Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Loving My Horse

Sawyer is so cool. We ride around, do obstacles, look in the kitchen window while John is doing dishes, pick things up and move them around the property. He just takes it all in stride.



He isn't totally an old plug, I learned on our first trail ride of the year. He knows exactly where the trailer is at all times. He'd like to suggest, as often as possible, that we head back that way. And he does go faster once he's headed toward it.  Not in a jiggy way though, and he does slow down when I ask. It's something to work on. We all need something to work on, right?


What makes the difference between a horse who loves to explore and a horse who can't wait to get back? My main long term trail horses, Scout and Tonka, have loved to explore, but they were always my horses, never belonged to anyone else, and they like my company pretty well. With time will Sawyer feel the same way? He likes me but I'm clearly not as cool as a horse in his book.  He has gotten to where he'll leave the others to come to me even when it's not feeding time, so that must mean I'm not chopped liver. He must know I'm going to saddle him up & still he comes in. :)


I'm on a saddle quest right now. Wish me luck. I didn't know it would be this hard. I need a lightweight saddle that fits him better. Every time I ride right now I end up with a headache for at least 24 hours. I weighed the saddle I ride him in and it's 42 pounds. I tried out a nice light 24 pound saddle and it was perfect but it didn't fit him. It was a lovely ride though, much more close contact than the roper.  I'm really looking forward to riding a different saddle.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Dancing

Today my dance partners were so much fun, and all so different. Sawyer is the old guy learning new tricks.


He's super trustworthy and great at the basics, but I wanted to work on body control - moving his haunches and forequarters independently, eventually sidepassing and opening the gate correctly. I also wanted to work on lateral and vertical flexion and softness in a bit that is new to him. It's Tonka's old bit, which is a shanked curb bit like Sawyer is used to, but has swiveling shanks and mouthpiece so you can use it for lateral movements.

We made good basic progress, and will work on it more on other days. One thing I love about Sawyer is how much he loves to get the release and hear, "good boy." It's pretty sweet. He was distracted today - it's super windy! Any other horse I probably wouldn't have even ridden. But even distracted, he hunted for the release and we had a lovely quiet time playing give and take.

Besides the honor of carrying Tonka's bit, he also wore my sister's special handmade bridle that is now my special bridle. He doesn't know how priceless his head is. :)


Miss Juniper really wanted to come out and play, so we did. She loaded in the trailer like a pro. You'd never know how hard we hand to fight to have to learn that dance move.
She's still a little nervous in there but we just stand around and cuddle and it's not so bad.

Then we did some body control on the ground, and it's as if she's always known how to yield her fore-and hindquarters and back up nicely. Lateral flexion was just a bit hard at first today, though, thanks to Scout and Bella racing around in the wind. And she remembered how to circle around me, even though she was nervous about the sound of metal banging in the wind. It was rough, but it wasn't bad. We can dance without offending each other.

I picked her hooves when I put her away. She hates that, but she tolerates it. This time I think she hated it less. Maybe I imagined it. Maybe she's growing up?

Then Duncan wanted to be part of things. One thing led to another and I found him happily volunteering to be haltered. He was so happy to be the chosen one this time! Oh my gosh how we dance! The lightest touch, like he's reading my mind. I just put him through a quick imaginary "demo" because I actually placed an as for him today. :( He would be happy to have someone more devoted to him, who can train him further. We've done so much but I can't ride him. I just hope I can find the right someone. If I can't, he stays.

It's fun to think back on how things that are now second nature used to be so hard. Some things that are hard now are easy when I let my muscle memory take over. I don't know if that's normal or part of the brain injury. And of course some things that I can't do now, I'll be able to do someday in the future.  I just have to keep learning! Which is often hard for an old stick in the mud like me. But no matter what, when you have good dance partners, it's worth it.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Feeling Well!

I'm back in the saddle after being sick for at least 2 months. It's nice to be able to walk to the barn without tiring or coughing, and even saddle up and ride.

John and Scout even went with me one day!

We've just been riding at home but there's enough to look at here for now.

Sawyer likes to keep an eye on his buddies.

