Monday, June 30, 2008

Before. Sorry, I didn't take an "after" picture.

Okay, well, it wasn't that bad. I did have to use my inhaler afterward, which has left me feeling funny, but the actual work was not that big a deal. It left me feeling pretty good actually, which was what I remembered that made me say I like haying season. John says it's the endorphins that are released when you work hard that make you feel good.

We got all the baled hay put up, and the other half is still out in the fields in windrows. And it's not yet raining, knock on wood. Hopefully the rain will pass us by and we'll have the rest put up tomorrow.

The bad news: we're going to have to buy another 6 tons of hay. That's going to cost us as much this year as 12 tons cost us last year. Disgusting. Not that I don't understand the whys of it all. With the cost of gas and fertilizer and all that... But still, it's hard.
I just recently said I like haying season. I take it all back! I am hot, asthmatic, smelly, and tired, and we haven't even started the real work yet! I was just getting one of the hay areas ready to load into and stacking pallets in the truck to move to another area.

I'm going to go take a cold shower, do some dishes in the cool house, and hang around anticipating this evening, when the real work will start.
Every now and then I go onto StatCounter (which is a pretty cool tool) and look at who's been visiting me from where. Don't worry, it doesn't tell me who you are or anything. It just tells me city/state/country and a few other meaningless details.

I get this warm and fuzzy feeling seeing all the different visitors. Is that vanity? I feel almost wrong for getting excited over how many people visit me. But even if it is vain, I'm glad you all check in every now and then. Maybe it gives my life meaning? :) It makes me think that my life must not be totally boring anyway.

Which brings me to another topic of discussion. Recently a distant family member shared with another family member that she thinks that people who live in small towns are unenlightened. If only they could see the wonders of the city - the culture, the educational opportunities - they would flock there. Um... NO? I do love a visit to a good city. Seattle is interesting, Vancouver BC was neat, Chicago was fascinating, New Orleans was homey, smelly, exciting, and corrupt. I'm not as partial to Albuquerque or Spokane, they're just not as "cultural." Well, actually, some aspects of Albuquerque were neat, but it was more the surrounding area I was in love with.

But it did get me to thinking, I used to think that way about my life. I had this half-formed idea that everyone must envy me because I have horses, and land, and could be outside every day working hard. Well, not all that hard most days, but still... Then one day I realized. Some people aren't as okay with manure as I am. Some don't like bugs. While I find it disturbing that there is so much pavement in the city that you don't see many bugs or track in much dirt on the carpet, I'm sure many people are relieved by the lack of nature.

Our country lifestyle, our ability to work long, hard hours in the fields or in the forests, is what made this country, and is still the backbone the country is built upon. Without all of those small-town bumpkins, what would the people in the cities eat? What would they use to build the homes and schools they are so proud of? I once saw a bumper sticker that really got me thinking. It said, "Agriculture, the ONLY necessary industry." I suppose they could raise their food hydroponically in high rises. I hear that some dairy cows live in multiple story buildings and never see the light of day. (One more reason I want a milk cow.) And just because a person is in agriculture does not mean they aren't educated. My brother-in-law the farmer went to college to learn how to keep up the machinery. His brother took accounting so he could take care of the farm's paperwork. My friend who raises sheep used to do editorial work for the University here. A lot of thought is put into raising and marketing crops. And the stress! Because you can't control the weather...

This same family member also thinks that higher education is necessary in order to be happy and lead a fulfilling, meaningful life. Um, No... I'm sorry, but we can't all be professors, and who's to say that a professor is happier than a dog groomer anyway? Heck, I'd be happy shoveling crap out of stalls for a living if my back was up to it. My dream job might me working cattle. Or maybe custom farming. Heck, I might like the monotony of answering phones all day. Everyone has the ability to be happy regardless of their level of education or their intelligence. If a person is happy living in a communal bachelor dive, living day to day, loving and upholding their friends, why is that any less okay than going to Harvard? The way I figure it, if you're adding to the happiness in the world you're on the right path. Or even refraining from adding to the darkness in the world is admirable. But living a life that is wrong for you is not going to do anyone much good. Might make more money, but won't really fix the things that matter. I haven't been to college, other than one logic class that I took for fun, which I'm happy to say I got a 4.0 in. So while I'm not totally stupid, I'm not totally educated either. I'm happy. Living my dream. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing. I probably will give in to the need for the almighty dollar and go to school or get a job sometime, but not at the expense of my happiness or the well-being of my family.

Okay, so I guess this was totally not mustang related. But the country/small town/agricultural lifestyle part is important to the habit of horsekeeping. Hope my babblings haven't bothered you. I just kind of had to get that off my chest. :)

On another unrelated-to-horses note, we went to see Wall-e yesterday. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Scout got soaked! I hosed him down, much to his displeasure. He was standing fairly well for it by the time I was done though. I wasn't sure if it was a good idea, after all a foal coat is natural, and being hot will hopefully tell his body to shed, but I couldn't help myself.

I should have taken a picture, but I didn't have the camera, then someone showed up, then I realized I was all muddy and got myself cleaned up. Then I remembered I needed to go to the store, so I looked for some clothes, then the phone rang, I had to look something up, and well - here I am. He's probably dry by now.

I hope he doesn't hate me... Boy is he getting good at walking on a lead though.
The grass is cut and curing. He uses a sickle bar mower, not a swather. With a sickle bar mower you then have to rake it into windrows, which will also turn it so the bottom side can dry out better. This way of cutting is better in some ways, it doesn't lose as much nutrition since it doesn't get crimped by the swather. I do wonder though if you lose some more of the nutrition to the sun when it's turned. Most people around here just let it set in windrows and cure, the ground usually isn't wet enough to require that you turn it.

