Saturday, May 31, 2008

Two Days...

The ticker tells me there are really five days left to practice, but we've only got two days left at home. I try hard not to think about loading him for the last time. Sandy's progress the past two weeks has been phenomenal; he's done flying changes and has begun to work through the trail obstacles. I no longer wonder if we're going to be able to ride in Sacramento, but instead wonder just how much this horse will absorb between now and then. He's incredible. He really, truly is.

Last night I felt like we were working as a team for the first time. He got to feeling a bit frisky while we were loping and kicked up his heels, but he settled back into his lope and continued working. Rather than get tense, I was able to push him harder and try to get the point across that little things like that were unacceptable, regardless of how bored or tired he may be. His comfort level has increased 100 fold in the past three months.

I started doing trail obstacles outside this past week. The bridge was a piece of cake, of course, because it really didn't require much more than stepping onto it and walking across...something we've done countless times from the ground. Backing a straight line proved to be simple enough because we've been working on our back up in the arena. Turning a 360 and the sidepass, however, proved to be more of a challenge for our boy. We've not worked a whole lot on moving off the legs in tight spaces, but with a bit of see sawing he finally figured out the turn around in the box and now does it least to the left. Turning to the right is a bit more difficult for him, but he still stays on the inside of the poles; it's just not as pretty.

The sidepass has slowly come. He does it beautifully from the ground, so having the pole beneath his belly is a bit of a clue to him. Last night he stepped four or five nice, fluid steps to the end of his pole. We need to work on him not trying to step forward and over the pole, but it's coming.

But what I take the most pride in is the "L" shaped backup. This is something he wasn't sure of from the ground and he really struggled moving slow enough around the corner to switch gears from hindquarters to shoulders when it came time to turn. From his back, however, its proved to be much easier, and his third time doing it was flawless! Not that the fourth and fifth time were as smooth, lol, but at least I know he's got the concept.

So that's the story from here. The sun has been shining and the outdoor arena is finally dried out, so this weekend I'm planning on some solo rides out there. Last night they'd been working the bull outside when I led Sandy out. Curt hollered over that if I got on I could work the bull. This, as you know, is something I've wanted to do but Sandy hasn't quite been ready. Well...we're ready!

And then Curt turned chicken. He thought I'd say no and be the first to back down!

No, he said, we didn't want to jeopardize anything at this point with just a couple days to go. He said if we had two more weeks, he'd put me on it and he figures Sandy will follow and work it, but he doesn't want to risk anything falling apart right now. So no bull or even driving the calves for us. And I'm having the hardest time with that!

Jay asked again yesterday why I didn't move one of my other horses on and keep Sandy. I told him there were about two thousand reasons why, and they all began with a $. He was surprised, not realizing the horses sold for that much. Darling has expressed an interest in Sandy the past couple of days, but she's very guarded and lucky for her, she's not been with him each day. Saves her the tears and heartbreak...

Anyone want to buy a couple thousand dollars worth of handmade soap???

Please say your prayers for Sandy! Ask God to find him the perfect new home so that I don't need to worry about him :)

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo. Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Little Q and A

Got a question about Sandy's training or the upcoming adoption? Post it in the comments these next couple of days and I'll answer this weekend.

The other day my folks came out to watch me ride Sandy, bringing along two of my nieces. Mom took some video, then sent her camera home so I could upload it, but I think I need City Boy to take a look and make it compatible with the computer before it'll work.

While there, Mom asked how much I thought Sandy would sell for. That's something I really can't answer. The average price in Madison was $1899...or something close to that. Just under $2,000 per horse, basically. Will they sell for more in Sacramento? Some think so. Why, mom, are you thinking of adopting him?

Mom also asked what I'd do with him if I had him. Well...ride him, I guess. Darling and I thought about heading down to Oregon next year for a few weeks to do some long rides. We'd love to head out into some of the HMA's and see the horses out in the wild. I have to admit I've thought a few times that Sandy would make a dandy mount out there. Three horses would be better than two as I'd have one that could pack supplies. And by next summer he'd be a horse that just about anyone could ride. He could pack my niece, Miss Banana Head, around when she came and wanted to ride.

I've spent some time wondering just what's in store for my boy in the future. As someone mentioned in the comments, he looks like a dressage prospect in the making. I thought so, too, although at first Jay felt his hock and knee action was a bit high for that. He's really reaching forward now, and as Katee pointed out he's got great cadence for such a young horse in a tight spot. That's something that's just blown me away; they're normally so awkward those first few rides, but what you saw in the video is what he's offered up each and every time.

