Friday, December 31, 2010

And this was how 2010 Came To An End


Clear and cold...teeth chattering, finger numbing cold. So peaceful, so tranquil...and cold, of course...cold.

Because I spotted it over and Karen's Rough String and thought it a fabulous idea (and because I'm not at all shy about swiping fabulous ideas), I thought it may be fun to look back over 2010 and see just what we did. I must admit there moments I'd forgotten...and wish I could have kept that way!


For instance, nearly a full year ago, the Desperate Horsewife Bakes a Cake. This year? No cake. Sorry, Darling.


I'm not terribly sure how it happened, but I'm thinking the new pair is now looking pretty similar to the old pair in I Was Sittin' Here Thinkin'... Time for duct tape!


My recurring with a bobber...Fishing is a lot like Gentling Mustangs


The Red Headed Fury pulled at our heartstrings in February.


Darling began taking jumping lessons early in 2010. I'm not really sure why she was upset, are you?


No horse drove the bobber method down my throat harder than Red. What a special boy he was...and is. Some horses simply are here to let you know that you ought not take a single thing for granted.


Darling and Steve Holt! had a little fun in the sun early this spring.


Best Daddy Note, Ever! No argument there. Darling and I also had fun on the Sumas Mt Trail Challenge over Memorial Day weekend.

It's Complicated...I cried, you cried, we all cried. I still don't quite have a grasp on why I did what I did, except that it simply must have been time.


The Beautiful Wadatika has captured so many hearts during this year of struggles, but she definitely offered the best gift of the season...even though it came the Day After Christmas.

Tika's week has been fan-flippin-tastic. From the day after Christmas, to New Year's Eve, she's progressed tremendously in less than a week. Today I rode on my strings attached...walk and trot and stop and turn. Curt stood back, long line coiled loosely and no longer attached. I'm looking forward to the things that Tika will accomplish in 2011. No goals, no deadlines, just time and patience and progress.


Hope y'all have a delightful evening, and wish you all a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Birth...Without The Mess

One of my gifts for Christmas this year was a new printer. Can I get a Yeehaw? This is the Epsom Stylus Photo 1400, which will print an image up to 13x19. Excellent! Fewer trips to the printer when I sell images. For this, I am happy.

I waited patiently (not) for the men in my life to get the creature set up so I could take it for a test drive.

But wait...did anyone buy me photo paper? Maybe there was some in the box...

Where is the paper? Did it get thrown out with the left over gift wrap? Did anyone see any paper?



Today City Boy came home with paper. Not only did he have a package of 8x10, but he'd found some 13x19 on sale and picked up a couple of those as well.

Hello? Did I hear a Yeehaw?

So tonight I sat down, looked through matt sizes and found a stock size of 12x16. I pulled up a photo and formatted it to fit, and with baited breath I hit the print button....


And there it baby. My first born. Isn't it beautiful?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chicken Poop


The round pen at Curt's has eight solid sides, and they are eight feet high. The width is just 36' across, which gives enough room to move, but not enough for a horse to get completely out of control. When I see people with 60' round pens, I wonder how they start colts in them. They tell me their colts can't lope in something smaller...and I'm pretty sure they're wrong. Those colts simply haven't learned how to use their bodies effectively.

Inside Curt's round pen today, Tika and I took ride four. Yesterday was better than the day before, but today was better than yesterday, which is, of course, the way it should be. Yesterday had more of the lurching and jerking, and Curt hollering at me, telling me I was chicken poop. But not poop. Another word that meant poop.

It began like this: "I thought you'd have Darling here photographing this."

Darling was indeed there, but after 2.5 hours on the back of Doxee, she'd opted to stay somewhere warm rather than stand on the block of wood outside of the round pen photographing me. Which was fine, because "I didn't think it wise to have her leaning over the wall above our heads," I explained.

"Chicken poop!"

"Yes, that's right, I am."

And off we went in circles, left and right, turn and stop and left and right. And then Tika did something, and I'm not really sure what, but we felt suddenly out of control. I was holding on, saying 'easy', while Curt was laughing and telling me I was okay. "I am not okay!" I hollered back. I'm not sure what I was, to be honest, except not in my seat. Curt was still laughing as he stepped back a bit, taking off the pressure, and Tika immediately dropped to a trot and then a walk.

