Sunday, September 30, 2007

Since I have little of interest going on here today, let me tell you more about the clinic. It was okay. Really, it was fun, but it was more of a group trail ride with some obstacles than a clinic. I guess I wasn't on the ball enough, but the clinician always seemed to be somewhere else. I got a distinct feeling that she either didn't like me or didn't like my horse, but maybe I'm being too sensitive.

The weather was HORRIBLE. Very cold, raining, and windy. It wasn't too bad at first but by the time we got up to where we were supposed to work on obstacles, I was shivering, my hands were stiff, I was getting grumpy, and I wanted to be done.

Oh, but lets start at the beginning. We stood around for a while, then rode off to practice water crossing. There were many types of spots available to try out. Wide shallow water across the road, narrow shallow & boggy on the edges, narrow and deep, or just plain scary. We crossed the water over the road several times, and then tried some of the narrow crossings with the boggy edges. He didn't like to step in the mooshy stuf that his hoof sunk into. He did eventually cross there twice. I think our delay there was caused by ME, because all those riders chaotically crossing this way and that, with horses jumping out, scared me. I didn't want to get run over. The noise of all the splashing and unpredictability of movement were stressing me out. One horse went through the deep boggy part and I didn't see what happened but he came out with his head covered in mud, trying to get it out of his ears and nostrils. Poor horse. Luckily he and his rider are a phenomenal team and I don't think he held it against her.

Onward up and out of the canyon we went, supposedly for about 3 miles or so, but it didn't seem that long. When we got to the top one rider went up a wooden ramp set into the hillside, which was obviously there as an obstacle, but was really wet and slick, and her mount scrambled and fell.

I got off for a little walking break, had a granola bar, (which Tonka didn't want a bite of, he must not like chocolate), and then walked him over the bridge and some other stuff. Then got on and rode over the poles, pivoted in the box, crossed the bridge and this other thing that was like a bridge, side-passed over some other poles, checked out the "cowboy curtain" (shredded tarp) which was blowing very actively. He wasn't too worried, but was skeptical. A really nice lady helped us with it, rubbing his face with the ribbons and holding it so that there was a gap we could squeeze through. He was a good boy! (Terrified of any old tires we happened to pass though.)

We stood and watched people doing the muddy water in the tarp obstacle. Then we went up and crossed the dirt over the tarp, but I didn't ask him to step into the water, and when we were ready to try that the line had gotten long and people were just kind of going over and over again, pell-mell, which is fine, they really needed to work on it, and I was happy with our progress.

I took him into the barn where all the horses could be tied in a row in front of the manger, and tied him up and went in for lunch. I was a little worried about leaving him there, but he settled right in and started chowing down. Lunch was very good, and it was WARM. Took me quite a while to get warmed up, and then I got sleepy.

I think I was the first person down to the barn after lunch. One horse had broken its tie but that end of the barn was enclosed so he couldn't go anywhere. As I got around to where Tonka was, I found two horses standing outside tied to a heavy beam. Looked just like what I'd tied Tonka to, but it was on the ground, outside. I thought "That's a weird way to tie a horse..." Then realized they'd pulled it loose and run out of the barn with it. Past Tonka and at least 3 other horses. (My power went out, THANK YOU to Blogger for its auto-save function. I thought I lost all the previous, but it was still here.) The horses were fine, except for some scrapes on one. I stood with them until their owners came, and they were very sweet. The horses, not the owners. Not that they weren't nice too.

We headed back down the trail. Tonka and Cowboy, my brother-in-law's horse, were being TERRIBLE. In a huge hurry, not listening, and for a second I thought Tonka might drop off the hillside. I got him in check, but he hurried down the hill, needing a lot of nagging to keep him slowed down, and was like riding a jackhammer. My nether regions were not happy. By the time we got halfway to the bottom they were themselves again. I have to wonder if the alfalfa they got for lunch made them act like kids with too much candy. Or maybe the chaos in the barn had them all riled up. Could be they were just happy it'd stopped raining.

At the bottom we found a waterhole and Tonka and Levi were happy to have a nice long drink. When we got back to the trailer we practiced water crossing a bit more and then loaded up and headed home. It was a good day, and I was really proud of my horse.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A fun day at the clinic.

Before heading out.

The obstacle area

Those two dots are horses.

I'm exhausted, my butt is sore, and I want to go to bed. But it was a great experience for Tonka!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Today has been fun so far.
Photo journal style, because I am, as usual, very tired. Very, very, very tired.
I hope my coffee kicks in quick!

