Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Broke My Horse

Yesterday I took Killian for a little jaunt around the arena, he did really well once I established that we were not going to go to the fence and make goo goo eyes at the Princess.   Then I rode him out, grabbed little miss Sassafras, put her boots on and we the three of us headed down the road.  

She is such a funny horse to pony.  If we are in the arena she drags behind and you are constantly having to tell her to pick it up a bit.  If you are heading out, she is leading the way, and if you see cows....hold on tight because she is making beeline for them.  I suspect she wants to bite them on the butt.   Then when you head towards home she starts pulling back because she is not ready to go home.  She is quite the explorer.  I love that about her.

She seems to be over her nervousness of vehicles passing by. Did not even give them a second glance this time.  However did not have any rude honkers this time, or semis.   Our road is dirt so we trotted down the road and I watched for any limping.  There was none!!!!!!

I was so so very excited!  We trotted down the road and my imaginations was filled with visions of riding my little cutting horse, penning a cow, people cheering at how awesome she was.....blah blah blah!

When we hit pavement we walked but tried to keep the pace steady.  It was pretty darn hot out so I settled for just going around the block. When we had the room we trotted on the dirt on the sides of the road, if not then we walked.

3/4 of the way home we were skirting a big dirt lot, just walking.  Killian had picked up the pace a little, because he knew we were almost home. Sassy of course was slowing down. I felt her stumble behind me and then she really started dragging on the lead rope.

I turned around to tell her to come on, and almost threw up. There she was hobbling on 3 legs.  I jumped off and checked her boots to see if she had gotten a rock in them when she stumbled. There was nothing.

I got her back to the dirt road, and tried moving her around to see what the problem was.  It was her left front, and she was not willing to put much weight on it at all. This is not an internal hoof issue I don't think.  I took her down a little past the house hoping that maybe I could move her out of it.  But it didn't work.  So we hobbled home.

I checked for heat or swelling, could find nothing. She seemed to do a little better with out the boots, which doesn't make any sense either.   I was going to hose her left leg down, but at that moment the guys had broken a water line, and all my water was shut off so I used some water out of her tub and put some on her just in case. Then I got Killian untacked and dumped another bucket over him because he was super hot and sweaty.  (He actually burned some calories!)

I came in and got some ice to ice her leg with, but once I got out there found I had no clue where I should ice simply because there was no heat or swelling. So I just sort of moved it up and down her leg.  I also gave her a dose of Banamine. She was standing there with her left leg propped forward, and while she would put weight on it to move herself around, it never lasted long.

TC came up with a pretty good idea. He suggested to use our laser thermometer to check different parts of her body to see if I could pinpoint any hot spots.   Her feet were 102, her legs were both at about 99-100, her knee was the same.  Moving up to her shoulder she varied from 98-104.  It was much too fluctuant to count anything as accurate.   So much for great ideas.  This is one of those times when thermal imaging probably would have been handy.

TC told me this morning that last night she seemed to be doing much better.  I am headed out now to see for myself.  I just cannot figure out what is going on with this horse, this was not her normal foot sore issues. This was an injury but all we were doing was walking, and why is there no heat?  If it is going to be like this for the rest of her life, I don't really have big hopes for her future.

I guess if I am going to break one of my horses, its best that it is the one that was already broken.  But it sure did take all those happy visions I was having just 15 minutes earlier and shatter them into a million little pieces.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Teenagers! (I love them)

So, as I posted yesterday, my grandson's girlfriend came out to ride.  Shea has a few horses of her own, does barrel racing and Western Pleasure as well.  She has not been doing much riding of her own horses for a couple of different reasons.  Her WP horse came up lame (Navicular) and they have been rehabing him for 6 months.   She had a bad bad wreck on her barrel horse last August, and her horse has not been "right" ever since, so they are working through that as well.  (BEC I wish you were still in town because she could sure use some of your insight on that subject)

Since she has been horseless for the most part, is out of school, and has a lot more free time on her hands I went ahead and invited her to come and ride Melody.  I knew that I was taking a small risk, having never seen her ride, but I have seen pictures of her riding, and so I knew that she had at least some experience.  

As it turned out I had nothing to worry about.  As I watched her groom Melly and get her saddled it was clear that I was watching a girl who was comfortable and confident around horses.  If she had a question, she asked, but they were good questions (not that any question is bad) and really more about my preference than about not knowing.  There was never the deer in the headlights look that I got from the last young lady who came out to ride. 

I saddled Trax and we headed to the arena together. Of course I had to do my lunge routine, but I knew  Melody does not require such things, so I told her to mount up and just ride at a walk around the arena to let Melody get re-acclimated to the goats and such. 

Here she is getting to know her mount.
Don't they look fabulous together?

I am quite sure the Melody loves this girl too, as she only weighs like 90 lbs soaking wet.  Not to mention the fact that she has a great seat, pretty soft hands, and Melly likes anyone who recognizes her princess status! 

After that it was mostly just riding around, experimenting with cues, and getting a feel for "her" horse.  I loved that I didn't have to watch her constantly or supervise what she was doing.  She actually rides better than I do I think, and I could tell she was having a great time. 

Melly was so good for her, never giving her a lick of trouble, and being very patient while Shea figured out her cues. Shea understands collection and moving off the leg very well, so that was a plus as well. 

