Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Welcome Sarah and Roy!

A few weeks ago I received an email from Dave's mother, asking how our May or June would be as far as receiving visitors. As we have essentially nothing planned other than working on the ranch for the foreseeable future, we said come any time. OK, they said - we'll be there next Friday!

Unfortunately I was sick as a dog nearly that whole week before they arrived. Actually, I might have pulled out of it except that after two days in bed I went ahead and traveled to the client in Albuquerque for the day because the trip couldn't be rescheduled. My 1 hour flight came in 4 hours late - really cutting into my effective time on site. Never the less I went home as scheduled... and arrived home much sicker than when I'd left. So two more days in bed - this time courtesy of codeine-enhanced cough syrup these days went much quicker than the first two. I was feeling pretty good by the time they arrived.

I'd warned Sarah and Roy that we'd be working much of when they were here. Saturday morning I went down to be a helper for the lesson as usual, and they came down to watch. Lessons went great that weekend, by the way. After that we went out for lunch and to look at refridgerators. We'd decided to buy Ginger a fridge for her birthday - we've been talking about it for awhile because the three of us are overfilling the one that we are sharing. We thought we'd get the fridge now and put it in the garage. As that was the day of Ginger's party, we were home by 4ish to feed the ponies and help set up.

The party was a huge success - not the least of reasons being that Jess did a great job of organizing, decorating, AND cleaning up, so there wasn't a lot for us to do.

Sunday turned out to be a really great day - we got a number of things done that we wouldn't normally have, and yet still had a relaxing time. It started with sleeping in until 9:00! Since we don't have lessons on Sunday until 1:00, we don't feed breakfast until about noon. So, Sarah, Roy and we had a beautiful brunch on the deck. Later Sarah helped me move hay down to the pastures, Dave and Roy worked on the old tractor and managed to get it running again. Our neighbor was running irrigation water to flush out the ditches - and at one point it overflowed behind the dog barn. So we cleared that dam, but then set about trying to syphon some of that water off to water our trees back there. (neighbor had told us to help ourselves to the water if we wanted any). Well, that was entertaining - took about 6 of us to stand around and get the hose syphoning.

After lessons were done on Sunday, we got Sarah up on Harley for a little lesson, while Dave and Ginger worked Shadow and Rio. Before putting them out, we grabbed a picture of all seven of our horses. All told, it was a long, satisfying day on the ranch.

Monday I went back to work, and came home to hear Sarah's tales of mucking out the barn for us. She said she liked it. And then she asked if it would be ok if they stayed an extra day... I said sure - and you're welcome to muck all of the stalls you want while you're here!


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

We OWN Shadow!

This is a terrible thing to admit, but we JUST GOT OWNERSHIP PAPERS on Shadow this past Monday. That was May 23rd. We brought Shadow and Rio home April 7th. It has been an incredible ordeal - for part of which we are to blame, but gosh - I never dreamed it could get to be this much of a hassle.

We have several other friends out looking to purchase horses currently, and we've gotten a number of horror stories from them too. One went so far as to put a deposit on a horse and was working to schedule a vet check, when she learned that another mutual aquaintance also had found a great horse that she had put a deposit down on. They got to talking - and discovered that they both had put a deposit on the same horse! Not only that, but the horse ended up being sold to yet another party! It is stories like these that make me determined not to pay any money until the papers have been transferred and vet check complete. But it is so HARD to stick to your guns sometimes. (unfortunately we heard these stories after having brought Shadow and Rio home, so we were stuck for the long haul.)

It all started when Dave and I went down to pick them up. The seller said she'd have the brand papers all ready for us. Well, we got bogged down over the fact that I had written up a bill of sale - since we'd given her a check several days prior to that and if I hadn't asked for some sort of receipt she wouldn't have even given us that. But her receipt wasn't adequate as far as I was concerned, so I wrote up a bill of sale describing the horses and 2 sentences about her "Return Policy". Well - that was an issue. She insisted on completely rewriting the return policy statement, with a page and a half of text, and proceeded to take nearly 30 minutes to do so. Furthermore, what she put in writing was NOT what she said verbally - and after we'd both signed it she said - oh, and I'll do better than what I wrote down, it's just for legal purposes I can't promise too much.

Unfortunately it was at THIS point that I asked for the brand papers and she told me she didn't have them! (Brand papers are essentially your Title for a horse - without them you don't own it.) She said the inspector had been out the day before but didn't have time to give her the papers, that he would just mail them to me directly. This ended up being a complete lie. It takes 5 minutes to write up the papers - if all were in order there was no reason to put it off. Things were clearly not in order - and as a matter of fact she did not have papers on the horses herself. I know, I know - we really should have just left the horses there - except that we'd already given her the check and I know darn well we wouldn't get any money out of her at that time.

