Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Less than Stellar

Once a month I make the 3 hour trip to Mormon Lake AZ to compete in a 2 man ranch sorting.  Last time I went my tranny was acting up and I ended up limping home.  We thought the problem was electrical, and while I didn't feel like a 3 hour trip with a horse in the trailer in the middle of summer was the best time to "test drive"  TC swore I would be fine.

So with fingers crossed I loaded up Melody at 4 am Saturday morning and we headed up north.  My truck did ok until we got to Pine.  Then I had to shut it down and let it sit for a bit so it could reset it's little brain and then we made in to the sort.

I got my girl all settled in...


...with her smorgasbord of hays and pellets.  I never know what is going to make her happy so I give her many options.  This time she chose a little bit of each item.  She has gatorade, water, alfalfa hay, alfalfa pellets, and grass hay.  She is a goof ball.  

I had some time before my class started so I went up to the stands and did some armchair riding.  






 We had some wicked clouds looming over head and was sure that my class was going to get dumped on, but it turned out to be just the right amount of coolness to make the day really enjoyable.

I have no pics of me sorting, or videos.  I'd be embarrassed to show them anyway.  I had a couple of good runs going, but anytime we got more than 4 cows, we ended up blowing out and getting a red flag.  I did have 2 clean runs with 2 cows each.  That did put me "in the bubble" for the second go, but both times my partner let cows through the gate.

I'll admit that my riding was less than stellar to say the least.  I could have done much better.  I had some really good partners who were kind enough to ranch hand with me.  They held the gate while I went and got cows.  It is slower that way, but since I blew out my first two runs right away, we all agreed that maybe it would be better if I stayed out of the gate.

I tried to be very careful about not bringing my partner more cows that they could handle.  I tried to go slow and easy to just pull out the cow I was after. Sometimes those cows were just bad.  Really bad.  However, I can't help but wonder what is different for me and my horse from last spring.

Last spring we would drive to Wittman every weekend, and it wasn't long till I was pulling down some 10 runs.  I mean we were doing really well.  Now I get up here, and I can't even hold a cow.

I am considering taking Melly back to where I got her from.  Not to sell her, but to get her tuned up.  Along with that, I would go down 2x per week and get some sorting lessons.  It would give me a chance to get some coaching on actual cows, from someone who knows my horse.  The price she quoted me is more than fair, and it is about an hour from my house, so I could get up early and go before work, and then just change my work hours to be a later day.

 I have a friend who has a cabin right by the arena so I stayed with them, and the next morning we went on a trail ride.  Melody is not a fan of trail riding, but I made her go anyways.  While I was waiting on my friends, I rode her up  through the trees.  She made it about 20 ft in, and then did the most gorgeous reining spin and hightailed it out of there.  Obviously it was a little too claustrophobic for her.  Either that or she saw a bear.  Lol


This was right before she spun and bolted


When my friends were ready, we rode out together.  Melody does much better in a group and I was quite proud of her.  She stopped over all sorts of things and even rode up into the trees.  We stopped and had a little picnic, before riding back to civilization.

This is her "I do not like riding in trees" face

My friends daughter and her horse Godlie



My friend and her two daughters

When we got back I quickly loaded up all my stuff and my horse and headed back down the mountain.  I made it most of the way through the big canyon between Payson and Apache Junction, and my tranny messed up again.  This time I couldn't get it to reset, so I called TC and he headed towards me,  I had an hour to wait so I sat in the trailer with Mel.  It was nice and cool in there, and just me being in there kept her nice and calm.  I laid one of my Indian rugs down and had a little nap.  It was a little smelly, but not too bad and before I knew it TC was there and we swapped out the trucks.






The plan was for me to limp my truck home and he would get the horse home and out of the trailer.  Go figure, my truck shifted just fine the rest of the way home.  I should have just sat longer before I called him.  Regardless it is going to a tranny shop.  I did some research and what is happening is that the TCM is putting the tranny into "limp mode" (not allowing it to shift out of 4th gear) because it either has low voltage, or I have a plugged filter, or something.  

So..... until I get that fixed, my lessons get set aside.  

Bummer.  

But I guess I'll just keep riding until then.  

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Among Friends

There are things I just can't get away with saying on Facebook.  There are things I really want to say on Facebook, because the people who REALLY need to hear them live on Facebook.  They do not set foot in blogger land.

It is probably for the best, though.  It is nice having a place to be among friends and be able to share the things that absolutely drive me up the wall.

Things like the customer who called my store today.

I just happened to be there on my day off.  I was fixing a little computer issue and buying a waterer for my chickens (YESSSS I have Chickens now! But that is a story for a different day) when the phone rang and of course I answered it because my associates were all busy.

"Hi, I spoke with Cass yesterday about some bales of hay we purchased that had weeds in it?"

"Yes, and you would like to exchange them?  We would be happy to do that.'

"Well I only have one full one left and half of another. My daughter fed the other one, and when I came out and saw the sticks in the stall I thought someone was trying to poison my horses."

"I'm so sorry about that, my guess is that it is Cotton stems, but regardless I will exchange the bales for you.  I will gladly give you 3 new bales and take back what ever you have left."