I've spent this week trying to detach myself emotionally. I think Jay is doing the same thing as he told me he probably wouldn't be coming by this week. I think he fell in love, too.

One thing I wanted to do with Sandy before he left and still haven't is to follow that bull. Curt was supposed to be leaving today for a cutting, but yesterday the plans changed and he's staying home. Maybe there's still a chance?

Please say your prayers for Sandy! Ask God to find him the perfect new home so that I don't need to worry about him :)

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo. Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Thing I Hate About Video... that you see yourself. In living color, too, if that's how Darling chose to do her video shoot.

On Monday she came along and helped me clean stalls and sat patiently with her camera in hand as I trotted in circles at the end of the arena. She took tons of video and I weeded through them to find one short enough not to bore you beyond the point of tears as well as not make me seem like too much of a dork. A little dorkie, sure...not horribly accurate dorkiness, however!

Truly...I've been told I've got too much of an equitation seat going for training. I need to slump. Such a curse, eh? To sit too straight in the saddle? But thats me and always has been. Wave that body about like a flag pole so that when horse gets to bucking, I start swaying and coming off becomes a very likely ending. After watching this, I think I shall do my best to slouch today!

I'm not talented like Jessie (you know, Remington's mommy!), so no music I'm afraid, but you do get to hear Curt's commentary!

Please say your prayers for Sandy! Ask God to find him the perfect new home so that I don't need to worry about him :)

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sweat Shop

It was somewhat warm yesterday, and terribly muggy. Curt was gone to look at a new foal of a friend's but was supposed to be back to help me get started, so I gave myself what I estimated to be 30 minutes to lunge Sandy. I've been working him an hour from the ground, but he was so tired when I climbed on the day before that I thought I'd give a shorter warm up time a shot and see just how he went a little fresh.

But Curt didn't come back. And he didn't come back. And the 90 minutes he'd thought he'd be gone turned into 2 1/2 hours. I'd just put Sandy in his stall (still saddled) when he came walking into the barn. "Long way up to that breeding facility!" Yes, it's true. I didn't realize the mare had been brought up to Bennet Woodland, which is past my place, to foal out. Had I known that I'd have realized it would take a few hours rather than half the time.

I pulled Sandy back out of his stall. I'd worked him to the point of being sticky, but not dripping in the heat, so the edge was off but his energy was definitely not gone. Rather than doing some circles and figure 8s at the trot first, Curt had me move almost immediately into a lope to see how he'd do. While he picked the lope up far more readily, almost before I asked, he sure was feeling more energetic and his strides were longer and quicker. At one point he thought he'd try to spook at the "Got Gunk" poster thats been hanging on the wall the past month, but I pulled him back on track.

We did a lot of loping before slowing down to a trot, then worked our figure 8s. Curt was happy with what he was seeing and called one of the gals out of the barn to watch.

"He's a smart son of a..." and he didn't say gun. "He's very teachable, this horse." He went on to say, "If the judges were going to mark you on this ride somewhere between a 60 and 80, they'd probably give you a 71 or 72...that's pretty good. You done good. If it were my horse, I'd quit here for the day." And he walked off to let me cool down my now dripping wet horse.

Only a little bit sweaty...

Please say your prayers for Sandy! Ask God to find him the perfect new home so that I don't need to worry about him :)

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Week Eleven? Yikes...

What is that strange white stuff on the hill out there?

Since returning from our little outing at Ride The West, Sandy has made huge strides. There's a new level of confidence that hasn't been there before. Spooking is nearly a thing of the least in his home arena!

Linda (Curt's wife) bought a new car, and Sandy knew immediately the difference. It's parked right outside the arena door, and for weeks he's trotted past without a glance at the old Ford Taurus. But now there's a Fusion sitting there, and he jumped and snorted when he saw it. Silly boy. Gotta admire a smart horse, but they sure can be tricky.

How much is that pony in the window?

When Sandy first came here, he'd get all confused while walking past the windows in the side barn. Who was that handsome horse? He snorted at first, startled by his reflection, then gradually became accustomed to seeing his twin following along.

