Thursday, July 28, 2011

Finally an update about how the new saddle is working out. There are a lot of things I LOVE about it. I love how relaxed my horse was today. I love that I can feel his shoulders moving as we go down hills and know that they're not being pinched. I love that it makes me work a little harder to keep my seat (more on that in a minute). I love that it's totally secure in all situations so far, even with a loose cinch. I love that it stays in place when I mount from the ground. I very much love its light weight (15 lbs).

Two important issues I need to solve if I'm going to keep it. It hurts my hips because it's too wide in the front of the seat. I'm hoping there's something that can be done to fix it. The second thing that is a worry is that his back was slightly drier under where I sit than in front and back when I got off after 4.6 miles today. He also flinched very slightly in that area when my sister checked him for pain after our ride, but he didn't tonight. I've never tested for pain after a ride in a treed saddle so I don't know if this is better or worse, but the slightly drier spot has me a little concerned. I'm going to call the maker tomorrow and talk to him about my troubles. I want to keep this saddle. But I'm not totally sold yet.

As for it's stability - it's interesting. The "tree" is made of thick foam, as is the cantle. So when I get slightly behind Tonka's movement it gives, where a normal saddle would hold. So I lose my balance slightly more and have to correct. I've already noticed that I'm staying more balanced. I wonder how often I was losing my balance and not even noticing with the hard saddle to do the work of supporting me.

That said, it is not at all scary to ride up and down hills and over rough terrain. Tonka even jumped/stumbled over a small boggy crossing today and I was fine. It's a little awkward going downhill because of the thickness at the front that's forcing my hips too wide and not allowing my legs to move freely forward.

I'll let you know what the saddle maker says tomorrow after I talk to him.

Enough talk though - here are some photos.

Oh, and one other thing. Tonka was a totally different horse today. All year he's been antsy and quite frankly very annoying with his fidgets and spookiness. Today he was relaxed and happy and even enjoyed playing in the water, playing with my sister's gelding, and playing with me a bit. However, I can't say for sure that's because of the saddle. I was also riding bitless in his new riding halter that I made. (BTW - Kristi, I have a new design with different knots that hold better. Email me if the old one wasn't working right and I can replace it for you.) He doesn't like bits so this might have had a lot to do with it. Soon I'll take him out with a bit and the new saddle and see what happens.
My sister took her gelding, Lakota, out on his first real trail ride. He's the one who has trouble keeping his feet on rough terrain, and he's afraid of cattle. We were planning on riding in an area outside the fence where there were no cattle (this state land is leased through the summer for grazing) but the trail was too difficult. So she brought him in with the cows. They almost turned back and went to the trailer but they didn't and I am so glad. Lakota made a huge amount of progress today, gained a lot of confidence, and I think the longer ride - giving him time to settle in and relax - did him good.

Here they are at the water crossing. He doesn't mind water at all, in fact I think he likes it.
Amy had a lot of trouble with her new Renegade boots today. First she lost one, then one came off a couple times, then one pulled apart but I guess it's an easy fix. I was disappointed, I've heard so much good about Renegades that I was considering eventually getting some instead of my Easyboots. Hopefully it's just a fluke, a fitting issue she can figure out and readjust. For now I'm sticking with my Easyboots though.

I love this picture that I got of Melissa and Rosie returning to us after looking for Amy's lost boot. Rosie left the other horses with no problem - it was great to find that she's not herdbound.

Here's Melissa trying out the new saddle & Tonka looking handsome. I love when he's good for someone else to ride. Melissa agreed, the saddle is too wide and forces the upper leg too far outward, causing hip pain.

Here's a visual of the area that's too wide, you can see how it sticks out.
The stirrups and front cinch are adjustable front to back. As a matter of fact I moved them forward to alleviate the hip pain. The leather flaps above and below the hardware come off if you don't like them.

These are the buckles you undo to peel the seat forward and adjust the cantle, stirrups, and cinch. The cantle is a wedge of foam you can move forward or back, and is held in place by velcro, a center strap you can't see very well, and the buckles and straps shown here.
Oh, and my sister says the saddle is much nicer in person if that info helps any.

I hope there are fixes for my issues, I really want this saddle to work so I can keep it.

I'm behind on reading my blogs and I don't have much time to comment, but rest assured I am reading when I can and really enjoying all the new posts.

