Monday, April 27, 2015

Still Catching Up

I still have some catching up to do after being gone for so long.  I try to keep it pertained to just the big events, which is easy because my days pretty much run together and become a blur.  Day to day happenings seem to just be part of the routine and are filed away in the "not so important" part of my brain.

Last month TC's 92 year old mom came down for a visit. She lives in WY, and wasn't really up for a drive so TC drove up and got her, they hopped on a plane and flew down. Then he flew with her home again and then drove back to AZ.

She is a lover of all animals, has donated most of her children's inheritance to various different rescues, and has a little dog and an angry cat of her own.  It was hard for her to leave her critters behind, but her younger sister stayed with them for her so that she could enjoy her visit without worrying.

It was hard to know what she could handle and couldn't handle as far as sight seeing, and for the first few days she was here, one of TC's daughters was also here with their kids so we stayed pretty close to home.  I did quite a bit of cooking and Edith was always asking what she could do to help. I didn't want her to have to work while she was here, so I told her "nothing" and urged her to go enjoy her time to relax.

On the 3rd day she got up and said very sternly, "I have to have something to do!!!" So I handed her a broom and let her go.  She pulled weeds for me, and helped with the cooking, and was much happier then. She liked to pull the weeds and give them to the horses.  She decided that since only some of the horses would eat them, I was not feeding those horses enough.

She absolutely loved the kitties, and the dogs.  

Oh...the dogs.

I almost forgot.   How could I forget?????

The first morning she was here we lost our sweet old dog Butch.

He had been fine the day before, had his walk, fought with the dogs next door through the fence, ate his dinner just fine, laid there and barked at the voices in his head as we watched TV, and then went to bed in Simon's room. The next morning I got up and could not find him.

I went to the back yard and he was laying in the grass which was soaking wet from the sprinklers.  His breathing was very labored and he was shivering.  I brought him inside and we wrapped him in a fuzzy blanket.  I knew what was happening.

We all knew.

Simon sat there with him for a while, while I went and got TC.  We gathered around our sweet old guy and rubbed him till he stopped shivering.  He took a deep breath and exhaled and that was it.  His heart stopped and he was gone.

It was hard....oh so hard, but I could not have asked for a better ending for him, or for Simon.  We dug a big hole out behind the arena, and laid him to rest. Simon made a cross for him, and every time I ride, I get to say hello to him.

Even Edith cried for that one.  It was almost as hard on her as it was on us.  Like I said, she is a true lover of animals.

I believe these were the last two photos I ever took of him.  He was such a good dog.  Never gave us any trouble from the day I brought him home.  Morning walks just aren't the same without him.

Anyway, we did finally take Edith to see some sights.  She insisted on walking everywhere. We went to the Casa Grande Ruins, and the Desert Botanical Gardens.  I believe she enjoyed them both very much.

We also drove around the Superstition Mountain a little bit.  I think she is less impressed with the desert than I am.  Understandable I guess.

So now it is back to life as usual, I am at full capacity on boarding now, but am loosing two horses in a few days.  They are going up north to cooler weather.

I have gotten all my pens divided so I have 9 all together.  That is enough boarders to actually support all of my horses.  I will have 2 empty spots when the two walking horses leave, but I don't think they will stay empty for too long.  I believe I have gained a pretty decent reputation in the area for being a great place to board at.

Two of my boarders you folks have not met yet.

One of them is "Buddy", a retired rope horse of about 20.  He bears the marks of a horse who has worked hard most of his life, is easy going, and starting to thrive nicely with his new owner.  She is very hands on, stops by several times a week, and is great fun to hang out with.  She is a retired roper too, so they are perfect for each other.

The other one came in with no real name.  They just called him Mr. Grey.  Mr. Grey has a truly touching story.  He was at an auction in TX, was purchased by a kill buyer, and was waiting to head to slaughter.  The kill buyer has a sister in law who rescues, and he is always will to sell her any horse she wants off of his truck at meat price.  She found the big grey horse a new owner, and he was transported to AZ.  They had a temporary housing for him while he was fully vetted and quarantined. His new owner is just getting back into horses with the help of a friend who barrel races, and so a boarding facility needed to be found.  Turns out, barrel racing friend and I know each other, although the new owner didn't know that when she called to inquire about boarding.

