Mongol Derby

Ghengis Khan’s horse-powered postal system played a crucial role in expanding and maintaining his vast empire.  On August 22, a cadre of bold adventurers will resurrect the Mongolian post in the longest horse race in the world.

The Mongol Derby spans 1000 km.  Every 40 km, competitors will ride into morin urtuu, horse stations.  They will have the opportunity to eat, rest a (if desired) and saddle a fresh steed for the next leg of the journey.

Over 700 native Mongolian horses are expected to take part in the adventure.

The Mongol Derby is steeped in controversy.  Animal welfare concerns brew amidst conflicting communications.  Politics between nations and organizations threaten to overshadow sportsmanship and achievment.

Read about the race at: http://mongolderby.theadventurists.com/index.php

Read about the controversy at: http://www.thelongridersguild.com/mongolia.htm.

A midsummers farm update!

I figured it was time to sit down and update the website with the goings-on here at Almost Heaven. As with all well-intentioned efforts, sometimes the hardest part is writing it all down, Particularly when youre doing it on an iPhone!

Summer has been in full swing for some time now. Kirsten has been busily teaching horses and students, on the farm and off, with a level of effort I frankly am awestruck watching.

Weve done several off-farm shows putting as many miles on Gideon, Lucy, and others as we have on the truck and trailer, it seems! Gideon has consistently shown Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion every time he gets off the trailer; and Lucy.. whom we now know is Light the Stage continues to impress judge and trainer alike. The two of them have been like an incredible one-two punch and have propelled Kirstens point totals into the stratosphere whilest impressing the rest of us mere mortals with the flexibility and professionalism which she carries and instills from horse to horse to horse.

Not only has she been showing our own horses, but she has also been showing and competing some of the American Warmbloods from Steffanie Simpsons White Hall Farm down the road. The two of them are actively engaged in teaching Saddlebreds the ins and outs of the traditional disciplines; building success upon incredible success; and have together a dasboard full of ribbons to speak their own mute triumph! They silently tell the tale of the trail that horses like Ollie, Fly, and the other Saddlebred Sport Horses are blazing across the panhandle!

Whats a Saddlebred doing in the show hunter ring? you ask… Winning!

My most recent project has been fenceline cleanup and some improvments to the infrastructure. Almost all of the fence on the north side has been mown an cleared on both sides with a bushog, weedwacked, and mown underneath with a push mower.

Just yesterday I replaced 1100 feet of electric fence and added some more t-posts for stability of the line, allowing us a bit more freedom if we need to run a double line down the road.

Starting next month, Ill be doing the same thing to the grove fields where we winter some of our herd. Last spring was not kind to a couple of the fence lines up there, and itll give me a chance to do some much needed maintenance ahead of fall rotations.

The waterfall in the arena has been rebuilt by Kirsten, using a beautiful shower curtain we pulled from my old house. The plants grow, the gardens grow, and thanks to myself and Mike, the rocks are shrinking! We have some spinners now to add to the wonderful wind chimes, and have amused many a happy pony with them!

The arena has been reassembled after the last big mow and we can start preparing for fall shows in earnest, the largest of which for this author will be Siege if Glengary. Weve also almost completed a free-jump area in the front paddock for teaching and excercising jumps from the ground instead of the saddle.

Were attempting to schedule some stone dust for delivery to knock a few more major items off the project list. Ive been slowly extending the t-post line up the boys perimiter field and hopefully will have that finished by fall, and can then finish up the double fence around the entire boarder area.

Some people say Im crazy for mowing all the time. But it looks sooo nice when its done, doesnt it? Two more areas to knock out today or tomorrow and the north half is done! Hurray!

Our latest adventure was a trail ride to benefit the local NM-MVH Hunt. We headed up to Shepherdstown on Saturday with Dolly and Gideon and had a wonderful morning ride, renewing old friendships and making new ones with some great people. I cant wait to do it again! Dolly was a total rockstar and settled in just fine for my first real public ride off the farm. Of course, Gideon was a complete champ about the whole day, and as for myself, I hope I made my trainer proud!!!

Thats all the news I can bear to type with one finger on an iPhone!

Best to all!

Mark

Before the Fire: Planning for Emergencies

Ive been keeping an eye on the most recent California wildfire, dubbed the Lockheed fire, which at the time of this post has burnt some 6800 acres. Fires out there are commonplace, but this one, of all of them, is personal: Ive lived there.

As I was reading up on it in the Sentinal online, I saw a picture of the owner of Beauregard Vineyard… not a horseman at all… leading a horse to safety. Thank you!

Fire in the mountains was one of our worst nightmares. The San Lorenzo valley has thousands of homes that are, right now, under siege. Back in the day, all I had was a cat. Now, with horses in the picture, I have to ask myself what would I do?

We have a relationship of trust with our horses. We take care of them and see to their safety in our modern world. In return, they set aside their natural fear of predators and live in our world.

How will you honor that trust?

Every responsible horse owner should have a fire plan. It should be thought out well in advance. The details of the plan should leap to mind immediately and the responses automatic. It should cover all the basics: food, shelter, water, medication, transportation, and destination.

Do you have a trailer? Does your horse load the first time, every time? Do you have sufficient containers for water and grain? Are there any special requirements of feed or medications? If you have to hunt for any of the above, precious time is wasted.

Where are you evacuating to? How many ways can you get there? Call you local fire department and ask where the most likely shelters are for horses. Know your options because fire crews may have one or more roads blocked. It is one thing to find that out in a car. Its quite another to turn 70 feet of truck and trailer around on a narrow road.

These are just some of the avenues you should carefully consider, and plan on someday having to execute under duress. Although you hopefully will never need this information, you owe it to your partner to take these steps to ensure their safety and longevity.