Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Test Run - Mohair Endurance Girth

My friend Vicki weaves beautiful mohair girths and cinches (Traditional Mohair Cinches) and has made me a gorgeous endurance girth in Rhio's new colors, turquoise and black.  Rhio and I are charged with thoroughly testing this new girth, and giving our input for future endurance girths.  Tonight was a great night to start putting this beauty through its paces!

Gesa, Paco, Kelso, Rhio, and I found ourselves pulling into an occupied parking lot at Boulder Lake tonight around 5:15 pm.  It's grouse season, and with the gorgeous weather today, everyone and their uncles were out enjoying the evening.  Two of the three hunters we met freely admitted that they were really out for the fall colors, balmy air, and beautiful trails - wearing blaze orange and carrying a shotgun was just their excuse.

Having done nothing but admire my new girth so far, I took a few pictures of it in it's pristine loveliness before tacking up.  It will never look like this again!

Taking a page out of its creator's book, and documenting my new girth's loveliness while draped over my horse. 

Oh so pretty!  Note it's clean, bright, unsullied appearance. 
Vicki made this one nice and short for me, so I can utilize different holes in my saddle billets than my other girths do.  This is a great thing to do to extend the life of your billets.  I was immediately pleased that the buckles rolled easily over the leather billets, and I had no trouble getting it latched into the first holes on each side.  I did have a moment of reservation when I saw just how short it was, but I remember Vicki telling me it would stretch at least an inch and I know the foam in my Skito pad takes a minute or two to warm up to body temperature and allow the saddle to settle down correctly.  Sure enough, I was able to get the girth comfortably snug at the third hole on each side after just a few minutes (my regular girth is correctly tightened at the fifth hole, in case you were wondering.)

Of course I had to take a few more pictures to fully document how great this girth looks - and how terrible the rest of my now-mismatched tack & accessories look in comparison!!!  I hope the weather stays nice so I can ride, otherwise I fear I may be spending too much time online shopping for turquoise and black stuff!

Beauty and function!
We set off with the goal of doing the loop (about 7 miles) in an hour, which would put us back at the trailer in the last bit of light for the day.  Rhio was a little doggy to begin; I found I was having to push him into a nice trot and he didn't feel very free or forward at all.  Just about the time I was considering being worried about it, he clicked into his normal forward, happy, moving out mode and all was well.  We walked where the footing dictated it, but otherwise had a grand time cruising along at a steady trot or nice canter, shouting bits of conversation back and forth as we went.
Pausing for a drink for the dog, and a nibble for the horses.

Not the best light for illuminating me & Rhio , but a particularly lovely piece of the trail.
Rhio shied at boulders or broken tree stumps a few times, but maintained forward motion the entire time so I had no trouble staying with him.  We had a harrowing encounter with a fallen-at-an-angle tree situated just around a tight corner, but Rhio responded beautifully to my leg and I managed to duck under the high portion as he took the corner faster and tighter than we'd planned.  That was a bit of a rush; it occurred to me as I continued flying down the trail that smacking that tree with my head at a very forward canter would have been a BAD thing, even with a helmet on.  Throughout it all,  the saddle was rock solid, no slipping of the girth noted.  We paused once for water (Kelso) and grass (ponies) and photos, but otherwise kept to our pace and achieved our goal, finishing right on the money as the sun vanished.  What a ride!  It's been too long since we've had a ride like this, just good footing and clear trails to sail around, seemingly without a care in the world.  We were "in the zone."

After completing the ride, the girth is, expectedly, a bit grungy with the sweat/dirt combination that comes off Rhio when he's working (& hasn't had a bath recently) and I can see that it developed a little crease behind the elbows on both sides where his girth groove and movement obviously want something a little less broad.  I should have measured its dimensions before use, but I didn't.  The leather buckle-backers did a great job - no evidence of rubbing at the buckles.  Rhio did look like he developed a tiny rub on the left side about an inch in front of where the girth sat at rest.  I will be interested to check that out in daylight tomorrow to confirm.  If I remember correctly, this has happened with other girths as well, probably until they get broken in and molded to his particular conformation.
Looking at the girth in situ, left side, after 7 miles of mostly trotting and cantering.  

