Friday Faces: peppermint and coworker edition

No energy to actually blog but here are some faces for your Friday morning.

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Subi is not impressed by Nay Nay and his insistence that he gets ALL THE PEPPERMINTS. 

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He’s worse than a dog…

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Seriously, it’s gross. 

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But the old man still gets all the peppermints and carrots he could ever need.

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At least someone around here is sitting in a saddle…

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My new coworkers, hard at work, answering reference questions over chat. 

Honoring Gentlemen

This is not my normal kind of post but I thought I’d do something different.

A couple days ago, a friend of mine posted on facebook asking if anyone knew what happened to Gentlemen (1993).

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A recent photo card donated to Old Friends… 

For those who may not know, Gentlemen was a champion 3-year-old in Argentina before coming to the US. In total, he won more than 3.6 million dollars on 2 continents. He was a winner of multiple Grade 1 stakes including the Pimlico Special, the Hollywood Gold Cup, and the Pacific Classic. In the US, he was trained by Richard Mandella and ridden by Gary Stevens. He was, arguably, one of the best racehorses of his generation.

Following his retirement on the track, he was less successful as a stud. He started off at Walmac in Lexington, KY before ending up at Elite Thoroughbreds in Folsom, LA with a stud fee of $1500. He was last bred in 2011. He was never heard from again.

Some sleuthing thanks to some wonderful friends ultimately found that Gentlemen died sometime between 2011 and 2012 with no fanfare at Trader’s Rest Farm in Carencro, LA. His death was never reported to the Jockey Club (I reached out, they confirmed that they had no death record).

A horse that won over $3.6 million was just forgotten. He never received any accolades or tributes or memories. He received nothing.

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Gone, but not forgotten by all

I made 2 small donations in his honor last night. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

To Gentlemen, I won’t forget you. You ran with a great generation. You were one of the greatest.  I just wish he had been able to spend his final years at a place like Old Friends. I wish he hadn’t fallen through the cracks.

 

And next step… Ulcers!

Ugh. I noticed that Nay Nay had started to drop weight. It’s hard to notice these things when you see your horses every day. This is one advantage of boarding. You don’t always see your horse daily, or multiple times daily. I’ve had blankets off for at least a week and the previous weekend he looked OK. I had been taking pictures every other week for weight/muscle changes and suddenly I looked at him and his butt looked… Bad.

He was still eating and I decided I’d take my lesson. He had gone on a hay strike the week before, but I sort of dismissed it. I was at the end of one batch of hay and Nay Nay was still inhaling hay outside. It was just inside his stall. Then, he started eating hay again in his stall so I figured maybe there was something in the last couple of bales he just didn’t like and he was holding out for the alfalfa. It HAS happened before.

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Nay says, “Don’t mess with my hay!”

Except on Saturday morning? He hadn’t finished0 his Friday dinner. Or touched his hay. And then he didn’t eat breakfast. There was too much poop to be colic though he looked like he just felt crappy. Shit. Looking more closely at his stall, lots of mushy manure. Another sign. Crap.

So, we’re taking this self-quarantine seriously. I’m not scoping because, well, it’s a lot of money and he’s got all the signs. I can scope, confirm he HAS ulcers, and then treat and be broke or I can treat and be a little less broke. Either way, treating is going to happen. Plus, I really don’t want to put him through the stress of scoping, ESPECIALLY with vet offices limiting appointments, reducing contact, and all that. If I need to scope after treatment, then I will. I’m using the call for social distancing to give Nay time off and try and heal the ulcers.

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I bought ulcergard as a pre-self-quarantine stock up… normal, right? 

I’ve had really good luck with Abler products in the past. Except, shipping might be an issue. I’ve placed my order and I’m hoping I get the stuff (they have a delay warning right now). I’ve started on ulcergard now and I’m hoping the abler gets here as quickly as possible so I don’t go bankrupt. I do have Nexium on hand as well.

