Archive for October, 2007

’tis the season

‘Tis the season. For lots of things really. For getting lots of letters to renew your memberships before the year is over (USEF you even get five bucks off!). For hauling out jingle bells and blaze orange. For debating between clipped-and-blanketed or fuzzy for the winter. For digging out last year’s never washed blankets and deciding Fuzzy is In. 😉 For seeing if the insulated tall boots and fleecey breeches still fit. For staring at the hay supply, and counting over and over and over. For bulking up the harder keepers before winter.

And, in the spirit of bulking up for winter, I’m posting yet again (because no matter how many times I read it, it’s STILL freaking hilarious)…

Beet Pulp Safety Warning (aka the famous squirrel story)

People that are into equine nutrition are notorious for spending their time doing the oddest things. While everyone else has normal nightmares about finding themselves riding in the World Equestrian Games stark naked past the press corps, nutrition people fret over whether their carefully thought-out recommendations will make the difference between Muffy the Superhorse winning his next competition in fame and glory, or falling into a dead faint somewhere between being saddled and the starting line. In the end, the finer points of nutrition often make zero difference, however, because you generally find out that:

a) Muffy won’t even touch your carefully crafted ration, much preferring to eat his bedding, the vet’s fingers and anything from the Taco Bell menu;

b) the moment you finish calculating the Perfect Equine Ration featuring Aunt Tilly’s Super Horsey Yums Yums, the feed company goes out of business or is indicted on environmental pollution charges;

c) it’s all irrelevant, anyway, because the barn manager’s favorite phrase is “Well, we’ve always fed this way for sixty years and hardly ever lose more than a horse a month to colic”, and steadfastly refuses to feed anything at all other than His Very Own Secret Recipe, featuring lawn clippings, glazed doughnuts and something that smells a lot like latex.

However, evey now and then, you stumble across a feed that horses actually like (at least, after that initial suspicious, “You’re trying to poison me, aren’t you?” look), is wonderfully nutrititious, cheap to feed and still Obscure and Mysterious enough that people feel like they’re really on The Cutting Edge in feeding it to Muffy. Beet pulp is like that, and for a long time I thought the only disadvantage to it was the minor inconvenience of having to soak it before feeding. Some folks skip that part, but others revel in making sure everyone else in the barn knows just how conscientious and detail-minded they are about Muffy’s nutritional well-being.

However, eventually I knew the true downside to beet pulp would show up, and thought it only fair that I pass it along…

This afternoon I decided to bring some beet pulp pellets into the house to soak, because I wanted to get an idea of exactly how much they expanded in volume during the soaking process. Academic types are like that, pathetically easy to amuse and desperately in need of professional help. I knew they expanded quite a bit, because the first time I’d innocently added water to a five-pound bucket of beet pulp, I’d come back later to find my feed room practically awash in beet pulp, providing a breakfast that every horse within a five mile radius still remembers with fond nostalgia. So in the interest of scientific curiousity, I trundled in a bucket, about three pounds of beet pulp, added in the water and set it in the living room to do its thing. No problem. Research in action.

Well, in our ongoing quest to turn this house into Noah’s Ark, we have not only four horses, three dogs, four neurotic cats, a sulfur-crested cockatoo, a cockatiel and assorted toads, we also have William. William is a fox squirrel who absent-mindedly fell out of his tree as a blind and hairless baby two years ago and whom the vet promptly handed off to the only person he knew silly enough to traipse around with a baby squirrel and a bottle of Esbilac into her bookbag. Actually, the trick wasn’t in keeping such a tiny creature warm, fed and clean—it was keeping a straight face and looking as mystified as everyone else when William woke up hungry and started pipping for his bottled like a very small, slightly muffled alarm clock. Invariably, this usually occurred while I was standing in line at the post office, picking up a pizza for dinner or on one memorable occasion, taking a final exam in biochemistry. Being no dummy, William knew a sucker when he saw one and has happily been an Urban Squirrel ever since.

And for those of you that think A Squirrel’s Place is In The Wild, don’t think we didn’t try that…his first Christmas, we thought we’d give him his first lesson in Being a Wild Squirrel by letting him play in the undecorated Christmas tree. His reaction was to shriek in horror, scutter frantically across the floor and go try to hide underneath the nearest border collie. Since then, the only way he will allow himself to be taken outside is hiding inside Mummy’s shirt and peering suspiciously out at the sinister world.

So much for the re-make of Born Free in San Dimas. So secure is he about his place in the world that on more than one occasion, I’ve caught him sitting on his fat, smug little bottom, making faces out the windown at our neighborhood (very frustrated) red-tailed hawk—like as not clutching a cashew in one paw and a bit of mango in the other.

