Thursday, February 27, 2014

And the light bulb comes on.....

I was just responding to a comment from Crystal about whether or not I had ever tracked on cow on Trax.  As I typed out the words trying to explain what the problem is, I suddenly realized what the problem really is.

It is awfully bright in here right now, what with all this light shining between my ears.

Trax does better if we do things slow....but the minute I ask for any speed he looses it.

This is not in reference to loping circles or forward movement. We can do that just fine.

I'm referring to those stop, roll back, move out- follow the flag moves.  These are things you need to have solid if you plan on boxing your cow in stock horse or Ranch Versatility and getting any kind of decent score.

Trax was taught to follow the cow, get the cow into "perfect roping position" and then to turn his hip and face that cow.

He can do that.  He actually does it really well.  He will follow and track and keep the cow from getting so far way you cannot rope it.  He will turn it back around if he thinks that is what you want, but he doesn't do it on his hind end, he does it on the he was taught.

That's okay Buddy, you are doing the best you can, right now.

So now I am teaching him something different.  I'm not the best teacher in the world.  I am impatient.  I want him to get it soon.

Two days ago I was listening to a friend explain to me about the mechanics of barrel racing, and about teaching young horses how to run the pattern properly.  She told me what the hardest part of the whole process for the horses to learn is.  And she explained how, with the young horse she is currently working with, she is giving him all the time he needs to feel completely solid in "that one spot" before she ever really pushes for any speed.  This was not a "how too" session, this was a simple telling of a story of her own journey with her own horses.

I was so busy listening, I forgot to hear what she was saying.

Take it slow until the horse is comfortable, then ask for more speed.

I am reminded once again of Michael Johnson and his horse Shine.  The one thing he stressed so many times in his story and in our emails back and forth was time.

It takes as long as it takes, he says.

Michael worked Shine on those slow cows (roping) forever.  He tried bringing in faster cows much earlier than his horse was ready and his horse fell apart.  He had to go back to the dairy queens.  Every so often he would try one fast one.  Not ten, just one.  And if his horse wasn't ready he would let the fast cow go down to the catch pen, and never even throw his loop.

Healing Shine is also not a "how too" book. It is a story of a man and his journey with his horses, and I have listened to it many times, and I have heard his words. Some of them sank in, but obviously not deep enough.

It takes as long as it takes, and my horse isn't ready.  He is just learning what "move the shoulder" means.  I have got to quit putting this horse on a deadline!

I have another clinic in April, and I will keep practicing and trying to get my horse solid on those basics.  When that day comes I will ride the horse I have, not the horse I think Mr. Pieper wants to see.

Just for the record that doesn't mean that I won't occasionally ask for a little more energy, but I will give him the time he needs to be solid.

This is true with the competitive trail also- foot falls, taking it slow, it is all about being a better teacher.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A New Day

Today is a new day and I am over my whine fest.  And just for the record, the next time I have a "whine-fest" copious amounts of actual wine will be involved just to make it a little more interesting!  Nothing more boring and depressing than a whine fest without wine.

With a little time to examine where my sadness was coming from and a nice long talk with a new old friend, I was able to recognize some things.

It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter if I can or cannot compete in stock horse stuff.

It doesn't matter if Sassy is never anything more than a trail horse. (but there is still a small chance she can do more)

It doesn't matter that I cannot afford (right now) to go and buy the horse of my dreams who does sliding stops and fancy spins.

 None of it really matters.

What matters is that I have what I have always wanted...horses in my yard.

What matters is that I am able to do the very best I can for these horses.

What matters is that I am grateful to have them in my life and trail riding IS enough if that is all there is.

What matters is that for the most part, these horses are healthy and really only have typical things that all horses go through.  (Well maybe not Sassy, but there is still hope for her- I just have to be patient)

I have begun to notice a distinct fault in myself in the last few years, and I am not enjoying it at all.

The fault is that I am never happy with what I have.

Here are a couple of examples.

TC bought me a jeep for my birthday, that I pointed out and said I wanted.  After I got it, I was not happy with it (gas mileage and handling) and ended up selling it.

After that I bought my Envoy, which I loved...for about a month. Now I hate it and I want to get rid of it.  (mileage and its "not me"- how stupid is that?)

I want a small pick up, but I know that once I get it I will get tired of it and want a something different.  I need something that gets super good gas mileage, but I hate anything that sits low and since VW has not made a compact diesel pick up yet, I knows that I will not be happy with anything.

I have 3 horses but always feel like I need a better one.

I have a great house...nope wait...scratch that one, I love our place and would not trade it for the world.


I always need better clothes, more antiques, a different job (or no job but still the income would be better), a different hair color, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff.

Lets put things into perspective.

2003 was the year that I was homeless, I had the clothes on my back and 10 dollars in my pocket, no vehicle, and my kids had been taken from me.  So in eleven years I went from that to having my kids back with me, and pretty much everything else I was afraid to dream of.  

I think a little gratitude is in order here.

This morning I went out to mix up the morning "soup" for my equine buddies.  They were all there happy to see me, each one greeting me in their own special way. It made my heart smile.

That is what matters.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A lot to process

First visit with the chiro went well....I guess, I mean I have nothing to compare it too, so it is hard to say for sure.

There was a lot of information passed back and forth and I'm still sort of reeling from it all.

In a nutshell, Trax got a lot of work done on him, and is on a treatment plan, which will last a few months and then will be on an as needed basis.  He does need dental work done which will happen in a couple of weeks.  There was a ton of popping and cracking and he got a little reactive a few times, but for the most part was pretty darn good and only tried to kick her once.  In all fairness I did warn her about his touchy spot, and he didn't actually "kick" as much as he warned her that he was thinking about it.  On the other hand by time she was done with him, he was much less reactive about being touched there and was ready for a nap.

I had to laugh at the number of times she had to tell me to breathe so that he would too.  Once I did, then in a few seconds he would and she was able to go back to business at hand.   Apparently Trax and I are a little bit connected.

Killian got an exam but no work done today.  He is very stiff in his hocks and in a lot of pain in his back and hind end. She says it is arthritis in his hocks and has urged me to put him on some joint supplements.  He did not get done because we ran out of time, but he will get his chance next time around.  He also needs a little bit of dental work done but not as much as Trax.

Sassy was so foot sore today after her trim the other day that she got nothing more than a look over.  She also needs dental work, nothing major but it is enough to warrant the job.  I find myself wanting to blame the trimmer for her being so dang sore, but I was there when she was trimming. She took off sooo little. In fact I keep looking at that toe callus and want to go in and file it down more.  I just might, but at the advice of a friend, will wait a few days.  For now I will just keep her in soft sand or in boots which seems to be bearable for her.

Both the boys will start the joint supplements in the morning, plus Trax is now on Magnesium, and they are all on a vitamin supplement at the urging of the trimmer who wanted to see a little more copper and zinc in their diets to help with the hoof growth.  Sassy is on a BL pain supplement as well.

Interestingly enough both the trimmer and the chiro have done or still do quite a bit of work for the Forever Home Donkey Rescue whose blog I follow.

Every time I go through a day like this...expensive, lots to fix, not knowing if I am doing the right things, wondering if anything is ever going to work....I find myself window shopping for horses again.  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have one that isn't lame, isn't crazy, isn't locked in his own mental dungeon, or who actually wanted to be a willing partner.  I realize that all horses need "stuff", even the good ones. But dang I seem to have more than my fair share.

I know I'm whining and lots of people have it worse....I'm over it now.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Job Options...For My Horse, Not For Me

So as I consider the possibility of extreme trail or competitive trail as a job for Trax, I thought that perhaps I should investigate just what sort of things he would need to learn.