Anyway, since he’s been on Ulcergard, he’s back to eating dinner (breakfast? not so much) and cleans up his alfalfa. He’s picking at his dinner hay, but spends a good chunk of the time outside eating hay so that’s good. As of yesterday, he is eating a meal at 5-6 pm (pre-dinner) as I believe his ulcers are stemming from fence pacing/stressing to come in for dinner, NOT stressing about work/riding. Every night, he comes to the fence/gate around 5-6 and waits there until 8-9 when we bring in. Some days he’s VERY anxious to come in (rain). I’m hoping pre-dinner will help curb this. While he’s still happy to come in, he’s been less panicky the last 2 days since eating “pre-dinner.”

Horses, they drive us crazy, right?

First lesson in 5 weeks!

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Taking a vacation and making faces because Subi’s back smells like gold bond power

I’m going to split my blog into a couple of posts this week and start by focusing on the happy before I get into Nay Nay’s ulcer induced vacation. It probably comes at a good time with Corona-geddon, but still, no one likes to see their horses miserable. Hopefully, he’ll be feeling better in a couple of weeks and we’ll be back in light work. But, it the meantime, I’m going to take advantage of social distancing and self-quarantine recommendations and just stay home and pump omeprazole and alfalfa into his system. More to come…

But, before Nay Nay took a turn for the worst and scared me half to death by not eating either meal, we finally got in a lesson AFTER 5 WEEKS SOLO! This was our chance to see if all our hard work was noticeable or if I really screwed him up in that time… LOL

I got to the barn and it was pretty busy for midday on a weekday. Turns out all the college kids suddenly had time on their hands with our university closed to students (not staff… I was just off for the day) and decided to ride. Nay tried to take it all in stride in the outdoor, but as we walked around in hand, it was a little too much. So, we moved to the indoor for our actual lesson. **He did nothing wrong, but the goal was to not stress him out** Inside, instead of 3-4 horses canter/jumping every which way, we joined the resident western pleasure trainer (yes, I’m at a hunter barn that has a western pleasure trainer renting out stalls) walking around on one horse while his student jogged on another. Much more Nay’s speed.

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Nay Nay earthquake has arrived, taking down plants and everything else in his way

Very quickly? All was right in Nay’s world. We need to work on the outdoor and we need to work on crowds, but that day wasn’t the day. 2 quiet horses in the ring? Happy camper.

As we were walking, the phone calls started coming in announcing the end of the world (first schools were closing). So I started my own warm up. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been here for 5 weeks… And show off Nay Nay did. He gave me some of his best trot work ever. All of a sudden I hear, “Who is this horse? He is so even and balanced!” At some point we’re instructed to add in some figure eights, but otherwise, Nay just shows off what a solid citizen he’s become.

Next comes the message about USEF shows. So, follow up calls and text take place regarding that. I understand in a sense, but also, whatever. Short term plans were seeing who wanted to show this weekend who hadn’t originally planned to before no more points. Long term discussions were Devon points. Then, will there be a Devon? Nay Nay and I canter, adding circles and his left lead, which hasn’t been as great, was lovely. Then the right lead was pretty good, SO MUCH BETTER THAN 5 weeks ago, but not as nice as some of the other right lead canters we’ve had because, on a circle, I leaned it, and then we lost it… But, user error. Still, trainer couldn’t get over”his balance, consistency, and pace!”

Then it was time to really focus on me and we were asked about our over fences work. I explained that I really went back to the basics and stuck with tiny jumps and worked on asking at the base every time. Basically, micromanaging because he’s not consistent enough to get away without the micromanagement. And, he sometimes makes poor decisions on his own. [Leave me alone for too long and I get way too analytical!] I also mentioned that he loves the freaking straw bales of all things which is insane. “Have you cantered anything yet?” Gulp, no.

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It’s hard work being Nay Nay. You get hot and sweaty having to work really hard. It’s exhausting! Plus water sucks. Except when it’s mixed with dirt. Then it’s the best thing EVER!

So, the plan was to work on a figure eight. Trot down over the little plank jump (it was like 18″ around the corner and up over the pole. Next time, when I got back to the rail, ask for the canter and canter both a few times. And… we did.

Trotting wasn’t an issue at all. Cantering? Nay got pretty damn excited and launched himself over the plank because he’s awesome. LOL and then I had to work to keep leg on him while he tried to toss his head in celebration. It was cute. It took us a few times to keep the canter and canter the pole vs trot step/canter the pole but we got there. I did eventually have to hold a touch for the plank so that someone didn’t gallop, but he was very, very excited and happy. It was adorable.

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Fell better buddy!

Next, we were going to canter the straw bales. Right lead. I did interject and ask to trot first and approach from the LEFT LEAD and that was fine. See, I have to work too hard to keep him from drifting to the right and I just didn’t want to. So, we trotted it once, circled, and cantered up and over like he’s been doing it every day, cantered down over the plank, and then cantered up over his pole. And with that, Nay Nay cantered his first baby course.

You guys, the jumps were small, but he was awesome! He was so proud of himself! I can’t wait to ride again, whenever it is.

 

forward Forward FORWARD

Forward was the theme for my rides this weekend despite the fact that Nay Nay was slow and lazy.

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Mission: jump jumps and not trample cat down by in gate.

Saturday it was windy and the day started off sunny but freezing with 15-20mph winds. My favorite kind of day. My original plan was to ride in the morning before my farrier appointment, but it was so cold that… I just didn’t. So, I broke my rule of not riding after the farrier and rode after our trim. The wind died down late afternoon and things were fine. Nay was fine. Possibly a touch foot sore? But, it was only questionable when we were trotting and he worked out the iffy-ness at the canter. Again, no lameness, but a little (not even) tenderness, more just lazy, not really going to put full effort out or move truly forward. It’s hard to describe. But we cantered and even though we were both huffing and puffing after our canter (slow as freaking molasses), everything felt better after that.

I sent up some small fences (2 verticals) and decided if I felt brave, I’d tackle a gate and the straw bales. Both the verticals were part of lines (as was the gate) so I had to be strategic how I tackled them less I teach Nay Nay to go around them,  and the straw bales? Set up without standards so they were all about steering. Lol. Just 2 random bales on down the long side.

Thinking over the past week, I realized that I’ve been expecting way too much from Nay Nay. When I approach something small, I expect he’ll jump it. We’re not there yet. Or, if we do something 3 times in a row, I expect he’ll jump it the 3rd time. We’re not there yet. As a result, I don’t ride and Nay decides he needs to make a decision. Sometimes he jumps and makes the right decision, sometimes he says, “Oh! Freedom! Let’s not do this!” Right now, until he knows he doesn’t get to make that choice (unless, dangerous), I need to ride and ask at the base every time. I need to be assertive. If I’m assertive, if I add leg (or spur), I then can expect him to jump because leg/spur means forward.

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I’m very confident now over little jumps. Hopefully this will translate to less tiny jumps!

So, turning to our first vertical, I added spur because he was asleep and he immediately woke up and cantered (LOL) and I wasn’t quite ready to canter my first jump without my trainer there. So without using much hand and still apply that leg (yay for voice training trot), Nay came back to the trot and jumped the snot out of his vertical because? I rode. No pause, no hesitation. There was no way we weren’t jumping it. We repeated it several times and while the enthusiasm died a bit (he jumped and cantered out vs jumping a foot over the thing), it was all good.

We did the same thing to the next jump. It didn’t matter that this jump was in the location we had issues with. It was fine. Our approach wasn’t perfect but it was fine. Springy trot towards it, leg/spur, jumped with enthusiasm and no hesitation. Rinse, repeat.

So I was left with a dilemma. And decided to try the straw bales. We started to the left. I overrode in…fear that all my issues would come crawling back and… a little bay horse launched himself over the straw bales and cantered out. The second time? He carried himself to it while I still asked. After repeating this, I thought about ending because no good deed go unpunished, but decided to take on the other direction…

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We jumped those! This is big for me!

To the right, Nay Nay drifts in. I know this. And it was an issue. But, despite this, I caught it and we got over. Now, by calling him out on the drift, he did catch the straw bale with his left (I didn’t add as much leg here either as I was course-correcting) so we knocked a bale, but we got over. He doesn’t care. I hopped off, fixed it, and we proceeded to ride it perfectly now that I was prepared with extra inside leg and outside hand (so much work I need to do here). The 3rd attempt was even better and Nay Nay was so freaking proud of himself.

We stopped after that fence but holy crap. I think I finally get it? I could have it all wrong, but…? I ride, he jumps? Granted, everything was tiny, the straw bales being the largest, but the concepts are there…

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Such a perfect pony on Saturday!!!

Sunday my ride came early (a 1-9 workday ruining my weekend). Nay Nay was tired from his previous day’s work, but his trot work was lovely, if not slow. Things fell apart at the canter. There are days you pick your battles and there are days you don’t. I decided I just didn’t have time for a fight.

I struggled to pick up the canter. Nay just didn’t want to move forward. Like the trot, he just felt slow, but didn’t feel lame or even stiff. Once I got him cantering, the canter was completely fine, but his focus was anywhere but me. See, turnout was changing and 2 horses were face fighting outside the indoor and grunting/squeeling and I just couldn’t keep him focused. I ultimately managed to pick up the canter a few times, kept it down a long side, and asked for the trot and called bring him back myself a win. Sometimes picking a tiny victory is what you need…

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Little vertical, but we got over and entire ride changed. 

Since he wasn’t necessarily himself, I didn’t exactly want to jump much. But, thought I pop over my 2 verticals (still set at yesterday’s height a couple times each). They were small enough to walk over and mostly I wanted to reinforce the lesson from the day before. Heading to the first fence, someone was focusing on anything but me… And tried to slam on the breaks because horses. Outside. More interesting. But somehow? New found confidence? Said NO WAY and kicked and next thing you know, we’re over without actually stopping. Maybe it was at the walk, but it was moving forward. We circled, trotted over without hesitation and immediately trotted our other vertical. Lesson learned.

And because I can’t leave well enough alone, I pointed him to the straw bales. And suddenly the feeling of slow and plodding disappeared and someone woke up. I guess he likes his straw bales? We did that each direction twice and called it a day. All was good (excepted something at the end of the arena was also distracting and causing him not to focus).

While Saturday’s ride was THE RIDE, Sunday’s was a lesson in how to handle distractions and picking battles. Ideally, Sunday would have just been a flat ride (my original plan), but I needed to work on something as someone’s brain had left the building. He definitely needed an easy recovery ride after Saturday, but if he’s going to let his brain leave the building, he’s going to have to work a little harder physically. Oh well, he can recover this week.

Now that it’s getting light in the evenings, I’m hoping to eventually get a ride in during the week. We could both use it! I’ve been on my own for an entire MONTH. Hopefully next week I will finally get a lesson! Or there will be a horse show. LOL.

The tale of 2 rides…

Saturday was cold, windy, and generally miserable.

I decided to head out to ride around noon only to find that a certain bay idiot has broken part of my fence… Not to name any names, but his name rhymes with hay. He left part of his tail behind as evidence… After fixing the fence, I grabbed him and off we went to the barn to ride.

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Don’t let this cute face fool you… It seems like crap days happen when he wears his black boots… Correlation or causation? 

Normally we get there and he’s pretty chill. Instead, he pawed the entire time in the cross ties and was generally annoying. My guy told me it was a good idea to throw him on the lunge line. So I did.

 

He proceeded to try and tune me out, but thankfully trotted and cantered and trotted and cantered and trotted and cantered…and tuned me out. Rinse, repeat. Once we lunged for a while, I thought we might be safe… Then he started to scream to every horse everywhere and tune me out again. So we lunged some more before moving down to the other end of the ring and continued, this time lunging over a pole. Every time I thought we could stop, he found some reason to tune me out. Idiot. Eventually, we found some common ground and did some in-hand work, and walked over some low fences. Finally, I got on (which was challenging because…idiot).

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“I’M NOT INNOCENT. But Feed Me!” – Nay Nay

At the walk, Nay was fine. I was going to end there, but me being me, had to push boundaries. At the trot? Holy speed and lack of steering. Seriously horse! With the amount of time trotting and cantering, what the hell? Thankfully after almost crashing into a standard and one lift of his head, someone came to his senses and the rest of our ride was fine. We trotted, did some poles, and managed a few small jumps. I decided to skip the canter because I valued living.

 

We finished up our afternoon with a nice, quiet mane pull… Guess who doesn’t care about getting his mane pulled? Yeah.

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Best pony! Wearing WHITE boots.

Sunday? It was still cold but the horse I brought out didn’t resemble the idiot from the day before. Maybe he was tired, maybe he was sore, but regardless, he was quiet and normal Nay. I set up 4 low cross rails and on I got.

 

We trotting and worked on the set of poles and did some leg work with the spurs. Nay put his heart into everything. Somewhere in the ride, something clicked for me. At the base of each pole, I started added both spurs as practice for the jumps. Nay gave a little more. We did trot circles, Nay BENT, moving off the spur. Then we did our cross rails, adding spur and the base each time. Nay pushed off. Normally I sometimes remember to add the first time but don’t continue adding each additional time. This time? I continued to add the spur at the base EVERY TIME and what a difference it made. Something clicked for both of us.

 

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His face is the cutest! His forelock is absolutely pathetic though… Still, gave me 115% 

After our cross rails, we cantered. He was tired and maybe a touch sore from yesterday, but gave it his all. His left lead we’ve struggled with lately because he just wants to toss his head like an idiot at the in gate, but a shake of the reins keeps him focus. His right lead? Fabulous. He was tired, but just kept going and giving it his all. And, because we need to push a tiny bit past comfortable, we trotted a few cross rails to end and they were the best of the day. He truly gave me 115% this ride. 

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Not perfect, but he doesn’t look homeless anymore!

We finished with some final mane pulling and tail brushing (I’m determined to keep his tail gorgeous — it’s been knot free and silky since I washed it last week — I just keep spraying in leave-in conditioner and it looks amazing… of course no tail pictures) and all the treats in the world. 

 

Jumping (through) distractions

First, as an update from my last post, my horses are IDIOTS. I put their regular bale in my existing Shires large net (I’m not sure if it’s this net or if it’s a discontinued full bale net, but either way, it easily fits a full, 2 string bale) in their feeder. Idiot horses ate 5 lbs in 2 days. 5lbs. They CAN and DO eat from the 2″ holes in stalls or elsewhere, but NOT in the feeder. So, small holes are out. I can’t risk Subi not eating. So I ordered a large hole net and we’ll give that a try. I’m just trying to keep the hay in the feeder so maybe this will work? Idiots.

Moving on.

img_2722I was able to ride last weekend but due to circumstances, I only rode saturday. I had a great ride! And a terrible ride. It really depended on how you analyzed the ride. I really need my trainer back for a lesson…

The weather was really nice and I considered riding outside, but I was a chicken and the other horse out there was not one that would provide a calming presense… So, I stuck to the indoor. That said, all the jumps were removed so I was left with some poles and plain standards to work with which was fine. I left the trot poles up, and set up 3 cross rails.  In the end, I had a poles on the long side, a cross rail on the other and 2 cross rails on figure eight.

When I got on, Nay Nay was quiet but had energy. I decided just to trot. And trot we did. Around and around and around. We circled and added poles and circled. Eventually I decided to add in the cross rails and all was good. He was a star. We did all our jumps and was perfect.

After trotting, we picked up the canter. For some reason, now when we canter to the left, Nay Nay starts tossing his head as we pass the in gate… He’s fine, but throws a tiny fit… I decided to throw my hands at him (it worked to the right to help fix our right lead canter) and fit was over. Finally. We cantered a nice circle and walked. Continued to the right and had a lovely right lead canter. He’s gotten SO MUCH STRONGER to the right.

img_2720While he was getting tired, I decided we do all our jumps a few more times. We did our first circuit one time and he was great. Then came direction 2. Oy. Issues. We did our first fence and it was fine, then as we were coming over our second jump? Forrest walked in with his rider and Nay got distracted. We made it over, but I failed to realize just how distracted he was. We continued to our last jump and headed right to Forrest and nope. Nay full out said, THERE’S A HORSE IN HERE!..as we were trying to get over our cross rail and crashed and burned… We should have been able to get over it but Nay backtracked instead and took it down. So I had to get off, put it back up. Then Nay was convinced we couldn’t. He was tired and done. I finally hopped off and walked him over and fine, he was over. After I got him over, I put it down a hole (it wasn’t big, but I made it slightly smaller just because), and we jumped it a couple times and called it a day.

I’m made at myself partially because 1, I should have stopped before I got to the stopping point 2, I should have realized he was distracted and overrode to that jump and 3, I should have predicted all of this stuff. I wish I could have ridden Sunday, but I had pre-existing plans so that was out before I even got on Saturday.

I really need a lesson AND possibly a training ride to make sure I don’t ruin him…

Still down on myself for all these mistakes I’m making!

I’m falling apart and my horses are pigs.

Dear Blogland,

I need help.

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2 pigs in their natural habitat

I am currently raising a mini, a picky thoroughbred, and a pig. An OTTP. An Off-track thoroughpig.

See, last Sunday we moved the hay feeder because no one seemed to like its placement. We purchased the feeder after Batt died but they weren’t using it all that much after we got a whole bunch of rain. Instead, they were eating out of the nets I stuff regularly.

But the feeder was freaking expensive. And while I like the nets, I hate that I’m basically slowing Subi’s access to hay (though he LOVES the nets outside). I can’t do large hole nets because Nay Nay is stupid at once stuck his leg in one and got stuck… So, small hole nets ONLY.

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Hay? I need hay!

 

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There’s NOT actually very much hay on the ground despite what it looks like.

So, the feeder. We moved it. It’s 200+ lbs. But between my father-in-law, husband, and me, we got it moved. And stuck a bale of hay in it. And the idiot ponies? Ate the damn bale once the discovered.

Since then, they’ve eaten an entire bale in less than 8 hours a day. Some of these bales are 45lbs. And they are finishing them in about 8 hours. 2 horses and a mini. I was fine with this. Until I came out at 11am on Saturday and found the feeder empty… AFTER 2.5 hours of turnout. 

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MUST EAT HAY!

WTF.

 

On further investigation, it turns out they just made a mess and some of the bale was on the ground, but seriously idiots? 2 hours?

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Subi also now plays with sticks… He takes them and swings them all around. 

So I need help. HOW can I slow them down? I don’t mind them eating a bale a day. I need Subi to put on weight, but I want the hay to last a full 8-12 hours. If I net with slow hole nets, they’ll eat MAYBE 20lbs. So, there is that. Is there a good large hole net/netting that might work with the feeder? Subi won’t eat hay off the ground because… Subi…. Jiminy can wear a muzzle, but then nets become hard.

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But they are the cutest pair of fools…pigs? 

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um… CRAZY fire. House with no electricity or occupants…

Meanwhile, my Amish neighbor’s old house burned down Friday night. They already built a new house on the farm and moved in. The windows of the old house were removed and brush was placed around the old house.

 

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Nay watching the fire

It is POSSIBLE that they chose to torch the old house, but this is ONLY speculation.  My asthma has been bothering me the last week and since Friday, my lungs have been on fire too. But, back to the fire. We saw something on Facebook around 7:30 and realized it was the Amish farm basically right behind us (one house between us) and walked out to see the fire. Way too close for comfort…

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From my basement door

But moral of the story? PLEASE STOP BURNING STUFF! Whether houses or brush or burn piles. Burning stuff sucks when you have asthma! My other neighbors also were burning stuff Saturday and when I came back with Nay… I was a mess.

I’m still a mess. It’s not good. I’m spending too much time with my nebulizer and inhaler. Need me? I come with a bag of medicine and medical equipment…

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The next day.

Look for an update tomorrow on my weekend ride… It was lovely and terrible and I’m confused.