Thursday, December 29, 2011

I've found a horse to borrow for the lessons for now, so no big hurry on finding another, but of course I'm still looking. He's my brother in law's horse, and absolutely beautiful - I'll have to post a picture of him. If I remember right he's a Percheron Morgan cross, but might have some QH in there as well. He can be a lot like Tonka in that he gets worried and his energy level can get to be a lot pretty quick, but he's not a light horse like Tonka. He thinks leaning into pressure is the right thing to do and he takes a lot of softening work. But he's a total love and one of those curious, into everything type of geldings. I think it will be fun to play with him, and I'm really grateful to have a horse for the lessons.

In other news, Blue was neutered the other day. We've been having a spell of heavy rain, which I didn't even think about in terms of it affecting the surgery, but it means he can't run around outside. I have to take him on a leash so he doesn't get his incision wet. Ugh. He's got way too much energy to be a leash only dog. He's so stinkin' positive about life, it's great (and also a bit annoying). I put an Elizabethan collar on him when he was trying to lick too much, and it doesn't slow him down or depress him one bit. Every other dog I've had has gotten really sad and dejected with those things. Blue just trots around same as ever and rams the dang thing into the backs of people's legs. The other dogs can hardly tolerate him when he's wearing it. But I haven't had to put it on him much.

Alright, back to work. It's amazing how messy this house can get with four humans and four dogs in it. We're babysitting my mom's dog too. He mostly stays out of the way though.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I thought I'd just put this out there and maybe the universe would help me come up with a solution.

I need a sound horse to ride. I'd be happy to borrow one for the winter, or maybe buy one. Maybe one of you near me knows someone who is looking for a good situation for a good horse? I'd prefer one that is at least started but an older beginner friendly horse would be great too, especially if I'm buying the horse for keeps. That way my kids could ride when summer comes and either Tonka or Bella are well enough to ride.

I would be sad that I found Grace a new home and couldn't start her, if it wasn't for the fact that I think she's with the person she was supposed to end up with.

Bella's lameness seems to be getting slightly worse with work (very gentle work). Or maybe I'm just more bothered by it the more we work. I think she will heal, but I don't know. It's a front foot or leg issue, not related to the stifles. (I think it's founder related but could be a splint). I'm trying some different things but I may decide to take her in for a lameness exam. I just don't want to spend a lot of money for an iffy diagnosis.

Scout is still fine, but John is riding him. And of course Tonka is laid off for the winter and Soxy can't work anymore. So I'm horseless. :(

Any other time I'd wait this out and not ride (and I may still do that) but I want to be able to keep doing the weekly lessons with John and Scout. And if I had a seasoned horse to ride we could get out on the trail some too. This winter has been so mild. No reason not to ride (except today with pouring rain and howling wind) if I only had a horse.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The dogs would like to say Merry Christmas.

But I think they would have preferred to say it without headgear.

This is probably the nicest picture.

But I think this one is my favorite. It doesn't look as funny in this size but Huckleberry's buggy eyes cracked me up when I first looked at this one.

They gave me the cold shoulder more than once.

And Huck looked Goofy more than once.
(enter Sir Chaos trying to be good)

But of course India was a sweetheart about it all. And she'd make an excellent Max.

Then we have Blue.

"It's killing me!"

"No, I'll kill it!"
"A little help here?"
(Still stuck around his neck)
But in the end youth and determination conquer all.
May you feel youthful and joyous this Christmas eve.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Cold Shoulder

Stay tuned for this, and more, on tomorrow's edition of Mustang Saga.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I've lost all track of what day it is. But then I saw a wordless Wednesday post on Life at the Rough String and all is well. Breaks from school are like that.

Yesterday I went up to Mountain Ridge Horse Rescue - - and took pictures of all the horses. Cyndi will have to post them somewhere, or let me know where she wants me to post them, but I'll share with you my favorites.

Mandy used to do some sort of rodeo. She's an older horse but she is still rideable. And pretty, too!
(The roofing on the ground behind her is in an alleyway outside her pasture. No junk lying around in the pastures. They still have a lot of material to build new shelters for the horses.)

These two mares are new to the rescue. They were strays. You can see why the meat buyer wanted them. They need a diet. The lighter grulla is pretty skittish but the darker one is touchable.
This guy is Raji and he was probably my favorite of all. He's sensitive and sweet and kinda spicy. :) He reminds me a lot of Lyric. And he had that gorgeous floaty Arabian trot.But as much as I liked the horses, I wasn't tempted to bring any home, which is a good thing.

