Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This week's trail ride had a lot of interesting moments. Tonka rode in a different trailer. We tried loading him behind Rosie but she kicked at him just after I'd tied him in and I was still standing next to him. He panicked, stepped on my foot which pinned me in place, and pulled back, smashing me rather gently against the wall of the trailer. Luckily his cotton rope broke and he backed out and stood there (we were loading up on the road, I am glad he is sensible and didn't even think of running off). So we loaded him in front, and Rosie in back, which worked better but he did skin his hocks on the way there so he must have kicked at her. Luckily there is a divider between them.
I felt bad when I saw his hocks, one of them was bleeding enough to drip. I don't normally dress minor wounds but I was wishing I had something to wrap it with to keep it from rubbing on the way home. Melissa loaned me a handkerchief. I need to put my first aid stuff back in my saddle bags.

Trust my puddle puppy to find every bit of muddy water to sprawl out in. He gets hot so easily. Dixie isn't so fond of being wet but she did get a drink.

We found the other trail head at the other side of the property we've been riding on. All these years I never turned down that trail and it is very pretty over there.
Rosie has pretty ears, and Huck got wet again:
Tonka didn't want to cross the creek in a new spot. He didn't like that the ground gave under his hooves right at the edge and he wouldn't believe me when I said the creek bed was solid. After a long time I finally got off and insisted he go in.
Here he gets a reward - grass on the bank and a head rub and a great big "GOOD BOY."

Then I climbed back on and we played in the water for a while.

We were both really hot by that point and enjoyed a lay-down and some lunch in the shade.

Here's Melissa (the blue spot in the grass) taking a break with Rosie, and Huck trying to claim her from Dixie. Those dogs are funny. Tonka was getting his fill.
A lovely picture of Melissa and her very willing Rosie, with Huck and Dixie too:
We both crossed the creek a couple extra times for good measure. Tonka had no qualms now that he knew it wasn't a bog.

I think this new saddle (my sister's) might fit. Looks like a good sweat pattern anyway...

A little Grace update: She's halterless and still living in the round pen. I've been taking her out for short walk and graze sessions and now she loves to see me coming. She still does the tail swishing and stuff, but it's all insecurity so I ignore it. I did have to clearly tell her she was not leading our expedition today though. She was surprised but learned pretty quick that she shouldn't try to pass me. This is an awkward picture of her but it's all I've got.

I'm going to worm her tomorrow and then move her to a bigger area with no wood to chew. She's eating my round pen and I don't like it!

Friday, June 24, 2011

I've been riding, just not taking pictures. Yesterday we had a good trail ride, Melissa and I and my dad. The horses were very well behaved, but Rosie did not like Sox. She was still flirting with Tonka but not quite so desperately. It is interesting how they have their own social agendas while we humans are socializing in our own way.

Today I took Tonka along to a barbeque at my sister's. He was calm, happy, and pleased to be there. A completely different horse than the one I've been riding all year so far. And I think, maybe, the reason might be saddle fit.

Yesterday when I picked up my dad and Sox for our ride, I also traded saddles with my sister. Not my really nice saddle, just my other pretty nice saddle, a Diamond C I'm trying to sell. I put hers on Tonka at the trail head and I was skeptical about the fit but rode anyway. I made sure to stay on the whole ride, not get off on the steep down hill parts to save his back. He seemed fine. Toward the end of the ride my butt was tired of the saddle, and my knees and hips weren't happy when I dismounted. So it's not perfect for me but sometimes it takes time to get used to a new saddle. When we got back to the trailer I took it off and the sweat pattern was even. Which I've experienced before even with a saddle that didn't fit, so I was still skeptical.

Tonight he was so calm and relaxed, and my sister took some video of us. His back wasn't sunken the way it often is in other pictures I've seen of us riding. So I'm hopeful. I admit I'm still totally confused about saddle fit, so I'm not going to claim it fits. But it seems to make him happy so far.

I also tried out one of my new Myler bits. It's a shanked bit with a port but each side moves independently. It's extremely similar to the Dutton bit that Tonka prefers over any others, but it's smooth metal, not black rusty sweet iron. . I noticed Tonka itching his face a lot during our last ride with the Dutton, and thought maybe the rough texture or something about the metal was irritating the corner of his mouth, so maybe a change was in order. It did seem to work somewhat differently, judging by his behavior, but he seemed to like it. I'm going to keep riding in it and see if it's a good thing for him.

This is the Dutton bit he prefers, but his isn't a 7 shank:

This is the Myler bit, but I think mine has a wider port:
Both swivel in the center.

I'm "this close" to getting my EZ Fit treeless saddle. Just have to sell a few items first. How many bits, pads, and breast collars does a person really need anyway? I counted 12 bits today, and I have at least 5 breast collars. I put some on Craigslist today (but couldn't bring myself to part with any breast collars just yet). Here are some pics in case anyone is interested.

