Yesterday Scout and I had a wonderful ride here at home. We started out in the round pen since it's been over two weeks since our last ride, and I wanted to work on some homework from that lesson a couple weeks back. I also rode him with chinks on for the first time. You never know when they might get scared of something new flapping and slapping around. He didn't mind them though.
Eventually we went out of the round pen. I opened and closed the gate from his back for the first time. We'd opened it before but never closed it, although I know Keith did gates with him. Closing it is harder, I think partially because he's thinking he's free of the round pen and wanting to go do something more fun. Which we did. Lots of walk trot whoa in the field, and weaving around trees, facing a scary tiny bird in a pile of newly cut branches, etc. Basically we just dinked around but it was a lot of fun. I need to ride more often. I think I'm out of my horse funk now, only to be thwarted by this puppy!
Which is what happened today. I had intended to ride with Easyboots and rain slicker, since he's never done either and we have a big ride planned for tomorrow. But everyday work and the puppy being awake and very interactive at the wrong time meant that I just tried the boots on him and flapped my slicker all over his back. He was fine. But I'll ride him in the round pen before we go, if we go. The weather forecast is looking a little icky and Melissa is worn out from all the work she did today, so we may not go. Either way, I'm going to find a way to ride. :)
At 1 a.m. when I'm making a trip outside for puppy potty, and then we come back in and he just won't quiet down and go back to sleep, I wonder what the heck I was thinking.
But today when I took him in for his wellness exam and found out he has a heart murmur I realized how attached I already am. It's probably nothing to worry about. Sometimes their heart grows faster than the valves.
He's a vicious little goober.
He's getting stronger every day, and is more like a little dog and less like an infant. I have a crate for him to sleep in and he's gone in voluntarily 3 times today to take a nap. But the poor guy sounded like I was killing him when I stuck him in an empty trough to keep him contained while I was with the horses. Puppies sure can ki-yi.
Tonka hurt himself last weekend. I don't know what he did, but he peeled back a thick hunk of skin under his jaw. He keeps breaking it open and making it bleed again. I'm mostly leaving it alone to heal but I'm keeping an eye on it and cleaning it now and then. It definitely hurts, and it's hot and slightly swollen. No pus. If it doesn't improve by next week I'm going to have to have it looked at. I'm not sure how deep it is. Dang these accident prone horses.
Soxy's thrush is hugely improved. One hoof still has a wet nasty pocket. The rest just need to stay thrush-free and grow a new frog. I was soaking, medicating, and wrapping them with diapers and duct tape but now I'm just cleaning and spraying it with Thrush XX every day. That stuff stinks! But I like the spray, it's easy to apply and I like that it's a moisture barrier. There are so many products out there these days, it's hard to know what to choose. If this doesn't work I'll try one of the purple products. Fungidye or Thrush Buster. No Thrush hasn't worked very well for me.
They're sure keeping me busy. Tomorrow I'll pull Scout's front shoes. Did the hinds already, and boy was that a chore. I wish I had some nail pullers but hate to spend the money when I may not shoe again, and if I do I'll have a farrier to do the work. Those shoes just didn't want to let go. Keith did a good job putting them on. I'd been afraid they'd come off since Scout's hooves are soft, but that sure wasn't a problem. Hopefully the fronts will go better.
Now I'm off to try to get some sleep before the little beastie wakes up again. Hopefully by the next time I post he'll have a name. Right now we're trying out the name Blue. If his eyes don't stay blue and his coat loses its silver hue it won't fit, but oh well. He'll be Blue Berry Jones. Huck is Huckleberry Finn Jones or Huckleberry Fiji Jones, depending on my mood. My first special dog was Harpo Fiji Jones, and he was a lot like these Aussie boys. I think he was part Aussie. I wish I had a good picture of when he was young. Here's one just months before he died at the ripe old age of 17. He was my ring bearer.
This little puppy is so stinkin' cute I can't stand it. But he's wearing me out too. He's a lot like a human baby.
Huckleberry goes back and forth between really wanting to play with him and not liking him much. He's jealous sometimes. He definitely does NOT want to share his toys. And when he saw the pup chewing on my fingers he thought he needed to reprimand him. But he's doing really well with it, overall. I think he'll love his little brother a lot more when they can play together. I guess that's a lot like having human kids too.
I like this picture. Doesn't it look like they're on a secret mission? "Be vewy, vewy quiet..."
I don't even know what to say about this one.
Sweet little bean.
India doesn't mind him at all. She does the same thing she does with all dogs. She really wants to play and gets the cutest look with her ears perked up, but she doesn't play. She's afraid of getting hurt.
Awww, again. Do you think he's looking into the future? I wonder what he sees.
I also really wonder what his name is. We all can't seem to agree on anything.
Whoops! Fell down.
I didn't go to my group lesson today, and unfortunately won't be going back at all. Darn it. My sister tells me it was a great lesson today and they did some bodywork. Oh well, I can't do everything.
