Thursday, February 25, 2010

Another excellent day. Yesterday was gross, so we'll just ignore it. Today I started out by scrubbing out a nasty, nasty trough. A great lesson in the evils of procrastination. But I had my iPod and good company (Bella was waiting for a drink) so it was all good.

Then I went in and rearranged my bedroom enough to paint the final two walls. If it weren't still totally in disarray it'd look like a big kids' bedroom now, all one nice color.

After that I went outside, dishes-be-damned, and I rode. The wind is up and dark clouds are racing by, but it's actually quite nice other than that. A lot of sun is getting through. I wore my coveralls (which I haven't ridden in before but they were totally comfy) so I was actually a bit hot, not cold at all. Ponied both of the girls and spent some time with just Tonka. It seems there are a billion other things in the world more interesting than I am, and I wanted to get his attention and get him to calm down a bit. Which he eventually did, and we were able to go ahead and take Bella for a few turns around the hayfield. Then I picked out all their feet (something I'm not very good at keeping up with) and put them away.

Now I'm going to attempt to scrub off the horse dirt and paint so I'll be presentable when I go to the Inland Empire Mustang Horse Club meeting tonight. And I better get those dishes done too...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Today Tonka didn't seem quite right (minor EPSM episode, I think) so I left him in the pasture and got out the girls. They went for a walk all around the property with me. I chose to go down the easier hills because downhill is hard on both of them, and up the harder hills, and went up the biggest hill twice. Then I trimmed some on Bella's feet, trying to keep the breakover back on those back legs to help out the stifles. Then we went up the driveway and checked the mail. We kinda-sorta interruped a calf's first meal, but the mama wasn't too worried and didn't make a move to leave. If I thought we were endangering them we'd have turned around and gone back home.

I tell ya, it's so nice to have horses that are so awesome to walk that I can take two of them at once. I remember days when I had horses I was afraid to take for a walk singly. There's no way I could have walked them together! But I think a lot of that was caused by my own inexperience and worry.

Bella's stifle appears to be a lot better. I think it's a mixture of less mud, more exercise, a joint supplement, and maybe time to heal if there was a separate acute issue going on.

Did I mention our shot-giving shenanigans the other day? I tried to give Bella a shot in the pasture with no halter. The rest of the horses were so ho-hum about it I figured she wouldn't give me much trouble. Wrong. She took off, twice, and finally the needle was lost. How do you find a needle in a hayfield? I don't know. Can a metal detector find something that small?

So today I gave her the vaccine. I went out armed with many great big treats that require lots of chewing, and of course a halter. She did jump and fidget, but was not too bad overall.

After I put the girls away I went out for some relaxed lovey time with the boys. Cisco wasn't real interested in me, but my two boys came up for some goofy interaction. I do love my Tonka. Scout's a bit rude and can really irritate me, but he does back up and move nicely when I ask. His body is nice, his face is not always nice. Tonka followed me all over. When I went out I picked him some grass from the greener side of the fence.

All-in-all, a very relaxing horse day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I had a fun little outing today even though I didn't leave the property. Tonka seemed eager to join me. The girls - I'm not sure they really had much fun. But it did break up the monotony of their day!

Soxy was tired, breathing heavily from the start. I don't think she appreciated her enforced exercise, although we weren't at it for long. I've decided to start ponying her whenever I can. She had a tough time on that short trail ride yesterday. It just wore her out. Not terrible, but enough that I figure she probably wasn't having much fun after a while. Yes, she's old, but I'm hopeful I can get her in a little better shape so our occasional little rides are more enjoyable for her.

Bella wasn't sure if she was having fun or not. I've only ponied her once or twice before, and it may have been as much as a year ago. She was a very good girl. I just had to remind her every now and then not to get too far forward.
Tonka was a champ. Happy to be working. At first he was hopeful he might get to decide where we went and how fast, but after a few minutes he was more responsive. I started with old Soxy since I wasn't sure how this would go, but really it couldn't have gone better! I'm confident we can start doing a little more challenging stuff and seeing new sights. We're supposed to get some rain later this week, which I really shouldn't complain about since the crops need it. But I'll be taking advantage of any good weather that comes my way!

