Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lucy, the Bull, and Beamer's Blue Moon

Lucy's fourth time working the HydraBull.  She's coming along pretty nicely, so the Cowboy stepped it up a notch here.  Lucy wasn't terribly sure about it being so close, but all in all handled it pretty well.  She's definitely got the moves.  I'm not sure how long Lucy will be with me, but for now I'm really enjoying her.  At some point over the summer, once she's fattened up a bit and has some more training miles on her, she'll be up for sale (keep that in mind all you roan mustang lovers!)

A few years ago some of you may recall Darling competing in the Youth and Yearling program, where you take a wild mustang yearling and gentle it for an in hand competition.  One of those yearlings was a bay filly she named Beamer's Blue Moon (she wonders now why she called a bay horse blue?)  She's pictured here with Tika, who was more than happy to play mamma to this sweet little girl.

Beamer has recently come back into our lives, as her owner was unable to keep her any longer.  She's now four years old and lightly started under saddle.  This spunky little mare is testing her boundaries just a little, but deep down she's still the same sweetie who was here before.  She's a tiny little sprite, only 13.2 or 13.3, but this girl packs a powerful punch!  From Murderer's Creek, she's got a lot of athletic ability.  She can stop and turn well enough to make you think you've got a cowhorse on your hands.

Yesterday a friend asked if I wanted to go for a nice trail ride, and with Oz and Lucy at the Cowboy's, Beamer was the only one at my disposal.  Well...sure, why not?  Most of our rides were only 20 minutes in length, and always in the arena (flat, easy footing.)  And over the past 2 weeks, I've spent far more time with my other three projects than with the little bay, so I wasn't sure if she'd be up for much.  I needn't have been concerned.  A 40 minute climb up the hill had her no more out of breath than a 20 minute arena workout.  Sweating, yes, but no huffing and puffing.  And her feet are amazing!  Barefoot over rocks without so much as a short step.

Beamer and Tika seemed to take back up right where they left off.  Flirt wasn't so sure she wanted a BAY colored horse on the place, so she was a bit aggressive with the new girl when she first arrived.  After having them separate for a couple of weeks, though, I turned them all back out together and Flirt found that just because she's 4" taller doesn't mean she's boss.  Beamer pinned her ears and snaked after my red dun baby, showing some teeth and making it known that she wasn't to be pushed around.

Now that order has come to the trio, they frolic and play and race around like wild ponies should.  Beamer won't be with us for long.  Like Lucy, she'll get some saddle time, some manners, and then be available for sale to someone who'll appreciate our little bay dynamo!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Incorrigible Flirt!


  [in-kawr-i-juh-buhl, -kor-] 
not corrigible; bad beyond correction or reform: incorrigiblebehavior; an incorrigible liar.
impervious to constraints or punishment; willful; unruly;uncontrollable: an incorrigible child; incorrigible hair.
firmly fixed; not easily changed: an incorrigible habit.

Flirt had been home for a week or better when the sun began shining and I began pining for a little time with my girl, so I loaded her up and hauled her to the riding club for a little one on one time.  She walked easily out of her paddock and even self loaded...a first!  I simply closed the door behind her and we were off.

Once at the arena, I began noticing little changes in Flirt's attitude.  She was a bit pushier, completely ignorant of the bubble concept, or the 'this is my space, this is yours idea'.  All space was her space.  She wasn't a happy pony in the round pen, either.  I'd been free lunging her while at the Cowboy's and thought I'd do the same here.  Mistake.  She had no desire to be obedient.  I'd send her in a direction, and when I asked her to stop, she continued on, completely disregarding my commands and pushing forward.  I snapped the whip out in front of her to get her attention, but she'd run right through it.  If I'd stepped in front of her, I believe she'd have simply mowed me down.  Obviously, she went back on the lunge line, but even then she was pushy and crowding my space.

We worked until there was a bit of sweat clinging to the both of us, though, and by the time we left for home, Flirt was at least tolerable.  I even got her to drag a bicycle tire around for a bit.

The following day the Cowboy had a clinic which I'd organized for him, so I didn't work with Flirt at all.  But on Monday I went out and, being as it was so nice out, decided to work her at home in our own pen.  