Curt then decides that I need to make her walk toward him. Tika does not like forward motion such as this, and despite my following orders and bumping her with my legs, she is not budging an inch.

"Spank her," says the cowboy, matter of factly.

"I can't!"

"Spank her."

"I'm chicken poop!"

"Spank her or I quit!"

Deep breath, eyes squinting, I gingerly reach back and wiggle the end of my reins towards Tika's hiney. Jump! Lurch! Halt! Okay, breath again. Open eyes. Cowboy still standing in front of us, shaking his head. "Chicken Poop."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Oh, And Did I Mention?


Tika had a pedicure last week. Even her hind feet got all prettied up without an issue. She was a very good girl.

Today was ride #2 on the Beautiful Wadatika. Getting to the point of forward motion went a little smoother, and we weren't more than a couple of strides into things when Curt gave a bit of a push and Tika was loping. I'm finding Tika to be a bit challenging, since I'm commanded to simply sit and depend fully on Curt to drive her forward, stop her and turn her. He's not as easy to read as a cow, as it turns out. Or even a HydraBull. I'm not always sure which way we'll be going next, and Tika is just jerky enough to have me feeling a bit like a rag doll.

The jerkiness is really Tika listening and trying to do what's right. She moves fast, then hesitates to see if she made the right choice, and before the stop is complete, she's moving again. I used a little leg today to help her move forward, and a bit more rein as well. As I suspected, the right rein causes her to toss her to shake her head a bit, but with Curt pushing her from the center of the round pen, she forgot about the pressure I was creating and listened to him.

I was looking at some videos on you tube today and came across this one, shot nearly a year ago, on Darling's YT account. Wow...whiplash!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best Day After Christmas...EV~AH!

It was a day like any other day, in the beginning. A bit warm for December, but wet and windy. I climbed out of bed a bit later than usual and headed outside in the dark to toss hay to the three horses here at home. I then climbed into my truck and headed south to see Tika.

Curt's been a little slow the past few days to get out into his barn, and I've found myself pulling up to an arena who's door is still closed. This morning, however, the door was open and I found him in the barn, along with his border collie pup, Patch, tossing hay into stalls. I picked up the hose and finished up the watering for him, and we went inside to have our coffee (him) and hot chocolate (me) while waiting for the horses to finish up.

We talked about how we'd spent Christmas. Curt's wife had purchased him a sport coat and trousers, a dress shirt and sweater. Evidently she wants him to meet some of her friends from her high school days, "and she doesn't want me looking like a cowboy, I guess", he said with a wink. I wonder if he'll still wear his cowboy hat?

After finishing up our drinks, I told him I was going to get my mare out. "Work her in the arena a bit; that sand will wear her down a bit." Sure thing, boss! And so I saddled her up and rather heading to the round pen, we went into the arena where the footing is nice and deep and indeed will wear a horse down a bit quicker.


It wasn't long before Tika was feeling a bit warm on her chest, but there was no heavy breathing, and she was working quietly at a long trot when Curt came walking in. "Where's your helmet?" he inquired.

My eyes about popped out of my head. "You don't mean to put me on her in the arena!"

"No, just go get it." And I did. And from there we walked to the round pen, where Curt worked Tika in a few circles, getting her to move out fast, stop, turn, move fast again. All the while she was watching him, eyes wide, that half startled look on her face. But she listened. My girl listened. And then he picked up the stirrup and slapped the fender against her her side with force enough to make a loud clapping noise, but she barely moved, just looked at him, head held high, out of the corner of her eye.

He rubbed her neck, speaking quietly. Asked her to step forward with him a few steps, stopped, stroked her face. She dropped her head, letting out a sigh.

"Go ahead. Get on her."

My foot slipped into the stirrup and I bounced up, leaning over the saddle, rubbing her neck. I stepped back to the ground, picked up some mane in my left hand and bounced back up above her. This time my leg went over and I sat down in the saddle.

"Got your foot in the stirrup?" I nodded, and Curt began moving his feet, back and forth, side to side, in an attempt to get Tika to take those first few steps with him. My weight acted like an anchor. She wanted to follow him, but I was on what should she do?

