Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Water, like a horse, is always ready to escape out through the path of least resistance: the banks just passively keep it in."
I'm not sure why that phrase struck me while I was reading today. It's so simple. I like it.

I've picked up again on Real Riding, How to Ride in Harmony with Horses by Perry Wood. It's a good book. The full quote would be: "Think of both hands and both legs forming two canal banks, one along the left side of the horse and one along the right, and think of the horse as being the water. Canal banks hold the water between them but do it totally passively - you never see canal banks moving about and trying to keep the water in, the water just stays there. You might say, 'Well, the water doesn't try to escape,' but water, like a horse, is always ready to escape out through the path of least resistance: the banks just passively keep it in."

My daughter took some pretty amazing photos today. The above two are hers. I'd like to post more of them but I'm having trouble with it. Probably because I didn't resize them.

Bella and I went for a walk this morning. That was fun. She's so funny. She wanted to check out every snowbank and stuck her head into the neighbor's garbage, then visited with their mailbox. She does get slightly worried about stuff, but her curiosity is much stronger, and she doesn't scare herself when she checks things out (unlike some big doofus I know). Unfortunately, it was apparent today that she is still lame.
So... I don't know, I guess I'll start getting Scout out. I'm having trouble wanting to play with Cimarron because he's not my horse and we don't trust each other yet, and building a relationship would take a lot of time.

I had a very interesting visit with my chiropractor today. He may be able to help me with my constant lack of energy. He gave me a supplement. (I might sound like a quack taking herbal supplements from my chiropractor, but I trust him, he's done a lot of good for me already.) I really, really, really hope it works. It would be awesome to not have to drag myself through life like a ton of bricks. He also helped me with my elbow problem. I'm not sure if it's whipped but I hope so.

Prayers for health sent my sister's way would be greatly appreciated. She has a biopsy tomorrow. I try to think positive thoughts toward healthy tissue but what I really want to say is, I hate cancer. Which I know is not the most constructive way to think about it. But I don't like things that scare me.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Horse stuff has been pretty slow around here. I've played with Cimarron a few times. I still miss working with my own horses, so today after taking Cimarron for a walk I came home and took my two special ones for a walk. Tonka was happy to come out for a very short wander, and when I put him back up he stood around asking what we were going to do next. Bella got a longer walk, and I considered trimming her hooves but I think I may have to hire someone. My elbow is still shot.

Good news though! I longed Bella at a trot out in the pasture today and I didn't see much sign of a limp! It was in snow that is mushy and icy at the same time so it was a little hard to tell, but it wasn't the obvious head-bob she had before. I am so glad.

Tonka doesn't seem to be doing too badly even in the cold weather. He's doing a lot better than he did last winter.

Which brings me back to the dilemma I've been having about buying or borrowing a horse to ride. I even found myself seriously shopping through the pictures of the mustangs currently available in Oregon, planning a road trip in my head. But I've definitively decided I don't want a new horse. I have two here that I love dearly. I'm going to try to condition Tonka better this year so we can enjoy lots more wonderful rides. And if Bella comes sound we have a lot of riding ahead of us. Then of course Scout will need me to ride him since John's time is still very limited. So I don't have to "marry" a new horse just yet.

But when I do, it will probably be another mustang, fresh off the range. I don't think I want to inherit someone else's problems or training mistakes. And I like that long, slow gentling process for cementing the bond. No just jumping into the saddle and expecting things to go well without a relationship. But of course I could get lucky and get another good one like Soxy. So I'm not saying I wouldn't take a trained domestic. I just don't think the good ones come available very often.

Our weather is supposed to be a little gross this week, with rain and snow. The daily temps are going to be above freezing though so I'm hoping the world will become less of an ice rink. I want to play with my ponies!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Poor Cimarron. He doesn't quite know what I'm up to when I'm taking pictures. It's not as apparent in this small size, but his eyes are pretty worried.
He looks kinda fat and dumpy when he's just standing there, but you should see him in motion. His gut pulls up and his body is organized and smooth. He's a good mover.
And as you can see here, he wants so badly to be a good boy.
I didn't ride today. Not feeling real great, think I have a minor flu or something. But we did some ground work and he was much less "up" today. He realized that there is a slower speed than trot. He was afraid of my brand new flag (cheap short whip + a square of ripstop nylon from the fabric store + electrical tape = better than Brannaman's). Not sure if it was the color or the crisp new sound of it. So we worked on that some. I really felt better about our work today. It was more relaxed. I don't need him on a hair trigger and I think he's starting to realize that. Probably just out of practice since he's had so much time off.

Other than that, I made two very scary trips down my driveway today. One was on the way home from visiting Cimarron. I slid partway down the steep part of the driveway. Then when I went to leave again I got almost to the top, lost my grip, and slid VERY FAST, backward, halfway down the hill. It was NOT FUN. 4 wheel drive isn't much help when you're not getting any purchase. I'm glad the ruts held the truck on the driveway and I got to dry ground before I hit the telephone pole at the bottom. I did not try going up again.

