Friday, July 30, 2010

Lessons and to Geld or not to Geld, that is the question???

Danny is actually responding well to his leading and tying lessons. The first time that Huston put a rope on his halter last week, Danny was a reluctant to follow and reared up, clipping Huston's ear and cutting it. Houston said that he wasn't trying to be mean or aggressive, he was just trying to get away from the restriction and control of the rope. The next day, when Huston wrapped the rope around the fence post to make him stand still for awhile, Danny threw a righteous fit. He reared, pulled, jerked his head and pawed the air.

Huston left us with orders to "tie" him two or three times a day for the next week and then to try leading him again. Unfortunately, the extreme heat, whatever bug I've managed to pick up which has upset my stomach for the last week, and unexpected errands and appointments, have kept us from working with Danny like we promised to and should have. Still, the times I did tie him up, he only showed a little impatience, occasionally pawing the ground and chewing on the rope. And, on Wednesday, I put the rope on him and led him around in his little barn. It was too hot to go out into the sunshine and work in the confined place forced us to work on turns and backing more than forward movement but he was great, doing exactly what I asked of him.

The boy is coming along and growing into a horse so quickly...almost too quickly. We've been going around and around about the question of to geld or not. My mind keeps up a constant argument with my heart. I hate to waste the conformation and breeding that the little guy could pass on to future generations of Missouri Fox Trotters. I'm certainly no expert but plenty of people who are say that he is an amazingly well put together little horse. That includes Huston who tells me that he is the finest looking foal he's ever seen in his entire 86 years. We will be able to gold paper his registration and he has three of the most famous MFT stallions on his papers numerous times, Missouri Traveler, Merry Boy Sensation and Zane Gray. A sweet disposition was bred into him as well and intelligence which he's already displaying and both of which he gets from both his sire, Travelers Sensational Zane and dam, my sweet Mousie (Mouse's Funny Face J.)

On the opposing side, is the life of a stallion or a show I really want that for Danny? It would mean isolation, most of his life spent in a stall or small paddock alone. There are also things that are necessary to do during training, especially when dealing with a stallion and alpha male which our Dan appears to be, that I don't want to know or think about. Also is the question of whether Steve and I are capable of handling a stallion. It can be difficult even for seasoned horse people which neither of us are. A friend who stood two very well known and sought after stallions for many years has told me many times that the reason she sold her stallions was not because they were difficult but because many of the mares that people brought to breed were unbroken and unmanageable. There is also the question of cost. Training a horse with a good and reputable trainer is expensive. Building the facilities we need here to keep a stallion would be expensive and with mares both on our farm and on the farms on either side of us, what type of fencing will keep a stallion in during breeding season? Heavens, he's not even three months old and we can't keep him in with the electric fence when he wants through it!

Huston has told me that another option would be selling him to someone who would and could train and use him as a stud....but you know what my heart has to say about that. I've considered getting a small herd of good brood mares and letting him just pasture breed with them and hoping that would keep him "satisfied" and away from the neighbor's mares. I don't think that I would mind selling the babies of these yet unknown mares but I know that I could never sell one of Mouse's babies and certainly not my Danny. As I told someone last night, he's my horse, he's my baby and he was from the moment he dropped from his mama and rolled down that hillside with me running after him to catch him before he hit the creek, lol. I would have felt that way even if his birth hadn't been such a frightening and traumatic experience for me. Brandy McDonnell, who served as my phone a friend that early Saturday morning when Danny was born, asked me if this wasn't the most wonderful, magical experience and I told her, no, it's terribly scary and traumatic. I remember her laughing because I guess she realized that I'd change my tune soon enough. As soon as I saw the way Mouse looked at the baby, with such love and tender devotion, I felt the magic and I knew that I could never part with him.

So, those are the pros and cons of whether to geld or not. I'd love to hear your opinions or alternative ideas. I've got about 15 more months to make a decision and already I can tell that it won't be an easy one.

Bobby Watts and his very pretty and sweet, daughter, Miranda stopped by to meet Danny last night and gave there thumbs up of approval. He kept picking up sticks and offering them to Bobby which made Bobby laugh and Miranda giggle:) Bobby asked me if I was leaving Danny as a stallion which got me thinking anew about all of this and led to this post asking for advice and thoughts.