I had an opportunity to volunteer at a local low-cost spay and neuter clinic so I started that today. Wee pup went along and had to live in a crate all day, except for loves from the staff and a couple potty/meal breaks. He did fine. I had a lot of fun too. Only one dog, and about 20-22 cats. I was on the waking up end, waiting for them to be awake enough to pull the tube out, clipping toenails, massaging and warming them up, moving them, etc. It was fun and the staff are all really nice. I'll get to learn more and help out more as I go more often. Good stuff.
We have a little brother! There was a wee girl I liked but not as much as I liked this guy. Katia and Liam agreed. John hasn't met him yet.
Puppies are hard to take pictures of at night time when you don't want to blind them with a flash. In this next picture you can kind of see his silvery hue on the tips of his fur - it almost makes me want to name him Griz. And you can see the cross on his neck. Or maybe it's a bird?
Now you see how small he is. He reminds me of the fuzzy caterpillars I used to play with when I was a kid. Here's their mom and dad. The dad has some age on him. I think Huck got a little bit of both of them, but mostly takes after his dad. Definitely has his dad's build and coat, but not his eyes. The dad reminds me of my old dog, Harpo. And boy was he friendly! I don't know where Huck got his protectiveness, because both his parents were very welcoming. I'll have to find out what I did wrong and not do it again.
Today was a sick day. Blech. Yesterday I came down with a fever in the afternoon and today I took it easy as much as I could. Watched a lot of TV. But had work to do, of course. No rest for the weary when you have horses to take care of. Luckily most of my horse work happened during a good spell. This is a weird bug, I'll feel pretty good for a little while and then it hits me again like a wave. Not bad, really, but I'll be happy when it passes. Katia stayed home with me too, so that was fun, aside from the sickness.
Today was our anniversary. We'll do something fun tomorrow. Tonight we're just reminiscing about how great our wedding day was. :)
I'm hoping to get some riding in tomorrow too, and I really need to pull Scout's shoes. Soxy needs some attention too. Yesterday I found a pretty nasty case of thrush hiding under her frogs. I got it cleaned out today but it's going to take some time and special attention to clear it up. I feel really bad for not noticing it sooner. Poor old girl. On the up side she seems to be feeling good, and she's loving the extra groceries she's getting now that the grass is gone. She gets to stand in the stall with no fear of Grace while she eats all her goodies. Grace stands outside looking very jealous and frustrated that she can't get in there and steal it.
Scout and I went to a nice little group lesson today. My sister took Lakota, and a lady I know took her absolutely gorgeous mustang, and another lady with an older gaited horse. A great group. The instructor is the wife of the guy I tried apprenticing with a couple years back.
I think the idea behind the lessons is "western dressage" which I take to simply mean riding well - with consciousness - moving toward a goal of making ourselves into better riders to make it easier for the horse to learn to move correctly and comfortably.
Today though, we just did some ground work and some walk/trot and backing.
I'm going to take notes every week and probably post them here. I'm not going to go into detail because I think that'd be boring, but if you want me to clarify a point you can ask me in the comments. And this isn't meant to be advice to you, this is specific to the unique needs of my horse and myself. But maybe it'll be interesting or thought provoking.
I'll start with Interesting Tidbits:
"What I want to see are polite responses to polite requests."
Most horses are left handed, therefore have a harder time on the right.
We all learn conflicting things from different instructors, trainers, riding buddies. We need to constantly ask, "Why?"
On the Ground:
When sending, step forward, not back or to the side.
Get my energy UP. Have intent.
Phase up quickly when needed. (This is specific to Scout, who is a bit lazy and over-desensitized.)
Expect more (Again, the laziness and my tendency to let things slide.)
In the Saddle:
Back with his face vertical, not behind the bit.
When backing, having one rein slightly higher can help.
She does not have us alternate reins, but we do ask, release, ask, release, if the horse is doing right. Just a simple curling and loosening of the fingers.
Ask with rein and seat at same time. Keith had told me to ask for softness before asking for the back. So we needed to adjust.
She doesn't think legs should be used when backing.
Release only when the horse has it right.
Once he's getting it consistently, then start adding longer duration (more steps back).
At the trot - keep reins loose and ask only for 3-5 strides, then go back to walk. Do this a lot. It will help him relax into a nicer trot.
While walking in circles around the pen, to pick up a soft feel, ask softly with the inside rein and leg rather than both reins. This is hard for us because Keith did so much lateral work with Scout, he thinks he's supposed to get right up against the fence and stop, as you would when opening a gate. So I need to tone down my ask and keep him moving forward, and use my outside leg to keep him off the fence. That'll take some work.
Scout did SO well standing still while we all listened, discussed, and watched. He didn't paw or fidget hardly at all. He seemed to enjoy watching the show. :)
While we were backing, after she saw that he was behind the vertical, I worked on releasing at the right moment to encourage him to be vertical, and she complimented me on my soft hands and good timing. :)
One last interesting note - Scout is a slow processor, which I knew but... There's always a but... I sometimes need to give him more time in between things to process what just happened.
Speaking of big "buts" - It kinda sucks to pay someone to tell me something I already knew. A lot of it I knew I did wrong BUT was too lazy to fix. So it's good to have someone making me toe the mark, since obviously I'm not getting there by myself. And it's really great to have a really detail oriented pair of eyes watching and helping me along.
