Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sunny's Dilema

Sunny allows me to stand on her right!

The sun has been shining for a week now. It's been glorious! It's taken that long for the paddock to completely dry out, but Sunny and I were back at it a couple days ago. She's not to thrilled with the whole program and often stands looking longingly over the gate, no doubt wondering when she'll be turned loose again.

A couple days ago I couldn't get close to her. The sunshine has my girls feeling good. Sunny was in no mood to let me get close, trotting in wide circles around me. Okay, I can play this game, too! No food until you come take it from my hand. Hmmm....well, it appears Sunny wants food, so she came and snatched the hay from my hand, but with a bit of attitude!

Yesterday she again protested my wanting to get up close and personal. So while Quiet Storm was out in the pasture, I had Sunny trotting circles in the paddock. She wasn't enjoying our game too terribly much, and it wasn't long before she stopped and turned to face me. I had her go a few more circles each direction, always stopping when she turned to me. I didn't approach her, but walked away and left her after about 20 minutes. She sighed a relief behind me.

This afternoon I went outside to find her with the lead rope over her neck and the halter pushed ahead of one of her ears. She's been terribly itchy, trying to rub off her winter coat on any solid surface she can find. Seems her head was itchy, too! The halter must also have been uncomfortable, because she didn't give me much trouble catching her. This is quite the dilemma for Sunny; she loves being scratched but hates being touched. She turned away a couple of times, then stood as I reached down for the lead rope. I managed to get it over her neck, then talked to her and worked my way alongside of her neck, scratching down to her withers, then working my way up to her poll. She didn't even flinch when I pulled the top of the halter back into place over her ears.

After that, we worked a bit on leading, then I grabbed her rubber curry and began brushing that long, winter coat from her neck and shoulder. She really was enjoying my working along her spine, so I didn't stop; just kept moving back until I was behind her hip. That's when she suddenly realized just where my hand was and shot forward with a snort!

I went back to her 'sweet spot' again, getting her to relax. Then I worked a bit on her face. She really doesn't like having it touched, but tolerates it above her eyes. It took a while, but I managed to work my body over to where she could see it with her right eye. That's the side of her body she doesn't want me to stand on, so any time I can get her to look at me it's good. Today was very good, and I was able to brush her face from standing just a little off center!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rain, rain, go away...

We're having buckets upon buckets dumped on us here. Located just below the Canadian border, I find their weather reports to be more accurate than those on the Seattle stations. Yesterday they were saying something like "High rain warning"...and it certainly is raining!

I was glad I had the opportunity to let the girls out to play on Tuesday, as on Wednesday afternoon Taffy lambed. Which meant she needed the top pasture to herself. Eventually I'll get that field divided (and the bottom one as well), but for now it's all Taffy's. Not that she's using it. Far too wet to bring babies out into!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Sun Storm...aka Sunny

First, let me just tell you how despite not being 'worked', as in my grabbing the end of that lead rope and dragging her about the paddock, Sunny has made great strides. I stood in the opening of her stall, talking over the wall to Quiet Storm. There was hay in Sunny's manger, and she rather wanted to eat it. The problem, of course, being me standing there in the opening.

Her eyes went back and forth between me and the hay. After a minute or two, she gave up a sigh and walked quietly past me into the barn. A momentous occasion! She'd put herself in a corner, basically, with me now between her and the way out. I gave Quiet Storm a pat and walked away with a smile.

Yesterday the sun came out (but only after the snow flurry) and since Quiet Storm hadn't been out of her paddock in over a week, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. I moved Taffy and the other ewes into the bottom field with the rams, grabbed the lead rope and led Quiet Storm through out of the paddock and towards the pasture gate. Good golly, was she feeling good! She did these little 'airs above the ground' moves when she should have been walking placidly at my side, or at the very least trying to grab at blades of grass.

The mud monster proving she's still got it!

Turned her out in the pasture and...zoom! Off she went. Typically very laid back, generally not exerting more energy than necessary, today she was bound and determined to show her wild side! Instead of her usual two laps, she spend five minutes out there playing.

I left Quiet Storm out for an hour or so. She had spent her energy and was digging through old sheep hay, so I put her back into her paddock. Sunny watched. I looked out at the pasture, wondering if I'd be able to catch her? She's so food oriented, and City Boy had just finished the gate linking her paddock to the field only moments ago...surely I'd be able to get her back in, right? Well, only one way to find out. It's not like she's the easiest horse to catch up in the paddock, but it can be done. And the day was so beautiful...

You know, it's always frightening turning a horse out for the first time in spring; you never know just how stupid they're going to be, or if they'll stumble, twist something, or break a leg in their haste to bolt out into open. Add to that the fear of turning your still semi-wild horse loose, and you ought to be a nervous wreck. I'm not smart enough to be that nervous. Oh, sure, I was a bit nervous. But not nervous enough to have checked to see that the battery for the electric fence was dead before moving forward with my plan to set Sunny free.

