Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another trimming day! This time I brought out the big guns. I asked her to hold her hoof like a big kid, I used the nippers, and I did all four in one sitting. Well, standing. Or should I say bending? My back would say bending. Bella would say standing. And standing. And standing. "Get it over with already!" she'd say.

I haven't picked up her hooves in I don't know how long. She didn't give me any trouble at all, except a little unsureness on the left front when I did the DFH (Dreaded Farrier Hold, front hoof between legs) for the first time. I also performed the WYMM hold, AKA Will You Marry Me, so named because one kneels on one knee, holds the hoof on the other, and trims away. I wouldn't do that if I thought she was a dangerous wild horse, so that tells you how well behaved she was.

Here are some pictures for your visual delectation:
(Is it acceptable to use delectation in such a way? Aw, who cares...)

Isn't my little helper cute?

Hoof over knee, this is big kid stuff!

My daughter (photographer of the day) was absolutely tickled with this picture since she got all three of our butts. Giggle giggle.

Yet another picture of my "little" bovine "helper."

I use quotes there because she's getting pretty big and beefy. And she wasn't very helpful at all. Thanks to her Bella did move pretty quickly once. Just as I was saying "I'm going to have to get after that cow in a minute" she made Bella mad and who knows what happened but my nippers went flying, I had to spank Clara and kick her out, and Bella would have left given the choice. She didn't like my loudness. Should've gotten after that cow just a bit quicker. (Yes, yes, I know she's not a cow. But it's easier than saying heifer, nicer than saying beef, and less odd-sounding than saying bovine.)

If you'll notice in the first picture, she had no physical restraint. Yes, she had food for about half the trim, but she'd have been just as good without it. Well, almost as good.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I need your comments again! Not for my own gratification, I promise. Della has opted to send the halter she won to a reputable horse charity, but she told me to pick it. I'm not real sure who to send it to, so I thought I'd ask y'all. Send me the link to your favorite horse charity and I'll check it out and choose one. I don't really have any criteria except I'd prefer they have a website I can look at. Thanks!
Just a few pictures to share. No horse work yet today, although I do plan on trimming some hooves later. First I have to do some housework (since technically that is my job and all...) and do my physical therapy stuff that I've been too lax with.

The boys in the snow (yeah, I played with the contrast and stuff):

Check out all the deer trails behind our barn. So neat.

These prints were on the driveway, then went into the pasture and away. Liam thought maybe the horses ate the deer. Silly boy.

I can't wait to see Bella's summer coat. See the little white stripes and all the white flecks? I wonder just how roan she looks when she's sleek and shiny. You can also see that she's still shedding some dry skin.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Well, in case you were dying of suspense, yesterday I opted to ride AND go to town. Aren't I tricky?

I didn't ride long, instead I gave Katia a mini-lesson in the round pen. Soxy needs to be taught some lightness, and unlearn her head-tossing habit. They made good progress.

While Katia was hunting down the wee man and his helmet for his ride, I got in a little ride on Tonka. Practiced walk, trot, walk transitions. He's got a nice stop! But that doesn't help much when I'm asking him to go from a trot to a walk. Also worked on side-passing, and something else that escapes me at the moment... He did have to stand tied and be patient a lot through the kids' rides. Rough life he leads, ya know...

Liam, when he finally showed up, got to go on his first solo ride! I unhooked the lead rope, told him he was on his own, and he was briefly worried, then excited, then realized he needed to know what to do. So I gave him the basic instructions and off he went. It was great. It's so nice to have a round pen that I know he'll be safe in, and a tolerant horse!

Katia rode again after that, to show off for her dad. Notice anything glaringly wrong in this next picture? (Besides Soxy's lovely expression and the funny breastcollar fit.) I didn't notice at the time, but spotted the problem when looking through the pictures later.

And here Bella was a little excited to see her buddies coming back, (she actually trotted!) and kind of weirded out by Katia sitting on Soxy. Maybe she thought Tonka was the only one who got sat on around here.

She actually isn't wearing a halter all the time anymore, I just put that on her as practice and took it off afterward.