Mr. Grey came to us just last week. He is still a little underweight but his owner has been working hard to get him healthy and he is starting to look good.  He is huge!  Bigger than Melody and when he gets back up to full weight, will be as wide as Killian.  Mr. Grey also just got his name yesterday.  It is Sterling.  It fits him perfectly.

Sterling is another wonderful horse.  11 years old, he is actually a registered QH and they are working on getting his papers.  His original owner loaned him to a guy to try for heading, and the guy was supposed to come back and pay for the horse.  However, he never came back, phone got disconnected, and owner never saw his horse again.  The rescuers contacted him and asked if he wanted his horse back, but he is just happy that he has a good home, and said no.

Buddy is the dark guy and Sterling is the big grey

Buddy and Sterling really like each other.  They spend a lot of time grooming each other, and hanging out together.  Trax hangs out with them too.  I am really hoping that once the two spotted walkers are gone I can put Killian in with the other three geldings and have an all gelding herd that gets along.   OR....Killian will just have to be alone.

For now it is time to go clean pens, and get some saddle work done.  The season has slowed down here, but I still have lots to work on out there.

I think that catches me up on all major events.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Killian and the Camel

Last week I was going to go sorting for the first time in quite some time.  I was super excited, and woke up that morning full of life and energy.  I went out to feed my horses and Sassy and Melody had managed to tear down 2 panels, and Melody was standing there with a torn up leg.

It wasn't serious, and I was pretty pissed and swore I was going to sort on her anyway.  4 pm rolled around and she was starting to stock up and I had to admit that there was just no way that she was up for it.

Sooooo I pulled out the big red horse instead.

Rather than use his saddle I went for my Crates Cutting Saddle, (because I have yet to sort in it) It is a wide gullet so I felt it would be good enough for him.  I mounted up and headed down the road and around the corner to our sorting location.

At the end of my road I ran into my farrier and his kids all on their horses, they were headed over to a different neighbors to go roping.  All his kids rope, both boys and his 5 year old daughter.  Its pretty awesome.   We exchanged a few pleasantries and I headed on my way.

Killian got a little ancy, and wanted to go back with them.  I kicked him forward and he gave me a couple little crow hops.


I scolded him severely, got off and checked his saddle, saw that the rear cinch was a little tight and managed to get it secure on the veeeeery last hole to loosen it up.   Clearly this saddle is not for him after all.  But no matter, we moved on.

When we got to where we were going, where the camel also lives (the one I expected Trax to lose his mind over but didn't) I felt that given the crow hops, it would be best to play it safe and approach on foot.

We walked up the drive, and made it about 100 ft from the camel and Killian's head went straight up and he started sounding the alarm.  You know, that huge exhale whistle that a horse will do when there is danger.  I laughed at him, told him "Easy big boy" and took another step towards the big scary beast.

I then saw a side of Killian I did not know existed.  He bolted and ran for the far corner of the property.  By doing so he ripped the reins out of my hand, and they were flying behind him like hair extensions on his mane.

When I got to him he was still whistling with every breath, he was literally shaking, and his eyes were as big and white as I have ever seen them.

I got him caught easily enough and we spent the next 10 minutes trying to get him to just walk forward.  I tried side passing, backing up, but as soon as he got near that camel he blew up again.  He never did stop with the whistling.

Mike, the camel came to the fence to touch noses and be friends, Killian tried to rip my arm off in his attempt to get away from him.

Finally Lori brought her horse over to Killian, put her between Killian and Mike, and we did our best to get Killian to the arena.  It finally worked and then I spent another 20 min just moving him in circles (lunging on a split rein- which totally sucks).  He would calm down for a a second and then start with the alarm again.  His eyes never stopped bulging from his head.

I said to Lori, "I don't think sorting on him is going to work tonight."