Then I spent a lot of time spreading livestock salt (it's all I had) on the driveway in the freezing cold wind, trying not to fall down. I hope tomorrow is less terrifying.

Now I'm going to go enjoy that downtime I thought I'd have more of today, and hope I kick this bug by tomorrow morning.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Finally I got a picture of Cimarron to share with you all. Sorry for the poor quality. He's a cutie though.

I was finally able to get out of my driveway today. It was so nice to see the outside world again. And the sun was shining too. An absolutely beautiful day.

I spent some time on ground work and warm-up with Cimarron. He's a pretty high energy guy. He's also pretty spooky and goosy in the arena, but then we went for a walk around the neighborhood and he didn't act silly at all. He did have his good buddy leading the way though, and I think that makes a difference.

We were going to go ride the area we'd just walked, but I ran out of time. I did get in a little riding. He's going to need a lot of work on softening, but he's a pretty good boy.

I can go up there and ride any time I want to. I had been really looking forward to having him here at home but then the mountains of snow came. And actually I really like the idea of an indoor arena with dry footing to ride in. So it's a good thing.

I took this picture a while ago and forgot about it. Yes, it is a vending machine where you can buy nightcrawlers and other live bait. There was another one next to it that wasn't out of order. Only in Idaho. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I forgot to post a picture of my new headstall. (Yes, I'll admit I fiddled with this picture a bit too much.) It's pretty. It has brass. It's thick and chunky. It has ties at the bit ends, no screws. It's almost exactly right. It's not the quality of a custom made headstall, mainly because of the leather. It's a bit stiff and shiny... Or maybe it's just too new and needs to be broken in. I did oil it. It's made by Billy Cook and I think I ordered it at Horse Saddle Shop, they had the best price by far. And it is almost exactly what I wanted, something that would match the serpentine (actually called a running W) that goes around the edge of my saddle. I like the way it's done on my saddle better. It's simple and no frills. The headstall has a kind of fleur-de-lis looking thing in the serpentine. Too fancy, it ruins the simplistic lines.

Did I ever mention I'm pretty darn picky?
Spring is coming! My horses told me so. Tonka and Soxy are shedding, just a little. I love that they start doing that every year right when winter seems at its worst.

Yesterday we had a little break in the weather and the horses really enjoyed it.

I cleared them a space to stand around the trough, and Scout had fun playing in the big snow pile. Then he found that it's a good place to itch his head.

Tonka wasn't overly cheerful. I think he just wanted to take a nap while he was warm and dry.Ribbit.
Today I had planned to go ride Cimarron, but we couldn't get out of the driveway. So John spent a couple hours plowing the deep slush and compacted snow (I'm sick of plowing so I decided to bake instead) and now I think we might be able to get out, and maybe get the car out so we can take it to town and get tires. I hope so. I want to be able to go where I want, and most of all, go ride!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Today was a very good day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I guess I'd better check in. It's been a while!

Last Friday I got to take Scout out on another trail ride. We had another colt along, I think it was his second trail ride, and two broke horses. The broke horses are there for support and we all stop and do whatever a rider in trouble needs. Same as how I ride with others but this is a new group of girls and I really enjoyed riding with them. Scout was pretty nervous, and we only rode for an hour but by the end of it he had calmed down. I was impressed with him for walking through puddles with frozen tops and over little runnels of water without having to look at them for a long time first. After a good look at the first puddle he marched on through the rest. He's a good boy.

Monday we didn't do our lesson, we each had our reasons. My reason was my elbow. I don't know what I did to it but it's all inflamed and I can hardly dress myself sometimes. When I'm doing ground work and a horse pulls on me even a tiny bit it really sets me back in the healing process. I know Scout and Cimarron are both going to pull on me, so I thought I'd give it a rest. Then I found out our lesson for next Monday isn't going to happen either but we might be able to fit one in later in the week.

I've been offered Cimarron to keep here and ride all I want, they just need him back for hunting season. Yay! I can't wait to share him with you all, he's a pretty good looking guy. I don't have any pictures of him, darn it. It's killing me to wait for him and not even have a picture to look at. Sometime next week he'll be here.

I topped off my excitement about Cimarron by ordering a new headstall with some Christmas money. It should match my saddle pretty well. I'm hoping it gets here fast. Then today I went and spent some money I'd gotten from selling other tack, and replaced my stiff, uncomfortable chinks. These ones are so supple, and they're a weird kind of leather that's more grippy. It reminds me of pigskin but I think it's too thick for that. They're not fancy but I like them the way they are, and I can actually bend in them! I love them. I got them at Indiana Harness in Spokane. The price was already pretty affordable for good chinks, and I traded in my old ones for more of a discount. I looked at the ones at two other stores in Spokane and there's no comparison. Now, you could probably go to Post Falls and get something a lot fancier for twice the price, but I'm not a very fancy girl. :)

That's about all my horse news, other than a short ride at home where I discovered how small Scout's comfort zone is in terms of leaving his buddies. I'd say it's about 100-200 feet before he gets jittery about it. We'll gradually build on it without blowing his confidence.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Just some pictures.

