Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

You Know It's Warming Up When... starts to feel so danged cold!!!

Thanks to humidity, 40 degrees and damp can feel colder than 20 degrees and dry. Why does humidity do that?

Steve Holt! had an exceptional day. City Boy went out and chipped away at the compacted snow in the driveway this weekend which made it possible to introduce Steve Holt! to the horse trailer. I've got one of those double door trailers, and just for fun I decided to leave on closed to see if he'd climb in through the narrow opening.

He did!

Darling missed being there with the camera when we unloaded a bit later. The first two loads had us turning around and walking out, but after the third entry I decided to ask him to back out.

And he did! Easy as pie, too, without so much as a moments hesitation.

Later in the afternoon I loaded him up again. This time City Boy jumped behind the wheel and we headed down the road for our first trailer ride since arrival. Steve Holt! is nervous in the trailer and bounced around most of the way. When we reached our destination he found himself outside of an arena. Being the gentleman he is, Steve Holt! walked pleasantly into the building with me.

The rest of the afternoon can be seen here in the video clips that City Boy captured while we were there. Things worth noticing are how light and responsive he is on the end of his rope. We ended up with company and despite the fact that he was always aware of where that horse and rider were, he continued to do as he was asked.

The Story of a Girl and Her Horse

Yesterday was just plain nasty. A driving, sleet...came down in torrents. It was too cold and miserable, the worst day yet since bringing Steve Holt! home. I went out to say hello and to see if he'd let me catch him without the halter. He was fine. Best he's been. Even let me take the scissors to his scruffy under-jaw. That, however, is as far as it went. I think we both deserved the day off.

This morning I was cruising around you tube and came across a video of a young woman and her horse. One of the related videos told their story. I thought it was so sweet and inspiring that I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Steve Holt!, weekly update

Darling grows weary of driveway rides...

Steve Holt!'s week was slow due to the holiday and snow. The round pen snow is packed down pretty tight now and slick enough to make working in it a bit dicey. We did, however, manage a short list of accomplishments.

1) He stands rather nicely for the saddle pads and saddle going onto his back. He doesn't mind me reaching beneath him for the cinch, but he's nervous about the tightening process.

2) I can throw his blanket over the top of the saddle and lead him around. He wasn't happy about it at first, but since it hasn't eaten him yet, he's coming around.

3) Steve Holt! lets me touch his ears and rub them a bit. He's not happy about it, but we're improving.

4) He's had the bridle on three times now. He's learning to give to pressure from the bit as I ask him to turn his nose towards me.

5) I can blanket him without having to hang onto his rope. He's letting me put the straps on around his hind legs.

A short list, to be sure. But getting the hand up on the ears and poll is a big thing...a HUGE thing. Bridling and haltering will become so much easier if he'll start to relax with me handling his face.

Today, day 22, held a couple more forward steps in Steve Holt!'s training. I walked into his run and pulled his blanket off without first getting the rope on him. He stood pretty still with very little urge to escape; I was quite pleased.

With the blanket off, I hauled the saddle pads up to him, one at a time, and plunked them down on his back. Still no rope...he just stood there. Saddle in hand, a somewhat concerned look crossed his face, but again he stood without so much as a shuffle and up onto his back the saddle went. I've always had the rope on him before and there's always been some sort of forward movement, so this was really exciting.

He was turned loose in the round pen and left unattended for an hour today. At first he avoided being caught, but after a couple of circles he caved.

He also learned to stand tied while I untacked him and then brushed him.

When I left him, it was without his halter on. He let me walk up to him later in the afternoon and rub all over his face; we'll see how easy it is in the morning to get it back on.

All in all, a very good day 22!

And the Winner Is...

Susan from Sunset Hills Farm!

Pop me an email, Susan, and I'll send you an 8x10 photo!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Steve Holt!

That's right, throw your fists in the air and shout it like you just don't care...


