Sunday, November 30, 2008

Welcome

Hi! Welcome to my blog. I'm new to this whole thing so please bear with me while I sort out the bells and whistles.

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I'm in love. At first I was interested in his brother. But when I followed the link for more info (www.coopsrockies.com) I discovered that he was available too. As you may have guessed by now, my new love is a horse. Not just any horse, but a 19 month old Rocky Mountain Horse gelding. (I'm happily married, so no other sort of crusin' photos on the web allowed for me!)

Here is the photo that I initially saw:














I know that he looks a bit like a calf, but I could see that the photo had been taken in the spring and that was 6 0r 7 months ago, so I guessed that if he was still available, he'd look a little different. He was listed for a really reasonable price for a registered Rocky, so I sent an email to Doug and Alicia Coop inquiring about "Coop's Midnight Rain." They replied that he was still for sale, so I called them, and they sent me more photos.

Here is one of the photos that they sent back to me:



















He was so cute, and well-bred!
Here is his full-sister's registration:















Well, to make a long story a little shorter, I pleaded with my husband (who ever has the money to buy another horse?) and then negotiated a deal with the Coops. About a week and a half later, my family and I were off to meet "Midnight." Since Shelbyville, Kentucky is about a 5 1/2 hour trip from our home in good weather, we decided to go ahead and tow our trailer along too. Since the weather was forecasted to turn bad, we wound up leaving a day earlier than planned and then staying over two nights.

We arrived on a Thursday evening and stayed in the Days Inn. The next morning, we got up and had breakfast at Cracker Barrel (my favorite) and then proceeded out to the Coops farm. When we got there, we saw Midnight in a little paddock by the barn. It was love at first sight! We all agreed that I should buy him due to his very friendly personality.

After dropping my husband and son back at the hotel, I returned to the farm to await the arrival of Dr. Chris Thompson for a pre-purchase exam. This gave me time to play with Midnight and get to know him better. Here are some photos:
















The vet check went fine. Nothing obviously wrong and Midnight demonstrated his great typically Rocky temperament. (He had pretty much been turned out to pasture and not handled much recently.)

Later that afternoon, Doug Coop returned home from work and gave me the formal tour of his place including meeting his lovely 4 year old stallion Coop's Freedom. One of the most compelling reasons that I decided to follow up on Midnight was that the Coops also practice Parelli Natural Horsemanship. Doug took time out to demonstrate some of the skills that he and Freedom have perfected including riding bareback in a halter, laying down on cue, and BACKING into a step-up trailer WITHOUT a RAMP! Wow. What a great partnership they have. Here is a video:


video


Later that evening, once Midnight was officially mine, Doug, Alicia and I went back out to their indoor arena. There we decked Midnight out in all of the unfamiliar gear that he would need to wear on the trailer ride home (in our two-horse, open backed, bumper-pull): blanket, leg wraps and fly mask. Once again, he took it all in stride and even offered to load himself into Doug's trailer.. After a long day, Midnight went back out to pasture while I returned to the hotel to pig out on pizza and relax.

The next morning, we returned to the Coop's farm at around 8:30 am. I dosed Midnight with Quietex (an herbal remedy for anxiety containing Valerian). We decked Midnight out in his traveling gear, then I ran up to the house for a quick pit-stop before hitting the road. When I returned, Midnight had already jumped onto the trailer and was happily eating hay. This was a good sign, but I still knew that it was going to be a very long haul home, since he had only been on a moving trailer once, while still at his mother's side. We departed with me driving very gingerly down the driveway. At the road, I stopped to check the baby - he was standing stock still like "Oh my god, this thing moves." My stomach turned. We had miles to go before any of us could relax.

We proceeded slowly down the road to I-64. I pulled over just before the ramp to check on him and discovered that he was barely breathing and winced each time a truck passed us. It was horrible, but at least he wasn't beating himself up back there. (He ties really well.)

We got onto I-64 and then stopped at the first rest stop where we pulled as far from the highway as we could and opened the emergency door so that Midnight could have a view of pastures with horses in the distance. I stayed in the back with him until he took a deep breath, shook himself like a dog, and then started to eat. (I had learned from a recent presentation by a local 4-Her how important it is that horses have access to long-fiber forage during stressful events to protect their stomachs from ulcers.) We remained another 5 minutes and then headed out again.

We continued to stop at every rest stop along our trip down I-64 and onto I-77. About 2 1/2 hours into the trip, he visibly relaxed and was eating when I checked him. The label on the Quietex said that it took about 2 hours to take effect, so I guess that was it. What a change! He was much more serene after that although he would still shake like a dog and take a deep breath each time we stopped.

Here is a photo of Midnight thinking, "What a long strange trip it's been" while stoned on Quietex and munching hay non-stop:











I-64 through West Virginia was awful. The highway was very curvy, with many hills, and bumpy surface. At about the halfway point, we stopped at a rest area with food, and took a long lunch break. There I unblanketed him and rubbed him down, since he was a bit sweaty. I also removed his fly mask and offered him a bucket of water. I was surprised when he guzzled down 1/2 the bucket! He also finally pooped - I had been starting to worry since that it the first thing that most horses seem to do.

Finally, about 8 hours later, we arrived home just as the sun was setting. Poor Midnight didn't know that he had arrived anywhere in particular, so he was content to stay on the trailer while I rounded up the other two geldings, fed them dinner and then locked them out of the run-in paddock. Boy were they surprised to meet the new kid in town!



Cody, another Rocky Mountain Horse, meeting the new boy, Midnight for the first time:











Midnight has spent the last week alternating between the run-in paddock and my small back field, while the other two geldings are just over the fence from him. Everyone seems to be getting along well. This is more of an issue than you would expect, since my Racking Horse Smokey seems to be "proud cut" or at least "late cut" and thinks that he is a stallion. However, Midnight, now nicknamed "Guinness" (since his coat color resembles my husband's favorite kind of beer) and Smokey have been out together. They have even started to play! We are waiting to put all three of the boys together until Cody's knee heals up from an injury incurred while pawing as Smokey & Guinness cantered around together. Hopefully they can all be out together for periods of time starting next week.



This was the scene on Guinness' first full day here:
Everyone seems pretty relaxed!














Well, that is enough for now. I'll have to try to keep my posts shorter from now on. Thanks for reading!