My History with Horses

It all started back when I was in Fifth grade.  I was friends with Carla Lorch.  She had a horse named Dusty at Mr. Obanion’s farm  which was located in Temple Hills Maryland.  I wanted to ride with her but never really rode a horse before.  I approached my parents,  My father was not in favor of it and my mom was. So we went to Mr. Obanion’s farm, in 1972.  The horse in question was named Sonny,  he had a flowing double mane. a Shetland pony.  Anyway, my Dad was set dead against it.  But they put me on the horse, I have neverridden before.  I was shown how to neck rein  Western style.   They put a Western saddle on him.  I got on, and rode around Mr. Obanion’s house several times.  After that,  my parents bought the pony.

Sonny and I rode the trails of Mr. Obanion’s with Carla at times and also alone.  Mostly alone. Around 15, I found him in the field dead.  This was traumatic.  I mourned Sonny for about a year.

Then at 16, my mom and I went to Piscataway Stables in Maryland.  When I saw Fella, it was love at first sight.  He was a small horse, with a coat the color of a copper penny.   His breed  was part Morgan and quarter horse.  I found out that he had been a horse. that was rented by the hour.  It took four people to put the bridle on.  But I saw the potential in Fella.  Slowly he began to trust me and I was authoritative without being abusive.  He became a great pleasure house.on the trails.  I also put him in a Western Pleasure Show and won 4th place.  Fella and I spent many years together until 1992, he was killed in a lightning storm.  I was again devastated.

I mourned again and after about 6 months.  Joe bought Lucy, the owner of the horse farm. I named her Lucy after Lucille Ball, who had a reddish coat, and red mane.  She was a small horse.  But very patient.  The total opposite of Fella, who would  fight any horse he could and was very strong-willed.

I rode Lucy for about a year and I got a phone call.  Lucy had a baby in a sleet storm.  My parents and I were surprised.  Having owned male horses beforehand.  He was found by a stable hand in the boarder’s field while looking for another horse.  We did not know if he would survive. with the help of Chip and two other boarders,  he nursed from his mother.  We also brought in the veterinarian.

Stormy grew up to have an exuberant personality, in other words, he was full of life.  I fed him twice a day for 3 years.  Until I decided to train him myself, to be ridden, which is another blog.  Stormy is now 27.  He is well cared for and living at Piscataway Stables in Clinton, Maryland.

Riding Stormy on May 16, 2020

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I have not been riding Stormy for quite some time. Instead,  I have been grooming him, from head to hoof, at Piscataway Stables in Clinton, Maryland, where he is boarded., for two years.     I had a knee replacement in my right knee and have arthritis in my left knee.  So I was concerned about getting on him.  But I vowed that I would ride him. 

I tacked him up with a bridle, a curb bit and a saddle pad.  Joe Edelen gave me a billet girth to attach to the saddle pad.  My husband came along with me,and. helped me put the bridle on, retrieve tack from my car and help me on the horse.

I did something different, I managed to put the bridle on without using a shipping halter underneath it, which I have done for years.  After grooming him, in the field, where the other horses are boarded. Stormy started walking away. So in a voice that suggested authority, I said “Stormy” and pointed at my fanny pack, that contained my horse treats.  He stopped dead in his tracks.  Then Mike slipped the lead rope over his neck.   I fed him a horse treat, and then put the curb bit in his mouth. Afterward, I  put the rest of the bridle on him.

Then I proceeded to take him out of the field.  I led him to the entrance of the stable and Mike retrieved the saddle pad.  Joe  Edelen, the owner of  Piscataway Stables, helped me attach the right girth on my saddle pad.  He said I needed a billet girth, and gave one to me.

I proceeded to the “step”.  Mike held, the girth on the right side of the horse.  So I would not slip and fall. I put my left leg in the stirrup and he assisted me to swing my right foot over the saddle to the other side.

When I mounted horse, I was very happy.   After that,  everything fell into place.  I rode toward the riding ring and opened the gate myself, on Stormy.   He was nervous and looked around, at the scenery. I have been grooming him in the horse field for about two s year.  But everything worked out.  I find that getting on the horse can be the hardest part.  All my other horses are small in stature.  Stormy is rather tall.  So it is a long way up and a long way down.

I used leg pressure,   I learned when taking  English riding lessons,  to turn to the left and turn him to the right.  I even got him to jump once, a very very low jump.  Stormy is 26.  So this was an accomplishment.  Kept him mostly as a walk.   Also, I mainly used neck reining.

There were barrels around, so I walked him around the barrels. He turned really well.

In the ring, Mike was standing by the gate.  Every time, I passed him, Stormy would stop, so I rode him in a circle and reversed the direction, this worked.  He continued to move.

Anyway, I decided to walk  Stormy down the path, that leads to the trails.  This path is really long. Stormy kept looking around but  I was able to move him forward.  At the end of the path, is a hill.  Stormy at first did not want to go up the hill but I used leg pressure, I urged him forward.  He went up the hill and we went back down.  Then we headed down the path towards the stables.

