Saturday, August 31, 2013

Joseph had a couple days off this week and I didn't get to hang out with him until late tonight, so I didn't bother trying to take pictures in the dark.  I saddled him at the trailer and unsaddled him at the trailer, with some liberty work in the round pen in-between.  It was nice to not have to lug everything to and from the round pen myself.

He's a pretty sweet guy, and he really tries hard every second.  He offers too many steps when I ask him with the stirrup to step over.  He's an over-achiever.  I had him do a fair amount of slow trotting with the saddle on.  There was a subtle hurky-jerky rhythm to his trot, more power in his strides for a couple steps, then relax, then more power, then relax.  A bit of tension there, I think.  He had one slight spook and scoot, I don't know why.  I wonder if he accidentally touched the fence with a stirrup or something.  I calmly asked him to continue on and he did.  I think we need to do a lot more wearing of the saddle, and working while wearing the saddle, before I up the ante in any way.

Speaking of saddles, there's a lovely treeless saddle for sale locally at a steal of a price.  I'd love to ride Joseph treeless, even if not all the time.  But I can't afford it even at the bargain price.  Oh well, I can't complain much.  I already have a very nice saddle.

I pulled up in the driveway earlier and spotted one of the horses at a distance through the round pen rails.  The way the sun was, it looked like Tonka.  He's still here, even though he isn't.  When I think I see him it doesn't surprise me; what surprises me is the split second later when I realize he's not here.  I think it's been harder lately because the seasons have rolled around again and now it feels just like when I lost him.  I'm not one to remember anniversaries of deaths and other bad things, in fact I purposely do not remember dates like that, but I can't help but feel the season changing.

Better to have loved and lost, as they say.  I wouldn't trade my time with him for anything, even if it means I have to miss him now.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Fine Evening

Thank you all for the wonderful, supportive comments yesterday.  And of course I'm always happy to hear how handsome my horse is.  :)

I didn't have much time tonight, but we had fun anyway.  We went back over how it feels to have a rope around your butt, then I got an itch to hook up two reins and "drive."

My two reins were short because they were actually a lead rope and a riding rein, but they did the trick and I didn't have a bunch of extra driving line to deal with.  I had no worries that he was going to kick me.  I worked my way rearward, slowly transitioning back from a lunging position.  He was ready and waiting for some kind of cue, so I asked him to turn, which pushed his hindquarters in front of me and caused him to switch sides.  That made him feel pretty insecure so we took a little breather and just relaxed for a few minutes.  When we tried again, the first thing he offered was a slight turn, switching sides in front of me.  He sure does try his heart out to do the right thing.  I hadn't asked for it but that's okay.

We did some more just moving around, switching sides, and even a couple stops.  Then I took pictures of his butt, because wouldn't it be a very nice arse to sit behind while driving a cart?
Another goal I have is to pick out his feet daily.  They don't actually need it because it's so dry and nothing packs in there, but he is so bothered by hoof trims that I think he definitely needs it as a training exercise.  He behaves himself very well for a trim, but it's obviously quite a trial for him.

Something has definitely changed in our relationship lately.  I like it a lot.  :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Moving forward

Joseph and I are making some good progress.

I created a monster though, giving him treats on the other side to encourage him to see me on both sides.  Makes it hard to climb on when his ribs are pushing me over.  A bit awkward...

But we managed.

And I gave him a treat on the correct side.  :)

He even took some steps for me, you might notice his feet moved a bit.  Only one forward step, but that's okay.

He was pretty comfortable with backing up.

So to end on a good note, I let him be right.  I asked him for several steps backward, which he did beautifully, and then I grabbed his mane and slipped down on the off side.
 We had an awesome thuderstorm that night, and actually got some rain.  The only work he got the next day was a hoof trim.  I was hoping the rain would have softened up their hooves but it didn't help much.

I thought a lot about our little "ride" and really that's not where I need to be going just yet.  It was a lot of fun, and he thinks it's pretty grand to get a bunch of treats, even if it is a little confusing when I ask him to move.  But in reality he's not really prepared yet, and if he were to jump I'd go splat.  Which doesn't mean I won't climb on every now and then if the time seems right, but we need to get along with our saddle training.