"Hi there!"

"Ugh, I hate this thing, but okay..."

That's all one big snarl. But I did get started and split them apart a bit. That's the biggest of all of them. Going to need some detangler when she's ready!

What a sweetie.

Check out lard-butt! He looks like a halter horse! I guess my worry of him being too thin was unfounded. Just a growth spurt, I think, because he's suddenly taller too.

They're both pretty darn special.

Tonight I'll fill the tarp with water and ask him to step through. Shouldn't be an issue. Then we'll try the tarp and pole and barrel stuff under saddle. Wish me luck at the clinic tomorrow. I don't want to die! He did give one enormous "leap of the goat" in the beginning when the banner apparently did something unexpected. I wasn't paying attention, don't know what the deal was, but was glad I wasn't riding.

(Tracey, Belle really does look a lot like Sunny! Neat.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Today Tonka and I worked on tarp stuff. Actually, it wasn't a tarp, just an old banner of my husband's. He's seen it before, hung on the fence to prepare him for banners at shows, possibly flapping in the wind or displaying other startling behaviors.

He walked and stood on it and wore it. He really wasn't too sure about wearing it, but he did okay. On the way back to the pasture it fell off and I didn't even know it because he didn't react. Good boy.

Bella got a little attention, and actually took some "goodies" from my hand. I'm trying out the feed LMF Gold. I didn't realize it had so many oats in it, or I wouldn't have bought it, but it also has whole black oil sunflower seeds, and some really tasty pellets. The other horses ADORE it. Most of them only get a cup, so the oats won't hurt them. Anyway, Bella ate a handful, and seemed very thoughtful about it. I think she liked it. She didn't spit it out. But she also didn't eat more. I left some for her, mixed with my vitamins (of course if she were eating the full ration of the feed I wouldn't feed vitamins, but since that's a minimum of 5lbs and she's got maybe a cup, I don't think I'll overdose her on minerals at all). I don't know if she ate it later, I'll have to check in the morning.

Tomorrow I need to trim Tonka, groom and work with him, hopefully with a real tarp this time, and possibly with some water in it. I also need to put the dividers back in the trailer for the trip to the clinic on Friday. I'd like to wash the truck, clean my cupboards and walls, and get a lot of other housework done if possible. I may not be able to go in and spend time with baby tomorrow! So upsetting. I also need to build a gate, move Soxy in with the other fatties, and figure out a way to keep her shaded during the day since Bella took her stall. Soxy's eyes are very sensitive to sunlight (possible uveitis). I'd hoped with a fly mask on it wouldn't be an issue to leave her out during the day, but she's been getting crusty goobers. Not a good sign.

Oh! You should have seen Bella watching Tonka and I working! She was at attention. Wonder what she was thinking. She saw me loving on them afterward, and wanted to be part of it, but not really... She approached and watched avidly, but didn't want me to reach through the fence.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My friend's wee baby boy came into the world yesterday morning. I've spent some good time with the little man. He's sure cute, and smells good, and he's cuddly and warm.

Back to horsey matters. Bella is doing great. I spent some time working on rubbing her shoulder, neck, jaw, and touching her nose today. She's definitely right handed. I did get some touching done on her left earlier, but when I went in after dark tonight she wasn't having any of it. I did hand-feed her from that side, but that's the most she was comfortable with. I got to do a lot of rubbing on her right though.


I need to spend some time with Tonka tomorrow and Thursday. We're going to a clinic on Friday, and I think he'll do fine, but he needs some time spent with him regardless. I keep going about a week between rides. Which is probably fine considering he's only 3, but I need to be spending more time with him. Actually I may just do ground work the next couple days, working on respect and obstacles.

He did get a lot of time spent with him the day Bella got out. After she broke into their pasture he was being a big manly wanna-be stallion, sweet talking her and moving her around. Then she'd get freaked by the rope and do a reining horse spin, scaring me to death because she was so close to the fence and if she went through that was it. Then Tonka would move her some more, and we didn't need that. So I haltered him and both of us would stay near her, offering moral support and hoping to think of what to do. Finally Tonka and I led her to the end of the pasture that has a more solid fenced area at the end of it. John walked behind her to keep her moving. We stalled the cow, and opened the gate to her more secure area. Tonka and I went through the gate, stood and waited to see if she'd follow, went through and back through again, etc, until eventually she came in with us and we shut the gate. So now she was in a more secure area, but still not ideal. Woven wire and cattle panels. I know from experience it doesn't take much for a horse to bust through cattle panels, and neither type of fencing is very visible. So we all hung out with her for a couple hours while my sister, who happened to be in town, got us some livestock panels to make her a new pen. We could have fixed the mustang pen and tried to get her into the trailer and back down there, but I thought she'd do better being right next to Tonka and Soxy, and we'd have needed panels to make a chute into the trailer anyway.