Anyway, when I set out the bucket of beet pulp, I may have underestimated the lengths that a young and enthusiastic squirrel will go to to stash all available food items in new and unusual hiding spots. I thought letting William out of his cage as usual and giving him a handful of almonds to go happily cram under cushions and into sleeping dog’s ears was sufficent entertainment for the afternoon. After all, when I left, he was gleefully chortling and gloating over his pile of treasure, making sure the cockatoo saw them so he could tell her I Have Almonds And You Don’t. So much for blind optimism.

Apparently when the almond supply ran out, beet pulp pellets became fair game and I can only imagine the little rat finding that great big bucket and swooning with the possibilities of being able to hide away All That Food. The problem isn’t quite so much that I now have three pounds of beet pulp pellets cleverly tucked away in every corner of my house, it’s that as far as I can tell, the soaking-expanding-and-falling-apart process seems to be kinda like nuclear meltdown. Once the reaction gets started, no force on earth is going to stop it.

So when I come back from the grocery store, not only do I find an exhausted but incredibly Fulfilled squirrel sprawled out snoozing happily up on the cat tree, I find that my house smells a lot like a Jamaican feed mill and virtually every orifice is crammed full of beet pulp. This includes the bathroom sink drain, the fish tank filter, in my undie drawer, in the kitty box (much to their horror) and ALL the pockets of my bookbag. Not to mention that in enthusiastically stuffing beet pulp into the air holes of the little box that hold live crickets for the toad’s dinner, William managed to open it up and free several hundred crickets into the living room. It’s not that I mind crickets springing to and fro, it’s just that it sounds a lot like an Evening in the Amazon Rain Forest in here. The cats, on the other hand, have never had such a marvelous time steeplechasing after stray crickets back and forth over the furniture, crunching up the spoils of the hunt (which wouldn’t be so bad if they would just chew with their mouths closed), and sicking up the more indigestible parts onto the rug.

I simply can’t WAIT to turn on the furnace and find out what toasting beet pulp smells like.

The good news is that in case of siege, I have enough carbohydrates hidden in my walls and under the furniture to survive for years. The bad news is that as soon as I try to remove any of this stash, I get a hysterical squirrel clinging to my pant leg, tearfully shrieking that I’m ruining all his hard work and now he’s going to starve this winter. (This is despite the fact that William is spoiled utterly rotten, knows how to open the macademia nut can all by himself and has enough of a tummy to have earned him the unfortunate nickname Buddha Belly.)

So in case anyone was losing sleep wondering just how much final product you get after soaking three pounds of beet pulp, the answer is a living room full. I’d write this new data up and submit it as a case study paper to the nutrition and physiology society, but I suspect the practical applications may be limited.

Off to go empty the Shop-Vac. Again.

Copyright Susan Evans Garlinghouse 1997.


October 18, 2007 at 2:00 pm 6 comments

aquafina cat

No, this isn’t a horse post. Nowhere close to one, actually. But I took this picture of my cat this morning and it’s just too funny not to share!

October 18, 2007 at 12:34 pm 1 comment

pony brag

Since I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about my pony anyhow 😉

Another BEST RIDE YET last night 😀

First off, it was the PERFECT fall evening, if you ask me. And, with all the rain we’d had, the arena footing was about perfect too. And, even though the pony had a couple days off, she was great!! Did our usually stuff at the walk, keeping her on the rail, some serpentine-ish stuff to practice steering. Halt/walk transitions. Asked for the trot once and she gave me her usual “but this is HAAAAARD” jog. Back to walk for a few. We switched directions, and I asked for the trot again…and she GAVE it to me. AWESOME trot. And she was stretching down and just THERE. Forward, but not rushy. Listening. We circled a couple of times, and my mom even stopped Anna to watch us. I gave Snow a break, told her how good she was… and then did it AGAIN 😀 And then switched directions and trotted some more. And then I finally convinced myself to get off.

And if I weren’t excited enough, my BO actually came out to tell me she was watching through the window while they ate dinner, and she saw us going and going and going, and she just had to come out and tell me how GOOD the pony looked!!

:yay: :yay: :yay:

Free pony rides for anyone who volunteers to come be my photographer 😉

October 18, 2007 at 12:31 pm Leave a comment


A couple more great rides!! Just sharing some pictures…

October 15, 2007 at 9:58 am 2 comments

down with dressage queens

So, wearing my deerskin fullseats, custom dress boots, deerskin gloves…in my custom saddle, on my sporty little pony… I had the best ride last night.

In the POURING freaking rain. 😀

It was just sprinkling when I got to the barn. I had convinced one of my old trainers to meet me out there and give me a hand, and she called me about ten minutes out and said, “You know, I’ve only had you as a student when we’ve had the indoor. Do you ride in the rain???”

I said, “We won’t melt if you won’t melt!”

“Nope, I won’t melt! See you soon!”

