Friday, November 25, 2011

New Skills!


A couple months ago I decided it was time to saddle up Bad Reputation and see what she'd do.

She did exactly what she always does.


Not much phases this little horse, though she's a bit of a bugger for the farrier. Oh, sure, she'll stand for me...and of course she'll stand for Darling...but some guy with a rasp? No so much. But we can't have everything, now, can we?


Since the sun was shining today, I figured it was a good time to see if Max would handle things as well. Normally, when something new is thrown at her, she's a bit jumpy to start, but once she realizes what's going on, she'll settle down. Today, I threw her a saddle...and she stood there. She didn't care. She was like a little red Rep with tall white socks and a blaze. Boo! Nothing.


Rep wanted to make sure I'd done everything right, so she came to inspect the job. Yup...cinched up just snug enough for nothing to slip off. Both Max and I passed inspection!

Once the saddle was pulled off and put away, I returned with treats for the girls, Aurelio and Impulse. Impulse is still a little slow to pick it up, but now I can get my fingers down beneath her lips, which encourages her to take them a bit faster. I swear I've never seen a horse put so much thought into taking a cookie!


All in all, a very good afternoon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Final Ride


Yesterday was the day...the day our chapter in Steve Holt!'s life drew to an end, and his new life with his new owner was to begin. Before she arrived, we led him from his stall out into the barn, removed his blanket and began to groom him. That beautiful, long thick tail took some time, but when we were done, he looked like one of those show ring beauties who wears a tail extension!


Darling didn't really want to saddle him. It'd been a year and a half since she'd ridden bareback, but her goodbye ride was done just that way. An easy, slow walk around the arena on a horse who had magically transformed himself this week to a western pleasure pony.


Saying goodbye is never an easy thing to do, but we're so thrilled with Steve Holt!'s new owner. She showed up with a baggie full of sliced apples for him, and you know he was in heaven over that! She let us know we could come visit him any time we wanted...she didn't even need to be there...just come! She thanked us for putting so much time and effort into him, and made us feel so much better about him going to such a loving person. She'd ordered him a new blanket, she told with a belly band to help keep him snug and warm. "I know, I know, I'm spoiling him!" she said. That's okay...Steve Holt! loves to be spoiled! He's going to be a happy camper, and that makes us happy.

And then he was gone...leaving us with nothing but photos and memories...


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Diva...


Because you've not seen her recently...and I knew you wanted to!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Memories of a Goober Called Steve Holt!


Late last week I had not one, but two emails from people interested in coming to see Steve Holt!. I set up the first appointment for noon on Saturday. That evening, the second woman called to set up a time to see him, and I had to tell her that a down payment had been left. Steve Holt! had found a home.

My first good look.
Can you pick him out of the line up?
He's the tall one!

As you can imagine, our emotions are springing and swaying to and fro, from joyful to sad, back to joy again. Naturally, we wouldn't let him go to just any home, it had to be a good fit.

No worries. The woman who came to see him was in love. Head over heels in love. She'd been looking online at mustangs and had no idea that the one handsome bay gelding that she'd so admired was the one she was coming to look at! How's that for fate?

Eating hay and grain from my hands (well, the pan in my hands)
the first week home.

She and Steve Holt! clicked right away. I warned her that his lope was big. From the ground it's not so noticeable, but once in the saddle, she exclaimed with a smile, "Oh, yes, it is a big lope!"

To the round pen we go...with an alder tree doubling as a bamboo pole.

She climbed off Steve Holt! and we led him into the barn alleyway, chatting and talking. She'd brought a bag of carrots...and he was in love. Head over heels in love! Who was this magical woman with delicious treats? This was good stuff!

The end of week one...or was it the first day of week two?
Doesn't matter. First saddling. In the snow.

She'd been looking since July. I asked about her last horse, a paint who opted out of the 'leave the barn to go for a ride' program, it seemed. He didn't like to go alone. She'd asked if Steve Holt! was willing to go alone. Oh, yes, indeed, I replied. I ride alone all the time. He jumps into the trailer and loves to explore trails. No problem there.

My, what a handsome boy he was!
My, what a white winter we had!

She had a dreamy smile on her face when she left. Steve Holt! had a dreamy look, too. She'd left the bag of carrots behind.

First ride...28 days into training.

