Friday, January 30, 2009

Here is an excellent article from National Geographic on wild horses. Take the time to read it.
I had an awesome day yesterday! The weather was gorgeous, perfect for a long ride. But I didn't ride for long. I tried out a different bosal-type thingie on Tonka. It has a rope nose so wouldn't have been my first choice but it was available to borrow so I thought what the heck. He seemed to like it, although he was a bit confused at first about whether to tuck his nose or turn his head. He was in a good place yesterday, I didn't have to touch my reins to stop him, his backing was superb. His steering could have been better, but it was a new thing and he was worried about "his" baby that we left in the pasture.

I've known for a while that his sheath was bothering him, he's been rubbing his tail. Never when I was looking, so I thought Scout was chewing it off, but it was too much in the area where they normally rub if they're itchy or irritated. When I unsaddled him I ran my hand under him and when I bumped his sheath he really flinched. I felt bad I let it go for this long. The weather has been mostly bad, but I could have done it on one of the nice days we had this month. So I went and got the Excalibur and thawed it out and gave him a good cleaning. He was a very good boy. I couldn't get all the gunk out, there was so much of it. How long do I have to wait before doing it again so I don't over-irritate the area? Anyone know?

Then I rushed to get ready to go to Spokane. Went to a couple feed/tack stores. The price of hoof rasps has gone up a LOT! Either that or this was an expensive store. I haven't bought one there before. But it was fun to browse around and I got the dogs and the kids some little toys.

Then I picked up my friend Laura and we went to see Lyric. He's looking good. I wished I had brought my camera.

When we were done there we headed out to the Inland Empire Mustang Horse Club meeting. Talked about all the fun stuff we're going to do this year. No exact dates yet but I'll let you know as soon as dates are set. We're going to do Mustang Days again, with an open schooling show to draw in more people. An overnight trail riding trip out near Odessa and some day rides but not sure where yet.

Today I think I'm going to set up an obstacle course and get Scout out and play with him. Maybe work on trailer loading. Maybe get Bella out to play too. It will depend on how long I can stand it out in the wind. It's warm today, but the wind is pretty fierce.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My sister's horse has that babydoll quarter horse head, so I shouldn't be surprised that her bosal doesn't quite work for my big-headed mustang. With her hanger I couldn't even get it on his head. :) So I put it on one of my headstalls and it worked okay, but I still think it's too small.

But he posed pretty for me in the sunshine.

It was super cold yesterday though, so it wasn't long before I was running inside and sticking my hands in warm water. I thought my fingers were going to fall off!

Today it's just as cold, but also windy and no sun. I think I won't feel so guilty for not playing with the horses today.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I taught myself how to tie a fiador tonight. Not the knot, I already knew that one, but the piece of tack that goes on a bosal. It consists of a fiador knot and a hackamore knot, more commonly known as a jug knot. Mine won't be near as fancy as the one hyperlinked above. Just a knotted length of rope. Once I go get the rope. Then I'm going to try riding Tonka in my sister's bosal.

Bella is talking to me a lot lately. I'd like to flatter myself and think she loves me, but I think she's asking me to take her back to her baby. She's getting along better with Cisco now without Scout in the mix. She even stood over him while he napped today. But he still pushes her around.

Yep. Well. I guess that's it for today.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I've been in a funk, which is why I haven't been here. No sense subjecting you all to my mopery. I really don't have anything real to complain about, other than the weather. Which I'm sure you're all tired of too!

Today, because I had to, I got out in the dreary world and enjoyed a little horseplay. All I did was move horses to a different pasture, but it was like a breath of fresh air. I really need my horse time, even if I think I don't feel like it.

First I moved Soxy and Cisco. They walk on either side of me very nicely, normally. Today they were in a bit of a hurry but nothing terrible. What's nice is I can throw Soxy's lead over her neck and let her graze loose while I take Cisco through the gate. He is a little bit afraid of an electric tape gate, but he's getting over it quickly. He's still pushy in the halter at times. It's going to take a while to change that. As a baby step in that direction I asked him to pivot either direction, and he was not good moving his front end away from me to his left. Took many tries, but eventually he got it. All other directions were great. Maybe he's one-sided or maybe he was rarely handled on his off side. Then I took good old Soxy into the pasture and she was not such a good old girl. Just wanted out of that halter, did a lot of head bobbing and trying to rub on me. So we stood there working on that for quite a while. She finally stood still but then when the halter was off she swung her head around and took off. (Rolling my eyes here) She was just happy, I can't hold it against her.