I have to admit that the words "horse rescue" usually make me cringe. But this place is nice. The horses have shelter, the fencing is tight and safe. The horses are not wading in mud and there's no junk lying around. They have several separate areas with just a couple horses in them, as well as a bigger pasture with a group of horses. So nobody gets bullied too much. It's a good setup.

This morning when I went out to fill a trough I found the pump running for no reason. There was no water on in the house and hadn't been for a while. So I immediately thought there must be a broken pipe under the house. But from all the peepholes I have of the underneath, I can't see any wet or even damp. Which is nice because I was expecting a lake. All of my faucets, washer, etc. are giving out water in a normal flow. So what's up? Last time I went out and tested it the pump would run for about 30 seconds and then stop, then start again, etc. Which is making me think there must be a leak if not a completely broken pipe. Which is not good because you can't really get under our house. I need a camera on a long pole or something so I can look further under. I guess our only option would be to cut through the floor to get to it. Not great. I wish they'd planned the foundation better. What a bummer.

BUT I am so glad that when I need water I do have it. I just have to go outside and turn everything back on every time I need to run water.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I just realized I forgot to blog about our day. John and I had the riding lesson all to ourselves. So he and Scout got some wrinkles ironed out and Bella and I got some good advice regarding bits, resistance to the bit (or bosal) and in general I had a lot of little questions answered about how to structure things for a horse of Bella's mental type.

Bella was a rockstar today! She did so well in the arena. There was no super nervous introduction period, and I didn't feel at all unsafe mounting up after limited groundwork. I am still a little worried about her soundness, but nothing has become serious so I'm going to keep up the careful work.

I was thinking to myself tonight that we sure do have a broken bunch of horses around here. Not broke, but broken. But we make do and get along the best we can with the limitations that are handed to us.

Speaking of broke horses, poor Katia wanted to bring her friend over to ride with her, but we only have the one good kids' horse. It'll be nice when Scout and Bella get more steady and trustworthy. John just read that and he thinks Scout would be fine for Katia to ride but I'm not so sure. Maybe in an enclosed area.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Katia and Soxy went for a ride again and this time I got pictures.Soxy's health is pretty good lately, and she seems to enjoy these short, easy rides around the property. Katia said she gets really excited when she gets her out.

I caught her about to ask for a stop here. Soxy's face is so sweet.

Then I rode Bella in the new bit and it was pretty clearly not her favorite thing. So I asked my mom for a nice, plain comfort snaffle for Christmas. Scout is using the one I bought before and doing very well in it. I'll just continue in the bosal with Bella until the other bit comes.

We've had a visitor in our field every day lately. Hunting for mice, I guess. I never knew they did that until I lived here. I love herons.

This little guy was just begging me to take his picture.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The weather was absolutely beautiful today. I think it was in the 40's, the sun was shining, and there was just a slight breeze. An excellent day to rake up the last of the leaves in the yard and put the snow shovels to work scooping leaves into wheelbarrows. I kept thinking to myself, "I can't believe it's the first day of Christmas break and instead of snow we're shoveling leaves." Just doesn't seem right.

I also struggled with the mower. I still haven't gotten the sledding hill mowed because the darn mower won't start. I've charged it and it tries to start, but then it just makes a funny noise. So I charged it again and got the same result. Then I gave up. I think the problem may not be the battery. Or maybe we need a new one instead of trying to charge this one. I'm no mechanic, that's for sure.

The horses all got their midwinter dose of Zimecterin Gold today. They didn't love it but it must not taste that bad because they kept following me around afterward.

I did some groundwork with Scout, just worked on crisp transitions and that's about it. He was being really lazy for John last week so I thought he needed a tune-up. He'll only do as much as he thinks you'll make him do. Lazy boy.

Bella got to try a new bit. I actually ordered it special for Tonka right before I found he's not rideable. It's a Myler comfort snaffle with a low port. He's always liked bits with a low port. I think maybe it gives more tongue relief? Anyway, Bella got to try it today, and the jury is still out. I just did groundwork while she wore it and then asked her to respond to it from the ground. I'll probably ride her tomorrow morning. I'd like to find a bit that will work for her, for the clearer communication they give.

Other than that I went out and just loved on Bella and Scout a couple times.

Well, of course I did do other things like play with my kids, play with the dogs, and make soup. It's been a good day.

