Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I made a little change to our bareback rig by adding a pad with spine relief. It made a big difference for my seat bones, and I assume Tonka felt a difference too.

Not a very pretty color scheme, and it slipped back. I thought the pad might cause slippage issues. But I also didn't cinch up very tight so that may be the problem. (The cinch is a wide roper cinch for stability. It's my sister's but I might have to get myself one.)
This shows the bottom of the pad, to show the thickness of the foam inside. It didn't take much to make a big difference in comfort.

The saddle I'm considering trying out is called an EZ fit saddle. There are a lot of things I like about it. And it's not terribly funny looking, compared to some of the other treeless saddles out there.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I took Tonka out to the saddle maker's to look for saddles. He sent me home with the same saddle he sent me home with a couple years ago (when I went without my horse). It fits really well everywhere but in the shoulders. I don't think I'll bother riding in it any more than I already have this afternoon. Frustrating. No fault of the saddle maker's. I think if I wanted a saddle made he could get me a better fit, but I can't afford that. So I'm back to looking at treeless saddles. I'm seriously considering hauling Tonka up to Spokane to try a couple saddle shops there. It will have to wait at least until next week though.

This is very frustrating. Do you know how many types of treeless saddles are out there? Even disregarding the ones I know are junk, it's overwhelming. I'm starting to look at new instead of used, since some of them offer demos or trial periods. It's really hard to commit to something I've never seen or felt.

On a side note, Tonka was such a good boy today. It was a windy day, we were on the side of the road with heavy machinery going by, a stranger staring at him, throwing unknown saddles up on his back (he can be weird about that), and I rode him in just a halter and one rein (leadrope) up and down gravel piles and around the driveway. He was awesome. He did think about "playing with" the cute little poodle though. I had to have words with him about that.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I have to say, the Chris Cox company has excellent customer service. I highly recommend them if you're looking to buy a good product with good people to stand behind it. Just because it didn't work out for me, don't let that hold you back. They are willing to refund me on the saddle pad! Yay!

I also sold my wade saddle today, so when the money comes in for both of those things I'll be a step closer to a treeless saddle.

There are a lot of things to consider when looking at treeless saddles. For me, foremost is quality. And it has to be safe for the horse's back. I'm interested in Bob Marshall saddles but concerned that there is no spine relief. The Black Forest saddle (another company with excellent customer service) has built-in spine relief and sells a pad to make the horse's back comfortable. I'm leaning toward the Black Forest saddle but I have to admit I'm liking the looks of the Bob Marshall better. But they're both funny looking, in all reality. I'm very nervous about making this plunge into the treeless world. But also a little excited.

We've been continuing to ride bareback a little every day, but I worry it might be making Tonka's back sore. I might try putting a pad under the bareback pad. It is so nice to not have to heave a heavy saddle up onto his back. And it takes all of 2 minutes to be ready to ride, with just the cinch to buckle. Nice. Not so nice that I can't get back on if I need to get off, though. I've been able to avoid getting off so far.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tonka and I can ride bareback!
And here I've been saying all along that we can't/don't like to.

Yeah, so we have a bareback pad. I'm wondering if the texture of it helps me to not slide around on my slippery trout/horse like I did in the past. It didn't much help with the pressure where his spine met my tailbone. But he didn't complain, and we didn't ride long.

He was completely relaxed. His ears were very amusing, flopping loosely to the sides, like Eeyore.
It made me so darn happy I had to go get him this evening and do it again.

Stinkin' saddle issues...

His big shoulder moves back so much when he takes a step that it jams into the saddle even when it seems like he has great clearance up near the wither and all along the shoulder when he's standing still. It reminds me of what they say a gaited horse's shoulder does. It's right about under where my knee is in the photos that he has the most obvious damage - big knots under the skin. My sister and I gave him a massage today and he loved it.

I have contacted Black Forest saddles and asked them what they can do to help me. I met the guy who makes them a couple years ago and sat in one of the saddles and it was very comfortable. Since I sold my Fred Hook I have a little money, but have spent some on hay, so not really enough for a new saddle. We'll see what happens.

Oh, and by the way, I did buy the ultra-expensive Chris Cox saddle pad with my dad's generous birthday check. It made the saddle bridge, but it did almost take the pressure off the trouble area. I've asked if they have a satisfaction guarantee but I doubt I'll get my money back. It is a very nice pad but not going to fix my problems.

So, for the benefit of anyone out there in cyberspace doing a search:
Used Chris Cox Signature Series Saddle Pad for sale. $210.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Today was a busy day, partly because I took a couple hours to ride and I found a great deal on 3 tons of hay.

I was frustrated for a lot of our ride but didn't let it get to me. Tonka was distracted. Scout was getting a lot of exercise running the fence while I rode. Eventually Tonka realized we were working on something and started to pay more attention. He also spooked bigger than he's done in a long time. He was absorbed in trying to do what I was asking of him, and Huckleberry came popping up out of the creek, and I swear I thought Tonka was going to head for the hills. But he held himself together and realized it wasn't a monster. I was very impressed.

