Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Halter

Horses:  Anyone who has ever tried to get a good picture of a horse with his ears up and forward knows what a trick it can be.  Equestrian Girl bought (with her OWN money) a new show halter for Stanley.  She worked and saved for a long time for this halter and strategically planned to buy it during the store's best sale with 20% off.  Then we had to take pictures:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Car Dealerships and Women

At this stage of my life I figure I have bought about...10 new vehicles. Maybe more - I've lost count.  I have always bought Ford (thanks Dad!) and have hated every single solitary dealership experience.  But what I hate worse than dealing with the sales people to purchase a vehicle is having to take it in for warranty work at the dealer service centers. When will these dealerships figure out that WOMEN purchase and get service on at least half the new cars in this country?  I am 100% positive that a huge majority of women would happily pay extra to have their car serviced in a dealership service center that was female-friendly and would never go anywhere else if they have a good experience.

Three days ago I dropped my F350 truck off at Brighton Ford for some warranty work and an oil change.  I had a few minor issues that needed to be fixed:  the truck idles too fast, it takes an usually long time to warm up, the seat memory only works when it feels like it, and the heated seat didn't work.  Oh, and the rubber trim on one door was loose.  I left it there at 9:30 on Wednesday morning after speaking with a man who, while clean cut and polite, really didn't think I knew what I was talking about, and even seemed to doubt my husband who has owned and driven Ford trucks for 20+ years.

The next morning he calls to tell me they can't find anything wrong with the idle or fan and the engine heaters work just fine but they'll fix the other stuff.  On Friday morning he calls and tells me my truck is ready.  I ask what they fixed.  The heated seat and the rubber trim.  Two full days and they didn't even have to "order parts" though they sure had a list of stuff I should do to my truck that would be about $400 if I would like to bring it back there or leave it a few more days.  But the thing is, I would have had them replace those parts and done the work if I got warm and fuzzies from the place!  No, instead I am told 3 of the problems I told them about were imaginary and it takes 2 days to fix the other problems.

I don't have a problem with Ford.  I have been super happy with just about every single Ford product I've ever owned (okay, I hated the mini-van but not because it wasn't a quality product).  I admire that their management had the foresight to make some tough decisions before the economy crashed and were able to avoid taking government bail out money.  I have a problem with dealerships.  When will someone come up with a place to buy and service your car that is a pleasant experience?  I have bought cars from at least 6 different area Ford dealerships that I can think of - and they're all the same.  I'd happily sit on a panel of consumers to tell Ford what works and what doesn't in their dealerships...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Goodbye Little Maggie

A little less than a year ago we adopted 2 guinea pigs. Within minutes of getting them home we figured out one was a boy and one was a girl. Uh oh. But they had been together in the cage at the pet store so there was no point in separating them now. The deed was probably done.

About a month later we had to go out of town for about 4 days so we asked some friends to take the guinea pigs for us. When we got home, the little boy, BamBam, wasn't looking too good. I had been called and warned but when we got there he was in bad shape. He died in Equestrian Girls hands on the drive home. He had waited for us and died knowing he was loved by his family.

A few weeks later, the little girl, Maggie, miscarried her babies. We figured it was because of her broken heart in losing her mate.

Since then, Maggie has been happy and healthy living in her condo in our living room with a sunny view of the yard until about a week ago. She slowly stopped eating and drinking as much, wasn't very perky, never scampered away at movements that were too close, etc. I picked her up late last night and just held her for about half an hour after the kids were asleep. She felt cold, her eyes were watery and barely open, she seemed to have labored breathing. I was pretty sure she wasn't going to make it through the night and I felt bad because I knew I was leaving early in the morning and wouldn't be home when the kids got up.

But she did make it. When I left the house at 6:30 she wasn't looking any better but she was still breathing and even took the tiniest sip of water. At 11:30 Equestrian Girl called me that she thought Maggie was dying. I told her to hold her like she did BamBam so she would know she was loved when it was time to go. A little less than an hour later she was gone. Scott found a nice box for her and EG found a purple t-shirt to wrap her in. They had a little funeral.

Good-bye little Maggie. You were a sweet Guinea Pig.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bats in my Belfry?

I honestly don't know what a belfry is or even if that's how you spell it but we had a bat in the house last night. It might of looked like this. I wasn't too interested in how it looked as much as I was in getting it OUT of the house.

The boys went up north so Equestrian Girl and I were have a girl's night and watching "New Moon" on my bed when we saw something move just outside the bedroom door. I knew what it was instantly but didn't want to say anything. I was halfway up to close the door when the darn thing flew in! I have more experience with bats in the house than I like to admit but that doesn't mean they still don't freak me out. I darted in the bathroom and closed the door and told EG to cover her head with the blanket. I kept peaking out to see if it had left the room - normally they'll leave a light room to go to a dark place and the whole rest of the house was dark EXCEPT that room!! After what was way too long it finally flew out of the bedroom and I slammed a hat on my head and followed it out closing the bedroom door. I took a laundry basket with me too. I figured I could use it like a helmet...don't ask.

