Monday, March 21, 2011

Did You Learn Something?

Good Monday morning, folks!  Sorry I missed you all together on Sunday.  I had a terrible allergy attack Saturday night, followed by a sleepless night courtesy of ol' Pip. This landed me in bed all day yesterday.

Let me tell you, if I can:

*take two Excedrin PM
*be absolutely exhausted
*suffered an allergy attack that felt like I'd been inhaling fiberglass

And that damn dog can still make enough noise to wake me up, then everyone should start getting concerned about ol' Pip's well being.  No, I didn't kill him.  I thought about it though.

I'm blaming that on the drugs.  Fortunately, I still had enough of my right mind left that I didn't fling Pip into oblivion.  It would be bad for my relationship with Bart.  It would be very bad for Pip's general well being.  Besides, I was too exhausted and drugged to actually move.  So, I didn't.

I managed to medicate Big Mac's eyes--he has conjunctivitis--give Bun-Bun hay, feed and medicate Spot, and feed and medicate the cats.  Then, that was it for me yesterday.  Back to bed.  I felt weak.  I had a low-grade fever.

I hate climate change!  I've never had bad allergies.  Pollen has never struck in March, either.  Again, if you don't believe in climate change, get a job outside and you will!

Thank God for Bart!  He stayed all day.  He fed all of the horses, the outside dogs and cat--Coffee, Killer, and Sasha.  He medicated Big Mac's eyes again.

He fixed wheelbarrows. He fixed Tar's fence in one of the places he broke--the other will have to wait.  He put the door back on my antique armoire. He filled up water troughs.

If it needed doing yesterday, my wonderful man did it.  There are not many guys out there who'd do these things, particularly when they have no vested interest in my farm.  Bart is a good man.

So, now you see why I missed telling you a story.  I'll make up for it.  You're kind'a getting two stories in one.  The one above and the one to follow.

When something goes wrong, like it did in abundance on Friday, my mentor, RW, says to me, "Did you learn something?"  He's right.  We shouldn't waste our mistakes and our bad days.  If we learn something from it, it wasn't all bad.  I told you, he teaches me about life as much as he teaches me about horses.

I pass his lessons on to my staff and students regularly.  I don't know if they appreciate it, but I do it anyway.  For example, with dear Rose and her black eye courtesy of Tar.  That was an ideal time to learn from a mistake.  No need to continue getting black eyes.  Wasn't one enough?

When I first bought the farm, there was a beautiful stallion here.  His name was Sabio.  I didn't name him, so don't ask me.  I was going to sell him because I didn't intend to breed.  My insurance company requires "separate facilities" for all stallions.  I wasn't going to build a separate barn for Sabio.  He would have to sew his seeds elsewhere.

In the meantime, I intended for Sabio to have a good life.  I wanted him turned out daily.  The previous owner kept him in his stall for days on end.

That's not uncommon for stallions.  Every one thinks they are so badly behaved.  No, they are cooped up, under-exercised, and grossly misunderstood, for the most part.

The previous owner also kept him stalled across from another stallion and between two mares--female horses.  This also makes a stallion act "crazy."  It's like locking up a teenage boy with his raging hormones for days on end next to a naked Playboy model.  They start acting a little wiggy.

And, the former owner had it double with the two stallions across from each other. They were staring down the competition, so to speak.  I had the other stallion gelded--"fixed"--to answer that question.

Stallions can't do that thing that teenage boys do for relief.  Nope, stallions just stand there all frustrated--filled with pent-up energy and testosterone.  Almost every man who is reading this knows how those stallions feel.  And, you guys feel sorry for them, don't you?

Well, I'm a woman so I don't know exactly how poor Sabio felt.  But, I'm a woman with some horse sense.  So, I made sure he at least got to exercise.

Why didn't I let him "hook-up" with one of my mares?  Because breeding is three years of money in with no guarantee of money out.  It's why I'm not a horse breeder.  I didn't need one more cost center on this farm.

One day, I arrived to hear my cousin, who was farm managing for me at the time, say, "Sabio bit Joe."  Ok, Joe isn't his real name, just like no one's real name is used here.  I asked what happened before Sabio bit Joe.

You see, horses are not a huge mystery.  They'll give you hints, usually, before they act out.  You just have to be smart enough to pay attention and pick-up on the hints.  Of course, there are exceptions to this, but not often.

"Nothing," my cousin told me.  He said nothing had happened before the bite.  Ok, well, then where was Sabio when this happened?  Sabio had been in Paddock One.  "But, he was fine when I sent Jennifer out to get him after it happened."  Jennifer is my cousin's adult daughter.

At that point in time, the mares were in Paddock Two.  Were they crazy?  Why'd these guys, who should have known horses, put a stallion out next to a bunch of mares?  Again, proof that just because you own horses or work with them doesn't mean you know sh*t about them.

I told him that Sabio smelled  their male pheromones when the guys went out to get him.  So, the guys smelled like competition to Sabio.  Jennifer did not.  Jennifer has female pheromones.  Jennifer smelled like a date to Sabio.

Don't put Sabio out next to the mares.  Put him on the opposite side of the barn from the mares.  Then, you won't have a problem.  I thought we'd learned something from this misadventure.

The next day, I learned the guys hadn't learned a damn thing.  I heard the same story over again.  This time, Sabio bit Jeff.  I gave the same instructions.  Maybe this time we'd learned something?

The third day, I found out these guys had more testosterone than brains.  It happened again.  This time Sabio bit my cousin.  Jennifer hadn't been there to bring him in after that bite.  So, they still had Sabio outside--still in Paddock One by the mares. Dumbasses.

I went out to get him.  Of course, it was fine.  No biting.  Why? Because like Jennifer, I smelled like a date to Sabio, not the competition.

After I brought him in and put him in his stall for the night, I asked the guys who worked for me, "Ok, have you all been bit enough to learn something or does Sabio need to start another round on you tomorrow?"  All three of them had been bit.  Did they all need to be chomped on again?

Finally, on day four, my instructions were followed.  Sabio was outside far away from the mares.  The biting stopped.  Turns out ol' Cowgirl Domino was right after all. 

I don't have a farm manager now.  I had one more after my cousin.  That guy was the all time worst of any employees I ever had.  Thief and a liar, he was.  Now, I am the owner/manager/instructor/any thing else that needs doing.

That's what I learned from these farm managers.  Don't hire someone else to manage your farm and expect it to be done right--even if they have a lifetime of experience with horses.  For the most part, men who work in the horse business won't listen to women who work in the horse business--even if you're the boss.  There are, of course, exceptions.  RW and Mack, for example, are fine men who listen to me and value my opinion.  Even if they disagree, I know they've actually heard me out.

I also learned it's one more reason to hire people who don't know horses and teach them myself.  I'm better off this way.  It gets my horses handled the way I want.  It better ensures, though not always, that my safety measures are followed.

Hiring "no horse experience" people has, absolutely, ensured that horses are turned out in the paddocks I say to put them in.  As you see, that actually matters! And, you don't have to get bit to learn it.  Unless of course, you're too hard headed to learn any other way.

So, I say to you now, "Did you learn something?"  There are a whole bunch of free lessons in today's stories.  Take advantage.  Learn something.  Don't let my experiences only benefit me.

Ok, folks, have a good Monday.  As you know, it's my day off.  I intend to be lazy.  I'm still in my pjs, as a matter of fact!

Thank you for reading.  I am so excited to see all of the international readers I picked-up last week.  Enjoy!  I hope it translates!

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