I dismounted the horse by myself and gave him a treat, out of my fanny pack, positive  reinforcement.   After riding him.  I felt a sense of accomplishment.

Grooming A Horse written by Faith Antonioni

Grooming your horse is a form of communication.  It tells your horse you care about him or her.  My horse is field boarded.  So I have to find him among the other horses.  When I find him,  I put on the halter and attach the lead rope.  Then I find a fence in the field and tie him up. to it.   I then greet him and pat him on the neck.   Then I feed him baby carrots or horse treats, which I  put in a fanny pack.  This is positive reinforcement.  I am rewarding the horse for letting me catch him and tieing him up to the fence.

 Afterward,  I proceed to brush him.  I use the curry comb in a circular motion to remove the dirt underneath his coat, starting on the midsection of the horse.

 For Stormy’s stomach, I use a soft brush. Then moving down to the legs,  A soft-bristled brush is used on his chest as well.

When brushing the I mane, I  use a mane and tail brush. I proceed to the tail first.   Every horse is different.  But I suggest, standing slightly to the side to brush through the tail.  So as not to be kicked.

Moving to the hooves, I gently glide my hand down the back of his leg.  Then, lift the foot up.   If not,  you can make a clicking noise with your tongue against your teeth.  If that does not work, a gentle and humane tap on the rear with your hand can work.  Do this, standing beside the horse.  The tap shows that you are the boss, the head horse.   Horses are herd animals.

When inspecting a hoof, after picking it up,  you will notice a triangular shape near the heel. This can be compared to the cuticle of a human’s nail.  You do not want to poke this area.  You could cause the horse to be lame. Simply and gently scrape around this triangular shape or what is known in the Equine world as the frog.     As for the sole, which is located above the frog,  clean out the dirt or debris with a hoof pick.

I hope my grooming tips help.  Let me know by filling out the comment section.

 

Stormy’s Story: The Surprise Birth of A Colt

Written by Faith Antonioni,

Episode 1- The Foal’s Arrival

Joe the owner of the horse stable, called me on March twelve, nineteen ninety-four, which was a cold and  rainy morning. He stated that my horse Lucy had given birth to a colt in the middle of a sleet storm and we received the two for one special, by buying Stormy from him. A field hand was looking for another horse and by chance found Stormy. Astonishment flowed throughout my body. I did not know that Lucy had been pregnant.

The air was filled with anticipation on the drive to the stable.  When my parents, and I arrived, there was Lucy standing in a stall, and beside her was a wet furry mass. Immediately we named the colt Stormy.

Dad said, “He would not stand up, his back leg was bad, and his eye was closed. I thought he was either going to blind or lame.”

A couple of women, who were boarders and had a mare give birth, told dad that he was doing things all wrong. They noticed that Stormy had problems nursing from Lucy and said the colt should receive assistance. Both women volunteered to milk Lucy in order to feed the foal.

Episode II- The Foal’s Recuperation

When mom and I arrived at the stable, the veterinarian was examining the foal and made the confirmation that Stormy was a male. Lucy and Stormy were taken to a less drafty stall. The vet suggested that we buy a heat lamp, and a water bottle for Stormy. Both women continued to milk Lucy and feed the colt with mother’s milk. Nursing without assistance was a big challenge for Stormy. After a while,  I milked Lucy and fed the foal. He was too weak to get up. The average time that a foal gets up to feed from its mother is 57 minutes from birth. It took him considerably longer to accomplish the task.

Before my dad arrived with the heat lamp, we put a blanket on the foal to provide warmth. Stormy was also supplied with his mother’s milk. The colt’s temperature was below normal. He would get up for a few fleeting moments and fall down. Four hours would pass before Stormy would be able to stand on his own. Even after standing on his own,  the foal was guided to feed from his mother.

I observed that one of the colt’s legs were too unstable to walk on.We left the stable at six o’clock that night and returned at 5 o’clock in the morning. My state was of surprise when I saw Stormy nursing by himself.

Episode III- The Foal’s progress

After two weeks Stormy, and his mother were ready to make an excursion out to the outside ring. Happy to be free of the confinement, he jumped up and down. The colt galloped at a very fast pace in sporadic jolts.He also knocked down barrels and orange cones and started rolling them.

For the next couple weeks, we visited them at 5 a.m. The vet gave us eye drops to put in this bad eye. A decision was made to put both horses in a small yard because we thought Stormy, being an equine youngster, could not defend himself against other horses.

During the course of time, Stormy became a little biter. When another horse would peer over the fence, the colt would bite him or her. I guess this was his way of saying hello.

Stormy grew big enough to be released in the boarder’s field with his mother. The other horses were curious and ran with them. I was concerned, but things worked out.

As Stormy grew, so did his exuberant personality. The horse’s tendency to test me became quite evident. For example, he would toss his head and fling the feed bucket from out of my hands. Today Stormy is 27 years old. He continues to be a blessing. Never having any experience training a horse to ride, from a foal to an adult.  I accomplished these tasks with Stormy. Life can surprise you.

Written by Faith Antonioni,