The ACTHA has a great website with a page dedicate to what kind of obstacles  you should train your horse for.  A lot of it is man made stuff, and things a horse might encounter "out of the ordinary" on a trail ride in the real world.

The next thing I went to, and this is a pretty popular video on facebook and youtube is a speed event done on and indoor extreme course in Oregon.

I love this video and I really think that this is something that Trax could do super well at.  There are only 2 things on here that I can see that he would really struggle with.  The "suspension bridge" and then the water. But he has already gotten a gazillion times better on the water so that is just a matter of more exposure, and then the bridge...well heck, if I can teach my horse to do a rope gate (given his fear of ropes) I know I can teach that bridge.  Just have to figure out how to build one.

Here is another one That looks kind of fun. Trax would lose his mind over the golf carts though!

This one is a good example of the things a horse might not want to do But I love that the gal put in all the the little thought boxes of what she or her horse was thinking through it all.

So anyway, these are some of the things I am looking at to try with him.  I really love the one they have in Oregon, but at this point I don't think we have anything like that in AZ.

But maybe its time we did!

Getting to know my horse

This is going to be short because I'm feeling pretty peaked today and also it is harder to type from my phone. 

I am coming to recognize what is going to hurt Trax the most when it comes to doing RV. 

I think this is directly related to his past and although I'm not saying that we will never get past it. I can see where it is a huge problem for him right now. 

Trax 's automatic transmission is broken. 

In order for a horse to do well in these kind of competitions it is important to be able to shift gears smoothly.  It generally doesn't take a ton of energy to do the reining, in fact calm is better there. Calm is vital in the trail portion. But cow work requires energy. 

It requires a horse to be able to be quick on his feet and mentally ready to go as fast or slow as needed to keep up with and control the cow. 

Yesterday I rode Trax and we did a little work on our imaginary flag again. This time he was doing the same as before. Slogging along like we were pushing a Dairy Queen. 

So I thought I would do just like I did before and give him the tap on the shoulder to wake him up. But he knew what was coming this time and I barely even got my hand on the rein and he lost it!!! 

He took off at Mach 9 and nothing I did would slow him down for a bit. He did not buck but he ran pretty wildly for a while. I rode it out and tried to talk to him. 
Pretty soon his ears flicked back and he relaxed a little.  Then I ran him straight into the fence. He stood there with his sides heaving and his eyes as big as saucers. 

I turned him slowly and asked him to just walk until he would put his head down. 

Then we went back to the flag. I asked for the lope departure, the stop and the turn and we did it several times but I could feel him getting ready to snap again. So I quit before he did. 

Then We just long trotted those circles and figure eights again until he relaxed. 

So here is my problem. 

It is as if he is missing a gear in his tranny. Because he has first and second, but no third. 

He does have overdrive though.  And that play on words is more accurate than you may think. 

He can go slow and easy. He can pick it up enough to lope some nice circles, he can not pick it up enough to be quick on his feet but just jumps straight to race mode and spins wildly out of control. 

I believe there is a way to fix this. I just have to find it. I have no doubt that I will but it is going to take some time....and that is ok. I am not on a deadline with this horse. I've got all the time in the world. 

I do have some ideas which I discussed yesterday wth a friend. One of them being magnesium supplements to get him to be just a little less reactive and looser in those muscles.  

When I got Trax his rubber band was wound up as right as it could go. He only knew overdrive. So the fact that he has some lower gears now is great. Now I just need to find that gear that is missing. 

In other news there is a lot of up coming stuff right here in my neighborhood. Including the trim clinic, an extreme trail course, perhaps some lessons for simon on Killian and maybe me on sassy, and the chance to do some free cow work at my own pace. So I am very excited about that. 

The trimmer was here yesterday so I will have some pics to post soon. 

The chiro/ dental gal will be here tomorrow to asses all the ponies. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Back on Track with Trax

I only have a bout five minutes to replay my ride so bear with me as I speed type my thoughts down.  I really can speed type...about 75-80 words per minute if I am totally focused, but a whole heck of a lot of mistakes too.

Anyway, I decided that since they are pulling the insulation for the shop out of the semi trailer it was a good time to get in there and pull out my 4x4's and get my trail stuff set back up.  You can just imagine my dismay when I found there were only 3 left.  I did resist the urge to start screaming at the crew, but did find most of my logs....cut up in to nice neat little usuable pieces.

Unusable for me but perfect for them.

So I spent a good 20 minutes scouring the property for any all pieces of wood to be used in my arena.  I managed to round up a few more but ARGH!  Damn non horse people are driving me crazzzzzzeeee!

I also brought out my rope and dragging log, and my bridge.

I've decided that it is past time for Trax to remember that ropes are his friend...well that ropes are not his enemy.

Ground work was good, no crazy antics even when I threw the rope around his butt and made him move.  I was surprised. We dragged the log from the ground, and he was pretty good about it.  I was surprised again.

So we went to riding. He did much better today and I can see that we are making progress.  Real progress.  He is getting better about leading with his shoulder instead of dropping the shoulder.  I never truly understood that until recently.  It wasn't until he began to do it right that I could feel the difference.

Score one for the green horn!

Our stretchy trot is getting better, he is willing to hold it a little longer for me, and we trotted over poles quite a bit today.  We also trotted over the bridge which I have never asked him to do before.  I always let him walk but have decided that if he is used to trotting over it, then walking over it will always seem like cake to him.

He is also getting really good at turning on his hind and moving the shoulders across.  As long as we do it slowly.  So today I decided to work the imaginary flag.

I started at a trot and he was lollygagging along and starting to annoy me...


I reached down and smacked tapped him on the shoulder with one of my reins.


You'd have thunk I beat him with a baseball bat.

Or called his mother a plow horse or something.

He didn't come unglued but I could hear his thoughts plain as day.



"Well perhaps you should quit being lazy"

"I thought you loved me?"

"I do love you.  I love you enough to teach you to get busy and do your job, and quit acting like your plow horse mother. Besides I barely tapped you."

"I still felt it and my mother was NOT a plow horse!"

"Well good, now lets get a move on."

He remained indignant for a bit, I could tell because his nose was straight up in the air.

I didn't argue that particular point too much, but I did ask that he stop when asked, turn around quickly, and ride out quickly. This time we did it at a lope...about 6 times.  Lope 30 feet, stop, back 3 steps, turn the shoulder, lope out.

Although he was a little high in the head he did pretty darn good so I ended that exercise and moved on to some trail work.  I didn't ask it of him again because I am trying to not drill drill drill until he is sick of stuff.  

We backed through our L and apparently he forgot all about how to do that so we did it about 4 times.  He never did get it right but after a bit I went back to stretchy trots and forward motion spins.  He is plenty soft to the right, but man, he just will not relax that jaw to the left.   I do feel like he is trying to get it right but until he can really give those shoulders I think we will still struggle with it.

But I can be standing still and ask him to spin a full circle and he will do just that.  Hind end in place and move his shoulders in either direction for a full 360 turn.  I'm happy about it because it has taken a year to get that.  Unfortunately, he doesn't do that nice forward cross over step in front like he needs to be doing.  It is more like a crab-walk or crossing behind.

Oh we did drag the log with me in the saddle. He never bolted on me, but did get a little "ify" a couple of times but I just stayed calmed, kept him in check, and talked him through it. By time we were done he was dragging it around in any direction with his head down like he was just on a summer stroll.


We also did the regular gate from both directions.  He has that pretty much down, and no leg crushing today.

The last thing we did was go back to the L and back through it again. This time I really took my time, remembering what I learned at the trail clinic last year.  Break it down into foot falls.  If I ask for one step at a time and really watch what I am doing, I set him up to be successful. He completed the task with one minor fault of tapping one log as he turned the corner.  But since he just tapped it and didn't step over it, I called it good.