Barn life seems to agree with Steve Holt!. She'd worried he'd be bored living at a boarding facility in a stall, but this week at the Cowboy's has been good. He just gets better and better each time we lead him from the stall. The Cowboy's wife said that perhaps he's just needed to have that added security of a snug shell of a home (box stall) and the companionship of humans leading him from point A to point B. I don't know, but whatever it is, it seems to be working for our big boy. He moves slower and slower each time we ride around the arena, content to be just a little lazy.

Darling at the reins...Steve Holt! becomes a jumper.

As the truck pulled away, Darling and I were smiling. "She's so nice!" said Darling. Indeed, she was. "And she brought carrots!" chimed in Steve Holt!. Okay...maybe not out loud, but he was thinking it! Darling's smile waned for a moment..."I'll miss him."

So will I, will I. We've got a couple more days left with him, though. A few more rides before we say goodbye.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Artsy Video by Darling

You may find yourself needing to let this one load for a couple of minutes before watching. Darling has pulled up some old footage, plus added some recent clips, to create this video. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's My Job!

Not quite a week ago, we moved Steve Holt! down to the Cowboy's place so that we'd have a dry place to ride him on a regular basis. Since I drive down anyway to work Kitty, it only made sense to have him there as well so that I wasn't rushed to get home, load him up into a trailer and haul him somewhere dry.

With quite a bit of time off this past year, we started slow. He was lunged for 5-10 minutes, then Darling would climb on and I'd lunge him with her aboard for a few more minutes. That was followed by her riding at one end of the arena only, doing a lot of circles, keeping him rounded up, nose down where it belonged, but mostly his youthful self focused on what she wanted him to do...which was relax.

Steve Holt! thought we were crazy. He'd sigh big, heavy sighs, and obediently go about what we asked of him. Darling, too, it seems, thought I was crazy for taking so many precautions. But, I told her, I'm the mother and allowed to worry, fret, and make unreasonable requests in an effort to keep all involved safe. If Darling could roll her eyes, she would have...instead she groaned, and I think Steve Holt! rolled his for her.


After a few consecutive days in the saddle, Darling informed me that I didn't need to lunge her today, that all would be fine. I nodded, said yes, and told her she probably didn't even need to lunge him first. I'd ridden him the day before, wind blowing and rattling all sorts of arena bits, without him taking one misstep, so I was sure he'd do just fine.

I got busy helping the Cowboy, who was ripping out old carpet and getting ready for some new stuff this weekend. I peeked out after a few minutes and the two were doing quite well. Darling had the camera and wanted some video, so I obliged. Steve Holt! was working so well with two hands...slow (for him), consistent, head low, neck level...that I began wondering how he'd do with just one hand on the reins.

Darling switched to one hand when she was walking, which of course was not abnormal, and as he walked nice and relaxed, I suggested maybe she ask for a jog and see what happens? So she did...and though she had to pick up the second rein to let him know not to trot off in an english trot, she was able to drop back to one hand and make several laps around the arena with just the occasional check on speed.


There was a big ol' smile on my girl's face when they finished up. Both directions, and he'd maintained the slower pace, worked off her leg when she asked him to, and very little second hand action. No, he's not ready to take on a rail class, but it sure installs confidence when putting a horse up for sale to know that after a lengthy time off, and a full year of english/jumping before that, he's able to transition so well into a relaxed arena ride. And I don't know why that should surprise me, but hey, I'm the mom, and I'm supposed to worry and fret. It's my job!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let There Be Light!

Kitty in fluorescent light, and after the fact change.

Quite some time ago my son tried to convince me to 'shoot in raw mode' on my camera. But it confused me, so I didn't. I went back to safe with the usual jpg images. Why change what was easy?

But more recently I've begun to think that perhaps I ought to branch out a little...maybe learn something about this thing they call RAW. After all, all the real photographers use it. So I went in search on the information highway known as google to learn why I needed to give this a chance.


The biggest asset that I could see was that dealing with light would be much easier. I find it challenging to photograph anything in the Cowboy's's dark in there! So I decided to give this RAW thing a whirl yesterday. And so far? Well, I'm having fun. I don't know that I've really figured anything out (being of such a simple mind that I am...these technological things often elude me), but I did play a bit with changing the white balance after the fact, which cannot be done when shooting jpg.


Playing with the white balance and the exposure lightened this shot of Darling and Kitty up dramatically, and doesn't leave it all grainy like I've experienced with jpg. There are probably a lot of things I can do to make it better, but hey, one thing at a time!


