Happy Father’s Day,
Happy Father’s Day,
Life happens, and we don’t have current Murphy content. But when has that ever stopped us?
Here’s Murphy, three hours old. Still trying to figure out how to stop circling, and walk in the direction in which his brain tells his legs.
Murphy In The Middle.
Thanks to Nathalie, our first current picture! Yes, he’s really horse-sized already.
He’s still an easy baby..for an almost-two-year-old. His stallion behaviors seem to be limited to sudden duffle bag hurling.
Still, it’s Time.
Daisy is making arrangements for gelding. Meanwhile, Murphy is definitely large enough to move from the co-ed baby pasture to the all-gelding pasture. It’s always an unnerving moment when one must release one’s teenager into the company of adult males.
He’s their size, and still growing, but he’ll always be that cute little foal who stuck his nose in the camera, and said: “Hi. Hi. Hi? Hihihihihihihi HI hi hi hi…wait…I’m still saying Hi!!!!”
The change, other than his missing his playmates, was uneventful. No hissy fits. No prolonged imbalance of pasture dominance.
It’s Murphy. He made friends.
Daisy let me know she had photos of Murphy in more “hunter-ish” stance, and would send them to me for the blog. Daisy took some great photos! Here they are:
Jane: You took some awesome photos!
Jane: No, really, I like them!
Daisy: You’re kidding. Right?
Jane: Nope. They’re good. FYI, not jealous of photographers who know Murphy.
Daisy: Jane. YOU TOOK THE PHOTOS!!
I smack myself in the head. Can I pass this off as an “I got you!” joke?
Daisy: You forget I know you. You can’t pretend you were having me on.
Jane: How do you DO that?!?
She reads my mind. So please meet, again, our new Murphy photographer.
We’ve been enduring days that end up clear, sunny, and 50 + degrees. Horrible, I know. How can we stand it? This morning was very chilly and damp, with heavy fog. (Then it turned clear, sunny, and 65 degrees.)
Winter is due to stop by this week for a meet and greet. A few showers. I hope it brings a hostess gift. Something for in front of the fire?
The foals have been moved to winter pasture: enough slant for drainage, but no hills that might get mucky and slippery.
Today photos are in quarters also: Murphy was so cuddly and insistently affectionate, we could not get him far enough from the camera to get a decent full body photo. This is a kind of body-parts photo shoot.
Daisy and I were much more about soaking up the affection than getting ‘good’ pictures. Below, Murphy looks up when he hears Daisy call him. I love that – if he can hear her – he comes when called.
Apparently in winter quarters, mobbing the humans is not a requirement. Only Marilyn and Murphy mob Daisy.
Marilyn has appointed herself “Queen Murphy” and feels entitled to be in charge of all things Murphy-related. (Her Divine Blondness is named after the iconic movie star.)
Murphy growth perspective: Daisy is 5′ 11″. Marilyn is a three-year-old.
Marilyn helped Murphy tremendously with the weaning adjustment.
It’s worth the few rounds of “flick the nose” we have to do to engage her memory that humans are higher than Queens in the food chain, and may not be run over or imperiously commanded to leave Murphy alone.
A sweet, happy, in-your-pocket quarter…
When it’s finally time to go, Murphy takes Daisy’s departure easily, and walks back toward the other babies. Marilyn stops to redirect his focus when he looks back. He’s on higher ground, but their heights are not all that far apart. I can’t help but wonder how much taller our 7 month old boy is going to get.
Daisy’s decided to move Barbie to the same facility. Barbie will be in the brood mare pasture. It will make Daisy’s life a lot easier to go to one place instead of two. The only foreseeable problem? Barbie is unlikely to come when called.
But this is why there are buckets and grain that rattles.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Murphy is now at Sonoma Coastal Equestrian Center, aka the Perfect Endurance Barn.
Daisy dubbed the ‘hill’ up to the summer foal pasture: “Mt. Murphy”.
It’s not really a hill. It’s a stair master set to an incline of 10 and strewn with rocks. A month of climbing that every day will whip the most out of shape rider into being able to ride two-point, no stirrups, for hours.
