Thursday, January 31, 2008

She Wiggled Her Lip!

She wiggled her lip!

Shout it from the roof tops of every barn in the nation! Firecracker wiggled her lip!

Click to Mix and Solve
No secrets told here; Firecracker is tight lipped!
Go ahead and click it for a little added fun!

Okay, you may not understand just how big a deal this is. Aside from the issue with her poll, Firecracker gets all tight whenever I'm out there and she's asked to do something. She's like a kid who purses their lips when the teacher hands out tests. In fact, she was so tight, and that top lip of hers was pushed down so far that for a good long time I wondered if she were parrot mouthed. But a few photos when she was relaxed showed that wasn't the case.

Today, despite the fact that the red rope halter was obviously going to eat her, she managed to relax and wiggle that lip!

With the snow melting away, I decided I would really push for some improvement today. I want to get this halter onto FC's head. She has other ideas. While on her left side, she tries to push me out of the way with her shoulder. When on the right, she flies backwards to avoid me. I swear I was so dizzy at one point as she was circling me, I thought I was at Disneyland.

The long rope can be slipped over her nose with little trouble at this point. But change what's in my hands to a red halter and she's convinced it's going to eat her face. I told her flat out, however, that we were going to at least get the noseband over those nostrils before I left, and indeed we did.

Which is when she wiggled her lip. She smelled the halter, and actually almost wrapped her lip around it! This was the first time she'd relaxed enough to be mildly inquisitive about something, and I was thrilled. Even while avoiding the halter, she was coming back to me today and looking for reassurance by smelling my face and letting me blow in her nose or kiss her muzzle. She's not an affectionate horse, so I took this as a great sign of trust...finally!

We'll get that red halter on yet...and she'll look so smashing! Then it'll be on to the saddle blanket....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Are your daylight hours increasing? I know I can sure feel a difference in my energy level this week! I'm so happy to be able to actually see what I'm doing out there at 4:30 in the afternoon. I feel like I'm crawling out of my winter funk and have a new outlook on life. Seems to happen about this time each year. Not a full blown winter depression, but certainly I tend to want to hibernate. But now...spring is coming! I can feel it, despite the snow and ice.

I talked my friend Curt into giving me lessons. He doesn't really have any lesson horses down there, said he only had a couple of young ones. I laughed. Couldn't be any wilder than what I've got at home, right? He had to admit that was true. It's been a number of years since I've shown competitively, and if I get into the makeover I want to be able to give my horse every opportunity to succeed, so lessons to get me back into shape are a must.

I used to lesson with Curt's wife, but as she's retired he's filled up the arena time with his cutting and reined cow horse lessons. I need to give him a call to see when we can arrange a time for me to come down. I'm excited! Think he'll let me chase that bull?

My friend Nancy has said I can use her trailer, so once this snow and ice get cleared up, I'll head over to make sure my truck likes her trailer. Lighting and brakes, you know. The first goal will be to get Jet in and out of it a few times, then head down to the trail for some rides. My neighbor has been wanting to ride. We'll see if she meant in the winter, eh?

Do you believe things come in threes? The neighbor's have a covered arena. They said I could haul down and ride whenever I wanted. Yipee! Not only can I get the horses out on the trails, I'll be able to have some close by arena time in between lessons with Curt.

These are three huge areas of relief for me, not only because they're necessities if I get into the competition, but they'll go a long way in getting both Jet and FC moving forward in their training.

Speaking of FC, I've been reading up on poll trauma. Seems it takes some horses a long time to overcome the fear/sensitivity issues. She did well today, however, in letting me rub both sides of her face on the cheeks. Started out a bit dicey, but when I went out a second time today, she stood for it really well. With the snow rapidly melting right now, I'll be able to move forward once more and step up the sacking out process.

Black Horse in Snow Storm

"Black Horse in Snow Storm"

Bet you wish you had such talent behind a camera lens, eh? It was getting dark and I wanted to see if I could get any decent shots of the horses with snow on their backs. Jet, of course, had to fog up the lens. She's so helpful.

School has been canceled today. It's not that we've got loads of snow, but it's the ice and sleet that are causing problems. I took Darling's camera out to take some videos, ran the batteries down to nothing and can't find new ones. Which means that until new batteries are in, you'll not get to see the video. I'm sure you're heart broken!

