Unfortunately, we were not able to get the level of horse business that we needed to keep the farm afloat, nor was I able to refinance due to filing a loss on the farm taxes last year.
Word of wisdom to those out there that claim your farm expenses on your taxes — if you plan on financing anything for TWO years, you won’t want to file a loss on your taxes even if you work a steady full time job because it will negatively impact your debt to income ratio and even if you have a ton of equity in your property, decent credit with no other debt, the banks still will not finance you.
So, we’ve put the farm on the market with River Rock Realty. Located just 36 miles from Knoxville and 7 minutes from I-75, it’s 20+ acres of pasture, woods with riding trails, and a creek. There’s also a large metal horse barn with 5 stalls – 12×12 stalls – and run in sheds. The house is a doublewide with three bedrooms, two baths – one with a jacuzzi garden tub – and a sunroom, and fenced back yard. The farm is listed for $175,000.00 and is a steal at that price. Tons of potential!
Although the farm was a life-long dream I’d had ever since I was a little girl, if you can’t enjoy it because you’re stressing too much over finances then is it really worth it? No, it’s not – especially when you’re a worry-wort like myself.
This last year has been a year of tremendous ups and downs and a time of evaluating what happiness means to me, why I do what I do, and what I want in my life. So, I plan on downsizing quite a bit to get some financial freedom, and will be focusing solely on my own four horses, writing, and eventually giving lessons on a very limited basis.
Although at times it feels like the death of a dream still, I have to believe in the long run that I will wind up better and happier for it – and that’s what I’m focusing on!
This past year has been one of a LOT of uncertainty and change!
The farm was put on the market due to my divorce back in the summer. The farm has not sold and in the meantime, I’m making a run for my dream of trying to bring in some boarding and training business. We’ll see what happens -at least I know I gave it my best shot!
On a side note, my boyfriend (yes, I call him that! Lol) and business partner, Terry “Tab” Bouk, and I have started Filson-Bouk Training & Horsemanship. The name Fairweather Farm just no longer fit, especially since it was under new management!
Tab has ridden and trained for some of the top Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing farms in the country. In addition he’s trained racing paints and worked with Dressage, Eventing, and Reining trainers throughout Oklahoma. He was also very active with 4H with his kids. Between the two of us, we have at least 40 years of experience!
We are offering training for $400 a month. Owners supply feed, hay, bedding. We specialize in breaking and problem horses, trailer loading, but we’re just as strong in show ring preparation. We also can do sales prep, and lay up.
Boarding is $200 a month for stall board with turnout. Full care and owner supplies feed, hay, and bedding. We have trails started on the farm and once we get some business in we’ll be working on an arena.
Riding lessons are $25 for an hour on the farm. We make farm calls for $35 – contact us for details.
In the next few weeks, I will start posting training articles and updates again. In the meantime you can follow us on Facebook!
Let me ask you two questions…Does your horse load into a trailer in two minutes? Can just anyone else get your horse on a trailer?
Those two questions can literally determine whether your horse ends up dead or alive.
Several years back, in researching an article I was writing for America’s Horse Magazine, I learned that during that wildfires that year, they gave people two minutes to load their horse. Two minutes or the police would make you leave your horse to fend for itself.
This week I saw some of the stories of horses that were stranded in the floods of Louisiana and Texas. In the video below, they’re having to load three horses in knee-deep water. The first two went on without any effort, but the last one went on and came right back off. The video ends before we find out if they got the horse on the trailer.
No one ever thinks a disaster will happen to them. The truth of the matter is that unexpected things happen that can require your horse to load quickly and easily, and if they don’t there can be some dire consequences.
For instance, depending on where you’re at, having a flat tire on your truck or trailer, or having an accident can require that you load your horses on the side of an interstate or busy road. The longer it takes your horse to load, the more at risk you are with traffic.
So what can you do if your horse doesn’t load well?
There’s a million different methods out there on trailer loading – some safe, some not so safe. Really, in the end, how you get a horse to load easily is making the trailer a place the horse wants to be and is comfortable in.
How do you do that? Short of only feeding you horse at or on the trailer and nowhere else every single day, when a horse wants to leave a trailer let them but put them to work. You can lunge, you make them do side pass work or any other manner of getting their feet to move. Then come back to the trailer to rest.
As long as they’re looking or checking out the trailer, they’re trying. Leave them be. When they’re not, ask them to move forward on to it — it is important that they know how to move forward by pointing or tapping at the hip!