Good night!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Goofing around today, I put an English saddle on Tonka. Turns out the girth was too small, but no biggie, I wouldn't have ridden in it anyway.

"What is this thing? It's light enough, I should be able to just pull it off..."

He's not really your typical pretty English type horse.

I just haltered Bella and hung the saddle and pad on her gate. Was going to go back out and play with her, but now trying to figure out if I'd rather ride or go to town or what...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Oh! I almost forgot. Della, being more smarter than I am, pointed out that I never did say that there had to be 10 comments for the contest. I guess I typed that out and then decided against it. Silly me. So... Let me make up some little slips of paper here, and then draw a name.

INTERMISSION (music plays in background)

And the winner is... Drum roll please!
and... Della!

Yes, we have two winners.

John drew Della's name twice before drawing Christy's, but since Della is my best friend I thought y'all might think me dishonest. So there you have it. Christy, I'll get a hold of you so you can give me your address and let me know what kind of halter you want. Della, do you want a halter you may someday use for a horse for the wee ones, or would you rather pick a horse charity for me to send it to?

(Allow me to apologize for the odd font sizes. Blogger had an idea that I didn't really want what I said I wanted, and substituted its reality for my own...)

The bucket saga continues... Tonight I was SURE the hoses would be thawed. No such luck. Happily, I had one hose that I had drained, and one other hose did thaw, so I was able to reach Bella's pen with that, and then carry water in buckets from there to the other horses. So about 15 100 foot journeys later, and the trough probably has about 85 gallons in it. Another trough is filling for Bella and Clara, but that one is unheated.

Fun stuff! But John helped me, and we got to spend time together out under the full moon with coyotes howling in the field, so it wasn't all bad.

Now I'm off to drain my two good hoses, and then to bed I go!
Okay, since the contest didn't get the minimum number of comments, I'm going to extend it until it does. So we need 3 more comments from new people on that specific post.

Back to real life: Today the temps are in the twenties, and my trough was pretty much empty. Me being the optimist that I am (and lazy) I didn't drain the hoses last time I watered. And since then it got very cold. So yesterday I had to coil up all 300 feet of hose in the pump house. I thought it would thaw just by being in there, since it's above freezing, but after a day I still couldn't get water through the hose. So I dug my way to the back of my attic and got out a space heater (safe kind, no fire hazard) and it's cranked to the highest setting in the pump house. Still no water as of now, so I had to bucket water out again. Fun stuff. And I just made a long boring story out of an ulpleasant occurrence.

I braided Bella's mane earlier. Led her around for about 30 seconds. Then the next time I went out, I haltered her, petted her and then unhaltered her. Pretty exciting stuff, eh?

My back is killing me for some reason today. Possibly all the time spent sitting yesterday, between the drive and just sitting around and eating all day. I better go do some of the exercises the physical therapist gave me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Un-horsey Thanksgiving pictures:

Here's my family. Nah, we're not all blood related, but we picked each other, and that makes it specialer. Yeah, I said specialer. In the middle are the people who will be moving away soon. How dare they.

Here's the guest of honor. Isn't he handsome? He lived a happy life, I know because I raised him.
Tomorrow I hope to get back to our regular programming. I'm jonesing for my horse fix. I see them all the time but I miss them! Not enough real horse time lately.


Monday, November 19, 2007


I need comments. I'm feeling rather lonely here. Actually, I suspect there may be a malfunction somewhere, and I'm using you all as my guinea pigs.

So, leave a comment, let me know where you live (town or state or whatever, I don't need your address or anything), and a link to your blog or website or someone else's blog or website that you enjoy. I'm in need of new reading material. :)

I'll put everyone's name in a hat, and if you win, I'll send you a rope halter hand made by yours truly. If you don't have a horse you can pick a horse charity and I'll send it to them.

Since this isn't a high-traffic blog, I'll give you some time. Post your comment by 7am Pacific time this Friday. Yes, that's Black Friday. So make sure you comment before you head off to your favorite sales!