I kind of had fun changing the white balance from 'auto' to 'daylight' to 'cloudy'...or 'tungsten' or 'fluorescent'. See? I told you I had a simple mind! Goofy little things like that really had me busy here at the computer last night. I think I'm way too easily amused... But maybe I'll actually start to get decent arena shots? Guess time will tell!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Save That Date


Currently working on the 2012 Mustang Diaries Calendar!

Lots of images from the year, from the Diva of all things Wild, to the Kiger adoption we recently attended, to the South Steens HMA. Once it's complete, I'll get a paypal link set up and let y'all know!


Meanwhile...back on the ranch:


The yearling colt we hauled home for Miss Emily is beginning to come along. He's very reserved, not terribly brave...reminding me a bit of Sandy when he first arrived, but without the biting. Aurilio has decided that treats are a good thing, which allows Emily to get into his space. He'd been very shy about his right side, but she's been able to drop the lead while brushing him and braiding his mane.

The other day I handed her a small, lightweight english pad to rub him with. Up and down the neck, then down the shoulders, over the withers, and onto the back. By the time she was done, he was standing still for her to flip it casually on and off. I think he's going to make a really nice horse for her.


Impulse is also making strides in the domestication department. She's terribly curious about everything I do, especially after watching me ride Steve Holt! the other day. I sat outside with some hay and popped a lead back onto her, but only long enough to get her to move in a few circles and reach out and touch her face a bit. She wasn't too appreciative, but once she was on the loose again, she was back to her curious self.


She decided, in fact, to take a treat from me. Never mind the fact that I'd fed a dozen of them to nearby Max, and it took Impulse five minutes of sniffing the one in my fingers before she worked up the nerve to take it in her lips. She's done that a few times now...sure would be nice if she could reduce that transition time from sniffing to lipping to just a few minutes!

But one cannot complain, really. At least she's comfortable getting up close and personal. So much, that I couldn't get a photo of anything but her neck yesterday!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Bits and Pieces


I am happy to say, not a bit of the snotties yesterday! And she was mildly interactive as well, so obviously feeling better, even if not 100%.

The other day I received an email from someone mildly interested in looking at Steve Holt!. I didn't hold my breath, but since he'd not been ridden in over a month, and at that, it was only 2 trail rides in September, I thought it best if I at the very least climb on him in the round pen for just a bit.


I'd had the new Myler bit on him, and just as in the last round pen ride, he dropped his head and held his nose perpendicular to the ground, just like a pleasure horse. And his not super western slow, it was light and easy to sit. Amazing what a bit can do for a horse. Never, EVER, let someone tell you that you simply must be able to ride in a snaffle, or you're not worth your salt as a horseman. Hog wash! Each horse is different, just like any child in the classroom, and any teacher or trainer worth a paycheck knows this.

During my brief round pen ride, I watched in amusement as Impulse darted in and out of her stall. With paddocks attached directly to the round pen, she had an up close and personal view of Steve Holt! actually allowing a human to sit upon his back. Fascinating! Frightening! But really fascinating! She rushed in and out of her stall, not sure if she ought to be brave or hide. While standing inside...ooops!...a chicken flew up onto her back! She flinched, looked back to see what had happened, then ignored the chicken in order to pay attention to the goings on in the round pen.

Too funny! My wild horse is broke to ride...if only by a red hen.


The following day, Steve Holt!s ride went very well. It was as if he'd been ridden every day all summer long. His trot was sitting trot slow (not western pleasure jog, but comfortable enough) and his lope was easy and soft. He picked up both leads like he'd never given a thought in his life to not picking them up correctly. It went as smooth as could we just wait and see. The young woman trying him out had just begun her search, and no clue if she's in a hurry or not. And while it would be nice to move him on, the Cowboy has said we can move him in down there for the winter and continue his training, and that is just about as nice as it gets.