Katia shocked me by asking if she could ride Soxy this evening. So she went and got her out and off they went bareback and in a halter, looking so relaxed. I love to watch the two of them ride around. I wanted to get a picture but my camera was dead. Meanwhile, Tonka was throwing a big hissy fit in the pasture just like he did last Monday, rearing and striking and squealing because his mare was going out. Dork.

Tonight I got a wonderful update on Grace. She's been worked with every day and has had her hooves trimmed and made a 1/2 mile hike to the indoor arena where she did a lot of new things including jumping, and encountered a couple mules and another horse working and was completely unfazed. What a horse. And what a wonderful owner. She's just the type of person I wanted for Grace. I love that she's getting right to work and getting her trained.

Oh! And I haven't had a cup of coffee since Wednesday morning. Yay me! I'm drinking tea instead. I've gotten a couple nagging headaches but nothing terrible. Eventually I'll cut out the tea too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Busy, busy, busy here with all the goings on. Wednesday Bella went to the indoor arena for the second time. She was still nervous but got over it after a while and we did some basic riding at the walk. Figure 8, circle, one-rein stop, normal stop, walk on, back up. All that. Not very exciting to read about but an excellent step in the journey.

Yesterday was an interesting and somewhat busy day at the spay/neuter clinic. Lots of really neat dogs and cats came in. Everyone is so proud of their animals. It's nice to see how much they're loved. Blue went with me since he got out of the fence last time I left him at home. He sat quietly in his crate all day and everyone admired him. Of course that meant he had more energy later. :)

I ended up having to drive back into town and do a bunch of shopping after the kids got out of school so they could get gifts for their friends. So it was a long day and much busier than I'm used to.

Today I took it easy. Kind of a day off before Christmas Break when the kids are here making messes all the time. I touched up the trim on 3 horses, did dishes, laundry, and a trip to town, but other than that I just loafed.

There is a horse rescue in Davenport, WA that is in need of help. They have plenty of hay and all that, the problem is that there has been an unexpected change in circumstances and there is too much work for one person to keep up with. She needs to adopt out 10 horses and find someone to help with the daily chores. Here's the website: They have more horses there than are listed on the website but she's having trouble getting them posted, so you might call and see if they have what you're looking for.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It started innocently enough.
But then I gave him water after midnight.

And it all went downhill from there."Rrrrawr!"

And then we had a little training session and they all got to share a bit of leftover chicken.Blue's ears don't really stand up, I just kept catching him in that position.

We had another good lesson today. Bella had never been to the arena before and she'd never been around that many horses working, being flagged, coming in and out of the arena, etc. So as I expected there was a lot of tense breathing on her part, and some goosy-ness, but she didn't freak out over anything.

We worked on sending and proper positioning of our bodies while the horses circle us. As the trainer explains it, when the horse is moving around and we aren't asking for a change, we should be pointed at the saddle, where we would be sitting if we were riding. Makes sense. When it comes time to stop our bellybutton points at the hindquarters. I think this naturally happens for us (Bella and I) because I stop moving and she passes to the point where I'm facing her hindquarters, then she disengages and stops to look at me. It really is nice to have a sensitive horse rather than a dull, luggy one.

Going back to the send, she talked about how important it is for us to send our horses into the circle so that they walk forward and we come to the saddle not by human movement, but by moving the horse. We should not try to sidestep or chase our way into the right spot. The horse's feet need to move, and if our feet move the only direction we should be going is forward. If we back up or move sideways we're giving up space to the horse, or even just confusing the horse and ending up with the wrong results.

We passed the test on that one and she suggested we work on walk-trot transitions. This was an excellent exercise to give Bella something to do so that she could come to terms with the scary new surroundings. Before long she was licking and chewing and her ears weren't flicking back and forth trying to take in every little sound. We need to work on the downward transition on her right side. It wasn't going as smoothly as I would have liked since I was having to ask twice and use my rope to back up my request, but we did end it on one that she did very well.

Next we worked on moving sideways, basically a sidepass on the ground. This one she didn't do as well on the left as she did on the right. On her right she just floated sideways. It was beautiful. On her left she'd back up, move her hind end, move her front end, move her hind end again without crossing over, get crooked, and get kind of flustered. We were doing this with her nose pointed at a wall, or in our case panels that stunk of cattle and had distractions attached, so she wasn't focusing well. Although it was interesting how none of that bothered her when I was on her right side. We'll work on that one some more here at home too. And I'm hoping to make another trip to the arena this week some time.