The girth on the hood of the truck.  Note the darker line about 1/3 of the way from the top on both sides - this is the spot that is bunching or wrinkling behind the elbows.  The top of the picture is the side toward his elbows. 

So far I am pleased with the new girth, and plan to continue its testing this weekend at a 25 mile limited distance ride in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - Pine Marten Run, here we come!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Leaden Skies

Shall I carry a big sign that says "See us!  We are here!", or do you think I've got it covered?
For our first solo ride from the new farm, Rhio & I had a very chilly, dreary day to contend with.  It was technically still summer today, but I sure couldn't tell by the thermometer (46 degrees), the heavy clouds, or the three layers I was wearing.  As the day was so gray, and I knew we'd be riding much more heavily travelled roads than we used to, I decked us both out in bright and reflective gear.  Rhio sported his blaze orange rump rug and reflective fluorescent leg bands on each leg, and I wore a safety vest with "Caution Horse & Rider" emblazoned on the back (though if anyone were close enough to be reading that, I would be pretty upset).

This is the first time I've ridden Rhio off the property since moving the horses three weeks ago.  I was very pleased that he didn't balk at all about riding out the driveway, and that Cricket wasn't calling for him but seemed to be content with Paco.

We started up the road, riding against traffic on the (narrow) shoulder.  As it was midday, and mid-week, the traffic was light.  About half the vehicles slowed & moved over, and about half didn't.  Rhio is very traffic safe and didn't bat an eyelash, but I was considerably less relaxed than riding on the quiet gravel roads we used to.  I also worried about slipping every time we crossed the paved apron to a driveway, as he is shod now and pavement + steel shoes are not the best combination.  He had no difficulty, however, and once I got more comfortable with the road, off we went at a nice trot.

We travelled several miles north along the road before turning east along a gravel road.  The first house had a German Shepherd which gave us a single fairly uninterested woof, and the second house had a Golden Retriever cross on a tie-out that was really giving us the eye.  Sure enough, after we all made eye contact and Rhio started moving off, the dog lunged to the end of his rope, completely silently, and Rhio spooked and spun.  By the time we made it 360 to look at the dog again, it was cowering up on the porch.  This dog could be trouble if it were ever loose, so I'm notching it in my memory banks for sure.  

The road ends at another paved road, so we turned south along the shoulder until we reached a second gravel road, which we took back west to join up with the farm road, making a "P" shaped loop ride.  I had forgotten my GPS, but drove it after we were done, and it was about 7 miles.  I have to say, despite the less than ideal road riding, the views are spectacular.  This photo doesn't even do it justice, even on a gray day, and the fall color is just beginning.  Looking back south along the road, with Lake Superior and the rolling terrain spreading out before us, it reminds me why I live here.

It is hardly noticeable on horseback, but we've been climbing the entire 2+ miles from the farm.  The slightly deeper blue to either side of the "peak" (Hawk Ridge? I think so) is the lake, with the heavy clouds pressing down and blending their gray-blue with the water's blue-gray.
It was a pretty successful ride, and Rhio did great.  I will keep investigating to see if I can come up with a route that has more quiet gravel roads and less shoulder riding.
Returning to the farm.
Upon returning, he & Cricket got some free grazing time while he cooled out beneath his cooler and Cricket got his "lunch" meal.  The old man has gained about 50 pounds since I began adding oil to his diet in mid-August.  I'm thrilled!
Cricket seems to be thriving on his 3 meals a day plan, and finally settling in with the herd.  Yay! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Charity Cup 2011, September 10th-11th, Pillager State Forest

