Monday, May 31, 2010

Rush, rush, rush!

Best Daddy Note Ever
(click image to enlarge)

Life has been busy, and I don't even know why! And I'm rushing out again...should be on the road right now...down to my weekly 'Bull Session'. But I got this email from my mother stating, "How am I supposed to know what you're up to when you're not even blogging???" Um...sorry, Mom!

My good friend Linda has been out of town visiting her cousin, which has left her cranky old cowboy (aka Curt) at home alone. The weather is cold, wet and dreary, which means the cantankerous old coot is slow to move, and since I'd had some truck problems last weekend, I had left Sandy at his place for a few days. And all of this added up to me doing chores here at, oh, 5:30 am (starting with Red and working down to my own crowd here), and getting Darling on the bus at 7:20, and then my heading south to make sure the cowboy was up and help him with chores.

Fringe benefit was I got a couple of extra workouts on the hydra bull, plus a few more rides on the big red mare this past week. But not much blogging time.

Yesterday was the Sumas Mt. Trail Challenge, and the rain actually stopped for the day! Ground was mighty muddy, but the trees were pretty dry by the time Darling and I rode through, and we had a great time. Darling actually won the Mustang Youth division! Okay...shhhh...she was the only one, but her score was comparable to many of the other youth riders, so it's all good. Sandy & I tied for first in the sr division, but because Darling & I opted not to do the extra 'extreme' loop, I lost in the tie breaker. That's okay...we had fun.


And now? Now I'm off to play cowgirl! See ya later!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fun in the Sun

The sun was shining the other day, so Darling agreed to a photo shoot with Steve Holt!. I'm rather happy with the results, though the sun was somewhat bright.


Normally, for you new readers, Darling does not ride in a dress. When I sent a copy of one of the photos to a friend, her remark was "She looks cute, but don't put that online..." She was concerned people would think my kid goes riding in dresses. I, personally, am not bothered by someone riding in a dress...but if you happen to be someone who is, rest assured this was simply a matter of getting a cute photograph. Or two. Or three. Did we succeed?



I love that his brand is so bright and vibrant here!

Darling wasn't about to waste the day in a dress. She had other fish to fry on a sun shiny day and got Steve Holt! all tacked up for a romp in the pasture.


And of course...we may as well spread our wings and fly the friendly skies while we're at it!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Seven Minutes of Red

Red has been moved to a new location. I received a call last week telling me there was a stall available for sub-lease at the riding club, and I was next on the call list. Did I want it? Oh, boy howdy, did I! So into the horse trailer went our favorite uncooperative mustang and away he went.

Since arriving, Red has found there are many things in life that need dealing with. Things like wheelbarrows slipping in alongside you while you eat grain. Precocious mares in neighboring stalls swinging their hind ends at you in an attempt to gain your admiration. People's feet clunking along overhead as they walk through the hay mow, tossing hay down to your neighbor. But the most difficult thing of all to deal with? Swallows. Swallows who swoop in and out of your personal space with little regard to whether it's okay with you. They don't say a thing...they don't say whoa or easy big fella or nuthin'...they're just not there one moment, and the next they're flying between your legs. And that is nearly too much for our big red boy to handle. least too much the first 48 hours. Since then the swallows have learned who's boss, as Red gave a double barrel kick towards one who had the limited vision to not know swooping behind a mustangs business end could be detrimental to one's health.

But all in all, he's settling in. I'm able to get the lead snapped and unsnapped from his halter much easier than before. He's had to look to me for some reassurance, though he's still a proud individual who wants to believe he can survive this life on his own terms.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ride when the Sun Shines!

Poor Sandy. I can't even tell you when his last day off was! Luckily for him, some of our rides have been on the soft and lazy side, such as today. I loaded him up, along with Wadatika, and went to the nearby tree farm for a lazy day 25 minute ride. I gotta say, that little pony of mine is turning into one heck of a wonderful horse. Not only can he cut cows & carry Darling over 2' jumps, but he's a pony horse supreme! What do I mean?


Well, we got ten minutes into our ride and Tika decided she'd gone far enough. And she stopped. Eeeek. Brakes. Stop. No go no more. Now, I typically give a horse a moment to change their minds at times like these, and the first time Tika did just that. She thought about it, I tugged a bit, and she came forward. But only for another 20', at which point she stopped again.

This simply was not going to make the rest of our short journey very pleasurable, so I turned Sandy around to face her, pushed her around in a 180 degree turn so that she was now facing the direction we'd just come from, and had Sandy march right into her face. And backward Tika went, a good ten paces, before I asked Sandy to step around and continued down the trail. The diva didn't give it another thought...forward motion is better than backward motion any day, and the rest of the ride went without a hitch.

Sandy and Tika were not the only ones getting extra attention in the good weather. Red has had a few extra moments of me pestering him as well! Current goal for this boy is allowing me to touch him in a tight space, and getting a lead clipped on and off his halter without a knock down, drag out fight.


