Friday, February 29, 2008

Bella is locked in her foaling stall! Progress is happening. But I don't think she's going to foal tonight. Which probably means she will. Just so I can't take the other horses to the health clinic tomorrow.

I'm off to bed, sorry, no details, I have an early morning tomorrow. Never fear though, I'll post pictures of the baby as soon as it comes! (Don't get your hopes up too much, it could still be a month or more you know.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Here's what we've done so far today:

And now I'm headed out to get him cleaned up and do it all under saddle!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Bella baby is very active tonight, and she's slowly, ever so slowly, building her bag. She was walking around with her tail up a lot and (cover your ears if you don't want to hear about girl parts) her vulva is redder on the inside, but not toward the edges. Kinda drippy too, and I'm pretty sure she hadn't just peed. BUT. I still think we have a while. I'll try to get pics tomorrow.
We had a WONDERFUL ride today!

I think I forgot to mention that the last couple times I've ridden Tonka tried to bite my butt as I got on. He got in big trouble but that really got me thinking. When I'd look at his back after riding, it looked like the front of the saddle was too narrow.

Yesterday when I threw my other saddle up on Bella I tried it on Tonka as well. I wasn't too sure... But it wasn't so bad I knew it for sure didn't fit.
The view here looks pretty good to me.

Not so good here.

This is as far as I could get my fingers in without lifting the saddle.
Anyone have an opinion on this fit?

So today I went to the arena to ride, trying out this saddle, and I had a different horse! He was much less resistant and pissy. I really, really prefer my other saddle, but this one is fine too. Just a different seat and higher back. Will take some getting used to. I think it's slightly less close-contact as well, but still not like I'm slung way up above his back. The other problem with this one is that I'm not supposed to dally any weight on it. I bought it when my only plan was trail riding, not dragging logs (or maybe someday calves?). It has a flexible tree so it's not made for that kind of work. So... Well, I don't have to get a new saddle right away, and that's a major plus.

Luckily the tack swap is coming up on Saturday, so I can hopefully sell the other saddle. I will miss it dearly. Sniff sniff snuffle. But I can use the money for riding lessons!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I am so bad at writing lately. It's too much work! So here you see what we did today:

This is some horse!

I also got Tonka to let me throw the saddle on him at liberty. He has a big fear of being saddled. He did pretty well. Only ran off once and let me put it on twice. I gave him treats though, so it was kinda like bribery. But it made it fun for him, which is good!

On the non-mustang front, Mack got to stand tied for 3 1/2 hours until he calmed down and dozed off. That's the second time in the past week, and it really seems to be helping him be more respectful and less freaked out about leaving his mare.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Isn't this just the cutest face? I had my own personal photographer for a while yesterday. My friend Laura came down and we both rode a bit. It was fun but the weather could have been better. Note Tonka's funny looking clipped brand. It wasn't visible at all before I clipped him, and he's going to meet the brand inspector on Saturday.

Here's a pretty side pass shot. Ignore my bad form, look at my good horse!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'm just quickly stopping in to share some fun pics of my wild ones.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I forget what I said I was going to do earlier, but I didn't do it all. Tonka and I did obstacles. I tied him up and then took Bella out. Bella and I went for a walk around and she got to do the obstacles too. She did really well. Some hesitation, and a couple moments where she claimed she didn't know what I meant, but she walked over hoses, a log, a hay bale, a piece of OSB, a tennis racket cover, a lunge line, a stick. We walked through the woods behind the house too. Then I put her away and Tonka got to stand there tied by himself for a couple hours because he was being a big baby about standing there.

I took a walk by myself up the hill and down to the creek, which was rather full. I sat in the bushes wishing I didn't live right by a highway. Because I love this place, but I never feel really alone and at ease, here in the wide open with all the cars going by. Plus the noise is even more annoying when there's a nice babbling creek I'm trying to listen to.

Before I untied Tonka I dug through my horse junk looking for a grooming block. The one I've been using is getting pretty small, and they're the best things in the world for shedding. I found it, but I also found my clippers. Which reminded me that I wanted to clip his brand for the brand inspections on the first. Just so happened there was an extension cord right there too.