When the others mounted up I did some "friendly game" with the flag and then got on the mounting block and got her in position and did some more, adding in some rubs and bumps with my legs along her shoulders, flank, and rump, and some slapping and flapping of the saddle. She wasn't worried about that at all and it gave her time to watch the other horses moving around.

She was very wide-eyed and worried about the other riders. When they started trotting it was especially scary. When they had done some other things they came and circled us, making the circle small and large again, going in both directions at both the walk and the trot. Eventually there were three circles around us. The outer circle was one horse who needed to trot very quickly, then the inner two circles were going opposing directions and different speeds. All of this was a lot to take in, but she settled into it pretty well. I stood with her and reassured her, which means a lot to her. She needs someone to put her nose on and ask, "Is this okay?"

When they went to work on indirect rein and hind end disengagement I mounted up and we just stood and watched. I made sure we had lateral flexion in case we ended up needing our one-rein stop. I moved her feet around some, doing what the others were doing, but mostly I just let her take it all in. Then the trainer noticed I had mounted up and she asked us to move around with the other horses. I was absolutely not ready to be in a group of trotting horses, or rather, Bella was not at all ready for that. So we just walked around with John and Scout and then got close enough to pet each other's horses.

It was an excellent experience for Bella, and I was so proud of her. What a girl! I was also extremely thankful to the others for taking the time to help us out. It's so good to have a group of people to depend on and to have fun with.

When I got home there were eight bald eagles right next door. As far as I can tell from my pictures, they were all adults except two. Pretty neat. They were eating something large and dead. Probably a deer, since it's not calving time yet.

This picture has 4 of the adults, but one is hiding. They were all "talking" to each other in loud peeps and squeals. It was pretty neat.

And here's my only equine photo of the day.
Tonka, who through a big squealing, rearing fit in the pasture when we brought "his" horses home. He's not in their pasture, so he had to throw his fit from afar.

Well, it's been a big day and so now I bid you goodnight!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bella and I had a good ride here at home today. Nothing spectacular, just working some more on the basics, and not much trotting because the footing is firm and she's a little sore in her front feet. I don't know if it's from the founder last year or what, but I'll be watching it closely and I'll definitely be more careful about putting her on grass next year.
She was a little difficult to take photos of in the round pen because she was following me everywhere. She's a sweetie.
This little fella came up and stole my hat while I was riding. He was quite proud of his acquisition.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The After-Bath-Crazies
Poor blue bird toy. His guts are all over the place.

Do your dogs get all silly after a bath? I love it! So entertaining. But hard to take pictures of such fast moving objects.

Friday, December 09, 2011

This was the scene that greeted me today when I got back from taking Grace to her new home. They were looking for their buddy. :(

But it really is a happy ending and a very happy new beginning for Grace (new name pending, I'll keep you posted). She'll be worked with a lot and there are trails and an indoor arena right down the road. She won't be a neglected pasture pet and she will have lots of love and the best care. I couldn't have found a better home for her.

On another note - maybe I need to cut back on the horsey groceries a bit. Scout and Bella are looking pretty stout. :/ (They do have their coats all puffed out in the cold though, so it's not all fat.) Can you believe that gargantuan creature is her wee baby? He sure has grown!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

I thought I might take a moment to talk about our ride yesterday, since I actually have a moment at the moment. :)

I hauled Bella over to my sister's and she rode surprisingly quietly in the trailer. I thought it might be because she wasn't shut between the dividers. But (to skip ahead a bit) she didn't ride home quietly at all. So I guess she still doesn't like trailering. And I think using the divider might be better than not using it.

Anywho. We did some work on the line, then I moved her around the round pen some. Lakota, my sister's highly offensive POA (other horses just don't like him - he's actually a really nice horse) was tied to the outside of the round pen, and the two of them had words. So we corrected both of them with a sound, a waved flag, or a request for movement whenever they responded negatively as Bella went around.

Then we did some desensitization with a very noisy flag, and then out came the rattly hula hoops. SCARY. Bella is interesting in that she can deal with scary things better when she's standing still than when she's moving. I think because she's not actually dealing with them, she's just "checked out." That's why it's a good idea to sack out at a standstill and also in motion. Eventually she came to accept the hula hoops more, so I went and saddled her up.