On to other topics... I have a sick kid today. Poor girl. She was feeling pretty normal when I went out to ride, but I came back in and she was feeling much worse. Some kind of stomach bug. So I can't go to town and get Liam's enrollment package for his new school, but hopefully John's mom can pick it up for me. Liam should be able to start at his new school within the week! It's an Expeditionary Learning school with small class sizes and very caring, thoughtful teachers. I can't wait to see how this goes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We had an absolutely wonderful ride today.One of the few and far between pictures of me riding:
Actually John took a bunch of pictures today, but I looked like a dwarf with a big mouth. It was very weird. I almost posted the worst picture just to show how weird it was, but I didn't.

Tonka stuck his foot in some old rusty barb wire while we were out there, but I saw it, stopped, got off, and moved the wire. He stood nicely and never knew what was up. Then, coming over the last bump on the trail, he just about took a header, twice. He doesn't pay any attention to his feet when he's worried about something.

He's been such an incredible sweetheart lately though. I love my horse.

And here's what the menfolk did this afternoon:
After a totally uplifting day, it's been kind of a sad evening. I was shocked to read about the sudden death of one of my favorite horses in the blogging world, at the 7MSN ranch. He was a character. It was totally unexpected. I almost couldn't believe it. It terrifies me to think the same thing could happen to the horse of my heart.

Tomorrow I'm going to get the ball rolling to get my son into a different school. I am very excited and a little nervous.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A nice little ride today and nary a picture to show for it. Dad? Did you get any?

My dad's friend and her son came up for a visit today. I grew up with them but then they moved away, and now they live not far from us. Good to see them after so many years. I took Soxy and Tonka over, and dad saddled up Sox, and we all took a short little ride down the road. Chris offered to ride Tonka but boy, I just couldn't hand over the reins of my "special" boy. Partly because I know he's not really safe, although Chris is a pretty darn courageous rider. But mostly because he's my boy. I love him too much to hand him over to someone else to take down the road. My daughter in the round pen is one thing, but... Do any of you have proprietary feelings toward your horses? Or should I say, do any of you not? I think most of us tenderhearted women folk get real attached to our horses.

Anyway. When I rode Tonka I just jumped on and rode, no pre-flight checklist or anything. He did his lama-neck thing several times, but was totally awesome for the most part. I love my horse, even if he is a little spooky.

Soxy was awesome too, of course. She's a good old girl.

We have a ride planned for tomorrow, just me and John and Katia. It should be lots of fun. Sunshine. But I hope it's not windy like it was today. I was COLD by the time we were done.
It's killing me. I wasn't able to go to Colorfest, the big mustang adoption going on in Oregon right now. Tracey keeps posting pictures on her blogs and on Facebook. The pictures are great, but it makes me cranky. I wish I was there. Not that I have time to gentle another horse this year. I love gentling so much I tend to forget about my own horses when I'm gentling another.

Contributing to my crankiness - my son was up coughing in my bed all night, with his elbow in my eye. Today he is completely cheerful, you wouldn't know he'd had a rough night. I, however, am not so resilient anymore.

Today is my dad's last day here. We might ride. We might not. I don't really know. If we do ride, I hope Tonka's back is healed enough that I can ride him. Cisco is nice, but he's different. I like my Tonka.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I had to ride Cisco today because somebody bit Tonka right in the middle of his back. Cisco was a pretty good boy! He's herdbound and he got in a hurry some, plus spooking (pretending to spook?) when I asked him to take the lead. Otherwise it was a good ride. And great weather!

Sox is a pretty nice looking horse. And pretty uncomplicated for my dad to ride. He's not good for me, but that's okay, he's not my horse.

Back to the road after our ride. My dad is digging out his camera. Hopefully he'll email me some pictures to post.

Cute guy, done with his ride, all sweaty.
(His head isn't that huge. It's the camera angle.)

My dad took Sox down to say hi to the cows.

Sox is very cute too. This isn't a very good picture of him, but it's what I got.

Hope you're having a wonderful day! Spring has definitely sprung here. I saw a crocus.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Today Tonka and I went for a ride with my dad and Sox, and my sister walked along with her "new" horse, Cowboy. Actually he was her horse to begin with, but then her husband claimed him, and he's just recently given Cowboy back to her. Levi has taken a downturn in health and really shouldn't be ridden anymore.
Tonka didn't deal as well with my dad taking off at a gallop as he has in the past. He was really nervous, but eventually he did settle down.