Once again, I thought I'd start with a few laps free lunging before moving on to saddling.  And once again Flirt threw a red headed two year old tantrum.  She raced around, ignoring my body language, pushing through my attempts to slow her down or turn her around.  A couple of times she rushed to the panels and stood straight up on her hind legs in an attempt to see if she could lift herself over them.  That was a scary sight, given her past!   I decided to back off completely and simply stood in the center, an action to which she responded to by coming over and standing with me.  On went the lunge line and back to work we went, this time with a little more respect.

After a few minutes of positive action, I led her to the barn where I tied her to the post.  All those times she stood tied so patiently while at the Cowboy's...she made up for it now. She tossed her head and stomped her feet and tried to dig herself to China.  Sigh...what happened to my sweet girl?

Obviously, Flirt needs daily handling.  So Tuesday she was lunged (lunge line) and saddled, and she was an absolute doll.  So much of  a doll that I started bouncing in the stirrup and stood all the way up over top of her, rubbing along the other side of her body, patting her rump and scratching under her mane.  No one around...should I swing my leg over?  Probably I resisted.

Yesterday Flirt was again perfectly willing to behave herself.  This time Darling walked out while I was working her, so after bouncing up and down a couple times, I swung my leg over her back and sat in the saddle.  I was only there briefly, but my seat was firmly planted and my legs were resting on both sides.  Then I stood up and swung off.  Quick and easy on and off.  

I sat on my girl.  It was Sensational!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Oz Goes to School

While there are no photos to prove it, nor videos even, I've been spending a few hours in the saddle every day.  Mostly on cutters, keeping them legged up or warmed up for the Cowboy, but the past couple weeks I've been putting a bit more time into Oz as well.

Darling has been busy with Doxee and life in general, leaving me on my own to get the big moose of a mustang going solid under saddle.  We rode a few times at the riding club in the round pen, but then Oz discovered himself in the mirror.  And while the mirror is at the other end of the arena from the round pen (and not really even visible to him, in terms of his reflection) he is certain that he must spend all his time there focused on that handsome horse he is certain lives through the looking glass.

So...what to do?  He'd been working very well at home, but the round pen here was wet with rain and just a bit small to get this big lug moving into a lope, something we really were ready to do.  Down to the Cowboy's he went, then.  

Flirt stands tied at the Cowboy's barn

And home came Flirt.  She'd been just on the cusp of ready for me to climb onto her back.  In fact, I'd been on the mounting block, leaning over top while she was saddled, swinging the stirrup on the other side around, pounding and banging and patting and talking.  She had no reaction.  She was standing tied quietly and patiently in the alley way of the barn, too.  A nice, solid start for my flighty redhead.  So why not bring her home, yes?  Just let her relax with the others for a bit, then start saddling her in my smaller pens and climb on here.  So I did that.  That, being bring her home and turn her out.  Heck, she's just a baby, so no rush.  I had to start setting priorities, I decided, and Oz needed my attention before I really got serious about Flirt.

Oz is a year older and NEEDS to get going.  And going he got.  With the help of the Cowboy and a long dressage whip (which got popped at the Cowboy's side for encouragement), we finally convinced Oz that he could indeed lope a circle with a rider and stay upright.  Actually, Oz is convinced he's unable to lope without a rider most of the time.  But three times last week we rode and loped, and it was good.  So good that today I rode without the Cowboy there and managed a lope all on my own.  Both ways, too!  

I have conflicting feelings about this big boy, truth be known.  He's not my style of horse, really.  I like small and nimble.  Oz is not small.  Oz is not nimble.  But he has his good points, such as he can sidepass over a pole raised up on cones.  He doesn't spook at lambs looking at him from the other side of the arena gate.  I can ride with one hand already and ask for a leg yield and get one 75% of the time (not a pretty one, mind you, but he gives it a go just the same.)  Oz also won his in hand class at the Oregon Mt Trail Challenge last spring.  That was a big deal...he's not your ordinary horse.  He can win halter classes and trail classes, don'cha know!

But cut a cow?  Not really his deal.  So what to do with the boy?  Well, I got an email with a link to the 2013 Mt Trail Challenge, and what do you know?  There's a Mustang Only class this year!  Paint Girl...are you reading this?  We need to go!