We learned a new trick from the neighbors. John went to help them stack hay last night, and as they lay down each new layer in the stack, they dust it with table salt! He said it helps things stay dry, which keeps the barn from burning down, and the horses drink plenty of water in the winter. I'm tempted to try it.

We went camping the other night out at Emerald Creek and then went garnet hunting yesterday. Liam found a monster garnet! I was so jealous. The ranger was so impressed with it she weighed it separately from the rest of his garnets. It weighed 2 ounces, which is about 286 carats. Of course once we get it cut and polished it won't be one stone that big. But right now it's huge. About the size of a walnut.

Here's where we found the horses when we got home. Standing in the hot sun. You'd think they'd go find some shade. Maybe it doesn't bother them as much as it does me.

I took a feed pan and poured water from the trough over the horses. Mack let me do his whole body. The rest of them got offended and walked off. Doesn't he look nice all shiny and wet?

Poor Scout, you'd think he'd enjoy getting wet in that fur coat of his, but maybe it just makes it feel funny.

It is really hot here. I don't like it at all. I went out at about 9:00 to finish trimming Scout's hooves. (The other day I tried it without a halter on him or Bella. It didn't work very well. So still had to finish.) I was pretty overheated by the time I was done.

Scout did alright for his second trim. First one using the nippers. He struggled a fair amount, but with him finally halter broke I was able to keep him with me and discipline him the one time he kicked out at me. Or was that when he tried to mount me... Both times, I guess. Little turd. Then we practiced leading. John, who had been holding Bella for me, led her and trotted around a bit. Scout did well, learned to keep out of my bubble on his blind side. Tried to take off with mama and did not succeed.

John is helping the neighbors stack hay today, then we're going to the movies. It will be nice and cool and I will get a Slushie. Mmmm.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I finally got a girth for the Aussie saddle that won't fall apart, and a bit like the one he likes that isn't so wide. Tried them out today and all went well! The bit is a D-ring, which I like better than the full cheek for Mr. Sticks-his-nose-in-everything. The girth is neoprene and I worried about heat but he didn't sweat under it much at all. It's got a texture that might let air in, I don't know. It's also nice and squishy soft.

After our ride I put the boys back in with Bella and Scout so they can share the shade this weekend when it's really hot. Tonka must have rolled in the pond because he was completely wet all over! Then Scout mounted him, he got mad, and chased the poor kid for a while. Scout is still wearing is thick foal coat so it worries me to see him running around that much. Then he went back to his mama and Tonka backed off. They're all grazing nicely now.
Yesterday was another busy, busy day. I had to rearrange horses in the morning, moving Mack and Tonka out of an area where they'd block the haying machinery and moving Bella and Scout to where they'd be accessible for the chiropractor. I put a halter on both of them just for the heck of it, then took them off. Then I did a bunch of non-horse-related running around.

The chiropractor got here about an hour early so I didn't have Bella ready for him. I am sorry to say I had to bribe her with grain to get a halter on her quickly. I really should be haltering her every day. She's becoming hard to catch and she's worried about the halter again. She needed adjustment in both shoulders, or was it her neck? It was where the neck and shoulder meet. Then she had a spot in her back that was hard to get adjusted, but when it finally went it was very loud. She was still having trouble in her hind end afterward, but he said to give it 48 hours and if it's going to help I'll see it then.

After I got the kids fed I went out and had some nice quiet training time with Bella and Scout. Well, mostly Scout. He was leading really well! I haven't worked with him since that one day Bella stepped on my toe. Must have been about a month ago. He walks really nicely to the side and backs okay but sometimes throws his head up in protest while he does it. Moving forward isn't very smooth, but we get there. Pull, step, release. Pull, step, release. I often have to resort to moving him to the side.
When I went around to his blind side to ask him to drop his head he had trouble with that. He needs to keep contact with me so he knows where I am, and then he inevitably gets nibbly, which isn't okay. I tried to find a happy medium where I'd just keep my hand up by his ear/jaw and he'd keep in his own space. It kind of worked. We'll need to work on that more. He leads pretty well on that side, but there's a little bit of the same problem. He doesn't mind me being there, he's just in my space more on that side.

He's not consistent enough about giving to pressure to be tied yet, but I don't think it'll take long. Of course I'll be careful and not "hard tie" him for a long time. I love the Blocker Tie Ring.

After I let Scout go I brushed Bella's mane. It was kind of a mess. The little guy likes to chew on it. Luckily he doesn't chew it off, just messes it up. Then she got her bridle path cut for he first time. That area up by her ears is always such a mess, some wanting to go in front of her face and some hanging behind her ear. I only cut about an inch and a half off, but may have to do more. I noticed it was still not staying how it should. Here she is all groomed, but you can't see the bridle path. (Yeah, she has a baby belly. I hope we can get that trimmed back up eventually.)

You may be wondering what she's looking at... Her ever-so-helpful little man:

I tried turning them out with Coda. Then I figured if it worked out I could try Soxy out with them. They were cute.

But then Bella got offended and chased Coda off, which made Scout think he was tough, and he chased Coda too. Poor old man.
He still has some get up and go. But that's just not nice. He made a break for safety and I shut him in the little pen while I moved Bella and Scout.
I definitely don't want that baby getting the idea that he's the boss of anyone. He'll have to wait until he doesn't have mama for protection to go in with anyone other than Mack and Tonka.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lots of ramblings today...