Three month old photos coming this Sunday!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Portrait has Arrived!

I thought I posted this on Danny's blog yesterday as well as over on the Gray Horse blog but either I didn't or it didn't take.
The wonderful portrait of Danny arrived yesterday from artist, Linda Woolford. It is amazing. I can not find the words to describe how lovely it is or the joy it brings me. It makes my heart sing to look at it. Much like the real, flesh and blood Danny that she captured so perfectly. There is a photo below of the finished work but trust me, the photo does not do the original justice. It seems impossible that it could be any more beautiful but it is! I will post photos as soon as it is matted and framed. And I will insert links to Linda's web gallery and blog here soon, too. Would do it not but I'm late getting out the door as usual:)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Love Hurts

After three days on the rope, Danny is better about being tied but he still is very impatient and chews on the rope. It was so hot today that we thought we'd wrap the rope around the center pole on the barn instead of the fence. The spot by the fence was still shaded and relatively cool on a day when the temps hit 92 by 9:30 a.m. But working with Danny there would mean moving the other horses out of their paddock and run-in and old Brandy sprained her "ankle" yesterday. I don't want to move her more than is necessary at the moment.

So, we thought it would be a good idea to improvise and wrap the rope around the pole. One problem: Danny can walk all the way around the pole. Adding to that dilemma and making any other solution totally implausible was Danny's attitude this morning, stubborn and aggressive. Usually, he is sweet and easy to handle in the morning but maybe today's heat was as irritating to him as it was to me because he started his visit with us off by greeting Steve with a bite that left a large, red, swollen welt on his upper arm. Then he kept charging me when I tried to walk him. So I wrapped the rope around the pole hoping to teach him some patience. Considering that he never gave in and relaxed and I was the only one who worked up a sweat trying to keep him from hanging himself on the rope as he merry-go-rounded that pole.......well, I'm not certain that it was such a great idea or one that we will repeat. 

Another "lesson" tonight and we will see how it goes....and if it turns out to be a lesson for Dan or us!? lol

Also working on the name for his papers. Huston tells me that there was a WGC MFT several years ago that was named, Danny Boy. Huston wants us to use Traveler in the name so I'm thinking either Traveler's Flyby Danny or Flyby Travelin' Dan. I had all sorts of gray horse names picked out but Huston thinks he will be a liver chestnut. I'm still not convinced that he won't be a gray but I can't gamble on the chance now with his registered name. 

As for the question of whether he'll remain a stallion, that question, too, is still up in the air. I do know that he will have to start behaving better than he did this morning if he doesn't want to be gelded.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Not Quite Three Months Old

Danny will be 3 months old on August 1st. This photo was taken on the 21st of July. Not quite three months old and still growing.

Brother Can You Help Me?

I just had to add this photo because I didn't get any shots of Huston working with Danny on Thursday morning when he tied him up. Danny threw a fit at first and big brother, Django, tried to come to his rescue by gnawing on the rope and then lipping the latch on the rope. He wasn't successful at either but you have to figure that there is some sort of sibling connection there if Danny's distress drew Django away from his food, lol.
This photo was taken on Wednesday when Huston was first teaching Danny to lead. Both brother Django and uncle Riley came to the fence to watch and offer a bit of moral support.

Hit and Run

Well I didn't get to keep him for long, Huston arrived on Tuesday afternoon and was gone by Thursday at noon, but we crammed a lot into that short time and still had a great time. It was so good to see him and spend time with him. And it was even better to see him meet Danny and work with him. By the time he left, Huston had worked with Danny twice and already had us started on both leading him and tying him. Danny liked Huston immediately and I'm not at all surprised. Huston is 86 years old and still riding and training horses and he is the most knowledgeable horseman I've ever known. He tells me to work with the horses every day because I will learn far more from experience and observation than I will ever learn from a book. Huston himself is a wealth of information and knowledge; I wish I could have kept him with us for several months and even then, we would probably just barely tap all that he could teach us about horses.