First, you have to hike down to the gate. It’s an endurance barn: there’s no starting from the parking lot. You have to hike to the beginning.
We wheezed our way up the hill.
Note the big boulder on left: reference point. Also, so we have perspective on scale, those are adult horses.
Above looks fairly level after the gate. FYI, it’s not.
Below is looking back at the barn, before we hit the California live-oak lined section…
…that’s the section where the stair master hits 300, and we want to flag down a Cable Car. (Totally worth the five bucks.)
Oops, sorry, I was hallucinating. Ran out of electrolytes.
We see this:
It’s almost weaning time.
Murphy has a meet and greet with Uncle Melody. If they like each other, Murphy might move in. There is no tension, just curiosity. Then…grooming…? Really? Strike that. Why am I surprised? Melody is calm, stable, gentle, and sharing on the ground. (In the air is another matter: he is his own flyer. Co-pilots must listen to HIM.) Murphy is still incredibly easy going.
Barbie’s opinion: Upset Premium Mare Over Here…Hellloooooo:
Murphy was about 30 feet away.
But he was touching noses with another horse! What if it’s not Melody? What if it’s a stranger that looks, sounds and smells like Melody? Did you think of that? HUH?!?
Barbie is highly intolerant of roommates. She’s a very independent mare. (Read: Everything In Sight Belongs To Me. Touch It And You Die.)
Murphy is her first bonded pasture mate. His weaning will be a double whammy for her: losing baby, losing a pasture mate she’s hooked up with.
Daisy has been highly conscious of this, and doing a thorough think-through of what might be the best way to wean him, given both their natures, circumstances, resources, proximity, etc. She’s run it by her vet, trainer, very experienced friends. She’s such a good horse mom.
To begin the weaning process, Daisy has been regularly walking Murphy out of his mom’s sight (He’s fine, she melts down) and returning him. Stretching the time longer and longer. They’re both dealing with it normally, and relaxing into further distances and longer times. When she takes Barbie out and walks her out of sight – leaving Murphy alone in the pasture – Barbie walks away without a second glance, or an ounce of concern: he’s home, he’s safe.
Moving in with Uncle Melody might be a perfect first step. Barbie will be able to see and hear Murphy, she knows Melody, and he would be a good babysitter.
It would give her time to adjust emotionally, without dropping a couple hundred pounds. Barbie has the kind of metabolism that enrages supermodels: she eats like a draft horse, and barely keeps her weight up. (You would not believe how much extra Daisy feeds her, on top of the all-day food the barn supplies.)
Murphy hit another growth spurt. I think he grew 6″ this week. For physical reference:
Daisy is 5’9″ tall, and Melody is plain huge.
Murphy is also less into rump cuddling and back draping. Sniffle, sniffle.
Saturday was so beautiful. We plopped down on top of the leftover all-day-hay, and watched Murphy Vision. Who knew watching horses chew could be so relaxing? (Oh that’s right. We all did.)
I think we need to install hammocks in the paddock. Murphy Vision all day, a book, a cooler full of beverages, a few Zzzzz’s.
Barbie and Murphy’s RPSI inspection was Sunday. RPSI stands for something I am unable to pronounce, but I’m told is a Warmblood registry.
We dubbed ourselves “The M Team”. We joked about getting shirts embroidered, so we’d all match on The Big Day. (We didn’t actually DO this, that would take effort.) When it finally got warm enough for us to peel off our jackets, I cracked up. Everyone was wearing a black shirt and jeans. I guess we know The M Team colors!
The M Team getting ready:
Deborah works on Barbie, while Bella body blocks from the front. Barbie is standing at the entrance to the trailer. If Bella moves, Barbie will launch herself inside.
Hilary tidies up Murphy’s sock:
Daisy gathers allllll the crap you don’t dare leave behind, because you will totally need it if you leave it at home.
Murphy loads into the unfamiliar trailer in under five minutes.
The boy has courage. The practice trailers were painted white inside. Rock Stars prefer low lighting: The Tour Bus is dim. Bella reported a completely quiet, no scramble ride. All systems GO.
Until our caravan arrives.