Yesterday I spent all day up in the Spokane area. I definitely advise against hauling even an empty horse trailer through downtown Spokane. And while hauling a scared horse in rush-hour is unpleasant, it may sometimes be unavoidable. However, try not to get lost in a neighborhood area with streets too narrow to drive through. Backing up in that situation is not for the faint of heart.

Lyric was a good boy though. He loaded right up after just one refusal, then we were on our way. He was rocking the trailer pretty good sometimes, but when we FINALLY got to our destination he really wasn't all that sweaty. He had to stay in the trailer for a while so we could get some last minute things done, and by the time he came out he was really pretty calm.

I did not take even ONE picture... This seems to be a trend lately with me. Sorry. Busy doing, not taking pictures. But here's a pretty one of him a couple years ago:
Laura's dream has finally come true and he is officially her very own horse. I think they're both going to be very happy.

In other news, I have been having a sort of hay emergency. The guy who was supposed to cut and bale our hay disappeared off the face of the earth. Both his phone numbers are disconnected. So I sent him a letter, waited, nothing... We finally called the neighbors. They said they couldn't. Then they came over and looked at it, and we had a nice visit. They said they'd do it if we can't find the other guy within a week or so. Then they called back and said they would! So the money I put into fertilizer won't be totally wasted. That is a huge weight off my back. I've been waking up thinking about it lately.

I went to the doctor today. I realized I think I may be developing a doctor phobia. And I have no good reason. I just get nervous. Maybe it's just an extension of my normal nervousness at talking to people. Because I'm not afraid of needles or anything like that. I just don't like being asked what's wrong and having to answer, I guess. Sounds dumb...

They took a lot of blood, 3 x-rays of my hands, and told me they'd call me later. I did get a new prescription for that horrible albuterol inhaler. Which is good, since it's haying season. I don't like the way the inhaler makes me feel sick, but it's nice to be able to breathe. :)

Tonight Scout is getting his little toenails trimmed. I noticed one is torn. BAD ME. Of all horses to let get that bad, the baby? Bad, bad, bad.

Tomorrow the chiropractor is coming to see Bella. Her hind end has been just not quite right since a little before Scout was born. I'm sure she'll be fine with a little help. Probably a pinched nerve or something.

I better get back to work. I think I'll feed the kids before I start trimming hooves.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We had a much better ride today. I hauled him over to my sister's and we worked in her outdoor arena. Couldn't go anywhere since we both had kids, so we just worked on bridges, poles, and I had to remind Tonka that he did know how to stop nicely. He got spooked by a chicken fluffing up its wings and I just about lost my seat again, but managed to right myself. After that we sat around by the coop for a long time and he couldn't care less about the birds. I think it was just the suddenness of the noise, not the bird or the fluffing itself. I don't know what it is that's making him so goofy. He's usually really observant but not reactive. I think maybe good feed? He's eating in the tall grass, munching on seed heads, which I would imagine would be somewhat like being fed grain. Anyway, all was well, we had a good ride, and we lived happily ever after (so far).

I get to go on a long drive to move a horse (Lyric) tomorrow. Wish me luck. I think I'll do some horsey shopping too. I got a gift certificate to a western wear store, and I need a few things at a tack store.

Gotta go!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Do I have to pick a winner for the caption contest? I really liked all the replies, and since there's not prize... ooh, I have it! You're all winners!

Normally I would offer a rope halter as a prize, but I fear my halter making days are shortened a bit. My hands don't like to do it, and they usually hurt for a day or so after making one. So I'll probably make a couple more for my horses over time, but that's about it. On a whiny health note, I am finally going back to the doctor to find out what to do about this degenerative joint disease and get a diagnosis on the rheumatoid arthritis I'm pretty sure I have. Hopefully they have some meds to slow down whatever it is that's going on, or I'm going to be old and crippled at 35.

I didn't ride Tonka for two whole days! He just stood around eating and pooping. It killed me. But it was softball tournament time, and there was a party yesterday, and presents to get on Friday, and I have barely stopped moving the last few days.

Today was my horsey day though. John and I went on a poker ride, up Tekoa mountain, all the way around it, and back. I think it was 10 miles or more. I thought maybe Mack was going to die, he's so out of shape but was in such a hurry up the mountain. He was breathing like a locomotive and soaked with sweat. We stopped and rested but he was still huffing and puffing, so John got off and walked a little. He slowed down a bit halfway through the ride.

Tonka, well... I came off of him again today, near the beginning of the ride. Same exact movement he did to me out at Dusty twice last year. Spooked at -get this- a plant. Apparently maybe it was a horse-eating plant. I should have known trouble was coming, he was scared for the whole ride up until then. We had ridden through the town, up the hill and were on a long hill covered in the prettiest wildflowers, but the wind was blowing and Tonka just didn't believe those wide leafed plants were safe, blowing in the wind like they were. I was halfway off his back before I knew anything had happened, I hung on as long as I could, worrying as I usually do about whether my foot would get caught in the stirrup. I let go, my foot was fine, the landing was soft. It scraped up my back some, I landed in a bunch of stickery plants. He ran back down the hill with the saddle on his side (I've been trying to cinch it less tightly for his comfort, thank goodness for breastcollars) and stopped just past Mack. I love the herd instinct. Sometimes... Anyway, I got him re-adjusted, showed him the plants, and had a mostly enjoyable rest of the ride through the trees, thick brush, critter skulls and bones, etc.

I actually won some money on my poker hand! I was in 7th place, but still got a little prize. Kinda fun.