With the ground as slick as it is out there, I didn't feel comfortable working FC with the rake or mustang eating sock or anything that may send her flying into a panic. No point in her crashing to the ground and taking her with me on this footing. Instead, we concentrated on the face. She's got a lovely break at the poll, and she's learning to drop her head. We're working on lateral flexation. Still a bit unsure about my hands on her face, but we got to that point yesterday before I walked away.

City Boy and I have been debating where to put up the round pen. I say out in the pasture, he wants to clear a spot behind the house. Behind the house may be a better location, but I've no idea when it'll be clear enough and footing solid enough. At least in the pasture, we can put it up now and start using it. Then once the space behind the house is ready (later this summer?), we can move it. Trouble with the pasture, though, is once it's up we may never get around to moving it, and I'd hate to work up the ground and lose that bit of grass.

Oh...a couple of the snow pics did turn out :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back to Business

Now that all that nasty virus business has been taken care of, it's back to the corral.

Firecracker has been doing quite well with the rope. I can toss it onto her back, she doesn't care about it being wrapped around her legs. She picks up her front feet easily when I ask, and I can pick up the backs with the rope.

The haltering process is coming along. Where it once took 30 minutes, it now takes less than three, and it's done on the first attempt. She's becoming accustomed to my hands near her nose and doesn't mind (or at least tolerates) the rope running over the top of her neck. Things are coming together. Which means it's time to introduce my second favorite tool; the rake.

The only thing I don't like about my rake is the short handle. I'd like at least two more feet, to make it a 6' rather than four. But it does what I need it to do, which is get inside the bubble.

In the photo, I had a small flag attached. That was for Sunny, you may recall. Now that several months have gone by, the bulk of that flag has torn off. That's fine. Firecracker is getting used to something that's bigger than the rope and not my hand reaching over to her body. With the rope halter on, I can keep her body close enough that the rake can sit on her as she moves in circles around me. I got dizzy the first time, but she settled right down. As a reward when she stopped, the rake acts like a back scratch, something the horses love.

While most of the flag is missing, the little string is still there. Once FC figured out the rake wouldn't eat her, I attached an old sock.'s like this: I'd brought out a soft rope halter and because of the head thing, I wanted some padding to protect the poll. I felted some wool over it, then put the sock over that. I then hung it on the rail where FC could see it. She took off the sock. So while out there with the rake, I saw the sock and decided to tie it to the string. Fireworks ensued as the mustang eating sock tried to touch her body. Evidently she'd forgotten that she'd been trying to eat the sock just hours earlier. Naturally, a few laps around the pen convinced her it was easier to just stand and let the sock run across her back than to race in small circles.

Unfortunately, we've had freezing rain now and the paddock is slick as can be, so no working horses until things thaw out a bit. Not wanting to lose too much ground, I did make her stand for the rope fashioned halter. I'm trying to work her to the point of relaxing enough to get the real halter on. Hopefully that won't be long.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

the Worst Virus EVER!

I wasn't terribly thrilled to get tagged over at Carpenter Creek. I'd thought we were done with that pesky virus known as a game of Seven Things tag...but noooooo.... I, however, always the good sport (mostly-sometimes, at least), played along and dutifully listed seven dull drum, super boring facts that I'm not sure if I'd listed in the last seven games of tag or not. And then I passed the of tag on to seven more unsuspecting souls.

How unfortunate is it that one of those was so vindictive that she actually tagged me back on this blog! So don't blame me if you find yourself stuck reading, again, a list of seven unimportant facts. And don't blame me if I happen to tag you and send the Seven Things your way in the end.

BLAME MUDRANCH! In fact, I may even go so far as to instruct you to tag her as the first person on your list of seven. Yeah...that'll teach her to mess with the Desperate Horsewife, won't it???

Boring, drab, moth-eaten facts that you never wanted to know:

1) Never get even when you can get ahead. This is what my father taught me, and what you should be aware of when you tag me back :)

2) I broke a finger by having a lead rope wrapped around my hand when I was 17. My filly reached out to sniff a lawn chair, and the rope near her halter caught on it and lifted the chair, which sent the filly into a bolt and pulled the end of the rope tight around my hand, breaking a knuckle. I had to have surgery. I knew better then, and I swear it's never happened since.

3) I fell off my horse, Tuffy (yes, the same chap who stepped on my toe) when I was 16 and landed on my head. I don't recall the walk home to this day. No one wore helmets back then; I'm now a helmet advocate.