I believe I was showing her how to cue the spin
Remember the last time I rode Melody I said that she had crow hopped on me? Well I know now that it was not a crow hop at all.  After both horses were sufficiently warmed up I asked Shea if she wanted to do a reining pattern. I have one memorized and it is an easy one so I walked her through it, and then as she rode the pattern I called out each step.  The first time she got a little confused, but then Trax and I went so she could get a good visual.  Then she went again. This time she had it down and while I still called out to her, she really didn't need me too. I also focused on things like "Bigger circle is fast, go ahead and let her slow her down...keep her going...get ready for your stop...etc etc etc.  At one point during her second set of big circles I saw Melly give a little .... not a hop....but more like she had a hitch in her giddyup.  I'm not sure how to explain, but Shea felt it too.  It looked almost like her hip got stuck or something but that isn't really accurate either.   However now that I have seen it I know it wasn't any kind of "I'm being bad" thing. It was more of a, "Ouch that kind of hurt for a second" move.  So very soon she will get her chiro work.

Riding while talking
Oh to be that skinny again! 

Another really cool thing that happened during this ride was Trax....he did not 1, but 2 flying lead changes practically on his own.   The first one came out of no where and I was not expecting it. The second one was in our first round at the pattern. The second time we did the pattern though I totally threw him off on the lead change and it took us half our circle to get it.  But dang I was excited!

I have to admit that I showed off just a little, and did a few trail obstacles on him for her.  It was pretty cool to see her jaw drop as he slid like butter across the L  It was quite pretty even if I do say so myself.

The last thing we did before we called it a night was my usual side pass left, side pass right.  I did Trax, she watched me, and then she mimicked and why yes, Princess Melly is smooth like butter too.  Now if I can just get her to do it over a pole!

Shea is excited to come back and ride her again, and I am excited to let her.  We had a great time, our horses did really well, and I would even be willing to let her ride Melly in a show if she wanted.   But for now it was just nice to have someone who loves to ride, who knows how to ride, to ride with.

In other news, I am looking into putting together a Mike Major horsemanship clinic.  It started as a simple comment of facebook, "When are you coming to AZ" and has turned into me looking for a venue, and rounding up participants.  I've never done this sort of thing before and it may turn out that I don't have what it takes to pull it together, but I'm sure going to give it my best shot.   There is a lot that goes into it, as many of you already know. And while it isn't near as much work as putting on a show, I'm so afraid I will neglect something important.

Tomorrow I hope to get Big Red under the saddle. He is being a big fat turd lately, and I really think he needs some time in the desert.....alot!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Its All About the Shoulders

A came over again this morning with a great idea for Princess Mellypalouza.   Instead of having her stop over the logs which freak her out if her feet touch them, lets start with something a little easier to handle.

Something like a spray painted line.

Pure genius I say.

Before we did that I wanted to establish a little more control so we did things like asking her to stand in the gate, lunged her on a long line.  Moved her hind end, and attempted to side pass her from the ground.

With some serious physical pushing I almost got a step or two with that side passing, but there was not any real licking or chewing, just tight lips and "I only did this because you slapped me on the neck."  It wasn't the control I was looking for, but when she gave me a step or two in each direction, I went ahead and stopped there.

Then A sprayed the lines and I worked on driving her over the lines.

Anyone who knows their ground work is probably guessing that our success was limited.   I would drive her over and she would just barely go over the end of the line, if at all, because she kept falling in on me.    She was able to do so even though I was trying to use my energy to push her back towards the fence.   There is a reason for this, which I will get to in a minute.

I went back to leading her over the lines but she just jumped around them. If I tried to stay beside her she just ran me over.  I wish I could say I was surprised but I wasn't.

I was starting to have flashbacks of a certain paint horse I gave away.  A certain paint mare that was very very dominant, and although I was eventually able to gain more control over that mares feet than anyone ever had, it was a long long haul for sure.

I moved to the outside of the fence and relatively quickly we had her walking over the painted lines without rushing.  I was happy with that, but I knew we were not done for the day.

Suddenly all the things that Jay had taught me about ground work was coming back.

"Horses dominate with their shoulder:

"If you cannot control that shoulder you've got nothing."

"Draw the imaginary line of your bubble and don't let her cross it unless you invite her in."

So I went in and dug deep into my memory banks and tried to remember exactly what we had done first in that situation.

I started with the hind end.  I asked her to disengage the hind end quickly and smoothly without just trying to keep me in her eye.  She did really well with that.  I actually wasn't positive that she did, but A was watching and said that she kept her body in position the entire time, so that was good.

Then I used my lead line and asked her to move her front end across. She just stood there.  Then I suggested by asking with my lead and raising my stick up by her neck. She did not move.  So I insisted by giving her a very small smack on the side of the neck.  She stepped across, I released my pressure and she started licking and chewing.    Good Girl!

We repeated the other direction and it was the exact same thing. It took me insisting to get the result I wanted.  But she licked and chewed when it was done.

I switched again. This time I asked and she gave...both ways.  I was very happy with that. We did it a few more times.

So then I went back to her side and asked for that side pass again.  I use my hand by her eye and my other hand with my stick, but without using the stick to touch her, and asked her to step away. While I can get that hind end to move pretty easily, her front feet were planted like the roots of an oak tree.

I suggested by getting a little stronger with my energy. She gave me nothing.

I insisted by smacking her on the neck with my left hand and smacking the side of her belly with my stick.  She gave me nothing.

I smacked harder, she gave me nothing.

I did it again even harder, and finally she took a step.

Her lips were clamped down like the jaws of death.

Clearly she was only giving because I pushed her.