We ended our ride there and I loosened his cinch.  Then we played the Clinton Anderson game.  I threw the reins over his neck and asked him to follow me, which he did. Then I moved his shoulders with out touching him and asked him to back up as well.  It wasn't quite as pretty as CA but it was fun to do and good to keep him mentally tied into me even though we were done riding.   I could tell when he was getting tired of the game so I ended it before he had time to blow it.

Jay used to tell me that if you know your horse is going to leave in 4 seconds then move him out at 3 so it is your idea and he succeeds.

When I took the bridle off, I gave him his favorite reward, before putting on his halter.  I gave him good head scratches in all his favorite spots.  He loves that.

As I was riding I came to realize that the thing that is killing us the most in our progress is me.  Not my riding, because I can feel myself getting better. But my schedule. If we were riding 3 times a week instead of just 1, we'd be getting a lot further a lot faster.

Trax is not always the most willing partner but he does like strong leadership and he does like to get things right most of the time.  I know this because I can feel him trying to anticipate my moves. Now I doubt if it is so much because he is just so dang happy to make me happy, but more because he knows that if he does it right I'll leave him be.  I don't care what his motivation is, I'm just happy that he at least tries most of the time.

I think he was really feeling crappy the last couple of weeks, because he was definitely in a better mood today than he has been recently.  It doesn't change that he is still a hard horse to reach sometimes, but I do take a certain amount of pride in knowing that I have taken him further than anyone else ever has.   Looking back with realistic goggles on helps me to see and accept that I have done a lot with him, much more than some people ever thought I could do.   So yes, I realize he is never going to be a top competitor, I never expected him to be...well not really.  I also realize that there are some of these moves that he may never be able to accomplish.  But there is no reason for me to stop working with him or to give up on him.  I kind of feel bad for thinking that I should.  Not only is it all good for him mentally and physically, it is all teaching me to be a better rider.

Someday I am going to have one horse that is easy and that I can really go and compete on and not be embarrassed, and me learning how to work on this guy is only going to prep me for that horse.

Brown Eyed Cowgirl told me that in the long run if I can teach Trax this stuff, teaching another horse will seem like a piece of cake.  When I ride Sassy, I know that she is right.

Oh, I have found a gal in my area who specializes in equine dental and chiro, so I am going to set an appt up next week for Trax.  I don't know that he his teeth are bad. He was checked last year by a vet who said they were fine, but I do think the time has come to rule out any physical issues for him.

And now I am late for work.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Concrete keeps creeping in

When TC and I were looking for a place in AZ we had a few specifics in mind.

Room for horses, top of the list.

Room for TC's stuff (and a shop)

A safe and decent sized dog yard.

The ability to ride out from our house without too much "city riding".

Not soooo far out of town that I could not find gainful employment without commuting for 2 hours.

Size of the house was only moderately relevant, and a "mobile home" was not out of the question.

We went with the east side of the Phx valley because that is where my kids are and because I know that side of town better.  We looked in some specific area's because we like the Superstitions, and we were really hoping to have irrigation for pasture.  Queen Creek, Apache Junction, San Tan Valley were the preferred towns.

The place we ended up with is about as perfect for us as could be.  It is a rural neighborhood, each property is zoned as a "ranchette" and cannot be less than 3 acres.

We are basically right on the edge of civilization, but that is changing quickly and we are starting to wonder if we moved far enough away from town.

We moved in August of 2013. It is now Feb of 2014 (in case you weren't aware)  In that very short amount of time I have watched the contractors wipe out 5 different very large  alfalfa and cotton  fields and start building houses on them. The farm fields were producing right up until the day they started surveying.   These are not more of the lovely little "ranchettes" but more like gated communities where every house is one of 3 models, the yard is about the size of my desk at work, and the houses are 3000 square feet ... each ... and ... every  The houses are so close together you could hop from roof top to roof top and never even have to strain yourself.

These neighborhoods have great names like "Pecan Creek" (because there used to be a huge pecan grove where it sits now.  There is "Encantera" which has its own golf course. "Castlegate",  "Johnson  Ranch, I, II, and III. I have to laugh about Johnson Ranch because part of it is built right on top of a place that used to have 3 gorgeous houses on it that were built back in the 40's or 50's.  Unfortunately because of some underground testing (explosives) that was going on in that area by Mcdonald Douglas, the ground was cracking and the houses were falling in the cracks.  The last time I saw the houses one was almost all the way in, and another the entire swimming pool had fallen in.  Rumour has it that the government (who backs Mcdonald Douglas) paid the residents of those homes a huge some of money to walk out and never look back.  They did too, didn't even take anything with them.  I swear this to be true, I saw the houses with my own eyes.

There is one community that is intriguing.  It is the "Will Rogers Equestrian Neighborhood" It is the latest thing in a horse community.   It is the same cookie cutter houses all behind the big brick wall.  But then they have added a huge barn, lighted arena, and some well groomed trails through the neighbor hood where you can ride as long as you don't go off the trail. For a monthly fee you get to keep your horse there at the barn in your community. Only residents of the community get to keep their horses there.  I mean as far as gated communities go, that would be my choice for sure....but I think I would probably shoot myself before I would live in a gated community.  Not really, but I'm sure it would be depressing for me.

Now, this is the part I cannot fathom.  Why do people move way out of town just so they can move into a neighborhood just like the one they left in the city?  Why do people move to "the country" but insist on bring the city with them? They do not like our horses and the flies that come with them.  These people do not like the smell of the dairies that used to be in the area. And now the dairies are gone.  They did not care to have drive further to get their groceries, so now there is Walmart, and Frys, and Safeway, and Fresh and Easy, and Sprouts, and every fast food joint you can think of...right...down...the street.

Yes it is more convenient.

And yes, I hang my head in shame because I do take advantage of that convenience.

But if it wasn't there.....I'd be just as happy to drive my butt 25 miles to town and do my shopping once a week.

There is a FB page I follow which is a local sale and barter, strictly for our area.  Often the posts are not about sales but about things going on in the community.  Recently a young woman in one of the housing developments posted that she heard gunshots, and wondered if anyone knew what they were.  Someone else asked, "How Many?"  She couldn't say because after she heard the first one she shut all the windows and hid in her bedroom.

Okay, I'm not trying to be mean here, really I'm not. I'm sure she was terrified, and I feel for her, but I had to post a comment and this is what I said.

"I sure do miss the old days, before all the cookie cutter houses were built.  Back then if we heard gun shots we went to the neighbors house to see if they needed help burying the body."

( yes I realize now that I probably should have specified carcass)

I''m sure you are thinking that I am being a bit hypocritical since I just moved there, but I really was there in the old days.  Exactly 4.3 miles from where I live now, is the house where I lived when my rockstar son (19 years old) was 2.  I spent many years in Queen Creek, before San Tan Valley was even a "town".   Only back then it really was BFE, it was 25 miles to the nearest pay phone or store of any kind. We carpooled our trips to town when ever possible, and we really did go to the neighbors to see if they needed help with a "body" when we heard gunshots.

There are people in our area that have lived there their entire lives.  One of my co-workers has lived 2 streets over from my house since he was in elementary school, and he intends on raising his own young children right there and they will inherit the property from him when they grow up. There are a lot of families like that out here.  He raises cows.  On the back side of his property just across the street a huge development has gone up, and it seems as though the city folk aren't loving his livestock...that were there before they moved in.

I realize that this is starting to sound like a whiny rant. In fact I am willing to admit that it is a rant, but there is something motivating me to speak my mind on this. Right now, in our ranchette neighborhood, there is someone who has decided that he wants to be a land developer and wants to parcel off a section into 1 acre lots.  I don't think he will be able to do it.  Our neighborhood is pretty adamant about "keeping it country" as much as possible.  Still I just don't get it.  Is it all about the money? It has to be.  If you  parcel it off into 20 different lots you can get a lot more money for it than if you sell it as one big one.