Once they get on, don’t shut them in. Let them come out if they feel the need to come out. If you’re claustrophobic, locking you in a tiny box doesn’t make you like cramped spaces! Horses are the same way. They get comfortable by knowing they can leave.
The next important piece is consistency and repetition. The more a horse does something, the more he learns and the better he gets at it.
If I have a horse that doesn’t want to load, I will set my trailer up where I can expose them to the trailer every time I turn them in and out of the pasture. Ideally, I’ll take them to the trailer twice a day if I have the time. I don’t spend an hour-long marathon session there. I spend just a minute or two there at the trailer asking them to move forward closer or on the trailer. If they do what I ask in thirty seconds, we’re done and they get to be turned out as a reward.
My retired race horse, Dynamic Host, is my latest big trailering project. When I went to pick him up, he had no clue that tapping on the hip meant go forward. (If he’d been in those California wildfires, he’d been dead!) His heart rate and respiration was so elevated that you would have thought he’d just won a race. It was obvious he was not comfortable being on a trailer, and I wondered if we would be able to bring him home!
The thing about high-strung and nervous horses is that you can’t whip them on to a trailer or make them go. For one, they’re usually too big to make them go anywhere, and someone will most definitely get hurt trying. Additionally, when they get scared they don’t think at all – they panic and blow up. The lessons of giving to pressure go right out their little window.
The answer for those type horses is teaching them to relax and think, and gradually let them get accustomed to being on the trailer. Repetition and time.
Don’t wait until you’re in a bad situation to work on getting your horse to load better. Do it now so that you and your horse won’t be caught off guard.
How well does your horse load? If he doesn’t load easily and quickly, what is something you can do today to remedy that?
With as many horses as we have, I’m always looking at ways to save money. It’s expensive to keep nine head and a donkey, especially when you have to feed hay during the winter.
We have a regular cradle hay feeder for the horses that are in our back pasture. Although the cradle feeder does a great job at keeping the hay up off the ground, just like any other regular hay feeder, there’s a lot of hay that goes to waste. A regular five foot round bale usually lasts around 4-5 days at best. That’s with 3-4 horses turned out full-time.
While I love the many different types of hay savers out there, and I’m sure they pay for themselves over time, the cheapest one I could find was $175-$200 by the time I paid for shipping. There’s been times I couldn’t afford that! Did I mention years of living hard have made me cheap?
I decided there’s got to be a cheaper way that’s comparable. Well, here’s what I came up with – total cost is $30 – a lot cheaper!
This is plastic barrier netting that you can find at any Home Depot or Lowes. The netting comes in different thicknesses and lengths. I chose a little heavier thickness, and the shortest roll they had as I only needed enough to cover the top of a round bale. One short roll was enough to cover 3 bales.
IMPORTANT – When you cut the length that you need, make sure you fold the end into itself, as the edges are a little sharp. By folding the end, you’ll have a rounded edge.
I round the edge and then tie it on to the edge of the cradle with hay string. I leave it on the first 3-4 days and then take it off as they work their way down the hay bale.
While it might not save as much hay as the $200 versions, it definitely helps. This is the second year we’ve used this and on average, hay bale lasts 3-4 days longer.
This is a great option for anyone that feeds round bales and can’t afford the more expensive hay savers.
As a judge and a competitor that trains my own horses, I’m all too familiar with show nerves in both horses and people. The funny thing about show nerves is that they tend to be a vicious cycle. The more nervous we are, the more the nervous the horse becomes. The more nervous the horse gets, because we’re nervous, the more nervous we get!
It’s a never-ending cycle! The problem is that someone – whether it’s us or the horse – has to lead. If you’ve got a solid baby sitter type horse that’s been everywhere and done everything you might survive if they lead. However, if you’ve got a horse that’s the least bit green or insecure you had better learn to step up to the plate and be a leader.
Insecure horses, whether they’ve been hauled a lot or not, need a confident rider. They need to feel safe and they look to us to make them feel secure. Only when they feel that security can they start to relax and settle. The first step to improving you and your horse’s show nerves is to recognize their need for confidence, and to recognize your responsibility as a leader. When you realize your role of helping your horse, suddenly you go from being reactive and somewhat of a victim to being more in control. Your mindset tends to change when you see you are responsible for your horse’s frame of mind.
Smarter horses tend to anticipate and get more nervous because of that. The best thing you can do on show day with a horse that anticipates is to not get in a hurry. I get nervous if I feel rushed, and I know they do too. The more relaxed I can be, the more relaxed my horses will be as well.