Tomorrow we have another ride planned, out in the woods. Wish us luck...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Beautiful Bella

Hilltop queen
Carries me kindly
If with a little trepidation.

I call this one
Upward Sacred Dog

Life is good. Happy Valentine's Day!
I've been having plenty of fun with the horses but I haven't been taking pictures, and when there are no pictures it's not as fun to blog about it.

A couple days ago I took Tonka to the round pen. My sister has been telling me about this book Countdown to Broke, and I wanted to try one of the exercise. The exercise is simply to get 50 inside turns in the round pen. Don't get after them if they're cranky, just focus on what you're doing. It teaches them that the round pen isn't a place where they'll always get in trouble, and it should also work them through any crankiness and into a working frame of mind, which will help to build a work ethic. Fifty turns sounds like a lot, but it only took me 10 minutes. We will need to do some more of this, because he's still running around worried with his head up in the air. I was also still getting some attitude from him. According to the book eventually you want to have 500 inside turns under your belt. I can't wait to get the book I ordered instead of hearing about it second hand. I think I'll wait until then to start doing the exercises with Scout.

Yesterday was a big day. My sister decided she can't keep Bella. Her stifle is having some serious trouble again. If she's sound enough to ride she still can't be sent to a trainer because of the amount of work they do with them, and she can't tolerate circle work. Also, x-rays would be a good idea and we may have to do surgery. With the cancer medical bills, that expense just isn't an option for their family. Not sure how we'll afford it either. Y'all sure you don't need a real nice dressage saddle? When I sell that I'll be looking into what I can do to help Bella.

So yesterday I had her out over at my sister's, and I don't know what it is about this mare but I have a hard time being with her without wanting to get on her back. I don't do that with any other horses, but with her I just want to jump on. So I had her sidled up to the tailgate of a truck, and wasn't really going to get on (no helmet) but my sister grabbed a helmet and off we went. Amy led her while I sat for my bareback pony ride. What a dream! I will enjoy riding her bareback some more. Unlike with slippery, slidery Tonka, her back is a great place to sit without a saddle.

I went home to get the trailer and then had another pony ride on her, this time with a saddle. My new saddle didn't fit but the custom western saddle I was going to sell seems to fit her. Darn it. I might have to hang onto it. She is less relaxed with a saddle on. We'll have to work on that.

Which is what I'm going to do right now! Gotta get out there before the rain. I'll come back with pictures in a bit.

Oh wait! I do have one picture from this morning. I sat on a bucket, leaned up against the fence (which is very comfy by the way), and had coffee with her while she ate her breakfast. Then my battery died...
What a dirty mess I am. Horses aren't for OCD clean freaks, I don't think.
See that cord there? John got me a new (used) iPod for Valentine's Day! So happy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Scout didn't realize what he was volunteering for. The older boys knew though. They'd seen me hitch the trailer and start the truck.
I loaded up Scout and Rusty, and after returning Rusty to his stall my sister and I went for a walk with mama and son mustangs.

Look at that nice horsey butt. Amy has been working with her with the flag lately, as you can see.

Scout got to play in a water crossing once I found a solid place to put my own feet. That mud was slick.

He's so darn cute.

His mama loves water. So does Bear, the dog.

Almost knee deep.

This is a kind of awkward picture of Bella/Kamaria but shows how big Scout has gotten.

We turned them loose to play in the arena and Scout made a major pest of himself. Got himself kicked pretty good.

Look how he's floating off the ground here:

His mama is so pretty. Even if she is cranky at him. :)

It was a great day for the young boyo. He got to confront highway traffic again for the first time in about a year. He flipped out last time, but this time after some mild concern it became a non-issue. He crossed the lines on the highway without a second thought. He also trailered all by himself for the very first time. Lots of good stuff today. He's a good boy.

Poor old Soxy. She had quite a good friend in Rusty. She was so upset when I came home and didn't unload him. I feel awful for her. She doesn't like any of the boys here all that much. I can't keep another horse just to make her happy though.

Monday, February 08, 2010

I was a slug when it came to horse work today. Just not feeling up to snuff, so I didn't bother messing with them. Of course, after it was dark I had plenty of energy. Didn't do me much good though, considering there's no outside light.