We did it again, and again, until she finally gave me one little attempt without me having to tough her.

Then I tried the other side, it was like the repeat performance, and while she did finally relent, her mouth never softened, and it was never easy.

I turned to A and told her, "There it is, the root of the entire problem with her.  I don't have good control  of her shoulder.  In fact I have almost no control of her shoulder."

She said that she saw it too.

As we were talking, Miss Melody came and stood right on top of me.

While it is easy to say, "Aw look how sweet she is."  I am recognizing now that she is not being friendly, she is dominating me.   It is so easy to fall into that, "Awwww" mentality too, because when she does it, she is so sweet about it....until of course we get into an argument, then she uses every bit of that dominance backed by the extra thousand pounds she has on me to get her way.

So I used something that Jay had taught me long ago, but I had forgotten about until A showed me again the other day.  Use your energy to back her up.

You use the lead line to transmit the energy.  Wiggle the lead equals "ask"  Of course you also use your shoulders and a voice command (It took me a minute to remember that part of it).  If they don't respond you get bigger with your "suggestion", if they still don't respond you pop that lead rope until they do.  The minute they take a step back, you release. That is the key (which I know most of my readers already know)  If you don't release then all you are teaching the wrong concept.

So we working on this.  This exercise did more for us than anything else we have worked on.  It took several tries, but the minute I was able to get her to take a step back by just suggesting, we called it a day.  When we were done, her head was low, her eye was soft, she was the epitome of, "I give but I don't give up."

When we left the round pen I asked her to stand quietly in the gate, and she did it like the grown up girl that she is.  I petted her and loved on her right there and she loved every minute of it.

She is learning the "I can touch you, but you can't touch me" concept.

Then she got to back out to pasture with her buddy Trax.

So here are my thoughts on Melody.  Melody is a good girl who has spent the last 7 years being handled by a young girl.  This girl probably let her get away with a lot.  It all goes right back to the concept of "Be the leader, or get out of the way."  She did not have a leader so she became the leader. So now she came here and expects it to be the same way.  However, as I establish to her, than I am in fact the leader, she is starting to trust me more when I say, "Hey go ahead and stand in this gate. I know it bothers you but I promise I will keep you safe."    I think this is going to be huge in teaching her to deal with trail obstacles, and life in general. Once she trusts me, she will be more willing....that is the plan anyway.  It seems like a good plan right now, of course with me, all plans are subject to change on a minute by minute basis.

Tonight, one of my grandsons girlfriends, who does barrels and western pleasure with her horses, is coming out to ride with me. I told her I'd let her ride my "Show horse" for a while if she wanted.  I have seen her ride, I know she can handle it.  I will ride Trax.  It will be fun to have some one to ride with.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Of True Bikers and Old Friends Now Gone

Warning: This post has nothing to do about horses, or dogs, or even my life as it is today. This is a story about my past, about who I was and few of the  people who touched my life.  It may not paint the best picture of me, but I won't apologize for who I was because it took being that person to become the person I am today.  It was never that I was a bad person....I was just different, and that is still true today.  So if you are interested or have nothing better to on.  I was going to post pictures but I cannot find them.

About 30 years ago, give or take a year or two, I went on a motorcycle run  in Gallinas Canyon NM.   I was with my very abusive ex-husband who I desperately wanted to get away from (but that is a different story).  Because I was with him I was not allowed to talk to anyone or enjoy myself. I only was allowed to wait on him and sit quietly by his side.

While watching all the festivities, my attention was drawn by one particular person.  He reminded me of some sort of fact he looked very much like the Minnesota Viking football Mascot. He was thin and wirey, longish blond hair, long mustache, that went down both sides of his face.   He was wild and crazy and obviously enjoying himself very much.  His bike was not fancy but it was cool, and had long leather streamers hanging from the handle bars.  Those streamers are pretty common now, but he was the first person I had ever seen with those on his bike.

The thing I remember most about him was the slow race.  Basically everyone would line up and try to go as slow as they could with out touching the ground with their feet.  But when ever they said "Go" , Viking guy would take off as fast as he could and do a big burn out kicking up all kinds of dust.  They restarted the race for him 3 times, and I remember the last time, the gal who was announcing said, "This is a slow race a$$h*!e"   He laughed and laughed and they finally kicked him out of the race.  I wondered what it would be like to be that carefree and happy.

I never spoke to this person, never knew his name, and never ever thought I would see him again, and really was not too awful concerned about ti.

About 6 months later I could no longer take the abuse and made a run for it.  I was never going back and that was final (I never did either- not willingly anyway, being kidnapped doesn't count)   I ended up in Apache Junction, and was looking for a job...any job.  I had a little experience bar tending so I pulled into a bar called The Maverick.  I needed to pee, was thirsty, and figured I'd see if I could get a job.

As I pulled into the parking lot my jaw dropped.  There in the parking lot of this bar, which I had never been to was a big grey 4WD International pick up. Hooked behind was a little travel trailer, and in the back of the pick up was a Harley. A black Harley with long leather streamers hanging from the bars.   I thought, "It has to be a different bike."

I walked into the dimly lit, low budget, not so nice smelling beer bar.  I waited for my eyes to adjust and glanced around the room, taking stock of who I was dealing with.  An old woman sat at one end of the bar with a beer in one hand, and a cigarette burning in the other.  There were several other less than savory looking characters bellied up to the bar, but there over to the left...there he was.  Viking Guy.