We did some walk and trot work that was really great. She is a more forward horse than Tonka and it's going to take some time for me to get used to that. She had a bit of a challenge keeping her mind on task with Amy's horses in the pasture nearby. Her movements were always better in that direction than away. Just another thing to keep in mind and work on. Eventually Amy rode Lakota into the pen and that was really great too. We worked at opposite sides, circling, reversing, circling, reversing. Then Lakota stood in the middle. Bella tried some snaky-necked, ear-pinned nastiness but I corrected her immediately, and so did my sister. She only tried it 2, maybe 3 times before she quit. I want to make sure I have a well behaved horse around others. That behavior can't be allowed.

The weirdest thing came at the end. I'd stopped her after a long time just walking in circles around the round pen. She likes to be moving forward, so that was good for her. When I moved my hand up her neck in preparation to dismount, she rocked forward, so I thought she thought I wanted her to move out again. But no, she kept rocking back and forth in this wavelike motion. It was really a weird feeling. My sister said that is a letdown of endorphins and it was a really good thing so just sit and enjoy the moment. After she stopped I continued to sit and Bella started breathing deeply and licking and chewing. What a neat thing. Weird, kind of dizzying, that swaying. I've never known anything like it.

While we were riding she never once pinned her ears or snaked her head around at me like she wanted to bite. She never really seemed to be irritated about the riding at all. That is a first for her. We're moving forward! Yay!

You might have noticed I moved back to the bosal rather than a bit with her. I had been thinking I shouldn't baby her and she should learn to ride in a bit. But her attitude change was not a good thing with the bit, and I think at this point I ought to set us up for success rather than force her farther out of her comfort zone. In the future I may try a bit again but she's made it pretty clear she doesn't like them so I may just leave her bitless.

It's nice to have such a great ride to make me feel more inspired and excited after finding that Tonka can't be ridden for now. I needed that.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Bella and I had a wonderful ride today! The best yet.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Today's horse work had a couple of big ups and downs.

First I worked on trailer loading with Grace. I put a bucket of grain deep in the trailer as a reward if she did decide to get in. I've found that grain doesn't work to bribe a scared horse, so that wasn't my intention, I just wanted her to have a great experience if she got in there. Lo and behold, I walked into the trailer and she walked right in behind me. She really wanted that grain. She was afraid to back out so I got out to give her room, and when she was finished with her grain she turned around and looked at me. She didn't try to get out, she wasn't stressed, she was just taking in the scenery. When I took her lead and asked her to come out the step down was big and that kind of surprised her but wasn't really a big deal. What a horse!

Then I got Tonka out and saddled him and we worked for a little bit but he wasn't with me, he wasn't happy, and I was afraid he was going to come out of his skin so I got off and we went in the round pen. When I asked him to trot off I saw why he wasn't doing well. He's lame. At first I thought it was the leg that had had the tendon injury but when I looked closer I saw his hind end was all wrong. His EPSM is really bad after our work yesterday. So I walked back to the trailer totally dejected. I think I'm going to have to retire him, at least during the winters.

So tune in tomorrow for progress on Bella. I hope she's sound enough to be my riding horse.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Today John surprised me by saying Yes, he did want to go to the lesson with me. Yay!

John has never done a lot with Scout other than pet him and lead him from place to place. But Scout will be his riding horse so today they had a lot of firsts. Scout hadn't been to the indoor arena before. He was a pill to saddle and unsaddle at the trailer. He needs more standing tied time. Then we went inside the arena and he was a little looky-loo but not bad. I showed John some of the groundwork we'd worked on in previous lessons and then handed "my" colt over to him.

Eventually the instructor got there and we decided we'd done enough ground work that we could mount up and get started. John had a great time on Scout, and Scout looked like he was really enjoying himself too. And John loved my wonderful lovely saddle that doesn't fit Tonka. Glad he can enjoy it. :)

Tonka was pretty reactive today. Worried and a bit herdbound. It resulted in a big bolt right toward Scout's butt. I couldn't get him stopped. He's always shut right down for me before, but he was in a special place today. As I tried to stop him I watched Scout's butt getting closer and closer, with my husband on board, and I was so afraid Scout was going to freak out and get John hurt. But he just stood there. He must be pretty used to Tonka's quirks. Tonka stopped when he got close to Scout, and we went back and worked out the kinks. It was funny because we had just been practicing our one-rein stops, and Tonka had done really well, but not so much when it mattered. Goof.