Today was a recuperative day, I actually watched some TV. Going to start making my way through McLeod's daughters again. Good show.
I also spent some good quality time with Tonka. He got his sheath cleaned, some mild exercise, and a hoof trim up front. He's got a nasty abscess that's broken out on his heel bulb, and when I picked up his hooves I found a lot of dead sole that needed exfoliated and a bunch of nasty thrush. So now his hooves are cleaner than they've ever been. After taking out all the dead material with my hoof knife I ran some peroxide into his hooves, scrubbed with a brush, repeated 3-4 times, and then rinsed with water. I considered buying some something else to try, but I already have this and I'd like to see how it works. I think just cleaning it out every day will take care of it.
It was so nice just spending time with my good boy. Just wandering around with him is so much more refreshing than spending time with any of the others. Tonka is my special one. I love them all, of course, but I often wish I didn't have to divide my time between them.
Thank God for wide open spaces and blue sky! I just got back from a little trip to the land of rain and moss and it is so good go be home again.
My grandma is getting stronger, Grandpa looks great, and I'm feeling better about how they're doing. Plans are going ahead for them to make the trip down to their house in Yuma for the winter. Wish I could join them!
The horses look good, Huckleberry about wiggled his butt off when he saw us, and I think John is happy to have some noise in the house again.
Today Huckleberry totally cracked me up and impressed me with his smarts at the same time. I was picking apples and he watched me veryclosely , looked into my eyes as if asking permission, and then he very carefully picked himself an apple. I laughed and continued my work, but it didn't take me long to realize he was picking and dropping more apples. So I told him he better not pick them if he's not going to eat them.
He obligingly ate his apple
and then just kept me company without picking any more. I filled this feed bag and another with apples. Earlier in the day I'd patrolled the perimeter of the biggest pasture and fixed a couple breaks in the temporary fence, then put the boys out there. There's a lot of grass out there and I think Tonka will do better on real grass as long as it lasts.
I went back for Bella but she just stood there thinking about whether she wanted to come to me. (Earlier in the day I'd sprayed her with a spray bottle - how dare I!) So I left her alone in the small pasture. She spent a good amount of time today running around calling for the boys. Oh well, she doesn't need 24 hour grass anyway.
I got this bright idea to make soup and sourdough bread bowls. Then I decided to triple the bread recipe because I just happened to have triple the sourdough starter. I left for several hours and came home to this:
I'm glad I hadn't tried to fit it all in one bowl...
Liam and I made a pie. I wish I'd saved the last recipe I used. I don't think this is near as good.
Here's the finished product on the bread. Well, all of it except a pan of rolls that's still cooling. That round loaf on the left is as big as my head.
I think we're going to be plenty fat enough to start hibernating soon.
Today I spent a lot of time staring at and feeling Grace's belly. I just don't see any sign of baby movement. Her teats are all shriveled up with just a bit of a pooch in front of them. But from the shape of her belly I'd swear she was "in the family way." She looks matronly, gravid. But it's mostly downward. She looks a little plump from the front but you can't really see her belly from behind. It would probably be 1000 times better if I took a picture rather than trying to describe it, huh?
As we were working on fence today (finally going to brace the corners correctly) I had ample time to watch the two mares. Soxy doesn't eat much hay. She chews and spits it out quite a bit, then wanders off to eat dry grass and weeds. Then she goes and eats poop. Yeah, I know it's gross but they get great probiotics that way and maybe it's easier to chew and digest? But to get to the point - what if Grace is simply fat because she's eating most of the hay I put out for TWO horses? I suppose I could separate them and start feeding her the regular amount for one horse. I definitely don't want to put her on a diet because what if she is pregnant? But ensuring that she's not eating way too much would be a good thing. And then I could get Soxy going on some more chewable feed. Not that she's too skinny or anything, but she will eventually be if I don't supplement her.
That's it for me today. Maybe I'll get some Gracie photos tomorrow so I can share with you what I'm looking at.
We opted not to do the poker ride. Partially because of angry wasps on the trail and partially because I got to thinking Scout was not ready for that many horses and riders. So we went on a different ride with just 4 riders, including us. It was a great ride. We saw a lot of good new stuff and got to deal with a lot of wind in the grass. Scout is a fast walker and he made some improvement with slowing down and staying slowed down when I asked. We still have a lot of work to do there though. And I passed 100 hours of riding! I don't know if that's really a lot but I like it.
A couple big balers that made a lot of noise.
Here you can see another baler in the distance - there were four working that field. Bear and Melissa and Rosie are the real subjects of the picture. I love this picture of Bear, he reminds me of the crazy hyena from The Lion King. But a friendlier version.
It was very dusty!
I figured out what this is! It's been bugging me since our ride at Heyburn when one stung Tonka. It's called a bald faced hornet. According to one site on the internet anyway... At the end I dismounted and walked. It was Scout's longest ride yet, with the least amount of rest, and even though his pace was still pretty quick I could tell he was tired.