Monday, January 23, 2017

Wes and His Abscess

Just over two weeks ago, while I was feeding breakfast, I opened the gate to let the ponies into the other pasture where their breakfast hay was.  I noticed Wes was slightly off in his left front which is completely not normal for him.  He has never had an issue in the almost three years that he has been home.  I stood there in a little bit of shock/panic.  He will be 26 this year, I worry about him despite him being in great health.

I felt his legs and there was no swelling or heat anywhere.  I decided to just watch him extra close that day.  I stalled him that night, which I felt super guilty for because he is never stalled, but I did it to see if there would be any improvement with limited movement.  There wasn't.  I also had given him some bute, which was not a good idea for an abscess since it is anti-inflammatory, but at that point I wasn't sure what was going on. Stalling him wasn't the best thing either since movement would help the abscess get pushed out.  Also, this is only the second time I have ever had a horse get an abscess in my life, so I'm not an expert by any means.

I felt his legs again the next morning, still no swelling or heat, but his lameness had increased.  I wondered if maybe he took one to the shoulder from Klein because Mochs had interrupted her nap time a couple days before that and she threw a big fit.  Time out for a second, I had been gone a lot recently for work for the couple weeks prior, so her work load has decreased, and any time that happens, man does it show.  She is not a horse that enjoys idle time.  She gets super irritable.  But, put her to work and she is completely content.  On one hand it sucks, but on the other I appreciate her love of work.  Ok, game on, so I thought maybe, just MAYBE she had caught Wes in the shoulder with her little temper tantrum.  She was kicking and squealing but we didn't think we saw her connect with anything.  I also wondered if maybe he stepped on something or slipped and fell since we had some rain.

 Holding that front left out in front.

He was still eating, drinking, and acting completely normal so it seemed to be isolated to that hoof.  Even though it was bothering him he still got down and had his daily roll and got up just fine afterward (see first pic of this post).  If he stopped acting normal, or stood around and wouldn't move, I would have called the vet immediately.

Later that evening The Other Half was cleaning Wes' feet looking for anything out of the ordinary and was like "This foot STINKS."  He went and grabbed our temp gun and started hitting all his feet.  That left front was 10 degrees hotter than his other three feet.  Sudden onset of lameness, a hot, stinky hoof...that usually means one thing, abscess.  I texted my trimmer and told him what was going on and he said he would be out to take a look and in the meantime to get some Animalintex on that foot.

You want to talk about awkward stuff?  Try being a couple that doesn't want kids, doesn't enjoy being around them, and needing diapers to wrap a hoof.  We could not even find the diaper aisle in the store at first.  Then we were completely confused about what type to even buy, and if it even mattered.  Once we grabbed a package of them, we made a bee line to the checkout.  I didn't even want to be seen carrying a package of diapers.

We made a pretty sweet Gorilla Tape and diaper boot twice a day for the next couple days to keep the Animalintex pad on the sole of his left front.  By the next morning after the first night with the poultice pad on, that foot smelled even worse, and Wes was even more uncomfortable.  Poor old man.  I felt terrible for him.  I must have apologized to him 250 times.

This scared me too.  I hoped he was just sleeping in and not down because his front left was that excruciating.  He got up as soon as I pulled in the driveway though, he was just waiting for me to come back to feed breakfast.  Every morning I leave super early for the gym and feed them as soon as I get back.  They don't get up for me when I leave because they know it's not breakfast time yet, so he really was just sleeping in.

Our trimmer came out and tried to see if he could find a track but it just wasn't to that point yet.  The Other Half swore up and down that he had found a sore spot in his sole and the trimmer found that same spot with the hoof testers.  Wes' eyes got really big when he hit that spot.  It had to be close to blowing somewhere though because that foot smelled SO bad.  We ended up scrubbing our hands with coffee grounds when we went inside for the night because they smelled so bad.

The next day, still no luck with the abscess showing itself.  However, The Other Half then said he was pretty sure he felt a bulge in the coronary band.  We poked around that same spot that was sore on his sole and he really had no reaction to it that day.  At this point we were pretty sure it was going to go up and out through the coronary band.  By the next day it finally started to.

I made the mistake of feeling around the coronary band with some of my nice SSG riding gloves on, because I had just got done riding.  I felt a gooey spot and, like an idiot, put my glove up to my nose and almost threw up from the smell.  Yeah.  Found it.  We had to scrub our hands with coffee grounds at one point to get the smell off of us.