It was a really good lesson, although it was kinda short. Some things were explained to me in a better way than I've heard them before, so I actually understood what the point was. I might write more on that tomorrow. I'm too tired to try to figure out how to word it tonight.

Scout and Tonka both got tired toward the end of the lesson. Tonka's back-up got stiff and unwieldy, and Scout fell to his knees from the trot. So we decided to hang out in the middle while another lady worked with her horse in circles around us. It's fun to see other people make progress too, and to see their horse go from worried and challenging to relaxed and happy to do what's asked. And so quickly and easily, with no fight, just a little thought and work.

We got home and we were both pretty excited by how well it had gone. John has never ridden a horse as well trained as Scout. Well, not one that was cooperative anyway. So his experience was really great - finding the buttons and how to push them and feeling a willing response. I enjoyed seeing them work so well together. And I really enjoyed riding my own horse, even if he was a bit squirrely. I can't wait to keep up the good work. I'll be working with Grace this week too, but I'm going to make sure I keep Tonka in work so we can build on his conditioning and maybe make it all the way through the next lesson.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

I think (*knock on wood*) that miss Gracie has found a wonderful home. I don't know if it's tempting fate to talk about it before it's all settled, but I'm so excited I had to share. I'm not excited that she's leaving, I'm excited that it seems so perfect. I have all week to work on trailer loading and I'm taking her to her new home on Friday. The lady is SUPER excited about her, which of course makes me SUPER excited. She has mustang experience, she wanted a mustang, and she loves curly horses, and it just all seems to be so meant to be.

No horse work today for me though. I just had to feed and water and get going. We went up to Spokane for a nice dinner with my parents, who I haven't seen in quite a while. My mom just recently got back from taking care of my Grandma. Grandma is doing great and will be able to get a new heart valve through arthroscopic surgery (a very new thing) soon. I am so glad she doesn't have to do open heart surgery. She just doesn't bounce back very well anymore. But the new valve ought to make her feel like a kid again. I hope. Speaking of my grandparents, they just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. They're awesome.

That's about all I've got. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

It was bitterly cold today but I got a lot done anyway. I've had this fencing project that's been undone for a couple years. I finally had to revise my plan for how to finish it so I could do it by myself, and I finished it today. Yay! It looks so much better. Actually, now that I think about it, there's more to be done, but the part I wanted done, the part that looked the most trashy, is nice and cleanly finished.

Then I got the truck charged up and started. I don't know what's going on with it. I'm crossing my fingers that it was a one time thing, but it's fairly similar to something it did last year and it ended up having to be fixed.

After doing some housework I finally got to go out and play with the horses. Tonka was standing out in the pasture looking uncomfortable so I left him alone. I went out to the other group of horses and haltered Grace, then petted her and let her go.

When I got Scout out he was a changed horse compared to yesterday. He gave me a small amount of attitude but he did everything I asked. And then I realized something. Maybe he wasn't giving me attitude. He was doing it on his right side, the side with the bad eye. He kept turning his head in toward me and bobbing it up and down as he trotted on a circle. Not in an, "I want to offer to come in," sort of way. It looked naughty. Maybe it was naughty. But I'm also wondering if he was just trying to see me better by getting his left eye on me. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and just ask him to continue on. We'll see what we see next time I work with him.

As I was about to saddle up I got a call from a very nice lady who is interested in Grace. She has mustang experience, is specifically looking for a mustang, and is very interested in taking her. After we talked I sent her a video and we'll see. She was supposed to call back tonight and now I'm getting worried. I had high hopes...

Grace was awesome for her video experience. First I just asked her to trot around the round pen at liberty to show that she's sound. Then I did some basic body control and asked for her feet. I wrapped the lead rope around her hind feet for the first time and asked her to lift them. No problem. No kicking or over-reaction. Eventually I picked up her hind feet with my hand for the first time. What a good girl! And her hooves are in remarkably good shape for being left alone for so long. She's going to make someone a really good horse.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Today the weather was absolutely beautiful. I got to work with both of my boys. Sorry, no pictures. :(

I tried a different Myler bit with Tonka, and he didn't like it. He wasn't bad, but it was clear it was a distraction rather than a help. He's been working really well in the basic Myler comfort snaffle and this was similar but with short shanks and a roller. I'd like to try a Myler bit with a little tongue relief or low port, I think he'd like that a lot. Or I just need to get another regular comfort snaffle, so that I have one for each of the boys. They both like it much better than a regular snaffle.