We hit 50 followers today. Okay, Darling tells me it doesn't count because it was City Boy who finally filled up that last vacancy...but if we eliminate him, then we also eliminate her, and that actually puts me two people shy of my goal. What's a Desperate Horsewife to do? I tell you what she does...she counts those two and gives you better odds of winning, that's what! I'll draw a name and announce it tomorrow, so y'all better come back to see who won.

The snow is finally beginning to melt, thanks to above freezing temps the past 24 hours. You'd think that would make life easier, wouldn't you? But it doesn't. Not for a few more days at least. When this compact snow gets wet, you see, it packs down hard and becomes a layer of ice. So despite the fact that I've got icicles dripping off my roof, the footing beneath us is slicker than snot on a door knob. (Don't ask how I know...)

And because of that, Steve Holt! and I took it pretty easy today. I went out and saddled him up. I then led him out to the round pen where he wasn't too sure he wanted to do much. Can't blame him. Neither one of us are much into the Hans Brinker thing, and we don't own any silver skates.

Despite the lack of time over the past few days due to Christmas, I have been messing with his face, and as of yesterday was able to get up and around his ears. Given that, I pulled out a bridle and slipped the snaffle into his mouth. He objected. I won.

Today with things super slick, I didn't feel like the usual warm up routine of lunging and running my surveyor tape lunge whip over his head. I went straight for the kill. He objected. I won. Again.

Once he was bridled I led him straight back to his stall where the bridle and saddle both came off. Our time today was very short and very sweet.

With a little extra time I came inside and played with a few photos. I loved this shot of Steve Holt!'s face what with all that forelock and expressive eyes, but it's a bit out of focus.

Quick fix with Adobe was to hit the auto levels to give it a bit more depth and vibrant color, put an easy border around it and then use the craquelure filter. Makes it look like it was painted on a brick wall or something, doesn't it? But you can't tell it was out of focus like you could in the original.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hooters, Drive By Shootings and the Color Orange

And did I mention just a little photo intense? Sorry, Dial Up users!

Christmas found us gathered around the tree dark and early. Dark, because we beat the sun. Which truth be told wasn't all that difficult since it was cloudy and, yes...still snowing. We've probably had about 18" of it so far.

#1 on my list of wants this year was a GPS. I have no clue how to work one, but decided that if I want to make maps of the trails I've been on, that a GPS was the way to do it. I'm also wanting to use it on our trip next summer in Oregon so that we aren't lost indefinitely up in the Steens Mountains. City Boy did not disappoint, and I found myself with a neon orange contraption which comes complete with a learning curve. I didn't ask for the learning curve, but it would appear they come free of charge.

A large box which had been sitting in the corner of the room was labeled with the names of Desperate, Darling, and Geek Boy. The three of us could not figure out what City Boy could have found that we would all be interested in. The children shredded the paper and pulled out a box which said...

As opposed to fake guitar sounds???

This has proven to be an interesting gift to give three people who haven't got a musical pinky between them. However, the Geek Boy sat down with it at the computer and figured out how to tune it, Darling believes she'd like to take lessons, and once the two of them are done playing I think I'll hang it on the wall. Not bad, City Boy...not bad.

I find it amazing that all the work and preparation that goes into Christmas can be completely dismantled in a matter of a few brief moments, leaving expensive wrapping paper strew across a room in heaps and piles. I think next year I'll just use dollar bills to wrap gifts...

Hey...wait! What's that picture doing in here!!!

Sigh...City Boy has never been able to catch my good side with that camera...

Once the drunkeness of Christmas had worn off at home we headed north to Little Canada, eh, to visit my parents and eat some of the left overs from Christmas Eve. I thought you may enjoy the "Drive By Shootings" that I took as we traveled down the road.

Frozen cow field beneath snow covered trees and Christmas Fog

Frozen Wiser Lake. Sure sign my parents must live in Canada, eh?
No way lakes freeze in the northwest...