 The first night we were for sure it was coming up and out.  At least one of us is smart enough to put rubber gloves on and not go feeling around with your nice gloves on.

 Next night.

Starting that night we put the Animalintex pad on that area and wrapped it to keep drawing it out.  FINALLY.  The next day, Wes started to be more mobile throughout the day.  He also wasn't as sensitive to me touching that area to get the pad on and wrap it.  I am currently still changing the pad and re-wrapping twice a day.


By Friday, he was moving even better.  Much more mobile and less lame.  He was clearly finally feeling relief.  By Saturday, even better!  That was the day that the EquiVibe came out, hopefully that will help contribute to putting and end to this thing even quicker and giving his body some relaxation after compensating for that front left all week.  The next morning when I unwrapped his left front the abscess had finally started to break open.


Finally starting to let go of pus.

The next evening after cleaning it up before re-wrapping for the night.

I was wrapping twice a day, morning and evening.  I would clean it up before re-wrapping.  Here is before cleaning again.

...and after.

One of the duct tape and vet wrap bandages he was getting twice a day, with a warm poultice pad directly over the abscess.

Enjoying breakfast with his pony.

It has been over two weeks now.  At the two week point we soaked him with a warm Clean Trax soak in hopes it would kick out the last bit of drainage. 

Such a patient guy.  He just puts up with whatever.  A true gentle giant.

After Clean Trax.

 After the Clean Trax I started wrapping with dry poultice pads and they were still pulling some pus out.

And here we are last night.

Still just a little bit of drainage.  I'm going to soak him again and start wrapping with dry bandages (no poultice).  It has been raining off and on here for the past two weeks also, so that hasn't been a big help. I have been letting it air out while I clean up the pastures and do my other barn chores.  I also let it air out yesterday all day while he was in our other pasture where there are no puddles he could go stomping through and get it covered with nastiness.  He is 95% sound right now too.  This thing has put up a fight, but we are close to claiming victory!  He has been such a good sport about this whole thing.  So many horses would kick your head off for so much less, but even on his most uncomfortable days he let me do whatever I had to do to take care of that foot.

 Here he was yesterday having group nap time with Mochi.  Klein had the watch.  After these two got up Klein laid down for a quick nap.

P.S. He looks a bit long in these pics because he IS due for a trim but, we had to obviously delay that until he was more comfortable.  Pedicure day is later this week!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lainey Ashker Live!

If you guys haven't noticed that Lainey Ashker is doing live streams every Monday evening on Instagram, you're missing out.  As you already know, Klein and I are huge Laine fans.  I have always been a fan and pretty much fell in love with her after riding with her.  Not only is she a successful international 4* eventer, she is also a genuine sweetheart.  She is one of those people that I fully believe would give you her last possession if you really needed it, and her mom is just as kind (easy to see where Lainey gets it from).  They both have hearts bigger than the Cottesmore Leap.

Making her Jumping Percheron polo look good!

You do not have to be an eventer to benefit from these live streams.  Many of the things she answers are not eventing specific.  She will start with a topic and then, for the last half hour or so, she will open it to any questions the viewers have for her.

With last week's live stream, she covered a wide range of topics.  She talked in depth about her conditioning programs for her horses, which depends on not only what level they are competing at but their breed as well (think Warmbloods vs. TBs).  Her awesome mom Valerie made a guest appearance, you know...the lady that just road an OTTB across the entire country this summer.

Viewers asked them what they look for in an event prospect.  Valerie said that more than confirmation or breeding, she looks for heart and the desire to do the job.  Though they are both hardcore OTTB people, Lainey also said you never, ever put a breed down because they WILL prove you wrong.  They were asked what they do first with their OTTBS when they first come off the track.  Valerie will take them out on the trails for the first few months and let them enjoy themselves.  They do NOT put them into work in an arena right off the bat.

During that live stream Lainey also talked about being a full time college student and competing at the upper levels.  She explained how she made it work.  A lot of people asked what type of degree she has and assumed she has some type of equine degree.  She does not.  She actually has a degree in business with a middle east concentration (that is not the exact way her degree is phrased but I can't remember it exactly).  She emphasized how important it is to go to school and even said that if she gets out of horses one day, she has that to fall back on, which is extremely smart.  Even if she decided one day that she didn't want to train anymore and solely wanted to compete her own horses just as a hobby, she has a plan and won't be a slave industry because she has limited herself. 