photo courtesy of Bob Zimmerman
Lynne & Niso in the lead, Jutta & Gandolph as "buffer," and me on Rolex bringing up the rear
Yay!  I got to ride!  Although Rhio didn't get to enjoy the weekend, but stayed home babysitting Cricket and continuing to recover from his monster case of scratches, my friend Jutta brought me a horse to ride.  I had the privilege to take Rolex, a big bay Paint gelding, on his first 25 mile Limited Distance ride.  Rolex used to be owned by DeAnne, who just moved to Florida, and now lives with Jutta, while her husband Leo rides him for pleasure.  Within 10 minutes of my arrival, Jutta pulled in with Rolex and Gandolph after a long 7 hour haul from the middle of North Dakota.  Lynne & Donna had their horses Niso and C.J. settled into their pens, and a spot saved for Jutta's rig, and we commenced the unloading/unpacking/setting up chores.  Rolex walked off the trailer, took one look at Lynne's mare Niso in her pen, and immediately started "talking."  Rolex is a gelding, as far as anyone knows, but you sure would have thought he was a stallion by the big boy talk he was giving Niso, complete with visible physical accompaniments (if you know what I mean).

A little walking to stretch their trailer legs, a nice big drink for both of them, and we were ready to vet in.  Rolex has actually done a couple of novice fun rides, so it wasn't his very first time through the vetting process - but you sure couldn't tell by his behavior.  He though vet Nicole was entirely out of line wanting to look at his gums and check anal tone, but mostly he was completely distracted by the other horses; just in case there were girls in the melee, he made sure to announce his studliness repeatedly and vociferously.
Rolex screaming

Mr. Stud Muffin got a few lessons in backing and ground manners on our walk back to camp, which didn't actually seem to make much difference in his behavior, although he is a quick learner and started to back up as soon as he screamed after the first two times I backed him when he did it.  He didn't stop screaming, but he was nimble on his feet, hitting reverse every time before I could ask.  Given his behavior, he got tied to the trailer within the electric pen, and continued to scream periodically *all night long* -- many apologies to everyone camped near us; we didn't get any sleep either!

Tacking up, booting, and getting ready went smoothly...until I realized how far out of my foot-stretch range my stirrup was on this 16 hand monster.   I found something to clamber upon to get up on the beast, and then started getting the feel for him.  He was still screaming, by the way, but was responsive to cues and walked or trotted as I asked to warm up.  The ground was pretty far away compared to what I am used to, but he felt really controllable and safe and I wasn't really concerned at all, despite his atrocious behavior in camp and his less-than-stellar ground manners.  Lynne, Jutta, and I were planning to ride together for the day - so my concern was his ongoing stud behavior and riding with a mare.  We let everyone get down the trail before setting off, earning ourselves some cushion space, and headed off with Mr. Stud Muffin in the rear, his buddy Gandolph in the middle, and Niso in the lead.   Neither Niso nor Gandolph seemed to have much interest in leading, so we switched up with Rolex in the lead.  This worked great!  He had no concerns about the mare being behind him, but was entirely focused on the trail ahead.  This continued for the rest of the ride - Rolex leading with Niso behind or beside was fine, but anytime we tried to put Niso in front of Mr. Stud Muffin, I had 1200 pounds of studly, bit-chomping action beneath me.  Not good!
Gandolph & Niso at a water stop

The trail was beautiful, as usual, winding up and down hills continuously through mixed hardwood forest with some leaves just beginning to turn color.  We passed numerous small lakes and ponds, several of which we have horse access to for drinking and sponging.  Rolex was a great drinker, walking out knee deep (or probably deeper if I'd let him) at every water stop and taking great gulps.  He wasn't fazed at all by my sponge dropping into his field of vision, then being hoisted back up and the refreshing water being squeezed all over his neck.  I have to say, my experienced endurance Arabs are both still a little freaked out by the sponge when it is in the water with them or going up & down within their field of vision (I guess I don't do it enough!) - but only while I am sponging from their backs - and I was very impressed all day by Rolex's calm, cool, & collected behavior on trail.  He did absolutely great at trail stuff, and never spooked the entire ride.  He was easy to rate, responsive and light.  As long as he wasn't looking directly at a pretty mare posterior, he was perfect.
Lynne & Niso