This week Sandy learned to lope with me up on his back. He never misses a lead. He's balanced and smooth, and I can ride comfortably with slack in the reins. It's amazing. We worked yesterday on transitioning from the lope down into a trot, which he did easily. He's also more than ready to stop when he hears the word 'Whoa!', which is terrific. That's one thing I'm going to be spending a lot of time reinforcing this week. I don't want to get into a situation while in Sacramento where he gets scared and can't be stopped.

One of the things I'm working on from the ground is tossing my sweatshirt onto the saddle and letting him lunge with it up there. He's still a bit concerned about seeing it come towards him, but once in the saddle he's relaxed. That is, until he sees it beginning to slip, and trust me, he knows exactly where that thing is on his back! But rather than bolt in fear like he would have a couple months ago, he now puts it in park the moment the shirt hits the ground. This is a wonderful thing, in my opinion, as it means if (when?) someone falls off that the chances are good he'll plant all four feet and wait.

Aside from those two big accomplishments, I'm only reinforcing what's already been taught. Sandy is getting quieter while being handled both from the ground and in the saddle. We've yet to attempt any trail obstacles; they're the least of my worries. It's far more important that his foundation be in place than for him to be able to sidepass. Do I sound like a broken record on the foundation issue? Probably! But the rest of it will fall into place so easily once he's learned to work off my legs in the arena.

I wish I had two more weeks. The rain and poor footing up here really set us back right up front. But I'm so incredibly happy with where he's at right now that I'm just not going to worry about it. I've got another week with our boy here, and I'm planning on enjoying every minute of it!

Please say your prayers for Sandy! Ask God to find him the perfect new home so that I don't need to worry about him :)

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Details, details...

Silver Lite 3 Horse

I swung out to Brim Tractor today and asked about using a trailer again (I know, how late can I push this stuff? You'd be surprised...), only to find out they're going out of the trailer business! He told me they were shipping them back to SilverLite, but if the one I'd used before was out there, they'd let me use it again. Well...what a relief it was when Darling and I walked out to the lot and found it parked just where we'd left it! If you think about it, click the link and send them a thank you email for helping to support me in the Western States Mustang Challenge!

Now I'm wondering just how much they'd be willing to drop the price if we were to buy it? After all, making $50 on it is better than shipping it back, right? That's City Boy's figure out what type of price to offer. Then it's up to y'all to determine how much soap you use in a year and buy it from me up front...ha! Okay, so maybe not. Y'all will be getting invitations to my "Buy A Horse Trailer Garage Sale Fundraiser", however!

Sandy did quite well today in the arena. I tend to spend a lot of time hour or sometimes get him to the point where I know he's not full of vim and vigor before climbing on. Curt, of course, has no clue I came off that day a couple of weeks back (can you imagine him worrying himself to death?), so when he came out today to lend a hand he couldn't for the life of him figure out what was taking me so long. I cut the lunging short, grabbed my helmet, and hopped on while Curt held the line. The line wasn't really necessary, but it makes Curt feel better about my climbing on board, so we follow his lead.

Today we didn't just use the end of the arena, but began making bigger and bigger circles at the lope until we had about half of it in use. The footing isn't so good at the moment; it was over watered and now it's just like home, all slick in the center! So we had to be careful. Sandy was plum tuckered by the time I finished with him today.

You can adopt me!

In other mustang news....there's a rumor going 'round that the MHF (Mustang Heritage Foundation) will now be working with the Oregon horses! This means we can do a Challenge up in this corner of the world using the mustangs up here. Sounds like Ride the West in 2009 may be a possibility. On top of that, it also means that I can take in horses from Burns on the Trainer Incentive Program, which is where the MHF will pay board and even training fees if we can adopt the horse(s) out while in our care. How cool is that? Jamie Thomas and I had already decided to take two horses each and haul them to the fair up here in Lynden this summer, and now it sounds like we may actually end up in the black financially! The benefit to the adopter is a horse who won't need the special fencing (six feet), which tends to be what stops most folks.

Please say your prayers for Sandy! Ask God to find him the perfect new home so that I don't need to worry about him :)

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Two Amazing Things...

Darling still searches for the perfect 'Dwight Storm' and thinks perhaps this mare may fit the bill?

Flashy gelding was one of the few adopted this past weekend.

A tall, brown yearling filly...I think Darling may need her, what do you think?

Really. I promise. It's amazing!

Are you ready for this?

I went to an adoption and didn't bring home a horse!!!

Told you it was amazing.