Well, it's been a huge deal, 6 and a half weeks, 30-40 calls on my part to the seller and her brand inspector (A) (because neither one of them EVER initiated a call with me), a visit from our local brand inspector (B) to see the horses, inspector A then had to track down inspector C where the seller got the horses from. Then inspector A wanted the seller to set up an appointment for him to give the papers to her so she could sign them and mail to us. He claimed he could not give them to us directly. But seller was unwilling to take the time to schedule an appointment - claiming that she'd given the inspector an agent authorization and thus he didn't need her signature. I don't know what came of it all, but in the end I got all three of us on a conference call, she agreed to send another agent authorization to the inspector and then he could give Shadow's paper directly to me. Oh, and somewhere in there she also decided to let me know that "usually we have adopters pay for the inspections, so you can pay the inspector to get the paper." Un huh - bite my tongue time. So last night on the way home from work I met up with him and got the paper for Shadow. The seller has the one for Rio. Has had it since April 19th. All she has to do is put it in the mail. And amazingly she still maintains that none of this hassle has anything to do with her - that this is normal in horse transactions, and she is getting a little tired of "bending over backwards" to be accommodating for me. Course, in the mean time she has moved, changed phone numbers, and is due to go into the hospital tomorrow to have a baby. Somehow, if she hasn't mailed it yet, I'm thinking it may not happen. At least I've found out that I can get an official copy from the office - just have to pay for it. But all told, might be antother cheap $20 to be done with it.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

It was quite the bash

Ginger's birthday was Sunday, so her kids threw her a Surprise Birthday Party on Saturday at the ranch. Tricky thing about living on a large property - there is absolutely no way to hide the cars 'down the street' when people come over. Unless, you know, they park a few miles down the street. Or, at the neighbors. Tom and Theresa were very gracious and let us stash the cars over there, and Jess ran a shuttle back and forth.

During the week we were trying to feel Ginger out to see if she knew what was going on, but it didn't seem so. Earlier in the day I asked what she and Roger were doing for her birthday, and it was with some exasperation she said "I don't know! He's coming over to take me out... shopping or something." We chuckled, told her we'd take care of dinner feeding for the horses and wished her a good time.

I also had to chuckle over how we got Ginger to help clean the house for her own party... By a funny twist of fate Dave's parents decided to come visit this same weekend. So we'd been putting in the extra effort, mowing the lawn - twice! - etc to get the place in order, and it was convenient to say it was for the in-law's visit. Next thing I knew Ginger picked up the vaccuum and was going to town too. (We live on a ranch, it takes about 2 hours of us going in and out for the house to get noticeably dirty - after that we tend to just live with dirt for long periods of time.)

Anyways, it prooved to be a surprise. We had a great mix of people from different parts of her friends. We had a good time cheering and jeering to the DVD of photos that Roger had assembled from her baby pictures all the way through to our recent ranch adventures. Then we also watched some snippets of old home movies put on DVD - including of course the one of her horse in college who decided NOT to participate in the barrell racing event in which they were entered.

(again, apologies for the horrible pictures - my camera just can't cut action shots inside!)

Happy Birthday Ginger!


Monday, May 09, 2005

It must be spring

Our neighbors have several cows, and we've been on calf watch for several weeks. Actually, the first one came some time ago, and we were concerned that the others must have miscarried or something becuase we didn't see any new babies. Welp, yesterday we got one, and this morning we got another. They are so cute!

The 'old timer

Most of the crew

Brand spankin' new one --- waaaay over on the other side of the

Actually, I was hard pressed not to name this entry 'More Cows!' given the last entry's title, but that would'a given it away.


Other updates - since I started the lesson saga, guess I should update that lessons went very well this weekend. The weather was still a bit cloudy, but the sun came out just in time for the lesson and the mud was gone. Once again we had quite the audience for the Saturday kids class - we're seriously considering installing a new policy of no more than one carload of spectators per student! (count 'em - that's 7 cars, and we only have 4 riders in this class)

Ramsey and Blew are settling in just fine, and even better - their owner seems to be as well.

David and Roger worked to complete the electrical inside the big barn yesterday, and had an enormously hard time fishing the wire through the short section of conduit he'd put up. They ended up bringing in the tractor so that they could anchor a come-a-long to it and use that to pull the wire. Needless to say, the remaining conduit was first fed onto the wire and then mounted. Far from ideal, but we got it done. Dave now only has to connect the wires to the boxes at either end and we'll be done!


Sunday, May 08, 2005

More Horses!