But at what cost?

Every time I see another farm field or orange grove get plowed under and planted with houses I can't help but wonder if these contractors have any clue what they are doing to us.  Where do they think that food gets grown for people?  Where do they think that cotton for clothes comes from?  Where do they think we will get our hay to feed our horses?  

I wish I could ask them.

Then I wonder about the farmers.  Most of these farms have been around for generations.  One has to wonder why they are selling out?  Is it because the seniors are gone or retired and the youngsters don't want any part of farming...they just want the cash?  Or is it because they were offered an obscene amount of money and couldn't resist.   Did they relocate, or just give up?

I remember when I worked at Shoppers supply and one old farmer came in. He had to be in his 90's and I walked the whole store with him, very slowly, one step at a time.  He talked about his farm, about how most of it was gone now, and the other farmers, his friends were gone too. He was so sad about it.  I think that progress made him as sad as it does me.

I suppose I should have known it was inevitable.  If I wanted to stay small town like we were in Casper, we should have picked a smaller town to move too. TC jokes that he is packing up and moving the Wickenburg to live in the desert and gold pan till he dies.  Maybe we should have picked Globe, or some other obscure little town.  I mean don't get me wrong, I love where we are, and I am a people person so I don't mind having neighbors.  I guess I just wish they would quit planting houses.

Ok, rant over.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Okay so now that I have gained my composure a little, I can explain a little of what happened today with Trax.

Actually things were going really well he was trotting out nicely, long and low and felt really really good.   We incorporated some of that into smaller turns trying to get him to stay in frame and I am finally starting to feel the difference when he is in frame and not, or at least I think I am.  To me it seems that when he is in frame he leads with his shoulder while keeping his body in line. That may not be the correct way to describe it, but he doesn't flip his hip out, which is what is "normal" for him.

We worked on the spin move and I really didn't push him hard. All I asked for was a couple of steps and although he was making a half hearted attempts he still sucks back into himself. But really I wasn't even upset about that.  Because at least he was trying.  His stops were decent, and even his backing up was not bad either.  I was totally happy with what we were doing.

Sooooo I decided to turn on the camera.   I thought I would just film some of the trotting to see if it looked as good as it felt.  I thought that maybe we would do a few stops and backing up.  Nothing fancy.

I got on.

His head went straight up

And he lost his f'n mind!

His feet were going about a million miles an hour in twenty different directions.  He acted as if I was wailing on him and all I was asking him to do was trot, nice and relaxed just like he was doing before.

At this point I forgot all about the camera and tried desperately to figure out what the hell was going on.

He raced around wildly and I tried so hard not to get mad at him, but I failed.  He kept trying to dive toward the open end of the arena, and finally I had enough. I took him to the opening and I side passed him back and forth about 30 feet in each direction.  I made him back up. I did all kinds of hard working things and then took him back to the center to rest and to calm down myself.

I'm pretty sure there was steam coming out of my ears.  So we just stood there and I took many deep breaths until I had calmed down.

I decided I needed to change things up so we went to the gate and worked the gate.  He did it but he wasn't happy about it.  He tried to crush my leg against the gate.  Rotten little F'r!

So I asked him to trot again. Finally he did, but it never felt nice and easy like it did earlier.  He was so locked up in his mind and I could feel it in his whole body.  I knew we were getting no where.  I asked for a stop and he did so I quit.

I don't know what happened.  I mean there were times when he was ten million miles away and just running blindly, and I didn't ask him to do anything hard.  Just trot.  I didn't ram and jam on him.  It was a totally unwarranted melt down on his part.

After playing the whole thing over in my mind all I can think is that when I got off to turn on the camera he thought we were done. When I got back on, he got pissed that he was having to do more.  So was he having a melt down or was he throwing a temper tantrum?

After I put him away, I had my own meltdown.  I still question my sanity trying to work with this horse, and even now as I sit here hours later and type this I am having to fight back the tears because I feel like giving up.  But at least I no longer want to give him away to the first person who will take him.

Trax is who he is.  He is a hard horse to reach, he always has been. He does not love arena work. He never has.  I know this. I have always known this.  He loves to go out to the desert.  He loves to push cows in a cross county situation, he will push cows across the countryside long past the point where most horses will give up.  There are other things he is good at.  He is pretty good at trail obstacles, he can even get over that fear of ropes if worked with enough.

But when it comes to the basics of "reining" he fails completely.  If I can't teach him the basics, he will never succeed.  If he doesn't learn to relax and accept, I will never be able to teach him the basics.  If I can't quit buying into his bad attitude, temper tantrums, or what ever they are,  we are never going to get past where we are right now.

I have often considered sending him to someone else to get these basics. I know I should be able to do it, but I don't feel confident about it.  I need someone who really knows their stuff. There is one person who I think that might could reach him.  If anyone can, it would be this guy.  I sent him an email to see if he'd be willing.  If he is and I can afford it with my income tax return, I might do it; as much for Trax's sake as for my own.  Then I will ask this man to work with Trax and I together so that I don't undo any good that was done.  We will see.  If he turns me down, then I will just have to keep going on my own.

After I put Trax away I went in and got something to drink and then went back out and got Sassy.  I saddled her up and we rode around the round pen.  I had attempted a lap around the arena yesterday while someone else rode Killian, but she was way to flighty and not ready for it yet so today we went back to the round pen.
She did pretty well, nothing to write home about, just more of the same, but I was quite pleased with her attitude, and even more that the only time she mis-stepped at all is if I turned her sharp.  I did bute her last night and this morning, so that might have been some of it, but you may recall that for a long time she was on constant bute and still limped. So I would say there is improvement.

I didn't put the boots on her this time either. I wanted to, but yesterday I found that I can't keep them on straight at all. I think because her toes are so long her heels don't fit down inside now. The whole boot just spins all the way to the side.  I want to file her down, but the trimmer gal has specifically asked that I don't so that she has plenty to work with when she comes this weekend.

She did fling her head an awful lot today in protest of the bit, but I just waited her out kept my hands steady and the minute she gave to the very slight amount of pressure I released.  Finally she got that all she had to do was do was give and there was no head flinging needed to get her release.

Oh, I do have some other good news though.  A called me Saturday and told me that there is a farrier in our area, one who believes in barefoot, believes in heel first landings, and one who believes that owners should know how to trim their own horses.  He mentioned that they are trying to put together a clinic in our neighborhood for some time in April for owners who want some hands on guidance.   He has said that he wants to keep it reasonably priced so that people can actually afford to attend and he is encouraging each person to bring their own horse to learn on.  So I am excited about that.

I did specifically request that they don't schedule it the same weekend as the Dick Pieper clinic though.

So yes, we had a rough day.  I have come to accept that Trax is not the super duper pleaser horse that I want him to be.  I have come to accept that he is never going to excel at Stock horse, but we will keep working for now, so that I can get better, and who knows maybe someday he will quit fighting me quite so hard.

ps.  I did finally remember the camera about 20 minutes before I had to leave for work. The battery was dead.  Perfect. lol!


On the Verge

Every time I think we are making progress my horse has a melt down.

Today was one of those days.  Maybe Jay was right.  Maybe Trax just carries too much mental baggage.

I just don't know what to do anymore.

He is happiest being a trail horse, perhaps I need to just be okay with that.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Finally a Ride!

It feels like it has been a really long time since I've ridden Trax, but only a week actually.  His tummy is doing much better so after I got my pens cleaned I decided to saddle up.