Tonka FREAKED OUT. Poor guy, he was shaking. Tried to bolt. That's before I even turned on the clippers. The cord was terrifying. So we worked on that. Eventually I turned on the clippers, more eventually I touched my hand that was holding the clippers to his shoulder. Long story short, by taking our time we managed to get it done! I clipped the brand and his bridle path. Afterward, because he was still scared, I drove him over the cord many, many times. Then he stood on the cord and eyed it very suspiciously while I took all the braids out of his mane. I wish he'd get over his fear of "snakes." It's a really big deal for him. And me. I like my mount to keep his feet near the ground...

Now I have horse hair in my throat, I think it's burrowing into my flesh. And all over everywhere else too. I stood downwind. Dumb. I think I'll go take a shower!
I am sitting here recovering from doing my physical therapy exercises and trying to think which of my many tasks I should do next. So while I wait for my laundry to be ready to come out of the dryer, let's get to know each other. I'm begging for your comments. I often go to StatCounter and look at all the places people are visiting me from. But it only tells me boring stats and city names, and I'd like to hear from YOU.

Where ya at?
Did you see the lunar eclipse?
What's the weather like?
Do you like this time of year?
Any big plans for spring/summer?

As you know, I'm in Idaho. The weather has been BEAUTIFUL. Still cold at night, but the days have been gloriously sunny, and it actually got up to 50 degrees yesterday! Wow! So, right now, I'm loving this time of year. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain/snow, so don't ask me tomorrow if I like this time of year.

I think I've always liked this time of year. Well, maybe not when I lived in wet western Washington. There's so much potential, so many possibilities, you can just feel the world coming back to life. There's an energy. It's really exciting. Yeah, I'm a dork. Spring Fever, you know, does it happen to you?

I'm starting to have all these big plans. Horse events for the most part. If I wasn't so discouraged about the whole garden thing I'd be planning my garden. I have been thinking about planting trees, and taking down old fencing, burning the burn pile, cleaning up the toys and lumber my son has scattered that are reappearing from under the snow, fixing the chicken & turkey coops. So many fun things to do. Oh, and painting the trim on the house. NOT fun. I would LOVE to hire someone for that.

Today I'm going to do laundry, finish the dishes, inventory fence stuff, get the horses out, saddle Tonka, take one of them for a walk, set up obstacles and ride Tonka in the front field only (I don't have my cell phone today in case of emergency). Then I'll make my daughter sweep the house, my son clean his room, and hmm... Do more dishes and cook dinner.

Well, that's my plan anyway. My energy levels are pitiful though, so I may not get all of that done. Oh yeah, and I'm trying to drink less coffee.

Hope I didn't bore you to death. Don't forget to leave a comment! At least say hi. Or boo. Or something.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bella's becoming a big girl! She loaded into the trailer 4 times today. We just took it slow. The thing that bothered her the most was backing out. That last step's kind of scary.

Then I tied her next to Tonka, who had been standing there snorting and grunting while we practiced trailer loading. I moved him as soon as she was tied because he was being a pesky jerk. She wasn't actually tied hard to the post, I used the Blocker tie ring. Lovely thing, gives me great peace of mind. But she didn't need it. She just stood there for about 45 minutes. I groomed her, picked her feet, and then went and trimmed Tonka. The one thing she really didn't like was being asked to move her hindquarters while tied. She swished her tail.

Look at that big belly! And big head. And big ears! Jeez. (Don't mind the funny forelock, it got all kinked out of shape from the previous braid.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tonka bucked today. Butthead. Actually the name that came out of my mouth when he did it was a little less friendly.

We had walked out about a mile or more to let him check out the sights and to get me some exercise. Then I got on to ride home. He was in a bit of a hurry, broke into a trot without being asked many, many times. So I'd flex him down, flex his head all the way around to the left, to the right, to the left, to the right, etc, until he did not take a step forward when his head was facing forward. Then I'd say "walk on" and we'd walk on.