The sun was shining all weekend, and I was wishing I didn't have a dead camera battery when I went out to clean Impulse's stall. Watching the proceedings the other day obviously increased her curiosity, because she began slowly working her way up to me, and cautiously reaching out in an effort to get a good whiff, no doubt wondering why the other horses seemed so intrigued by me. I had a pocket full of treats, of course, and stood at the round pen rail, feeding them to Max. Impulse eventually got close enough and brave enough to attempt taking my last treat, but it fell to the ground before she managed to get it all the way into her mouth. When I bent to pick it up, she moved off, so I put it inside a grain pan that was sitting nearby and walked away. When I was a safe distance, she walked over and lipped it up. She may not want grain, but for some reason, she's decided it's okay to eat treats. Well...whatever it takes!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Snotty Nose, Drooling Mouth


A spot of disappointment when we learned that the brown gelding we'd wanted for Ty had been shipped east to the adoption facilities there. I sent him a few new faces to look at, however, including the bay buddy of the brown horse here, and Ty agreed that the bay was very nice. In fact, he looked like he may be a little taller than the brown, which for someone who is roughly 6'4", would come in handy. And look at that bay face...does he not look like a sweet Sandy boy? I'm terribly fond of him already, even if he wasn't the brave one of the two.

Meanwhile, out in the round pen, Impulse is dripping...


I'm not really sure what's going on here, but when I first walked out she had saliva dangling at least two feet out of her mouth. Never have I seen anything like this! I went back in for the camera, and of course it was all gone, and this was the best I could get. Have you ever had this sort of drooling going on?

I'd wondered if perhaps it was a tooth issue, and it well could be. But the part that is concerning is that she's got such a snotty nose along with it. The other day, it was green and runny. She refuses to try any grain so far (and for those of you who are wondering, alfalfa pellets are also out), so can't get any powdered antibiotics down her. I've sprinkled it onto her hay, but she avoids it. So plan B (or is it C?) is to contact the vet Monday morning and get something that can be put into her water, and only give her small buckets so that she simply must drink.

Being that she's rather sick, and pregnant, I'm trying not to push her along in the gentling department. But with the sun out the other day, I grabbed a long stick and rested it on her back. I don't think she felt well enough to really complain. Or maybe she's just easy? She trotted a lap or two, turned around, then came to a stop. I rubbed and rubbed the old hair out, and eventually got close enough to run my fingers along her hip before she walked off. Was good stuff, it was!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hello, November!


First off, a Happy Birthday wish to my father...The Mule Whisperer!

October was a crazy busy month for me, from Kitty's and my first cutting (green/, Kitty and one cow), to our trip to Oregon with my folks.


A week after returning from Burns, I was asked to photograph the youth show, which was held at BB Stables. This is where Darling used to lesson with Steve Holt!; beautiful views, but a bitter, chilly northeast wind. I came home chilled to the bone.


Freezer camp awaited Sizzler, the pig. I drove in the driveway to find her loose in my yard, playing with 'toys' such as empty trash cans and the hose. I thought she was so cute! Ran and grabbed my camera so I could get a photo of her running with the hose. I let the dogs out of their very large run (formerly Momma Pony's turn out area) and hoped to lure Sizzler into it. No way was I going to be able to get her into her pen. Opened the gate, and she came running toward me...only it wasn't to investigate the open gate.

She BIT me! Grabbed my leg in her mouth, she did. The only thing I had to smack her with was my camera. I actually thought twice, but then...THUMP!...and was happy it connected on the back side rather than the lens.

She snorted, shook her head, and came at me again. All I could think was 'how quick can I climb the gate?', but then she saw the opening and squealed in delight as she ran off into the grass. Whew! Crisis averted.

The horse show seemed to have knocked the wind out of me, though, and the following days I was suffering from fever and chills, alternatively, and after that, coughing that racked my body to it's core. After a week, I decided to head to the doctor, as I had the Cascade Horse Fair in just a few days. I saw my favorite Nurse Practitioner (former eventer) and she gave me some drugs to help reduce the coughing over the weekend so that I could function.


No rest for the wicked, they say, which must mean I'm pretty darn wicked! Ken McNabb was here this year and it was wonderful! Our parking lot was full both days. Curt and his HydraBull were a mega hit as well...and look at that Cowboy dancing during Saturday's karaoke!


By Sunday night I was exhausted, but it wasn't time to stop. Not yet. Had to make trips to the bank to deposit money, and while I was there...well...I had to use the little girl's room. Not that you really need to know that, except there was a sign in there telling us to wash our hands, and giving the symptoms of H1N1 flu...aka...swine flu! And do you know what? It matched exactly what I've been experiencing! I think I've got the swine flu! And you know, that pig bit me, so it all makes sense!

No, not really...I don't think getting bit by the pig was the culprit (just in case you thought it was!) But I sure was sick there for awhile, and I'm happy that all the craziness of October is over, and that November is here. I think I'll like November much better. After all, it looks much cheerier, doesn't it?