A few short miles from the Canadian Border, eh.
Look! Pavement! Sweet, beautiful pavement...

Hoot! Hoot!

Did I promise you hooters? Well, I lied...there's only one. One wee little owl that collided with a very big thud on our living room window. City Boy thought for sure the cats would get there before him, but they didn't. Imagine his surprise when he found an owl! The poor thing was a bit stunned and since we didn't want a cat to end up with an unexpected owl feast on Christmas, we set it inside a box until it came to it's senses. It wasn't long before it flew back out into the wooded winter wonderland.


45 followers so far! Five more and I'll draw a name for the 8x10!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

And Happy Holidays to all!

Wishing you all a blessed holiday season, whatever your faith may be. Stay safe and stay warm!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's ART, I tell ya!

Photos taken in the dark...

I've been rather negligent over the past year (or two) when it comes to posting awards that have been given to me. My side bars are so full that I wasn't sure where to place them. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate them, though, because I did...and do.

I was out and about recently and came across Laughing Orca's blog, and that's when I saw the most amazing thing...she had a separate blog for awards! WOW... And then I realized that Shannon at Oh, Horsefeathers had done the same thing!

Why have you people been hiding this from me? What an awesome concept...where have I had my head that I've not realized what's been going down in the blogging world?

So this morning I went straight to work and created myself an awards page. Unfortunately, I don't recall which awards I've received in the past, but I do have two that came across recently, thanks to Shirley at Ride a Good Horse (the butterfly award), and Shannon at Oh, Horsefeathers (Superior Scribbler Award)! Thank you, ladies, for thinking of me.

I'd like to pass these along to two young ladies who are quite deserving.

First, the butterfly to Kristi/Froglander at Mustang Dressage. Kristi is new to the blog game, but she's pretty cool. Mostly because she immediately started a blog at my request while we were in Burns. In fact, we were sitting in the hotel room when she forwarded her new blog to me. Coolness.

As for the superior scribbler...well, there's only one scribbler in my life. The trouble is determining which blog of her's to award? The Shoe, the Whole Shoe, and Nothing But The Shoe? Certainly a cleverly scribbled title...

No, I think I shall send this one to Phiber Photos, where Darling, also known as Macaroni Manatee, posts her lovely photography, despite the fact that her photos are far too lovely to be scribbled.

Now, don't forget folks, sign up as a follower and as soon as that number hits 50, I'll hold a drawing for an 8x10 photo!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where's My Face Rake???

This was the way we raked the Sandy...

I delved into Sandy's files this evening to see what kind of things we were doing during week 3 of training and came across this photo. Two major differences can be found in between my two boys. First, Sandy is in mud while Steve Holt! is in snow. Second, and more importantly...where is my face rake??? That little rake was a wonderful tool with Sandy as allowed me into his space from a safe distance as well as let him feel pleasure at the same time.

I've no clue where it's disappeared to. Thankfully, Steve Holt! has been able to cope without it. Getting close is only a problem when catching. Once he's on a lead, he allows me a lot more liberty within his personal bubble.

Steve Holt! had just one work session today. I hadn't really intended to work him much at all, just wanted to lead him out for a bit of trotting time at the end of the lunge line so he could stretch his legs a bit. Of course, even play time is learning time at this point. Pulling off his blanket allows him to once again experience something coming and going from his back. I also manage to work in a little bit of face handling.

In the end I couldn't resist hauling the saddle pads out and plunking them down on his back, followed by the saddle. He's back to moving around a bit, but he's getting the hang of it. Doesn't he look handsome???