He finally got tired of that and decided to buck. Luckily it was just once and wasn't anything huge or I'd probably not have sat it. Expletive escaped my mouth as I gave him the all-powerful one-rein stop which pulled him off balance and kept him from launching again. I must say, if you don't teach your horse anything else before you get on, teach them lateral flexion and hindquarter yielding! Pull that head around and kick that hip out of gear and you're good to go. Or stop, actually...

I was SO very tempted to get off. My heart was racing, I didn't know what he'd do when I let his nose away from my toe. I got my wits about me and made the right decision. Shakily asked for flexion to the other side, then walked on. The rest of the ride I employed a different tactic to keep him occupied and on-task. I asked for collection for a step or two, released, collected, released, whoa, walk on. The rest of the ride went quite well now that he had something to concentrate on other than hurrying home. I didn't have to shut him down with that one rein at all. When we got nearer home we practiced neck reining with a leg aid to show what I wanted. Zigged and zagged.
Once we were home I put him to work. Not so fun to hurry home that way, you know? We did some of the round pen work that I have not done with him in the past. Trotted circles in the round pen, asked him to stop and "come here." If he didn't come, he'd be sent back out to trot. He didn't quite hook up with me, but he was doing fine. We'll be doing more of that next time we go for a ride and get home.
After that I tied him to the trailer while I went to get the truck. He got to stand there while I backed up and hitched up the trailer. I was tempted to load him and make him ride up to the house, but I didn't know how much we were going to be sliding in the snow. So I put him away. At which time I realized two of his braids were under his saddle pad at the withers. I wonder if that had anything to do with the buck? I do know for a fact that he was throwing a fit, but maybe that added just enough aggravation to make him take desperate measures. Or maybe I'm just making excuses for him.

I got the trailer out of its snow prison! Minimal resistance from the snow. The drift in front of it had gotten down to about 6 inches and was soft so it was no problem. Wish I had somewhere to go!

Tomorrow I plan to go for a walk/ride with John and Mack (if John doesn't have to work) then either do some obstacles or round pen work and tie Bella with the Blocker tie ring. I might try trailer loading with Bella too since I'm still hitched up.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I tried to blog yesterday but Blogger had different ideas. After it interrupted my photo upload twice I gave up. So here are yesterdays pics a day late. My frosty morning horses:

Soxy was NOT happy about Tonka butting when she was getting attention.

"Get out of here!" she says. Tonka's not listening.

Check out his frosty ear hairs!

Yesterday we got the two stalls turned into one big foaling stall for Bella. I didn't take pictures.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tonka and I got in another great ride today. I had to walk him to the highway to meet my sister and hitch a ride in her trailer. He spooked at the neighbor's appies. Apparently all those spots are scary. Stepped on my foot. When we got down there he loaded right up with cars going by and everything. Then we rode in the arena for a while, met some cute mules, and came home. I decided to ride him from the highway to the house, since he'd walked so well earlier. He was watching a lot of things very closely, but only startled once. Just a quick spook in place and then we moved on. I was so proud of him! This was his first ride up the road with no other horsey companions. It was a good day! It's very obvious that he prefers outside riding with scenery to arena riding. My sister was laughing at him as we trotted around. She said she could just see his thoughts running in ever direction. Obviously the work isn't enough to keep his mind occupied. Having a mentally active horse can be a challenge...

Friday, February 15, 2008

I don't even know how long it's been since I've ridden. I just haven't had any drive whatsoever. Winter wears me out like that. I get to thinking I don't know why I even have horses, it's too much work, it's too risky, it's too expensive. But then the sun comes out again.

Here's my sweet, handsome fella in his Christmas tack.
The pad is new, from my mom. The cinch came free with the purchase of the pad (which was very cool because I was going to buy one). My really super nice new helmet is hanging in it's cool helmet bag from the other side of the saddle. I didn't know how much I was going to love that helmet. The brim is slightly bigger, and it makes a HUGE difference in blocking glare. It's just way more comfortable too. He is not sporting our cool new custom slobber straps because I'm waiting to get my length of rope for the reins back from my sister. I think we'll both like them though.