If I have a horse that anticipates, a high energy horse, or a horse that hasn’t been hauled a lot I try to arrive at the show at least two hours before it starts. I’ll wait a few minutes before I unload, and then wait another thirty minutes before I start tacking my horse up. This gives them a chance to acclimate to their surroundings and relax.
A lot of riders will spend time lunging their horses to work the energy off. While I do think some horses do need to get that energy out of their system, especially those that don’t get a lot of daily turnout, I think the majority of horses would benefit more from just a few minutes of quality ground work that makes them think.
Mindless circles at a crazed canter doesn’t get a horse’s mind. All it does is tire them out, and if you’re showing you need a certain level of energy to compete. Save some of that energy for the show ring by working your horse in a way that makes them think and engage their mind.
As the saying goes, if you get their mind you get their feet. Asking them to move their shoulders and hips, or make a lateral move from the ground goes a long ways towards getting them thinking under saddle.
The same concept goes for warm up under saddle. Lope or canter just enough circles to get the edge off if they need it, but don’t let the goal of your warm up be to tire your horse out. The goal of your warm up should be to get your horse thinking and paying attention to what you’re asking.
Just like on the ground, moves that require them to think are great for making a horse think. Instead of repetitive circles, try frequent changes of directions and rollbacks, a side pass or a half pass to get your horse paying attention. Mix your ride up to keep them guessing what you’re going to do next.
As you’re riding, make sure you’re relaxed. Any time you’re tense, whether you realize it or not, you’re contracting muscles in your body that send a “go forward” cue to your horse. While your hands and legs may be telling your horse to slow down or stop, the rest of your body is telling your horse to move. This conflict in cues can frustrate a horse and cause them to be more nervous. Taking a big deep breath and releasing it loudly will release the tension that you’re feeling as well as relax the muscles, and it sends an audible cue to your horse.
Knowing your role as a competitor, and changing your warm up strategy can improve show day nerves. Take the time to do an honest assessment of you and your horse, and look for ways to improve your preparation and you’ll see results in the show pen.
Do you struggle with being nervous in the show pen? How do you think that impacts your horse? What changes can you make to improve that?
Earlier this year, I wrote a post entitled “A Solution To The Slaughter Issue“, in which I proposed the rescues start a “Rescue Registry”. In my blog post, I suggested that they could not only limit breeding to a certain extent, but also provide an incentive to rescue by offering large events with a pay back. Basically, they could offer a nationals and a “Mustang Makeover” type event for rescued horses.
Although I covered a lot of territory and offered at least a partial solution, I didn’t completely reveal the rest of my solution for the hot topic of horse slaughter. A couple of weeks ago however, I was reminded that I need to write the next blog post!
On a Sunday afternoon I was headed with a friend to a Cattle Sorting practice in Resaca, Georgia a couple of hours away. As we drove along I-75 South, just a few miles north of Chattanooga, we were passed by a red full size semi tractor-trailer truck with a Stanley Brothers Farms logo that was pulling a single deck semi livestock trailer. We could tell it was full of horses.
My first thought was maybe they were transporting draft horses since the trailer was a little larger than most, but my gut told me something else. I had seen the exact same truck and trailer headed north on I-75 just two afternoons before. My friend got on her smart phone and looked up Stanley Brothers Farms. Sure enough, she found an article where Animals Angels had done an animal cruelty investigation on Stanley Brothers, which is basically a horse slaughter feedlot.
As Stanley Brothers is located in Arkansas and Louisiana, I had to wonder why in the world they were in east Tennessee, basically 12 plus hours away. It didn’t make any business sense for them to drive at least 12 hours in the opposite direction to purchase horses for slaughter when there are a lot of sale barns much closer to their part of the country, and on the way to Mexico. Additionally, even if they had driven that far to purchase horses, I-75 is not the quickest route back home, or to Mexico.
So what are they doing in east Tennessee? Do they have a secret farm close by that no one is yet openly aware of? All their other farms have gained a lot of bad publicity, which I’m sure impacted their ability to purchase horses from unsuspecting sellers.
With illegal slaughter houses being busted in Florida, it sure brings up a lot of possibilities of why they’re here. There’s got to be a reason for their being in east Tennessee because it makes absolutely no business sense for them to be transporting here. Sales in this area wouldn’t support the volume needed to drive 12 hours, so there’s got to be another reason and someone needs to investigate that.
On to the rest of my business idea for at least a partial solution to the over population of horses and the slaughter debate.