This past Monday her topic was traveling with horses both domestic and international.  She talked about everything from cost of international shipping to what types of wraps and boots she prefers for shipping.  She said the average cost to ship internationally (round trip flight, travel to and from the airport to the venue) is $17-20,000.  The horses do extremely well on the flights and treat it no differently from being on the trailer.

She is not a fan of shipping boots for anything more than keeping socks clean on a horse.  She prefers to wrap with Back on Track wraps or Back on Track Quick Wraps.  She talked about an incident while trailering once where a horse got upside down in a trailer and the shipping boots did absolutely nothing for it.  She also said she never felt the horse move in the trailer that day (she had been hauling horses for years by this point) and it was that incident that made her invest in cameras for her trailer.  She said that was the best money she has ever spent because there is just no way to really tell what is going on back there unless you can see it.  Something could happen and you'll never know until your next stop, and by then, it could be too late.  This was crazy timing because this was the evening after I took the videos of Klein on my trailer.

For her older horses, she will wrap them in Back on Track wraps and also have Soft Ride boots on them.  She said Al travels like that pretty much everywhere.  Wraps because they provide support, where shipping boots do not.  She also will put a lot of bedding in the trailer for any long hauls for all the horses, and no bedding for short trips.  She keeps the lights off in the trailer at night.

Have an unruly traveler that kicks, stomps, etc...?  Brake check them and give them a reason to keep their feet on the ground, and not stomp a hole in the trailer.  She suggested not coddling that type of behavior and accommodating it.

Rest stops, she and her mom would unload the horses every time they stopped, which was about every four hours or when the truck needed diesel, whichever was first.  They would walk them and let them stretch their legs.  However, that's difficult for her to do now when you are loaded up with six horses on the trailer.  She says she offers them water every single time they stop as well, no matter if they want it or not.  Speaking of not wanting water, she like's JC's X-Tie Up as a great electrolyte supplement for traveling.

I asked her if she was familiar with EquiVibe and what she thought of it.  As it turns out, she has an EquiVibe in her barn and absolutely loves it.  She said some of her horses (Al is one) will actually go to it themselves to stand on it.  She uses it for a variety of reasons and is extremely happy with it.

During both live streams she repeatedly answered the question of if she will be at Rolex this year.  Yes, she is planning to compete again this year with Al (Anthony Patch).  I have no doubt in my mind she will again be one of the most stylish out there for the jog and I look forward to watching Al dance in the dressage ring, the helmet cam from a great xc ride, and a flawless stadium round!  I will be watching the live stream throughout the weekend and cheering them on as always!

 Lainey and Al at the Rolex jog last year.

This upcoming Monday, Lainey will discuss how she combats nerves when competing.  I think she will talk about a book that she loves, Mind Gym.  After hearing her talk about it so much I bought it last year.  I have read it, re-read it, and go back to read parts of it on a regular basis.  This book is EYE OPENING as far as improving your mental game.  I have meant to write a post about it, and I still intend to.  Actually, one of the tips in it is to visualize what you want to look like in your game.  The one HT this year where Klein and I got a personal best of 28.7 on our dressage test, I imagined I rode like Lainey in dressage because, well, have you seen her dressage skills?  I messaged her telling her the success we had that day and that it was all thanks to her because she is the one that prompted me to buy that book and she was also my image of motivation for the dressage ring that day.  Mind Gym WORKS people.  Tune in this Monday and find out what it's all about!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trailer Ride Video, Part 1 - Straight Load Stall

Recently, I saw a video some one took in a trailer while they sat on the floor in front of their horse.  It got me thinking about how my trailer rides.  I have always been curious but no one drives my truck and trailer but me so there's not really a way for me to take a little ride back there.  The Other Half had this ingenious idea to just buy a suction cup mount for my GoPro and mount it back there.  So, I did.

First, a refresher on what I haul with.  My truck is a Dodge 2500 Cummins diesel 6 speed manual, which is why you will hear the shifting in the videos.  It's got some mods so, that is also why it's so loud.  It's chipped with a full 5" turbo back exhaust and upgraded fuel system, among other things.  My trailer is an Sundowner mini 2+1 gooseneck trailer.

When there is a horse in it, the side ramp door is open and so are the back tail curtains (max airflow for the horses).