After a little bit of running around (had to go back inside and get proper boots on) and reminding him what the reins are (see how he's playing with the bit?) I hopped on and rode up to the bus stop. It was weird, and kind of nerve wracking, getting on again. I didn't know if he'd be bad after so much time off. But it looks like he's the kind of horse I love, the one who doesn't need a huge tune up after time off. We did some flexing, some yielding, some clumsy side-passing, backing, etc, while we waited for the bus. And we spent a fair amount of time just standing there. I've been hopping off when I see cars coming, but I don't think I need to. A car and the bus came today and he watched them carefully but didn't do anything.

Oh! I measured him, and he is now officially 15 hands. Maybe more, but I'm knocking off a bit due to long hooves and imprecise measurement. Just about the perfect height for me! I hope he's done growing taller.

Bella didn't want to play with me today. I cried. She doesn't love me! No, really I didn't. I just waited for her to change her mind. Didn't take too long. And I got to walk the length of the pasture in the snow. She's just looking after my health, making sure I get plenty of exercise. Just like I look after hers, sending her running every now and then just by walking in with a halter.

We immediately went out the gate, which had a scary plastic banner near it, and I decided I couldn't take her out in public without brushing her first, so I did that. Then we went for a walk up the driveway and down the road. At one point, halfway down the driveway, she decided she didn't like this idea, and didn't want me driving her forward, so she decided to have a bit of a backward run. I encouraged her, it's good exercise for those butt muscles. But you have to keep it up until it really starts burning those glutes. So I pushed her a while longer than had been her original plan. After that she figured it would be easier just to walk forward. She had to pause at the top, as all the horses do, to take in the scenery.
Then we headed down to the neighbors, and she was surprised to see horses there. The two colts didn't excite her too much, but she had to do a little dance when the other four got all riled up and were pressing against the fence and running around. The rest of the walk was pretty uneventful. I should probably be glad no cars went by.
Next she had her first tying lesson. I didn't tie her. Just parked her there and held the other end of the lead. Those of you who have been here with me through Tonka's training may remember that it took some doing to get him to step on those stall mats. Not so for Bella, she didn't even look twice at them. These two horses are totally different beasties. She stood very patiently too.
I groomed her a bunch more and ended up with a mouthful of hair. Cowboy Magicked her hair but I only braided the forelock. It's nice to see her eyes! I now know what my mom felt like when I was a teenager.

Speaking of grooming, do you think she should wax her mustache?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I finally got my boyo out today for some work and attention. We didn't ride, but I did take him for a little walk, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Then I groomed him really well and put some Cowboy Magic in his mane and braided it. Not sure I'll continue to do that, but I was thinking it'd be fun to have people ooh-ing and ahh-ing over his gorgeous mane at the events we go to this summer. I don't think his tail needs help. (On the level it just reaches the ground.)
Actually he already has a really nice mane too, but it could be even more nice. But is it worth the effort? Hmmm.

Halfway through the braids we went and met the school bus, which spewed forth two sugared-up, valentine bedecked children. Tonka thought this one smelled good. It also giggled a lot when snuffled about the ears.
Tonka says the braids are a goofy waste of time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Dark Side of the Horse

I may not have confessed this before, but I am lazy. I do what I must, and I get along... And I actually don't spend all that much time sitting on my butt, most days. But nevertheless I am lazy. Which is why I ended up with this situation:

Well, at least the water isn't my fault. And that stall is relatively clean because I did clean it daily before the big snows came. But the far stall, it is gross.

I can't seem to get the idea that I really shouldn't overfill my wheelbarrow with that highly condensed caked poo. Because it's up hill all the way to the dumping spot. And there are a few places where I want to shoot myself in the leg because it's too hard. But then I go back and get my pitchfork and I manually scoop some of the load into the poop pile, which makes it possible to get the wheelbarrow to where I need it. When I go back and load up again, I make sure I put less in it, but somehow it's just as hard to move. Finally, at the end, I was filling it below the top of the wheelbarrow, and I managed not to rip my arms off getting it dumped.

All the work is worth it though, because there's a leggy little bundle of joy in that big belly, and it needs a clean place to be born.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We got some good work done on the horse facilities today. Finally got the fence fixed, so Bella will have the big pasture to run in again starting tomorrow. By herself, unfortunately. It makes feeding her easier, not having to worry about anyone else eating her food. And she will have the other three horses just about 10 feet away in the other pasture. Probably an escaped neighbor horse visiting every now and then too. Their tracks are all over the place here.