I went up to the bar asked for a coke, and then asked if they might be hiring for a bartender.  As it turns out the old woman was the owner, and she hired me on the spot.  Oddly enough, one of their other bartenders had just quit the day before.

After I finished my coke I walked up to Viking Guy and asked him, "Um Excuse me, but weren't you at the run in NM a few months back?"

He laughed that laugh, "Ha ha,  Ya I was there!"

In unison we both said, "Slow down a$$h*!e, its a slow race!!!"

We talked for a minute and then I said I needed to go and he grabbed my arm and said, "Wait, lemme smell ya."

I thought, "What the heck????"

He proceeded to sniff me up and down like an animal, which I have to admit, was weird yet arousing at the same time.

I guess I passed the smell test, because he then said, "I"m Harpo.  Who are you?"  I told him my nick name (Sam) and then he said, "You will be special to me."

"Um Okay."  But kind of felt the same way.  After all, he was special to me before I ever met him.

Thus began a long and wonderful on again off again relationship.  Harpo was one of those true free spirits.  He committed to no one or nothing except his bike.  He was a nomad,  a freak,  a loyal friend, and lover.  If we saw each other, our relationship was on, when we parted ways, our relationship was off. If we ran into each other and one of us happened to be with someone else that day, there was never hurt feelings or jealousy.   One day he was at the bar with another gal and I came in.  He called me over, and gave me a huge hug and a kiss. To the other gal he said, "Linda, this is my wife."   I laughed my butt off.  From that day forward I was known to everyone as his wife.  I think that is what he did to make sure no one else tried to lay claim to him or get to serious. I was the only woman he had ever met who accepted him for who he was and loved him for being just that...a biker in the true sense of the word.  He lived to ride and rode to live.  That was it plain and simple.

Before I go on with my story I want to interject something.  One of the most watched shows on Television right now is Sons of Anarchy.  I hate that show with a passion.   It has taken the biker persona and turned it into everything it was never meant to be.  The bikers I grew up knowing and loving would never do the awful things that are done on that show.  They were kind and caring people who had a great sense of adventure, crime was not something they accepted, nor was drug dealing, murder or any of that.  Which isn't to say they didn't partake of illegal substances on occasion, but it was not their main goal in life.  They were good people who lived by their own set of right and wrong, we did not call the police, and we did not do wrong to our fellow man. We lived our lives and let others live theirs.

Anyway, back to my story.  My 3rd day working at that same bar another person came in and sat down in front of me.  He ordered beer and introduced himself as Sparky.  I told him my name and then he took my hand and said, "I am leaving for Canada in a week, will you come with me?"

I said, "Sure, why not."

We never did go, but Sparky and I were in love.  I mean deep deep love and we wanted to be together so badly, but it was not meant to be.  I wish I could find the words to accurately describe the relationship we had.  I start to put the words down and it sounds just like the relationship that Harpo and I had but it was nothing like it.  I think because Harpo and I knew that we had no intention of actually being together long term, but Sparky and I talked about it often. We wanted it, but life kept getting in the way.  I know that doesn't make sense to most people, but our lives were chaotic...mine especially, and I guess I was a bit of a nomad myself.

So was my relationship with two of my most favorite people in the world.  Harpo and Sparky were, of course, very good friends and so our little triangle tittered and tottered through the years, and on into the next decade. It bounce from one side to the other and back again and we were all perfectly fine with how things were.  Eventually though we grew further and further apart physically. Harpo went home to the mountain top of Basalt CO, I fell deeper into my quest for self destruction, and Sparky had children with someone else and tried desperately to settle down and be the man they wanted him to be.

But it never failed, when I least expected it, or when I would see something that would remind me of one of them, I would get a phone call out of the blue. I would answer the call and a gravely voice would be on the other end, "Hey Sam, do you know who this is?"

"Of course I know who it is, who else would it be?"

It was always Sparky, and usually had Harpo in tow, as he went to CO to visit often.  Married life didn't suit Sparky very well, especially with someone he didn't even like, much less love.

We would talk and laugh and catch up.  Once in a great while they would show up on my door step and although I was no longer a lover to either of them, I still loved them just as much as ever, and they loved me as well.  One time when Harpo came to town they spent 3 weeks trying to find me.  Eventually they did and we spent the entire day laughing our butts off about the silly things we did when we were young.

One day I got one of those phone calls and it was Sparky once again, this time he was alone.  He told me that Harpo had cancer and it was bad.  Very bad.  There was nothing they could except dose him up on pain pills.  By now I had started rebuilding my life, and running off to CO, was no longer an option.  It hurt my heart to not be able to go to him, but Sparky assured me that he would let him know I wanted to come.

Several months went by and I got another call, it was Sparky again.  He had been in AZ and Harpo had called, he asked Sparky to come, he didn't sound good.  Sparky jumped on his bike and was there in a day.  He stayed by Harpo's bedside, his closest friend, with him while he passed.  Sparky told me the last thing he said to him, "Go find my wife and tell her that I love her."

That was during the week before Memorial weekend. May 22nd to be exact.

I heard from Sparky a few more times after that, always the call out of the blue, "Hey Sam, do you know who this is?"  I didn't even go by my old nick name anymore, but to him I was always Sam, and I was okay with that.

2 years later, I remember that I was sleeping and was woken up by something consistently brushing my face.  I got up to shut the window, but the window was closed, nor was the fan on.  I thought to myself, "Well that was odd." But then went back to bed.