4) I'm tired of this game of tag. knew that. Um...I love this game of tag! (I'm a liar; did you know that?)

5) I can't do a cartwheel, although sometimes I imagine that's what's going to happen when I try to climb on board that super tall mustang, Jet. Why did she grow so tall? Aren't mustangs supposed to be short?

6) My grandmother died of cancer. Not the one who's still alive; the other one.

7) My children watch a stupid Japanese cartoon on the Geek Boy's computer and I'm forced to listen to some high pitched, whiny girl voice and wonder if all Japanese women sound like two year olds?

And with that...I shall now NOT tag anyone with this game. Instead, I'll start a new one.

7 things you'd like to accomplish in 2008.

And since I'm changing the rules, I'm going to tag back Mudranch first! And also...MiKael, Equine Mine, Pony Tail Club, Anne Marie (the queen of soap), Molly and Becky! Now, run along little friends. Go post your 7 things you'd like to accomplish in 2008, then tag 7 others and hopefully they'll be good hearted and understanding and realize you really had no choice. And if they become upset, blame MUDRANCH!

Friday, January 25, 2008

The weather here has been spectacular of late. Cold, but beautiful. The photo above is the Nooksack River with the Twin Sisters behind. The Sisters are part of the Cascade Mt Range. More importantly, they're the daughters of Mt. Baker. The old Indian legend is that the Sisters had suitors who came and asked for their hands in marriage, but Kulshan, (now known as Mt. Baker) refused. Heartbroken, the twins ran away and now live separate from their father as opposed to under his shadow like they had before.

I know...what has this to do with mustangs? Not much, except that I've got a crazy bee in my bonnet, and it involves this river. I'd really like to start riding this summer and training for a long ride next year. City Boy isn't so keen on the idea, so I'm not sure if it'll actually happen or not, but the ride planned would take several weeks and cover approximately 600 miles in Eastern Oregon. I may have to modify my plans and only ride through the southeast portion of the state, though. I'd love to go through the herd management areas and try to get some photos of the horses in the wild.

Again...what has this to do with the above photos? Well, I've got to train for the long ride, and that will mean lots of miles and wet saddle blankets. And I'm not just talking about sweat here. I want to be able to cross that river!

Darling is totally on board with this whole idea, although I think she's in for a rude awakening when it comes to hours in the saddle. She's used to small rides around here, not day long treks. However, she's got an adventuresome spirit and if she's willing to give it her best shot this summer without complaining, then we'll see what we can do about a long trek next year.

Of course, all this will mean getting Firecracker ready for her to ride by summer. The progress has increased tremendously now that we've got the head under control. While I can't really see the wound on her poll, I was able to run my fingers up rather close and it appears to be pretty well healed over. Just need to pray for no major scar tissue.

As you can see from this photo, she's not thrilled with the rope around the nose, but she's adjusting. We've gone from it taking 30 minutes to pushing once around the pen and then standing patiently. A huge improvement. Still a bit worried about the poll, but she's so much better now that she's realized no one is going to eat her.

And with that, it's time to head out and see how she'll react to my second favorite tool, that short little rake that isn't quite a flag, but surely does make them look twice before they realize just how wonderful it feels to be scratched with it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's amazing all the folks who come out of the woodwork when you threaten to send them a nasty, poster size photo of yourself! I should have thought of this sooner :)

I will definitely keep y'all in the loop. I suspect it will be mid-February before we hear anything. If I get a favorable reply, undoubtedly you'll hear me screaming and yelling at the top of my lungs, and you'll know then to run into the house and read the blog. Of course, the same may be true if I don't make it in, lol!

But let's head back out into the mustang corral, shall we? There is evidently some horse blog talk about your favorite tool. Andrea posed this same question on the mustang forum and told me I was totally predictable when I said my rope!

Sunny sports a lariat headdress.

But it's true! A rope is the best tool ever. I discovered just how wonderful they were with Sunny. She didn't want me inside her bubble, didn't want a pole inside her bubble, but accepted the lariat with no problems. It was small, unintrusive, and light. I could flip it over her back and around her neck and legs, getting her used to all sorts of touching sensations without ever getting into her space. And eventually, the stiffness in it's coil is what helped me reach up and touch her as she accepted first the rope, then my hands on her fearful right side.

With Firecracker, the rope has changed from the stiff lariat to a soft cotton. This is the first time I've dealt with a horse without a halter, and of course I've been concerned about that poll injury. The lariat was too stiff to work as a halter, so cotton I ran out and bought.