I managed to get her lead rope, the source of all the trouble, cut to where it just barely drags the ground. She still steps on it, and has a great back-up response now, but it's not dragging next to her. We'll save the rope dragging lesson for a time when she trusts us.

Eventually, when we realized she was pretty relaxed, John and I took turns hanging out with Tonka and Bella, just being friendly-like, and sharing some hay. Then we went and did some woodworking, fixing the inner stall walls to be secure and tall enough. Sawing, drilling, hammering, laughing giddily, cussing, dropping boards, etc. Nothing bothered her. She had her safe zone and she didn't move out of it. Tonka was there too, wearing a halter and drag rope just in case he started harassing her. He didn't. At that point he seemed pretty respectful of her wishes.

There was one very amusing interlude. I was holding up a board in the stall, which Clara the cow was sharing with us while we worked. She was very helpful, walking with her wide gut between me and the wall, planting herself in the gateway, etc. Well, this time, with me stuck holding a board level while John put the screws in, Clara decided she liked my hiney. She came up and VERY GENTLY pressed her forehead into my butt, planting her nose behind my knees. Just gently pressing. Then she started heavy-breathing and groaning. John was laughing so hard he couldn't put the screws in, and I was laughing too, saying, "Can't you hurry up? I'm being violated here!" He sure took his time, laughing all the while.

Once all was ready it remained to get her from the big open area she was enjoying, but could easily break out of if she wanted to, to the rather small pen we'd built. Not very appealing, from her point of view. I opened up the panels and we worked on trying to herd her in for quite a while. John and Tonka blocked one area, the fence blocked another, and I herded. Needless to say I didn't press hard, and watched closely for signs she thought the fence might be the easier option. She did blaze past Tonka and John many times. Once she slammed into Tonka's bum pretty hard, but he didn't mind at all. Just rolled with it... Next time she got too close he gave her a very gentle kick. I wonder if he even touched her with his hooves, or if it was more his hocks. Soon after that she ran in, and John and I very quickly got the panels put together and we left her alone. Poor thing.

But, she's still contained, and she's progressing and showing no signs of trying to break the fence. Just have to be very slow and easy with her.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'd just gotten done saying I couldn't wait to see her and Tonka together. I heard my name called very urgently from outside. Our girl had gotten loose. She got very spooked and busted through three very sturdy rails and ran for it. Her drag rope was terrifying her. She broke through into the pasture with Soxy and Tonka, and kept doing these beautifully graceful spins, but they weren't very enjoyable to watch, because she was trying to get away from her rope and there wasn't much of a fence to keep her in. It was really terrifying, thinking what the heck am I going to do if she goes through, that was the last thing keeping her on the property. Long story made short, because I am EXHAUSTED, she's contained again and we were SO LUCKY. She's not hurt badly, just a scrape on her forehead as far as I can tell. And she didn't leave the property. She's in a different spot now, we bought some panels so we could contain her inside the pen we managed to get her in, with access to a nice big stall she has no interest in entering. Tonka was a HUGE help in getting her in a safe place. I'll probably write about it in more detail later.

Well, John has a new girlfriend. He's been spending lots of time with her. She's a real pretty strawberry blonde young girl. He let me pick her out for him. Of course he had the option of picking someone else if he wanted to. Don't you think she's pretty?

She's from Black Hills HMA in Southeastern Idaho. Two years old, light sorrel sabino. I went up on Friday and fell in love with her eyes. She was also the temperament I was looking for, curious and not afraid. She was right up by the fence most of the time, checking people out while she ate. At one point she sniffed my hand and felt comfortable enough to touch me with a whisker. She also reminds me a lot of Tonka, which made me like her even more.