With ground-driving in mind, I introduced him to the surcingle and used a long trail rein to get him used to rope contact.

He got to drag the rope on each side:

Then he got to feel it around his butt.  Of course at first it was only attached on one side, and the other end was in my hand.  I edged it over his butt and boy did he tuck tail and scoot!  I let the rope slip out of my hand, then gathered it up and did it again.  This time I managed to hang on to the butt rope and his reaction after the initial "goosing" was to stop.  Good, that works for me.  Then he got to where I could wiggle it around and flop it against his hind legs, top to bottom, both sides, so I ran it around like this:

I didn't figure he'd mind much about the reins on the sides of his neck, but we practiced that anyway:

Tonight I let him wear my good saddle again.  He was a little tense during the saddling, but I swear he was smiling and relaxed while he circled the round pen with the saddle on.

Liam wanted me to play badminton so I reluctantly left Joseph alone with my saddle on for a little while.

He didn't destroy it or chew on it or anything.  Good boy.  My daughter gave him some treats (he's still wary of strangers so that was very helpful) and then he got to have his dinner and be with his pals again.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

After much argument with my boy, we went on a little hike today.  He doesn't like to hike.  We've taken him too far too many times.  But when he saw how awesome it was where we were at, he was far out in front, excitedly leading the way.

Winston was having a great time:

These are Huckleberry's really, really happy eyes:

Blue was kamikaze puppy, as usual:

We discovered some mining claims.  Weird.  I want a mining claim.  I'd build a little hut and live there all summer. But I think I'd probably actually have to put some work into it.

This is what Huckleberry does when we come upon water.  Or mud.  Anything damp will do.

Ladybugs again!

I LOVE this next picture.  I was just taking a pic of the weird avenue through the trees, that isn't the trail (the trail goes along right next to it).  Blue heard a chipmunk and photobombed my picture, standing still just long enough to get this clear shot.  I think it's probably the best picture of Blue I've ever taken.  A happy accident.

I took a break to lay back and stare at the sky.  I was feeling dizzy and a little rest helped.

This is that dang well Blue fell into.  Nobody has done anything about it, so we piled lots and lots of branches over it.  I don't think anyone could accidentally fall in.

On our way out of there we decided to drive up another road to see what we found.  Eventually we found it was blocked by a couple guys cutting firewood, so we headed back.  About halfway down the mountain I suddenly had no power when I pushed on the gas pedal.  Looking down at my instrument panel, it looked like I was out of diesel.  But I shouldn't have been, and it wasn't doing that lurchy thing they do when you run out of gas.  It was just idling smoothly along, slow as a turtle.  We realized none of my instruments were reading right, and the radio was doing weird things too.  We did some troubleshooting, checked some fuses and reset the computer, didn't find the problem, and eventually Katia and John were able to push us up the last uphill bit so we could coast back down the mountain.  We parked at the bottom, easier to find if we had to call someone to rescue us.  I explored a very cool area while John went through each and every fuse and finally found the problem.  Starter fuse, which is strange, because it was starting just fine.  I can't tell you how good it felt to push on the gas pedal and move forward with some power.  By that point I was really hungry!

 This evening after dinner I went to get my Joseph.  He came moseying over.  I can't tell you how big that is.  It's a first.  He normally makes me go get him.

He helped me water the garden, then we headed to the round pen.  He was incredibly relaxed.  I bridled him and slipped his halter off from underneath, which he thought was weird.  But he's already quiet with the bit in his mouth, and this is only the third time.

I went back to the garden and left him to his own devices for a few minutes, then gathered a saddle and went back.

It was getting too dark for good picture taking.

Everything was quiet and uneventful.
After walking around, and some practice giving to the bit,  I unsaddled him and asked him to step up to the mounting block.  This time he'd position himself almost perfectly, but just a little too far away.  He was obviously bothered and worrying about doing the wrong thing, so I got his halter and helped him.  He did it perfectly, although with a lot of tension.  I loved on him on both sides, scratching him all over, rubbing my legs on him, hanging over him, giving treats.  Then I did some stretches and twists with my arms out, moving them over his head and his whole body.  He never once moved his feet.  When I asked him to move his feet he was worried and over-reactive (nothing big) so he wasn't as relaxed as he looked.