Then it was time for the trail and ranch horse competition. I wanted to enter the trail and cattle part, but not the rail part. Don't care about high-point right now, just want to try my hand at sorting off a calf and of course I like the trail stuff. But I didn't realize that when they said it started at 2:00, they meant be ready to ride at 2:00, no later. Most of these things you get there and sign up and then wait around for a while until it's your turn, but not this one I guess. It was 1:50, I had just gotten back from the trail ride, my back was killing me, I was tired, hungry, and needed a break. (Another health complaint, I think I have blood sugar issues. Once it gets low I'm done for.) Not to mention that Tonka needed a drink and a break too. I decided to forget the competition. I knew in that state of mind I wouldn't be up to any challenges we'd run into, and the positive experience I wanted for my horse would be down the toilet. So the boys ate some hay, we ate some sandwiches, and then we came home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Caption contest!

I should be telling you how well Tonka did at my last lesson, and how nicely our last few rides have gone, but I'm tired. I've been running around like crazy, but still making time to ride every day. I will say we're getting ready for a trail competition on Sunday and I think he's getting less jumpy about things.

For your enjoyment, I have this delightful picture:

I really think Scout has something to say. What do you think it is?

And the winner will get...

To be the winner! Yay!
(Sorry, no prize this time, but I can't wait to see what y'all think he's saying.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"Get off my back, will ya? I'm tired."

John and I got to ride together today! It was not much fun, unfortunately. Riding out from home on the road is not a good ride. The boys were P O K Y. We did get to visit with my neighbors as they put their colts in for the night. That was nice. They said our horses were nice looking. I love getting compliments on my boy from quarter horse people. I mean, of course Mack is handsome, but if you're used to one breed other types aren't as pretty. So them liking Tonka was cool. Their horses are very nice too. They have a yearling and 2 year old out of the same mare, both red duns, and they're built like brick outhouses. My other neighbor has a red dun too. I think we should start a club. Just kidding.

We made it about 3/4 of a mile over about a half hour (or more) then were warned of skunks ahead, and we were SO glad to turn around and go home. Voila! We had horses that could actually keep walking more than two steps! On our ride we went past a dead cat (poor, cute little kitten) a bunch of cattle, a rowdy mare, and a couple cars went by. They were pretty unfazed by all that. Just SLOW.

When we got home they really got to work. Poor boys. They were hot and tired when we were done. Then they stood tied to the trailer for a while. One of the doofuses knocked down my grooming tote and they both pulled back really hard a couple times. It landed under Tonka and he launched it across the field, which was what set him off the second time. Luckily neither of them was hurt, no ropes broke, and they spent a while there after that. I did think beforehand that I should put the tote away, but I forgot. Then we went and fixed fence a wayward calf had broken while we were gone. Yep, fences do make good neighbors. Maybe I should offer to help him patch his up!

Here are some pictures of Soxy so you can see how fat she really is. Here she is last August, just mildly fat. About perfect for an elderly mare going into winter. Yes, she's swaybacked, but we love her just the same. She's so comfortable to ride, with or without a saddle. She's like a big comfy couch, and has the smoothest gaits.

Yeah, this is the other side, but oh well. See that line in front of her hip? That's below a fat pad. She has huge fat pads on the lower part of her belly behind the cinch area too. You kind of have to feel them... Her butt also has a divot above the tail because she's so fat.In a roundabout way we got her because she is such an easy keeper. Someone had her and another mare, and that mare foundered and had to be put down. They were so devastated by it that they decided to give Soxy to a new home where her diet could be monitored better. They were afraid she'd die too. That home was the one we got her from. So I've really dropped the ball, kind of betrayed the trust of strangers (besides risking her life), letting her get to this point. I was being soft, not wanting to put the grazing muzzle on her because I know she hates it. I also don't like to pen her up in dirt all by herself. So now we're compromising. A little of each, and some exercise. My daughter has actually held up her end of the work, riding her every day for the last several days. Oh, and there's another good point to her being there all day. She has eye problems and the sun is not a good thing. So here she has shade. I really should be putting her fly mask on her too... Dropping the ball again. Better find that mask.
First of all, Soxy, the fatty fatty gal. Nikki asked what we feed. She's always just on grass. Grass hay in the winter and green grass for the short period that we have it between May and July. She's an ultra easy keeper, and the grass is so lush that a nursing & growing mama can stay too fat on it, so it's really not good for Soxy. Normally I keep a grazing muzzle on her a lot of the time through the spring. It has a 1 inch hole in the bottom that she can crop short grass through. But this spring I've been lazy. So she's got a cresty neck and fat pads on her back, belly, and butt. I think she's insulin resistant, but I haven't had her tested. She tested negative for Cushings before I got her, but that's a different test and a different disorder, although they're often confused.

For lots of good information on feeding, insulin resistance, cushings, sugar levels in grass, etc, visit Did you know that sugar levels are highest toward the end of the day? Or that they're low after a rain? Or higher when weather stays sunny and cold? All kinds of good info there, especially for horses that can't handle being fed up like cows.

Now her feeding regimen is that she'll be locked in the large stall and run as soon as my daughter is up and about in the morning. She'll get bits of timothy hay throughout the day. Timothy is a grass hay, although some people seem to class it separately. It's just another grass. Then when the sun goes down she'll go back out with her muzzle on. Having Soxy in during the day will give me a space of time when I can give Coda some alfalfa too. I normally don't feed alfalfa in large amounts, and I question the wisdom of it still, but the old man seems to do well on it. He's looking pretty good for being 30.

