raise money. 

The challenge is to ride a dressage test and then an obstacle course, judged on refinement, partnership and versatility of the riders and equines.

Linda had some trouble finding a rider willing to take on the challenge of riding Seven in the event. All the other riders would be using their own horses, so it was an added challenge to do well riding someone else’s mount, much less a mule!

Time was running short and I started thinking that Seven might not be able to compete. Linda called with the good news that Dr. Jock Tate was willing to ride Seven in the Challenge.  I was very excited because I used to work with Dr. Tate at the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine where is a respected equine surgeon and he is an experienced and excellent rider! 

We met at Reflections Farm in Vass for the first practice session. I gave Dr. Tate some cookies and told him how important it was for him to make friends with Seven and gain his trust.

Dr. Tate impressed me with his horsemanship and the two had a great start toward a winning partnership!  The first practice was a little riding, but mostly working with the obstacles. Dr. Tate quickly realized that this was not a problem for Seven.

For the last 6 years I have been competing with Seven in a host of events including Cowboy Races, Trail Obstacle Competitions, and ACTHA. Seven has grown in his training and confidence and will now tackle nearly any obstacle with confidence! Over the years we have won some big competitions and even a high point buckle. But how well would he do with a new rider?

Dr. Tate made the long drive to my house several times to ride Seven for some more practice. He also took some dressage lessons from a successful dressage trainer. Dr. Tate has successfully shown and ridden jumpers and foxhunters all his life, but dressage would be a new challenge!

The week before the show I felt like they needed a little more practice together so I let Dr. Tate take Seven to his farm for a few days.  In the ten years I have owned Seven he has never been away from me so it was a big decision! But who better to send your mule off with than an Equine Veterinary Surgeon?

While Seven was at the Tates’ place he settled right in and went to work on the nice green grass. He had his own run in shed and some equine neighbors. Dr. Tate told me that his farrier showed up at the farm and upon seeing Seven in the pasture, quickly announced that he “Did not shoe mules!”  We all got a good laugh out of that one! 

Dr. Tate took Seven out on a hack with a small group and Seven walked out in his quick ground covering flat walk across the fields. Dr. Tate said he was just enjoying the ride and looked back after a little while and realized that Seven had left the group of long legged fox hunting horses in the dust!

I came down the night before and we went to the Hotel Jefferson in down town Southern Pines for the party and introduction of the riders. Each rider had a costume and a theme song for the introduction.  Dr. Tate was the Mad Hatter! Many of us put on rabbit ears and did the bunny hop too! It was great fun!

After the party Dr. Tate, his wife Kathryn, our friend Diane and I walked down to a local restaurant.  He went in full costume and I had my rabbit ears on. Boy did we get some funny looks at the restaurant, but that made it all the more fun!

The next morning I cleaned Seven up and did some last minute clipping and we trailered over to Reflections Farm in Vass, NC.  I got Seven tacked up while Dr. Tate went to the riders’ meeting.
Soon they were starting their dressage test. I don’t think I breathed during the whole thing but they put in a good test!  People seemed to be impressed with his test and I was just happy they got the right lead they had been having problems with.

The Obstacle part was next. It involved things like dismounting and picking up a stuffed animal dog and delivering it to a Vet, re-mounting, opening a gate, trotting between boulders on a black mat, backing out of a chute, and crossing a bridge.  At one point Dr. Tate did an obstacle out of order. This was a big let down because they were doing everything so well.  He had to take a zero on that obstacle, and was not disqualified, but it was a double pointed obstacle and that was a big hit.  We headed back to the trailer a little down but I was still so excited about how well the two had ridden together!

At awards time I was surprised when Seven and Dr. Tate won the People’s Choice award! We were very excited about that because people had to pay $1 per vote and he had over 500 votes!

Then the Awards were given out for the placing in the Quest. I knew that he would get at least a 5th place since one of the other competitors had some other major problems on the course. So when he did not get 5th I thought, ok, 4th that is pretty good. Not 4th, wow then 3rd then, nope not 3rd, so I was thinking, wow he got 2nd place?  Nope, their names where not called. I was counting the group and I realized he was the only one left right as they announced that Dr. Tate and Seven were the winners of the Quest! 

His score on the Obstacle course was so good that he had just enough points to still win the whole event!  What fun to pin all those ribbons on Seven and watch them take a victory gallop!

I am so proud of Seven for being so willing and responsive to Dr. Tate’s cues and being so trusting of him so quickly! 

Link to the video of the competition:

United States Refined Horsemanship Association   

Linda Hoover

Practice Session

Seven's special hair cut 

The competitors

Dressage Test

On Obstacle Course

TEAM TATE - Dr. Tate, Seven, Shannon and Kathryn Tate

Mom and Dad came all the way down to show their support

Taking Victory Gallop

Seven looks rather pleased with himself

Dr. Tate as the Mad Hatter!