Wait...I brought home Sandy. But that doesn't count, right? I didn't bring home a new horse is what I meant to say. Although...there were a couple that caught my eye! In particular, this lovely four year old mare. She was listed as brown, but there was a nice big stripe down her back, which of course makes her a dun. Not that it matters all that much what color she is; I just loved how she was put together. Nice big hip, kind eyes, and well balanced. A wee bit long in the back, I suppose, if you want to get picky, but a nice looking mare over all.

One of Sandy's new girlfriends was a lovely little strawberry roan. She was a bit on the playful side, and I think Sandy found it charming. She'd come to the corner and begin splashing water all over the place, and it never ceased to draw his attention and cause him to walk over to her. I wonder if this is the horsey version of a wet tee shirt contest?

It was a disappointing adoption in terms of how few horses were adopted out. With 30 or so available, only 7 found new homes. We've got one more adoption in WA in June. Our local fair has agreed to let us do a mini-adoption and gentling demos up here in August, however, so perhaps we'll be able to move a few more into good homes. Anyone here feel the need to adopt one of America's Living Legends?

Okay, are you ready to be amazed a second time in one post?

Sit down deep in that computer chair, now...

We loped today! Oh...and was it ever a dream. Smooth as silk. It all went very well, too. I'd worked him from the ground for a couple of hours, then asked Curt to fix my reins (there was a slight malfunction) and while he was out I let him know I needed him to stand alongside Sandy so I could mount.

Curt had other ideas.

What's new, right?

He put the lunge line on and sent me off at a brisk trot, had me turn and sent me off the other way, still fast. Then off came the line and back he stepped.

"You're going to get to about there," he pointed to a spot about three strides from the wall, "and ask him to pick up his lope. I'll just stand here and block his way if he tries to come this direction."'ll stop him. Okay, Curt, whatever you say. The first few circles were done at a trot, and when I reached the gate I asked for a stop. This had him thinking 'quit' rather than run off a few strides into his circle. Once he had that routine down, I sat down deep and let the reins go, asking him to step into a lope. And he did! A couple circles around using half the arena, then stop, turn, and trot off the other way before repeating the pattern. And we never had to test Curt's ability to stop a runaway horse!

A couple hours later, Jay showed up. I told him about the first ride, and he and I repeated it. Two rides in one day...and nice loping to boot! What a great feeling...

Please say your prayers for Sandy! Ask God to find him the perfect new home so that I don't need to worry about him :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Home from Ride The West

Andrea from Mustang Saga was kind enough to snap this shot of Sandy and me.

It was a long drive and a blistering hot weekend, but we survived!

I'd like to thank Circle A Trailers of Bellingham for loaning me one of their Morgan 2 horse trailers for the weekend. They loaned me a trailer last year as well when we brought Quiet Storm to Monroe; they're always so happy to tell anyone who's there when we pick up that "These girls are saving the wild horses!" If you live in the area and need to rent a trailer or make a purchase, stop by and visit them!

Sandy loaded into the trailer with just a wee bit of hesitation. His favorite treat being offered was the deal clincher. The drive from here to Spokane took 8 hours, although there were plenty of stops interspersed along the way to fill up with diesel and give Sandy a break. One of our stops was at the Wild Horse Monument along I-90 near Vantage in Central WA. Part of me really wanted to take Sandy out and trek up that hill to visit his iron cousins!

Sandy checks out the wild ponies.

"Creatures of this planet, behold, a Great Basket! I send this basket, bearing the gift of life, to all corners of the universe. Now take these ponies, I am cutting them loose. They will inspire a Spirit of free will. They will be a companion for work and play on this planet. This is a way for you to see how all life depends on all other life. This basket is my heart. You are at one with me. Eagle of the sky, we look to you for vision. Salmon of the water, we look to you for life-giving sustenance. Deer of the land, you provide a bountiful tranquility for our Mother Earth.

"From the center of my Basket burns the fire of our collective souls. Humans, you are responsible. You have the power of reasoning and the gift of free will. Use them wisely. Always be aware of the limitless nature of this ever expanding universe. Let us live to inspire each other."

Created by David Govedare, the sculpture has yet to be completed.

Once in Spokane, Sandy was happy to leave his little box on wheels and find a bit of grass. He got to hang out in a huge pen for awhile prior to the mustangs arriving from Burns. Once the pretty fillies began filing in around him, he became a quite content little camper!