It's been a while since I've posted pictures of Scout and Bella. They're both doing just fine.

Poor Mack gets left out a lot of the time, so I figured I'd have to include a picture of him today. He is an incredibly good-looking horse, but for some reason he doesn't photograph well. Not that this is an ideal picture anyway... Mack makes such a great "daddy" for Scout. Firm, yet gentle. Now, some interesting news about Levi, my sister's horse. He seems like he may be getting better? His urine is looking concentrated, which apparently can't happen unless his kidneys kick into gear and start working right. Which is possible, but very unlikely. My sister is very excited. I'm worried that she's going to have her hopes dashed when she has him tested again at the end of the month. But it would be so wonderful if he really is going to be okay. Here's a rather fuzzy picture of him from last August at a trail competition.

I'm headed out to play in the sun. Happy father's day to all you dads out there!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Here's what I was doing last night prior to my ride:I'm not in the pictures, but I'm out there, trying to catch my horse.
Fun. Not.

The weather is finally acting like summer. I'm loving it. I got a lot of outdoor chores done today.

Wait a minute, let me interrupt for a minute. I just saw the neighbor-cows, and had to ask y'all a question. My neighbor's cattle are on my property. Have been for several days. It irritates me. But it's a part of our property we don't use. I had thought about haying it if there's enough grass though. What should I do? Call and tell him to move his cows or just don't worry about it? It may be too late to save the hay, unless they're staying at one end of the field. I feel like I'm being petty, especially if we it wasn't going to be usable as hay anyway, but he's getting free grazing and that bugs me! He's the one who gave us greenhorns a sickly steer in trade for hay too, so it's not like I feel like doing him any favors. Oh, and don't worry, he doesn't mind if his cows are out. We discovered soon after we moved here that there's no need to tell him every time they get out. He's pretty comfortable with their waywardness.

Back to other stuff before I get too irritated...

My sister came over with her horse today and I had a really good ride, but she was in tears, and made me cry too. Her horse was recently diagnosed with kidney failure. They said she could keep riding as long as he always has water, and they couldn't tell her how long it would be before he'd die. He could be okay for many years, or not. Last weekend she took him to a clinic and he didn't drink at all and barely peed. He's supposed to drink and pee a lot because his kidneys don't concentrate urine. She called the vet and they said that's bad. So she brought him over here to see if he'd do the same or if last weekend was a fluke (she hadn't been able to observe him at home, so taking him for a ride was the best way to tell how much he's peeing). He peed once, just a normal amount, and it wasn't watery like it usually is. He never did drink. And he was being a pill about trotting or moving out at all. Which is frustrating for her because she doesn't know if he's being bad or if it's because he doesn't feel good. He will do all kinds of maneuvers with no resistance though, but doesn't like to move out. I think he's not feeling well. His muscles aren't working right... Anyway, she ended up in tears because he's sick and she can't enjoy being with him because she's worried and frustrated. He's been with her for something like six years now, and they started from scratch and spend a LOT of time together. I can't imagine that. I've had Tonka for just two years now and he's totally stolen my heart and if he was sick like that I'd fall apart. So it's hard to watch them struggle, especially knowing it's not going to get better.

Now for a comic interlude. My son thinks that the Mythbusters are God. Something to do with the experiment where they tried to walk on water... Apparently maybe I need to have a talk with him about the nature of this "God" concept. I did tell him that God isn't a person, because I felt I could make that statement without lying and looking like I had any conviction either way on the existence of God, but he didn't seem to get it. Obviously we don't talk much about religion here... Come to think of it, he's about the age Katia was when she asked me what a church was.


Both of the kids got to ride their horses today and spent a lot of quality time just dinking around with them. It's nice to have the "geriatric pasture" where my son can go in and love on the horses and I don't have to worry about him. I just make sure he asks first so I know he's in there.

I trimmed Soxy's hind feet, which is a bit more of a chore than it is with the others because I try not to crank her old legs up too far. I also built her a small corral off the big stall so she has a totally grassless place to stay during the day. She is GROSSLY obese. I didn't put her grazing muzzle on her this spring like I normally do, and I think I'm very lucky she hasn't foundered. Katia is going to start riding her every day, at least once a day, so that ought to help too.

Other than that I moved and filled troughs and built Tonka a temporary enclosure in an area where we need the grass eaten down.

So, now you're up to date with all the boring details of my life... Sorry, I guess I like to babble.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Just a quickie:
I got to visit Lyric yesterday. I hadn't seen him since we sold him about nine months ago. He's doing really well. I found a bug bite to scratch for him. I got to trim his feet too.

The kids got to ride today.

I rode too, but no pictures.

And look who's riding Tonka! I just led her and lunged her a bit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I just thought I'd let you know you can see lots of pictures of Mustang Days online now. Click here: LorySue Enterprises - Quality Candid Photography. That will link you straight to her Mustang Days pictures. She did a good job taking pictures of everyone throughout the day. I'm having a hard time deciding which ones I want to order!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm not sure how clear these pictures are, but that is SNOW! It's June 10th!Look at that! I object. I hope it doesn't lay down the hay in the field.
I don't think I feel like riding today...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mustang Days!

Look what we did! Holy cow this has been my best birthday ever.

We actually only entered 4 classes, but there were two judges, so we got a ribbon for each.

Here's Tonka waiting around:

This is Star from the Fallon Mustang Ranch. She's a Coyote Lakes horse too, and she's for sale. Go to for more info on her.

Waiting for the halter class. Left to right you have Mouse, Shu-Fly, Tonka, Dixie, and Mestino.I just love Tonka's tail in this picture:

Here's (part of) the lineup. Tonka, Mouse, Shu.