I think that horse slaughter should be turned over to the horse rescues to monitor and to profit from. While that might seem like somewhat of a radical, perhaps even crazy idea, I honestly think it needs to be considered because it’s ultimately a win for both the rescue and horses.
The rescues could be in charge the actual slaughter, which means they could make sure that it was done in the most humane manner possible, and in the most humane environment – on site. They could also regulate which horses were put down, and which ones were salvageable which means that a good number of horses would have a second chance.
While we all like to dream that you can save every horse, the cold hard truth is that you just can’t. Even Buck Brannaman, the biggest horse advocate on the face of the planet, conceded that the stallion in his documentary should be euthanized because he was too dangerous. The fact is that some horses are just too much of a danger to themselves and to others, and the only possible solution, the most humane solution, is euthanasia.
The problem is that a lot of horse rescues do want to save every single horse, sometimes at the cost of being able to rescue more horses. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t try to help a horse if it needs it, but they need to do it within reason. If the option is doing a surgery that costs $10,000 or putting a horse down, I’ve seen rescues do the surgery. That $10,000 could have fed a lot of horses!
In order for the rescues to regulate slaughter, they would have to adopt a more practical and business like approach, and keep the bigger picture in plain sight. Are they going to rescue one, or are they going to rescue many?
Currently, practically all horse rescues depend on public donations to operate, and they’re always short on funds. One plus of the rescues regulating slaughter is that they could at least become partially self-sufficient from the sales of horse hide, horse hair, hooves and whatever else they could sell from the horses that they slaughtered.
While some might worry that a group might operate under the guise of a rescue only to slaughter every horse that comes in, that could be easily remedied by requiring every rescue group to have a board of directors without a conflict of interest. Additionally, they could be required to keep detailed records that are also available to the public.
I’m sure horse slaughter will continue to be a hot issue. The problem is that there are no easy answers and I think in order to find an answer of some kind, people need to start thinking out of the box. If enough minds work together to find a solution, one can certainly be found with enough effort and input.
It’s been a while since my last post and a lot sure has gone on since then.
Just this month I wrote an article on Time Tips For Showing that Horse & Ranch magazine published. If you get stressed showing you’ll want to check it out!
I also launched Cowgirls With Curves a couple months back. It’s a blog and website for plus size riders to highlight their efforts, encourage them, and to help motivate and give them a voice. It’s something that I can relate to first hand, and it’s something I’m passionate about!
Back in early April I had to put my twenty-five year old gelding down. I had owned Matthew’s Bluff, aka Bluff, for twenty-three years.
I went to bring in the geldings that morning and he was unable to control his hind end and was falling. He was trying so desperately to come in because it was feeding time and I was worried he was going to fall into the fence. The vet suspected he had a stroke and I knew we had no other choice. The hard part was that I knew he wasn’t ready to go, but at the same time he hadn’t suffered. Quite frankly, had none of this happened and it was a case of planning his euthanasia I’m not sure I would have had any more peace. So I guess this was the least of the evils.
Bluff taught me so much, like how to ride big horses, and how to re-hab a track horse. I’m sure going to miss him!
About a month after that, my bay gelding Cool presented with what we thought was colic but then spiked a temperature of 106.2 and required IV antibiotics and fluids. I spent most of the time in the barn and needless to say there wasn’t a lot of sleep, and my pocket-book is a lot lighter. The vet suspected an infection but unfortunately we don’t have a definite answer. The good news is he’s back to his grumpy little self.
This past weekend was a nice milestone. Mister Decision, aka Bubba, won me the High Point award for the Smoky Mountain Show Series held at Tri-State in Cleveland, Tennessee. We showed in Ranch Trail, Horsemanship, Barrels, and Poles.
Last year, this same gelding left a nice big bruise on my leg when he acted like a bronc before one of my classes. Then later in the year he wouldn’t settle on the trail pattern and managed to knock over the gate and one of the boxes. So to just get through a trail pattern leaving everything intact was progress!
My barrel horse, Shawne Fire N Te, aka Fireman, is going to have several weeks off. Last year we struggled with keeping him tracking sound. I finally bit the bullet and had x-rays done. Although his feet looked perfect and were on the exact same angle the bones were nowhere near the alignment that we thought they were in shoeing. So we’re making some major changes and hopefully will be back to barrel racing later in the year.
On an end note, Oscar the donkey that we rescued is still here. Last weekend he was gelded. And no, it didn’t go as planned but then when does it ever with a donkey? Yes, he still likes his butt scratched.