So that's my goal, then.  I figure what the heck?  I'll have a solid 2 months training on him by then (nothing before last week was solid, trust me!), and if I can take Sandy and Steve Holt! to a makeover in 90 days, why not Oz to the trail challenge is 60?  Definitely something to sink my teeth into.  A few more solid rides at the Cowboy's place, and Oz will come home and go to trail horse school!

"You see?  I told you there was a horse in the looking glass!"

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Good Day in the Saddle

Twas a fabulous day of riding for this Desperate Horsewife!  But before I tell you about it, I need to introduce you to someone.

Meet Lucy.  She's a four year old strawberry roan mare from Warm Springs HMA.  For those of you who've been around here awhile, you'll remember Jet, the tall black mare that we had; she was also from Warm Springs.  

I first met Lucy when she was a two year old at the Wild Horse Corrals in Oregon.  She was a very striking young mare who'd foaled out a very cute red dun filly.  Yes, two years old and having babies...such is life in the world of wild!  Lucy would stay at the corrals until spring of her three year old year, when she was adopted by a gal in Southern Oregon.

Last fall, Lucy's adopter decided that the mare didn't quite meet her needs, and she started looking for a new home.  She asked if I would take Lucy here.  I'd just committed to taking Flirt, but...well...okay.  Twist my arm!  Besides, a friend of mine had really liked Lucy at the corrals and she was thinking it may be that Lucy would make her a nice trail horse.

Flash forward, and my friend has had rotator cuff surgery and isn't sure she can ride anything other than a dead broke horse right now.  She asked if I'd take Lucy for a couple of weeks for a refresher course (Lucy had been ridden out on the trails before being sent up to us.)  Of course I was more than happy to do that for my friend.  

Sometimes life surprises us.  Lucy is one of those surprises.  She's got just enough 'feel good' in her to not really make her suitable for plunking down a trail without a least not right now.  What she has got, bless her long backed soul, is a solid, get your butt underneath you stop and a pretty decent turn around.  And you know what that means, don't you???

I brought Lucy down to the Cowboy's so he could meet her.  I asked if he'd take a look and tell me what he thought.  I think he didn't think much, but he humored me.  "Take her home and ride her, get her a little better broke.  You need to have a little better control of her rib cage before we try to work you."

Okay.  I can do that.  And we did.  We worked 5 out of 6 days, stopping, backing, turning.  I'd do leg yields around the round pen, stopping and turning and going the other way.  Always in my mind was 'keep her eye on the cow', a phrase I'd heard often enough while working Kitty.  I pretended the round pen rail was the cow and kept Lucy's body supple and her nose toward our imaginary adversary.

This morning I hauled Lucy back to the Cowboy's arena.  I saddled and warmed her up.  He'd gone into the house, and I figured he didn't think we'd be ready to work.  But I was.  And so was Lucy.  Or at least I hoped so!  I tied up her reins on the saddle horn, leaving her in the arena while I went and knocked on the door.  I was back in the saddle by the time he reached the arena.

Lucy and I began by doing some dry work along the wall, trotting down the rail, stopping, 'loading up' (which is what we call rocking back over the hocks), and turning.  The Cowboy gave pointers, calling to me to 'get her ribcage', and after a few turns, he asked if I wanted to work the bull.  

Hello?  YES!!!

And we did.  Lucy was a gem.  She didn't really know that she was supposed to read the bull and do it on her own; none of them really does to start.  But she tracked it well, keeping up with it, stopping and turning and moving that rib cage.  When we were done, the Cowboy was wearing a smile.

"That surprise you a bit?"

I paused, then replied, "A little."

"A little?  Surprised me a whole lot!"  His smile was genuine as he climbed out of his bull.  "I didn't expect that.  You did a good job."  And when he left the arena, the Cowboy wasn't the only one wearing a smile.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm a Big Girl Now!

Flirt is growing.  I haven't measured but it wouldn't surprise me if she was pushing 15 hands.  And she's butt high.  She's going to be a BIG girl!  Or at least tall.  Taller than I'd really like, these days.  I'm going to need a step ladder to climb on!