Yesterday she was a lot more standoffish. There were more people there and I think she'd had enough. The bidding started on the other side of the pens, so our second and third choices were bid on before we got to bid on her. I was so hoping we wouldn't get into a bidding war. When they started with the weanlings, it freaked me out. The dollar amounts were going so high I couldn't imagine being able to compete with bidders throwing money around like that. But as soon as they got to the older horses the bidding practically stopped. I think only 6 horses got adopted other than weanlings during the auction part of the adoption. I hope more were adopted later. As we got closer to our girl, my bidding arm was starting to really want to fly up in the air (even though John was to do the bidding) and my heart was beating like mad. Got our starting bid in, and nobody else bid! How could they not see how special she is? I'm not complaining... We got our girl. I was so happy.

They didn't take credit cards, although the handout said they did, so we were a little delayed in getting her paid for, but we got it done, and then had to wait forever to load. How dare they take a lunch break? Didn't they know I was dying to get her home? Jeez...

I was not really impressed with this group's horse handling. They were not near as gentle and patient as the guys from Burns. I got a sense when I adopted Tonka that those guys really liked the horses and liked their jobs. They had a real minimal stress way of moving the horses through the chutes. Yesterday they ran them fast and hard. Not that they're bad people or being mean, but they weren't slow and deliberate. She got pretty agitated. She didn't do anything stupid, but she did take a little bit to calm down enough to get her halter on.

Then they opened the door and ran at her with a flag and ran her into the trailer full speed. Poor thing.

She didn't trailer as quietly as Tonka did. Banged around and tried to paw through the floor. Her drag rope wasn't draped over her back like they managed to do with Tonka, so when she stepped on it her head popped up and hit the roof. Ouch.

Here she is at home:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Coeur d' Alene, ID

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Growing pains, birthing pains, etc...

First I'll tell you about the people-related stuff, because I feel like it, and it does pertain to the horsey-related stuff.

Last night in the dressing room right before the kids' swimming lessons, my friend, who is due to have a c-section on Monday, announced, "Um, Andrea, we may have a problem." Weird things were going on, and with her history, weird things could mean anything... I told her I'd watch the kids while she called the doctor outside (it's LOUD in the pool). She came back in and said he wanted her to come in, just in case. Still assuming it'd be nothing, but kinda worried because my cell phone was dead, I went and got her daughter's car seat so I could take all the kids home after swimming. So the kids swam and big cool things happened (my son put his head all the way under, and my daughter graduated unscheduled to the next higher class). We left and went to McDonalds (disgusting, yes, but for some reason the kids love it) and got dinner and congratulatory McFlurries. (In retrospect, what was I thinking? Three kids high on sugar when things are uncertain about baby coming? But I still thought nothing was up.) We went to my friend's house, and as I pulled up, I could not spot her car. She wasn't home yet. Uh oh. Went in, and her husband told me it was true labor, and they were trying to stop it. We made many phone calls, he went to stay with her at the hospital, and the kids were oblivious in their McFlurry madness.

To shorten things up, there was no grand entrance of baby Ben last night, and all is well. We got home late and the kids were tired, but that's about all that came of the excitement. Things seem to be on track for meeting the wee man on Monday, as scheduled.

BUT I had to reschedule my sheep sorting work that I was going to do today. (The girls are scheduled for a romantic interlude with their respective rams). I'll be going tomorrow, which may very well mean no pre-viewing of mustangs at the adoption. I am going to do my very best to get up there Friday night, but it may not happen. In which case I may not take Tonka up on Saturday. If we're going to adopt I want to be able to watch the horses closely, not play with my boy.

Which brings us to those growing pains. You know how I've had a bad time with Tonka lately? I hadn't put two and two together until yesterday. He was being extremely disrespectful, swatting me with his tail every chance he got, and with a very tight, pissy look on his face. I finally mentally tracked the change back to that day I was trimming him. He figures he won on that day, and I'm no longer his fearless leader. We went for a ride yesterday, and it wasn't much fun but it was alright. But before and afterward, and at times during the ride, he was "flicking cigarette butts" at me, as Clinton Anderson would say. Basically NO respect. Nothing dangerous, but not okay. He worked his butt off after our ride, and FINALLY stopped and licked and chewed. But then at home when I unloaded him from the trailer we had to go through the same thing. I was very nicely brushing the dried sweat off of him and he was very rudely flicking and glaring. Work work work. I finally had to take the tiniest give, because I had to get to the bus stop to get the kids. We'll see how he is today. It only makes sense that he would try this with me, since his place in the herd has changed, and he's growing up and getting more confident. He was never one to give in easily anyway, as shown by all the bite marks he got from the older geldings, for moving only when they made him.