It rained a bit harder while we lunged, and by the time I went to get on it was a downpour. Couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, rain dripping off my helmet and the pony’s ears – it was a blast!

Thank goodness for all the deerskin though or I’d have been slip-sliding right off her a time or two! We were just fine until a horse loped up from behind us right as three women walked down the street holding brightly colored umbrellas – which Snow was fine with. But the longhorn bull across the street wasn’t , and HE took off bucking and galloping and kicking up his heels. Snow’s been a bit suspicious of these cows all week, and this was the final straw – you could watch her poor little head about explode as she spun the other way. I turned her back to face the bull, and she stood there without breathing, STARING, for a good ten minutes. And then walked off without a problem. What a dork.

So anyhow, we may dress the part, but we don’t quite have this DQ thing down yet… 😀

October 11, 2007 at 9:02 am 1 comment

i rode – we both survived


Yes, I rode the Snow-pony at home last night 😀 Didn’t think it was going to happen for a few minutes though…

I’m at a quiet, private, non-boarding barn. Owner has horses but doesn’t ride. Only other “boarder” is a woman I’ve never seen out there who pasture boards a 27 year old TB mare.

So I get out there and first thing I notice is somebody in the arena – other boarder is out riding! Okay, cool. She’s also brought her little yappy dog, who IS (thankfully!) contained in her truck, but who is also yapping his little head non-stop out the window. The yapping is spooking the horses turned out nearby, so there are a couple yearlings bucking laps twenty feet away from the arena.

Also, we moved here the same week Snow left for training, so this isn’t “home” for her, it IS someplace new.

She was as amped up as I’ve ever seen her! I waited for the other woman to leave the arena (we had to spin five circles just to get IN the gate), and decided to lunge Snow first 😈 . It took her a good half an hour to “get the bucks out.” Meanwhile my mom was happily jogging around on Anna, who was wondering WHY on earth Snow was using ALL that energy (for those who haven’t seen my “naughty pony” pictures, she doesn’t believe in little bucks or hops, she makes them COUNT!).

Eventually Snow calmed down a bit, and I could get a couple transitions on the lunge, so I started walking her around the arena. Now, I LOVE this arena. It’s big, it’s open, it’s FUN to ride in. BUT… there are weeds growing in it, and it’s not very level (and it had just rained and was slick in spots), and generally has lots of scary place (as in, all four corners, all four sides, and those couple of spots in the middle 😉 ). Snow didn’t seemed bothered by anything except the cows across the street.

The other boarder had also left by now, and so the other horses had calmed down, and everything was generally nice and quiet (although it was also getting dark).

So at this point I decided I really HAD to get on her. She was back to calm as normal, and I really didn’t have any excuses anymore (not if I ever wanted to ride her, or if I didn’t want to waste all that time and money with Holly!)…so up I went. And we walked around, and trotted a bit, and walked around some more. We went past the scary cows, the scary ground poles, the scary bucket, up the big incline 😯 – and she was pretty much great!! DEFINITELY distracted, more distracted than she’s ever been when I’VE been on her. But not BAD, and nothing I didn’t feel comfortable handling.

So, I rode the pony!!

(I KNOW I’m going to get yelled at, but no pictures…my mom was busy riding HER horse while this was going on! WOOHOO!)

October 3, 2007 at 12:17 pm Leave a comment

playing our song

In the month or two right after I first bought Kai, the song “Nobody But Me” was high on the charts and very overplayed. We rode with the radio on, but it seemed no matter the time or the day, if I was riding Kai, that song came on. And Kai seemed to swing to the beat of it, and among friends it became the joke that it was Our Song. All too soon it became apparent just how fitting that song was for us. Although I was hardly the only one crying when he left….it just fit.

And now, just shy of two years later, I’m finally riding my Snow. For various reasons, the past couple of weeks have also been the first time since those months with Kai that I’ve ridden with the radio on. Out of three rides on Snow, three times we’ve heard the new Matchbox 20 song “Let’s See How Farm We’ve Come.”

I rode around on my sweet filly and realized…it just fit. A new horse – a new partner – and we have a new song.

October 2, 2007 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

snow-pony comes home

Went out to Holly’s yesterday. I put my dressage saddle on Snow for the first time, DIDN’T put the training martingale on that Holly has been using, and I got on first (to this point I had only been on after Holly had at least warmed her up and gotten the first couple of spooks out). All went VERY well!!

So…. I loaded her up and brought her home!!

I’m a bit nervous, of course, but mostly super excited!! (But, um, if I don’t post at all in the next couple of days, I’m lying dead in an arena in Ovid with one very naughty pony running around…)

Anna was thrilled to see her buddy, and they were attached at the hip for a good long time after I turned Snow out at home 🙂

October 2, 2007 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

A few words on how horses haven't managed to kill me (yet...)
October 2007