"But Cass said she would give me 15% off of more hay."

"Ma'am we cannot give discounts on hay, but I am giving you 3 free bales so you don't need to buy more."

"But I already paid for 3"

"Yes and you are returning 1, and I am giving you 2 more."

(It is easier for me to write off a bale of hay that it is for me to discount it- my bosses are weird about that)

"But I don't want to have to drive down there again, this is a big hassle.  Surely I should get something extra for my time."

"Ma'am, if you will give me your address, I will gladly deliver the new bales to you right now, and pick up what ever you have there that is bad."

"Well I still feel like I should be compensated."

*Are you kidding me right now*

"Ma'am, can your horses have treats?  I can bring you a free bag of treats."

"Well I guess, but why did Cass tell me I could have a discount on my hay, if she can't do that?"

*she didn't I'm sure*

"Ma'am I am sure I don't know but I will be talking with her about it. May I have your address please?"

So she finally gives her address.  Keep in mind that I am in my stall cleaning clothes, which consist of cuttoff's and a tank top and slip on sketchers, and have not even brushed my hair yet.  I have my loader put three pretty bales of grass hay in my little company pick up, and proceed to drive to her house.

Said "ranchette" is in a "fancy" horse neighborhood, with white plastic fences and perfectly manicured front yards all perfectly matching as per some very expensive HOA instructions.  They were really pretty and neat and not to my personal tastes at all, but I'm a wide open spaces gal myself.

I called when I arrived and a woman young enough to be my daughter comes out with her husband who is close to the same age.  I backed in as far as I could but their boat and camper trailer were both in the way so I could not get close enough to the hay shed to load the bales in directly.  This meant that I had to carry out the bad bale, pick up all the loose hay and flakes off the floor and tie it up and get it out, and then carry each 100lb bale from my truck to the hay barn and stack it.

Keep in mind that I am 53 years old, she and her husband are both early 30's at the most.

She and her husband calmly stood there and watched me as I lifted and carried these bales back and forth.

Eventually her husband just went back inside while she stayed and watched.

I get it, it is my job, but in my mind I am thinking....

What kind of man lets a 50 year old woman stack his hay while he watches without so much as a, "I wish I could help but......."

Maybe they have medical issues, I don't know.  You would think if that was the case they would be having their hay delivered all the time, rather than picking it up themselves.

Maybe I am just too intimidating, and his manhood was impugned so he had to go inside and hang his head in shame.

Maybe he is just a jerk.

When it was all done, I handed her the bag of free treats, AND a 15% off any shelf item coupon, and made sure she knew that she could use it the next time she came in, but not on hay.

I got in my truck and drove away wondering if I really want people like that coming to my store.

Yes I know I do.

I did take great satisfaction in the recognition that the particular fancy housing development that they live in is built right on top of an old dump that the Air Force base used to use.  I distinctly recall a day about 30 years ago when I was out there looking for old clorox bottles and such, when I found some old mortar rounds half buried.  They were Korean war era, and of course I took one home.  But last I knew the rest were still there.  I wonder how long it will be before the trash starts coming to the surface of their yard.

I shouldn't be that way.

I should be happy that they gave me the chance to fix it.  That is what customer service is supposed to be.

I am happy that I was able to make things right.

I still drove away with a smirk though. and I admit to not feeling bad about that smirk.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

"Vacation"

I am not sure I would call it a vacation so much, as I really didn't get to do much that I would have liked to do, but I did have a good time just the same.

TC and I made a quick trip up to WY to bury his Mom who passed away in March of this year.  She lived to be a ripe old 93 years, and in her own words, "Was tired and ready to go be with Jesus."  There was a lovely service for her at her church and all the family came from all over the country.  She was a tough old bird who lived and died on her own terms, and I only hope that I can remain THAT true to myself when I am her age.

I did very much enjoy the hotel in Buffalo where we stayed.  It had a creek running next to it and big back patio which was a fabulous place to enjoy my morning coffee. The weather was a bit chilly, and there was still snow on the Big Horns, but that was not unusual for that area.
I do miss those wide open spaces

Kickin it

I saw this little guy and posted it on facebook
I was amazed by how many people thought I should have
Killed it.  Poor little guy was just trying to get a little sun!

Very clever

Great way to start a morning



While we were there we spent some time with his grand kids, which is always a joy.  They are such good kids and so much fun to be around.  I got to meet a bunch of his cousins, who are some pretty interesting folks. By interesting I mean like, teachers, and missionaries, and Pastors, and Ranchers/farmers.  So when I say interesting, I mean it in the coolest way possible.

After we were done there, we spent a day in Casper with my son Colton, and his son Nik.  Nik is always shy when I first come around, but all it takes is a little bit of play time for him to come around.  There was some sort of big shindig going on at the park by their house so we walked down and Nik and I played in all the bouncy house things.  He loved the big slides the most.

After that we went and had some dinner.  It was just a the Texas road house and Nik and I had a great time busting open peanuts to get the prize inside.  He was super excited the first time he got a double!  It was hilarious!