I kind of saw this coming, had I known what to think of it. The walking away when I went to halter him... I just thought, "Oh no, he doesn't love me anymore. I need to find some lovey-sweetums exercise to do with him to make him love me again." When really I needed to become his fearless leader again so he could be secure in my ability to lead, and thus a happy horse. I've not achieved that yet, unless soak time overnight has helped a lot. I fully expect to have a lot of work to do today, and possibly every day for a while.

Not that I don't want a loving relationship with my horse. I just want love AND respect. Because the next step up from this tail-swishing is kicking. A disrespectful horse is a dangerous horse, and a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Going back to our ride yesterday, Tonka amazed me a bit. We were walking along at the very end or our ride and suddenly he put on the brakes HARD. Glad we were just walking. I of course didn't understand why, hadn't seen a thing. What he had seen was a hole in the ground from a post that had recently been pulled. Small hole, the visible part was about 2 inches and the hole itself couldn't have been more than four inches. Chances are his foot couldn't have fit into it, but he saw it as a threat. It's really amazing how completely aware horses are. We're beings of such narrow focus, but as one trainer put it (I don't remember his name) the awareness of horses is like ripples in a pond, encompassing everything around them. I am very glad that Tonka takes care of his legs. I just can't wait for the day when he's totally at ease with things I ask him to cross, knowing that I wouldn't put him into danger, but still aware of threats such as downed barbed wire and holes. We'll get there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Today we had a not-so-fun ride. It was probably doomed from the start. I was in a bad mood all morning, but by the time I had him groomed and saddled that was gone. It was also the first time I've ridden him when nobody is around in case I get hurt. And it's windy and the weather's changing. Lot of negative influences there...

He wasn't BAD. But he wasn't good either. Snatching his face away when I asked for it, spooking a couple of times, just generally not much fun. But my butt stayed in the saddle and we worked some more, and then I got off and got a halter and lunged him. He was just really DULL up until that point. Then he was all ears, cute as a bug, saying "Yes mom, how can I please?" He was still a bit rattled when I tried to take him for a walk though. Did some ground tying lessons, which he didn't really do too well at because he kept trying to eat. Blah. I loved on him some after that and then walked him out to the pasture and let him go.

Oh, we did have some different tack today. A comfier cinch I stole from Soxy's saddle, a breastcollar I didn't use when we were using the martingale, a different underpad and different reins. So maybe that had him a little bothered, but really I don't know... He seemed pretty okay with the tack. And he looked really handsome today. :)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Well, it looks like we're going to adopt another mustang! I am going up to the adoption next weekend and knew that I'd be picking one out in my mind. So I finally broke down and asked and John laughed at me, said he couldn't believe it'd taken me so long to bring it up. He's been admiring Tonka and how good he is, and wishing for that in a horse for himself. So we're going to pick one out for John! He'll prepare by riding Mack more and getting more ready to be riding a green horse. The horse will eventually go to a local trainer who can take him out in the mountains and get him doing the kind of riding we're going to be doing with him, as well as working on the more technical stuff. He'll probably stay there for 90 days or however long it takes to make him steady and mostly trustworthy.

Now I can't wait to get there and start watching and watching and watching. And of course taking pictures. I'll go up Friday and get a good idea of which ones have the right size and temperament, and bring home pictures to John, then we'll both go up Saturday with Tonka as an ambassador. John can pick out his horse and bid, then bring him home while I wait with Tonka for John to come back and get us... Or maybe we'll take Tonka home first, the come back for the new horse. That makes more sense. Wish we had a stock trailer with slam gate. I don't want them going together in our trailer, too much stress for Tonka and possibilities of stepping on each other.

I've got kids to get to bed. Just thought I'd share the great news!

Friday, September 14, 2007

It's sure been a while since I've written. I haven't been spending much time with the horses for the last several days. I did go for a ride down the road with a friend of mine on Monday. Tonka was a peach. He startled when a bunch of quail flew out of a thicket, but then the next two times it happened he just watched them. On the way back we rode by a big junkyard type of property, with all kinds of places something could jump out of. He did walk sideways past part of that, I'm not sure why, but it could have been the little hound dog chained up amidst the chaos.

It cracked me up, when my friend got here she'd just stopped by the grocery store to grab lunch. She had a small bag of chips and a plastic deli bag. Far from being afraid of the plastic, Tonka was trying to get a taste of what was inside. Goofball.