Both Jutta and I started the ride with front boots on our horses; both boys wore Easy Boot Gloves with Powerstraps.  Both Jutta and I had booting issues, destroying our right front boots within a few miles of each other on the first loop.  I think Rolex stepped on himself, which tore the gaiter completely off the boot (it was brand new, just purchased from Silver's Equestrian Outfitters' mobile tack store at the ride!), and we're not sure exactly what happened with Gandolph's boot.  Luckily we didn't lose either boot, and were able to take the damaged boots with us for replacement.  Both horses continued with just one boot on; this is always a debate, as they were now uneven in the front.  However, the thickness of the boot was very minimal and we both decided that having one foot protected from the ample supply of rocks on the trail was better than having neither foot protected.  Both horses did just fine with this arrangement, but at the hold we put both boots on Gandolph and let Rolex do the second loop entirely barefoot.  Neither horse had any foot-related issues, so we were relieved.
Lynne & Niso
We were riding pretty slow, and nearing the end of the second loop became aware that we did actually have to watch the time a bit.  We wanted to make sure we had close to the maximum 30 minutes available to pulse down, as it was an unseasonably hot day (upper 80s, a bit humid) and our horses were working hard (this course is all hills - either ascending or descending nearly 100% of the time).  Once we get our in-time, the time we come off the trail, we have only 30 minutes for our horses to reach the pulse criteria of 60 beats per minute.  But our "ride time" clock doesn't stop until our horses reach 60, and our maximum ride time for the course is 6 hours.  Since our start time was 7:30 am, we had to have our horses' heart rates to 60 by 1:30.  We came off the trail just after 1, so with an adequately conditioned horse this shouldn't have been any trouble at all.  Mr. Stud Muffin, however, had other ideas besides relaxing and letting his heart rate decrease. Gandolph was down & vetted in no time, so Jutta (thank you!) came over to help me with Rolex.  He was quite hot, and we found a shady spot to sponge on cool water and scrape it off again, thereby pulling heat out and helping his body cool.   It took several buckets of cool water to get him cooled, but the problem wasn't the heat, but rather was his emotional/mental state and his hyperawareness of all the other horses in the vet check area.  We did manage to get his heart rate down to 60 with only 3 minutes to spare, I think mostly by luck as we had a little window with only a few horses in the area.  I tried to vet him right away, but more horses had crowded into the vet area and his pulse was up to 88 at the beginning of his final check.  Yikes!  We wouldn't pass with a heart rate of 88 - it still has to be 60 or below when you see the vets to pass the completion criteria.  So, off we went to our shady spot for a little more sponging and to wait for a quiet moment without any other horses in the vet area.  We caught a lucky break in horses a few minutes later, walked calmly over, and proceeded to vet out like a champ.  Whew!
Jutta & Gandolph lead the way in off the first loop along a section of single-track trail
Despite the nerve-wracking end (frankly, I expected to be pulled at the end for his high heart rate, which was entirely mental and had nothing to do with his physical fitness), I couldn't have been happier with my ride.  Rolex was a lot of fun on trail, easy to ride, and I think has a lot of potential in this sport. His weakness is his behavior and studly attitude.
Lynne & Niso in the lead near the end of the 2nd loop.
As you can imagine, Rolex's behavior was our central topic of discussion most of the weekend, and we spent Saturday afternoon sitting in the shade outside his pen experimenting (and enjoying beverages of choice with our well-earned junk food, of course!).  Donna had a bark collar along for her young Aussie, and with a little baling twine, it fit Rolex just fine.  Bark collars definitely work for calling horses!  He was smart enough to figure out when he didn't have it on, however, and went straight back to "talking" to Niso (who, I might add, didn't want anything whatsoever to do with him the entire weekend - thank goodness she's not one of "those" mares that goes into flamboyant heat at a ride!).  Jutta's second brainstorm was a splash of cold water on the tender parts when they were being displayed inappropriately; this did result in the tender parts being packed away in short order, but didn't serve to deter his behavior one bit.  The most effective thing we found was tying him to the trailer, at which point he would mostly focus on his hay.  Also, 25 miles of exercise had helped reduce his enthusiasm slightly over Friday night, so we were hopeful we might have a peaceful night Saturday.
A rare moment of peace & quiet with Rolex - I think he had the collar on here.
After potluck, where Rolex and I were awarded our completion tank top (luckily I don't have to share with him - it wouldn't fit him anyway!) as the very last LD completer, Donna saddled up her youngster CrackerJack (who also finished the LD - in 6th place!) and I saddled up Rolex (who thought - what??  Are you crazy?? We already did this for, like, 6 hours today! What do you mean you want to ride me again?), and we ambled off into the gathering dark for a moonlit ride hosted by the ride manager Angie and her mighty assistant Roxi.   I find night riding to be a real thrill, and, although I don't have much opportunity to do it, I take every chance I can get.  This night, with the full moon and open trail chosen for the short amble, it was bright enough to see pretty clearly and I would have even felt comfortable trotting.  Rolex was great, except when we fell in behind a mare in the group, and the ride was all too brief for me.  Donna had some trouble with C.J., but stayed calm and completed the ride as well.  It was actually the perfect way to stretch our horses' legs, as both were very slightly stiff when we started, but nice and loose when we ended.
He's a handsome guy, but camping with him was a nightmare!  You can see the strap of the bark collar up near his throatlatch.
I think Rolex decided he'd better shut up after that, or I might come saddle him up again!  We had a calm night, and I don't think Rolex made a single peep the entire night.  He did, however, viciously bite Gandolph in the back twice, right in the saddle area, so Jutta wasn't able to ride a second day.  That boy did not earn any points for camp behavior this weekend, but was so great on trail I wouldn't hesitate at all to ride him again if given the chance.
Rolex is still whinnying as Jutta finishes packing up to head home.
Thank you to Jutta for bringing me a horse to ride, to Lynne for a spot to sleep in her trailer, and to Donna for a great moonlight ride.  It's been a long season of staying home from rides, and I was ever so happy to be riding.  And congratulations to Rolex (Watch Me Ima Big Star is his fancy paper name) for his first 25 AERC miles.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Ride