Speaking of climbing on, I think that day is coming sooner rather than later for her.  Today she was saddled up and doing so fine that I drug the mounting block into the round pen with me.  I plunked it down alongside of her, climbed on top of it, reached across the top of her and began rubbing on her neck on the opposite side.  I rocked the saddle around.  I reached back and patted heartily on her rump.  I thumped on the saddle fender...the one over on the other side of her body, leaning over her back while doing so.  She was totally unconcerned.  

I pulled the fender out and let it thump against her, thinking briefly that maybe this was an awkward position to be in, leaning across the back of a 2 year old with my toes on a mounting bock.  I mean, I'd end up falling from my perch and landing beneath her, undoubtedly, if she were to jump or spook.  But she didn't.  

I placed my foot in the stirrup, and she turned to look at me as my toe bumped into her side.  That was the biggest reaction I got from her all morning.  I moved my foot around, stepped up and laid over her back, rubbing her neck and talking to her all the while.

"Come on, Mom...what's stopping you?"

Well, I'm all alone out there, that's what's stopping me.  But it won't be long.  It won't be long.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Flirt is a Feature Story

The spunky redhead landed herself a feature story in the March issue of the Northwest Horse Source! (It's pages 30-31, just in case the link doesn't open up directly to it.)

Flirt has been learning to be a well mannered lady.  She's back a the Cowboy's, where she behaves herself quite well.  She enjoys her play time, but mostly she likes to hang out with me. She's shedding like mad!  So much hair...everywhere! On my shirt, stuck to my gloves, up inside my nose...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Little Flirty Day

Was a quick trip to the Cowboy's this morning, but I managed to squeeze in a little bit of Flirt time.  She had fun running and playing for a few minutes, then stopped and stood with me.  I lunged her a wee bit, then decided to introduce her to the mounting block.

Mounting blocks are curious things, you know.  They pop up out of the ground for no apparent reason (at least in the mind of an inexperienced horse), and they're obviously something that needs exploring, licking, and maybe a bit of pawing at.  Flirt circled it a couple of times, but it didn't hold her interest for long.  I led her alongside of it, and she sidestepped just a bit.  Still, she was close enough that I could step up onto it and be above her, rubbing her back and neck.  She didn't care much.

I turned her around so I was on the other side and repeated the process.  Again, no reaction outside of being totally bored.  So I leaned against her a bit, draping my arm over her back, patting her on the opposite side.  She looked out the door at the end of the arena, caring not what I was up to. 

I've a strong hankering to just climb on, but tell myself daily to be patient.  Make sure all the bases are covered before getting onto that back of hers.  But's so inviting!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Another Show for Oz!

Oz and I hauled out to his second halter show, and the boy once again turned a few heads!  This time we competed against seven other horses, and Oz took second.  Not bad for a range bred wild mustang!

Saddle training is moving along, though slower than I'd like.  We seem to only manage 2-3 days a week at best.  Daring has been doing most of the riding, with me at the end of the lungeline.  Oz is a big boy, and very powerful.  Though he's never offered to buck or be stupid, there's always that feeling of 'what if' when you're on him.  He's a smart colt and mentally ready for a lot more work.  Only problem is, he's not quite figured out the word WHOA.  Until he learns how to apply the brakes, we'll all just need to muddle along.

Meanwhile, Flirt is totally Sensational!

She is back down at the Cowboy's barn where I hope to really put in some serious time saddling her up and preparing her for her first ride.  There are still times when her wild side emerges, like today when there was a small child at the other end of the arena, and when a new horse walked through the barn.  She goes on full alert, drawing herself up tall with tightened muscles.

I'd just finished lunging her and had put the saddle on her back when the distraction came about this afternoon.  Not really what you want for a third time saddling and the first time in a new location, especially when you're not very consistent with the process.  But she didn't get goofy or anything, so I just worked her like nothing was going on at the other end of that arena.  She even loped for the first time while saddled and did splendidly.

Flirt's hives have broken off, but until her new summer coat arrives, and the winter one disappears, we're left with these goofy spots.

As long as I've got you about a quick shot of what's going on down at the Cowboy's place?  

The Cowboy is now a Shepherd as well!  A couple months ago he purchased some sheep, and the ewes are beginning to lamb.  Aren't they adorable?

My niece and a new ewe lamb