One blue, and either a 2nd or third place, I don't remember, for halter class.
(I should note that I don't know how to smile for a camera, never have. It's not a good thing.)

Trotting in the walk-trot class:

Two blues! I should point out that Shu was the only other horse in the class, and Lori said she's not even really broke to ride. (Shu-Fly is a Coyote Lakes horse too, and has the same feet Tonka has. He thought she was pretty. She thought he was annoying.)

Here's Mestino doing the in-hand trail course. He'd never been away from home! He placed really well and I don't know about his people, but I was really proud of him! I have pictures of him from two years ago, he was in a gentling demo and adopted at the same adoption I got Tonka at. He's a very handsome boy. I didn't get any good full-body shots of him. I want to say he's from Sand Springs, but I'm not positive.

After the in-hand trail:
We also did a riding trail course. Both the in-hand and mounted class gave me a good idea of the things we really need to work on. So I've got a plan for the next few weeks. There's a trail competition closer to home two weeks from now, I think we're going to go for it.

Now, I should say the competition wasn't very stiff, and there weren't many of us there. I think at a bigger open show we wouldn't even have come near placing. But eventually I think we're going to go places!

I want to say a big thank you to Cathy for taking these pictures! I know you had a lot to do and I really appreciate you taking the time to get such good pictures for me. And thanks so much for the coupon for the free 8x10 from the photographer. I think I'm going to have to start a scrapbook for my boy.

Thanks to Lea and Bob for all their hard work on the event. It was a lot of fun.

I can't begin to say how much I appreciate my trainer too. Since I started taking lessons with Debi I have made so much progress and realized how many things I was doing wrong that were causing Tonka to have a hard time. Just in the past few weeks we've made huge strides. I would have looked like an idiot out there without Debi's help. I know Tonka and I still have a long ways to go, but we've come a ways from where we started, and it feels good to know we're doing okay.

I think I'd better go. I'm wiped out. I'll probably babble on about it some more later.

Friday, June 06, 2008

He's totally fine! So now I'm rushing to get ready and get going to Spokane. I'm going to be getting there a lot later than I wanted to. Oh well...

I don't think I have internet up there, so I'll be back Sunday or Monday to tell you all about it. Have a great weekend!
Waiting... Waiting... Waiting...

I don't like waiting. I'm so glad I don't have to wait a week for Tonka's test results. It is 4:58. If the vet closes at 5:00 will I be forgotten and the doctor will go home for the weekend? Should I call? Or is that too annoying, because she said she'd call me? I figure if I don't call, and she does go home, I can insist that they call her at home so she can tell me. But that may be almost more obnoxious than calling the office right before 5:00.

So I sit here, blogging and every now and then sighing very deeply, because I've forgotten to breathe. I do that a lot when I'm worried. I think we all do. Are you breathing?

I followed Tonka around FOREVER this morning waiting for him to pee so I could catch it in a bucket. He really wanted to know what was in that bucket. I showed him it was empty, but he still had to check every 32.5 seconds, just in case some food got in there somehow. He finally got to grazing, and I watched, and watched, and watched. I've never stared at a horse's pee-wee (as my son would say) so much in my life. He'd drop, and I'd go on the alert, but then he'd put it away. I couldn't leave, because I was dead certain that as soon as I got halfway back to the barn he'd pee. So I took him back with me. And he still didn't pee. So I finally went and did what I was supposed to be doing, an hour late.

When we got to the vet's I unloaded him, walked him around, tied him to the trailer, and he peed. And I just happened to have a cup handy. :)

I broke down and called the vet. They're "just finishing up the blood" and will call me in 10 minutes. I'll be back. I'm going to go pack, in hopes that I can still go to Mustang Days.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I took Tonka up for my lesson today and it was not a great ride. He gets so interested in the horses there that he can barely pay attention. Then when we went to do some obstacles in-hand he was eating weeds and running into me and completely blowing me off. We did make some progress, and I got some things to work on.

But the bigger news is that there's something wrong with him. He peed hugely 4 times while I was there, and again in the trailer on the way home. I had the vet on the phone before I even got in the driveway, and I have an appointment for 3:30 tomorrow for a blood draw to check his kidneys. This is especially scary because my sister just went through this exact same thing. Her horse has chronic kidney failure, and will be extremely limited in what he can do for the rest of his life. The rest of his life may be anywhere from 2 months to 6 years. Just depends on how long his body can keep on going with limited kidney function. Levi (her horse) has had this going on for a long time but didn't have it checked. He drank and peed a lot, and I mean a LOT, and he tied up after long rides due to his dehydration, but the tying up was subtle and nobody ever suggested that it might be his kidneys. They thought the excessive drinking might be a stable vice due to boredom, which would then cause him to pee a lot. Turns out he just isn't able to concentrate his urine, so has to drink constantly or he gets dehydrated, thus the tying up.

So, for Tonka, I'm hoping it's just a kidney infection, or something else that can be taken care of. Chronic kidney failure is so rare, and usually caused by heavy duty drugs, which Tonka has never been on. He has peed more than other horses, but not so much more that I was SURE he was abnormal. Just enough that I wondered...

The last drug he had other than wormer and vaccines was on Christmas night, some Banamine because he was colicking. Other than that maybe he was on something when he had a tiny lump on his jaw maybe a year or more ago, but I don't think he got medication for that. I think I was just soaking it. The vet looked at his records and all he mentioned was the Banamine.