He was not thrilled about being pulled from his social time in the pasture, and I almost felt bad for him...but then I remembered him throwing me the middle hoof this morning and got over feeling bad pretty quick. When I say throwing me the middle hoof, what I mean is that quite often when I let him out in the pasture he aims a high kick right towards my head. He never gets very close, but I would still rather that he did it the other direction. Stinker!

It was pretty hot today, in the 80's I think, which isn't really hot, but for Feb, is pretty dang warm.  So with that in mind I didn't think we would ride all that long, but then as we got going and things were going well, I just kept with it for a good 2 hours.

We started with just standing still. I would pick up on the reins and wait for him to drop his head.  Sometimes I had to wait him out but eventually it was his first choice so I called it good.   Then we went to work on the things that I learned from BEC and at the clinic.  I think we made some progress, but anymore I just don't know.

I will say that once I let him have his "run wildly around the arena time" things really started to seem to progress.  We worked on those long low trots and  I can tell the difference just in the way I bounce. The less bounce the better he is moving.

We worked on stops and the beginning process of lead changes. We worked on our spins and roll backs as well.  He did give me a couple of full spins, but they aren't actual spins. He can do them from a stand still.  So really it is more like 360 roll backs. LOL  But he wasn't coke bottling so I won't complain too much.

We also did the gate. For a horse that used to hate working gates, he sure does love them now.

He really seems to be trying to get this stuff right...most of the time.  The only time he seems like he is just being a butthead is when we work on the real spins.  Today I got that long and low trot and then kept tightening my circle, but I can tell he is expecting it and pretty soon he falls backwards when trying to give me that step. I don't know if this is a by product of me teaching him to spin from a stand still, or what.  But I just cannot seem to keep the forward momentum.

He did give me some great stops at a lope today, well great for him.  He is still stopping on the front for those.  At a trot I am figuring out how to get the hind end to be the stop, but I think I haven't got my timing down right for the lope yet.

All in all it was a pretty good ride and I was not unhappy with our progress.   He got a nice hose down, a roll in the sand and back to the pasture with his herd.

Sassy was out there with one of her boots turned completely sideways!  I don't know how she does these things!

Now it is time for me to go get a shower. TC is taking me out to dinner for V-day.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Since I don't have much going on, horse-wise or any other wise, and since it is V-day, I thought I'd share a little love song with you.

I know I have shared this on on FB before but not sure if I have here.

Anyway, give a little listen and get a little smile.

Actually here is a second one that I love.  Yes I realize that these girls are singing to each other, but I still think it is a great little song.

Hope you are all having a great evening with your valentine.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

So Easy!!!

I have decided that it is time for Sassy to get back to work.  Not super strenuous, race all over the place work (although she seems to have no issue with that in the pasture) but just light, easy, carry me around the round pen, and remember all the things that Jay taught you, work.

So today we did that.

I won't say that we picked up right where we left off, but seriously, for a horse that has not been ridden but maybe 2 or 3 times in 2 years...I am highly impressed with this little lady.  I even made her wear her snaffle today, something she has only done maybe 10 times in her whole life.  She did not love it, but she wasn't bad about it either.

I did give her some bute this morning, and next time I will actually dose her the night before and the morning of, because I think she could have used just a touch more in her system.  Then I also booted her.  Another thing I will do next time is cut a new set of pads and use those only for riding.  She did limp some, but I decided to just push her through it.  Here is what I noticed.

Although to the left it never went away, it did to the right (I think) and it definitely got better the longer we worked. So with that in mind I think this light exercise is going to be the best thing for her.

I ground worked her first, reminded her how to move her body parts from the ground, how to follow my cues, and really she remembers it all.  I have done so little with her (I know, bad horse owner) other than lead her around or ask her to do a few circles in the round pen, I really didn't know how she was going to do.  I can move her shoulder with a push of my hand in the air, I can move her hip by just focusing and pushing my energy that direction, I can back her up by standing in front and using the slightest of body language.  I can control her speed around the round pen by simply raising or lowering my energy and if I shut off my energy, she right now stops.  I never have to touch her once.

My friend Jay taught her all of that. Then taught me how to do it too.  He learned it from Dennis Reis. Not everyone agrees with Dennis's theory that if you cannot ride them from the ground, you cannot ride on their backs.  But I think there is a certain amount of truth behind it. The problems I have with Trax on the ground, are the same problems I have on his back.  Sassy's strong points on the ground are also her strong points when I ride her...and she has a lot of strong points.

So I got on her.  I took it slow of course, leaned over first, wiggled around some, rubbed my hands on her butt. She was fine, totally relaxed so I started over and mounted up.  Asked for the lateral flex just to see where she was at.  Light as a feather. Almost too light.  She likes to bring her head all the way to my toe, which I know is wrong, but hey, who's complaining? Not me!

I asked for forward, she walked right out, we went a round a few times then I quit riding and said "whoa". She stopped instantly.  I love this horse.  I asked for forward again, we did a lot of that. Forward, a couple of laps, stop riding.  I don't even have to say whoa, I just have to stop riding. No reins needed for that command.  How cool is that?

We worked on turns and we did some backing up. She was a little sticky on the backing up, in fact at first she fought it. But I didn't push and I didn't get big with her, I just waited it out and the second she shifted her weight back, I released.  Pretty soon I got a step, and another and then another.  Then I asked for forward again. Sometimes she got a little confused as to whether she should go forward or back, but I helped her out of those times by simply touching her neck and she immediately would take a step forward.  Using that and my body position she soon had it all figured out.

We did trot just a little, mostly to the right because it is harder on her with the left on the inside, and she was fine mentally.  I could have loped her I am sure, but am trying not to over do her physically.

We also just worked on a tiny bit of collection.  All I did was ask her to go forward, and set my hands. When she gave to the pressure I released and gave her lots of praise. There was some head flinging going on, and some other antics but I kept with it until her first choice was to give to me, and once she did that 3 times, we quit there.

I tried really hard to keep everything as soft and as slight on her as I could.  My cues were small and I waited for her to get it. I am doing everything I can to keep her from turning into a hard horse like Trax.

Lets face, I'm no trainer, but I am figuring some things out as I go and I have had, and still have, some great guidance from some folks who do know.  I know what I don't want her to be, and I think that really is making a big difference in how I do things with her.  It helped that Jay put such a good start on her, but then he always told me that she was one of the easiest youngsters he ever worked with.  He always said that her biggest hole was her lack of confidence, but I don't know that she still has that.  She is a big girl now, and seems to be ready to go out and see the world.   I will put a few more rides on her in the round pen and then we will move on to the arena.

I think I should probably also mention that the entire time I was working her the construction crew was over there with an air powered nail gun, and skill  saws, and banging on metal and just making all kinds of ruckus.  I won't say she never reacted, but no more than an occasional flinch.  She is a good good girl!

Looking quite pretty with her newly cut bridle path

"I am a good girl"

Sweaty girl!

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Few More Pictures

I just got 3 of these from Nuzzling Muzzles, and one from BEC,


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Whirlwind of a Weekend

It was pretty much go go go non-stop all weekend. But not in a bad way.  No, this was definitely good good good.  Well most of it anyway.

Sat morning, BEC came out with 2 of her horses and once we got them settled we headed in to town to go and meet up with CNJ and Nuz at the come I'm the only one with the cool 3 letter acronym?

Anyway, we got there just in time for lunch which was perfect since I was starving (as usual) and we had a great time catching up, laughing our butts off, and checking out all the different rig set ups. There were some real cuties, and then some real gorgeous ones as well.  It was great to finally get to meet Nuz, and I cannot wait to see the pictures that she took.  I really love getting to meet other bloggers.

Then it was time for us to head over to the trailer to get Kat ready.  I asked CNJ just what was required for me to be the Gator.