I want to thank Jessie for the prize I won over at her blog! I never win anything...this is a most wonderful surprise. It's also inspired me to do something similar here. While most of us love to see and read the comments, I think I'm going to change things up a bit and ask for something else. I love to see those little icons showing up, listing those of you who've signed up as followers of this blog. As I'm typing, that number is at 34. I'd like to see it at 50! So once we (you and I) hit that number, I'll draw a name from the list and offer up an 8x10 photo of your choice. You one of those pretty wild pinto pony photos. So if you've not signed up as a follower yet, now would be the time. You don't even need to have a blog to do it! To get a better idea of some of the photos available, visit Mesteno Wild Horse Photography.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Steve Holt! weekly update: week 2

And the snow just...keeps...falling...

Yesterday when I woke up I walked out into a whopping 8 degrees. The horses had pretty much emptied the water tub, but when I went to the faucet it was frozen. I grabbed a couple of buckets, came inside, filled them with hot water, then went back out and dumped the water on the faucet. Problem solved.

No. Problem not solved.

Hose was frozen. I'd drained it the last time I used it, but evidently there was enough water left somewhere in there to create a blockage, so back inside with the buckets, and back out with steaming hot water to dump onto the hose.

Didn't work. Although I did manage to get myself nice and wet, and instantly found myself with ice covered cover alls.

I've heard some folks put their hoses in their bath tubs to thaw them. That wasn't going to work. The hose wasn't exactly coiled up nice and was long and stiff and I wasn't about to try to drag it through the house while everyone was asleep to the bath tub. Not to mention I'd have to shed all my clothes, including the ice covered cover alls, before setting foot inside. No...that wouldn't work. Instead I decided I'd stuff the hose into the washing machine.

Remember when I said the hose was stiff and not coiled? Stuffing it into the wash was rather like putting 3' spaghetti noodles into a pot without breaking just stand and wait for them to slowly become limp, stuffing more and more in as you go.

The thought occurred to me that the hose would probably freeze the moment I set foot outside and all this struggle would be for not...and I should have listened to myself.

In the end, I was packing buckets. If I'd just started out packing buckets I'd have been done a lot earlier and wouldn't my clothes wouldn't have been frozen. Live and learn.

On to Steve Holt!'s week. It's been so cold that I've ignored a couple things that I'd hoped to accomplish; picking up feet and standing tied. That said, here's what we've done:

Steve Holt! now allows me to rub his muzzle. I can run my fingers around his lips and up inside his mouth, massaging his gums. He's not sure about the finger in the mouth, but finds it interesting enough to stand for it.

He's now without his short lead as he's become more tolerant of me approaching.

He almost stands still for the big blanket to go on his back, and waits patiently for the front buckles and belly straps.

He leads nicely back and forth to the round pen as well as in the field.

He crosses the bridge.

He'll walk beneath a low pole with streamers; low is an issue as he has to duck his head.

Yesterday I put a new halter on him. I cheated; I put it on over the web halter, then slipped the web off underneath.'s done. The rope gives me more control.

He's learning to drop his head with pressure. This wasn't happening with the web halter.

He jumped the blue barrel in the round pen. I didn't ask for it, he's been wanting to do it and finally did.

I ponied him off from the back of Sandy yesterday. We started in the round pen, then (while mounted) I opened the gate and we walked across the field. Steve Holt! stayed back at Sandy's hip and didn't try to move away from us. He was very respectful of Sandy's pinned back ears, but listened to me and walked up to sniff my hand.

Steve Holt! was saddled for the first time, fully, yesterday. He stood with his rope on the ground as I approached with the saddle blankets. This has been a big issue, standing still. Yesterday was the first time he didn't move. Both blankets went up without a hitch. He did try to side step away from the saddle, but not bad. I tightened the cinch for the first time and lunged him at a walk and trot, both ways.

Twice yesterday, for the first time, Steve Holt! approached me of his own free will without me having to work for it.

Yesterday marked a turning of the page. Not that we haven't got a lot of work ahead of us, but he made a decision to begin trusting me at a new level. If I were a more aggressive trainer, I'd have climbed on. But I'm not...I'm slow and soft. There are still holes and it's been too cold to spend that much time out there filling them. With the weather like it is, I may eventually have to take my first ride here at home, but I really hope not.