"I wouldn't get on that horse, look at his eyes, he is not thinking of anyone but himself right now."

Looking back I think to myself, if I was a real cowgirl, I'd have gotten on him and worked him out of it.

Guess I'm giving up the cowgirl status then because there was no way in H-E double toothpicks, that I was going to ride him right then.

So then came the daunting task of trying to lead him back out past poor Mike, who wouldn't hurt a flea and just wants to be friends.

In the process of that he almost ran me over a couple of times.  This is Killian.  He has the most respectful ground manners of all my horses.  So when he darn near knocked me down, we went to war.  I smacked him with the reins across the chest.  I started pushing him sideways and I got really big and scary with him, until he started to notice that I was there.

I led him back out the front gate, asked him to stand still and he ran circles around me.  So I pushed him sideways half way down the road.  I admit to cussing and call him all kinds of nasty names, and while I never wailed on him or anything like that, I darn sure was not nice.

Finally he calmed down enough to walk behind me...still whistling, and huffing a puffing, but at least not running me over.  Once we turned the corner I asked him to stand still so I could get on.  Instead he chose to run circles around me, so I chose to push him sideways some more.

Lather, rinse and repeat multiple times until we got to my road.  He finally stood still and I got on.  Then I kicked him up to a trot and we went down past our house to the other end of the street and back up again.  We turned in the driveway and I know he thought we were done....but he was wrong.
Now that I was on him, he was going to work, and so I took him to the arena and rode the hair off him.

Poor guy (pfffft!!!) was exhausted by time we were done.  We loped circles, we did roll backs, we did sliding stops, and we did it again and again and again until his head was dropped and he said, "I give."

I walked him out, till he was breathing normal and then he got a hose down and treat.  He got the treat just to let him know that we were still friends. He got his butt worked just to let him know that even though we are friends, I am still the one in charge.

I don't think I have ridden him since then until yesterday.  We went on a desert trail ride with my new boarder.  He was a total gem for the entire trip, until........

He saw a baby ground squirrel on the power pole.

Apparently, ground squirrels look much like camels.

Luckily this time all he did was shy sideways (I was told it was poetry in motion) and then snort a few times.

Goofy old horse!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hello Stranger!

I realized the other day that it has been forever since I have done a blog post.  In fact I don't think I have done one since Trax was sick.

Obviously time flies when you are moving slow!

So some quick updates:

Trax is doing great.  Last blood tests showed that his liver enzymes were darn near normal, and all other blood work was dead on where it should be.   BEC was kind enough to send me some info on herbal supplements for liver health and he has been on those ever since.  He has gained his weight back, without going overboard, and is back in training for......well what ever it is I am training him for.  At this point I just don't know.  However we have another little local western and ranch versatility show 7 days from now, and he will be entered.

He appears to be less than thrilled about this news.  We have been working on our reining patterns, stops and "spins".  The sad part is that his stops would probably be fabulous if I could just learn to sit them right.  Dana taught him that when you touch his neck, the stop is coming.  I gotta tell ya, it is one of the coolest new tools in my toolbox.  When I touch his neck, he stops...right now.

It is such an amazing tool I have carried it over to Killian and Melody.  Again, it would be perfect if I could just sit the stops correctly, but seriously when you touch Melly's neck, she stops so fast, sometimes she almost loses me.  Killian has begun surprising me by laying down some of the most gorgeous 11's in the dirt I have ever seen.  They aren't 20 feet long mind you.  But hey, 3 ft sliding marks from a 21 year old horse is pretty darn impressive in my book.

The sequence is supposed to be "touch, whoa, lift"  I tend to be more like "touch, lose my balance, and throw my hands up in the air".  Yeah I have no clue what that is all about, but I'm working on it, and when I can get it right, even Trax gives me some pretty nice stops.  Dana has been coming semi regularly to help us out, so I know I will eventually get it figured out.  She is quite good at figuring out how to get me to understand, and physically carry out a task, even when "normal techniques" elude me.