The place is packed. Getting in and out with a 4-horse rig does not look promising. Bella couldn’t pull in until she knows how she can get out facing forward. Narrow, busy road with blind hill.
Jane decides to help by checking out distances and vehicle positions. Jane, who hasn’t hauled anything in 20 years. Let’s just say it’s a darn good thing Bella decides to check the situation in person. The conclusion: if one car moves, the rig can be maneuvered to get out.
There are reasons you should never take Jane (we always use the third person when embarrassed) to important events.
See? There was this car? And if it got relocated, Bella would be able to drive the 4 horse rig in a nice loop to get out, instead of backing up with a kazillion miniscule 3-point turns…?
Jane makes it her mission to find out who belongs to the car, and get it temporarily relocated.
She had no idea she was being, um, directive with the actual inspector. The man who would approve – or not – Murphy and Barbie. Good news: he did not recognize Jane later, in the inspection arena.
Here is Murphy seconds after unloading from his first ride in a trailer, standing in a place he’s never seen, with horses calling, squealing, wheeling in paddocks, and people chattering. Not a drop of sweat. He’s surprised, maybe slightly concerned, but going with the program. No drama.
Glenhill Farm hosted the inspection with organized grace, professionalism, precision and excellent humor. Lovely facility, lovely owner and staff.
Barbie and Murphy wait their turn in a fairy tale stall, deeply bedded with fresh straw, a huge pile of hay to keep them occupied.
While Daisy fills out paperwork in the office, M Team wanders around. There is no mistaking Murphy’s older half-brother, Tiko, who is also there for the inspection:
Their temperaments and beautiful faces are so similar it was both cool and spooky. Finally, the orientation is given, and we check the list for lineup entry. Fourth. Perfect.
Let the inspection begin. The inspector brings his own handler, who was amazing with every horse he touched. First the physical overview:
The handler removes Murphy’s halter, and takes over, starting at the walk. Love how he and Murphy are in perfect stride. Once the inspector nods…
The trot begins. It was clear the handler very much wanted the horses to present at their best. Here he’s checking to see that Murphy is sticking with, and the pace is good.
Then comes the bigger trot, look at that suspension! I’ve never seen a handler with so much air time! (The horses impressed the inspector too).
Next comes free movement: Barbie will be unclipped and the two encouraged to canter and trot freely:
Below is the only canter (ish) picture we have: Murphy thinking about it, Barbie starting to canter. There’s a reason we only have one bad photo.
When set free, they canter: beautiful, uphill, lovely to look at. Until…Barbie realizes Auntie Jane is in her show arena. Therefore the show must be over. And Auntie must have treats!
The two of them galloped straight for the cluster of photographers (middle of arena), who dove, scattered and gasped, while trying to shoo them out.
BEE. LINE. I knew she would stop if I held up my hand, but it would also show the real issue. So I shooed her also. Confused, they barreled past. Wheeled, came back.
The photographer next to me said: “This is SO STRANGE, usually the ground poles and hay bales keep them out on the rail.”
Totally did not foresee this. We shooed and ducked. At least four times.
Finally, the inspector waved and the handler called out “Whoa”. Barbie did an instant sliding stop that would have done Hudson proud, impressing the inspector and handler with her good manners. When no one asked anything else of her, she started ambling toward me again.
Daisy shot into the arena to catch Barbie. We wanted the inspector to think she was high-spirited and bold, not hitting the photographer up for a cookie.
Murphy decides this is a perfect time to try for a snack, while Barbie is restrained.
Barbie: Premium mare, brood mare Book One!
Murphy: Premium Silver! Their passports (seriously) will arrive in the mail. Here’s Murphy’s plaque! He’s official.
Murphy is proving to be incredibly sensible, thoughtful, and courageous. Hudson says it’s because they’re related. (Hudson is convinced their identical twin whorls make them blood relatives. Oh, brother…)
We used a step up this time, since that is the kind of limo that will deliver him to the inspection. A ton of new ideas, sensations, expectations…he did beautifully, thanks to Hilary’s quiet instruction.