My GoPro has WiFi in it and connects to an app on my phone.  This allows me to be able to see exactly how I have the camera aimed and make sure it is where I want it.  

Aiming the camera with the app.

Once I had the camera how I wanted it, I hit record and off we went.  The following are clips from the video with descriptions of what is going on (turn, acceleration, deceleration, etc...)

Not a bad ride, save for some rough NJ roads.  I have received a few questions and comments about the fact that I don't tie my horses.  That's right, I don't.  Ever.  Not even Mochi who could almost fit under the chest bar if she really wanted to.  Why?  Because I don't ever want them to get hung up and choked out by being tied.  Yes, I know, trailer ties should have quick releases, and they do.  But what if that fails?  I want my horses to have the ability to right themselves should they need to.  I don't need a rope ending up around their head, neck, or if it got really crazy, a leg.  Also, I don't have cameras in my trailer to monitor them the entire ride so how would I know if they had the rope around their neck for the whole ride and sustained an injury, only for me to find it when we stop somewhere?  Also, on long hauls, shipping fever.  No thank you.

If you watched Lainey's live stream the other night, she talked about traveling and mentioned an incident where one of her horses got upside down in her trailer and she never felt it, despite hauling horses for years at some point (so this is someone that hauled A LOT and is a pro).  She did not have cameras in the trailer (that was the incident that made her invest in them) and said she was none the wiser that horse got like that until they stopped and by that time serious injury had taken place.  So, unless you have cameras on them non-stop you don't really know what's going on back there.  Anything could happen and I'd rather have their heads free.  Same in box stalls.  What's the point of a box stall if they're not loose?  

My horses are also all very good travelers.  No one acts like they have no sense, they all have great trailering manners.  No one kicks, stomps, paws, etc...  Lainey actually said if you DO have a horse that acts like that, brake check them and give them a reason to put their feet on the ground and stop that non-sense, don't coddle that behavior (more on her live stream later, I took notes for a post in the very near future).  I used to haul Klein loose in a box stall over a mountain pass on a regular basis in New Mexico and never thought twice until the day someone saw me load her to go home after xc schooling and said "You just leave her loose?"  Yep.  I have never had a problem.  That actually allows her to ride backward which is what she prefers, given the choice.

The center divider on my trailer can be removed to make a box stall, so that is my next little series of trailer videos.  I will most likely do that this weekend.  Stay tuned for those videos!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Intro to EquiVibe

I have always wanted to give EquiVibe a try but I have never had the chance until today.  I have read about them and even seen them in barns but never had a chance to put a horse on one.  Vets, rehab barns, equine hospitals, and performance barns all use EquiVibe.  I have seen eventing barns with upper level horses that have their horses on their EquiVibe in their ice boots after gallop sets or xc schools.

Recently, I found out there is an EquiVibe rep not far from us that travels with hers, so I set up an appointment for this morning.

I thought TheraPlate and Equivibe were the same and it turns out they are not.  TheraPlate's vibrations are horizontal while EquiVibe's are vertical, sending the vibrations further up the horse's body, making the therapy more effective.  This is from EquiVibe's site:

"The EquiVibe puts out vertical vibration. (This is very important, not all plates have true vertical vibration.) That is what you want and what is best for humans and animals. It is the preferred vibration in the health industry by doctors and trainers alike. When you walk or run you do not run side to side, your movement is more up and down. So vertical vibration is more of a natural movement, which the EquiVibe provides.

Our definition of vibration, for a TRUE whole body vibration it is the act of vertical motion from a stable, solid platform. Most other platforms move, teeter totter, therefore is not a true vibration. Vibration motion is also defined as vertical or linear. If it is not vertical or linear, then how can it be true vibration."

The EquiVibe is for performance, rehabilitation, and preventative care.  So basically, any horse can benefit.

My reasoning is of course Klein because she is in work, Mochi because she is dealing with her Navicular Cyst, and Wes because why not?  I was hoping it would just loosen him up a bit.  However, Wes has been battling an abscess all week, next post I will tell that story.  So anyway, of course I already had the appointment set before the abscess showed up and I crossed my fingers he'd be up to still getting on the EquiVibe.  Luckily the past two days he has had significant relief and his lameness is steadily decreasing with each passing day.  So now, instead of just overall benefit, I REALLY wanted him on the EquiVibe after he had been walking around so off balance this whole week.