Then I went and got Bella. I decided a couple days ago that she and Scout can't live together anymore. She lets him get away with too much.

She was a nervous nellie today! It still amazes me how different a horse can be from one day to the next. Last week we went for a walk and she was marching up to anything that made her nervous and sticking her nose on it. Not today.

This is what her eye looks like when she's mildly tense.
The eyelid pulls away at the bottom. When she gets really scared it pulls away a lot more and wrinkles. It's weird looking. Scout does it too, but my other horses don't. You can read them by their eyes, but they aren't as extreme in their expressions.

Here are the boys pining after their girl:
My fence has grown a bunch of icy hair and is all ugly and saggy.

I've been honored with another award!
This one is from Linda at Beautiful Mustang. Thank you Linda!
It made me dream about butterflies. Lots of them. It was neat.
(I've been having weird dreams lately.)

So now I need to get around to passing on this and the lemonade award to others. Since I'm a little slow most of the people I'm passing them on to have already gotten them. I think the rules say I need to choose 10, so here they are in no particular order.

Must Love Mustangs
Lea and her Mustangs
The Horseshoeing Housewife
Mustang Dressage
Gentling a Mustang
Two Appaloosas and a Mustang
White Horse Pilgrim
Arlene's Adventures
Beautiful Mustang (Back atcha. Is that allowed?)
Augustus' Reign
Life at Star's Rest
Life at the Rough String

If I keep going I'll be listing all the blogs I read. Truth be told I hate having to single out winners. You're all winners! This is stressing me out so I'm going to go now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Introducing the mules!

No, they're not mine. My sister and her husband got them around Christmas.

Here's Stanley. Or is it Strider? My sister's mule. She's having a hard time naming him.
He's like Tonka in a mule body. Which is really funny because my sister doesn't like Tonka's investigative (nosy) personality. But she's getting over that with her mule. He'll be 2 in May and he's TALL. I think he's already at least as tall as Tonka. I can't wait until she's riding him and we can go out on the trails together. He'll make Tonka's ears look small. :)

This is little Clara. She's about 7 months old.
She's kind of a little fart, and she reminds me of Scout. It's that sullen "make me" look. They both have it at times. I took her for a walk yesterday and she was mostly a good girl. She reared up once but didn't try to come down on top of me, which I guess is what she does to Jeff. Then she thought about trying it again but with a firm "NO" and a wiggle of the lead she decided not to. She just got wormed day before yesterday and had a bad worm load. So she's a little pot-bellied and thin right now.

They're brother and sister, and both are gaited. Their mama was a Missouri Fox Trotter. Their gait is weird looking! Especially on the boy, his legs are so long. He looks like something from Star Wars.

I think I'll stick with my mustangs for now. I still want a burro. But a mule will have to wait. My cup runneth over, and I am happy with the horses I have.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Just a quick update on Cisco and I'm off to bed. He still wasn't drinking anything in the stall, but he was acting perky and was ravenous even with the soaked small meals I was giving him. So ravenous, in fact, that he was eating his own poop. So I put him out and scattered the hay over near the trough to hopefully entice him to drink there. I'll keep a close watch on him over the next few days and hope his silly bellyache spell is over.
Cisco seems to be doing fairly well. He has pooped, and he seems happy (and HUNGRY) but he's not drinking. I've given him 3 meals of soaked beet pulp with a little soaked hay, and he's getting water from that, but it just doesn't seem like enough. Maybe six gallons at most. Would that be enough in a 24 hour period? Why on earth would a horse not drink? He's not sick, as in septic or something that would make him quit drinking. I've got water in 2 different containers, so if he's offended by one he could drink out of the other. I've put salt in each of those meals I've given him.

I'm just going to keep him locked up, watch him, and make sure he doesn't get any dry hay for another day.