(All rope halters pictured in this blog were made by me, except the bright orange one for hunting season.)
Our First Snow!
(A bit late this year)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

With the weather the way it is, I'm limited in my horse interaction. Yesterday my friend Laura and I groomed Bella, one on either side, and she was such a good girl. She did start to step on Laura's toe, and Laura pulled back really fast and scared her, but she just kind of startled in place. Didn't run over me, how nice of her to think of me. Her mane got terribly tangled in the wind and the rain, and Laura got it all untangled again. If we have time this morning we'll braid it for her. It just keeps getting tangled in that one spot.

I guess that's all of interest I have to say about the beasties. Except that Bella's belly is looking decidedly pregnant. I think we'd best not make plans to send her to the trainer in the spring. But still, you never know, bellies can be deceiving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nothing much going on with the mustangs. Bella got kicked out of her stall today and is standing out in the rain, poor girl. Really, she doesn't care. I gave her stall to Soxy who got her teeth floated today and needed a warm, dry, food-free area after her sedation.

The equine dentist around here has this neat trailer, it's huge. The horse loads directly up a ramp into a set of stocks. Yeah, that sounds pretty intimidating, but they don't have trouble with it apparently. Soxy wasn't too excited about it, but she did alright.

In the picture she's happily sedated, has a speculum holding her mouth open, and most of the work is already done. She had some issues that made her less straight-forward than most, but still noting terrible. She's got good teeth for an old lady, just needed a little help. I'm really glad I called the real dentist, rather than any old vet. Hopefully we can continue to have her help in the future, it sounds like she's got a pretty full schedule...

She did look at Bella's gnarly teeth picture and said it does not look like normal shedding of baby teeth. We should be fine to wait until spring to get them looked at/worked on, and even if the damage isn't fixable, she will be able to eat and should do fine throughout life. So not exactly good news, but not exactly bad either.

Altogether it's been a fun and enlightening day! I am so glad no irreparable damage was done to Soxy's mouth by that vet last spring.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I took a sick day today (as much as I could), but after being lazy for 4 hours straight, I had to go out and do something. So I played with Bella really briefly, then came back in to be miserable again.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wet, yawning Tonka.

The weather today was absolutely disgusting. Extremely high winds and buckets of rain. I had a chance to ride at the arena across the highway, but the thought of even just hitching up the trailer was really yucky. But I remembered how much I need to be spending time with my boy, and how I rarely get to ride with other people, and that I've been meaning to see how he does at the arena, and I went anyway. We had fun. This was his first trip over there and he was nervous at first, but not very. After a lot of mellow ground work, playing with cones, poles, and barrels, I went ahead and saddled him up. That was of course when the arena owners decided to bring a mare and foal in from turnout, separately, so they were hollering back and forth. Tonka loves baby horses. He got a little wound up, but not too bad. Then I rode around doing nothing much for a while, and we went home.

And look here! I was finally able to upload video! Here's the neat little trick we learned last week.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Look at my big brave girl! She's so great. We had a great session today. Actually it didn't start off too well, because Clara the heifer is in heat and tried to mount me, reared up right in my face and scared the crap out of me. So I had to get after her pretty bad, which scared Bella and got her all worked up. I finally got to see her trot and canter though. Nice! She floats.

We did a short leading lesson where I worked more from her right side since last time I only led her on the left. She had a tendency to try to charge forward today, but we worked through that.

I tossed her lead rope up and over her back, rump, and neck for a while from either side, and then I took off my coat and sacked her out with it and put it on her. She really wasn't all that worried. When I rubbed it over her rump she flinched a bit, and when I walked her with it on her back she was cautious, but then okay. What a girl! She's really turning a corner. I love it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Naked horse! I've never seen Bella totally unclothed before. I love it! Look at that beautiful face. I know, I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder... Right now she looks pretty darn good to me. Notice also that she isn't looking as sullen and resigned today. Some actual interest in what's going on. This is a good thing.

Once I put the training halter on her we worked on leading. She had to keep up, then she had to turn with me on the outside of the circle, her on the inside, without getting ahead or behind or in my space (or totally flustered). It didn't take long, once I brought my hand up to drive her eye away from me, but didn't allow her to rush forward. She said, "Oh, so that's what I need to do." And all was well. When we stopped the leading lesson she was traveling next to me on a slack lead without me nagging her to stay in place at all.