The goals for this week remain similar...if not the same. Pick up feet. Handle ears. Get a bridle on. Work on trailer loading (only haven't done this because City Boy has had the truck at work, meaning I can't back the trailer to a safe loading place...although I don't think we'll have any issues with this.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

White Mud


I just checked the weather online. We're actually colder here than in Burns!

This afternoon City Boy came inside and gave me a crazed look, saying, "I'm not moving to Burns, this is too cold! Are you still wanting to live there after suffering through this???"

I couldn't help it. I had to answer like I always do, "But it's a dry suffering!"

In truth, I see this as a foot of white mud. Oh, sure, it's pretty to look at, and as Darling pointed out, the landing is much softer when you've got a bit of cushion. But when the temps begin to rise? What then? It melts back into a muddy mess...


Steve Holt! is coming along, although he has a couple of hang ups. First, he's not wanting his face touched. Not since Sunny have I had a horse who's so protective, but eventually Sunny got over her fear, and Steve Holt! will, too. His second issue is having something approach him from the side, such as his blanket or the rope in my hand. It truly is a self preservation reflex, the strongest I've come across yet. But despite his desire to protect himself, he's a very outgoing young horse.

Yesterday I grabbed a handful of streamers made from surveyor's tape and tied them to the end of my lunge whip and proceeded to harass him. Yeah...harass. That's how he viewed it. We lunged in the round pen and I just kept reaching out and letting those streamers fall across his face until he conceded. It wasn't the same with my hand, though...he still fought that, but eventually I was able to get my fingers rubbing and working along the sides of his muzzle and even into the edge of his lips.

Today we repeated the head lessons, plus stepped it up a notch with setting things upon his back. First it was the felt saddle pad, then the little old saddle. He pins his ears and arches his neck, but does not attempt to kick, bite or lash out. If I let him walk in circles, he doesn't react at all (except the walking part), but it's time for him to relax and learn to stand.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Look, Ma! No Hands!

The snow continues to pile up here, and with no end in sight. The horses don't appear to mind, and nothing is getting in Darling's way when it comes to climbing on the back of Sandy and plowing through the dreadful white stuff.

After today's ride she came inside and began working at her computer. Seems she set her camera on the rail of the round pen and captured some footage of herself riding.

"Come see, Mom," she said. I walked over and watched over her shoulder. There was my kid, jogging circles in the snow atop my shaggy cayuse...arms stretched out like a four year old playing airplane!

"I figured now was a good time to practice riding with no hands because if I fall, it's a soft landing!"


Like Darling, I, too, brought the camera out with me this morning in hopes of capturing a bit of Steve Holt!'s workout for you. I set it up on the rail of the paddock and set up a new obstacle for us to try. Went out to the round pen for our usual trot, led around the field a bit (avoiding the bridge because with all the snow we really couldn't see it) and back into his paddock.

I then came inside and was happy to see that I'd gotten some good footage. Too bad I'm clueless when it comes to putting it up on the blog, eh? Darling tells me she'll have it done for tomorrow's post, however, so if you want to see what we accomplished today, you'd best come back tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The snow was falling pretty good here today. The horses all have icicles, whiskercicles... hanging off their muzzles, forelocks, manes and tails. Steve Holt! even has them hanging on his blanket! I never did go out and measure how deep it got, but it's there and it's white...and the only good thing about it is that the temps have gone from low 20's to low 30's. Steve Holt! seems to enjoy eating it. In fact, all my horses prefer to 'rough it' and chomp on ice rather than go drink water. Crazy mustangs.

Steve Holt!'s day was much the same as yesterday, without the saddle. We led to the round pen and he followed straight in. He likes the blue drum and wants to push it around a bit. He trotted a couple of easy circles, pushed his muzzle around in the snow and then stood and looked at me, wondering what was next. Because the ground is slick, I don't want to work him on fast circles and stops, so instead I led him out into the field where the geldings were hanging out.