On another note, I made something the other day that I'd been meaning to make for a long time but I couldn't find the right rope. I needed supple cotton rope, and all I could find was really stiff rope. Finally found the right stuff though. See:

My mustangin' rope! It turns out splicing cotton rope really isn't all that hard. I'd tried it once before, but it was a loose cotton lead that had been broken, and it ended up looking messy. I made this because I needed a lunge line and I decided to put a ring on the end to make it more versatile. The clip is a bit big and heavy, it's actually for something else, but I have a smaller one around here somewhere...

Now check out this thing I found and tried:
It's called a sailmaker's whipping. It said to burn the end of the rope to make it look neater, which didn't make much sense to me on cotton, but I tried it anyway and it looks icky. But I think the whipping itself looks really cool. I'm probably going to take it off and back splice the rope though, so it's thicker on the end. I love playing with rope.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I've got two awards all the sudden! I've never had a blog award before. This one is the Lemonade Award, generously given to me by froglander AND PalyReiner, all in the same day.

This award is supposed to be given to bloggers who show gratitude or great attitude. Coincidentally this is something I feel very strongly about. I believe that to get through life happily, one must be grateful and look on the bright side. Gratitude is not the same as a feeling of indebtedness, which I think can be a negative thing. Gratitude is simply being aware of the goodness in your life, and being glad of it. Focusing on the important stuff, not steaming for hours over the guy who cut you off in traffic. Because that's not doing anybody any good, it's just prolonging and passing on negativity and stress. And in saying all this I'm not claiming that I am always successful in my endeavor to gratitude, I am not the Buddha or Christ, after all. I get mopey and mad and morose and all that sometimes. But I try not to.

However, today is one of those days where it's harder to be chipper. Cisco is colicky. I'm sure he'll be fine, but I can't help but wonder if this is going to be the time I'm wrong. He's one of the things in life I'm really grateful for. We finally have a good horse for John. Do you know how many years it took to find this horse? Let's see... 8-9 years I think. So he darn well better stick with us for a while. He's being a big sweetie, loving to be loved on. Then he'll get really agitated and ear pinny and wiggly and kick at his belly. He went down on his knees 3 times earlier but never all the way down. He had one poop that was REALLY dry. So, even though his water is heated, he hasn't been drinking. I've stalled him with his own water bucket, and after I take a break for a while I'll go out with hot water to re-warm it and give him some more love.

Oh, and I keep forgetting to update on the new saddle. I've had to experiment with where to put it on his back. But I think we have it figured. It sits more forward than I'm used to but it flares well over the shoulders and of course the tree flexes a bit. I'll have to ride more to make sure it's okay with him there, but I rode the 4 mile loop and it seemed like it worked great.

Will you all forgive me if I don't pass on the award today? The idea of setting up all the hyperlinks and going to 10 people's blogs to tell them they have an award is a little overwhelming right now, and I need to get back out and check on Cisco.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I had company on my ride today! Boy, let me tell you, that makes it so much more fun. I feel spoiled lately, first Kara came to ride with me, and now Melissa and John.

John's first ride down the road with Cisco.
(It went GREAT)

Melissa taking a picture of me taking a picture of her. :)
(With some dialog going on between the boy horses)

Here's the pretty treed area where we saw the moose the other day.
Notice Tonka looking for boogey men and the BIG prints in the snow to his left.
There actually were some deer there that he was looking at. He got kinda scared but nothing too bad. He's never been afraid of deer before, that moose really bothered him I guess.

He had tried a spin and bolt earlier, when my reins were a bit long, but I got him gathered up. Not sure what he saw, think it was a bird.

Cisco had fun digging in this ice. Silly boy.
What a good ride. Other than the COLD! The morning was gloriously sunny and not too cold, but then this fog rolled in and the temperature dropped. We almost decided not to go, but I'm glad we didn't.

Cisco was so good, and I'm so glad we have him! Finally a good fit for John. Melissa told me she wants first dibs on him if we decide we don't want him. There's no compliment better than that!