"Just help me remember that Red goes on the right"

"Oh ok, that should be easy enough"

BEC says, "Hey Cindy, which one is your right?"

Aw Crap!!!

Yes we laughed a long time over that one.   They even offered me a piece of colored string to help me out.

Thanks guys!

Then CNJ says, "Oh and if the wheels come off the ground, throw your weight over there to push em back down"

"Wait...What?  Our wheels will come off the ground? What the heck have I signed up for, Chariot races?"

And off we went to get Kat and the cart ready.

We got back over to the competition area, Nuz was busy taking pictures and BEC was sort of looking around a tad on the frantic side because as we pulled up...

"Number 23 your up in 1 minute!"

All I could think was, "Oh crap I've been on here a total of 30 seconds and it is already time to run?"

I look over at CNJ she is looking cool as a cucumber.   Well okay then, I guess we got this.

And off we went.  We raced around the course, wheels were sliding, there was an minor incident with an ocotillo bush that CNJ calmly navigated through as if it never happened.  I on the other hand totally panicked!   We flew around cacti and greasewood bushes, through sand pits, in and out of and around gates, (which is where I learned to keep all fingers INSIDE the cart) and past all the bright red cones (Yes they stayed on the right).  In a flash it was done and I was so impressed with how well CNJ and that little pony did!

It was a ton of fun and I am so glad that I volunteered for the "job".

Just after the run

Sportin my new hat

FYI, this pony loves his job!

After it was over, BEC and I headed back to my place and saddled up to ride in the arena.

Now this is the part where everyone is going to say, "I told you so"  and it is okay because they did tell me and I shot the idea down.

We tried a running martingale on Trax.  I know I said that I never would, but you know what they say about never....

And you know what, he didn't fall apart!  I actually was really surprised that he didn't.   BEC rode him for a while and I watched carefully.  I did see one time where the look in his eye changed and I was afraid that he was headed to his bad place, but I think he never had a chance to go there.  I watched her ride him and she never kept him "trapped" (for lack of a better term) long enough for him to get caught up in that feeling. In fact she encouraged him to trot out long and low, and it took a while....a long while....but he did.  She worked with him while I rode around on Frosty, trying desperately not to screw up her horse.

I tried really hard to pay special attention to her hands and her body as she used it to move him where she wanted him to go.  It was interesting to hear her assessment on him.  What she told me, and she can probably say it better, is that Trax is so busy trying to protect himself, he sucks down into his short little neck and keeps his shoulders so stiff that he cannot move. He jams up and stops on the front end rather than the hind.  So the goal now is to encourage him to stretch those shoulders out, and lengthen that stride to free those shoulders up.  Once we were able to do that with him, things started to change. Huge changes-no.   Good changes-yes.

I got back on him while she went a switched out her horses.  I rode him and tried to emulate what I saw.  She said to me, "Imagine in your head that he is a long and lean hunter and he is reaching out and doing that long trot, then ask him to do it."

I pictured it in my head and in a very short time he was nailing it.  Once I got him nice and stretched out I asked him to stop and it was better.  She had me do it again only this time before asking for the stop I picked up on him and lifted his shoulders just a tad and then we stopped...Yes! He stopped nicely. It did not jar me in my seat.  I was sooo happy.

Now I have to say that Trax has always had a smooth trot, but when he started stretching out and then staying collected...Oh My God, it was nice!

I remembered at the clinic that Troy had said to BEC that she sits her stops really nicely.  So I really paid attention when she explained to me that my stop cues weren't quite right, and really broke it down in a way I could understand, suddenly I found my self getting stops before I ever even said "whoa".   Sometimes I still mess it up, but I am getting better and I will keep trying until it is second nature to me.

BEC I know you are reading this and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you taking time out of your own riding to help me with this horse, and with my own riding skills.

Okay so by this time she was on her new guy Little John.  Let me just tell you right now, I am in love with the horse.  In fact, we all are at my house!  He is a pleasure to watch, has such a perfect start on him, and is just a cutie besides.  A cutie that is going to grow up to be a handsome guy.

I did request that she go ahead and write a clause in her will that if, God forbid, anything happen to her, that she leave him to me.  Since she jokingly agreed, I took that as a solid yes, and spent the rest of my time figuring out ways for her to have a tragic accident dreaming of the day that I can buy my own horse like that.  All kidding aside, because I really don't want her horse, and I certainly would not wish any harm on my new friend.  I would however love to have my own horse that didn't have a brick wall to break through.     As it turns out, the ranch he came from is the same ranch where a very good reining friend of mine suggested I start when looking for my next horse.  Small world.

Sunday we rode again, this time in the desert with Simon and Killian.  It was quiet and relaxing, with only a very few very minor mishaps, and Trax only tried to act like a jerk a few times. For some reason he has decided that rules of the arena do not apply on the trail, so we spent a lot of time practicing the stopping back.

Killian, of course, proved once again that he is worth his weight in gold by taking excellent care of my son and putting up with Simon's less than stellar riding abilities. He is such a big lug, but never ceases to amaze me at how good he really is.

We were stalked by a herd of steers while we were out there, apparently they thought we were bringing snacks.

Then it was time for BEC to head home and for me to get some work done around the house.

The one bad thing of the weekend is that Trax is having a little bit of a belly ache.  He and Killian were both a little loose in the butt earlier in the week, but I expected it as we have been slowly switching to new feed.  Killian got better but Trax never really did. Sassy never got loose at all. Then I found a couple of moldy cubes in the last of my hay cubes so I thought that maybe he had accidentally gotten a couple of bad cubes and that was what it was.  I 'm still not sure it wasn't.  But then it also could just be that he is getting a lot more Bermuda than he used to, and less alfalfa.  But while we were taking our break in the shade he refused to graze.  So I knew he was not feeling all that hot.

I have gotten him some probiotics and gave him a little aloe vera (out of a plant not a bottle) to help sooth some of that acid.  I did get him to eat some alfalfa cubes and yes I did make sure that they were all good.  No bad ones. In fact I hand picked each one just to make sure.

I will give him some time to get back up to par before I ride again, I'm hoping he will be better in a few days.

Here are a few pictures:

Proof that we really do ride together.

It is not very often we get pictures of the two of us together. 

Here we have BEC showing that you can never underestimate
value of stylish accessories.
(Frosty says, "Why yes I am very handsome")

Friday, February 7, 2014

This is my "Thinking Face"

I finally got to ride today, and some good stuff did happen. Not super exciting but some good.  We did work on the collection exercises as instructed in the video I watched the other day, and as expected it took him a long while to finally get with the program.  But he did...sort of.

Since "sort of" wasn't quite what I was looking for, I decided to switch things up a bit.  First I went ahead and gave him his "run in crazy circles" time.  It wasn't all about him, while he was running in crazy circles, I practiced riding with out flapping my arms like some sort of wounded bird.  I kept my elbows at my side, but then managed to stay relaxed too.  It was a good exercise for me.  Mean while he ran crazy circles and went to his happy place.

Once he leveled out and started to breathe we worked on rate. Big circles, fast. Small circles slower.  It wasn't bad. In fact it was very nice.  His head was not straight in the air, but nice and level.  He followed my eye, departed on the correct leads.  I've got no complaints.

Then we went back to our collection.  It was better, but there was still room for improvement.

We worked on our circles some, I did't really push it hard.  I had watched another video that Mr. Pieper had done on this subject and tried to apply some of those principles to our ride.  I never really asked for more that a few steps in the circle. He gave them too me, but they are still awkward and stiff.

Then we just kind of rode around and did stuff.  I can't tell you what we did, we just did.  A little of this, a little of that. Some stopping some backing up, he was.....sticky on those back ups.