I forgot to add that Huston thinks Danny is the finest MFT foal he's ever seen in all of his years of breeding and raising foals. I have to agree but then we all know how biased I am when it comes to my Danny Boy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Linda Woolford Creates An Amazing Portrait of Danny!

Still getting ready for Huston's visit in two days! But I had to take the time to show you all something amazing. Linda Woolford is an amazing artist and she just completed a portrait of Danny. I'm just blown away by how wonderful it is and how perfectly she captured Danny and his personality. I couldn't stop crying when I first saw the finished work. It is fantastic and Linda is the sweetest person as well as incredibly talented.
I just can't stop looking at this. It's so beautiful!

Linda's work is all so incredible. You can check out more of her amazing art work at either of these two places: Art Wolf Blog The Briar Rose Gate    Art Wolf Etsy Shop

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Huston is coming to visit Danny next week.....and me and Steve but we're secondary, lol. He's staying several days which is rare for him. I'm so excited. We've got a full schedule and every bit of it involves horses. I'll write a full report later. Right now, we're working furiously to make this house "guest worthy." It's Ok to work so hard now though because next week this time, we will be having fun and enjoying our friend's company!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

We might have to start calling him Super Dan after he crashed through the electric fence a few days ago. I was just walking down the hillside through the other horses' day time pasture on my way to feed nightly rations to Danny and his mom. Danny was standing by the watering trough waiting on me and watching my progress with his food. Suddenly, he screamed and jumped straight up in the air. I can only assume that a bee stung him because I found no other injury that could account for that reaction. He took off at a full and very fast gallop. He made three rounds of the pasture at full speed only pausing to look at me and whiney pitifully every time he passed where I was still standing, dumbfounded by what was happening. Then he stopped and charged the fence. He managed to leap through, missing the top and bottom wire and breaking the center one with his chest. He ran up to stop beside me and whine; I suppose he thought I could fix whatever had hurt so badly that it caused all of this. I was more concerned about making certain that his attack of the fence hadn't done any harm but before I could examine him thoroughly he spotted the love of his life, Brandy on top of the hill and just as quickly realized that Steve still hadn't closed the gate to the upper pasture. He was off before I could turn and shout, "Shut the gate!" Steve, who already was in the process of doing just that, started running with the gate in hand and still just managed to get it shut as Danny arrived with a skidding, dusty stop. Steve was able to look him over better than I had as Danny ogled Brandy and she ignored him. He shouted back down to me that he could see no injury as I went to let the now frantic Mouse out into the pasture with her baby. Ahhh, the adventures of one said it was going to be easy. Especially when your little one is growing like Baby Huey and more powerful than a locomotive ;^)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hay Daze

We baled our teff hay yesterday. It wasn't the best first cutting. We only got a partial field and 198 bales. Not enough to get us through the Winter but there will hopefully be several more cuttings. The fun part was watching Danny get his first taste of fresh hay. At first he was more interested in the other horses who came over to the fence to get their share. And then he managed to stick his head into the small space between the fence and the round pen!  I was feeding Brandy when I saw him and I went running to rescue him. Turns out, he didn't need rescuing since he was reaching for the fish net that I use to clean out the water troughs. Before I could reach him, he'd managed to lift the net off of its hook, pull it back through the fence and then placed his little hoof on it and tore it to pieces with his teeth. Once it was destroyed, he lost interest. I pointed out to him that the bugs and leaves that it was suppose to be picking out of his water were now going straight through but he didn't seem to care. Oh well, another one bites the dust. I think I need to buy stock in aquarium fish nets!
The wagon filled up before we reached the small field and Steve asked if we could use my truck to load the bales from there. This small field is right across from Mouse's and Danny's pasture. Danny wasn't so impressed by what we were doing but Mouse was prancing around and neighing because she's had fresh hay before and the small sample I'd given to them earlier was already long gone. We broke open one bail and I took them a few flakes. Mouse started eating with relish and this time Danny followed suit. When I left them last night, both were eating as if it was the last food they'd ever get.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fourth of July Fireworks

Steve has started calling Danny, Patches. The flies have been terrible this year. I have been spraying Danny with fly spray....he's better behaved about it than the big guys...but I haven't put any on his face and the fly spray doesn't help much anyway. So, the result is that he ends up looking spotty especially with the new hair growing in so much darker than his baby coat.