I'm off to read blogs. Seems a bunch of my blogger buddies were busy while I wasn't looking!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thought I'd share a little of our ride today with you.
(Yep, my lens is dirty.)

These banks on the side of the road were helpful, like a mirror. I could check whether he was getting his hind end under him in the back-up. He wasn't.

These hills just do not photograph well. This was a great view that went on for miles, but here in 2D it doesn't look like much. Tonka's ears are cute though.
Just playin' around:

Tonka and I had another good ride yesterday. He wasn't as sure of himself, but he did well, and we went a little farther. I made him stop on the way back to take a picture and he was not pleased, so we had a little lesson in patience. Then we continued home.

Here's the picture I took:
And there's a lot more junk there too. Good place for a spooky horse to learn a little self control. Actually, he got over being worried about this place a long time back. But when their garbage is in the road it sometimes scares him.

I turned them out when I got home and took a bunch of pictures, but I won't post too many. Suffice to say they were having fun rolling and pestering each other while the other horse was down.
You have to click on this next one and check out Tonka's face. HILARIOUS!

Here's a good illustration of the chain of command:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

We are having a beautiful spring day here. I know, it's not spring yet, but it sure doesn't feel like winter! I'm going to enjoy it to the fullest while I can.

Today I walked 1 1/2 miles on the treadmill while watching a horse video. Then I talked horses (and mules) with my sister for a while on the phone. Then I went and got Tonka out and we had a GREAT ride. When we got back I took Scout out for his first walk down the road. So far, an excellent horsey day!

The video is Vaquero Traditions Ranch Horse Series with Ty Heth - Snaffle Bit Video. Excellent so far (I've only watched a half hour of it). I like the softness that he gets from his horse. Instead of wrenching the head around to your boot, with tension on the rein until the last part of the move when your horse gives, he has you just ask them to slightly tip their head in that direction. This is something I've needed to work on with Tonka. He is heavy on the bit (worse lately), and all the flexing we've done has not helped at all.

So, once we were saddled up, I played with what I had just learned on the video. He did real well at the standstill, of course with a little bit of trial and error because as I said, he needed work on this. At the walk it was iffy, so we went back to working on it at the halt. Got it pretty well at the walk and then we headed up the road. He did a decent job, not so well when he was distracted. But definitely an improvement.

He did SO much better passing the neighbor horses today! He's usually a big plug, just stops and wants to visit. I wear myself out trying to get him going. I was going to have my lead rope with a popper with me so I could whack him, but I forgot. Which I think is a good thing, because we did it without whacking. I just made sure to leave my reins really loose, not to touch them at all unless I had to steer him away from the fence, and we got through it pretty easily. The second herd of neighbor horses we trotted by, and I was so pleased! Now, I'm not sure if I was inadvertently asking him to stop before, or if he was just in a more compliant mood today. Either way, it was a big improvement.

Then we went down to the highway, which I haven't done with him before. Not that he hasn't been by a highway, he has. But not this one. He wasn't too worried with all the stuff down there and the semis going by. He just kinda wanted to get on with the ride and cross the highway. Unfortunately that would land us in the creek. We turned around and came home. I'm not quite brave (stupid?) enough to go by myself into the area where we saw the moose the other day. I don't want to come off my horse and get hurt with nobody around to witness it. Although since he was so good today, I may try it tomorrow. I can just get off and walk if he starts to get worried.

Scout had a great first walk down the road. I had to do a little reminder stuff here at home, he was trying to shoulder into me. Then off we went. He stuck his nose on mailboxes, investigated garbage, ignored utility thingies on the side of the road. Now, that ignoring isn't a good thing, he was denying their existence. But later, I had him go look at a plastic bag stuck to a barbwire fence, fluttering in the breeze, and it had one of those utility things next to it. I think he did see it and wasn't worried. But it's something to keep in mind in the future. Just because he's ignored something doesn't mean he's okay with it. He may "suddenly" see it someday and spook.

When Scout and I got down to the highway and the hardware/feed store that is there, he had a little fit. He couldn't take the big traffic. Little traffic wasn't so bad, but those big log and woodchip trucks were too much. And the store owners saw us and wanted to chat. I had to just let Scout walk circles around me while we talked. They are such nice people! They said I could stick Scout in their demo roundpen right next to the highway someday so he could get used to it. Wow, that's so... unheard of anymore. Everyone's so worried about liability. That is so generous of them.