BUT I just had to share with you all! I put all my weight on Scout's back twice tonight at feeding time. Just climbed up on the feeder and draped myself over. No problemo. Well, other than him moving away when my foot brushed his knee. On the other side I rubbed his leg with my foot first. He was such a good boy. Granted, he was eating alfalfa, so that's kinda cheating. But it was still awesome!

Scout's going to be one heck of a horse if I can just keep him from feeling like work is no fun. I'm not quite sure how to do that, but I just ordered a book that might help me out. Countdown to Broke, I think it's called.

Also, my son, who hates to read (it's worse than pulling teeth) didn't want to put his book down tonight! We got him Diary of a Wimpy Kid and he's totally loving it! I'm not sure how much he's comprehending, but that will come if he'll just keep reading. I ordered the rest of the Wimpy Kid books along with my training book. (Actually I used them as an excuse to go ahead and order the one for myself. What's one more?)

All in all, a very good night.
This standing desk is keeping me off the computer some, like I wanted. That and keeping busy outside.

Saturday all three boys got tied to the trailer for about half the day. Well, first Cisco had an attitude adjustment. He's bolted on me 4 times in the last week. He decides he doesn't want to be my buddy and he whirls and puts his butt to me and takes off. Not much I can do about it, once he's decided to do it. If I keep him on a short enough lead I can see him start to leave and jerk on him, but if I give him enough rope to circle me comfortably, he can take advantage of it. So I took him to the round pen, got his attention a little better, then took him for a walk. He doesn't even lead well. He thinks he does, but I don't want him where he was taught to lead (dragging behind), so he's having a hard time making the adjustment. After our little walk we went back to the ground work that had caused him to bolt in the first place. It took about an hour in all, but he finally decided I was worth paying attention to, and quit worrying as much about where the other horses were. They weren't going anywhere anyway!

After lunch it was Tonka's turn. He was a butthead! Pinning his ears, swishing his tail. So I worked him on the line a bit, and he did this beautiful lope on the end of a 10 foot rope. I've never seen him that balanced and nice in the lope. I've been feeding him as if he had EPSM. He has a lot of the symptoms and eventually I'll have him tested. So I don't know if the diet is the difference, but his lope was nice. I decided to try it under saddle, once he quit being such a jerk. What I did get was nice, but I wish I had a nice big area with decent footing. He stumbled and that didn't do a lot of good for my already shaky confidence.

I took Tonka and Scout for a little walk, since Tonka was soaking wet and in need of cooling down. That was fun, walking and jogging with both of them.

In other news, I jogged 3/4 of a mile without stopping to rest! I don't think I've ever done that in my life. I've never actually been in shape. Kind of, when I was a teenager, especially when I lived in New Orleans, but I smoked so I didn't do much running or jogging. Just a lot of walking. I need to set a goal for the end of the month, but I don't know what's realistic. And I got a pedometer, but it's only registering about 2/3 of my steps. Annoying. I feel like a lazy person, but I wonder... I don't sit around near as much as some people I know, who watch TV and all that... So I thought the pedometer would tell me how lazy I really am, but it's not working.

So, with that, I'm off to do some housework and exercise. Have a great Monday!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Yesterday I worked Scout and Tonka together in the round pen. Tonka was being as good as he could possibly be, but Scout was hiding behind him. So I took Tonka out and made Scout face the flag alone. It was soon apparent that he was feeling a little dopey from his vaccine the day before, so I let them stand at the trailer for a while and called it a day.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I just got in from Scout's first ponying lesson! What a blast! It's awesome to have a job to do with my horse. Tonka was an angel. Scout's a hard-headed little fart, but he figured it out. Part of it was probably my fault. I wasn't sure where I wanted him. Finally I decided I wanted him right where he'd be if I was on the ground leading him. My leg right at his jaw/neck. That way I can keep an eye on him and he can't switch sides without my permission. Once I was more consistent and convincing about where he should be, it didn't take long for him to settle into it, with just a few nasty faces and attempts at nibbling things he shouldn't. He's mouthy, and not in a cute way.

I spent my morning staring at this old cow, in utter suspense, waiting for her to drop a calf. Her water broke, there was stringy stuff hanging out the back, she was straining and very oncomfortable. She never did have the calf though. I decided to call the neighbor and tell him he might want to check on her. He did, and lured her away. I don't know what came of it. I think I saw her standing on the hill a while ago - no calf. I wonder if it was dead.