Isn't it a cute little rig?
For our first ride since moving the boys to Gesa's, we headed out to Lester, a mere 5 minutes away.  We met early at the barn, loaded up our tack into the new trailer, and tried to determine what the best option for Cricket would be while we were gone.  He does not like to be alone.  He really does not like to be alone.  He has not yet been introduced to the rest of the herd, so there would be no horses he could be left with (Rhio & Paco, the two he knows, are the two that we ride...).  We settled on putting the pony Belle in the round pen, which is within the pasture Cricket was in, and putting his hay near it so he could stand by her.  I removed Rhio to the front paddock, along with Paco, and Cricket immediately started screaming and pacing the fenceline.  He wasn't being "stupid" about it, meaning he didn't seem to be in any danger of injuring himself, but it certainly doesn't help his weight situation to be A) not eating (while he's pacing and upset) and B) expending all those calories pacing. I am now glad to be riding a friend's horse this coming weekend at the Charity Cup ride and leaving Rhio at home.  I need to devise a plan for Cricket when I take Rhio away overnight, and I need to give Cricket some more time to get settled in to the new farm, and hopefully be introduced to the rest of the herd so that they can be his buddies too.
Worried Cricket
Knowing we weren't going to be gone too long, and satisfied that Cricket at least wasn't going to get into trouble while we were gone, we loaded the horses (Rhio did much better for his second time loading in the new trailer - I think he likes it!) and mere moments later were unloading.  It was early enough, even on a holiday-weekend Sunday, that there was only one vehicle in the parking area and we saw only one dog-walker while we were tacking up.
Seven Bridges Road