I did just worm him yesterday. Maybe the wormer made his very minor problem worse? Or maybe the toxins released by dying worms overloaded his kidneys? He shouldn't have had a big worm load. I had a fecal done in the winter, and he did have some worms, but not enough that they thought it was a problem. They just said to worm him. I have felt that he has a fragile digestive tract, maybe minor ulcers, because of the liquid he gets around his poop at times, and because he's sensitive to black oil sunflower seeds.

Oh, which reminds me, he was stomping his back legs a lot at Odessa, like maybe a bellyache, but he seemed fine other than the weird stomping, so I kind of ignored it. Well, he was doing that again today. So maybe he gets a lot more stressed than I think he does when I take him places, and gets colicky? My sister noted the same things in her horse. He'd get sucked-up when she took him to events. Which yes, Tonka also did today... Can peeing be a sign of colic? Maybe he's just colicky?

He's locked in the big stall for the night so I can watch how much he drinks and poops and hopefully get an idea of how much he's peeing. I'm supposed to get a urine sample. That may not be too easy. Luckily if he is going to pee it's pretty obvious, with the way he stretches out first. He's really not happy about being in there. Kinda panicky, and stall-walking, tapping the gate, whinnying a bit. Poor guy. I'm not sure if the stress is worth the good of locking him up. But you know how important it is to know what they're taking in and putting out when a vet issue comes up...

I know this has been a kind of rambling post. I'm feeling pretty discouraged right now, just trying to process what's going on. WHY do my horses have problems? I swear, it always comes in waves. I'll go for the longest time not even talking to my vet, then I'm on a first name basis with the receptionists again...

I may not be going to Mustang Days. They should be able to get the results back by 5:00 tomorrow, and then I'll know whether it's safe to take him. At this point, with the bellyache symptoms and everything else, I'm thinking it's probably not a good idea. Hopefully tomorrow he'll be better and we'll get good test results.

Speaking of test results: my poor sister had to wait a WEEK just for blood test results, because her vet claimed that they couldn't sent the test to WSU, had to send it to UofI, where they only do that test once a week. So she was literally sick with worry for a week, got bad results, then had to take him in to WSU and have them re-do the tests because they wanted results from their own lab. My vet said he can get results within an hour from WSU. I keep telling her she needs to switch vets, and she keeps agreeing, then going back to the other vet because she thinks it's cheaper. I think it's probably not much cheaper, and as they say, you get what you pay for.

Okay, really, I'm done rambling now...
How to Gentle a Mustang
(Well, one way to do it anyway.)

There have been a lot of new mustang owners around on the 'net lately. Congratulations to you all! I've seen a couple people asking for advice, and I'm sure there are others out there who might be looking but not asking. I'm not claiming to be a guru or know THE WAY. This isn't even the way I always work. Or the way I always worked with one horse. It progresses and changes according to what the horse is ready for. And different people do it differently and most end up with good results, so long as they're consistent. I just thought I'd share some info I shared on another forum recently. This is more based on how I worked with Bella, who was afraid and not ready for big pressure or any pulling on the halter.

I couldn't put pressure on her rope. She was in a small square pen, and would stick herself in the corners. Tonka was the same way, corners were their safe zone. It was a good thing, I used it to my advantage since they liked to stand there. If she turned her butt to me I would put pressure on her with clucks or noises or even slapping my leg. She learned she couldn't do that. When she stopped and looked at me I'd stop the pressure. But I had to watch her closely, I could only push so hard or she'd have gone through the fence again. If she looked like she was going to freak out I'd back up and give her plenty of room to leave, but still not let her point her butt at me. Always make sure they have an escape route. I did almost everything at the shoulder/neck, leaving the way in front and behind clear for them to run away. You don't want to encourage them to back up a lot, so if they start doing that, pressure them to go forward instead.

For touch, I used approach and retreat. Hopefully you have a good feel for when to stop or step back. Watch for a shifting of weight, a turning of attention toward escape. Maybe just a hardening of the eye. Timing is everything. If they start to look scared you stop, and maybe step back. If they shift weight like they're going to leave you step back several steps, let them breathe. Look for the lips to relax, or the eye to blink, or if you're lucky a "lick and chew." If they leave you just let them, stand very quietly, you don't run them off. No "round penning." That way it's clear that it was THEIR idea to run, not yours, and eventually they realize that your idea (standing still) is maybe worth trying out. When they stop, if the butt is toward you you put pressure until they turn around. Then praise them big time. Then start the approach again. Even just standing with them quietly is a big accomplishment sometimes, and you call it quits on a good note.

I like the idea of the Bamboo Pole Method. I haven't really used that method, but I did get to watch the Kitty Lauman video on it. She started by just setting it on their withers and leaving it there until they stopped running. Obviously the pole has to be long enough that it can reach them anywhere in the pen. One tried to jump out and rearranged her pen, she just fixed it and went on, and did not take the pressure (the pole) off until they stopped, no matter what they did. Well, when the horse tried to jump out, she had to take the pole off... Once they were comfortable with the pole resting on the wither, she'd run it across their wither like a bow on a violin. That's where the nubs on the bamboo come in handy, they "groom" the horse like a buddy would. When they were comfortable with that she could work toward other areas of the body... If you want to watch the video try Googling "Lauman Training."

Another thing I did, I tried to work with them 2-3 times a day. I didn't have a time limit, but I don't think I was ever out there more than an hour, sometimes maybe only 10 minutes.

Remember that it just takes the time it takes. I know people who've had their horses a year or more and are still having trouble. I often wonder though, how much of that is due to the handler. Too timid and you don't get anywhere, too aggressive and you freak them out. Then some people just give up and leave them out in a big pasture and wonder how they're going to knock them down to get their feet trimmed 2 years later...