Other than that I've just been feeding and occasionally grooming them this week. Yesterday I cleaned out the stall I use for hay, tack, and feed storage. Well, actually I haven't used it for feed storage yet, because the floor was covered with old waste hay, but now I can move the feed. The idea is that the kids will get the cute little shed I've used for my feed and tack as their playhouse. One of these days... I'm so slow.

Today I'm heading up to Spokane to have dinner with my parents at one of my favorite restaurants. I'm more excited to be going shopping at Big R for a hay bag for Tonka's big trip to the adoption, and a western belt for myself. And some feed of course. We may swing by Coeur d' Alene and pick up a bit for Mack.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

40 horses will be available for adoption. Gathered from Black Mountain and Hardtrigger HMAs. Adopt a buddy horse for $25 with the adoption of a full fee horse.

September 21-23, 2007
Kootenai County Fairgrounds
4056 N Government Way,
Coeur d' Alene, Idaho

Friday preview and gentling demos: 2-7pm
Saturday preview, gentling demos and adoption: 8am-5pm
Silent bid adoption from 10-11am. First come, first served afterwards.
Sunday adoption: 8am-noon. First come, first serve.
Gentling demos by Todd Titus of Burns, Oregon.


(The above picture of a Hardtrigger HMA mare was borrowed from Nancy Kerson's wonderful website,
Lest you begin to think I'm one of those people who will see no wrong in their horse, let me tell you Tonka was a bad boy today! I was trimming his feet and he kept swatting me with his tail. This was most definitely not an accidental swish as he swatted at flies. It was very pointed. He'd rather not let me play with his feet, thank you very much. He got in big trouble. First I just politely let him know that I knew what he was up to and didn't approve, but he stepped up the challenge by swishing every time I got after him, so he was pretty much constantly going swish swish swish. He worked a lot of circles, backed a lot, etc, until he would stand and at least not make contact. He was still halfheartedly swishing in my direction, but I decided to give him that, but no contact. Got fronts done and almost finished the hinds when he started up again. He'd try to take his foot away and swat me right in the face at the same time. By that point I just wanted to finish, I wanted to have fun with my horse, not have an all-out war, so I just told him "hey" and "quit" to let him know I knew what was up, and it wasn't going to stop me trimming. He stopped, but I'm pretty sure the battle is not completely won.

I do wonder now if he'd rather do all the circling and backing and hard work than have his hooves picked up. It kind of seemed like it. Understandable too, since with only three feet he's not in control of his own body, but with all four he's still capable of moving, even if he does have to move where and how hard I tell him to. So next time maybe I'll ignore him and see if he just gives it up. I'd rather get along anyway, I hate having to get after him! I can't choose not to discipline him if it's going to make things worse though.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Wow what a day! We went to the fair. I got about4 1/2 hours of sleep last night, got up EARLY to get out of here on time. I tell you, hitching the trailer in the dark is a frustrating experience. Tonka mildly let me know that he did not want to go for a trailer ride today, since he had already done so for two days in a row before that. He just walked away, then stopped, but it was a clear enough communication. He definitely gets tomorrow off. And Monday I am riding, but not hauling. After voicing his slight objection, he loaded fine and we took off into the dawn. Stopped at my sisters and he had to get into an unfamiliar trailer in an unfamiliar position. He has always hauled in the front, this time was in the middle, and the step up on the trailer is high. No problem.

All sorts of good things were going on at the fair. Strollers, kids blowing noise makers, other horses in all states of mind, flapping flags and banners, bulls and other bovines, even a dead skin and bones for stink effect on the trail course. He didn't mind any of those things, but didn't like one particular garbage can. He found the clown barrel offensive too until I had him touch it and then he mentally moved on. He spent a lot of time tied up. I took him for a few walks, and then later when there was a lull in my sister and her kids' goings-on, we went for a ride around the parking area.

I was even persuaded to enter the trail class, but then while waiting in line realized it was a bad idea. Neither of us is ready, and I don't want to damage the tremendous trust that's building between us with each ride. I asked to show in-hand, and they said I could for no score, but had to wait for the other riders to all go through first. (I PAID, I think I should get to GO...) Eventually, after over two hours of waiting, I had my last big disappointment, thinking it would be our turn and then two kids showed up to ride through twice each, which would mean another half hour at least. I said forget it. So we did not compete or show in any way, but boy oh boy am I so happy with my horse! He stood around snoozing with me on his back like a pro. :) The only time he jumped was when a water truck came behind him and sprayed his hocks. Luckily I'd seen it coming and gotten off and moved him, just not quite far enough. He spun and faced it and walked on the wet dirt and went back to snoozing.