Again, it can be flung across the back, around the legs and under the tail. FC is taking it all in stride. And this week, we turned it into a halter. The 2" ring at the end allows the rope to slip up under her throatlatch as well as slide easily around her nose. And I'm happy to report that each day has gotten easier to put it onto her head shy face.

Indeed, a rope is definitely my favorite tool!

Firecracker becomes accustomed to the feel of something on her nose.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Meeting Place

Okay, so you know it's been a battle within when it comes to this application in front of me. Are the skills I've gained over the past couple of years sufficient enough to get me through the Mustang Challenge? Or would it be best to just sit on the sidelines and watch...again?

You've probably also figured out that there's a bit of a spiritual journey going on here as well. That the makeovers are a big undertaking is a but of an understatement. There's the gas money, the feed, the vet/farrier and everything else associated with horse ownership and shows. While the Mustang Heritage Foundation will pay you back a portion of your expenses, it comes no where near what you're putting out to get down and back...twice (once to pick up the horse, then again for the show.) Plus there's the little fact of me not owning a horse trailer. And, of course, the mud and my dislike of working in the rain. Still, the thought has remained a low simmer.

So I trotted off to church last week where we've got a lovely pastor who tends to ramble and loses me on many an occasion. But not last week. Last week the message was clear. "You are weak, but He is strong." In our weak moments, God can do powerful things. And my mind immediately latched onto that. Heck...I'm weak! Look at all I've got to overcome there. What am I thinking, taking on a project like this; it's way bigger than I am. But it's not bigger than God, eh? And how will I ever know if I can do it if I don't step up to the plate? God can overcome the other limitations, but he's not going send in the application for me; I've got to meet him halfway if anything is to be accomplished.

So...I've asked a couple of people to fill out my trainer referral forms, printed up photos of the 'facilities', and still need to find a trailer that meets the requirements (without sending me to the poor house...would you like to volunteer to drive me to California?) I also need to send in a photo of myself. And the whole thing needs to be postmarked by Friday at the latest.

Now, don't be thinking you're glad it's me instead of you, because you are hereby required to voice your opinion. Darling and I have struggled with my mug shot. I don't like to wear my glasses for such things and took my own photo without them. She likes the glasses on and made me pose again last night. It's now your decision. Which one do I use?

Will it be photo #1?

Photo #2?

Or perhaps photo #3?

What, you think you're just going to sit there and snicker? That you don't have to answer? Well, there's where you're wrong. MiKael, that maniacal Arabian Horse Breeder, has passed along a little game of pay it forward, in which the first three folks who left a comment would get a prize. Lucky me, I was one of those. Now, if you want a chance at your prize (and I promise it will NOT be an 8x10 glossy of any of these mugshots), then leave your comment and let me know which one you prefer. Prizes go to the first three.

And, if you're not one of the first three and think you'll not need to leave feedback, oh how wrong you are. I will hunt you down and send you the blown up, life size poster of this!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Silly Girl...

She's pretty, and there are those who would say just a bit flighty and perhaps a bit of a ditz. Darling has been looking for blond roots. Jet climbed out of the trailer with that inquisitive, curious attitude that eight months later is still going strong. She's loving this cold weather and flies back and forth each afternoon.

Things are frozen rather solid around here at the moment as the temps have dropped down into the low 20's. Rather than take a nice long drink from her water tub, which has a heater in it to keep it thawed, she's opted for breaking up the puddles of ice out in the field, picking up big hunks of it in her teeth and chewing it up. It was too cold outside for me to shed my gloves and touch her water to see how warm it may be. I'd read not long ago about keeping water on the luke warm side so that your horses would be encouraged to drink in this cold, dry weather. Obviously, Jet hasn't read the same websites that I have. Since no steam is rising from it, there's little chance it's too warm. I think she just needs to keep those lips of her's busy.

Firecracker had another good day. She was quicker to accept what was going on. Not completely willing, but much better than yesterday. I had the rope fashioned into a halter on her nose three times. Darling came out and snapped this pic of the two of us. You can see the ring on the end of the rope, and how I've pulled a portion through to make the bottom loop that goes onto her nose.

The only problem with it is that it slips downward and does tend to fall off if she shakes her head too much. And I assure you, shake it she does! She'd prefer it not be there, but at least it's becoming part of her daily routine. We're supposed to have a few more days of dry weather, so by the end of the week we ought to be doing quite well (God willing!)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Fingers are Cold, but...