We toured all the ponds and rode along the creek.

Then he got to eat a little grass and some extra feed. He also got to enjoy a day in the sun without his blanket!

Next it was Juniper's turn. She's actually been wanting to be haltered lately. We went for a long wander. Not really a walk. That implies purpose. We just kinda wandered, looked around, snacked on some weeds. Well, she snacked. I'm not really into woody browse.

Llama-donkey. Llamburro.  Burrama.

The Peanut Pond. Maybe. I tried naming all the ponds today. I'm not very good at it. Other options for this one are Peace Pond or Owl Pond. I found myself naming them after their shapes which I don't really love. This one is peanut shaped.

Down by the creek we spooked up a bunch of pheasants.

She carried my coat and it blew up over her ears and head at one point. If she was a horse I'd have had a runaway at this stage of training.  But she's a donkey so she just thew her head up and the coat fell back and I fixed it.

 Next we pulled out the pack saddle for the first time. She did so well! I thought she'd hate it but she just thought it was weird.

We did everything in increments.

Baby blue is definitely her color.

I bought this cheap pack saddle used, and it was adjusted almost perfectly for her, even though it had been used on horses. Must have been small horses. We started by cinching it up and walking around a lot, then added the breastcollar.

Eventually we got all the straps in place, even the britchen, and walked around a bit. I am so proud of her! She did great and she didn't act like a spoiled princess at all. :)

I've decided she must have lost the baby sometime earlier in her pregnancy when it wasn't viable and coyotes took it. Now that I think that, she'll probably drop a baby.  But at this point it's doubtful. I'm totally OK with that. We can move on with plans for the future.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Fun with Photos





I really like using the Photo Lab app to make my furry friends look like art. :)

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Bella Peace

I sure do love my Bella, but you wouldn't know it from the miniscule amount of time I spend with her. Farrier visits every 6-8 weeks, deworming every now and then, the occasional belly rub. I had definitely let her mane get into a terrible tangled mess again. I didn't take a picture until I'd already untwirled and untwisted and mostly untangled it.

It was nice to get her away from the always invasive Scout and spend a little one-on-one time.

We decided to hide from the wind in a tight spot in one of the grain bins.

We must've been in there for at least an hour. It was nice and quiet and warm.

She didn't mind, it was an all-you-can-eat buffet.



If Scout doesn't eat her braids her mane ought to stay nice for a little while.


Monday, January 01, 2018

False Alarm

Maybe she had a belly ache.

I stalled her with a nice bed and checked on her every few hours even though by bedtime I was pretty sure nothing was happening. Can't be too careful when it's cold. It was in the low 20s with a cutting damp breeze. Yuck.

I'm starting to think maybe it would he worth my while to run that pregnancy test again. If she did slip the foal I could just move on with my life. And if she didn't, I could be more careful. Or maybe she'll give us a baby today and I can stop wondering. ;)

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Signs of Foaling? I'm Crazy?

Today I spent quality time in daylight with Juniper for the first time in what seems like forever. So it's hard to say if there has been a sudden change or not, but she looks skinny and kind of poorly in the hind end. Which could be a sign that foaling is coming. When the baby moves into the birth canal the belly gets smaller, looking like mom isn't pregnant all the sudden. Also, to prepare for birth the muscles of the hind end relax, which gives a sunken look around the croup. Before Scout was born I could actually feel him moving up under the muscles on either side of Bella's tail. I felt for that today with Juniper, but it's hard to say... What I felt may well have been her own muscle movement. Her vulva is slightly darker with a bit of discharge. Still able to clamp her tail but it may he slightly weaker. No bag at all. No change in behavior or eating habits.

It could all be in my head but I'm a little excited. On my Only Donkeys group on Facebook a donkey who was rescued 14 months ago just had the cutest baby, and bagged up just the day before. So Juniper is definitely not beyond the possible range of giving birth.

Right now daytime temps are above freezing and it's not terrible at night, so I guess this is an okay time to foal, if she has to do it in winter.

Oh! And she's shedding! Spring will eventually come. :)