AND my little niece who has been so afraid of riding after some bad experiences, rode in the walk/trot against 8 other people, most of them adults, and got FIRST place. She got second in another one against two other kids. Riding my Coda, who shone like a star out there even though he's 29 years old and a little the worse for wear. (I'm really not happy about his weight, but my sister had to try some other feed regimens before doing what I told her was necessary for him, plus some additions of her own. GRR.) He was SO proud of himself and totally in his element. He's a pro. I can't believe someone threw him away! If you had an old horse who needed a little extra groceries but was a GREAT kids' show horse, WHY would you send him to a sale and only give the information "gelding" on his card? When he raised all your grandkids in the show ring? WHY? I am so very thankful there was someone there that day to buy him and pass him on to us.

I'm going to go be a zombie now until bedtime.

Friday, September 07, 2007

We've had a couple of really good days of riding, and hopefully another tomorrow. I got this idea that I wanted to maybe take Tonka to the fair, just to get him used to the craziness. The show we went to that was going on as we did the trail "classic" was pretty mellow. Then I thought, "Why can't we do the walk/trot class?" But it turns out that was a dumb idea. If we'd been getting ready even as little as a week ago, maybe, but not now. He doesn't consistently trot when I ask him to in an area he's worried about, and he breaks gait when he's scared. Plus who knows how other people's horses are going to be behaving and I don't want him to get run into or otherwise have a bad experience. So I'm going to take him to the fair tomorrow and just hang out.

Yesterday I hauled him and Soxy over to my sister's because Katia wanted to ride too. That mare! She loads just beautifully, but when it comes time to get out she panics! I forgot about this and opened the divider while she was still tied, and she panicked and shot out backwards, stretching her probably loosely tied halter until the chin part was in her mouth. Finally I got her to go forward, shut the divider and cut the halter off, put another on and got her out. Thankfully she wasn't hurt, except maybe a sore poll from the halter, but that's her own darn fault. Tonka was worried! He hasn't had a bad trailer experience, and that freaked him out. He was fidgety when unloading and loading later to go home.

Tonka did well trotting around the little outdoor arena at my sister's house. Unloaded at home in pitch black with a minor setback because of Soxy's earlier behavior. He was too fidgety so I shut him back in and left him, then went back to unload and he was fine. He really is a great trailer horse all around.

Today we went over there again, but rode in the outdoor arena at their boarding stable across the highway. He was a peach, but afraid of one of the dogs and a couple areas around the arena.

He loaded and unloaded beautifully, telling me that the worry from yesterday is now not so prominent in his mind.

He makes me so happy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Today I finally got to go out and get to work on cleanup of the sacrifice area. It's a big area. And when we had all 4 horses on it, it got covered in poop pretty fast.
When I took the mower with its cart in, he was curious enough to follow, but still a little concerned. (Did I talk about our new mower? I like it! Mainly I like the dumper cart part, and John can enjoy the mowing...)

Then he sniffed, balked a teeny bit, and sniffed some more. Then he went and took a nap while I filled it. I think the greatest thing would be if you could teach a horse to clean up after himself. I found myself wishing more than ever that my horses would poop in "stud piles."

Once it was full, he decided to come visit again. Nosing through the poop like maybe I'd hidden something good there, and then he couldn't keep his lips off the cart. I'd have let him bite it, it's just going to get well-used eventually anyway, but he just very carefully almost bit it. Odd, but okay...

Here's the little area I got clean.

And here's what I have left. Fun. But I know I can scoop more in an hour than they can poop in a couple days, so I should get caught up eventually.
I am so bummed! I called the guy who does the BLM stuff around here, and he totally shot down my idea of taking Tonka to the adoption as an ambassador. They don't need "our kind." Rideable horses only. Pooh. He was nice about it, don't get me wrong, but it still upsets me a bit. I shouldn't have let myself get so excited about it. I was thinking, if I take Tonka to the fair this weekend, and do more despooking exercises with weird man-made stuff, we may be able to go as a rideable horse and do fine. But then I thought, even if he does really well in my opinion, any spookiness or looking at things funny will be a bad example for mustangs. Which is not what I'm going for, as much as I would love to take him.