Sunny walked along obediently. She tried to pull away just after moving through the gate, but I had firm grip on a short lead, so she went back to leading...and she did it well enough so as to convince strangers that she actually knew how! I was amazed, quite frankly, at how easily she followed me towards the fencing. I wanted her to acknowledge the boundaries before I turned her loose. She looked at the fence, gazed at the sheep, and pulled her head down where the nubbins of grass were.

Green grass? This tastes good!

That's when the neighbor let her horses out. They've got a gelding that screams like a stallion. Sunny bolted immediately towards them. Too much for me to hang onto that time, so I just watched her go. Thankfully, there's a small stand of trees between the fences, so she was forced to slow down and see the fence line down there. But boy, did it feel good to run! And so she did it some more...

Free at last!

Look at her get down close to the ground!
I think she needs to work cows...

That doesn't feel good...

I let her play for about 20 minutes. The actual playing time was more like five; once she settled down and had spent some time grazing, I decided it was time to go in. Sunny didn't agree. It took me another 40 minutes to catch her up; she didn't run or get stupid, just made sure my hand couldn't quite reach her lead rope. And I didn't spend the entire time following her around, I did a few other chores between attempts. She wanted her grain, but not badly enough to go back into the paddock. Eventually she gave in and allowed me to lead her back to the barn.

I think before I let her out again, though, I'll recharge the battery for the fence!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Got Mustang Fever?

Got Mustang Fever? I've been going just a little nutty around here trying to create a few products! I'm espeically fond of the Regalo~Adopt A Living Legend products, probably because I just love that photograph of his eye. There are more images than those I've shown here; why not head over to my storefront and see what else I've done?

Darling and Quiet Storm

We worked with Quiet Storm the other day, tossing this old sheet over her back, dragging it from one side to the other and up over her head. She didn't have any issues with it. I suppose I ought to pull out the saddle here before too long and start getting her accustomed to having us lift that on and off from her.

Of course, we're not certain just how old she is. The paperwork lists her as somewhere between 8-12 months at time of capture. We decided to plunk her 'birthday' down in the middle, giving her an unofficial birthday in late April. Too young to really do much in terms of riding yet, but certainly old enough to learn to carry the saddle. And should all go well, perhaps by summer Darling will even be able to mount her and walk around the paddock a bit. Nothing that might stress her young legs, naturally, just enough to give Darling a taste of being on board her own horse, and Quiet Storm a bit of a foundation for next year. (I can't believe I'm already thinking about 2008 when I can't even stop writing 2006 on my checks!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can I ask You a Favor?

Would you do me a quick favor? Over there in that column to the right there are all sorts of little links. At the bottom are two links; one is Blog Village, the other is Top 100 Equestrian Sites. Would you mind clicking on those links for me? Blog Village brings up a totally new page; if you click the top button on that page, it registers as a vote for me. The Top 100 takes you directly to their site on this same window. I'd really appreciate your 'vote', as it may actually get my site where people can see it =)

Betty Jo, my program doesn't have the 'Merge' that the tutorial talked about, but I think I figured out how to get the same effect...sort of. Here's another shot of Steve and his rope.

As for the horses...well, as I mentioned previously, our weather has been very uncooperative here. Aside from general care, there's not much going on. Sunny continues to drag along her lead rope, although there were a couple of days where I got close enough to her head to switch the shorter lead with the long rope she used to drag around. The long one is easier to work her with. This also meant that I was able to shift the snap of her lead back to the center ring on her halter instead of it hanging (and pulling) off to one side.

But I do believe I'll wait for a bit of good weather before doing much more. The paddock just gets too worked up (and muddy.) In the meantime around here I'll probably just continue with a few photos now and then.

If you're up for a bit of daily reading about my life (sometimes amusing, sometimes pathetic) you can always visit my other blog at Today you'll get to read all about my Farm Girl Spa... Ohhhh, such a treat, lol!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Recent Photographs

The weather has been absolutely awful of late. Nothing but rain; everything is sloppy outside. So much so, that I've decided it's just not worth doing any real work with Sunny.

To fill the time void (and to give you something to give you something to look at) I've decided to start playing with photo shop. My head hurts! I've had this program for at least four years, but haven't ever had the courage to mess with it. Well, no time like the present, I suppose, to dive in!
Here's one of Steve about to rope Sunny. I kinda like the old timey look, how about you?
Here's one of Sunny, just prior to being roped. She'd slipped her halter, remember? I like the way this one turned out, and will probably turn it into note cards or something; but I still have a long way to go.

I love this particular shot of Quiet Storm, but not sure I like what I did with it, lol! She needs ground beneath her, at the very least, but at this point I'm just not that talented. Well, someday...right?