In truth, they're chilled to the bone and I'm off to a steaming hot tub, but just had to share today's news. No, I've not got photos for you. I suppose I can put up an old one if you'd really like.
No, it's not snowing out, but that's about how cold it feels as the northeaster blows down from Canada. But it wasn't cold enough to keep my heart from bursting with warmth today!

City Boy and I went to town after church this morning and bought a long cotton rope and a ring to attach to the end. I decided I needed to stop using the lariat as it wasn't moving quickly enough when I needed to pull it tight. I've no clue how long I was out there with her, but she didn't run as hard as she did the other day. She paid closer attention. The ring allowed the rope to move a bit more freely so that when she turned away from me (rather than in towards me), I was able to hang on and not lose her. The lariat would get hung up on her mane and not move, so she'd pull free from my hands. Not so today.

Even if you can't visualize what was going on, I can tell you this; she gave up much sooner and I was able to get the bottom loop over the nose and work with her for about five minutes before it fell off (it was sitting a bit low, so when she shook her head it slipped off.) But in that time she decided she really didn't want to give up on the shoulder scratches and neck rubs. She kept pushing her shoulder into me, careful to keep her face just out of reach, but at the same time enjoying the contact.

She reached out her nose and steamed up my glasses when I lowered my face. She nearly stepped on my toes. She reached cautiously to sniff my arm. I placed my face up to her shoulder and buried my nose in her mane. I felt pretty good about it, so decided to try again with the loop over the nose. This time the struggle only lasted a few minutes before she stopped and waited for me to put it over her nose. She just stood there. I gave her neck a quick rub, then slipped the rope off her nose and from her neck. I grabbed the rubber curry comb and came back to give her a couple of quick brushes on both sides of her body, leaving her standing there peacefully.

I think today was a big turning point for Firecracker, and I couldn't be happier. I'd be walking on sunshine if we had any. Instead, I believe I'll go warm myself up in a steaming hot tub!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Moving Right Along...

No rain + no snow= 2 hours with a Firecracker. I left the stick alone today, starting instead by just walking up to her and rubbing the end of the rope on her body, then dropping it over. Sudden movements still send her into a startled frame of mind, but the rope seems to be, for the most part, okay with her.

Once dropped to the other side, I now have to try to either walk onto that side, or reach under her neck, to pick up the loop end of my rope. She's not fond of either option, but by the time I finished with her, she was letting me do both. It took awhile, but we got it done. I was determined to stick it out as long as it took.

With the rope over the neck, I then made a figure 8 with it by reaching through the larger loop (the part that would normally be around a calf's neck) and picking up the long part of the rope and pulling it through. The top part of my figure 8 is around her neck, I just need to figure out how to get the bottom part around her nose. No easy feat, let me tell you.

Originally I was thinking I'd use the stick to help lift it over her nose, but the rope is too heavy and stiff for that to work. Firecracker isn't wanting the stick to touch her face and pulls away before I can get the rope in place, let alone drop it onto her nose and pull it tight before it falls off again. The only option was to try to get her to stand still as I lifted it over her nose.

Wish I had a video for you, as it was almost too funny. Then again...maybe I don't wish I had one! Let's just say it took a good long while, but I was successful! Yes, I managed to get the bottom half of my rope over her nose and into a primitive halter. Hooray! And it made a huge difference right off the bat. When she pulled and thought she'd spin away from me, she couldn't because I had her nose. A body can't go somewhere without it's nose. And since the nose was with me, so was the body, and before long she was truly enjoying being rubbed up and down on her neck, even up at her ears.

Today was a good day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Who's the Boss?

I have a stick. It has a fork.

Okay, so I've been worried about the poll, and I tend to move slow and take my time, when perhaps I ought to be pushing harder. Today I decided to push.

But not hard.

I had the camera out with me and was more concerned about getting a few pictures of my attempt at getting a rope halter fashioned out of my lariat and then onto her face. I'd been watching the video of Kitty and Ranger and thought that with Firecracker being so protective, perhaps getting a halter on that way would work for us. So pictures I did take.

The beginnings of my rope halter ala lariat style.

Then I started thinking that she was turning away from me too much, giving me too much disrespect. She wasn't acting like this before, and injury or not, this had to stop. Since she's not prone to kicking, I became prone to jabbing the long, forked end of a stick in her hiney when I found it swinging my way. At first she wasn't sure what to think, but a couple of sharp pokes and her head swung around towards me and she even took a step in.