Sleepy, contemplative, I don't know, I just love seeing her with no halter on!

The girl looks good in black.
Naked again.

Then I put her grody old green halter back on her, for her turnout time, just in case she gets herself in a bad situation and forgets she can trust me in her panic. I don't think she's going to go through the fence or anything, but one has to be prepared. Tonight when I bring her in I'm going to let her spend the night completely unencumbered.

Is all this halter trying-on silly? No, not really. It's good to know she'll let me put them on and take them off (from the correct side, mind you! Big progress there!), regardless of their color or floppiness or smell. She did great today! Soon she'll be a normal horse, halterless in the big wide world.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Over the weekend I met Tara, the trainer my sister is taking lessons with. She was one of Clinton Anderson's apprentices, you might have seen her on the show. She was working with my sister's horse under saddle, and another horse on the ground. With that one she just happened to do the one thing I could NOT figure out how to do, that's been bothering me lately. I want to be able to bring the hindquarters toward me, like the reverse of yielding away. And she was doing it! So I asked how and showed us. She would lead the horse along the fence, stop his forward movement at his head, and tap her stick/whip at his flank. This horse knew it well enough that she only had to tap the air, but she said that to begin with you have to tap them. With rhythm, that's very important. The horse can't swing the hindquarters away, can't go forward or back, so eventually tries doing the only thing he can, swinging the flank toward you. Then it can be worked into side-passing toward you.

I tried it with Tonka yesterday and it was so cool! It took him a few minutes to figure out, and he was better on one side than the other, but he did it! Even side-passed a few steps toward me. I'm trying to think of a cue to differentiate it from moving him away, so I added the voice-cue "hip." Also, when I move him away I move or lean toward him, but when I wan't him to move toward me I don't, so that should help to differentiate the two cues. I can't wait to work with him more on it.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rode Tonka today, lots of fiddling around in the round pen. Before riding we did a bunch of ground exercises. Began teaching him to move his hindquarters toward me, and sidepass toward me! Really, really cool. Learned how yesterday from the trainer my sister is working with. I'm going to start taking lessons from her as well. I'll explain it later, I'm tired and want to just share my pics. :)

I "round penned" him for the first time in his life today. Just for the heck of it. It wasn't very interesting. But I got a nice picture!
At the end of our riding time we opened the gate semi-successfully, and closed it successfully! Woo hoo for us! I figure if he knows he's done after opening and closing the gate, he might learn real quick! Then again he might get too excited about being done and forget to think...

After the ride he got in a good roll:

And I played with Bella, who went out without a drag rope today. She also let me look at her teeth. Scary looking. Dunno if this is normal shedding of caps or not, have a call in to an equine dentist. I need to have her out to visit Soxy anyway, and now that I sold a saddle and a horse, I'm going to spend the money on it. Lovely smile, eh?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bella had another half-day outside today. We had to leave in the middle of the day, and I went out to take a picture of her enjoying her new liberty, but wouldn't you know she put herself back in her little pen when I came out, thinking I might just be putting food in there. So I shut her in and took a mug shot. She refused to look cheerful for me.
I didn't get pictures, but yesterday Bella got to spend most of the day out in the bigger pen. It's fenced with non-climb and cattle panels, t-posts with electric HorseGuard tape on top. So still pretty secure, but she could go through or over if she really freaked out. My husband said she did run around crazily when my other horses started zipping around the pasture, but she stayed contained. I was busy laughing at the other horses, didn't think to look at Bella, so didn't see it.

It took a while for her to want to come out of her comfort zone. I did lead her around the area to show her the fence (with lots of orange ribbon tied to it all around), but she went back inside afterward. I finally threw some hay just outside her little pen and she went out.

I left a drag rope on her to make it easier to catch her if she decided to be difficult in the larger area. Every time approached her, she stayed right there and let me pet her and grab the rope, so that's really promising. In the afternoon I was scratching the heifer's udder, it was so funny, she lifted her leg up to give me better access. Bella's teats have kind of been a touchy spot, so I decided to try it again. She was unsure at first, but when I started crumbling off the gross stuff between her teats, she was a very happy girl. She was seriously thinking about grooming me back, and she parked her leg out of the way to help me out. So funny.