The next day I got a call from a number I had never seen before.  It was Sparky's brother Kenny.  Sparky had passed in the night from complications of heat exhaustion combined with a couple of beer.

It was May 22nd to be exact.

So ended the relationship with two of my most favorite people to ever touch my life.  I will never forget the times I spent with these two special guys who showed me how to be free spirit, and who showed me what it means to love unconditionally, to love someone for exactly who they are.

I will always believe that it was Sparky touching my face as I slept that night.

Throughout the years that we spent together, bouncing in and out of each others lives our drink of choice was 90 weight peppermint schnapps.  (90 proof)  We called it chasing the spider.  The spider being the last little bit at the bottom of the bottle which seems to grow legs like a spider.

If you need me this weekend, I'll be chasing the spider.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I deleted my last post, I may put it back after I decide if I am sharing too much info about my self. Plus if I decide to repost I will add pics of the two people I was posting about.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Little Help From My Friends

Yesterday I went out and worked on Sassy's front hooves.  I wanted to cut some of the over grown bar out and just do a little maintenance.  Sassy being the big helper that she is, and who obviously must have heard me talk about wanting to get more exercise, felt that she could best assist me by leaning all of her weight on me as I attempted to hold up her foot.

Such a good girl!!!  (insert sarcasm here)

I found that my economy hoof stand does not go down low enough to use the cradle on her so I was back to doing it the old fashioned way.  Suffice to say that my legs and butt are still pretty sore.  Clearly I need to do that more often.

I ended up taking her heels down some, and trying to cut away bar, but I just could not get in there with my tools.  My tools are crap, plain and simple.  I had even flooded her pen to soften her feet a little bit, and it did help some, but I am just going to have to save up the money for some good nippers.

When it was all said and done, sweat was running in my eyes, she was fed up and I was not happy with my job.  It was obvious to me that her toes were too long and I was afraid I had taken off too much heel.  Unfortunately it was J-O-B time so I had to end there.  I decided it was time to call in reinforcements.

On my way to work I called my friend A, from down the road and around the corner.  I wanted to see if she saw what I saw.

So this morning she came, and yes...toes were too long, heels weren't bad but one side was a little high.  She brought in her good tools, and promptly went to work explaining as she went about what she was doing, and why and how.   As she worked Sassy, again being the best helper she could, kept trying to pull things out of A's jean pockets.   When she wasn't doing that, she was fluffing our hair for us, adjusting our shirt collars, just generally being a nosy nancy.  Sassy is such a goof ball.

When we she was all done, Sassy yawn, and licked and chewed and stuck her nose up and made it very clear to us that she was quite happy with her new pedicure.

After that we stood there talking a little about different things and about Princess Melly, and A says, "Do you have some time to work with her right now?"


So we took her to the round pen.  I removed the poles and we just kind of moved her around some.  It was as if she had never been in a round pen in her life.

My fault.  I made that happen last week.  I lost control of her, and she remembers it well. Plus our "yard guy" was out there with the Telehandler moving stuff around which totally distracts a flighty pallousy.   She had no intention of paying attention to either one of us.  I stepped out of the way and A went in and moved her around, gained some control, and then we put the lead rope back on her.  We then put the poles back up. A stood on the outside of the round pen with the lead rope in her hand.  I acted as the "energy" from the inside.  We did not once use the training stick/whip which is broken anyway.   From her position outside and mine inside we were able to encourage Melly to go over the poles, then we added a second pole and she did one right after the other.

If her feet touch the poles it freaks her out.  But back and forth we went until she would do it without bolting.  Sometimes she would get a little too wound up over it, and we had to slow her back down, but she finally did each time.  Then we added a third pole, and she went over all three.

Lots of praise and petting.

After that we did a little more plain round pen work and gained a little more control of those body parts.  Melly has a tendency to want to get into your space, which isn't so bad when she is being miss calm. When she is being  little miss Holy crap everything is scary, then it can be a little un-nerving.  So we worked on that as well.

I can't remember now when we found the perfect stopping point, but it was at a good place, and we both agreed that she had done well. Then I asked her to walk through the gate without bolting.  I really wanted her to stop and stand in the gate. She just isn't ready for that yet.  However, she is going to have to soon.  She did go through with out bolting though so I accepted that for now.

I have not ridden Melody off the property yet, and certainly not down the road.  She is a very broke horse, but moving vehicles really get a big reaction out of her, so I have decided that she can start going for walks with Sassy and I.  I want to her to be much more used to them before I try to ride her down pavement.  You can call me chicken if you want, I personally just don't bounce like I used to so like to take a few more precautions.

Another thing that A suggested which I will take her up on, is to bring her over to her property for some exposure.   She has a very cool little natural trail section made up with hills, ravines, water, trees, and other such things that a person would experience in the desert.  I was told that Melly was used as a trail horse for an elderly woman, but I have to wonder where these trails were and how they got too them with out ever seeing a car, or a stick on the ground, or any of the other things that Melly is afraid of.

Of course we will continue with our riding as well, but on days when I have less time, a walk down the road will do her wonders I think...Sassy too.

I just got a text too, A has an idea she wants to try tomorrow, so I am curious to see what it is. She is so good at thinking outside the box when it comes to training.   I am most fortunate to have someone so close, with so much experience, who has the time and the willingness to come and help when I get stuck.

I am hoping to try out the cutting saddle on Killian this fact I plan on getting everyone ridden this weekend, preferably more than once!

I hope everyone has a safe and relaxing weekend.