We also worked on the stalls, covering the walls with OSB and cleaning poo out. I can now get to my poop pile with the wheelbarrow! And both wheelbarrows are functional again! Yay!

I have a flooding problem in the back half of one stall. We've had near-record snow levels, and it's been in the 40's the last few days, so now we have lots of water. I think what I'm going to do is put some sort of bedding down to raise the floor level, then put my rubber stall mats on top. I think I only have two, but that ought to cover the wet area. Then I can put down shavings or those stall dry pellets, then hay (instead of straw, because this hay is practically straw and we already have it). That ought to keep the wet bacteria from wicking up into the top layer of bedding. I'm not going to bed it like that until I think baby is coming though. Too much mess and waste.

Waiting for this baby is like a roller coaster. Some teeny little thing happens and I start thinking it'll only be a couple weeks now! Then nothing else happens... Her bag is still pretty nonexistent. Staying the same with just some puffiness.

I got a cool bucket bracket yesterday. It holds a flat-backed water bucket on the wall so the horse can't flip it around. Normally I am very anti-bucket because a trough is so much easier. But when the baby is here I don't want it falling in the trough. So I'll put a water bucket in the stall. Still have to get the bucket. I was going to borrow one from my sister since they cost something like $15 and I don't need one permanently. John said I should just go ahead and buy one though, and who am I to argue?

Oh! I got some great snow boots too! Keep my feet totally toasty warm and dry. I also got a pair of really nice wool blend socks. John says they're anti-sexy. They really are, with their red and black stripes at the top. Why can't logger socks have some style? Loggers might want to be sexy too. Eww... Bad, hairy mental picture. Not that I haven't met a few good-looking loggers. So if you're a logger, don't be offended. I was picturing more of an early 80's style logger, hair a bit too long, with food in his beard.

Sorry this was such a boring post. I lead a boring life a lot of days...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Horse people, check this out!
(It's free.)

I've been wanting something like this for a long time. See, we're kind of an odd family. We opted for satellite internet, the only kind of high-speed we can get, instead of TV. So I lost my RFDTV horse training shows when we gave up Dish Network. (By the way, we love our WildBlue service.)

I've checked out one of the trainers on Nicker Network and so far I like what I see. They have channels for all kinds of disciplines. Dressage, harness, long ears, western, etc. Go have a look.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bella was feeling rather spicy this morning. It took some doing to get her caught after I had to get after her for offering to kick me.

She did eventually get the picture though.
Tonka says hello!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I'm back, yet again. Finally something interesting on the mustang front! Bella is not herself tonight, very crabby, not too interested in food. Bag is pretty much nonexistent. I went to take a look under her tail and it was far too easy to lift which is a good sign that those muscles are loosening in preparation for birth. Her vulva is pretty relaxed but not red, and there was some discharge dried up in her tail, but some was still slightly wet. Looked like blood. Small spot of white stuff, if I saw correctly before she pointed her butt at me and danced away. Her belly still sticks out far to either side, so with that and the lack of a bag I'm thinking she's probably either in the process of positioning the foal for birth or just having a bad night. If she's positioning I probably have a couple weeks to wait. Which would make the lack of a bag kind of worrisome... Hopefully it'll really start building soon.
I got frostnip! It doesn't feel good. Just two toes, and one is barely noticeable, but the other one hurts! The skin on the end is all dead and hard and white, and the toe is getting redder and redder. It started last night. I don't think it's anything to worry about, just kinda hurts.

I've been traipsing around in my crappy, leaky snow boots, thinking I'll just put up with wet feet until winter is over. Good boots are expensive! But I guess that wasn't such a good idea...

That's about it. Just thought I'd share with you my nasty painful toe story.
Darn that Tracey, she's tagged me again. I actually usually kind of enjoy doing these things, but this one? It's too vague. She wants my "bucket list." What do I want to do before I die? Crap, I don't know. And am I going to die in like 6 months, or as an old lady? That should be specified. I'm going to assume I have my whole life to complete the list. (Which in either case would be true, haha, did you catch that? I'm so witty.) So, without further ado, 7 things I want to do before I die:

1. Give what I can to charities, even if it's only $5 here and there. I'd like to donate to some sort of mental health charity among other things.