And look who greeted us when we got home:
Looks like Tonka thought he'd try on another color today.
I went up and tried out Cimarron yesterday. He's a good boy. Gorgeous too. He's half kiger, half QH, and lived his first three years out on the range, so he may as well have been wild. He's got a skepticism that reminds me of Tonka. Worried about the mounting block, dots of light on the floor, a wheelbarrow that had moved. Nothing serious but at first I was wondering if I ought to ride him at all. It's been a couple months since he was ridden, and even then he's just sort of an extra horse, not much time spent riding in the last few years. I've heard stories of him bucking so that's in the back of my head too.

But after doing ground work and liberty work in the round pen I felt safe enough to climb on and try him out. He's not real responsive to my leg asking him to move over, and he had opinions about certain areas he didn't want to walk. He had a nice stop, a great one-rein stop, a good back up, and he's real comfortable to ride. Short coupled and stout. He's pretty cool. If I was still looking (and could afford him) I might ask if he's still for sale. I'll ride him in our next lesson, if he's not too boogery about being in the arena.

Then I came home and it was so nice out I had to get Scout out for a short ride. He was relaxed and mellow. I think he was enjoying the nice weather too. We worked in the field and did a reminder lesson on all the maneuvers he's supposed to know (he was very responsive) and then did some walk trot transitions. Surprisingly, his upward transitions were great but his downward were kinda sloppy at first. Normally he's lazy and it's just the opposite. Then my lovely, smart boy in the pasture decided to eat under the fence and get himself shocked. It was a loud snap! And of course he ran away and stood there snorting for a while. Even though this happened right behind us Scout didn't react too much and we went back to work.

Today is even nicer than yesterday. It's 43 degrees already, and the sun is bright. We're going to hit the trails with my sister. Good fun. I think Scout will enjoy the break from the arena work.

The leads I had on a couple horses didn't go anywhere. It's weird, these sellers that sound pretty motivated but then don't follow through. But that's okay because I don't want to add another horse right now. I'm still hoping Bella's lameness will pass, and even if it doesn't she might be okay for walking on the trail, which is what I mostly do anyway. And I'll have Tonka to ride in the summer (fingers crossed) so I think we're good for now.

Happy trails! Maybe I'll have some trail ride pictures for my next post.

Monday, January 02, 2012

It's funny, just as I decided I wasn't going to get a horse, a couple good leads came along. We'll see how that goes...

Today I rode a strange horse. She herself is not strange, she's just strange to me. She's a very nice girl, a grey anglo-arab named Madrid, who belongs to the trainer we've been taking lessons with. It was good to have a horse to ride, and eye-opening to ride a horse that doesn't know how I work. As I didn't always know how she worked. She backs to different cues, for one thing. It led to some talk about how we ride, and the importance of knowing WHY we ride how we ride. My answer would just be, "because that's how I do it." Which isn't a very good answer, when you want to analyze what makes the most sense and is most effective.

Then, quite excitingly, someone started firing a gun in the outside arena. Apparently it was mounted shooting practice. Only nobody warned us and certainly our horses weren't expecting it. The first group of shots caught us standing still and nothing super exciting happened. A while later the second group of shots caught Scout as he was feeling rather "up" anyway, and was trotting around the arena and had just turned his back to the source of the noise. He went "leap" and John didn't go with. Or something like that. I didn't see it because I was busy shutting down my mount, who was right next to the source of the noise. Despite the unplanned dismount John and Scout were both fine, just a little rattled. My sister went out and kindly asked them to hold off on the shooting for 15 minutes so we could finish up without any more excitement. Everyone mounted up again and we finished on a good, relaxed note.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to go ride Cimarron, a nice kiger cross who also belongs to the trainer. He's kind of just an extra horse, not her personal horse, so I can borrow him more long term. He doesn't get ridden much but he's supposed to be a pretty nice horse.

Oh, and as to why I didn't ride Festus, my brother in law's horse - he needs some work before I'd trust him in a strange setting with a group of strange horses. Not much stop. Some brace, but it's not terrible. I just would definitely want the stop more reliable. If I could go over every day and ride him it would probably be fine, but that doesn't seem very doable right now.

So anyway, I'm having some horsey adventures riding horses that aren't mine, and it's very fun and interesting. But it also makes me appreciate the communication I have with my own horses even more. It's just a difference of dialects, but even that can cause some long pauses and miscommunications in the middle of a good conversation.