So based on my vast experience with bats in the house in the past, I knew I needed to convince it to fly outside so I didn't have to resort to violence or get in it's close proximity. Ewww. I opened both of the back doors wide and left the lights off near them. Then I closed the door to the upstairs and the office and started flipping on lights in the kitchen, dining room and living room with hopes it would see or sense those dark places in the back of the house and follow the sent of that fresh air out the door.

It worked for the dog. She ran outside on the back porch and sat there staring at the door until we told her it was okay to come in. Apparently she doesn't like bats. Great guard dog!

It did NOT work for the bat. Darn thing flew back and forth from room to room with me swinging my laundry basket at it (I'm not sure what I would have done if it had actually flown in it). Then it stopped. I thought I saw it in a dark corner of the living room near the ceiling but that corner is pine paneling with dark knots so I wasn't 100% sure. I called to EG to bring me a flash light and sure enough, it was stuck up in the corner near a door and closet wall. I was ready to smack it with an old boat paddle but EG didn't want me to kill it. That left the getting too close for comfort option. Ewww.

Even though the ceiling isn't all that high right there, I'm pretty vertically challenged and jumping wasn't exactly an option. EG brought me a little stool and a plastic bowl and lid. It was a square bowl - better to fit the corner where it was hiding. Smart kid. With the light in my teeth and the lid to the bowl in my hoodie pocket, I smacked it down over our bat (that looks amazingly like a frog when stuck to the wall like that). I could tell I caught a leg or wing or something under the edge of the bowl and had to wiggle it loose so it could move to the inside. Ewww. Then I carefully slid the lid under and tried to square it up enough to pull it away from the wall. When I did lift it off I saw one tiny foot still sticking out of the edge of the bowl and lid but it wasn't super tight and there was NO WAY I was going to move it enough that it could get loose. Ewwww!!!

Equestrian Girl emerged again to get a better look at the bat in his temporary Gladware home and then agreed with me we should just toss the whole bowl out the back door and hope the lid flies off in the process. So we went to the back porch, called the dog in (poor thing!) and then tossed the bowl and slammed the door closed. As planned, the lid flew off and while the bat seemed stunned for a second, it took off into the cold night.

The bowl is still on the back porch this morning but I've sprayed the spot where it landed in the house with Lysol and put my laundry basket and hat away.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Horses: If I'm writing about SPEED I should be writing about motocross but no.....Equestrian Girl had decided Stanley can also be very successful at speed events and has been practicing. While I won't go so far as to say he's all that fast, he does seem to enjoy it and is actually pretty good at pole bending.

Last weekend we went to the Stallion Expo at MSU. Both Scott and Equestrian Girl noticed this rail shirt and fell in love. The picture doesn't do it justice - it's all glittery and sparkly and really shimmers.
Motocross: The boys went up north this weekend to pick up Motocross Boy's new 85! He's been riding it on the little dirt track we have up there and loves the suspension compared to his old one but hates the handlebars. Scott says the factory handlebars on all the bikes are really chintzy and will get bent on the first crash. Amazing. I can't believe they make stuff so cheap like that knowing those bikes never stay on their tires for long. I know Motocross Boy was happy to get out riding. It was a long winter with no indoor places to ride at this year. I'm sure all the guys that ride have been chomping at the bit. Baja was supposed to be open for practice this weekend but in watching the radar it snowed there all day today...ick.

Homeschooling: I was talking to a friend from work that I don't see all that often since she works across the state and I was telling her that we homeschool. As I described what we do she said it was giving her chills and she wished she had been able to do it with her kids. I love hearing that. More often than not people don't "get" what homeschooling has done for our family and can't believe we can give our kids an education that is just as good if not WAY better than the public schools. It might be amazing but it's true.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Free Stanley!

Horses: This is what happens when you decide it's too rainy and muddy for your horse to go outside to play and decide to be nice and let him have "free play" in the indoor arena.

First he just trots off not too sure why he's "loose".
Then he gives you a big "Yeeehaw"!!!! (Doesn't it look like he's going to fall right on his face?)
Next he feels his oats. (yes, that's me back there making sure he doesn't decide to be really stupid and jump those ropes or something)
Then you see some flat out speed work.
Both directions. Wouldn't want to only work one side.
And then when he is done he goes to stand by the giant mounting block and wait for his humans to get his saddle and bridle.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Schneiders Customer Service Rocks!!

Horses: My first experience with a horse blanket was with the one that came with our first horse. It was a Schneiders but I had no idea at that time that Schneiders blankets were considered "really good" until we moved to another barn and a couple people ooh'ed and ahh'ed that we had a Schneiders blanket. Okay.

Later that year when the heavy blanket was getting too warm, I still knew nothing about blankets so I just went to Schneiders website and ordered a medium weight blanket. Both were still in excellent condition when we put them away for the summer. I think the heavy blanket had been used for 2 years before we got it so that made 3 winters of wear and besides the dirt, it looked new.

