Murphy Monday: Cinco De Murphy!

Murphy was born on Cinco de Mayo.

He turned TWO years old yesterday.

As part of his growing up and changing needs, he moved to a new facility, where he met a dumbfoundingly handsome horse, with whom he bonded utterly.

We have to admit, this new horse is extremely handsome. And very personable. Daisy could barely tear him away.

Murphy Mirror 2  years old

He’s huge. I think Daisy is 5′ 11″ tall. Murphy hangs his head over her shoulder.

Happy Birthday, Murphy!

Still the same curious boy who said, “Hey. It’s dark in here.”

We love you…

Murphy in tail

Murphy Monday: Murphy Goes to First Grade, and Gets Hooked

What? Of course it’s Monday.

Today is Magical Thinking Tuesday. Therefore: it’s Monday.

Recently, Daisy wore her shirt backwards all day. Therefore: it was Backwards Day. Hudson  had his first “I Love You From Not Very Afar” day. (Much to his eternal shame.) Shaun has had several “Opposite” days.  Almost every day is “Crazy Dress” day for me.

We prefer thinking of them as First Grade Moments, instead of: “Uh. Whoops.”

Wow. Apparently I’m having a “Blather” day.

Thankfully, we have short footage of Murphy actually moving. If  I video, I get a lot of “hi hi hi hi hi hi hi”. Here he is, in first grade, with trainer Nathalie Guion.   He’s hooked all right.  Check out Nathalie reeling him in at the end.

Murphy Monday: In Which Murphy says “Phhhbbbbbt….”

Daisy, Shaun and I walk the short hill to the winter paddock.  We startle a heron on the way past the lake.

We chat and hike. It’s warm.  Sunny.  Strangely spring-like. Daisy calls Murphy, and he begins to walk down the hill to greet us, stopping after a few steps. Somewhat reluctant. Daisy hikes up and halters him, leading him down. When he gets to us, we mob him, and he perks right up.  Hugs!  Kisses!  Brushing! Neck rubs!

Then we had a little matter of “What is this Leading thing of which you speak?  Leading? I don’t understand “leading”.

But he was incredibly polite about it. He didn’t fight. I put my hand on his butt.  Daisy gave another tug and release. Murphy instantly remembered “leading”.

Ah, the more difficult part of horse ownership.  Leading balk? That means the lovely play time ends, and we go for a walk around the property, outside the paddock.  It was beautiful!  (And my hand pushed on his butt a lot.)

Our boy is 8 months old.  Do you believe it?

I could not seem to get a decent picture of him, no matter how hard I tried.  I was stuck in “frame every photo badly”.  The hazy sky made for flat, low light, with little contrast. Except for the dumb photographer, this would be an okay-ish photo.  Can anyone spot the problem?

You saw it! Most horses DO have hooves.


Murphy wasn’t feeling the photo shoot either:

Oh no…sudden lack of affinity for the camera…could we be seeing glimpses of the teen to come? So uncool of me to photograph him.

Phhhbbbbbt!!  

Murphy Monday: Winter Quarters

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 Monday: In Which Mt. Murphy is Climbed at the Endurance Barn of Our Dreams

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:

Continue reading “Murphy Monday: In Which Mt. Murphy is Climbed at the Endurance Barn of Our Dreams”

Murphy Monday: Murphy’s Meet and Greet

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.

Perfect. Day.

Murphy Monday: The Warmblood Registry Inspection

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.

Barbie believes:

  • She’s famous
  • Bella’s trailer is a Tour Bus
  • Being clean and braided means her World Tour is starting
  • World Tours require an inordinate amount of grain

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:

Barbie alone:

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.

AUNTEEEeeeeeeeee……treeeeeats…..

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.

AND…???????

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.