Trails (still green, though fall is upon us and the intense green of summer has given way to the faded green of early fall just on the cusp of brilliant fall colors)
Setting off across the top bridge of Seven Bridges Road, Kelso was our companion for the first time since the cool weather of spring and we were both in jackets.  Fall is here!  I love, love, love fall riding - it is the best.  The horses seemed eager, and we covered the trails with ease for the most part.  One large culvert has been totally washed out, and the cavernous ditch left behind seemed impassable, but a trail leads around that portion via the gravel road, so we were able to make a loop of it without having to turn around.  We mutually surprised and were surprised by a runner on an obscure, little used ski trail loop, but she was extremely polite and praised our horses' beauty (always music to our ears!) and we each continued on our way.  After completing the loop once, we determined that we had enough time to do it again, so turned around and retraced our steps, modifying the route slightly.  Our second time around was in the direction that skiers traverse the trails in winter, so it seemed much more familiar to me, and we could see the lettered loop markers.  Coming to the nude beach overlook (yes, really - an informal nude beach on Lester River.  I have been lucky enough to find it deserted almost every time I'm at this spot.), we decided to stop for a photo and came upon a mountain biker also stopped.  He seemed quite happy to meet us, and we chatted for a bit before he took a photo of us, and we were on our way.  He reassured Rhio that his bike was as scared of him as he was of it.  That is pretty funny as Rhio was actually not at all scared of the bike.
thank you Mr. Friendly Mountain Biker for this shot
Finishing our 8 miles the horses were quite sweaty despite the cool temperatures and nice breeze;  we threw light coolers over them for the first time in months, and let them relax a little at the trailer before loading up for the extremely short trip back to the farm.  Cricket was indeed pacing when we returned, and I can only assume he paced the entire time we were gone.  He was not sweaty, though, so maybe he only resumed the behavior when we pulled in the driveway (I hope that is the case).  Belle did not prove to be a useful companion, however, as she threatened him every time he came near the round pen fence by the hay.  Oops.  I guess we won't try that again.
Chatting with the friendly lady and her huskies while the boys chill out for a bit.
With my horses living at Gesa's, we are actually able to do these short rides together without requiring an entire day, basically, of coordinating schedules.  It gets harder and harder to find a long enough and mutually free block of time to schedule to ride, and hopefully the new housing arrangement will make it easier.  
Going home

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The neighborhood goes for a ride

Woo-hoo!  He does water!

Neighbor Kim acquired a new horse, bay Arab gelding J.D., and we decided to ride together one morning last month.  Red hadn’t been out in a while, so we saddled up and met on the road, then went to play in the gravel pit a little.  J.D. seems to be a great horse, calm and well-trained, and happy with his job.  We took them through the water – Red for practice as water is one of his least favorite obstacles, and J.D. to see how he handled it (perfectly, by the way).  Red was wearing his hoof boots, and due to the extreme fly year we’re having, I liberally coated him in Wipe before leaving the barn.  As soon as we emerged from the water, he started stomping his feet, mostly his hinds.  It seemed to be a fly stomp type thing, but he didn’t have any flies.  I hopped off to check his boots, even removing & replacing them to make sure there weren’t any foreign objects or debris in them or beneath the gaiters.  All appeared fine, but the behavior didn’t stop until his legs had dried.  This was odd, but as he seemed fine, we continued on.

Heading up the road, Becca passed us on her way to the barn, and we found out she & another neighbor Katie were going to ride together as well.  Instant pony party!  So, Kim and I did a little meander down the road & back while Becca & Katie were getting ready, then we all met up to ride together. 
Becca, Katie, & Kim
We headed back to the gravel pit, with Becca’s & Katie’s horses both a little hot – blowing the stereotype of “crazy Arabs” right out of the water yet again!  The two Arabs in the bunch were the calm ones.  We did the water again, and the exact same thing happened with Red fiercely stomping again as soon as we emerged.  I  removed all four boots and continued the rest of the ride barefoot and with no stomping.  The only explanation I can rationalize is some reaction or irritation between the gaiters and the oily Wipe fly repellant.  He has certainly been through water with the boots/gaiters on many times in the past without ever having a reaction like this before. Red does have a history of some skin reactions to fly products previously, although to my knowledge it has only been products with citronella in them.  I am very careful to only buy products without citronella for him.  His skin appeared normal, and even after the ride and the next day the skin continued to be normal without any flaking, hair loss, swelling, or any other obvious sign of a reaction.  I guess I won’t be using Wipe on him when he’ll be using boots and potentially getting wet!  