When it started getting dark I put her back in her secure little pen. Actually, she put herself back, all I had to do was shut the panels.

Oh, and in the morning I wormed her also. I didn't try to go with the tube of paste wormer. I used Iverease, which is a powdered wormer you put in their grain. She ate it pretty well but I should have wet it a bit to help the powder stick to the grain. She left some in the bottom and I had to stir in more grain. Can't wait to see if there's anything weird in her poo! My husband thinks I'm so warped.

Friday, November 02, 2007

(Bear with me, this does become horse related...)

I'd like to launch directly into a tirade of bad words, but I'll control myself. Wouldn't really help anyway.
Today I went to the chiropractor and he wasn't there (they do primarily walk-ins, not so much appointments), he wouldn't be back until Tuesday! He told me not to miss going in twice this week! So I was mad. I started dwelling on how I really thought his diagnosis was incorrect (mainly because I want to be FINE) and decided to drop by the doctor. They have a great walk-in ReadyCare doohickey. Saw a PA, he checked me all out, made me move weird ways, was surprised at my lack of a pain reaction to the things he was doing, but said he thought it sounded like a disk too. Did x-rays. When he came back in, he said, "Well, I can tell from this that you're one hard-working gal, and you have a high pain threshold." (I had mentioned my daily life included moving hay bales, and we stacked 13 tons this year. High pain threshold=not good in this case.) My back is a huge mess. He said I have degenerative joint disease. Bone spurs, remodeling of vertabrae, bone chips floating, bone chip re-attached. !@*&!. See, I didn't cuss... I think this must have been going on for a long time, because, yeah, I do work hard NOW, but not before we bought this place, which was only 3 years ago. The reattached bone fragment was probably 15 or so years old, he said. Probably our bad car accident, but who knows.
The online article I read said it is also called osteoarthritis and can be brought on by rheumatoid arthritis, which runs in the family as well. And my mom has this same degenerative joint disease, only worse.
So... Up in flames go my hoof trimming plans. I was still considering going to the school, and my mom said she'd help pay for it, but it's really not cost-effective to spend the money on it when I'll only be trimming my horses. And I'm going to have a lot of medical bills. I guess I need to find a new dream. I really don't want to though! I REALLY don't want to. I wonder, if I went, and kept a small client base, if my back could take it. I love trimming hooves! But I don't want to be crippled.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bella had her first leading lesson today and she did GREAT! First I just asked her to give me her head to the side, on each side. Then I asked for a step. She figured it out SO quickly. Soon I had 2, 3 steps. Then I tried to get her out the stall door, which meant moving straight forward, which she wasn't ready to commit to, especially on the slick downward slope out the door. So I went back into the stall and gently drove her out. Then we worked some more, and eventually she was walking forward with a pull on her poll! She picked it up quick. It's so easy for them to just set their feet and neck and stand there while you pull them forward. But she did it no problem within about 10 minutes of starting the lesson.

So I thought, "Well, why can't we go out?"

And she thought, "Well, I'm not so sure about this."

Clara wanting part of the action, Bella still unsure:
Here's where she was pretty sure this was a great idea:

I had a an "Oh crap!" moment just after she went out the gate, as she was thinking she might want to take off, but she came around to the pull of the halter, and then I walked with her to the little green grass sprouts. She was deciding the route, but I was totally okay with that, and followed without pulling on her. (Oh, and we were in an enclosed area, just not as sturdily enclosed as her pen.)

When I went to put her back she wasn't so sure she wanted to give up the special eats outside the pen, but she came in after a few minutes of coaxing, and I gave her a double handful of alfalfa and a whole extra meal of grass hay. What a good girl!

I figured out why I can't share video on here. My files are HUGE. I'll either have to learn to compress them or use my old camera for videos.
No horse stuff going on, but we had a fun Halloween!
(Can horses eat pumpkin in small amounts?)