The holiday fireworks came early to our farm. Everyone, including our vet and Huston, have been telling me that I should put Mouse and Danny out with the other horses but we all neglected to tell Mouse that this was a good idea. We opened up the gates to the large upper pasture last night and let Riley and Django go out there. Brandy lagged behind expecting her "secret" evening meal...she's a smart old girl. Then we let Mouse and Danny out into the other horses' day time pasture thinking this would allow us to introduce them to each other gently. Well Mouse is eating and Danny is running around and neither one has noticed that the other gate is glad, in retrospect, that they didn't! Then Danny sees the love of his life, Brandy, and realizes that there is no longer a fence separating them. He runs up and starts aggravating the poor old girl like crazy. Then the other two boys spot Danny and they come running off the hill. That is when I  turned to Steve and said, "I don't know if this was a good idea." Steve yells at Mouse who is still grazing and unaware that any of this is happening. When Mouse looks up and sees the boys near her baby, first her eyes got huge, then she turns and gives Steve and me one of those looks, and then she takes off, screaming with her ears already pinned. What I still don't understand is why, after she bit and kicked them out of the way and then started herding Danny down the hill into a corner where she could protect him, did the boys feel compelled to chase after them. They weren't really being aggressive; it was almost like they were playing follow the leader with Mouse. They stopped a respectful distance away from her and the baby but Mouse didn't think it was far enough. She ran over kicking at Riley and climbing Django's back and biting him. Neither boy fought back but the idiots did then follow her and Danny up to the top of the hill. I thought we might be Ok to leave them together then since the boys stood and looked at them for a while, Mouse started grazing and the boys lost interest and left. The excitement wasn't over though. Danny spots Brandy, who had been observing all of this from afar, and he goes running up to her nuzzling her and then trying to nurse her! I'm running and saying Brandy don't hurt him because she's trying to at least cow kick him. But Mouse sees Brandy with her baby and it doesn't matter that Danny instigated the entire situation, she's on top of my thirty year old horse biting and kicking. We finally get them separated and the gates closed. Danny, who's been calm and respectful for over a week now, is agitated and wild and Mouse is content to stay in the other horses' pasture where we don't want her to spend the night. Finally we managed to get them both into the round pen and then back into their own pasture where I plan to keep them for a while.....or at least until Danny is ready to wean and Mouse is no longer so protective.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Two Months Old!

Isn't it amazing how much he's grown? Our vet, Melissa Hamilton, called last week and asked if she could stop by and see him. She was out of town when he was born so another vet had taken care of Danny and Mouse. This was her first opportunity to meet with our boy. She thought he was gorgeous and quite large for his age. She said that he looked more like a four month old than not quite two months. I've been telling everyone that you can practically see him growing. His color is changing, too. It is hard to tell by the light in these photos that were taken late this afternoon but he is a lovely golden brown now. I don't think he'll stay that color for long though. The places where he's rubbed the hair off or gotten his little boy scrapes and scratches are all growing back with silky black hair. The nose is gray so I'm thinking that he will be either gray or roan. I still have several months before I have to register him so I'm hoping that he settles on one color by then.
The second photo above is of Danny and his big brother, Django, talking through the fence. I'm waiting until Huston arrives in two weeks to let him decide if Danny is big enough to be turned out with the "herd." He loves to whinny at them and will touch noses and sniff of them whenever he gets the chance. I think they will get along fine and it will probably be good for him to have someone around who will make him behave. I don't know if Django will be a good influence though. He is the most mischievous horse and at eight years old, he shows no sign of change. We have to tie down the hose going into the water trough or Django will chase the other horses with it, spraying them with water. Many of his pranks have to do with the trough since he's constantly stealing the fish tank tools that I use to keep it clean and usually chases poor Riley with those, too. His latest trick really tops them all though. Last night "someone" picked up a bucket and put it in the middle of the trough. Now who do you think did that?