Becca & Kaos

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tischer Creek Farm

The digs @ Tischer Creek Farm as viewed from the pasture

On September 1, Rhio and Cricket moved to Tischer Creek Farm, Gesa’s place.  Gesa came to pick them up in the evening, with her new little 2 horse bumper pull stock-combo trailer (yay!  Wheels!). Rhio had to be convinced to load, but load he did without an undue delay (I didn’t expect it to be worse than it was, but for the first time he’d seen that trailer, it could have been a lot worse), and Cricket walked right on after him.  It’s been 2 ½ years since Cricket was trailered anywhere (Wow – we’ve been at Meadowbrook that long?  We were all so happy at Meadowbrook that time flew by without notice, I guess.) but he thought jumping on to go somewhere was a good idea.  When he was wandering loose to graze and a trailer pulled in, he usually came over to investigate and I think, given the opportunity, he might have self-loaded into one.  My horses who actually travel for rides & events are never so eager to load – it would be convenient if they were.

As the dogs & I followed the trailer over to Gesa’s, the storm clouds building in the distance got ever closer and we began to see cloud-to-cloud lightning.  Hmm, this maybe isn’t the best time to be moving horses and introducing them to a new home!  We pull into the driveway with the clouds pressing down, thunder rumbling, and the first drops of rain in the air.  We did what probably any expert would advise against, and just turned the horses loose in the pasture as the thunderstorm broke.  I did not have my camera with me (plus it would have gotten wet had I had it along), but of course the horses put on a show for us, running with their tails flagging in the wind and their necks arched.  Even old Cricket looked the part of a movie-star Arabian! 
Cricket keeping one ear on his buddy Rhio
Gesa had finished the fenceline dividing the two paddock/pasture areas, and her young ones have the left side while Paco was on the right side waiting for his new friends to join him.  Of course Paco & Rhio know each other well and have camped together with no issues many times.  Paco & Cricket have also met when Paco came to Meadowbrook to have his dental work in July.   Upon being set loose, Rhio took a lap around the paddock area with Cricket flanking him like a pair of synchronized swimmers before finding the open gate to the pasture and heading out there.  Meanwhile, the young ones galloped along their fenceline and Paco hovered near the shelter staying out of the fray. 

Paco wondering what to do about his new roommates
With the rain, there was some jostling for use of the shelter and Cricket was left standing out, as I would expect.  The shelter is plenty large and has two doors, so it shouldn’t be any problem for three horses to share – but that will come later once they’ve settled into a cohesive herd.  For now, they only stayed in the shelter briefly and then made the choice to go graze in the warm rain anyway, and it was a non-issue. 
Rhio says: "Where's the treats, Mom?"

We left them to their own devices in the thickening darkness (luckily it only rained for a little while), and unloaded the food I’d brought over, and got their meal plans all set up for morning.  I left without any worries about their care, which is such a huge thing when you are dependent on boarding your horses. 
Sefira, one of the young ones, *very* interested in the new boys across the fence.
The next morning, I stopped out bright and early on my way to finish packing my own belongings and cleaning the farmhouse, as I am also moving on.  They were happily grazing and Gesa reported no problems with the morning feeding routine; Rhio & Cricket acted like they’d done it all before a million times.  This is great, as sometimes training them in to a new routine can be a challenge, and Gesa brings each horse into an individual stall to eat versus their old routine which was to be fed in the pasture (well, right outside the pasture as Cricket was allowed to eat at leisure and then wander off to graze at will).  There will be some adjustments for all the horses, and for Gesa in her normal routines, but so far things seem to be going incredibly well.  It will be great to have a chance to do more riding with Gesa, as we’ll have the opportunity for just a quick ride here & there now (we hope), as opposed to always needing a half or full day to trailer out somewhere to ride.