Of course, I was still trying to figure out how to get that rope around her neck in a smooth, fluid movement, and with my mind as one tracked as it is, I probably spent too much time with that and not enough realizing that I had a horse was starting to respond. But hey, I got good pics for you of the rope!

Cool rope, don't you think?

Let's just say that tomorrow I'm going out there and I'm going to be a bit pushier than I have been recently. Darling is in school, City Boy will be at work, and I'll have the day to get some horsing around done. Hope Firecracker is ready!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Baby, it's COLD outside!

"Bureau", a kiger promo colt

Despite their promise for nice weather, and despite the sun that shone down this morning, this afternoon the clouds rolled in and it's become quite cold. Before being able to go out and work with my own horses today, I went down to Steve's and took a few photos of 'Bureau', the promotional Kiger colt that was sent home with him in November. Bureau will be available at one of the Washington adoptions this year; last I heard it was to be Odessa in April. Isn't he a cutie?

Once home, I went out to work with both Jet and Firecracker. Since the bulk of my summer was spent with Sunny, I really hadn't done a thorough job with Jet. She's such a willing horse, but super sensitive, so rather than go straight to Firecracker, I pulled out the lariat and used it on Jet instead.

Jet wasn't so sure what to think of it all, and jumped around all silly like. It wasn't the motion of the rope so much as the feel; it doesn't take much to get her to move off from pressure and throwing the rope over her back was like tickling a super giggly girl. At first she darted around in an effort to escape, then she settled down and accepted it. So funny, considering she'll stand stock still to be saddled without being tied.

After ten minutes with her I switched over to Firecracker. My fingers by now were freezing right down to the bone, but we seemed to be doing so well that I wasn't going to miss an opportunity. She started out very quiet, accepting the branch along her body, under her belly, down the legs (both front and back) without missing a beat. Since I already had the rope out, I used the branch to reach the end of the lariat over the top of her back. That was something new, and at first she wasn't sure how to handle it. After a bit of wavering, spreading her legs and wondering which way to dart, she finally opted to stand still and I was able to drop the rope down onto her neck. I really wished I'd had a camera out there with me, but as my freezing fingers were already full of rope and stick, I'd not have gotten anything anyway. I'll have to bring Darling out after school tomorrow so she can play photographer for you.

The goal with the rope and stick is to be able to fashion a rope halter, rather Kitty Lauman style. I think that will work really well for Firecracker, and based on today's experience, it should help immensely with floating this boat forward!

Monday, January 14, 2008

They said it would be nice out...

Do the weather folks ever tell the truth?

Today was the worst rain we've had yet, and I'm telling you, it's been mighty soggy here since October. But I had water running over my driveway and through the backyard, where blades of grass stuck up out of puddles gasping for air.

Surprisingly, the runs looked no worse than they have all winter. Yes, some water and certainly not as high and dry as I'd like, but not bad, all things considered. No one was going to drown out there.

Yesterday I'd hoped to spend the day with Firecracker. From having her eat her breakfast from my arms, to tolerating me moving around while cleaning, pushing her around with a pole and a rope...eating a bit more later in the day; it was all going to be about her and me. But then City Boy called me on his way home from the dump, saying that Darling would like to see a movie with me. So the day didn't quite go as planned.

Firecracker had been doing so well with the long branch, but I've not had it out for several weeks. Before having to pack myself into the house and cleaning up, I decided to work her with it a bit. She panicked. Flew around the corral as fast as she could to escape before realizing after the third lap that she wasn't really going anywhere, nor was the stick. So she stopped, a bit wide eyed, and I was back to rubbing it up and down her body and legs...everywhere but her poll. That wasn't going to happen.

She's been pushing her right side up against the panels, not letting me cross over to that side of her body, but with the long stick I was able to reach in between her shoulder and the rails and rub it up and down. At first she wasn't sure how to handle it, and again tried to run. This time, though, her right side was facing me. This, of course, is the wounded side and what she's been trying to protect from me. But the stick was just what I needed to get back into that space.

I moved on to the lariat after that, hoping she'd let me just place it over her head. Wishful thinking. She was a lot more tolerant of it than she's been the past few days, though, and I did get it closer to her face before she backed away. Since I didn't have a whole lot of time left, I opted not to toss it over (because that would mean I'd have to take the time to get it off again!)