Both Dude and Sandy stepped up to say hello at one point while we were out. Steve Holt! responded only with a polite 'How Do' and stuck with me as we wandered over to the community salt lick, then the big water tub. After he investigated those two items I led him to the trail bridge where he proceeded to lick the snow up, then tried to take a bite of what he most likely assumed was ice. He was disappointed. I asked him to step up and he didn't take long to show off, climbing up with all four feet and stopping, making sure I noticed just how good he was. After climbing down he began to circle at the end of the rope. Self lunging. Gotta love it. He even self lunged over the bridge. Crazy mustang.

Darling hauled Sandy out to play again today. I snapped a quick pic with her camera, and she came in and played on photoshop a bit with it. I asked her to send it to me, but didn't realize she's resized it so small. Bummer. Well, there they are, just the same.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

PlaceThis Here

Before we get into todays progress with Steve Holt!, I'd like to take just a moment of your time to introduce you to a couple of young men named Kyle and Nicolas.

Kyle was diagnosed last summer with an inoperable brain tumor. He was just seven years old. Kyle, his brother Nicolas, and their family have been through quite the journey this past year. To the left is a button that will take you to Kyle's blog, and from his blog another link to his mother's blog. I'd strongly encourage you to visit.

A cool thing is happening up here right now for Kyle and Nicolas; people are taking an extra moment of their time and sending them a Christmas card. It doesn't matter if it's a corporate card, a post card, or something you've created by hand. The boys are just excited to see the different cards come in that show support.

Since I'm not one to list somebody's address publicly on a blog, if you'd like to join with others and send a card, just email me and I'll get you Kyle's address. Don't know my email? It's there, to the left, just a couple inches down from Kyle's button.

Now...on with the show!

This morning dawned far too cold...again! I've been giving the horses and sheep additional hay so that they've always got something to munch on in an effort to help them stay warm. This leads to full bellies and a lack of energy, which is a very good thing for me.

Jet, Sandy and Dude were out in the field when I went to work with Steve Holt! this morning. I looked at them out there, all swollen and fat and sleepy, and decided to lead Steve Holt! out to the round pen without first capturing everyone else. They were on the other side of the pen, after all, and Steve Holt! was also had a belly full of hay, so it should go smoothly...right?

Right. It did, with the exception of one little bobble. Steve Holt! questioned my judgment concerning entering the round pen. He stopped and looked at me. I stopped, too, and explained we needed to come inside. So he did. I pulled his blanket off and let him trot a few circles before trying to put it back on. My fingers were getting cold, and he wasn't cooperating, so I ended up putting him back into his paddock without his winter jammies.

A couple hours later I ventured back out and was happy to feel a warmth in the air that's been missing the past few days. Made our second training session a bit more enjoyable. Again Steve Holt! questioned whether he should enter the round pen, and this time I stepped back out and along side of him, which got him moving rapidly inside.

As I'd walked towards the round pen I picked up one of those big blue drums that he's always wanting to stop and visit. He didn't mind me packing it alongside him, and he rather enjoyed walking up to it, bumping into it and making it roll around the pen. I had him lunge a few circles, and we worked on moving from a trot to a 'Whoa!' and a quick turn in the other direction. This is the sort of thing Steve Holt! is needing right now. He's smart, and we're not getting a whole lot done on this frozen turf. For today it was just enough to get his mind sharp, and I tossed not only the felt pad that's been hanging on the round pen rail onto his back, but the old saddle as well.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thank you, Lord, for global warming

Because if it weren't for global warming, I'd surely have died of hypothermia out there today! Ten minutes in the cold air and my fingers were aching. I believe a new pair of gloves may be in order. I had to ask around to other horsemen today, to find out what they're wearing. Something warm, but it needs to be thin enough for my fingers to be able to grip ropes and reins.