I didn't do a whole lot with Sandy while there. He was plumb tuckered when we got there and I was so pleased with his behavior...then he woke up Saturday morning and I found I was back to a revved up pony! Not bad, and he didn't do much snorting, but his shyness was oozing from his pores. I led him out around the corrals and past small groups of people, which he was a bit reluctant to do, but not reactive in a jumpy sort of way. He was reserved and hesitant, but allowed some folks to come up and say hello and touch him. Others were a bit bold and he would back off, and everyone was polite enough to step back from him if he felt pressured.

Susan Kirk was there with Mac, her mustang from last year's EMM. She was also the trainer hired for demonstrations. Jamie Thomas was also there competing in the Trail Challenge with her boy, Monty (and she'd better get busy and post some photos!) It was great to meet both of these women. Jamie wanted me to do more with Sandy while there, but I'd promised Jay I'd babysit 'his boy' and not push him, so walking around the adoption site and working in the round pen was about it for him this weekend.

I was happy that he relaxed enough to trot along the round pen rail with a half dozen people leaning on it; that was a big step to be so close to people for this guy. He also took a liking to a man in a hat who was there with a friend. The man talked with me for several minutes and admired Sandy, talking nicely to him. He was back on Sunday morning during the adoption event and saw me across the pens. He hollered that he wanted to adopt Sandy, not any of the others, so I told him to head to Sacramento. He just smiled and waved goodbye. Sandy liked him; he'd sat at the corner of Sandy's pen for several minutes with his hand on the rail until Sandy came up to say hello.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I'll get adoption info up tomorrow for y'all!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What's My Heart Doing There???`

Last year on Mother's Day I spent the day in the hospital getting an angiogram done. I'd spent the better part of late winter and early spring with chest pains, pressure, and flutterings. I'd been to the ER twice in one week, had a stress test done and finally the angiogram. Because of all this, I know my heart should be located slightly off center on the left side of my chest. And all the pictures online back me up on this.

So why is it that when Doc sat upon his horse the other day and asked me, "Isn't it going to be hard to give him up?", I could feel my heart bouncing around in my throat? There is definitely a problem here. I feel I need to go back to that hospital and tell them my heart has shifted and that they need to put it back where it belongs. Obviously, I couldn't answer Doc for fear that my heart would just spill on out of my mouth and land on the arena floor. And then what would we have? A dirty messy little heart that was no longer even in my throat...and I think we all agree that I'm better off with my heart inside my throat than bouncing about all over the ground. After all, it may scare Sandy if it were to bounce beneath his feet.

Therefore, I turned away from Doc, faced Sandy, and swallowed as hard as I could before replying, "No, no, not at all. I've got other mustangs. I've prepared myself. I'm not like one of those've not before known the wonders of the Mustang horse. Sandy is great, but I'm okay..." Of course, Sandy gave me a snort as my heart nearly shot out from between my teeth while speaking, but Doc didn't seem to notice.

A couple hours later, and it was Jay saying, "You're not going to even try to buy him? I don't know many Mustangs, but I just can't imagine any being nicer than this one..." And again I found myself gulping down a throat load of beating heart in an attempt to reply. Jay just shook his head. "This is a nice horse, Tracey, you ought to think about it. If it were me, I'd be selling a horse to keep this one."

Of course, I didn't really pay him much heed. My heart was racing off on it's own and I had to go catch it.

I'll be gone this weekend as Sandy and I are headed to Spokane, WA for Ride The West Expo. I'm leaving my bridle at home so as not to be tempted into doing something foolish. He'll hang out and learn to be a big boy horse, and I'll take him out on walks and lunge him every day so he can become accustomed to listening to me in a crowd. Stay tuned for plenty of photos and reports when we return!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It'll be so Boring...

"...there won't be anything to post about on your blog."

That's what Jay was saying as he led me around the arena early yesterday morning. He was walking and talking and taking care of my nerves as his hand was slowly slipping under Sandy's chin to unsnap the lunge line. Two other people were standing at what Jay described as the 50 yard line, a teensy little wall that was to serve as a visual barrier to Sandy so that he'd think the arena was only half the size it was.

And then he was gone. Sandy was beneath me, walking in circles and wondering why we weren't moving out a bit faster. I did figure 8's and stopped and had him rock backwards a step or two, then turned and walked the other way. And after a few minutes Jay's voice came from that 50 yard line and suggested perhaps we try a trot? So we did, and it all went smoothly and nothing bad happened. Our first successful arena ride...solo...was under our belt! Not that I was wearing a belt; under the cinch, maybe?