2. Travel. Isn't that kind of a requirement for a bucket list? My grandpa's gold mine, Chaco Canyon again, Arkansas maybe, see how much New Orleans has changed and whether my buddy Jeff's shop, Mystic Curio, is still there on the Rue Royale - mmm, and Kaldi's coffee shop, they had great coffee shakes. Gypsy caravan trip in Ireland, some picturesque place in India, New Zealand. Maybe western Russia. Would be cool to do a horseback trip through eastern Europe. Zion national park. Will I do all of these? Probably not. I'll make it to NM and NO eventually though.

3. Make sure my kids go to college, or some sort of higher education. Find a way to pay for it, or at least help...

4. Get a job.

5. Rediscover my love of writing, and maybe get something published in a real way, not like what I did in school.

6. Visit in person with some of my old friends that I haven't seen in a long time. Carrie, Mark, James. Funny how few people continue to be really important over the years. Not that I was ever much of a social butterfly...

7. Make some new friends, hope they make that "VIP list."

Yep. That's that.

By the way, the horses are doing fine. Not much to report...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Spring is coming! You know how I know? My horses told me so!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tonka has been a lot more friendly and eager to visit these last few days. I wonder if his herd change has anything to do with that. He's definitely not top dog, Mack will move him off food, or chase him every now and then, but Mack has let him claim Soxy. Tonka's just so darn persistent, I think Mack finally decided it wasn't worth it. Anyway, he seems more like my sweet boy lately than the spoiled brat he'd been for a while. No thanks to my lack of work with him.

Bella and I had some nice quiet time today. She's such a sweetie. She didn't seem to mind when I wrapped myself around her with one arm over her back, an ear on her flank, and the other arm under her belly. I was hoping wee baby would be awake and maybe kick me in the ear. I don't know how he/she sleeps through all that gut noise, but baby was sleeping. Then when I was rubbing her, Bella pointed with her nose to an itchy spot on her side for me to scratch. I thought that was pretty cool! Then I squatted down in front of her for a rest (lots of work this morning, i won't bore you with it) and we exchanged some breath. Then I gazed into her big pretty eyes for a while. Then I found another good scritchy spot, then the trough was full and I had to go turn off the hose. And then, well, I used too many "thens" in my blog.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I was going to reply to comments in the comments section, but I ended up getting a little long winded, so I thought I'd put up a whole new post...

Our main predators here are coyotes and hawks. The coyotes haven't caught on to the fact that we have chickens, I guess. Or maybe they're afraid of the dogs. The hawks try for them every now and then, but the hens generally stay under cover. We have a lot of trees and bushes right around the house. We haven't lost even one full-grown bird. We did lose some chicks that somehow got out of the coop, I'm sure my cat got them. That was really sad, I could imagine them crying while being caught, and Goldie frantic but unable to do anything about it. One was the gorgeous golden chick at the top of the previous post.

I should add that any stray dogs that come through the area could make short work of my flock. I've been able to catch or chase off any that have come through so far. It happens very rarely.

I do plan on starting to pen them in at night again, but right now I don't want to make them stay in their coop, it's too filled with snow.

Once they start laying you can expect about an egg a day, or slightly less. Out of 6 chickens we generally get five a day. When we can find them. This fall we were getting 2 a day because we only found two nests. When we had 12 chickens we couldn't eat all the eggs, so I gave some of the birds away, inculding our gorgeous (but loud) rooster. During the winter they're not laying at all. If you keep a light in their coop they will keep producing, but not quite as much.

Another odd fact is that if you don't have a rooster, usually one hen will start to behave like one, and may even start to look like one, and she won't lay.

Our chickens are mainly pets. I could imagine eating some that I raised knowing they'd be food, but I couldn't eat my special hens. And there's so much work involved in butchering that it's not really worth it (to us) for so little meat. Turkeys make more sense for that (but they poop a lot bigger!)