Monday, May 19, 2014


It is beyond slow at work today, so I decided to go ahead and post a quick update on Melody.  Well actually I guess it will be more of a weekend update, however probably not as funny as the "Weekend Update" from Saturday Night Live.

I asked TC not to let me sleep late Saturday, and he didn't so I was able to get up early and get my pens mostly cleaned, water buckets scrubbed, and a few other things that needed done.  There was a big yard sale in our neighborhood that I wanted to check out. Our neighborhood is all 3-10 acre ranchettes, and is the oldest neighborhood in all of San Tan Valley, so as a general rule, if there is a yard sale in our hood, Its one I want to go to.  We have a neighborhood email that we all subscribe too, so if anyone has anything for sale, it goes out on the email, and that is how I knew it was coming up.

We headed down the road I knew it was on, and was both pleasantly surprised and also a bit dismayed when I saw exactly where it was.  This lady, who we will call N, has had a few estate sales and yard sales since her husband passed away.  He had a huge shop full of stuff, and she has been cleaning it out for months.  When she had her estate sale, it cost us several hundred dollars.  Not to mention, we also bought her water truck.  So although we were happy because we knew there would be good stuff, we were also dismayed because we knew we were going to be spending money.

When she saw us pull up, she laughed and said, "Oh here comes my easy mark!"  It was all in fun, she actually sells stuff at very fair prices, and has a lot of stuff we have needed. This time was no different, although we actually got away a little cheaper than usual.   However I did see a cutting saddle in the back, along with some other tack.  I decided to pass on the other tack but the saddle was in fair shape, and a good size for me.  However with no makers mark, and a small tear in a stirrup fender I was able to talk her down to half price. 200 bucks!  It was a super good deal, and TC found some stuff he needed as well.  Then I saw a metal hay feeder hanging on the fence, got it for 25 bucks!   At the very last minute we also saw a bunch of corral gates in the back.  To buy them new would have been at least 75.00 a piece.  We got them for 12 dollars each.  I have really been needing those gates. As some of you may recall I have a bad habit of smashing  remodeling our gates with the tractor.  Plus the decision has been made to divide my big pens and bring in a few boarders, so I will need gates for my new pens as well.

Anyway, I was pretty happy with the score, we managed to get lots of stuff done Saturday, without wearing ourselves out, and then that night TC and I went to the local mexican food joint where I got to have my favorite spinach enchiladas.

Sunday morning I got up early again and pulled Princess Melody out for some riding.  I wanted to try to new saddle out on her.  The last saddle I had on trial went back.  This one has a 7" gullet, and it seems that even though she is not a wide horse, all my horses do well in a wider gullet.  My Circle Y show saddle is also 7" wide and I can use it on any horse I have.

Anyway, so I tacked her up, made all the adjustments, and for the most part was happy with how it fit except that one side seemed to be a little tighter on her right shoulder than her left.  It wasn't terribly so, though, so I decided to go ahead and give it a whirl.   It is a super comfy saddle, I quite enjoyed the way it felt as far as leg position and the ability to sit my stops.  However I noticed that she seemed to be a bit reluctant to lope to the right and even kind of sort of crow hopped on me once.  I don't know yet if it is saddle related or not, it could have also been that we were coming close to the poles on the ground and she thought that I was going to try and make her go over. However I did not ask her to go over any poles.  I did ask her to walk through the poles when I was done riding, and she went through just fine.  Only hesitated once for a second and then walked through normally, so that was good.

When I say she crow hopped, I do mean kind of...I really couldn't even tell for sure if that is what it was. Sometimes when I ask for the lead change if I don't get it right, it feels that way too.  So it is possible also that my leg slipped and she thought I was asking for a lead change. I really don't know. I don't want to give the impression that she was trying to be bad, I really think she was just trying to say, "Hey I don't like this." but I still am unclear as to what "this" is.

At the end of our very uneventful ride, I looked up towards our drive way and a scenario popped into my head.  Recently we added chain link to the front of our property and long rolling gates. These gates roll on a track which is laid in cement which crosses our drive way.  It is very similar to a pole laying on the ground.  Eventually I am going to want to ride this horse out the drive and down the road. (as soon as I can find someone to ride out with me)  The likely hood of getting her to step over that track was pretty slim, and so I decided to see what would happen.

I walked her to the gate and went across myself like it was no big deal. She, of course stopped dead in her tracks. She sniffed and shuffled and sniffed some more.  Simon came out to help.  I decided to do the one thing I know is wrong, and bribe her with food.  So I went to grab some grain.  Before I could make it back Simon had her out in the road, she went right over for him.....go figure!

Still I wanted to reward her for being so brave so I gave her a snack. Then I crossed back over.  Princess Mellypalouza will sell out her entire kingdom for food.  Suddenly crossing things on the ground became the greatest thing ever and she couldn't wait to get to me....and have a snack  However, since I do learn...albeit a tad slowly, I did not run straight to the round pen with her.  I ended our lesson there, with her being very happy about crossing things. We will revisit the actual poles on another day, and I will also start by burying them a little deeper, so it is more like that gate.

I know that using food to bribe a horse to do something is the wrong way to do it.  It generally doesn't stick the minute you take the food away.  In my mind I was not bribing her as much as I was rewarding her.  I never held the bucket out and said, "Come and get the yummy grain".  But when she chose to cross I did give her a little handful.  My goal was to undo her previous bad memory with a good memory, that is all.  I will still go back to my exercises to get better control of her feet, and then go back to the actual pole.