The next winter I hauled out the heavy blanket for a 4th winter. Our old horse JR wore it for a couple months but then we ended up selling him - but not the blanket! We bought Stanley before we sold JR and while Stanley had a full winter coat and wouldn't need such a heavy blanket, it would fit him eventually so I kept it.

Stanley did need a sheet but my funds were tight so I went for "cheap". I won't say what kind it was but let's just say that by spring it had nowhere to go but the garbage can and that was after I had sewn and patched and sewn and patched to no end. Learned a lesson. This winter as soon as the temps started to chill I dug out the good old heavy Schneiders and smiled that it was in such great shape. I started thinking we could set a new record for longest owned Schneiders winter blanket....what I didn't count on was a blanket eating horse in the paddock. One day he would tear loose a little binding on one pleat. The next day it would be a little on the other pleat. Then a little around the hip. Some days the tail flap got looser. Each time I'd snip off the loose pieces and hold my breath we would make it to spring.

As fate would have it, we moved barns at the beginning of February and away from the blanket eating horse. Being in a new pasture with new friends though, I left the old blanket on and ordered a new Schneider's heavy blanket. I figured if he made it through the first 2 weeks with no more damage to the blanket, I'd let him wear the new one the rest of the winter.

The two weeks went fast and all looked good so we switched to the new blanket! It looks like the one below.
Stanley wore it for almost 10 full days and then....one of his buddies must have grabbed that blanket by the shoulder and pulled at just the right place to open it up right at the whither seam! I was so mad! We left it overnight while we could dig out ol' faithful and I could call Schneiders to see about fixing it - after all, they guarantee their blankets - some for 2 years! I emailed their customer service with a picture of the where the seam came apart on Sunday night. On Monday I had an email back asking if they could have UPS pick it up on Tuesday - I just had to have it in a box. I was a little slow on the reply so we ended up agreeing on a Wednesday pick up. On Friday I got a notification saying my blanket would be delivered BACK TO ME on Monday!!! While I honestly couldn't figure out how they could have fixed that blanket that fast, I was seriously impressed. They couldn't have had in their shop more than 24 hours before it was shipped back out.

So here's where their Customer Service rocks - I got a BRAND SPANKIN' NEW blanket! They didn't just fix the old one, they sent a new one. They just won me over for life. I will never buy another blanket from another company. On top of that, I will brag like crazy about their blankets and their customer service (that's what I'm doing here I guess!!).

Sure beats the experience Scott had with our mortgage company today...Wells Fargo Mortgage company does NOT have great customer service and I would NEVER choose them to do another mortgage as long as I live. They've "lost" our paperwork THREE times now. Grrr. I think I'll ask the nice people at Schneiders if they'd like to give Service lessons to the people at Wells Fargo.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring is in the air!

Horses: Yesterday we arrived at the barn about noon with big plans to spend as time as we could grooming Stanley - he's been shedding like crazy and we were bound and determined to help it along best we could.

After messing around riding for a while we set him up in the grooming stall in front of a sunny window and went to work. I went all over him with the rubber curry. Equestrian Girl went all over him with the shedding blade. I then went over again with the rubber curry concentrating extra on his legs and getting off every speck of mud while Equestrian Girl put some oil on his tail and rubbed it in good. Just as I was about to attack with the shedding blade again, one of the BO's hands me her "Fuzz Buster" and tells me to give it a try. I think it's more meant for dogs but it works great and I was still pulling out pink fuzz! Next Equestrian Girl braided and wrapped Stanley's tail while I cleaned his feet and added hoof grease. Our boy was sparkling!

It was back to the barn today - another sunny 48 degree! The mud in the driveways is getting ridiculous. All that snow we got here at the end of February is melting but has nowhere to go since the ground is still quite frozen. It's creating about 4 inches of sloppy. The barn owners have been bringing over truck loads of wood chips to dump in the worst areas and it's helping but they just can't get it over fast enough without a dump truck.

We didn't get to the barn until about 3 today so Stanley was dozing in the sun near his favorite tree. The other horses were all chasing the new pony in their pasture - poor boy! First time I saw him I thought he was a yearling. From what we were told he's a rescue pony - about 3 years old - and was grossly under fed which apparently stunted his growth. He's not your typical fat pony at all.

After a short work out with our boy in the arena, it was back to the grooming area for more currying, shedding blade, currying, and brushing. I should probably have taken a picture of the pile of that pink fuzz when we were all done. We could have easily covered a small dog with a full coat!

You can see the mud on his back feet in this pic - and some had dried and fallen off before we took this!

When we were bringing Stanley into the barn from his pastures, several of the stalled horses had their windows open and had their heads out sniffing the breezes. I had wanted to get a picture but by the time we got him in and I got my camera out, they had all been tossed a flake of hay so no more window peepers!

All in all another great horsey day!