Before calling it quits, I pulled out the rubber curry and she promptly turned her butt for brushing. This has got to stop...but it's nice to have at least one activity she enjoys!

Later in the day, when I went out to feed dinner, I saw her standing in the middle of the paddock, not in any real hurry to turn away from me. I walked up to her left side and rubbed, even partway up her neck, before stepping away. She took a step towards me, but nothing more. I walked around, from a distance, to the right side. She stood still, so I walked softly up and for the first time in weeks, she stood still for me to rub on her right shoulder and barrel. Not a long time, just a couple seconds, but that was enough for me and I stepped away before she could.

Yesterday was good....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Just because you want it...

...doesn't mean you can have it.

That's one of the hardest lessons to learn in life, I think, especially when our society always tells us that anything we want, we can have. It's simply not true. For instance, no matter how badly I may have wanted to be a gymnast in the 7th grade, my body was not going to allow it. And a ballerina? heavy. Remember weebles? They wobbled but didn't fall down? Let's just say I'm not weeble and falling is something I'd have excelled at in either of those events.

But horses...horses were something I was able to do. Or at least thought I was able to do. The mustangs responded to me because I was quiet and took my time. They've been my passion for as long as I can recall. But as previously mentioned, the time I've spent with Firecracker of late has given me my share of doubts. And as I was out there with her last week it came to me that, sadly, just because I want her to respond, doesn't mean she will. And just because I want to have what it takes to accomplish a training mission in 100 days, doesn't mean I've been given the gift of making it so. Wanting it just isn't good enough...again.

Mom, my head still hurts!

No, this isn't a pitty party for one. Just a realization that not everyone is cut out to be a superstar. A harsh look into the face of bitter reality.

To help me with this battle within, I asked my bible study group to start praying for me and my decision to apply for the Western States Makeover. Not that I'd get in, not that suddenly Firecracker would start responding, but that God would make it abundantly clear whether or not I was to even send in the application. Emphasis on the abundantly part, because sometimes I hard to get through to...even for God.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

There's someone new...

Someone new showed their face on the mustang horse forum today. Someone who's been lurking, but finally decided to introduce themselves. Someone who's sent me once again careening headlong into dreamworld...

Her name is Jessie, and she's been selected as a trainer for the Midwest Mustang Challenge. She picked up her horse not long ago and has begun to blog about her adventures with Remington, a lovely bay gelding with the most incredible eyes!

Jessie's news of being selected comes on the heels of my finally watching the last episode of the Extreme Mustang Makeover on RFD TV (City Boy had taped them for me), as well as watching the last few videos on Kitty Lauman's site with the top three finishers being highlighted there. Watching the TV show sparked that longing deep within, not to mention a few tears. I so badly want to do this, and sit here frustrated with little things like rain and lack of a trailer. Then there's the big thing: References.

References make or break a persons application. They said as much during the first EMM episode that I watched. A trailer I can borrow (had someone tell me last week she'd haul me if I applied and got in), and I can always bite the bullet and rent a stall somewhere with covered riding space once the horse is gentled and manageable from the ground. But references? That's where things get tough, because it's been 15 years since I've been in the 'real' horse world. Since getting back into horses, I've had babies...wild babies. Not horses old enough to hop on and go for a ride with friends, where I'd gain witnesses to the fact that I can indeed still sit a horse and have a light hand. No, the most that people know right now is that I've got an approved facility and my horses are halter broke. Pretty difficult to answer the question, "How often do you see this trainer ride or work horses", when it's been 15 years or you've never seen them ride...

Sigh...what's a desperate horsewife to do?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Hip bones still showing, but definitely more weight across her back.

At first glance, it may appear to be a branch reaching over Firecracker's back. Rather, it's my very stiff lariat. For the past three or four days, there have actually been a couple hours where I've been able to go out and work with the horses without any rain. Hooray!

Jet was saddled up two days in a row, although with the ground as wet and slick as it is, there wasn't really any riding going on. I turned her around a couple of times in the paddock, and did walk to the end of the pasture and back, but that was it. The ground is just too soft for me to risk her slipping while I'm on board. Still, it tickled me pink to have her stand there quietly while I saddled her up, mostly because I hadn't tied her to anything. In fact, she wasn't even haltered. She's such a good girl and I sure wish I could get a few days riding in here at the house so that I could feel more comfortable about taking her out on the trail.