I will say that I am starting to get a feel for her, I find that I am more and more comfortable on her each time we ride (duh) and I have to laugh at all of her little expressions, her ears are in constant motion.  I sure do like the way she gets up and moves those feet when I ask her too.  (flag work)  It is the one thing I have never been able to get Trax to do.

Speaking of Trax, I pulled him out once Melly had her bath.  His feet had not been touched since the trim clinic son I worked on them a bit.  Even with my new stand, trimming is hard hard work!  But Trax, was pretty tolerant of me and stood very still while I did my best to get his heels even, and bring his toes back a little.  Actually I am pretty happy with how his feet are starting to look. They don't look near as different as they used too.

It was starting to get pretty hot by then so I didn't plan on working him very hard.  Mostly we just dinked around, worked on loping pretty circles, small slow ones, and large fast ones, and then back to the slow ones.  He did really well.  we long trotted, and practiced our spins and roll backs.  He actually complete a full spin in both directions....more than once.  Now it is possible, once again, that he is still coke bottling a little, especially to the right, but it felt pretty good and I was really happy with him.

One time I decided to try and take a video of it, so I put the phone in my bra with just the top sticking out and asked him to spin again.  It was not a great video by any means.   His side passes are really coming along nicely. All in all it was a great ride and by time we were done, I could not have been happier with him.

As far as I am concerned he is still the coolest horse who has ever lived.

It is possible that I am a little bit prejudice!

Friday, May 16, 2014


Today was a hot one, and once again I did not get up early enough to beat the heat. But when I went out to fly spray everyone, Princess Melody was kind of being a little turd.

With that in mind I decided that she has probably been standing around too much and a little round pen work would do her some good.   Since we were going to do round pen work I decided go ahead and throw a pole on the ground for her to step over.

Seems simple enough, right?


At first she really balked at the pole and I gave her plenty of time to sniff it, and if she made any movement towards it I backed off and gave her the release.  Then I'd ask again.  She finally did go over and I backed off completely and let her go around the pen.  We did this a few times in one direction and then started all over again in the other.  The second direction, in her mind was no relation to the first, and it was as if she had never crossed the pole.

When she did finally cross the pole, it was by jumping it, rather than stepping over it.  Still, over was over, and I was just happy with that.

On about the 3rd trip around I said to her, "One more time over and we will call it a day."

She immediately slammed on her brakes and refused to go over it again.

I tried turning her the other direction.  I tired getting a little bigger with my energy. I tried smacking the ground with my stick and string. When I did that she bucked and kicked out in my direction.  I spanked her butt, and she got pissed and bucked and kicked even higher.

It was pretty much down hill from there.  Clearly if she feels she is cornered, she will kick her way out of where ever she is cornered at.   While she never actually tried to connect with me, those warning shots were loud and clear saying, "I don't like the pressure you are putting on me!"  Of course I never once let myself get close enough to where she could connect either.

At one point I thought that maybe if she had support from her friend Trax, she would maybe reconsider going over the pole just once.  So I left her be, and went and got him.  When I came back she was right on my heels wanting to be friends...silly horse.

I brought him in, and moved them both around the pen. He went over the poles several times, and each time she slammed on the brakes.  I tried several times without using too much pressure to coax her but it wasn't going to happen.

After a bit I looked over at Trax standing on the other side of the round pen.  I swear if that horse could talk he would have been saying, "OMG Mel, just go over the dang thing so we can get out of here!"

Then he walked over to her, nuzzled her a little bit, whispered in her ear, and then once again showed her how it was done.  I swear I was not driving him forward. He did this on his own.

She still refused.

By now it was 103 out, I was dripping in sweat, so was she and I knew I was going to have to leave for work soon.  I ended up putting them both away.

So what I accomplished today was teaching her that very bad behavior will in fact get her out of doing what I want her to do.

Tomorrow we will try a different approach.

Tomorrow I will do some exercises to regain control of her feet.  I will move her in ever direction imaginable.  Then we will also do lots of riding, and lots of control exercises from her back.  Then I will go back to the ground and we will try again.   Eventually I will get her to go over the pole again, and once I do I will stop there.

The big lesson I learned today is that when I am thinking "just one more" I need to not ask for "one more" because I have already asked for enough.  This is the first time this has happened to me.  Many times I have been trying to teach Trax something, and said, "one more time" only to have everything fall apart at that exact moment.

As Jay has always told me, "If your horse is gonna leave in 4, you stop at 3."

I also learned what Appy-tude is today, and yes Princess Mellypalouza is loaded with it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What I do when I am bored.

With all the new country songs and videos out these days there seems to be some confusion about what real country girls look like.  While the girls in the videos are cute and everyone sure seems to be having a great time, the truth is, the girls who dress like that most likely have never even been on a real horse.

Since I am bored I made up a short list of some the things I think guys should look for when trying to spot that real country girl or cowgirl.   So I give you my:

Top 10 ways to tell if that girl is a real country girl.

1. Her favorite shoes are her cowgirl boots, they are filthy, scuffed up, leave a trail of manure,  and probably have spurs attached.

2. Her entire schedule revolves around the feeding, care and riding, of her horses.

3. Her "Little white tank top" has green slobber stains on it.

4. While she may own some cute little shorts, they are not everyday attire because lets face it, you cannot stack bales of hay in shorts.

5.  She can toss a bale of hay further than you can.

6. She expects that if you try to pass yourself off as a cowboy, you had better be able to ride and rope at least as well as she does.