I missed a BBQ with the Mustang Club tonight, which really bummed me out. I'm sure it was a lot of fun and I wish I could have been there. But I had to take Katia to her driver's ed and her first driving session later in the evening. That was a weird milestone. Almost like dropping them off at school for the first time. My baby is driving! It makes me really proud and kind of sad at the same time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My EZ Fit treeless saddle got here today! I rode twice. I'll do a more detailed post tomorrow. I'm totally beat. But here it is, and it's much better looking than any of the saddles on their website, with some pleasantly surprising differences. You can't see all the buckle hardware very clearly, and I like that. Also, it has a cheyenne roll, which the saddles on the site don't have, I don't think.

Here it is on Tonka, still sized like a 14 inch saddle. I adjusted it up to a 16 inch for me. The fenders are ugly, but I don't like horse sweat on my leg. I was happy to find that they're removable if I really don't like them, but so far I do. You can't see them when I'm riding anyway.

Here we are later in the evening. I think the saddle looks small, but it feels right.

I took this picture to show the spine clearance, but you can also see how the buckles differ from the website. He added a crupper ring (I have the strap stuck in it to get it out of the way to show the spine clearance), and I could add rings to all the straps if I want more dees. I probably will add them, and saddle strings too.
I'll do a full review with lots more pictures later. So far I like it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We were on top of the world again today. This time I went in the car with the family. We drove all the way through McCroskey State Park, spotting trail heads, picking huckleberries, and checking out the more modern facilities like pit toilets and one potable water spigot. All I can say is, "Wow!" I can't believe I've lived here this long and didn't know such a beautiful place was right in my back yard, full of trails and camping and picnicking spots.

Do you feel it? The need to head down this trail and see what's around the corner? I sure do.

Friday, July 22, 2011

We had a beautiful ride today! Even though we took the wrong trail. But actually, when I look at our route on the EveryTrail website on the satellite picture, we may have been on the right trail, or at least could have ended up on the right trail. I need to use my Easyboots for that though, the logging roads are very rocky, and the trails were pretty rocky too.

Here's our trip on EveryTrail:

Alexa, if you're reading this, I think this would be a trail you'd like, the views of the Palouse are beautiful! It's about 30-40 minutes south of Plummer, where we rode last weekend.

To the north:
Melissa, Rosie, Dixie, and of course Tonka's ears:

To the east/northeast:

Not sure where this was but isn't Tonka cute?

To the north, with zoom:

To the north without zoom:

A distant view of Kamiak Butte:

And here's a picture I took from the tractor the other day. It was fun watching them as they went about their day while I mowed, and mowed, and mowed. Here they're all laying down together.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Warning: somewhat bloody pictures ahead.

Poor Bella. I told her all we were doing was going to talk to the vet. Just a quick talk, a looking-over, a small bill to pay, and we'd be done. I was wrong, darn it.

Bella has had this swollen gland under her jaw for about 3 weeks now, maybe a month. I wasn't very worried about it, figured it would go away on its own, but then it didn't. And her skin condition has been getting better with the Fungasol but only very slowly. She's supposed to go to the trainer soon. So I figured I'd haul her to the vet. $35 for the exam and maybe some more for meds of some sort, but it would be fairly painless. Wrong.

The skin issue was fairly straighforward. He thinks it's some kind of contact dermatitis (I'm not sure I agree) and he prescribed steroids. I am very much looking forward to seeing those annoying bumps disappear. But the swollen gland wasn't a swollen gland.

He took her inside to check it out, and whoops - I've never clipped her before. It was too scary for her so he sedated her, clipped her, and we led her into the stocks. He stuck a needle in there and quickly filled the syringe with pus, which meant it's an abscess. Great. Here I'm thinking about Tonka's bad cheat grass abscess from a couple years back that cost hundreds of dollars to treat, with injections twice a day. This is a different vet, with a different approach, and probably a different and less dangerous bacteria. He cut her open and then took out a chunk of skin to make sure it stays open and drains. That's it! No antibiotics, no injections, no hot compresses or flushing. All I have to do is keep flies off, and I still have a spray for that from when Scout was gelded. Nice.

She wore a bandage home to contain the blood a bit. I don't think it helped much.

That's just gauze hanging out:

And here's the wound, and you can see the "swollen gland"
Poor girl.
But the vet says in 6 weeks you'll hardly be able to tell it was there.