I hope you're all having a wonderful day too!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Think I figured out how to rig the saddle:
With helpful advice from some nice people, that is. The latigo goes through the cinch and main saddle ring twice, then back through the back, and then buckled to the cinch. This worked well, no sliding forward. But it was a pain in the butt to do, especially with his long yak fur.

Little boys playing in puddles:
Liam is there too, way back, in the ditch. Loving life.

Me playing with the macro setting (inspired by Life at the Rough String):
I think this would make a nice bookmark. Let me tell you, it took me a long time and a lot of detangler to get Bella's mane combed and braided.
We had a pretty good ride yesterday. Well, actually it was my worst ride in the last few months, but it was good in that it was a ride, and by the end of it I was riding a good horse. Well, a mostly good horse.

Kara rode Cisco and he wasn't very good right at first. I felt bad for putting her on him, she was having to do so much work to slow him down. Eventually he quit hurrying and settled into the ride.

Tonka was a nutcase. Just looking for something to spook at. We made it quite a ways before he did his famous "leap of the goat." I stayed in the saddle (just barely). It was just a stupid bit of garbage on the side of the road. Apparently it snuck up on him and yelled boo. A little ways down we were in a wooded area and a very pretty moose came through on the ridge above us. Tonka got very scared. He didn't know what to do. He got all twitchy. We did some circles because he just had to move his feet and then after she was gone he still didn't calm down so I got off and walked him for a little while until he started breathing again. I wonder why moose are so scary. Cisco was a good boy (although at the time I wasn't paying attention to him) and just watched the moose go by.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. A stroller went by. I got down and walked Tonka past that because I didn't want the guy to have to stand and wait forever while Tonka thought about whether it was safe to keep walking. Any time we passed horses on the side of the road both horses got sticky and wanted to hang around with them. I'm sure it looked funny to anyone who happened to be watching. I need to make sure I have something to whack him with next time.
The only picture I took all day was of a great horned owl in the willow trees. Not a very good picture. Tonka knew we were on the home stretch and wouldn't stand still (that's why I said he was mostly a good horse by the end), plus the camera was at full zoom and my hand isn't very steady.

Kara brought over a bunch of DVDs and we watched the original Mustang Makeover when we got back. That was pretty fun. It got me really excited about going to the one in Oregon in March. I'm making our hotel reservations today.

All-in-all, it was a great day! Thanks for riding with me, Kara. I can't wait to do it again.

Oh, and the saddle worked great cinched up like a regular saddle. I've been told I did the latigo wrong for the center-fire set-up, so I might have to try it again but do it right next time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Here's the new saddle! It felt weird at first, but after riding for a few minutes it was fine. For me, that is. I'm not sure about Tonka. It rides forward. I wonder if that's how these saddles are supposed to sit? Kind of like an Orthoflex sits on the shoulders? I know some saddle sites even say a hard tree is supposed to sit over the shoulders, but I don't think they meant on a bony horse like Tonka. Suggestions?

Also, does anyone know a good way to punch more holes in a nylon latigo strap? A hot nail has been suggested, but how the heck do I get it that hot?

I'm going to ride again today, Kara is coming out and she's going to ride Cisco. It ought to be fun! And hopefully I'll get some more insight on how this saddle works. Kara has the same saddle so maybe she can help me out.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A day of good, good, wonderful things!

First, my saddle is going to be mine today! See:
01/09/2009 8:14 A.M. OUT FOR DELIVERY

Second, Tonka has had his last shot of Naxcel! (I hope) Out with the old:

In with the new:

He will now be on tetracycline for a month. Or back on the Naxcel if the abscess starts to get worse.

AND, it's a glorious, bright, sunshiny day. I hope it lasts long enough for me to get my work done and go for a little ride. Tonka says hi. He's perfectly okay with his unkempt state and uneven forelock. He dares society to judge him. (I may have to do something about it though.)

And guess what?