He is trying on his stops 90% of the time.  At a walk or a trot he REALLY tries, at a lope, he forgets until I remind him.  So we will have one bad then a couple of good.  I think we just need more practice on that.

Then I had a thought. We were just sitting there and I asked him to collect without actually going forward.  I realize that technically that is not collection, but I have a new theory. Before I really push push push with the forward moving collection I want to instill a thought in his brain.  If he feels ANY contact on his mouth at all, if he drops his head, he will be rewarded.  So we stood there for a long while, probably 15 minutes or so. I would pick up the reins, add some contact, and when he dropped, or even thought about dropping, I released.  Eventually we got some good results.  Then I applied that to "forward".

Better, much better.

I did ride him in the D-ring snaffle today, and I wonder if that is the cause behind his "sticky"?  He is much more responsive (front to back) in the Mylar.  Side to side is a bit different and it has been  mentioned to me that when working on those circles the snaffle might be better.

I can't tell you if it is or not.

Before we rode I worked him on the ground. I did not just lunge him but also did what BEC calls the horsemanship moves. Mostly I just asked him to complete the spins slowly on the ground.  I am starting to notice something.  He can get 2, sometimes 3 steps by crossing over front but then always resorts to crossing behind again. I can't help but wonder if it isn't time to get him a chiro visit.   There are lots of things I have been reading lately that make me want to examine the possibility that some of his performance issues are physical.  Not only what BEC is going through with Moon, but some of what I read in Mike Majors book, and a story I just recently read over at Mugwump Chronicles.  I have to admit that it is kind of odd that all these things came up for me to read within a few days of each other.

One of things that Mike said in his book when talking about "buying your RV prospect".  He talked about short backed, mutton withered horses with thick necks. Not that they are not good horses, but just that sometimes they are not quite as physically capable of doing certain things.  That is Trax.  In fact I tried to put my other saddle on him today...HA!  It wouldn't go down over his big fat withers.

Mugs talked about a horse that could not back up well due to the way he was built.  It was interesting to say the least.

Now this is not me saying that I'm giving up on this horse, because I am not.  There are a lot of things that he needs to learn to do regardless of what his "career" is.   Regardless of trail or arena, he has to stop, he has to side pass, he has to be soft in hand.  Period.

I have some stuff formulating in my head.  I wonder if his asymmetrical front feet are because he has one leg slightly shorter than the other...perhaps that is why he struggles with some of these moves.  I wonder if he is out of place from those major wrecks that he had way back when.  I wonder if he needs a better rider for a bit to give him the clear cues he needs to understand.  Lots of things to wonder about. Some of it I may never know, but it sure couldn't hurt to try the chiro...right?

I also worked on his front feet today until I drew own of course. One of these days I will remember to leave my gloves in the tack room!  I don't know that I did much good, or if I did harm.  I just tried to clean him up a little.  I need some guidance again...and a hoof stand! (I'll be calling you next week Anne LOL)

Trax is a good horse, and dang it he is trying so hard to get it right.  I won't say he never has his bad days, but for the most part he only wants to get along, so I don't find myself trying to decided if he is just being a jerk or just not capable.  Trax is a lot of things but a jerk is not one of them. (not usually anyways)

I still believe we will get there, and my goals have not changed, these are just things that run through my head.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A whole lot of nuthin

I don't have much to post about because I have yet to get to ride this week, but I have been watching some of Dick Pieper's video's on line. One in particular is about collection.  Something that we struggle with.

In his video he says to "Set your barrier, and then ride your horse into it."  Do not pull back!  That was my first mistake.

Second, was that I have always had to use the slight see saw motion to get Trax to drop his head.   I do recognize that doing that with him was not the wrong thing to do.  I will never forget the first time Jay rode him and he said, "Wow, there is a boat anchor on the end of these an anchor for an aircraft carrier!"  And it was true.

That is not the case anymore.  He really is not bad at all now, in fact he is pretty darn light.  But now it is time to graduate my cue.  That is what I have been missing but I saw it in that video, and I think I can fix this.  I also hope that once we change that cue, and get some real softness and lift of the back and shoulders, some of those other moves will start to fall into place.   Tomorrow I have to go pick up TC at the airport, but Friday is my day for sure!

TC has been in WY, again.  Saturday we got the call that his dad had passed away.  His dad, TL, was a WWII vet, a farmer, road builder, and all around "hand".  He was cantankerous and grumpy, as stubborn as an old mule, and I adored him.  I called him Gumpy Old Fart, which he thought was hilarious, and oddly enough at 93 years of age, he never once forgot my name.  He also told me once that I reminded him so much of his own mother, who was a saint in his book. It was a huge compliment and one I have held dear to my heart ever since.

He came to stay with us for a week last year when he was getting some teeth made, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him then. And now, for the first time I am actually crying over this as I type.  Not that we were not all sad to get the news, but the reality of it all is that he had lived a very long life. He had had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital.  Then they moved him to a nursing home, which is the one thing he never wanted.  So everyone told him it was a rehab center. For some reason he was a little more accepting of that.  Just barely though, he wanted to go home but he could not care for himself anymore, so although terribly sad, no one was surprised and we were all glad that he went quickly and easily.

So with TC being gone, my morning work load has doubled and riding keeps getting put on the back burner.  Extenuating circumstance require changes in plans...its all good.

Last week I was in town and killing some time so I stopped at one of my favorite antique malls and browsed around.  While there I ran across this....

Which for some reason has been calling my name for a week.  I finally went back today and bought it.  It was cheap compared to the "new" hats in the western store next door.  This one is better than those.   This one is made by Smyth Hat Factory out of Utah.  I Googled the the company and I can't find anything after the 1960's other than the obituaries of the owners of the company.   I did however find several copies of newspaper ad's from the 30's, 40's and 50's.   So I think this would fall in the category of vintage.  I love vintage!

So now that I have the cool hat, I am working on ways to customize it a little.  I'd like to give it a little more of western look. So with that in mind I am looking at these:

I think they would make a perfect hat band without being too big and gaudy.  I might would settle for some small conchos, but they will have to be real ones, not the cheap tin. So I will probably have to wait a bit for my band.

I kept trying to think of who I had seen wearing a hat similar to this before.  It took me a minute but I finally figured it out.  It is not exactly the same, but close.

Who better to model my "Older Cowgirl Look" after than Barbara!  Of course I'll have to lose a few pounds, but it is on my to do list anyway! My hair is naturally almost that white already.  I am really digging her wider stampede strap, I might consider adding one, although my hat fits nice and snug so I don't know that I will need it.

The only other news I have is that I am looking forward to another weekend of hanging with some bloggin gals. We are meeting up at CNJ's CDE competition and I am gonna "Gator" for her.   I wonder if that is anything like doing "The Alligator" on the bar room dance floor after too many nickle pitchers of beer?

Hmmmm.  Horses involved so I am guessing not. Most establishments frown upon horses on the dance room floor.


Oh well, I am still excited and I know we are going to have a good time.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Today's Observations

This morning when I went to put the horses out, I treated Sassy's hooves first and then installed new pads inside of her boots.   As I was picking out her hooves and then using my curved tipped syringes to get up in the cracks, I noticed that I cannot get up in there as easily, or as deep, as I could before.  So either there is too much dirt and goop crammed up in there, or they are starting to close.  I'm going with option B.

After I put the boots on her and turned her out, she did her usual race like mad, slide to a stop, and then trotted off to find breakfast.  I watched her move and did not see a single head bob.  I realize that it is probably a direct result of the new pads, but still it is a great sign. I'm calling it a good sign.

Another observation was Trax.  Actually this has been an ongoing observation for the last week.

Fat kids don't like salad.