I also figured out that I won't be trail riding in the dressage saddle. It hurts in an unmentionable place when going downhill. And I think it's not a good fit for Tonka. I am seriously considering a treeless saddle.

As to the hay - I picked up a ton of it tonight and will go back for the rest over the next couple days. The price worked out to about $2 a bale. The guy was down to 3 ton left and just wanted it out of his way. The bales are nice and lightweight. Which is good because I didn't have John to help me.

I almost forgot to mention - I'm going to keep track of the hours I ride. I got the idea from someone who is a member of the Arabian Horse Association. They have a frequent rider's program where you log in online and keep track of your hours, and every 100 hours you get a little something from them. I just did mine in Excel - there isn't a mustang organization that does this. I'm hoping the AMBA will get something like it started. They need to focus on more than just dressage.

So... I'm off to finish my chores. This day has been a long one.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My two boys got to go back out on pasture today for a while. When I whistled to call them they came running. Well, actually Tonka stood there and stared at me for a minute first.
This isn't a great picture but Scout looks HUGE! He is 15 hands, just 2 inches shorter than Tonka.

I adore that face right there.
The one on the right. Classic Tonka. Focused, intense, lighthearted, ready to do anything (except stand still).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I haven't had anything to blog about. I hurt my back and then got the stomach flu, so hadn't been doing much with the horses. Actually I didn't see them at all for a couple days.

Yesterday Tonka had a bad bout of gas colic for some unknown reason. I've never heard a horse belch and rumble so much. I walked him, gave him some Banamine, and put him in the round pen for the day, going back regularly to check on him and encourage him to walk. By evening he was his normal dorky self.

Day before that Huckleberry showed what an excellent cow dog he can be. My neighbor's calves got through the fence and made their way to this side of the creek and got into my hay. So after I called the neighbor I went out to chase them off. At first Huck didn't do anything, but I told him several times to "Git 'um!" and he did! He chased them off, and after a couple "Leave it!" commands got his head back together and came back to me. After that he was spot-on. He'd hold them by standing and growling, and if they'd step back toward us he'd move forward and bark, and come back for lots and lots of praise, then hold them some more. I wish I knew how to teach him directional commands, but even if I did, we have nothing to practice on.

I've decided to start riding Tonka in the dressage saddle. It seems like such a waste to trail ride in such a nice saddle, but it's light and that makes my back happy, and probably his too. And I think it fits better than anything else I have. I need to find a way to carry a saddle bag though. It doesn't have any dees in the back, and I like to carry a few things with me out on the trail. Can anyone think of anything I could rig up without spending any money? Maybe I could hook something to my front dees.

I haven't ridden Scout again. It doesn't seem like a priority to me right now. We've had some projects to work on around the place. Once things settle down and I can get back into a daily routine I'll get back in the saddle.

So... Now you see why I haven't been blogging. Not much to talk about!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Here are some photos of the common tansy that is growing around the boys' area. You can see the bare stalks where they've eaten all the green stuff. Cisco smelled especially strongly of it yesterday. I also sometimes notice that Soxy reeks of it. I think that since the two of them have metabolic issues they're more likely to eat anything they can get their lips on, since their bodies think they're starving even though they're obese.

I mowed down anything within their reach, and I sprayed some of the surrounding plants with Roundup. Then I sprayed what was left in their area, the small leafy stuff too low to the ground to be mowed, with vinegar. I wasn't sure if that would be just like adding salad dressing, but it couldn't make matters any worse and it might kill the plants.

I can't find much info on the toxins in this kind of tansy. Since they're not often deadly there doesn't seem to be much info on the internet about it. One site mentioned neurotoxins, one mentioned something that can cause irritability and spookiness. I'm not going to search for more info, I'm just going to do my best to get rid of it. I hate to have to spray chemicals on my property, but we've tried mowing it for years, and I think it has helped a tiny bit, but not enough.

On another note, I just got off the phone with Lea from the Mustang Club in Spokane. I know some of you read her blog. She's been in the hospital since Tuesday. She sounds good. She had fluid in her lungs (very scary, not being able to breathe) but they've helped with that and now they're going to take a really good look at her heart. She should be home tomorrow. I'm sure prayers and healing thoughts would be helpful!

I leave you with a progression of pictures that sparked a lot of emotion and thought for me. What a lot of responsibility for an uncertain youngster! Horses never cease to amaze me.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Scout has now had his first ride and it went great! Had a little trouble getting forward motion but he eventually did it. He moved sideways and backwards pretty well. :)

Getting on:

All situated:
This one looks like he's going forward but he's just shifting around.