7. Her hands are more callused than yours

8.  She can back a horse trailer into the tiniest spot on the first try.

9. It is  not unusual for her to smell like fly spray instead of perfume.

And the very best way to tell if that girl is a real country girl......

10.  At that moment when things got hot and heavy, and you reached back and unclasped her bra....a handful of hay fell out of her bra and into your lap.

I'm sure there are lots of things I am forgetting.  If anyone wants to add to my list feel free to comment.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Best Part of Being a Grandma

Is when your Grand daughter is truly horse crazy.

Some of my grand daughters say they love horses, but when it came time to be around them, they held their noses because there was poop.  So they are more of admirers from afar I think.  However, little Catrina, who is only 6, thinks they smell perfect, and jumped in with both feet this morning to help with chores.  Not just the fun chores, but the dog poop, the horse poop, the feeding, or what ever needed to be done.  Gotta love those horse crazy girls.   She was so excited when she got to lead Trax out to the pasture and he was a very good boy, watching her closely and keeping a safe distance so that no one got stepped on.  I wish I had gotten a picture of was so dang cute!

Since she was so helpful this morning, she got to go swimming in the pool and then she got to go for a ride.

  As always Big K did his most important job...taking care of the little ones.

Yes that is me (Granny) out there rockin the cutoffs with my Ariats....because I'm cool like that!

She did a great job with Killian, and eventually I even let her do the steering on her own. I'd love to get her down to my place a little more and really get her some experience so we could ride together in the big arena.

I really regret that we did not get to spend more time together as once again my job got in the way with my life.

Good Red Fun

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Never Ending Pajama Party

There is a facebook page called the Traveling Pajamas group.  It was started by myself and my "Ex-wife" (another story for another day) Jamie.  Jamie's sister sent her the pajamas for Christmas a few years ago.  Jamie opened the package and thought it was the best joke she had ever seen because the pj's were hideous. She called her sister, laughing her butt off, and told her how funny she was for coming up with such a clever joke.

I believe the response went something like this, " do you mean,so funny?  It wasn't supposed to be a joke, I bought a pair for myself just like them?  You don't like them?"

This of course made the joke even funnier, and since then the pajama's have been worn by many people around the globe.  If you put them on, you have to get your picture taken in them.  Some people have done so less than willingly, others can't wait to get them on to have their picture taken....and some like to up the ante and come up with something that has not been done yet.

Here are some of the pictures that have been taken so far

This is Jamie, my "Ex-wife" in Oregon

Logging pajamas

In the kiddie zone of the airport

My Daughter in law- Pin up pajamas

Jamie at a different airport

Everyone likes to join in

My grandson

Jamie and her sister (the one who bought the pajamas) in Mass

This is none other than Jalan Crossland and me. 

The latest in Prison Attire

Shawn Kelly, Jalan's bassist

This is Dugan- TC's most beloved dog who is no longer with us. 

Pajama snow man in Buffalo

FYI these were taken in May in Buffalo WY

Horse show attire!

Jamie looking sexy in her big tractor


This was a fabulous cut and paste job! 

Oh TC!!!!

There are no words for this
except these were taken in Georgia


Even Santa wants to get in on the action

Florence AZ

Don't ask

SOA aint got nuthin over my son! 

Those are just a small portion of the pics that have been taken of these pajamas.  But since I am one of those people who likes to "up the ante"  I knew it was time to call in reinforcements.  I needed to find someone with as good a sense of humor as myself and Jamie, someone who knows no fear, someone with a great sense of adventure. A wild child in the true sense of the word.

This required a special touch and I knew just who to enlist into the Pajama Ranks.....

Brown Eyed Cowgirl!  

When I told her the story and that it was time to up the ante, she was all for it.  After all, they have been around the block a few times, but they have yet to go to the rodeo.....or a barrel race. 

She was willing, heck almost excited, to wear them in a barrel run.  I was excited to see it, and other people who were there pretty much thought we were insane. While we are still debating that issue, Click here to watch the run. 

After her run, while I was watching the other gals I came up with another brilliant idea..

He was a great sport and the crowd had a great laugh

Then later in the day we headed to Globe for a little exploring.  We found some cool stores and a gorgeous old church.  And then we saw this....

Talk about the perfect photo op!!!!!

But then BEC being who she is, had to up the ante again.  This is why I love this woman!  

Seriously Guys!  I've watched it 20 times and I still laugh.  Talk about the coolest of cool!  

After that we went back to the rodeo, and my biggest regret was that I forgot the pajamas in the room because I know we could have got the rodeo clown to wear them.  Plus there were probably several other missed shots as well.  

Oh well, such is life, and I'm sure there will be more to show soon, as Jamie will be here on the 30th of May.  

Here are a couple of other pictures of the rodeo. 

I fell in love with this big old jug head. 

I wish I had had my good camera for this instead of my cell. 
Something I found out yesterday is that a very good friend of mine was sitting right nest to us at the rodeo, but we haven't seen each other in 20 years so we didn't recognize each other.  Craziness I say! 

So now we are back home and back to work and my crazy friend is headed home in the morning.  It has been a great winter hanging out with her, and I will miss her. But we are already planning out next year, and I, for one, cannot wait.  

In 2 days I get to visit with my grand daughter who I have not seen in a year, and in June I get to fly home to WY to see my littlest grandson who is a year old now.   In the mean time I need to get to riding, and training, and conditioning.  

Starting tomorrow!