Today was another day. The hydra bull was working and three horses were warming up. Jay was riding JoJo and I was leading Sandy with a great deal more commotion than he's seen to date. He was fine, stood quietly while the horses took their turns at the bull. He even watched the bull a bit, and I had a wee little nag inside saying that I'd have to get him following that thing before too long.

With lessons finished and Jay putting JoJo away, I brought Sandy into the center and lunged him. He was quiet, relaxed, and not feeling at all fresh. Jay came out to finish warming him up as I went for my helmet. Helmet on, I climbed on board and had a few minutes of leading and lunging before Jay eased the line off and stepped away.

Curt and a couple of the others had left for a quick lunch, and when they returned they found me riding at a trot, serpentining my way back and forth across the arena, stopping and backing. A few eyes were widened and I heard "That was nice!" from someone when I dropped my reins and said "Whoa"; Sandy had came to a soft, light on the forehand stop. I then asked for the back up and he collected himself up nicer than ever and took four very willing steps backwards just to show off a little to his audience.

And despite what Jay said, I still had plenty to post about!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

BIG B, little b...what begins with B?



and Buffalo


Isn't it pretty? The black stage has left me, the scarlet stage now reins. And actually, it's not as red this morning as it was yesterday. It still hurts, but no longer feels like someone is jabbing me with a hot poker when I walk.

Yesterday went well. Sandy worked nicely through several distractions, including the hydra bull. I began lunging him a couple hours before Jay showed up, and we had the blessing of another horse warming up while we were out there. While I lunged Sandy in the center, she rode Buddy around the rail, giving us the benefit of someone loping up behind him and passing as well as feeling the pressure of someone coming head on. He worked great and wasn't stressed in the least.

By the time Jay got there, the fun was about to begin. We've not been inside the arena while the bull has worked before, just outside. I was fairly confident that he'd be fine, but you can never tell about horses. Sometimes being on the inside without the security of a fence between you and the 'scary' object, things can become dicey. Not so for least not yesterday. He stood facing me, cocking an ear back and looking out of the corner of his eye to keep an eye on things, but fully relaxed. When the second horse began to work, Jay took over at the lunge line and had Sandy working within 5-10 feet of the bull passing while I took on the all important roll of photographer.

By the time the third horse was being worked on the bull, I was in the saddle and working comfortably. The safety net of the lunge line was still there what with all the other activity, but Jay never had to step in or give additional pressure. Sandy is struggling with turning to the right; he pushes his nose out and resists, but other than that he worked very well.

And finally, the long awaited buffalo have arrived! Curt has been waiting on these guys for several months. I think there are six of them, and two have white faces. Freaky looking, if you ask me, but if you were to ask Sandy he'd just say they were cows. Once they settle in and Curt feels a bit better, they'll be worked just like cattle by the cutting horses.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Week...what week is this?...update...

Obviously my head must have connected harder than I'd thought. I'm not sure which week we're in anymore. I missed last weeks...I think this is 9, right?

Well, whatever.

The past couple of weeks have seen growth as well as set backs. Obviously, my unintentional dismount would be the set back. Thankfully, however, I've managed to climb back on and continue riding, even though I admit to feeling a wee bit shaky over the whole situation. As I sit here today pondering the next few weeks and all that needs to be done, I know that the only solution is for me to just cowboy up, as Jay says, and put it all out there on the line. No fear. That's what it's got to be.

Yesterday Curt had some visitors stop in for a visit and to see Tangy's foal. To get to the back barn, they had to walk through the arena while I was riding. This is the first distraction Sandy has had while I've been on him. He really struggles to keep his mind on me when there are so many other things out there. I know that's typical of young horses, but he's more so than the others; even Sunny focused on me, despite her fears. I think Sandy may be a little ADD. Combine easily distracted with fear and you end up with a slightly Nervous Horsewife, unfortunately. And that only compounds the problem. I think I've gotten too old for this. Too many years have gone by without falling off a colt and I find myself more jittery than I recall when climbing back on board.

However, despite tensing up a bit, raising his head to look and the desire to stop, I kept Sandy trotting circles and focusing on me, while Jay held up his end of the deal and talked me down off that mental ledge and kept me focused on the task at hand. Sometimes I'm as easily distracted as Sandy. This weeks plan is to go solo in the arena. Deep down in the recesses of my little brain I can hear Darling's voice saying, "Good luck with that." Yeah...really.