I don't think Tonka's muscles were doing very well today. He was pretty resistant and tail-swishy about backing up, which is only a problem for him when his EPSM is a problem. So I cut that short and we did some other stuff. It may have been because I hadn't fed him his supplement in the morning like I normally do, I fed it after our work instead. I hope he feels better tomorrow.

I got Scout out for the first real work session since his stall rest. I decided his hooves needed a touch up and while I was doing that I found a big abscess exit tract in his heel area on his right front hoof. So it looks like his lameness was from an abscess after all. Unless it was just a coincidence, but that seems unlikely.

Recently I've noted that Scout is bossing both of the mares he lives with, and I wondered if that was going to have repercussions in our work. Well, he was sure a handful today. More sluggish than usual and then more attitude when I asked him to toe the mark. But I was happy to note that he did not seem lame in the least. Eventually, after a lot of groundwork, we did some relaxed riding. We worked mostly on the backup, and he did well, then not, then well, then not. It was weird and frustrating. At one point as I asked him to back up he slipped in a patch of mud and fell to his knees. That was a fun position to be in. I could feel him thinking about what to do, and I really hoped he wouldn't decide to lay down. I gave the reins a slight upward pressure and he got himself back up. Good boy!

When I was done I fed them an extra meal because I'd given them a light breakfast. Scout was a turd! He was pinning his ears and heading for the hay I was holding after I'd dropped the first pile. So I didn't drop the second pile until I had told him (more than once and quite firmly) to go away and he finally went to eat with his mom. Then I fed the other two piles and he didn't bother me. I'm going to have to pay closer attention when I feed. He's got a lot of thoughts going on in his head when I'm just getting through my chores, and I think he has me pegged as a push-over.

So it wasn't really fun work today, but the weather was nice and it was good to get time with both boys for a change. We have a lesson on coming up and I'm hoping John will go with and ride one of them (I'm starting to think he better ride Tonka for now). So I need to make sure they're both in a working mindset.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Isn't he somethin'?
I don't mind if you don't agree, we all have different tastes in horses. But for me, he's just got that special something. I sure do count myself lucky to have my dream horse right here at home.

You may have noticed how good he's being in the picture above. I "tied" him there with nothing but the power of our combined minds and I wasn't sure if he'd stay put, but he did, through saddling and unsaddling and all my dinking around. Even with Scout rip-roaring back and forth in the pasture right in front of him. Good Tonka. He does know how to ground tie but he also knows how good grass is so he doesn't always stay.

We rode for a full half hour today. I rode while waving the flag around for the first time. You'd think after all these years I'd have done that before but it never occurred to me. We did circles, leg yields, blah, blah, blah. Then we went up and down the driveway a few times. It was pretty exciting stuff. When I rode back toward the horse trailer he thought he'd like to keep on going out over the hill, so we did. On the way back his hind end was slipping out from under him, which could be a sign he was getting fatigued or might have just been the mud. Either way, best for him that we be done at that point. We have to take things gradually.

Grace had visitors on Sunday but they didn't seem very interested in her. I didn't feel that great about it either and I realized it was because if she finds a home I want it to be with someone who is really excited about her. These people didn't seem too taken with her, and maybe just didn't like mustangs. That's okay. I can wait. I haven't even really advertised her, and I don't have high hopes of finding her a home in this economy. And I feel okay with that right now.

Yesterday I rode Tonka for about 20 minutes at a nice relaxed walk. He didn't take one misstep. I'm going to ride again today if it kills me. I should ride Scout also but we'll see. I'm sick again. But the weather is really nice for this time of year so I'll take advantage of it as much as I can.

And that's about all I've got. Boring, I know, but there isn't much of interest going on here. I think I'll go sit down again now.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Miss Gracie was a very good girl today. First we just walked around together, friendly-like. then she met the flag, and we did some lunging. She did much better today than yesterday, when I didn't have a flag. Yesterday she was being a bit of a pill about wanting to go back to Bella instead of walk forward in a circle. Today that didn't happen and we had a lot of restful thinking and licking and chewing between relaxed circles on a loose lead.

Oh, and yesterday she got her front hooves trimmed. All she needed was a good rasping. She was amazingly good for it. I had done some preparatory work about a month ago and she obviously remembered it.

I took her out for a walk and got some new pictures of her.

She also got to check out the trailer. She was very curious and relaxed about it. I didn't let her get in. I think I want to take the front divider out first, to make more room. This trailer is barely wide enough to turn around in, and if she does panic and turn I don't want either of us to get hurt.

Wee Mister Stinky got a nice soothing oatmeal bath today too. He's so crazy after a bath! I really ought to get a video of his munchkin growling and rolling and flopping about. It's fun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Today I made a trip to Spokane for horse supplies and ended up coming back with almost nothing. I did get the vitamins for the horses though. Unfortunately Scout is too picky to eat the HorseGuard that we have locally, so I have to travel to get Equerry's. Actually, I like having an excuse to look at tack and stuff so I don't mind making the trip. I did drool a bit over some headstalls and a Myler bit but my son dragged me through the stores so quick I didn't have much time to dream about what I can't have. I was pretty bummed that they were sold out of black oil sunflower seeds though. They have an excellent deal on them right now.

When I got home I took my Tonka out for a little fun. Chipped the mud off, with most of it flying in my eyes. I also had a flag to play with. He does what I want nicely but rather slowly. I'd like more precision, better attention and less sloppiness. The flag definitely helped. What I really want is a lighter flag. The Buck Brannaman flag is awesome but I can't afford it. A lightweight dressage whip would work if I could find one. *smacking forehead for not looking in Spokane*

When the wind got worse and I had to brace my body against it I took him to the barn and chopped off his toes. He needed a little trim. I left him there in Scout's stall and run, with Scout and Soxy next door in the pasture. I'll move Scout out tomorrow. I'm going to try Tonka and Soxy together since they're both "special needs," and the other three in the other pasture.

Speaking of the other three, I have a family coming to look at Grace on Sunday. It's odd because I only posted her two places and one of them was a nationwide group on Facebook. The other was this blog and I know none of you are looking for a horse. But one of my more local Facebook friends saw her and passed on the info to a friend who is in need of a horse.

So over the next several days Gracie is going to get a crash course in hoof handling, trailer loading, and a refresher on basic manners. All the stuff I should be doing anyway. And I'll find time for my boy too. Maybe he can practice trailer loading in the new trailer too. Scout is the only one who has ridden in it so far.

Oh, and going back to "special needs" Soxy, she's doing spectacularly well! I hardly ever hear her breathing loudly. She doesn't eat hay anymore, which is kind of a bummer for the bank account, but she loves her warm wet meals morning and night, and she still chews on the dry grass in the pasture. She just spits it out though, since it just balls up in her mouth.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Hope you have a warm and cozy holiday with lots of good things to eat. And a warm, fuzzy horse to snuggle. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Benadryl is a wonder drug. I don't know why my egg allergy has come back stronger than ever, but after eating mayo today I wanted to die. I guess I shouldn't complain too much, it's not like I really was dying or in need of a trip to the hospital. But I was very, very glad when the Benadryl kicked in and I started to feel human again.

I had no time with Tonka today. He exercised himself (and his pasture mates) plenty, so at least he got his conditioning in. He was having so much fun prancing around the pasture all covered in mud.

Speaking of fun, I turned Scout out into another pasture with Soxy today. To say he was overjoyed would be an understatement. The acrobatics! Twisty-turny bucking, high kicks, running, jumping, rolling - the whole works. He doesn't seem to be lame. I couldn't find any swelling in the leg. Yay!

Between him, the dogs, and my son I was surrounded by the overflowing exuberance of young boys. It was fun. They sure can make a person happy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I got to ride my horse today! MY horse, my Tonka. It's been a long time. 114 days. That's like, a third of a year.

We did some groundwork, grooming, sacking out, saddling, more groundwork, bridling, more groundwork, and then I climbed on. And I was HOME. I've missed him so much.

Everything was done at a mellow pace, with just a bit of trotting, and when I rode, it was only for 10 minutes at most. We'll build from there.

With Scout convalescing and Bella not quite good enough to be messing with riding in bad footing, I figured now is the perfect time to devote my time to MY boy without feeling guilty about leaving the others alone.

On that note, if anyone knows anyone who would be interested in adopting a young mustang mare, send them my way. Grace has got to go. John has absolutely no time for anything outside of work anymore. She'd be just $25 for the reassignment fee. I don't want to send her back to the BLM corrals. Here in Idaho I don't think they even try to find them a home, they just put them back in with the other hundreds of horses in holding. Grace leads and is respectful of fences, and she's about 14.2 hands. She's a gray horse so she will go through all kinds of fun color changes until she is white.