Keep at it. As long as you're still trying and you're being consistent and fair, you're doing well. Just don't give up and let them become "canner horses." It's now your responsibility to turn them into productive members of horse society.

Maybe I'll make this a two part series and talk about how it was done with Tonka, who was more ready to be trained right away. Or go back in this blog to May '06 and check out the progression as it happened. That might make more sense than me typing it out again. Also, look up "mustang makeover" or "mustang challenge" blogs, there are quite a few of them and all are starting from scratch. Just remember, those people were on a schedule. The only schedule you have is your horse's. Try to get them handleable and trimmable, etc, as soon as you can, but with no rush. And if you're blogging your experience, I'd love it if you leave me a comment with the link. I love to keep up with other mustang people, get new ideas, share the joy of a new breakthrough, etc...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I don't have a whole lot of interest to report today. I was running around and didn't spend much time with the horses. But I am happy to report that when I went out to the barn, Tonka came running. I'd like to flatter myself that he just loves me that much, but he knows that when I head out there it's usually supplement time.

Today was also worming day. I normally would wait until mid-June, but Scout was due two days ago and I figured I ought to worm them all at the same time. Just to bore you: according to the weight tape Scout weighs about 200 lbs, Bella is 900, Coda is 1000, Tonka is 1050 (One of those weights has to be wrong, Tonka is a lot more massive. Weight tape is the best I can do though) Mack is 1100, and Fatty-Fatty-Tub-Tub (AKA Soxy) is 1150. Scout and Bella got Strongid per my vet's instructions, the rest got Quest, also per my vet's instructions. So Bella and Scout will be separate from the boys for a few days, since Scout may still be eating poo. Which, in case you didn't already know this, is a foal's way of getting the gut flora needed to digest food that isn't milk.

They were all very well behaved, although quite offended at the bad taste. I gave them lots of treats to help salve their pain. Except for Scout, he scorned my offering. It was too big, apparently, even though it was just a shard of a big pellet. Scout also had to be wormed on his right side. He couldn't see the wormer on his left, and every time I tried to poke it in his mouth he'd jerk his head away.

Well, I guess that's all I've got for now. My lesson was rescheduled again for tomorrow, so maybe I'll have something interesting to talk about then.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tonka and I didn't have such a fun ride today. I think rain makes him edgy. He wasn't listening as well. More resistant, gawking at everything. Pinning his ears too, which is annoying. He got his feet trimmed in the morning, then I rode this afternoon in the rain. Then he stood tied while I finished up with my bread dough and got back into a positive state of mind. When I went back out we did some more ground work, then had a better ride. It was raining even more by then. Got pretty wet. When I put him away he wasn't being so much of a pill. I made sure to go out this evening just to visit with him and take him a bucket with a few treats in it. I don't want him getting resentful because all I ever do is take him out for hours and torment him.

We have 3 more days of riding before Mustang Days. Hopefully we'll continue to make progress. Even if we don't, I don't think we'll completely embarrass ourselves. At least I hope not.
I am so tired of ticks! I don't know why, but this year is a bad year for ticks. I've found one on India, our littler dog, two on my son, one on me, and daughter has had a few crawling on her. My mom's dog had one crawling on her. Luckily it didn't attach; that dog doesn't have any juice to spare, she's so skinny and sickly. I've got the creepy crawlies now. Compulsively running my fingers through my hair... Ugh. Anyone know any good non-chemical tick deterrents? I thought about dusting our area with DE, but that'd kill all the happy little ladybugs too.

Today I have a full plate. I need to reschedule my riding lesson, worm the horses, go to a friends to feed her great Pyrenees and chicks and water the sheep and garden, water my horses, trim Tonka, get my mountain of laundry done, dishes, sweep, all that inside jazz, ride Tonka, and go to a softball game. Man, I don't know if I can get it all done. It would help if I'd get off my butt and get started, but I'm still drinking my coffee.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

We went camping yesterday, it was a lot of fun. There's a nice campground in the mountains just 20 minutes from us and we'd never camped out there before. We tried once, but we were too early for camping season, so we decided to rough it out in the mountains. Anyway, I walked way too much yesterday, and my poor injured foot is not happy with me. I had fun though, and got some pictures of some flowers and my kids and stuff.

My "kids" like to throw rocks. This was a very big rock thrown by a very big kid.

Here are pictures of Scout from yesterday. Remember how I was talking about his mane coming in dark? I don't think it's black, he can't be born red and turn black, but it's darn near.

He's getting big:
Bella let me pet her while she ate today, with a halter in my hand no less. I think she's getting over her shyness from last week.

This afternoon it was nice (but while we were camping it POURED rain) and I rode my sweet sweet Tonka. He is so awesome! He loves his new bit. I'm still thinking it's too wide, but he's happy with it, so until I'm sure I need to order a different one (waiting to ask some people who know more) I'm going to keep riding in it. He didn't fiddle with it at all today! And there was no sign of copper allergy after riding. He did have a few sores before riding, but I'm not sure if they were left over from riding the other day or if he's managing to irritate his mouth some other way. It didn't get worse by the time I was done riding today.

We're just working on walk, trot, whoa transitions still. He's getting so good at it! Not that he was ever horrible. But miracle of miracles his trot is getting NICE. He's not rushing clumsily around anymore. Well, not much. I should have done this a long time ago! We kept it fairly short today, then went to town.

After we woke up the sleepyhead.