Loading: Barbie is chomping away, completely ignoring everyone. Daisy offers Murphy the horse equivalent of chocolate.
Hilary gently put one hoof on the mat…
Oh. I should do what with my leg?
Guys? This is awkward? Are you sure this is what…oh. More?
Dude. This is, like, work!
Climbing down? No one said anything about climbing out!
Thinking about it….thinking about it…
If I get more time, I’ll see if we can get the backing out photos up.
Good boy Murphy!
Daisy and I were quiet, watching Murphyvision. Barbie and Murphy were eating: my brain began marching images of junk food past my inner vision.
I look at Daisy, she’s probably thinking about something more interesting. Gourmet food, minimum. I sigh. Have to get my brain out of the cookie aisle. Murphy and Barbie will be going for Warmblood inspection/approval. Safe, non-food topic.
“When is the inspection, again?”, I say, turning toward Daisy.
“First week in October”, she says. We think about this.
“Road trip?”, I ask, hopefully. It’s a knee jerk reaction: still picturing small bags of chips.
“Nah”, says Daisy, “It’s only like ten miles from here. Get the Doritos out of your head.”
We turn back to Murphyvision. Suddenly, Daisy jerks up straight.
“What?”, I say.
“Inspection?”, Daisy says, “Road trip?”
“And…?”, I think, while a queasy feeling starts gnawing at me.
“Oh. Crap.”, she says, punching numbers into her cell.
It hits me. Road trip?
Murphy has go IN A TRAILER in 3 weeks? Mayday! Mayday!
A few conversations later, we have a plan. Hilary Dorris is going to come begin his trailer training.
Barbie can’t get in the trailer fast enough (she learned self-loading from Hudson) and blissfully eats her way through a ton of hay, grain, and whatever else Daisy can throw in there. Hilary quietly works to get Murphy to put a foot on the ramp.
Murphy’s response: a mild, non-hysterical, “Um. No, thank you. I’ll stay here please.”
It’s good: he’s exposed, would put a hoof on the ramp, and remained relaxed. We’re taking it nice and easy, right?
I’m 15 minutes late for the training session. The rig is facing me, backed into the breezeway between paddocks. I grab my camera and walk carefully toward the trailer: I can’t see what’s happening, and I sure as heck don’t want to reverse progress by walking up and saying “Hi. How’s it going? Oh. He was? Gee. Sorry.”
Hilary waves me in. I’ll have to squeeze into the breezeway by moving a trailer door slightly.
I’m floored by what I see. Really?!? In 15 minutes? On day TWO?
There’s Murphy, standing in the trailer. Perfectly relaxed, hanging out. Maybe ready to yawn. Totally unfazed by moving door and my appearance. He hung out at least a half an hour, completely relaxed: he turned around nicely. Moved away from pressure. Hilary even coaxed him a few steps backward toward the ramp. No intention to make him back out: too soon, just getting comfy.
There was a slight problem with walking out. Murphy preferred, as a future hunter, to jump the ramp. Scary. Tanbark can be slick. He had remedial “this is a ramp. look at it. touch it” lessons.
Murphy: “So boring.”, yawn, “I am a jumper.”
He listened politely. Put a hoof out.
But calmly cleared it like a hunter. I think he landed 8 feet away.
Fine. Ramp lessons. First, mom walks over the ramp.
Then Murphy will walk over.
“That? No way! It’s too high! Dude, I’d have to lift my hoof up like THIS high! I’m thinking not.”
No more pictures. Aunt Jane had to step in and help. To continue safely, we needed an extra pair of hands.
Within a quiet, skillful half hour, Murphy was walking across, on, and standing relaxed on the ramp. The bubble over his head clearly said “Um. What was the big deal here, wasn’t scared. Didn’t much like the thunking noise, that’s all.” Pause. “Can we do something else now?”
Thank goodness Hilary decided to return to horse training! We missed her. She’s going to be blogging as well, which I am excited about. (Great. Tips.) You can find her new blog here, Hilary Dorris Training, with a more detailed version of Murphy in loading training, if you click the link below.
He made Student of the Week. Aren’t you proud?!?
And I think we can all see his color changing: gorgeous!