As you can see in the photo, there are two leads hanging from Red's halter. One is short, about 30" long. This he has on all the time. It's short enough not to be stepping on all the time, but long enough that I can reach out with the end of a stick and pick it up. These horses just crack me up, to be honest. They don't want your hand reaching in to grab the rope, but they allow a stick to lift it, and once they see it moving, they're caught! Kid you not, they'll follow that stick and lead like they can't get away. Red is no exception.

Anyway, once I've got that little rope in hand, I've been working on getting him to relax enough for me to get the long rope attached. Not that we do anything that requires a long rope most days, it's simply the motion of getting a hand that close to his ever elusive head. He reminds me so much of Steve Holt! it's not even funny, except that Steve Holt! progressed much quicker. Red needs more time, but all of his actions are similar. Neither could stand still to be touched and I'd stand in the middle while they made tight circles around me, wondering if I'd lose a toe in the process. Actually...Red is still doing this, but he's relaxing and slowing down. Steve Holt! was extremely protective of his head and face, just like Red, too. But Red is progressing, even if slowly, and the snapping of the lead is happening quicker each time. the pic of Red? We practiced some make believe tying today. As long as he wasn't feeling pressured, he stood there and respected the short rope draped over the stall while I moved around, taking photos of Momma horse and cleaning the paddock. Yup...he's coming around.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Two Red Heads

Red stepped up to the plate for me these past two days. Good thing, too! He followed me into the horse trailer, allowed me to scratch on him some, and then went to eating his grain while I walked out. Now, for anyone who's tried to teach a young horse to load, you know the danger of walking out of a horse trailer and having a frightened baby turn right over top of you and mow you down on it's haste to exit! Thankfully, Red did not do that.

City Boy was out at the barn with me last night, offering treats to both Tika and Red. Red wasn't too sure. After all, City Boy is a stranger and you're not supposed to take treats from strangers...are you? Well, maybe just this once....

Now...for an update on the Red Headed Fury...

With so much time being devoted to Red, Tika has been left pretty much out in the cold. City Boy, knowing how much the mare means to me, has spent some time trying to win her over. One day he came into the house, excitedly bidding me to return outdoors with him. He walked out to the field and climbed through the rails, then called to Tika who was standing some 20' away. She threw him her "I'm better than you, and bigger and faster, too" look, but when she realized the hand was outstretched, she turned with ears pricked forward and gently took the treat from his fingers.

And so it's gone with the two of them for the past two months. I'll head out to catch her and hear, "What are you doing out there with my horse?" Not that he's totally sold and convinced he cannot live without her. But he did set out to win her over, and it would appear he's come as close as she'll allow one to come with that goal. From inside her stall yesterday, she pinned her ears and began pawing the ground when she decided she wanted grain over a treat, and City Boy just chuckled. "You're not so tough anymore," he told her. And with that, she gave up.


Tika accompanied us to the Mother's Day open house at Elenbaas this past weekend. It was a terrific experience for her to get out there with all the traffic coming and going. She's had a bit of a fright, and I'm afraid I was the cause of it. Not that I've done anything big or different or gotten after her at all...she simply has a fear of turning her tail towards me when I pull her around with a rein or lead. You know...that little training thing Curt taught me, where my arm goes over the back, allowing me to stand on the left and pull the horse to the right. It helps the horse learn that they can give to that pressure even without a body being there. It's the thing I really wanted her to be able to do before I started riding.

Sadly...Tika goes into a panic when it happens. I'd really hoped that after a few turns, she'd figure it out, but the panic button gets hit each and every time. So I leave her a couple of weeks, then come back hoping she'll be better...but it never is. The last time I finally decided that it just wasn't going to work, so instead I stood at her side, picking up the lead and bending her nose toward me. She thought it meant she had to move her feet, and fast. It took her awhile to figure out that she didn't need to move, and I was happy with that.

Until the next time I saddled her up, that is. For the first time ever, Tika went broncy on me. I led her from the hitching rail into the arena, no problem, then felt the lead bouncing in my hand like a fish on a line. I turned around to see big, heaving, shoulders springing into the air while the pretty face of hers was tucked between her forelegs! What the heck? Thankfully she's super sensitive in the face, so lifting and pulling on the lead got her attention and she came back to the ground. Once in the round pen, she refused to let me stand alongside her, bolting away from me instantly. It took me awhile to realize this was a out falling from the last session, two weeks earlier.

To say the least, I was surprised, since I never ask anything of her in a forceful, pushy way, and we'd ended on a good note the last time we'd worked. But obviously she was harboring some fear. So I spent the next fifteen minutes getting her okay with me standing at her side, and putting my hand up on the saddle, letting her know that I wasn't going to ask anything of her other than to relax. I took the time to string a few days together so that the lesson would stick, and it seems to have done that. I was able to put a foot in the stirrup the other day and bounce around without her darting off.

It does cause me to ponder, however...will I be able to ask her to turn around without her being afraid? That is, after all, the whole point of the original exercise...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Twas a Lovely Day!