Last Wednesday I got home from work and was changing clothes when the phone rang. Turns out it was a friend of a friend whom we'd met recently - inquiring as to whether we had openings for horse boarding! I said absolutely we do. She's been boarding her two geldings at a place for some time, and that day had gotten so annoyed with something that the management had done that she was looking to move her horses somewhere else. She said she didn't know where to turn to, since someone else had mentioned that 'every barn' is having troubles. Then she remembered she'd kept our flier from a few weeks ago when we saw her at a fund raiser.

It turns out that she lives quite close to us, so she came right over to see the place. She was still pretty upset, but she liked the look of our facility. I sent her home with a copy of our boarding contract and a promise to speak in a few days (she'd admitted her husband had told her not to sign anything in her state of mind, which I thought a good idea.)

Well, she called me the next morning on my way to work. "Sorry for calling your cell phone," she started, "but I got your number from your ... barn hand." My barn hand? Cool! - didn't know we had one of those. Oh - you must mean David. He wasn't particularly flattered (of course I had to call him immediately and tell him what she'd called him). So if you get a chance to see Dave and want to goad him a little bit, just call him the barn hand. Anyways, she was calling to say she wanted to move her horses this weekend.

Meet our first boarded residents: Blew and Ramsey

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a business gets born.


Friday, May 06, 2005

The lessons must go on

The snow started the middle of last week, and continued through to about Tuesday this week! It has been miserable. All of the horses have shed out their winter coats, so they were brought into the barn every night, and yet it still never really go cold enough to freeze the ground so we were still mucking around in inches-deep mud.

We decided to go ahead with lessons, as our policy is the first bad weather day we'll meet and figure out soemthing to do, the second we'll reschedule. So Saturday morning we had our 4 kids show up - with about 8 adults in tow! Parents, grandparents, even a little sister - you get the picture. So on top of trying to stay inside to be comfortable we had this crowd milling around too. And to start out they all had to park up at the house because all of the area around the barn was just too mucky to drive. So - they got to walk down through all the muck.
The kids doubled up to get the horses ready, which was great for getting them to know each other. The horses, however, hadn't really done that before so there was plenty of handling we had to do to keep them quiet. On top of that Harley started doing weird things when we put the saddle on him - as if he has a sore, but we couldn't find any sore.

Eventually we did go out to ride. The arena was in reasonable condition - still some puddles, but since it's sand it's still manageable. But the breeze became a real factor. 2 of the kids didn't bring gloves, so we rounded up a couple of pair of those. Then the horses were all frisky. We know cold weather tends to do that to them, but then we started getting the hint that Shoshoni must have started her heat. Wonderful - Jordan was dancing around with an erection trying to get next to her. Harley was still acting like he was going to collapse with this slip of a 7-year old girl on his back, and everyone was freezing. Didn't take long for the kids to vote to return to the barn. We ended up putting all but Romeo back in their stalls while Ginger demonstrated longing and let each of them try both longing, and then also riding while on the longe line. It was during this time that one grandfather approached me: "I know there are things to learn about handling horses on the ground, but are these kids going to RIDE in their riding lessons?". Thanks buddy - we may not have been as organized as we could have been (or will be the next time), but we were trying to make it still a valuable and interesting experience.

The lesson went late as it was trying to let all the kids have a turn, and then some of them had brought some carrots as treats. Oddly enough, 3 of our original 4 horses don't like carrots - or apples! So we said we'd try the new horses and see what they did. Rio and Shadow were all over them, but Chaco, the mustang really didn't know what to do with them. Ginger threw the carrot pieces in his feed bin, and he eventually picked one up, but he just played with it in his mouth! I don't know if he ever eventually ate it or not. So by the time we broke up we were a full 45 minutes after class was supposed to end. And what a relief that was!

Sunday went quite a bit better. Still cloudy and cold, but the wind didn't blow and we'd had yet another day of drying out. In order to get the new horses acclimatized to the lesson situation, I rode Chaco in the Adult's lesson. He needs a lot more acclimatizing. Dave rode Romeo in the kids lesson, but as Shoshoni kept stopping and threatening to roll while her student was riding, Ginger had him swich and ride her. They speculated that she may have been having cramps because she would relax, then suddenly tense up and start pawing. Strange - do horses get cramps when they cycle? I haven't yet called the vet to ask.

After the kids left we got Shadow and Rio out. Both of them are super riding horses, but both of them are so incredibly ultra sensitive to leg aids that they are quite likely to run out from underneath you! I've never had this experience before, ever. So we're going to have to work them to deaden them to leg aids. If they don't calm down we've started discussing that we may need to replace them. Not quite there, but it's in consideration. It's a shame, because both have perfect ground manners - they just can't be ridden by beginners. Wonder how long it will take us to cultivate some more experienced students.

OH! and yesterday one of our adult students called and said they were interested in getting a second lesson every week, so he's going to be doing a private lesson during the week and the group lesson on the weekend. Woo Hoo.