In other news, I'm allergic to the sun. I've had this happen before but it's been a few years since it was this bad. I looked it up and it's called "polymorphic light eruption." What a lovely name. What it means is I itch so bad I even wake up scratching in the middle of the night, and I have an unappealing rash all over my arms and my collarbone. (TMI, I'm sure.) And I need to stay out of the sun. So tomorrow on our trail ride I'll be wearing a long-sleeved shirt and lots of sunscreen. And I'm trying to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Not easy, this time of year.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I had so much fun riding with Liam tonight. He was in a great mood & super helpful, the horses were happy even with a storm blowing in, and all was well in the world.

I had him start in the round pen just in case the wind was going to bother Soxy. She didn't seem affected at all so we rode around the fields a little bit.

I absolutely adore this picture of my boys together.
Liam says he wants a horse just like Tonka. Tonka seems to like the idea of having Liam be his boy - they're pretty cute together. I think it'll be a few years before Liam can handle a horse like Tonka, but he's on the right track!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It was hot. I am really glad we were in the shade most of the time. I worry that the ride was too much for Tonka but so far all I see in him is slowness since we got home, no obvious rock hard muscles.

I cold hosed his legs really well when we got home, and briefly hosed his body. Does anyone know if cold hosing is good or bad for a horse prone to tying up? I wasn't sure so I compromised and didn't hose his muscles for long. I'll have to look it up and ask my vet.

During the ride Tonka was surprisingly relaxed toward the front of that large group of horses. I think there were 19 of us. Normally there would be enough nerves in a group like that to get him a little worried but he settled right in and chugged along. It wasn't until the ride back, when we got left behind a couple times by jiggy, rushed horses, that he got really nervous and upset. The horseflies didn't help either. I finally waited for the slower group to catch up and he settled very happily into the middle of that group.

In all it was about 4 hours of riding, not counting the lunch break. I don't know how many miles because of a glitch with the trail ap on my phone. It somehow got uninstalled. Oh well.

Here are some photos from the ride.

A quick break:
Down near the creek, Bob and Lea in the lead:
And behind, same place:

I like this picture:I should probably point out that at least half of the horses on the ride were not mustangs. Some BCH people came, as well as Mustang Club members who don't currently ride mustangs. They were all beautiful horses, whether mustang or domestic, and all were good trail mounts.

We saw a flock of birds soaring in circles above us, sometimes catching the sun and glinting like silver. Some of the riders thought they were geese but I figured geese never fly silently. Others thought bald eagles but the color didn't seem right to me. When I got home and looked at a photo I took with zoom, I realized they were herons. We were above a marsh area. Pretty neat, I never knew they flocked like that.
Coming up on Indian Cliffs, with a view of Lake Chatcolet and the St. Joe river.

Lunch break.

That's all I've got. Happy Trails!

Soxy and Grace are living together now, and they're settling in really well. Grace is so much more comfortable with life now that she has a friend who can't disappear over the hill. She's started to look good again since she's not running the fence for a while every day.

Miss Curiosity

"You may scratch me here."
She is so funny how she presents herself to be scratched. She loves it. To the point where she almost falls down. Silly horse. If she'd be nicer to Soxy maybe her horse buddy would groom her, but she's too busy bossing the poor old lady around.

Yesterday I finally had time to ride Cisco after getting him back from the people who briefly bought him. He's ruined. I couldn't even ride him in the round pen without a big fuss. Same old tricks that he used to do occasionally - scooting to the side, balking, not stopping, not turning, walking into things to get his way - but it's constant and he's more persistent now that he's gotten away with it. Someone with time and patience and skill could ride it out of him, but I'm afraid he'll fall over one of these days when he insists on going the wrong way. What I've decided to do is to try to sell him as a pack horse. He was apparently a very steady pack horse before we got him. Or he'd make an exceptionally sweet pet. He loves to snuggle and he's pretty easy to take care of.

Oh! Speaking of his good points. I've never cleaned his sheath even though it definitely needed it because I thought he'd kick me. Yesterday I cleaned it (halfway up to my elbow in smegma) and removed two enormous beans without a fuss. He just stood there with his eyes closed. He lifted his leg at me a couple times with the beans because it hurt, but it was just a gentle, "Please stop," not a kick. I imagine his nether regions feel much better now.