I shouldn't call him that because really he is not my fattest horse by any means.  Killian is the king of the hay bellies.  Trax just always seems like a little fat kid to me.  I don't know if it is the look on his face, or the way he stands or what it is.  In fact, when standing next to him, he seems like a very short horse too, but he isn't.  He just has that appearance of a little short fat kid.  Actually his weight is about perfect, and when I am riding he is as tall as any horse I ride next too.

Anyway, he started refusing to eat the Bermuda hay we have a couple of weeks ago.  I attributed this to the low quality of the hay.  I am down to the last little bit of the Utah cubes I have been feeding for the last year and so was attempting to slowly wean the horses off of the cubes and trying to go to straight hay.

Trax is not okay with this.

So I sold off all my crappy hay to a neighbor who has cows. He got it for a smoking deal, and I got my feed container cleaned out. Then I went and bought good hay.  Trax nibbles at it, but one flake will usually last him 2 days.

Not cool.

Of course it is not the only food he gets, but he still needs to eat it.

But he is a "fat kid" who only likes candy...and cake. (alfalfa cubes or pellets)

Observation number 3-

Killian poops more than any horse I have ever seen, and doesn't get any more food than the other two.  Why is that?

Observation number 4-

My pens are not going to clean themselves so I'd probably better get off the computer and get to work.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Offer

I got a text the other night from the guy who sold me Killian. He was offering to sell me "his horse".  His horse is a 10 year old mustang. He is gorgeous.

The first time I ever saw this horse was the first time I looked at Killian.  Chris walked put to the big pasture where all his horses were (about 20) with a hay string in his hand.  He made a make shift halter and put it on his mustang then swung up on him bareback. Then he and his partner proceeded to herd the other horses Down to the big catch pen where I was waiting. 

I asked, "How much for that horse?"

"He is not for sale". 

So he showed me Killian instead. I have always been happy with the deal we made. He was fair on price, Killian is exactly what he told me he was. He had originally bought Killian for his wife, who promptly left him right afterwards, so he used for a while for branding and such, but he was just a little to "ploddy" of a horse for his tastes.  I get that, I feel the same way about Killian.   On that day he rode Killian first  and showed me what he could do, and then offered to let me ride him.  I have liked Chris from the minute we met and we have stayed in touch over time.  He is an honest guy, who works hard and who loves his horses. I would have no qualms about buying another horse from him

So anyway I was shocked the other night when he offered to sell me Duce.  He has offered other horses to me before. In fact if he has a horse for sale I am the first person he calls.   He cares where his horses end up and he knows I care too. Every time he calls we have the same conversation... "Are you selling the mustang yet"  "Nope" "Dang it, well send me pics of what you got and I'll see what I can do."  And I always do the best I can to help him sell what ever horse he has for sale.  They are always good horses, and again, he has never lied to me about what they are. 

I cannot afford to buy a horse but this was that horse, so I had to ask why he was for sale.  As it turns out Chris was at a horse sale and saw a horse he really wanted to buy.  He knew the only way he could ever come up with the cash was if he sold Duce, so he was hoping I would say yes before the sale.  As it turned out by time I got the message the sale was over.

But we still talked about it.

I asked how much. He said "well I turned down 8500 for him a year ago"

Yup way out of my price range. 

I said well the best I can offer you is a 01 dodge diesel pick up 4wd. (I rarely ever drive it) that I turned down 9,000 on a few months ago.

He said, "I don't really need a truck"

Of course I understood that, so I let ago.

Ten minutes later he asked for pics of the truck.

It seems as though with all the horses that he and his new wife have (23) Duce is not getting the attention he deserves.  So we talked some more.

Duce is a ranch horse.  He ropes, he moves cows, he understands whoa, and he can spin.  He has been used for car parking at the county fair, he has been used for 4H lessons for kids.

You can ride him in a hay string.  (Of course Chris is one of those people who is so natural on horseback I'm sure he can ride his horses in anything)

He is sound, he is healthy, he has been around the block more than a few times.

And he is gorgeous.

Dang I want that horse.  But I won't buy any horse sight unseen (well unseen in 2 years) and without riding him.  Duce is in WY I am here.  But neither one of us are in hurry to complete this transaction so maybe in a few  months I'll mosey on up there and take Old Duce for a test drive. 

In the mean time I'll keep drooling over these pics. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Today I started with Killian because he is getting a little rude and pushy and also because riding him first makes me appreciate my more athletic paint horse. 

I do not ask much of Killian, he has earned his position as keeper of the youngsters. He puts up with giving "pony rides" to anyone who shows up asking to ride. He takes care of Simon out on the trails and on the rare occasion that TC rides he takes care of him to.   

With all of that being said I do expect him to stop when asked, move off my leg and stand still when mounting. The last time I rode him he refused to do any of those things.  So today we worked on that. I used the technique I am using on Trax. Walk stop back up. I noticed that he also backs up crooked but in the opposite direction as Trax.  Although for killian, asking him to move his shoulder is the key to straightening out where as with Trax it is more pressure on a rein. 

We did a couple of mounts and by the third one he did pretty well although I cheated a little by keeping his nose in the corner of the fence. 

It did not take long before he was stopping like he used too and moving off my leg pretty smoothly. When he was acting more respectful I asked for one more good stop and then called it quits. 

Then it was Trax's turn. Before I mounted up I said my affirmations out loud to my horse. Then we started with some ground work. Trax suddenly forgot how to move in a circle and was sure that the long lead line was going to attack him. 

Seriously horse? 

We worked through it and eventually it was time to ride. 

We started slow and easy and dang he was giving me those instant stops. Walk or trot it didn't matter if I sat it right he gave it to me. It was pretty darn nice. 

I asked him to lope to the right. It felt weird and awkward and I couldn't figure out why. I even wondered if it had just been so long since I had loped him that it just felt wierd.  

As I type this I am wondering how many of you are guessing what the problem was? 

If you guessed the wrong lead you are correct. 

I looked down and thought "well duh"

Feeling where he was at mentally I knew that it was the wrong time to ask for a stop or a slow down to try to switch so I just turned him to the left and he smoothed right out. 

So we continued to lope and I asked for rate and chose our circles and pretty soon he was feeling pretty good in my hands. 

I moved to the center of the arena and asked for a stop and he ran right through it. 

There was a battle of wills, words were exchanged and I said, " No, you will stop and then you back up and you will back up with purpose!" 

And when we finally stopped we both let out a big sigh. I petted his neck and told him he was a good boy. 

We spent a long time doing correct lead departures, lope half the arena, or sometimes a circle and then I'd say,"ready and whoa".  Always in a different spot or different direction that the last.  After about 3 times he was stopping at the "Annd". Before I even sat the stop which through me out of my seat a little. 

I couldn't get mad at that cuz dang he was trying so hard to please me.  I just shortened my cue a little and he started nailing it.  

We took a break from stopping and worked our gate. He really does that pretty well. 

Then it was time to work on our spins and man we  just fell apart.  When I start with the circle he is trying to anticipate the command and in doing so his hip falls out and it just goes down hill from there. It didn't matte which direction we just couldn't get it together.  The next thing I knew we were just trotting blindly all over the place and so I had to get us lined out again. 

We went back to stops and backing and the moving the shoulder and change directions. After a few of these I was able to move his shoulders a little better.   

We went to our loping stops again and he was doing real good, but this time each time we came to a place we had stopped before I could feel him anticipating again.  I just pushed him through and then one time he gave me the best stop yet so I called it a day. 

Truthfully I was so happy with our ride and if we keep going along his good I have no doubt that we will reach our goal. I wa thinking that we had a month and a half but actually it is 2.5 months so that is even better. Maybe by then we will have our problem with the spins worked through.