Chicken butt!
(My daughter was horribly offended the first time I said that to her. When I was a kid, I thought it was hilarious. Kids these days...)

Have a great day!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

First of all, thanks to everyone for the feedback on the photos! I think #4 is the winner. I might add another too, though, maybe the one where we're riding in front of the white fence.

I feel so bad for all the people who are getting flooded right now. I can't imagine how heartbreaking it would be to have your house go underwater. Or worse yet, your horse.

My kids had a "flood day" today. So weird... Haven't had one of those before. Driving to town, it was really shocking to see how flooded the flat was where our creek meets the Palouse river. I've never seen it that bad, although I know it has been worse, but that was before my time.

Here are some pictures I took of our creek yesterday and today. The flooding had already started yesterday, but was nothing compared to today. Big difference!





These next two are the crossing. Not crossing there right now!
Today it would be over Tonka's head:
I took this picture yesterday because I thought it was interesting that something was chewing on the bark.
Look at it today:
So far the creek is staying in its banks here on our place, but the pastures are flooded anyway from their own melt and water coming down through them from the hills above. Nothing terrible, and this happens every year so it's nothing new to us.

India got to go to the vet today. (Like I needed another vet bill.) She has anal gland issues. What fun! Luckily it's an easy (if gross) thing to fix. Steve said he'd show me how to do it so I wouldn't have to keep bringing her back if it continues.

Look how happy she was later:

She gave me a bit of a scare though. She's part whippet, which is a sighthound, and she's easily distracted, as you can see from the pictures. She likes to chase things that move. She went right up to the bank of the creek and started watching chunks of ice go by, and I think she might have jumped in if I hadn't gotten her attention.

Well, I better quit procrastinating and get some housework done.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

If you can, visit Linda's Blog to see a story of horses rescued in Spokane, and find information on how you can help. Even a stray $10 would help.

Thanks for all the thoughts and advice on Bella's problem. She has been on MSM and yesterday I ordered some B-L pellets (it's an herbal anti-inflammatory). I had a chiropractor out but nothing changed. The kelp is tempting. I wonder if it's safe to give with her other supplement? The last few weeks I've been giving her Equerry's Combined Rx, which has lots of good stuff in it. The makers, who are VERY nice people, gave me a nice free sample of it last year. But I'm almost out and I can't afford more. Tonka's vet bill pretty much broke us this month. But back to Bella. The MSM doesn't seem to be helping, but it's cheap and I don't think it can hurt so I'm going to keep her on it. Not sure if the Equerry's could help in this short amount of time, but I hope it's done something. The lameness is so hard to see unless you watch her play or work her, that I don't know how bad it is at any given time. I hadn't thought she was in much pain from it, but after noticing her coat the other day I wonder. A bad coat like that is common in horses with chronic pain. My vet has cautioned me twice not to breed her again in case it ruptures, which is usually a death sentence. In September I assured him that there's no way I would breed her even if she was healthy and sound, but he told me again anyway. Maybe he forgot, or maybe he just wants to be extra sure.

Today my goal was to work with Bella and saddle her up. Haha. Not happening... It's been sleeting and raining cats and dogs. So instead I'll ask you a question.

Which of the following photos do you like best? I want to make a thank you card for my vet. Maybe a booklet with all the critters in it, so don't be surprised to find this question again in the coming days, with pictures of the other horses.

Choose your top 3, and tell me in what order you like them. Gosh, I sound bossy, don't I?

#1 - I like this one because it shows the BLM poster in the background. This was our first (and only, so far) ambassadorial mission to a BLM adoption. I can't wait to go back up there and ride. They probably won't be having any more adoptions there, but I will make a special trip one of these days. I loved riding out there.

#2 - Kinda pretty with the white fence and green grass. Green grass looks really nice to me right now! And I like his tail in this one.

#3 - Full-body shot with the nice summer coat, but I don't like how long his body looks here. I also don't like that I look like a dork, but I guess I have to face up to it...

#4 - Just a cute sweetie, would be a good one for a bubble with the words "Thank You!"

#5 - I think he looks handsome here, but a horse butt really doesn't say "thank you."

So... What do you think? Thanks for your help!