Now, for Sandy's progress report:

1) Rode solo in the round pen

2) Fell off solo in the round pen (hey, gotta get him broke, right?)

3) Draped a jacket through the stirrup and let him snort around in circles until he could care less. (No, the next step is not to fall off and get drug.)

4) Visited with livestock and let them blow cow snot into the ear and stick their wet noses under the tail.

5) Crossing bridges without batting an eye.

6) Trotting serpentines in the arena.

Aside from that, it's just the same old stuff. Learning to stand for saddling, perfecting the bit going in and out of the mouth, trying not to snort at the person who brings the feed... I wish some folks would get brave enough to lead him around the place as he could use that. This coming weekend he'll be in for a big shock as we head to Spokane for Ride the West. Lots of people and distractions. Should be interesting!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Welcome to Club Dirt

Sandy the cow horse...sorta

Yes, that's right; Club Dirt. Sandy had been doing so well, and we'd taken our first two solo rides a couple days ago. Then Tuesday morning I figured we'd ride again...without my beloved Jay to start us off, and I didn't work enough of the nerves out of him, so as soon as I got on he was ready and willing to get me off.

This boy looks like a poster child for the Pendleton Round Up when he gets to going, let me tell you! I saw him do it the first week he was here; head tucked between his knees and shoulders flying high into the air before his feet drop to the ground in a thud and his head flies up...then down...then up...all in a rolicking motion that makes a sea sick person wish they'd taken their dramamine before mounting up.

And that's what he did with me. At first it was a trot off just as soon as I landed on his back. I had my left rein shorter from the mount, which was good as I could pull him into a circle. But rather than slow down and relax as he found himself doing something he'd done before, his fear elevated and his head lifted; he began dancing on the front just a little and pivoting rather than circling. And just when he seemed to relax just a wee bit and I thought to change hands and take him the other way, down went his head and up came those powerful shoulders. Hump wump bump...a couple of good rolling moves and that was it. I was sunk and rolled off backwards over the cantle and into the dirt.

Welcome to Club Dirt...I'll be your seating hostess. Would you like to start with a mouthful of gritty sand on the rocks?

I managed to pull myself up onto my feet and caught the last couple of good bucks as Sandy reached the wall on the other side of the round pen. He turned around, eyes glazed with fear and shot straight back at me, panting and snorting and wondering what the heck had just happened. His eyes were wide with fear and uncertainty. I have him a pat, apologized for letting him down by not working him first, and wondered just how bruised my body was going to be by morning.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working him from the ground, then called Jay before heading for home, leaving an absolutely pitiful message for him to find later in the day. Poor guy. He's an absolute God-send, really, and if I were about to jump off the ledge of a building, he's the guy you'd want to call to have come talk me down. He got me back up into the saddle yesterday and talked both Sandy and I into relaxing, and today it was solo again, but of course with my 'rock' standing in the pen with me to help me through those initial jitters.

I'm not convinced that Sandy will be ready to ride through the obstacle course in Sacramento. He's come such a long way, but his lack of self confidence gets in his way even though he's trying hard to understand what I'm asking and to please me. By the end of today's ride he was once again listening closely and working hard to understand the direct rein and leg cues I was giving him, and Jay was encouraging me to pick up the program another level. But we've all agreed that it's better to be safe than sorry once we reach the show in four weeks. It's a bit disappointing, really, as I think this is a terrific horse and would love to show him off. He's just one who needs a little more time to discover how truly wonderful he really is and I'm not willing to push him beyond his comfort and security level. (Okay...and I really don't want to visit Club Dirt in front of 5,000 people, either!)

Bridges? Piece of cake!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Circles and Backing and Bridges, Oh My!

I'm sorry. I'm a bad blogger. I didn't have anyone take photos!

Today Sandy and I went solo! Jay started out with the lead in the round pen. We did a circle or maybe two, then off came the rope and away we went. Circles left and right, figure 8's, turning into the wall, and even a make believe roll back. Sandy got to the point where he was listening and associating my weight shifting or hand changing with stops and turns. He was a bit stiff turning to the left to begin with, but going to the right he sailed around.

I added the back-up today and after a couple of awkward attempts he again began associating my body position with putting it into reverse. He got so good that he started second guessing and each time I shifted and asked for a whoa, he immediately took a step backwards.

Today we also added a new element, compliments of Jay who provided us with not one, but two bridges! We didn't do much with them today, but I did convince Sandy to pick up the front feet and come up for a treat. Some horses spook at the sound of their feet on the wood, but it didn't appear to bother Sandy at all. Of course, when I'm on his back and not standing in front with a goodie, that may change!