Curt stepped to the side, positioning himself like you would when lunging a horse. Tika, though, faced up. "Pull her nose away from me a bit," he said. I did, and she followed it enough for him to step back to her hip...

...and we were off!

Tika went to the rail, unsure at first, trotting a few steps, hesitating until Curt asked her to move forward, and off she went again. One time she even broke into a fast lope, which only lasted two strides but was enough to throw me over the horn of the saddle when she slammed to a stop. She watched and listened to Curt as he moved her forward, slowed her down, moved her again. "Keep your legs relaxed, don't tell her what to do, let me do the work until she figures it out," he said, all the while keeping his eyes on my redheaded girl.

It was only a few minutes. But to me? Today, I rode the wind.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wild Wishes


Here's to you, my friends, hoping all your holidays are wild!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Go Tika


Without a doubt, the most beautiful horse in the world...
Well, my world!


Know what I see here? Her tail! Remember her baseball bat?
Baseball bat no more!


Curt came into the round pen with us. That was scary.
Who is this man that makes me work so differently than you?

Have you ever tried to ground drive with a camera in one and a rein in your mouth?
I have...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tika's Training Update

Tika had been working well in the round pen. I always began the same way...lunging, followed by a bit of ground driving. On this particular afternoon, we'd done our round pen work in the morning and I decided that it wouldn't hurt to go to the arena for a bit more work.

Silly me...first time in ground driving in this arena, and I didn't follow my same pattern, but started straight off with driving. Didn't work so well.

After a bit of head tossing and uncertainty, I went back to the basics, which I ought to have done to begin with. Lunging without a wall to hold her together, Tika can still get a little jittery, but she's got such a good mind in terms of really trying to understand what's being asked of her. Once the jitters were worked out, we went back to driving.

She still struggles with turns to the right; it's always been her difficult side. Her head shakes a bit more when asked to turn that direction, as you can see. I've found another hole that happens mostly on the right side as well. She doesn't want to be led from that side, especially if it requires being between the wall and a person. I'm not certain Curt will attempt to lead her; he's more of a lunging kind of guy, but I'll be working on her claustrophobic issue over the next couple of days anyway. No reason not to work out any potential kinks, eh?

Yesterday after working Tika in the round pen, we went to the arena and watched part of a lesson. This was Tika's first time seeing the bull in action. The rumbling and movement startled her at first and she took a small jump back, but after that? Well, she was tense, yes, and her eyes were larger than their normal largeness, with white showing around the edges. She pushed me with her muzzle a couple of times, never taking her eyes off the bull, looking for reassurance. I'm so glad she's down there where she can see that in action and get used. Someday, it will be her and I going nose to nose with the hydrabull!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why do I Like Horses?


Why do I like horses? I think I must be mad.

My mother wasn't horsey - And neither was my dad.

But the madness hit me early - and it hit me like a curse.

And I've never gotten better. In fact I've gotten worse.


Thursday, December 16, 2010


Today I did something I've been begging to do for a long time. I hauled Tika down to Curt's so I could work her in the round pen, and hopefully, finally, climb onto her back. It's not that she hadn't been there, or that I couldn't simply haul her down, but I've been wanting to leave her there long enough for her to settle in and get comfortable before climbing on, and the cost of hauling down daily is simply out of my budget.

Yesterday, though, as I whimpered and moaned about how difficult it's been to work with Lefty, the old horse trainer began to soften. And before leaving his house, I told him I was heading home to ride my mare. "Ride her where?" he demanded. "I the round pen at home, in the rai~," "Oh, just bring the !%^@# @%#@ mare down here so you don't go getting hurt!"

That was followed by some more mumbling as he bent over to pull on his boots. "Catch me at a weak moment..." and some more sputtering and growling spewed from his lips.

What's a girl to do when the old cowboy gets like this? Plant a big smile on her face, give him a hug and tell him thank you, of course! And then run like heck to her vehicle and make a quick getaway before he changes his mind. That's what!


Someday, I'm sure there will be leather attached and this will transform itself into a beautiful cutting saddle. But for now? It's a work of art that was begging to be photographed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Driving Miss Tika


Among the many things Tika has learned to cope with over the past year, the most important was her lesson in standing tied. She would fly into a panic the moment she realized she hit the end of a rope, and that is certainly not a good thing. I'd tried several different methods, the one leg hobble (she stood with her foot raised to her chin waiting for someone to rescue her), the blocker tie ring (hello? What good is a tie that isn't really tied?), and simply wrapping that long rope around the hitching rail. But if it could be pulled loose, it was. And if it couldn't? She'd sit down and pull like her life depended on it. She broke a halter and a snap on her lead (granted, not a heavy duty snap) before I decided ground tying was good enough.