Side note, it is deer season right now and there is a group of guys that hunt in the fields across from our house.  The horses ALWAYS watch them.  Guess who showed up about five minutes after the EquiVibe did?  Of course.  All three were running around with the girls bucking and snorting.  Klein doesn't like people in the fields across the street.  She ALWAYS has a fit when they are over there.  It's like she thinks they need to come over and ask her permission first.  She runs around throwing a hissy fit like "How DARE they?!?!"  I have pictures somewhere from her doing the exact same thing last year when they were over there.  I hoped we could compromise with the ponies by having them on the EquiVibe facing the fields so they could still monitor the activity across the street.


Mochi went first and she was great.  After walking her over it a few times she stood there nicely.  I took a video clip of her:

A video posted by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

Wes was next and it only took him a couple times of walking through it to stand there.  He was a bit concerned with making sure the mares were ok since they were still having a fit about the people across the street, but I was just happy he was mobile enough to walk onto it and stand there comfortably after being so uncomfortable earlier this week.  While he was on it, the hunters also chased a little herd of deer out of the woods and fired on them (it's shotgun season right now).  Wes watched the whole thing and was a little concerned but he still stood there like a good boy.  Btw, the EquiVibe has a weight limit of 2,400lbs so it had no problem holding Wes who is only about 1,800lbs.

Such a sweet boy.

Klein was last, and she was still pretty concerned about the activity across the street, but she put up with standing there since she still had a visual on the people that were dragging the deer they shot back to their truck.

Still monitoring the what she deemed to be unauthorized activity across the street.

Each of them were only on it for 15 minutes today since it was their first time.  The max setting they did was 30Hz.  The highest is 60Hz.  Next time they can go longer and experience higher settings. 

Here is an interesting documentation of pre and post treatment.  I have a temperature gun like that and I wish I would have thought to hit Wes' abscess foot before and after.  We have been watching the temp in that foot with it this week.  When the abscess first started to show itself through lameness, The Other Half grabbed our temp gun and found that his left front was 10 degrees hotter than his other hooves.


Danielle, the girl that has the EquiVibe, was saying that on higher settings you can see the veins pop in horses because they are actually working, they will also get sweaty.  I could see their muscles twitching today.  Not only is it used for rehab, and recovery, but also for conditioning when the weather isn't the greatest.  That way the horses are still getting a form of conditioning.  Some barns actually include time on their EquiVibe in their conditioning programming for their client horses.

I will absolutely make this a regular thing for them.  I didn't ride Klein today, it was a rest day for her, and we had things planned to go do after Danielle came out.  I will ride Klein after the next time she is on it and see how she feels.  Normally after a chiro adjustment I can feel a difference in her, so it will be interesting to see if she feels any different.  I will also put her heart rate monitor on while she's on it just out of curiosity. 

If any of you are in NJ, PA, DE and you are interested in having Danielle come to your barn, you can reach her at 609-240-1411, she also does a rewards program too for her repeat customers.  She is super nice and very knowledgeable not only about her product but about horses in general.  You can tell her horses are her kids, too.  If a horse isn't comfortable walking or standing on the plate she is in no rush to get them on there and is very calm with them.  That always says a lot with equine professionals.  She also goes to shows, and if she is at any events this year I will definitely have Klein on the EquiVibe after xc.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Day!

Our first snow of 2017 is here.  I guess that means it's officially winter?  But it will be 50 later this week so, it will be business as usual again here shortly.  Oh, and I recently found out that an indoor just down the road at a barn I school at sometimes just put heaters in their indoor, NICE.  Guess I know which indoor we'll go to when we need it.  Aside from this storm hitting, it actually has been very nice here this winter.  It will be somewhat nice this weekend and I think I will take Klein out to a WMA for a long hack this weekend.

I still am not a winter person.  Though the ponies very clearly are still much happier where it actually gets cold in the winter, so that still makes it ok with me.  Plus, this is the equivalent of summer in the south where the heat and humidity is so crushing you feel like you are committing animal abuse by asking a horse to work in it, so they get a little vacay.  In the end, it all evens out.

We only have one more full winter here before we move again.  Also, having the ponies at home is much easier because even with storms like this, I get to see my ponies all day long.  I can still ride without risking my life driving on the roads to get to a barn somewhere, or just not going and then not getting to see them.  The roads were absolutely horrible yesterday.