Katee told me she uses wool gloves, then puts leather gloves over the top. Sounds like a plan. The leather can come off when I need to have a bit more feel, but go back on once I'm finished with the fine motor skills and am back to packing hay or chipping ice from water tubs.

Have you got a preference when it comes to keeping the fingers feeling fine?

Steve Holt! and I managed a couple of firsts today.

The other three horses were happily munching on excess hay when I walked out for the morning training session, so it was easy to lock them into stalls. Three horses, two stalls...but it worked. They eat three to a stall half the time, and with bellies full there was no arguing or bickering. Once they were secure and out of the way, I clipped the long rope onto Steve Holt!'s short drag line, took a deep breath, opened up the panels and led him outside of the paddock for the first time.He was great. More than great. He was completely awesome! I've not had a single horse to date that walked straight out of the gate with me and didn't try to jump off to the right just a little in an attempt at freedom. Steve Holt! barely glanced towards the opening (which in reality isn't an opening, as there's a fence over there, but it looks like freedom after being trapped in a paddock for a week.) Instead he stepped right out alongside me, then looked at the blue barrel off to my left and wanted to go visit it.

And do you recall the trouble I had getting Sandy through the round pen gate? None what so ever with Steve Holt!! He walked through the opening like he'd been walking through narrow gates his entire life. Not the least bit of hesitation.

Steve Holt! walked easily in circles around me. I wasn't asking him to lunge, but he walked at the end of the rope as though that were his routine. He didn't pull, he didn't get excited and try to play in the larger space. He just walked with no tension, curiously looking at the old saddle which was sitting on the rail, or the saddle blanket sitting on the opposite side.

While most horses would be using the rail as a safety net, Steve Holt! didn't mind walking a foot or two away from it. In fact, he easily came in 5' from the rail and continued his circles in a nice, steady pace.

We did this twice today, and I think it's really made a change in his attitude. He felt good, and he enjoyed me taking him out there. Our second trip out began with a much easier catch, and later when I went out to feed dinner, he stood in his stall and let me walk up and pat him without trying to dash away like he always did.

During our second venture out, I decided to pick up the saddle. With it in my arms, Steve Holt! became a bit more concerned and his pace picked up as he circled me. But when I reached my arm out to him to pet his neck, he stopped and I was able to rub the saddle up against him without him bolting away. I also picked up the long PVC pipe that was laying out there and let him trot around with it on his back. That was something he wasn't thrilled about at first, and he gave a couple tiny kicks up with his heels before settling into a trot, then a stop. He decided it really wasn't worth the effort, I guess. Hope he feels that way when I climb on!

Too bad the snow is supposed to stick around. I'd like to get him out into a few arenas, but I guess this is God's way of slowing me down. No rush, right?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ridin' In A Winter Wonderland

Darling delighted in taking Sandy for a little ride today. They never left the yard, of course, but just walking about in the driveway with a little snow on the ground was enough to create a happy face. Being the good boy he is, Sandy is perfect for a little bareback ride; he's nice and steady, meaning Darling can pack along her camera and take photos of his ears and their shadow as they go.

What she'd really wanted to do was take both Sandy and Jet down to the tree farm for a ride, but my fingers were cold to the bone despite being gloved. So she settled for what she could get, and was still content. Note the fact that Sandy is now sporting a snowflake pattern on his hiney...think he wants to be an appaloosa?

Steve Holt! was nervous as he watched Sandy pack around a rider. The only time they see horses carrying anyone at the corrals is when they're being moved from one pen to another. It was clearly a stressful situation for this boy, who's head was up as he paced nervously around his paddock.

There are clearly things that Steve Holt! is ready to move on to, but I'm limited by my facility. He's ready to move out to the round pen to work, but I'm not sure my round pen is sufficient for him. I also have my panels set up in a new configuration this winter inside the paddock, which means I haven't got anywhere to lock my other three while I lead Steve Holt! in and out. I'm going to have to figure that out here in the next day or two or we won't be making progress.