Thanks for stopping in! Hoping the weather in your part of the world is more spring like than mine (unless you're on the other side of the world, where it should be fall!)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Quiet Storm's Super Day

Yesterday was Super Saturday, an event sponsored by our county's 4-H. It involves several classes for young people and even parents to select from. Each participant can choose up to four classes. In the past, I've taught soapmaking classes; this year I opted for something different. Darling and I taught a class on how to adopt a wild horse.

It blew me away to have a classroom absolutely packed with people. We had 15 kids and six adults, and they were all anxious to learn. Questions, comments...there wasn't a lack of either, right down to the smallest child. They all had something to say and contribute.

We covered herd management areas, the adoption process, facility requirements and freezebrands. They wanted to know what happened to horses that weren't pretty. They wondered how long mustangs would live. They asked if they had good feet. We spent 40 minutes in the classroom before going outside to see our star attraction.

This was Quiet Storm's first outing. She hadn't been in a horse trailer since being moved to our house in early July. It was a windy, blustery day, and she was nervous out in that trailer. We heard her whinny as we walked across the parking lot. She was turning around in the trailer, causing it to rattle about. I had the kids stand back; parents grabbed their younger kids and clenched their teeth...they were about to witness a wild horse climb out of a trailer that she obviously didn't want to be in.

Quiet Storm was light on her feet when she came out of the trailer. Her head was up, her eyes were wide. She glanced at the crowd of people, then took in the cars and school buses nearby. I led her in a circle, then explained to everyone that in order to get her attention focused on me and not everything else around her, that I would ask her to back up a few steps, then have her pivot on her hind quarters, then her forequarters. They watched as Quiet Storm's attention shifted immediately to what she was being asked to do.

And then we told the kids they could come and say hello. They swarmed our two year, reaching over one another to touch her soft winter coat. Quiet Storm yawned, licked a couple of the kids, and stood patiently as 15 children with 30 hands touched her face, neck and sides. It was rather like kids in a candy store, and only after they'd been glued to her for a good ten minutes did the parents begin to say, "Hey, it's our turn!"
I think we made a few new friends!

Friday, March 9, 2007


Darling astride Sassy, our first mustang.

A few years back I mentioned to one of my cousins that I'd really like to get a mustang. She and her husband were friends with another couple that occasionally would travel to the eastern side of the state and gather some of the mustangs from one of the reservations. As luck would have it, a couple months later my cousin found me, telling me another friend of hers had a three year old filly that they no longer wanted. She was free; was I interested? Well, you didn't have to poke me with a stick to get me to say yes!

Darling and I went out to take a look. She was small, less than 13 hands, I'd say, but the perfect size for a young girl. She was quiet, but had poor ground manners. The couple who owned her didn't know much about horses, but they'd loved her and she was very good around their two young children. They'd hired someone to come try to train her, but though she'd stand for saddling...well..she also only stood for riding. Still, that is. She planted her feet and refused to move.

I tossed Darling up onto her back and led the filly around the pasture. I went to visit her a second time, bringing a longe line to see how she'd work. She didn't want to work. She was, without a doubt, the laziest horse I'd ever met. Perfect! She may not go far, but she certainly wasn't going to pose any threat to my ten year old.

Darling named her new horse Sassy, and it didn't take long to realize just how appropriate this name was. Sassy was a mouthy horse. She figured if you had something, and she wanted it, all she had to do was take it. Her former family had mentioned that she would bite, and bite she did. That wasn't to be tolerated here, though, and the first time she pinned her ears and reached for me, I slapped the side of her muzzle. She jumped back with shock and looked at me in disbelief. She'd never been told no before...and amazingly she never came after me like that again.

Another slight issue that Sassy had was that when she found herself in the company of other horses, she turned into a rank stallion. Yes...a complete personality transformation, the likes of which I'd never seen and will live happily never seeing again, thank you! She'd squeal, rear and strike out, creating a very dangerous setting for anyone holding the end of her lead rope.

About a week after moving in with us, Sassy discovered there were horses on the other side of the fenceline. She didn't hesitate pushing down the four foot woven wire fence to join them. I might add at this point that Sassy had been kept inside an electric fence; there were just two strands. The high strand was about back level, the low one less than a foot off the ground. And yet, it kept her in. Since there was no shock in the woven wire, she felt there was no need to stay on her side.

I came home from work that afternoon to an upset husband working on the fence and a sister who was holding onto Sassy's lead rope. Seems the neighbor had spent over an hour trying to catch my little horse, had been kicked in the stomach during the process, and was none to happy. I'm not sure why she just didn't come over and ask for help? But she didn't. Anyway, the incident was an insight into Sassy's personality that had been hidden until now.