But then one day, she figured it out. She pulled back, and nothing gave way, so she stood nice and relaxed as I saddled her up. What was with that? A week later, same thing. Pull, give up, and that was it. Last week I tied her to the hitching rail at the riding club and even saddled her up from the off side without her coming unglued. My girl is figuring it out.

And she's beautiful, too, don't you think?

Ooops...back on track.


I went to the hardware store and bought some rope and snaps this past weekend. Yesterday I hauled the Diva to the arena and clipped the snaps to her halter and began ground driving. This was horrifying to Tika. How dare I stand so far behind and demand she move forward! Unacceptable. And turn? What the heck was that all about? Good grief, I swear we looked like a blind woman teaching a six year old how to drive her to the corner market for a bottle of whiskey.

But that was yesterday. Today? Much better. Tika was more relaxed. That is to say, less frantic. She still trotted out and even cantered at one point (round pens...gotta love 'em!), but she learned to give and started making some bends and turns without completely coming unglued.

And then? What was I thinking? We went out into the big arena where there were no panels to hold us together. And we walked down the middle, and turned left and right; a little sloppy, somewhat confused, but we did it. We stopped, and even though the head went sky high, it was a stop and a wait for the next command. Rather than pushing the panic button in the larger space, Tika actually relaxed and listened. I was so, so proud of her, and my confidence in our first ride is climbing.

Meanwhile...Curt has been busy in his future saddle shop. I stopped in for a bit this morning to see what had been going on over the weekend. The panels are on the walls, the ceiling is up, and the door is in place. Coming right along, Mr. Storbakken! Before long we'll have that online leather works shop up and running!


Curt looks at the paneling he's just hung in the stairwell.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Have Been Signed Out

Oh, I hate when this happens. You write a lovely post. A long post. You labor. You sweat. You proofread. You edit. You post photos...

And in a heartbeat, it's all gone.

And you do not feel like writing the whole thing over, because you haven't got enough daylight hours left, and chores, they do beckon. So I shall not re-write it at all. No, I shall not. But I will leave you with a fun shot from the freshly decorated Christmas tree. And you will like it. Yes, you will. And you will be happy with what you get, and I will be outside shoveling mudnure as you are snuggled up wishing you had a Kissy Fishy, too.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Alright Already!


Where, oh where, has the time gone? Into a black hole known as the Quarter Horse Zone, that's where! One must be careful when trodding through QHZ, because once you're there? It's hard to find your way back to the Mustang Diaries.

Yesterday morning, City Boy said to me, "You know, you've not posted to your blog in a long time. How am I supposed to know what you're doing, if you're not posting?"

Later in the day I received a phone call from my mother with virtually the same message, "Hey, are you alive or dead?"

Okay, so I'm alive. And thanks to family, back on track.


Among the things I've been busy doing these past couple of weeks is helping Curt build his saddle shop. He's had his machines in the garage of a client, but has decided to move everything home where it will be closer and easier for him to work. There had been a viewing room built into the barn above stalls, but it hadn't ever been completed. Three windows looked out over the arena, but it was cold and dark and certainly quite dusty with no glass in place.

Last week he and I went to the lumber store and picked up the wood he'd need to start framing. Two windows were blocked, while the middle one was cut to a larger size to fit the windows being donated by a friend. Styrofoam insulation has been cut and put into place. We looked like a snow storm had blown in by the time we were finished. the time ten minutes were up we were pretty much covered with the stuff.

Yesterday the wood was placed on the ceiling. Today? The walls will start going up. Walls, as in, the part that covers the insulation, because obviously there are already walls. I'm sure there are technical terms for all of this, but do I know what they are? Nope. And Curt just rolls his eyes at me and hollers 'No, the other side, the other side, the other other side! Sheesh, I'll never make a carpenter's apprentice out of you!'

Come to think of it, I've not even been in the QHZ this past week. I need to ride!