My vaccines just came, so I gave Scout and Tonka their shots. That's the only good thing that came of Tonka's infection last year. I'm a pro at giving shots now, and don't need John's help anymore.

I'm off to go shoot the other two. Have a fabulous evening!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Wonderful, wonderful, excellent news! My sister's sternum pain? That showed up on the cancer scan? It's not cancer! It's arthritis, of all things. Woo Hoo! I can't even tell you how excited we all were when we found out today. Whole new outlook on life. Love it.

Seems odd to follow that with mundane random stuff, but my day was mundane and random.

No horseplay. Bad weather. But I did hang out with the boys while they were eating, and watched Scout climb into his hay feeder and pee on his hay. WHY do they pee on their hay? I know why, but still, it irritates me. Cisco wasn't impressed either, when he tried to steal Scout's hay. He quickly changed his mind.

Today was our dog India's 10th birthday. We're not big on doggie birthday parties, but we always remember! I gave her a piece of carrot and an apple core today to celebrate. She was happy.

I also made split pea soup for the first time today. I hated it when I was a kid. Then I tried it at my sister's a year ago or so and it was totally edible. John wasn't eating with us tonight so I decided to try making it myself. (John isn't a big legume fan.) It turned out awesome. I ate too much.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Well, Rusty won't be staying with us.

First of all, getting four horses ready for a ride is a pain. I really only got 3 horses ready because John got Cisco out, but still it was a lot of work when they're crusted with mud.

Second of all, it became apparent that Liam isn't ready to ride his horse solo yet. She was behaving just fine but he was afraid and Tonka and I ended up ponying Soxy. That was fun. Tonka did just great with it and it was nice to have a job to concentrate on. Then Liam got hung up on his stirrup as he dismounted and I had to hop down, drop my horse, and get him unhooked. English safety stirrups - the hook that holds the rubber band got caught in his fly, poor kid. He was hanging on to the side of the saddle for dear life and his arms were about to give out. Soxy just stood there, and so did Tonka. Funny, now that it's ended happily. :D

Katia and Rusty didn't last five minutes unfortunately. This time he took off with her and tried to run her into the truck. He wanted to be with "his" mare. Katia was doing a great job trying to get him under control and didn't ask to end the ride, but her voice was shaking a bit. She doesn't like him and doesn't want him as her horse. I can totally understand that. So she waited until Liam was done riding and took Soxy over hill and dale bareback. I think she appreciates that good mare a lot more now. I'm not saying Rusty is a bad horse - my sister has had nothing but good to say about him. I just don't think he's the horse we were looking for. Turns out that horse is still right here, in the form of a fat old appy mare. :)

John said Cisco was behaving better than he ever has before, so the riding the last few days has helped. It's probably not good that we usually just let him sit and then take him on trail rides a couple times a year. He could obviously use some more consistent work. And I think he likes it. Also, I think he really likes the bit I've been using. Unfortunately it's an $80 hand made Dutton bit and it's not mine. I may have to try to talk my sister into selling it.

So, in case you weren't counting - every horse on the place had a saddle on today! And Cisco was ridden twice! Can't say that happens every day. As a matter of fact, it's never happened before. Hopefully I can keep it up, to some extent. At least keep the boys tuned up, and get Scout moving forward.
Honey, can I have your horse? He was an absolute dream today.
I might even ride him again later.
Behind him there, who's that useless horse?

Wait, maybe he's going to become part of the string of useful horses here.

He looks a lot like his mama!
He wore a saddle like a big horse for the first time today. I was too lazy to find the bareback pad so I put my sister's lightweight Wintec saddle on him. It made him kinda grumpy, but overall he was a good boy.

Speaking of saddles, I have decided to sell this one:
Anyone looking for a high-end dressage saddle? Lots of extras included - pads, bridle, reins, breastcollar. Just $1000 and that's a steal for a saddle this nice.

Sorry to get all material on you. This'll pay for Bella's training if she comes back here (still waiting on test results on my sister's cancer), and if she doesn't come back it will pay for Scout's.

I may be back later with more pics. Katia and I need to go for a ride and make a decision on old Rusty. There's someone else who wants him pretty badly, so I feel bad just hanging onto him and not committing to keeping him. Plus, if I'm not going to trade my custom western saddle for him, I need to get that sold as well.