I left him alone for a couple of hours so he could eat his beet pulp for lunch, then went back and rode a few more minutes this afternoon. I'm so pleased with today's progress! We'll be riding twice a day now to build up his confidence, and a little later this week we'll try solo in the arena. And yes...I!

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

For You Quarter Horse Lovers

Meet Tangy. She is the mare who looked like she could give birth to a house. A very big house. A McMansion. Mostly thats because Tangy is just 13.2, and only if she's been left long between trims and is wearing shoes. She could be smaller. The photos just don't do justice to her enormous middle.

Tangy is one of the reasons I was so sleep deprived yesterday. While Curt was in the hospital, I arrived in the wee, wee hours of the morning to keep an eye on our little mare. And as luck would have it...there was no baby on my shift. I'm glad as she'd had some complications giving birth to the filly below a few years ago.

This is Tangy's three year old daughter, Doxee. Look at that dream tail! It drags the ground. I'm in love with Doxee's tail and think while no one is looking I may snatch it and try to glue it to Sandy. That may frighten him, though, as he's not so sure about things following him and dragging on the ground.

Doxee is sired by Dox Chex, an aged stallion that Curt owns. Dox is an own son of Cal Bar and out of an own daughter of King Fritz. For those of you into the old quarter horses, you know that reads like royalty. Dox is still there, but I didn't snap a pic of him in his stall; didn't want the flash frightening him. Doxee is a full sister to Lil Rip, who's photo I posted a couple days back. I swear this cross of Tangy and Dox makes the most beautiful babies; they ought to be Breyer model horses!
Tangy is also the dam of Peppenary, who's sire was an own son of Peppy San. She's a diminutive little thing, just like her mother and siblings, but this girl is a huge mover! At 13.1, I've ridden this little stick of dynamite and other than being so close to the ground you'd think you were on a Thoroughbred! She and I have become buddies of late and today she followed me around the arena even after I'd turned her out to play.

Of course, as much as I've always enjoyed a good quarter horse, I'm onto the wilder side of life these days! Jay popped in this morning and Curt asked him to help with a new method (new to Jay and I) of tying a horse up for the first time. You put a hobble on one foot, tie a rope to the ring and then send it up through the halter and then tie the horse to a post. When the horse pulls back, he lifts his foot into the air, which of course isn't his intent. Curt says it works like a charm with all the horses he's used it on.

You may recall that Sandy had a few issues early on, and while I didn't think it'd be a problem any longer, we figured we'd give it a go just to make sure. Along with helping him figure out the whole tied issue, I figured it couldn't hurt to have him learn to relax while a foot was restrained. As I suspected, though, he didn't even test it. Jay walked up to him and turned his head a bit so that he'd realize he was tied. Sandy tried to back up, his foot was lifted, and he stepped forward again and stood still. Curt was happy with what he saw, and Jay and I moved on to bigger and better things.

I rode for about 30 minutes today. That's the longest ride yet! We worked in the arena and Jay used the lunge line rather than the shorter lead. He let Sandy go way out to the end this time with plenty of slack. I walked and trotted and stopped and turned. Everything was directed by me and Jay was happy to step out of the way as I went this way and that. We ended with me taking the rail and walking around the arena, both directions, a couple of laps while Jay walked down the center.

Sandy was great. He had been concerned about the big door (normally open) being closed at the east end of the arena, but although he arched his neck and looked, he listened to me and kept moving forward. By the end of our session he was dropping his head, trotting soft circles and tipping his nose to the inside of our arc. From up on top, it looked very pretty!

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Curt is Home...

Thanks to those of you who were praying for Curt! He came through his surgery in good form. Flirted with the nurses before, during and after. Had one convinced that the reason he was missing half of his top lip was due to having it bit off by a woman up in Winnepeg back in his younger hockey playing days. In reality, it was a horse, but it was a good story!

He's home now and realizing the happy drugs that were administered via the IV were really great.

Meanwhile, out in the barn tonight Tangy is finally acting like she's in labor. I took some pics yesterday but Blogger was insisting this was a spam blog so I never got around to resizing or posting. Because Curt was in the hospital overnight, I went down at 4 this morning and right now I'm just too pooped to get anything more than this up for you to read...sorry! I'm hoping tomorrow afternoon to have more time to update.