After I put him up, when I went out to hitch up my trailer I saw a herd of deer taking off at full speed on the far side of the horses' pasture. I wasn't paying much attention, just hitching up, so when I walked by the horses and noticed the fence was broken I was pretty surprised. I think it may have been the deer. It was just one strand of electric rope. So I walked in and caught Cisco, leaving Tonka loose because I knew I could trust him not to do anything stupid. Cisco is now in the diet pen. He needed a diet anyway.

Mr. Herdbound:

Here's what my crazy wild horse looks like when he gets loose.

He sure is a fiery one.
I put him in with his good buddies Bella and Scout. He was happy. Poor Cisco, if only he wouldn't beat up the mares he could be out in the big pasture too.

Today is the Mustang Club ride at Heyburn State Park. I'm worried about riding in the heat, for both me and Tonka. It's supposed to get up to 88 today, and I don't think we'll be in the shade. (Yes, I'm a pansy when it comes to heat.) If we don't feel well I guess we'll turn back early.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Our ride went well today, although we both wished it was longer. There was another loop of trail we could have explored! It killed me to head back instead, but I had time constraints - John's mom was watching the kids and probably impatiently waiting for us.

Here is the cabin I mentioned in my last post. Not easy to photograph with the fence around it.

The beginning part of our trail had a lot of branches right in our faces, and Tonka was nervous so he was trying to rush, which made it not much fun for a while. Eventually we got into forest with less thick growth and it was like a breath of fresh air, not having to dodge branches.

This is what a lot of the trail was like - cedar forest. I think it's kind of neat how barren it is, other than the big trees, but Tonka doesn't like cedar forest. He gets worried. Maybe sounds carry strangely in there.
I had to share this great picture of Melissa and Rosie, and of course our loyal dogs.
In all we did 5 miles today over 2 hours. Which doesn't seem right because we were gone for about 6 hours... I'm confused. We can't possibly spend that much time tacking up and talking, can we?

I was hoping to find a good trail with views of the Palouse for some friends who want to come riding, but this one didn't have any views. Maybe next week... We figure if the north side of this loop doesn't have views we'll go to the west side of the park since it's supposed to be less treed.

Next, I thought I might take a moment to re-introduce my herd. I know I sometimes get confused on blogs where there are a lot of horses. And of course 4 of ours are pretty similarly colored, so that doesn't help.

Here are Bella and Scout, with a slice of Soxy in between. Bella is on the left, and she's Scout's mom. She's 6 and he's 3. She was bred in the wild and had Scout 6 months after I adopted her. He was born into my lap. They are mustangs from Black Mountain HMA in Southern Idaho.

Here's good old Soxy, our appaloosa mare. She's a spotted sweetie. She's 25 years old this year. She boosted my confidence after years of owning untrained horses I didn't have the experience to ride. Now my kids (and a bunch of other kids) ride her. I wish she could still take me down the trail.

Fat Cisco (below), with Tonka peeking from behind. Cisco is a Stone Cabin mustang from Nevada. He was rounded up as a 2 year old and we bought him when he was 12. He's 15 now. You can have him if you want him. (Just kidding. Or maybe not.) He's an experienced pack and trail horse but sometimes gets weird ideas about where he wants to go. He's so darn sweet in the pasture you'd never know he could be a pain in the butt. He loves to cuddle.
Of course you all know Tonka, so I don't have to put up another picture of him, right?

Grace wouldn't take her head out of the grass to get her picture taken. She's our newly adopted mustang, 3 years old, from Adobe Town HMA in Nevada. She's a grey horse, so eventually she'll be white. John loves her, and she loves John. She's graduated to living in a big pasture. Soon I'll put Soxy out with her and she'll be happy to have a friend. She runs the fence whenever all the other horses go out of sight, and she's running weight off so she doesn't look near as pretty as when we got her. Soon we need to work on getting her used to having her feet handled. She's due for a trim.

Oh! I have to share! I am so excited! I put down my demo deposit on my EZ Fit saddle today. He'll send it out this week. If I like this particular saddle I can keep it at a reduced cost since it's not brand new. Or I can send it back and order one specially made just how I want it. This one sounds like I will like the color (chocolate), which was my big concern (no black, pink, turquoise, or weird mixes of color for me) so I hope it works out. I cannot wait to ride in it! I've read so much good about them. But if I hate it all I'm out is the shipping. Nice.