A couple miles down the road I had a friend with a spare stall in his barn, so we moved Sassy down there. We were certain she'd learn how to be a horse; the other three horses ranged in size from 15.1 to 17 hands. They'd teach her a lesson, or so we thought. But instead of Sassy learning to be a horse, she taught them how to be cows. Even the bully horse was frightened of this little mustang!

This is when we discovered what a nightmare Sassy was to be alongside if another horse passed by. I began carrying a riding crop along with me whenever I led her, smacking her chest and forelegs at the slightest indication that she was about to rear or strike out. I was terribly thankful that she was such a small horse, as if she'd been more than pony sized I'm not certain I'd have had the strength to hang onto her.

Lucky for me, Sassy was smart. She didn't like the sting of the whip and it didn't take long for her to begin minding her manners. Within a weeks time she was leading placidly along side the other horses, just as though she'd been raised that way. The more I worked with that little mare, the more I admired her ability to learn. Others in the barn took note as well of how quickly she seemed to pick things up.

When my husband lost his job a couple years later, I decided that Sassy was an expense we just couldn't afford, so she was sold. But my experience with her left me knowing that if I ever had the opportunity again, I'd want another mustang.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

New Stalls

While not much has been posted here these past few days, several things have happened.

First, City Boy got the divider up between the stalls. The planks can be slipped in and out, allowing us to create one very large stall if there is ever such a cause. The panels are also in place, creating a divider so that Quiet Storm and Sunny don't mingle. They can reach each other, they just can't go squealing about the paddock getting hurt together.

Sunny has made great strides since the lead rope is back in place. It seems sitting with the grain allowed something I hadn't even considered; Sunny is more comfortable seeing me on her right side. Not that she wants me there, mind you, but she's allowing me to step across that invisible center line to where I can see that side of her body.

When I work with Sunny, it's always a challenge to get her to move her front feet. She tends to plant her front feet and pivot from them, moving her back end away from pressure, but not her front. Since she's more comfortable with me on her left side, she tends to work better and move a bit more freely from there. With her new found comfort level with me on her right side, I spent a few minutes yesterday trying to get her to move her forehand to the left. It wasn't easy; she'd back up and try to turn right. I had the lead in my right hand and stretched my left hand out in front of me, but off to the side of Sunny's muzzle. When she tried turning to her right (which was my left, as I was facing her) she'd bump into my hand. Since she doesn't like me touching her muzzle, she avoided that turn and just continued backwards.

We worked like this for three or four minutes, and if you've done tedious work you'll know it seemed an eternity. Every step she took backwards, I followed. She'd toss her head into the air in protest, but aside from backing away from me, she didn't do anything that put either one of us in a dangerous position (such as rearing or striking out at the pressure I was putting on her.)

The moment I saw her give, which is to say, the instant her forequarters made even the slightest move to her right, I stopped the pressure. I dropped my hand and stood still, allowing Sunny to relax for a minute. I usually wait for a sigh that shows the horse has gotten over the stress of what just happened.

Standing on both sides of a horse seems a simple task, doesn't it? And yet, because a horse's eyes are set up one on each side, they tend to perceive things as a threat on one side that they're comfortable with on the other. After fifteen minutes of hard work, I was able to stand alongside Sunny's withers, although four or so feet from her; just out of hands reach. And that, my friends, was a major success!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Quiet Storm is getting fat

Quiet Storm out in the pasture with the sheep.

Since she's been out with the sheep, Quiet Storm has begun to put on a few pounds. I typically leave hay in front of the sheep all day; they're picky little eaters, my sheep, and leave at least 20% of what I toss out there (too stemmy for their soft little mouths.) Quiet Storm not only eats along side them, but 'bats cleanup', eating anything left behind.

When Sunny first came home, the plan had been to divide the paddock for the two horses. With the lice load, however, I decided Quiet Storm could tough it out in the pasture and use the sheep shed for shelter. The sheep were then 'demoted' and put in the second pasture where they use the trees and a calf hutch. One of the ewes, however, is looking mighty close to lambing, and I need her to be where I can separate her from the flock when she does this...and she needs her shed for the newborn(s) to keep them safe and for them all to bond the first couple of days.

Which created a slight problem...Quiet Storm had to be moved over to the second pasture with the rest of the sheep. I'd have just stuck her back into the paddock alongside Sunny, lice and all, but the lead rope was a bit of an issue. I wouldn't be able to lead Quiet Storm through and have control of Sunny as we passed through gates.

Now, of course, the lead is back on and I think I'll just be extra vigilant in my war against lice. Cross your fingers and say a prayer that Quiet Storm doesn't pick it up, as she really needs to be apart from the sheep (and they really need to be apart from her!)

Sunny, along with Tait and Rocket, sporting her re-attached lead.

p.s. Did I mention it's snowing again here? is. Bleck.