I'd hoped to haul him down to Curt's later this week, but with the roads in their current condition, and the cold front sticking around for a couple of weeks, we won't be hauling anyone anywhere for awhile.

While Steve Holt! approached me and reached his nose towards me on his own for the first time today, he still did not want me to reach out and touch him, and we were back to pushing him in countless circles before he finally stood for me to approach and pick up his lead. He's proving to be quite a challenge in this; it's never taken me this long before to get this far. There's no way he's ready to have a halter taken off. Even Firecracker, who was so worried about her face, gave in easier. But I'm determined to continue on things he can do and build from there rather than push what is concerning to him. At least he's allowing things onto his back in an easier fashion. He is a bit of a worrier, though...and I'm needing to balance moving ahead with keeping him focused and relaxed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Steve Holt! Weekly Update

So here it is, the end of our first week. Seven days...and what have we done?

Steve Holt! allows me to touch him pretty much all over...that is, once I have a hold of him. He's not 100% comfortable with being caught, but once my hand is on the lead, he's becoming quite agreeable.

I can run my hands down his front legs and he'll lift his feet without panic.

I can brush him all the way down his haunches to his hocks, and have even gone so far as down his cannon bone on one hind leg. I think he'd be fine for me to go all the way down on both legs, but we'll save that for next week.

I can also reach under his belly without him being nervous.

Steve Holt lets me pat his neck. Check out this boy's nice hiney!

He came with a pretty nasty witch's knot (or braid, to some) in his mane. I was afraid I'd have to cut it out. Today he stood still while I had both hands working on him, giving an occasional scratch under his mane along the crest of his neck to keep him focused on the good stuff. I was wishing I had something to spray in it to help loosen the strands of hair, but was pleased that he seemed comfortable enough to hang out and get a little attention.

Nasty knot...hope we don't need to cut it out!

He's super curious about things I bring into the paddock with me. He thinks things feel funny when they touch his lips, so grain isn't something he's been quite sure of. Today I put some alfalfa into a grain pan, with grain beneath it, in an attempt to encourage him. It was a no go, so I left it in his stall.

Speaking of stalls, that is another accomplishment; he not only stays in his stall all night without fighting, but I can lead him in and out of the stalls now without him being too worried.

Hey...check out the mane! Mission accomplished!

Steve Holt! has begun wearing jammies. I may have to find a better fitting blanket, though, as this one seems to slip around a bit. The buckle came undone as you can see; hopefully just a one time deal. It's cold outside and I don't want him going without now that he's had it on a couple of nights.

Getting the blanket on him Thursday was a challenge, but he wasn't too freaked out about it today. I took it off mid-morning, then put it back on before dinner. He was nervous, but nothing like last time. Tomorrow I'm going to put the back leg straps on; he's so good about letting me touch back there that I'm sure he can handle it.

"Why do you insist on torturing me???"

On Thursday, Steve Holt! allowed me to touch his face with both hands at the same time, one on each side of his head. That's a big deal...they feel trapped.

Today Steve Holt! let me stand on one side and reach my arm beneath his neck and up onto the other side and pat him under his mane. Again...a trapped feeling, but he remained calm.

I can stand at his shoulder, grab his mane and bounce up and down like I'm going to jump onto his back without him flinching.

All in all, a good week. There were a couple of things I'd liked to have done, but didn't, such as getting his halter off and on, but that will come. Next week the goal is to master the halter, lead him out to the round pen, and learn to load into the trailer. I'd also like to be able to pick up all four feet and begin saddling him.

Of course...nothing escapes the watchful eyes of the master horse trainer, Steven T. Cat. The T, I'm told, stands for The. I think perhaps he ought to be called Steven T. F. Cat. F, for fat...