Friday, June 17, 2011

This week's trail ride was wonderful. Here's a long view of the Palouse with a beautiful sky overhead.

Poor Rosie was in screaming heat and doing everything she could to get Tonka's attention. He wasn't real interested.

Then he realized she smelled different and started making funny faces. But he still didn't think too much about the whole boy/girl thing.Speaking of Rosie, she's got me thinking a bit. I'd always thought of a horse that was ridden in a mechanical hackamore as "not really trained." I figured they just followed another horse down the trail and the harsh hackamore was there to stop them when it was needed. Melissa bought Rosie as an experienced trail horse and I have to admit, I thought bad things when I heard she goes in a hackamore only (she never has had a bit as far as we can tell). But she really is very well trained! She listens very carefully to her rider and responds to light aids. I'm impressed, and it made me realize my prejudice was wrong. Maybe not all the time, but in this case for sure. You read so much about how mechanical hackamores are cruel and wrong, but it's what Rosie knows and you don't have to yank her around or hurt her at all. She is calm, comfortable, and sane. It's the right thing to keep her in what she knows instead of trying to retrain her and make her nervous and uncomfortable, especially at her age (I think she's 18).

I hate to admit I got on my horse twice that day without my helmet. Just pure absentmindedness. In this photo I hadn't yet realized that I left my helmet on the bank of the creek. You can see it between Tonka's ears.
Later I mounted up again with my helmet attached to the saddle, not my head. Pure stupidity, especially with the fact that this acetyl l-carnitine that I give Tonka for his EPSM makes him into more of a crack-head. He hasn't yet done anything totally stupid this year (with me on his back) but he has come close a couple times. That twitchy back, head high, super-tense-about-to-spook is sure not fun. But I have to give it to him, he has really kept it together. I think I might buy a human version of that supplement to see how it feels (and I hear it helps with weight loss in horses with IR so why not give it a try).

When we were walking down the road back to our trailers the horses clearly let us know that something was around that was very dangerous. I think the scent was coming in on the wind, and Tonka has never acted quite that terrified on the trail. Luckily we had both dismounted by that point. I knew he was about to blow and just hoped I could hold on to him. They started to calm down a tiny bit and then a car went by very slowly (courteous driver has horses too) and Tonka spooked, which I think made him feel better. It wasn't a huge blow-up, thank goodness. They were still especially tense up until we left. Tonka even thumped around in the trailer a bit, which he never does.

Yesterday we just did groundwork, but today Tonka and I had a really nice ride all around the property. It's hard to ride for a full hour without going anywhere. Even when you're working on stuff the time passes really slowly. But he got his exercise so that's good.

Yesterday I got Bella out and saddled her. She was a bit nervous about it at first, which she only shows in her eyes. She's one of those types that shuts down rather than freaks out, so I have to be careful. She did great though, and I think my lovely good saddle fits her. But what do I know about saddle fit anyway?

Grace has been really good about me or John walking up and petting and haltering her. She leads beautifully, lunges pretty well, and is just generally a good girl, if only it weren't for her pissy attitude. She glares the entire time and swishes her tail at me. I think she'd kick me if given enough provocation. The only thing I can think to do about that is to continue to be friendly and keep advancing with the training to try to keep her from getting bored. I don't want to get more aggressive because she does scare easily. But maybe I'm wrong to baby her. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We just got back from a quick camping trip with my family. It was great to spend time with my grandparents, as always. My aunt and uncle were there also, and I enjoyed getting to spend so much time with them.

My aunt Rhonda took Liam out kayaking for his first time. She just had her wrist replaced last winter and the paddling bothered her a bit but she really enjoyed taking him out, and getting back out there herself. He really wants a kayak now, and so do the rest of us. They're not cheap though so we'll have to do some saving.

Me and Katia with our "camping hair." Oh well, memories aren't always made on good hair days.

John, Katia and I climbed a mountain with Henry. He's getting ready to climb Mt. Adams again next month. He just turned 60 and he's in better shape than I am. I need to climb some more mountains without a horse between my knees. Even though it was hard it was a great sense of accomplishment and the scenery was absolutely beautiful.

I thought this was a wonderful picture of Huckleberry.

Here are my fur child and my first child on top of the mountain. A lovely picture of both of them. We kept Huck on a leash so he wouldn't go find a bear and make it mad and run back to us with it.
We did see a big bear poop near a spot where something very large had bedded down, but luckily we didn't see the critter itself. On the way back down the mountain I had to turn Huck loose. The trail was narrow and in bad shape and it rained while we were up there, making for slick footing and a risk of falling way down the mountainside. I didn't want him pulling me off balance with the leash, so I just kept telling him to wait when he got far enough ahead, and to get back on trail if he got distracted. He was a very good boy.