Just thought I'd share my disappointment. :(

Still planning on going to the adoption (horseless) of course.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What a great ride we had today! Lots and lots of new stuff. He loaded right into the trailer that smelled like dead animal (we hauled our dead steer in it on Sunday). He crossed water twice, pulled a steep bank, crossed the highway with its scary white and yellow lines. My sister, when her colt was green, got stuck in the highway with oncoming traffic because her horse jumped the first line but wouldn't cross the other one to get off the road. Tonka watched it closely, but didn't balk. My sister's two dogs came along and were very obnoxious, which is great training for Tonka. Running around, playing, snarling, running up behind us from both sides, rolling in coyote poop and coming running up behind us from upwind... Tonka was understandably worried at first, but quickly got over it. It was very windy and that didn't phase him at all. We crossed onto a dirt road after riding in the wheat stubblefield for a while. The change of ground was a careful process, but he didn't stop, just needed a good look at it. Then we crossed back and forth from road to stubble through the ditch, but I had a lot more fun just letting him walk out down the road on a loose rein, without any nagging from me to do anything. He got scared when we got to a spot where the raised railroad partially blocked his view and he couldn't see the farm equipment and people on the other side very well, and a big old slow great Pyrenees came over the hill to see who we were. We had to be very careful there, and crossing the railroad tracks (with boards between the rails for trucks to cross) was a nerve wracking process, but we did it! Twice! Stood around and visited, checked out the big tractor and its fertilizer doohickey, both of which had big scary tires. Went back a slightly different way and crossed a wooden bridge and a concrete bridge. He was a bit of a challenge when we passed a lot of horses, he wanted to call and drift their way. I got his attention fairly well, and we crossed the highway again and the water and loaded up in a hurry and came home. Had to meet the kids at the bus.

I know I keep saying this, but I can't help it. I love my horse! He's a gem! And I love the training Todd from Cross Three Quarter Horses put on him. Couldn't ask for better. Unless maybe he took him out in the mountains and stuff. But they're in the desert, not much forested trail there!

Have a great day!

Monday, September 03, 2007

We went down the road again! No preliminary work this time, just a bit of flexing and yielding and on up the driveway we went. He was a peach. Got worried twice, so I got off. I don't remember what the first object was, but it was scary! We got past it and then it may as well not exist. The second scary thing was a guy mowing his lawn on the other side of some trees. Not as scary, but still, we walked past it and then I got back on. The trip back was uneventful since he'd already been past all that. We went at least twice as far as we did yesterday, maybe a mile total.

When we got home I hosed him off, even washing his face, and he drank out of the hose. Now he's taking a nap at the tie post so he can't cake himself with dirt. I think I'll go see if he's dry.
Yesterday we went for our first ride down the road! WAY overdue, really, but we haven't ridden but once in the last two weeks or more. First we trotted some patterns in the pasture so he'd be a little better focused. Then on up and out into the real world we went. He did great. I did get off once to introduce him to a big tractor tire feeder in the neighbor's corral right next to the road. He was very afraid of that. Then we went up to the next neighbor's and turned around and came home. He was doing so well that I cut it short. And I was getting tired. It was a big day yesterday. When we got back we practiced stopping. He's was a bit slow on the uptake at first but when he started paying attention better he did it well. And then pivoting on his hind quarters and side passing. He did well!

There is a mustang adoption in Coeur d' Alene this month. They're adopting out horses from southern Idaho, which doesn't happen often. I read an article several years ago talking about the quality of the horses from Idaho and the the fact that a lot of people will only adopt from there. So I'm excited to see them! I'm going to call and see if I can take Tonka with me as an ambassador. I'm getting kind of excited about it, and I really ought not to just yet. I want to put together a photo presentation either on posterboard or in a photo album to show potential adopters how easy it can be.

I may take him to a fair in Colfax next weekend, just so he can be there amidst the turmoil again. I don't actually want to show him. One of these days I probably will though, just for kicks. Or at least do the trail part, if you can do that by itself. I don't really know anything about conventional showing.

Yesterday I had to separate the other two boys. They sure do mark Tonka up. Normally I feel bad for a horse all covered in bite marks, but he just doesn't get out of the way! He's so pesky and doesn't listen to the "commands" of the older horses, so he gets bitten. Then he moves. Dummy.

Check out our new toy! Well, okay, it's a tool, not a toy. But it's fun! It will be oh so wonderful to have. John and Liam already knocked down a bunch of my bad weeds, and I used it to haul hay bales last night.

Here are the boys putting together my little dumper cart: