7.02.2020

upcoming change for Cierra

With all 2020 AQHA shows in our area cancelled, Brad made the decision to bring Cierra home. The official date is August 1st. He goes directly from work every week to take lessons on Cierra. It sounds like their Ranch Riding is going really well, such a shame showing her ended prematurely. The bright side is she is coming home, and we have started looking at potential proven studs. 

Cierra is 10 and isn't getting any younger. It is no secret that Brad has always hoped to carry on Cierra's wonderful disposition & lineage. We have had casual conversations in the past with his trainer and Cierra's breeder. Questions like, what type of stud would they match her up with? Hard to answer, with differing opinions on improving the good things she has along with so many variables. Brad has also talked to our vet for his valued experience about things like age, timing etc. 

For whatever it's worth and since it seems everyone's head goes there, let's just be clear we have zero intention of getting into the breeding business. I understand why others do, and am thankful for good breeders who sell offspring!! 

As far as our related experience, Brad grew up on a dairy farm and knows livestock (including horses). Me, not so much. He also knows a fair amount about lineage, but I do not. It is sweet he wants me to be involved in the process and decisions. In order to be of any value, I wanted to educate myself a bit. I know most only go back two or three levels of lineage, but I wanted to learn some history and traits. Altho traits vary a lot.

The first thing I needed to know was, what is Brad hoping to get out of breeding Cierra? In a nutshell, he wants to raise his own homebred Ranch show horse that can compete at the AQHA level.

I searched online, and read some QH articles. Posted at bottom, if interested. We get the AQHA magazine, and I also tried learning from a Facebook QH pedigree group. That page leaves me confused with so many conflicting opinions. 

To begin our stud search, Brad sent me these registries to look at Performance Stallions. I was a little stunned that he is setting the bar so high, but I get it under the circumstances:

https://www.qstallions.com/

https://stallionregisterdirectory.com/performance-stallions/

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Based on what I saw & read I found my favorite potential match, Whizkey-n-Diamonds:

https://stallionregisterdirectory.com/listing/whizkey-n-diamonds/

He has nice looking off-spring, many have accomplishments:

http://www.rhodesriverranch.com/whizkey_foals.php

Whizkey-n-Diamonds Dam (goes back to TwoEyed Jack, but also has Impressive):

https://www.allbreedpedigree.com/princess+in+diamonds

Whizkey-n-Diamonds Sire: https://www.allbreedpedigree.com/top+sail+whiz


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Brads favorite match for Cierra is One Fine Vintage: https://www.qstallions.com/StallionDet?id=141&sort=Performance/Ranch 


I didn't do any research on him, but Brad did. He ran both of the studs past his trainer, and she did her own research. She thought One Fine Vintage may be too hot and didn't add other contenders. She really likes Whizkey-n-Diamonds and thinks he would be a good match.

We will keep doing research. This Fall he will make a decision on a potential stud, and plans to apply for 2021 breeding (via artificial insemination, luckily our vet specializes in it) to see if Cierra is accepted. We hope so! In her five years of being shown, she has accomplished a few achievements. Qualifying for Worlds Show(s) and 1st place Performance Register of Merit as well as her show record points for five years.



I look forward to this future life goal experience, with guidance from quality advisors. Including you guys. I will be watching for valued input as things transpire. Feel free to share if you have resources, words of wisdom or anything to add to the above. 


We haven't had a baby horse in our lives since 2010:


the moment I knew Cierra was his girl

telling secrets

checking each other out 


Cierra (her Dam on right) 

Cierra


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If interested, the better articles I read:

https://www.aqha.com/-/2019-top-5-ranch-horse-sires

This article is the type of preliminary information I was looking for:

https://westernhorseman.com/culture/flashbacks/the-top-10-ranch-horse-bloodlines/

To me, disposition is the most important trait. According to the above Western Horseman article, I would hands-down be looking for a TwoEye Jack descendent. But then, after reading another article https://westernhorseman.com/culture/flashbacks/two-eyed-jack/# it says TwoEye Jack was intensely inbred. Makes me unsure about his line. I read a thread on some site about "what lines people dislike most". The author said TwoEyed Jack was the most disliked line, altho he never said never said why. Plenty of others responded with owning a descendent of his, that was/is the best horse they ever had. Lineage is just like every other horse thing, subjective & confusing...


6.22.2020

Cierra has allergies

Not sure what the odds are on owning two horses that both have allergies that compromise them. Whatever those odds are, Brad is doing his part to cover the "got allergy" odds. As you know, Nemo has allergies and Cierra has developed them as well. No doubt if every horse was tested something would come up that irritates them, but not necessarily affects them.

Cierra's allergic reaction first showed up in 2017 as odd labored breathing. The vet did a garbage bag breathing test on her. Cierra's lungs were normal. Once in a great while, the labored breathing would resurface briefly. Nothing alarming that prevented her from an otherwise normal life. If the odd breathing popped up, she would get time off, ride lightly or whatever best fit the situation and her needs. 

However, Cierra's difficulty breathing normal resurfaced more significantly last year. You may recall the dusty 2019 AQHA WI State horse show that brought it on full force. Brad decided to have her allergy tested. Something I highly recommend. It is ideal to know what you are dealing with, the results explain a lot and give direction on effective management.

I
 always thought her compromised breathing was related to spending the vast majority of her time in a heated older show barn, shared with multiple cats and a bunny (phew, it was eventually re-homed). I've never been a fan of heated barns, and was right in part but the test results proved it was much more. 

When Cierra's results came back, we were surprised that she was allergic to no less then 34 different things!! Not all cause symptoms, but still...34...gulp! In comparison, Nemo's results came back with just 4 allergens and he had soooo many struggles. 

Cierra's higher allergens come from multiple grasses, Marsh Elder weed, Pyrethrum (an insecticide) and some insects, as well as Alfalfa, Apple and Carrots - this explains why she didn't like our fresh treats!!

Cierra is a candidate for allergy shots, but with a few simple adjustments her breathing symptoms have not resurfaced. Brad is holding off on allergy shot treatment. The main thing that changed, is her food. She was switched to grass hay. They also relocated Cierra to a different location in the show barn. Now she lives in a more open stall, and not directly across from the 6-8 alfalfa hay bales they restock. I was so happy to hear these changes made a big difference!!

I have no doubt in my mind, when Cierra moves home it will be even better for her and she won't need allergy shots at all. 



re-sharing Cierra's 2019 calendar debut


6.18.2020

misc horse update and photos

It has been a looong time since I have posted anything about our horses. Five months to be exact. They are all doing good. End of post. 

Ha haaa!! Seriously, they are all doing good and I am thankful for it. Life for our horses has been pretty quiet and routine. 


Grazing by the Early Morning Moon

Nemo, Koda, Harmony (L-R)
April 10, 2020 at 6:39am
I've put together some random updates about each of them to share:

Koda, is still fat & sassy, just like his owner! I asked about his weight again at Spring shots in late March. The vet isn't concerned, but suggested cutting hay back at night if we were. We have cut his hay back, altho not sure how big of a difference it is making. What Koda really needs is exercise. Just like me. So many similarities...things that make you go, hmmm? 
Koda
April 19, 2020
Our horses always have access to hay 365 days a year in a feeder with a slow feed net, so grazing muzzle's don't mix. The feeder is in the same dry lot as their waterer. At night all our horses are fed indoor with a slow feed net. We tried doubling Koda's stall net, but that made it impossible to get any hay out. Someday we could get creative with water buckets or separating etc but unless necessary, we would rather keep the horses content. For now, we will continue what we are doing and hope the exercise component happens sooner than later - for all of us!!

Koda taking off to check out the lower pasture
May 31, 2020
entering lower pasture
Koda's Field Of Dreams

Nemo
, continues doing better at our place. I am always happy to shovel big pee puddles out of his stall, and we've seen no dripping since we've moved here! That means no ultra sounds or bladder flushes for the big guy!! I am sure the day will come, but so far so good. You can read about his uncommon Calcium Build Up condition here. We think the thing that has made the biggest difference is the grass hay we grow (alfalfa has a higher concentration of calcium) as well as consistent access to auto-waterers and salt.



Nemo
April 2020 (iphone)
So far his allergies are better as well. Nemo still has them seasonally, but with the walk-in shelter he is able to self regulate and stay out all day wearing one light mask. He does still get allergy shots, altho the overall frequency of them is less now.


Nemo going to check out the lower pasture
May 31, 2020
entering lower pasture

Harmony
, turned twenty this year and is loving life here. We got our daughters blessing to try not shoeing her. She gets frequent abscess's and 
one of her front feet is a little angled inwards. Since our ground is sandy and she is not being ridden or worked, we thought it was worth trying again. Our farrier was recently here and said her feet looked good. So far, Harmony remains barefoot!  


Harmony
April 19, 2020
Harmony

Harmony entering lower pasture
May 31, 2020

Harmony is fast, when she wants to be

Cierra
, has big changes coming in her future. 
Brad is not showing, because all 2020 AQHA shows in our area are cancelled due to the pandemic. He made the decision "official" to bring her home (YEEAAAAAA!!!!!) once our outdoor arena is up. Who knows when that will actually happen? At this rate, it isn't looking like anytime soon :( The arena railing we chose is made by Priefert, and they are out of Texas. One of States where COVID-19 is high, still. I am trying not to get my hopes up, just incase Winter comes before the arena goes up. 

I will share more about sweet Cierra in a separate upcoming post. Sadly I haven't seen her since the September Labor Day 2019 show, so no photos of her to share.


Harmony
You will notice in the May pics, our pasture grass is long and lush. Not ideal. Instead of letting the horses wallow in it, Brad decided to cut and bale it. Funny, considering this was the pasture we had to re-plant twice just to get the durn' grass to come in at all. We grow the same grass in the pastures, as the hay fields we bale.

Brad in his happy place, farming
June 16, 2020 (iphone)
I am always walking past our windows and looking for somewhat unique horse photo opportunities to catch my eye. I prefer things to happen organically vs creating scenes or action. I must be getting picky (er) because I haven't been taking very many photos of our horses. Of course there are times when you can somewhat predict, or better said hope, the horses will be more expressive. All these action photos are taken when switching pastures.
 

Nemo, Koda, Harmony (L-R)
Also the order they came running down to check out the lower pasture
May 31, 2020 
I need to pay more attention to their nuances, and learn from their natural beauty while just hanging out with them. Especially when highlighted by Mother Nature's beautiful light. Harder to do for a girl who's first photography love is shooting action.

a familiar Koda pose
May 31, 2020

6.15.2020

land of projects

I have never been more thankful for my two and four legged family during this strange time we find ourselves living in, and extra thankful to be caring for our own land. Thought I would share some projects (unrelated to horses, horse update to come) that have been keeping us busy.

One of the most challenging, was dismantling two large garden beds at our previous home. Our son who is renting/buying, has zero interest in gardening. The past couple years we made trips back to do weeding, but it wasn't enough to maintain them. The weeds won and my beloved garden beds became an eye sore. It was time for them to go. We pulled gazillions of the hardier remaining perennials & bulbs, moved boulders, pulled and sprayed weeds, tilled and eventually replanted the areas with grass. 

Every weekend for a couple months, I would bring multiple buckets and bags filled with daffodills, iris, daylilies, clematis, bleeding heart, sedum, peony etc to transplant onto our property. Originally I wasn't going to plant any perennials here, but I just couldn't leave 20 years of treasured faithful blooms to die. At least now they have a chance, plus I had existing garden space to fill. 

You may recall Brad had built a long raised bed on one side of the barn last summer. I also ended up with a couple smaller garden areas next to the house that are not mow friendly. The new beds filled up quickly with many long-time favorite plants. Extra plants and bulbs (mostly daffodils) got planted on both sides of a tree line path across from our house, that we are cleaning up. Someday it will either be a beautiful place to walk with naturalized plants, or not. Only time will tell. 

I also plunked some bulbs in other key areas on our land and shared plants with neighbors & family. We will eventually do more of the same when remaining garden beds and pond get dismantled, in the backyard of our old house. It is time consuming, so we are done for this growing season.




I did research on deer resistant plants that grow in our new to me sandy loam soil (I have always grown in clay soil) and observed what bloomed in the general area. So far gardening is much easier here, especially with easier care perennials. I truly think (er' hope) most of my transplants will make it. With a tender back, it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to replant my ridiculously excessive plant supply. I did a little at a time, most days. The beauty of naturalizing is it is one time and then the plants are on their own. They either make it or they don't. 

I've always wondered why perennials cost so much, when they multiply like rabbits. Now I know, the plant cost is in the labor. 

Leo in his garden bed

The raised veggie bed Brad built last year passed the test and produced plenty of veggies, so he built the additional five as planned. This time he filled the bottom half with our sandy soil and hauled in good compost soil for the top half. He also MacGyvered a sprinkler, which makes watering a whole lot easier. The surrounding ground remains on the to-do landscape list, but the veggie plants are flourishing! Soooo much easier and inviting to take care of without all the bending. 

One is a strawberry bed, another for cucumbers, one has beans with a few kohlrabi for Brad, we are growing carrots and leeks in another, and one bed each lower to the ground for peppers and tomatoes. 

and then there were six
Back in the day when bluebird numbers were declining I attended a worksop to learn how to help them out, and received plans for building a nesting house. Although I had high hopes, with three active kids building and maintaining nesting boxes got put on hold. Until this year. Brad built not one but two bluebird houses for Mothers Day, one from him and one from Tank (our dog). It was late in the nesting season, but we put them up anyways.



Two days after we mounted them at the bottom of our property, a pair of bluebirds showed up. Instead of using the boxes, they nested on our house beams. Brad said I forgot to give them directions to their new home, sigh. The male thwapped at our windows all day long. For weeks he would fly from the front of the house to the back, and sit on my hummer feeder daily, just staring at me for long periods of time...it was nothing short of weird!! I looked into the behavior and what we could do to stop him. I was afraid he was going to get hurt thwapping at the windows. Nothing seemed to help, but time. Thank goodness that crazy bird finally stopped. An example of "be careful what you wish for" ha ha!! After the current bird renters move out, hopefully next season the blue birds will find directions to the nest boxes built just for them - far far away from our windows!


window view

someone was watching me, constantly

So much more has happened since my last type. Mostly maintenance, as well as field work, tree-line work and Brad's endless planting, watering and maintaining of yard grass. Section by section, he is covering up the sandy loam that surrounds our house. It sure helps with tracking sand in the house.



Gardening and tending to our land has been such a welcome respite in the midst of the pandemic madness. Some of the perennial transplants are already blooming, and that makes my heart happy. 


long time no see, sunset at home
May 2020