On the other hand, in camp he was a pain in the butt. He doesn't like strangers and he's very protective and possessive of me (and anyone else he likes). He took a long time and a lot of bribing to warm up to my grandparents and aunt and uncle. He would stare at them and growl. He finally got comfortable with them but then my grandma got up and walked and he barked and growled at her. He doesn't like the way old people move slowly, he thinks they're sneaky and dangerous. Same with toddlers. Needless to say I had to keep a leash on him and watch him very closely in the crowded campground. I don't know if I could handle leaving him home, but he really is more of a farm dog than a friendly, happy-go-lucky camp dog.

Now we're home. Lots of work to do here, which is good but overwhelming. I find that I miss the work when I'm gone, but when I get back there is so very much to do. The grass is out of control. I wish I could get 10 more horses just for a week or two to get the pastures eaten down. And some sheep for the lawn, if only they'd just eat the grass and weeds. And then they'd all have to go away when the grass is gone. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to mow, mow, mow.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Just a quick update - too much to do and not enough time.

Grace is now in the round pen. It took her a long time to decide to come out of the gate into the big world, but eventually she did. I led Tonka and she and John followed, and she walked right over to the round pen and in, without a long sticky spot at the gate. She is more relaxed in there, I think because she has a better view of what the other horses are doing.

Today we worked on leading on my right side. Her left side is her bad side, and she'd do anything to keep the other eye toward me if I let her lag behind me. It took a lot of doing to get her to move forward with me on that side next to her, but we made some great progress. It did stress her out more than most lessons, but I think it's good to have something be hard and then get through it. We made friends again when we were done.

Tonka had some time off due to my lack of time, and it wasn't a good thing. I didn't work him for 3 days after our long trail ride. Today I got him out and we didn't have a very good time. First of all, his saddle hurt him. I am really hoping that it's because Grace kicked him in the ribs the other day, not because the saddle really doesn't work. I'm going to give it some time but I think I'm going to have to get rid of my wonderful gorgeous saddle. He was grunting and jumping when I asked him to arc his body, and couldn't flex his neck around far at all. When I unsaddled him he had roughed up spots in the middle of the saddle, maybe toward the bottom of the bars. I think maybe it has too much rocker. The other day after our trail ride I noticed he was dry in the middle of the saddle all the way down where my leg would lie, and wet at either end.

So I didn't get to ride today. He's so spooky on his ALCar supplement and I was trying out new bits, so I was not going to ride bareback.

I picked up some used Myler bits for a great price the other day and today I tried a D ring comfort snaffle with hooks. Not a miracle cure for his constant chewing on the bit. Then I tried a short shanked Myler comfort snaffle with a copper roller. He fiddled with it quite a bit and was very keen on getting the shanks into his mouth so I tied him up and left him for a while. When I came back he was quiet, and he was pretty quiet on the lunge line, but I didn't ever ask him to do anything with the bit, there were no reins attached and he just carried it.

I asked him for a little work on the lunge line and he was clearly not having a good day so I took him for a short walk and put him away. When he tried to lope up the hill after I turned him loose he couldn't sustain more than a couple strides at the lope. That longish trail ride followed by no work was not good for him.

Time to go finish my chores for the day! Good night!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

We went on a very nice trail ride the other day. I haven't been taking pictures on our rides, but Melissa got some great ones of my handsome boy.

Today while I was gone (taking the SAT of all things, at my age...) Katia got Bella out and took her for a long walk. She's finally using the halter they won at Mustang Days last year. It looks nice! She sent me these two pictures.

Apparently Scout caught a weed.
This evening I spent some time just hanging out in the pasture. This looks like a dangerous place to be but Bella was just coming up to sniff my face.

Then she had to lay down and have a roll. The mosquitoes were driving her crazy (me too).
Good old Soxy.

Old lady lips.
Tonka again:

These two yahoos were making Soxy run around. I think they were having a discussion over which one of them owned her.

A lovely, clear sunset.

Good night!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Check out what I got for my birthday! It's small and hard to see in the picture, but that's Tonka's brand on my ring! It was custom made - see the equine page on JewelryBySR.com or better yet just click here. The maker is a mustang lover with two mustangs of his own. And prompt! I ordered it last Friday and got it in the mail from Maryland today (keep in mind there was a holiday weekend to slow up the shipping). I couldn't be more tickled.

In other news Cisco is home. It was an adventure getting him home. He got caught in a wire fence and I was thinking he was going to be all torn up but he didn't have a mark on him! He took 20 minutes to load and didn't unload well either. But we did a practice load and unload when we got home and he did a lot better. It seems to be all fear-based. He's terrified if someone stands behind him while he's supposed to be getting in. Poor guy. I don't think the people did anything bad to him, I just think he regressed when he was with people he didn't know and didn't trust yet. I do think somewhere along the line before he came to us he was manhandled or beaten to get him in the trailer. He had learned to load with no problems for John and I, as long as nobody stood behind him, and I'm sure he'll do well again. I don't think I'll try to sell him again until I know what's up in his head. He seems different. I worry he might be sick. He is not near the other horses just in case. Maybe he's just stressed.