Klein and Wes let their maple leaf flags fly in weather like this.  The always have the choice to be out or be in their stalls.  I never lock them up.  I had their stalls cleaned and bedded, nice and fluffy.  Where were the Canucks??  Out in the near white out conditions of course.  Where else would they be? 

Pretty sure they were out there singing O Canada to each other and reminiscing about growing up in the mother land.

Mochi isn't convinced they know right from wrong yet, and she stayed up on the porch of the barn in front of the stalls and kept an eye on them.

If nothing else, it is kind of pretty, I guess. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Zig to the Zag

Klein and I recently brought out an exercise from a book I've had since she was a baby, Schooling With Ground Poles.  Awesome book if you don't have it.

You can do a lot with the zig zag.  It can be flat or elevated with cavaletti, or both flat and elevated like we had it.  You can walk, trot, canter, and jump over it, or school changes, etc... with it from any direction or angle.

 Turning it into a tiny bounce line.

One thing I really like about this exercise, it will make SURE you are using your outside rein correctly when making tight turns around/through it.  I really like that it makes me very aware about that outside rein when I need a little reminder.

We worked over it in every variety possible.  This is also a good one, for us, to work on our changes without it being a big deal.  Klein gets a little excited after them and it helps to have something like this where you change over it and immediately are preparing to turn around and head back to the zig zag from another angle.  There's no time to get overly excited.  She did anticipate once during that school but she fixed herself after that and felt great. 

 Anticipating the change, and making it late behind because of it.  She fixed it herself on the landing side.

As far as changes, I'm not too concerned with her anticipating, I just want her to understand when/why she would need one.  There are no flying changes in any dressage test will be showing this year.  She does nail them when I ask about 99% of the time to the right and about 90% of the time to the left, which is her weaker side.  We will continue to clean them up and use tools like this to do it in a subtle way.

And here she is just looking like her usual beautiful self in her Back on Track gear after our first gallop of the year on New Year's Day.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Aiken: Part 2

Cool wire horse sculpture in the Aiken Brewing Co.

One thing I do no matter where I go, no matter if it is for work or for horses, is check out the area I'm in.  You never know what you will find.  This is how I know where I want to live, and where I don't.  Or, more accurately, where I want to be stationed, and where I don't.  For example, as soon as I find out I'm going on a work trip I start Googling everything horse related I can find in the area and spying on things on Google Earth.  I know what and where everything is before I ever get into the area.  Aiken I have already done this for a few years ago though when putting together my list of bases I'd like to get orders to.

Since I had a couple days in Aiken, of course it was mandatory to drive around a check out the equestrian developments.  The favorite turned out to be a place called Three Runs Plantation, here is their website if you'd like to check it out further: .  It has two beautifully footed jumping rings and dressage rings with mirrors.  There is a small cross country course in the middle of the neighborhood and 30 miles of bridle trails that are groomed regularly with cross country jumps along them around the perimeter of the development.

I immediately fell in love with this place and it's pretty affordable with lots from 5-20 acres from $90,000-160,000, and homes that are built and go up for sale range from $300,000  to $1 million.  You can use your own builder, the house/barn just have to be pre-approved by Three Runs prior to breaking ground.  That's fair, that is them making sure their nice development doesn't turn into a trailer park.

Here are some of the houses:

The barns generally match the houses.

 Stalls connected to the house.

Beautiful house that had a matching barn in the back.

Stalls between the house and the garage.  This one had runs at the back of the stalls that also went into connected pastures.

My favorite.  Absolutely beautiful house/barn under construction.  This had a GORGEOUS living area above the barn with a huge porch with glass french doors that opened into a great room.

Here are a couple others that were in another development:

 Kevin Keane's winter home.

A beautiful little house that had a matching barn in the back.

While Three Runs is beyond amazing, it is governed by an HOA, which is to be expected.  That would limit a lot of things you can do.  While HOAs do pay for a lot of amenities and prevent people from turning their front/backyard into a junkyard, they do limit some of your activities.  So, I mainly was checking out the houses for ideas of what we will build on our forever farm.  We have recently very seriously started talking about purchasing land for our forever farm.  After a couple years of talking about it, we have decided the only way we will have our forever farm exactly the way we want it is to build.  Our main problem was deciding where we want to end up after the military.  We are 99% settled on that, finally, and will be taking some trips to look at land later this year.

So, thanks Aiken for some more great ideas!