Then again, the lack of riding weather means that I've got a bit more time to focus on Firecracker.

With the halter and lead off, I'm forced to work things differently than I have with the other horses. I'm trying to teach myself patience. Not that I'm impatient with my wild ones, but a halter and lead gives you more control over the situation. I'm now faced with a horse who's had a head injury and doesn't want me near her face. Despite rubbing all over the left side of her body, the right side she's made pretty much off limits. And although she's letting me rub the lariat up and down her back, she no longer wants it to touch the top of her head. Who can blame her?

We did have an exciting moment yesterday, however, when I used the rubber curry on her for the first time. She loved it! So much that when I stepped back a few feet, she looked at me and then shuffled her body a little closer. A clear invitation for me to step back and brush some more. That left a nice smile on my face.

I'd been hoping that I could use Firecracker as a way to test my skills, making it one of the determining factors in whether or not I should apply for the mustang makeover. She's the same age as those who are used in the competition, making her a better example of what I'd be up against compared to my others. But now...well, I can't really push her. Sure, she'd probably come around and forgive the push, but what's the point? I mean...really? I've got nothing to prove with her, and horses haven't got personal goals and timelines that match up with ours. All she knows is that ropes and halters cause pain to heads. She knows that rubbing and scratching feel good, and eventually she'll make the choice to give herself up completely.

So I'll wait. I'll let her forget the pain and completely heal. Slow and steady wins the race, right? My ultimate goal for her is to have that injury heal and make her a safe mount for Darling. For now, I'll have to trade off days of brushing the right side with days of sitting on a chair with a pan full of grain, and sneak in an occasional trip to her right side when I can.

My attempt to frame the photo with my lariat didn't turn out as nicely as I'd hoped!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Internet Adoption

Weanlings at Burns; the duns are included in the Internet Adoption

The BLM Internet Adoption will begin on January 16. Right now, the horses available are listed online for your viewing pleasure and consideration.

Among the horses available is a sweet little Kiger filly who you'd swear is Firecracker's daughter. Same color, same facial expression, just not quite the right age. At least, I think not. Firecracker would have been about 8 months pregnant when she aborted, so this filly wouldn't be quite old enough to be hers. I think I'd be in trouble if she were, as I may be tempted to adopt her!

Another very striking individual who happens to have stolen my heart is this beautiful Kiger stallion. He's six years old and hasn't a speck of white. Darling captured this head shot while we were down there in November.

There are some pretty cute horses available, so go check them out! Once you ride a 'Stang, you'll never go back to domestic!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


We actually had a couple days without rain, which I'm giving thanks for. The paddocks, despite scraping the mud and clay out, then adding gravel, are still struggling with water and drainage issues. City Boy went out this afternoon to put up salt licks and bridle hangers and saw how bad it was for the first time. He said decidedly that we'd have to put in drain tiles this summer. I definitely agree! Mud management seems to be an ongoing issue when ever you've got horses, but in the northwest it's a real challenge.

Since it wasn't pouring down rain, I went out and played for a few minutes with Firecracker. She's comfortable with me walking in and out of her stall, and sometimes doesn't even bother to move her butt over to make room for me. It alway need to pause and make sure she knows I'm there, but usually she's just got her head buried in her hay and knows that I'm carrying grain, meaning nothing to get worked up over. She'll lift her head and cock an ear just enough to let me know she's aware of me, and continues munching as I carry in her extra goodies.

I can get up close enough to rub for a moment or two on her back, just behind her withers, before she'll move out of reach most days. I pulled out the lariat, though, to see if I could convince her to allow me to get closer or stay longer. Once it was laying over the top of her neck, she stopped moving out of the way and stood still. It was as though she still had the halter on, as I could rub from about the halfway point on her neck, under her belly and over her hips without her exhibiting any sign of fear or flight.

Still, getting close enough to look at her wound isn't happening. With a chunk of mane falling over the top of it, and her not allowing me to move it to the other side, I'm unable to see how it's healing. The good news is that I can't smell it anymore. I'm hoping we don't end up with any scaring or super sensitivity up there or it'll be a real bear getting her to wear a headstall. I'm going to go shopping for one tomorrow; something without an ear piece or browband so it won't have any added pressure points near her ears. Tomorrow is Darling's 14th birthday, so I'll give it to her as a gift. Maybe make a little sheep skin cover for it, too.

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