Yesterday Trax and I worked on log dragging.  It has been a while since we have visited this. In fact I am not sure that we have done it since "that day" when things went so terribly awry.  I have spent much time contemplating what I should have done differently. Not so much on "that day" but just in general. obviously there was a terrible hole in his training....a large, swallow you up, bury you in darkness, and get you all jacked up, hole.  We fell into the gaping chasm, and it is up to me to get us out and to fill that hole with concrete.

I thought back to where we first started, in WY.  I clearly recall asking Mark, "Can I have him ready for the show in 1 month?"  He promised to do his best, but he also said that he would not be "really ready".

We had done the task at the show, we had done it even in practice.  But every time we did it, there was always tension in him, and me, and I was constantly having to check him back.  He was doing it, but he was never relaxed about it.

I rushed it.

So yesterday we started at the beginning.  I rubbed him with the rope and he was fine.  Head down, no stress. That was good.  Then I hooked the rope around the horn and we started dragging.  He was jiggy and nervous, I left a good length of rope behind us until he calmed down and stayed calm. Then I shortened the rope up so there was a little more tension.  We did figure 8, after figure 8, until he did 2 in a row without throwing his head up or even taking one unrelaxed step.  He was licking and chewing, with his head down. I resisted the urge to keep going further and stopped right there.  We took the log to the fence and when I released the tension he let out a huge sigh. I loosened the cinch right there and gave him major lovins.   It was a good place to stop.

Next time we will do the same thing, I have decided that I will stay on the ground with him until we can do this 3 separate days with no tension in him what so ever.  Once we can do that I will get up on him.   So, that means that if he is not ready to drag a log by next Sunday, we will take the DQ and not attempt the task.  It isn't worth it to me just for a silly old ribbon.

See, I really do learn!

Princess Melody has been on her own medical rehab.  She put her hind foot through a fence while fighting with Sassy.  I found her shortly after it happened, with some pretty good scrapes running from the hock to fetlock.  A couple of small cuts were also present, but she was not limping on it, so I didn't worry about a vet.  I scrubbed her up, slathered on some Natures Edge to keep it pliable and keep the flies off and gave her a small dose of bute.

The next day she was pretty stocked up, and not lame so much, but clearly stiff and sore.  She got more bute and the cleaning ritual.  That was about a week and a half ago.  She has remained a little stocked up, but completely sound, so again, I am not too worried.  When she is out in pasture and moving around me the swelling goes down to almost nothing.  Exercise seems to be the key to keeping the swelling down.  Makes sense to me, so I went ahead and saddled her up for a ride yesterday.

Can I just say that I have never in my life met a horse so stubborn and set in her ways as this one. What she knows, she knows well, and as long as I communicate clearly, we do fabulously.  But this mare has ZERO interest in learning anything new.  I mean none whatsoever.   I realize that I have to be tougher that her, and insist, but after hours of fighting over the simplest thing, I finally come to the point where I start to question if it even matters.  Is it ok for her to just be a reined cowhorse, and give up on things like stepping over poles?

Oddly enough, a few weeks ago I took her to a neighbors house who had some barrels set up and on a whim we did a little barrel pattern, first at a trot and then at a lope.  We loped the first barrel she didn't shy away from it like she does at home, we headed towards the second barrel, she did her lead change before I even asked for it and turned the second barrel with out me really even asking her too.  Then she headed off towards the 3rd like she knew what she was doing, made quite a nice little turn and headed for home.

I was flabbergasted.

Granted, I am not going take her out and start running barrels on her, I just don't think her hind end could handle it physically,  but I swear this horse is an anomaly to me.

There is much more to update on....Killian and the camel, the new boarder horse, Jimmy the sheath cleaning guy, and just life in general. But those are all posts that will have to come on another day.  The sun is up high, ponies are banging around the feeders, and dogs are stalking me for breakfast.

It is nice to be back here where I can write down all my thoughts, and share them with others.  It was also nice to go through your blogs and get caught up on what has been happening in your worlds.  I have missed being here.  I need to come back more often.