I got up early on Mother's Day and ran out to feed the horses. I wanted Sandy to be finished early so that he and I could go on a ride. Darling doesn't particularly like trail riding, but she doesn't like me going alone so she often comes along just so I have company. What a good kid to look after her mother like that! But I wanted to ride up the hill a bit, so I left her sleeping and grabbed a quick ride on my own.

After my ride, I worked with Red for a bit. I must admit he's had me feeling a bit defeated. Not because I don't think he's right where he needs to be, but because he's got an adopter anxiously waiting for him and he's simply not ready to leave. If he were mine, it'd be no problem, I'd just keep trucking on down the road and wait him out. But when someone else has a time frame that you need to work within...well, that gets frustrating. Just a bit.

But yesterday Red managed to give me another nugget. With the momma horse here, Red's been shuffled into a new paddock, and yesterday I decided to swing a panel across the front of the stall so he could learn how to stay put in an enclosed area. I led him into the stall and closed the panel behind us, and waited for the nervous energy to surface. Red doesn't like to feel trapped, which has been his hang up all along. But inside the stall he stayed relatively relaxed. He realized he was enclosed, but didn't try to shuffle his feet around me, just stood looking out while I rubbed on his shoulder for a bit. One step closer to being able to climb inside the trailer and allow me to walk out alongside him without panic.


City Boy took me out to lunch afterward, and then Tika and I went up to the arena for a short workout. We're desperately needing an update on her, aren't we?

A bit later in the day, after City Boy went to work, my kids brought me to Hovander Park.


Hovander Homestead was donated by the family to our parks department many years ago. When the Geek Boy was little, we volunteered throughout the summer months, feeding the animals. One year he and a friend decided they were going to ride one of the pigs. Funniest thing you'd ever want to see...


It was a lovely day.
And now? I'm off to my bull session with Sandy. Happy Trails!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The New Kid...

So, where'd we leave off? Oh, yes...Darling and her photos. Lots and lots of photos. 253 of them, to be exact, and did she get the shots I needed? I had to do that myself once we got home.

And what, pray tell, was it that she ignored?



The lovely little pinto mare from the Paisley Desert, that's what!

This little mare is part of the Mustang U clan. She's 14 years old and probably somewhere between 13.2 and 14 hands. Not all that tall, but this momma is a very stout package! So far, she's settling in well. A lot of trembling going on to begin with, but that has subsided a bit. I can walk to within 10-12' of her without her bolting off in another direction. Yesterday I opened her gate into the round pen (thankfully enough sun to dry it up for the most part) where she was able to lie down and roll in dry sand. I think she was pretty happy about that.

If you're not a fan of Mustang U on facebook, I'd highly recommend becoming one so that you can stay on top of things with this little mare...because if we're right, she's harboring a wild bred fugitive inside that rounded belly of hers...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New Kid in Town...


Finally, a break in the thick, dark clouds. Sunshine, people! We have sunshine!

The other day Darling and I began to shuffle panels around in order to make room for the new kid on the block. Red, being his curious self, had to come inspect.

I know, I can't see his eyes. Here, is this better?


Truth be told, I don't think he was curious at all about the panels being moved, but wondering if there was a free handout for him involved in the process. Sorry, treats in the pocket right now. Red has become quite enamored with treats. He even gives a high pitched, little boy whinny when he sees me most days.

Once the panels were in place, Darling and I drove up to our friend Debbie's place, where I promptly placed the camera in Darling's hand and asked her to get photos. And being Darling, she did...


...of the grain silo...


...and another one of the grain silo...

Darling? Hey, Darling...over here, in the barn please...

But Darling seems to have been distracted some more.


Do you suppose she's getting even with me for taking photos of cows while at her riding lessons?

Darling? Oh, Darling! Where is that kid?


Photobucket, we are not there to play with babies. Though this one is pretty darn cute!

Now that Darling has wasted all my space here, I think I'll just need to come back later and show you what we were really up to. You'll come back later, too...right?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010



Snow? Sigh... Will it ever end? My round pen is half covered in water, and the other half is too soggy to work in. The paddocks are in pretty much the same shape. The rains from the past few weeks have simply been too much. I can not wait for spring...and finally arrive.


I went and watched a bit of the reined cowhorse competition up here this weekend. For those unfamiliar, the horse starts off with a reining pattern to show how well he responds to a rider. Circles, lead changes, sliding stops and stuff. Then the calf is let in, and there's a bit of cutting, followed by driving the calf down the rail, turning him back, going down the rail again, turning the opposite direction, then out into the center of the arena where you turn your calf in a circle, first to the right, then to the left. Basically, showing off skills that a horse would need on a ranch. It can be pretty exciting, especially since the cows don't read the rule book.



I got off a couple of good shots, and took a bit of video, but it was simply too cold for me and since I was there alone, I left before long. Have I mentioned I'm ready for spring and warmer weather?