Lightning was flashing around us with increasing intensity.  When it started to lightly rain I decided to call it a night.  I still had to put away two saddles and all the other gear, plus bring Pedro in and feed everyone their supplements.  I got to do a lot of walking in the warm rain, and it was good.  :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wonderful Day at Home

Joseph got to go explore our creek today for the first time.  The others watched on from a distance.

Our first stop was a place where it's usually easy to cross the creek, but this year the floods remodeled it in a way that made it a little scary to jump across.  The grass is incredibly tall and it overhangs the edges, so you don't know where the land ends and the water begins.  He would have been happy to jump to where I was standing, but of course I didn't think that was such a good idea.  He did think about crossing, without any prompting from me, but his feet slipped into the water and that shook his confidence.  Given my poor footing and the fact that we didn't need to cross, I opted to leave that area.

We went to another area where I didn't think we'd be able to go down into the creek, but I found a place that kind of stair-stepped down.  He was really scared.  Again, he wanted to jump on top of me because he knew I was on solid ground.

I almost decided it wasn't worth the effort, but then I realized if I let him feel insecure and give up twice in one outing, it wouldn't set a good example.  He eventually made it down the bank.

We wandered a little ways upstream until the grass was just too thick and I was feeling too closed in and it was hard to navigate.  He was so brave walking under an overhanging bank with the wind blowing the grass above our heads.

Then we found another area where it was easy to get down in the creek, and it was so nice and cool!  The water was gone, but the ground was still wet.  Just downstream the water made a large pool.

Blue enjoyed jumping up and down the bank.

Huckleberry did his "hangdog" thing.  I don't know, can dogs be emo?  I really lean toward thinking there's something wrong with him.  He's only 4 years old and he's like an old dog.  He often burps during an attack of the hangdogs.  I should take him to the vet.  But maybe he just ate a mouse that didn't agree with him.

He does cheer up nicely when you get his attention.

Next we headed farther downstream and into a pasture that hasn't been grazed this year.  Blue was a springy-sproingy mousing fool.



We hung out in one of the ponds and ate some of the wetland grass the horses like so much.  Well, he ate it, I just took pictures.  The pond is dry now but in spring the water would be up to his withers here.  I like how the sun rays in this photo are reminiscent of being underwater.

 Later on I took Joseph out again.  He hung out with me while I picked chokecherries.  I didn't even know until today a large hedge of bushes down by the creek are chokecherries.  Going to try my hand at preserving them.

Another lovely sepia photo of Pedro:

When we got back I sat on the ground under the fence and the horses gathered around.  It was like a popularity contest, and poor Bob was the awkward kid wishing he could be part of the group.

Joseph was the hottest guy at the party, and he knew it.

But it didn't stop him from having some quiet time with his compadres.

I titled this next photo, "Lovingkindness."  That's Bella, in one word.
Eventually I was so parched my lips hurt and the sun was making its presence known on my skin, so I had to go in.  I had a good time with the horses today.  Hope they had a good time too.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Just Hangin' with my Homies

Every day now I put Pedro out and bring him back in, and everyone else lives together 24/7.  It's fun to spend time with everyone all in the same area. Pedro came back with me with no halter one day, and found this fun game all laid out for him.  Sadly, I hadn't planned the game and there was nothing under any of the buckets.

I love the way my ass looks in the evening light. :)

Brotherly love:

Bob's sweet face.  I wonder if the grey blaze is an age thing or if he's always had it.

I love the way my ass looks in the morning light, too.

Sweet face.  If you look hard (click to enlarge) you can see Bob reflected in his eye.

Now that he's all shed out, I see that Pedro has a brand on his shoulder.  This picture doesn't show it clearly.  I'm not sure what it says but I suppose it doesn't matter.  Whatever it is, Bob doesn't have one, so they most likely didn't come from the same place originally.

This next photo was totally blah until I made it do this.  I like it!

All My Children:

We're making our second batch of blackberry jam tonight.  I squashed all the seeds out already, and we have about a gallon and a half of juice and pulp.  :)

This is my next project:

This is just one of our apple trees, the one that ripens early.  Think I'll start with apple butter.  We have 5 other apple trees and the bugs didn't get to them much at all this year.  Anyone want some apples?