He just looks cute here:
Getting down:
I've been pondering Cisco a lot lately. I don't know why he suddenly decided he would not follow Tonka down the trail the other day. I do know that I shouldn't have gotten on him with a combative attitude, saying, '"Dammit you're going to do what you're told!"

The last few days I've also noticed that he is being a serious jerk to Tonka and Scout, squealing like a mare, viciously biting at them, and chasing them off at feeding time.

Some things to ponder:
  • He's been on our dried out, weedy pasture for several hours a day - maybe causing sore feet, something toxic making him act weird or causing a bellyache or just plain too much energy from the grass?
  • I just started a couple new supplements - Remission for foundered/obese horses, and a probiotic. I don't think these could affect him but I also added a handful of alfalfa pellets to his beet pulp to make sure he eats it.
  • Saddle fit - his saddle didn't fit. I've tried our others and found one that works better but still don't know how much better. We'll need to ride him in it a bit more before we know. And if it isn't comfortable for John we'll have to find something different.
  • Lameness? I don't know if it's just the difference in his short stride compared to Tonka's, but he doesn't feel quite right underneath me, in the front end.
  • Mental - he's been forced and cowboyed a lot in his life. When we tried him out his owner put him in a spade bit and yanked him all over the place. I think he's afraid of pain and freaks out when he gets in trouble. So we need to start working on softening and gently showing him that if he behaves everything is nice, and if he doesn't behave we'll help him find the right answer, not punish him. Which will be a lot of work for him and for us.
But mainly I think the answer is probably something physical, since he's been good more often than bad in the past. I'm going to keep him off pasture and separate him from the boys, get real serious about getting rid of tansy (common tansy, not the more deadly tansy ragwort), and start working with him often in a better fitting saddle. By working I mean soft and slow work at home, not immediately taking him out on the trail and expecting him to be soft. But he's going to have to go back out on the trail at some point.

Do you have any thoughts to add?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

This post is dedicated to Scout
Think anyone at a stock horse show would guess he's a mustang?

My partner, waiting:
He doesn't have to wait too much longer before I get on with it and climb aboard. He's still stressed about the bit. I may make a riding halter tonight, and just let him wear the bit for a while rather than using it.

I worked with Cisco too.

He's fat.But he's a good boy.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

My good friend Allegra and her horse-crazy daughter came to visit this weekend. I love getting kids and horses together.

Allegra and I went out on a trail ride and I assumed my good horses would be good even though it was windy and cool out. You know what they say about assuming things...

So Allegra rode Tonka all the way back. He was so good! I've never had anyone else ride him out on the trail. Don't their ponytails look so nice together?

Boots or shoes... That's the subject of some people's photo posts today. But it reminded me I should ask you all about your riding boots or shoes. I need a new pair one of these days and I don't like any of the ones I've had. I have Ariat Starbaby boots but they are super uncomfortable (hard soles, heel too high). I have Ariat Terrains (more of a hiking shoe with a riding heel) but they don't last long. I've had Blundstone boots as well but that's more of an English boot and I won't wear anything that laces on tightly.

What I want is a riding boot that I'd be comfortable wearing and walking in all day long, with a heel that isn't too high, that is waterproof and will last a couple years before having to be replaced. Oh, and it has to be as cheap as possible. I think I might be stuck with Ariats again, but my sister said I should try the Justin Gypsy boots. Do any of you have any recommendations?

Yesterday when I was wearing my loosely tied Ariat Terrain boots I came off of Cisco in a rather clumsy emergency dismount. I ended up with one shoe on for some reason. It was kind of funny after the fact. I know it didn't get hung up in my stirrup because it was on the foot that I swung over his butt. Who knows what pulled it off... I also have a bruise on the back of that ankle and I don't know how that happened either. I do know why my hip is bruised and my other hip road-rashed, and I must have caught my arm somewhere on the saddle because it's got a big swollen and very colorful bruise.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Naughty little trespassers!

There were 4 calves that slipped through the fence onto our property. It was a good thing though, it got me across the creek and onto that side. I forgot how nice it is under the trees over there. I'll have to take advantage of the low creek and lack of mud and ride over there more often.

My rockstar with his left-handed guitar:

My daughter has been playing her guitar a lot too. She amazes me how fast she can pick things up. She's seen about all I can remember, and John and my dad have been showing her what they know, so now I think it's time to get some real lessons. I wish I could take lessons too. I miss playing. But I don't have the gift she does. She can even make up her own music like John does. I'll never be able to do that...

She was sitting in camp playing her guitar one day and a neighboring camper said she looked like an American Idol contestant, Crystal Bowersox. I just remembered to look her up and there is a resemblance. I'll have to find a video of her playing. Anyway, getting to the point - Katia said that day that she'd like to have a day job and be a street performer too. I knew a lot of great musicians who were street performers in New Orleans. They were barely getting by but they were loving life. I think it would be a lot of fun for a young person just getting out in the world. I hope she sticks with it.