For lack of anything better to do we finished the night by going to the College National Finals Rodeo.  Colton is not a horse person in anyway, but he was a good sport and went along anyway.  Nik had never been to a rodeo before.  It took me showing him a video of bucking bulls before he wanted to go, but once he saw that, he kept saying over and over, "When can we see the cows?"

Because he hasn't really been around that kind of lifestyle, I didn't really expect him to enjoy it so much, but he was sooo excited!  We got there early and so spent some time walking around the event center to check out all the vendor booths.  Of course we ended up getting him a little stuffed horse, who he promptly named Ruby.  Just to be clear, Ruby is a boy horse.  Then he wanted a rope too, so he got a rope and I tried to teach him to rope.  He had a little trouble remembering to release when he threw, but we had fun and he kept that rope and Ruby very close the entire time.  

Through out the entire show he was entranced, and made sure that Ruby was where he could see also so he could learn how to be a rodeo horse.  I had to laugh when he told me that the roan pick up horse during the saddle bronc riding, was Ruby.  He thought those pick up horses were pretty cool.  I have to admit I thought they were too.

Nik, Ruby and I

Colton and I

TC watching Nik


He had Ruby lassoed! 
We had so much fun!  I wish I lived closer to Nik, he is such a cool little kid and I only get to see him about once a year.

Now we are home again to forecasted highs of 115-120 this week.  Everyone is freaking out, worried about how they will keep their horses cool.  I hose mine down and hope for a breeze, make sure they have shade and plenty of fresh cool water.  This isn't their first Arizona summer, so I suspect they will be fine.  Half the time they don't even use the shade, but I make sure they have some if they need it.  I read somewhere that you shouldn't hose them down because it magnifies the sun and makes them hotter.  I am having trouble buying in to that theory just because if it were true then I don't think sweating would do us much good either. I know that if I am hot, hosing myself down feels great.  So if it feels good to me, a mammal, then I can only assume that it will also feel good to the ponies who are also mammals.

I'm actually more worried about the chickens than anything, but I've just been making sure they have plenty of options for cooling off, and then throw them some frozen fruit in the afternoon so that they have a cool snack.

Well, now it is off to work for me.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Product Review

Recently I came to terms with what I like to call the "Melly Dilemma"

The Melly Dilemma is defined as the need to sedate calm a horse for a specific event or task, without any long term side effects, so as to still have a fire breathing dragon under your legs when it is time to perform.  Long term would be anything lasting over 5 minutes after said task is complete.

In Melody's case, I need her to calm down enough to get into the damn trailer, ride down the road, unload out of the trailer, and stand quietly beside the trailer while I get her tacked up.  Once I put the bridle on though, I need that dragon horse.  I need her to be hyper focused, and on point.  I need her to be high energy and ready to jump at any little thing.

I'm sure some of you are asking why in the name of the sweet baby Jesus I would want her to be a total spaz under saddle.  Clearly that is the most dangerous time to have a spaz on your hands.....right?

In most cases that is 100% correct.

With Trax or Killian, I could care less how spastic they are on the ground, but when I step up in the saddle I want calm and relaxed.

Leave to to Melly to be the oddball.

Melody is her most dangerous when you are standing next to her.  Not because she is mean, and not because she bites or kicks or any of the nonsense.  Melody and I have constant conversations about personal space and for the most part she does respect it, but if Melly gets frightened, she jumps to the side.  She jumps right to the one she expects to protect her, she jumps right into your lap.  She is the worlds biggest lap dog.


*perhaps this where the argument about imprinting foals would fit in- but that is conversation for another day*

However, if you are on her back and she gets frightened, you are already with her so the jump still goes sideways, but then she stops and listens and trusts you to talk her through it. (in most cases)

So with that mind, I'd much rather be on top of her than standing next to her.

Along with this train of thought is what she "does for a living".

Her job is to chase cows.  That is it.  Every thing we do is in preparation for the next time we are in a sorting pen.  She is not a young girl anymore, and just like the rest of us old girls, it take a certain amount of adrenaline to not wear out in the middle of a job.  So that nervousness, or spastic energy, or what ever you want to call it.  That is what gets her through her job.

I admit that I love when we ride into the arena to warm up and she prances in, nostrils flared, neck arched and on high alert.

Is it the right thing?  Probably not.

But is it cool?  Hell yeah!

I'll trot her out like that for a while and then we will kick up to a lope and she looks so freaking amazing and everyone stops and looks and as we ride by people always comment about how gorgeous she is, and I smile and say thanks, and it is like the best day of my life all over again.

We stop and do some spins and then roll back and forth and she is quick and light on her feet...well as light as she can be for her size... and it is bad ass.

And for a minute I feel like I might even look like I know what I am doing.

Then we go and stand and wait for our turn to go into the sorting pen.  They call our names and she prances in.  I move her off my leg, left and right, to make sure we have our steering, and then we go for it.

When I first started this we went slow and easy.  Now we hit it and get it as fast as we can from the minute we cross the line and she goes after those cows like she wants to stomp their heads into the dirt.  She sees nothing but cows.  It doesn't matter what is going on outside the arena.  She is hyper focused on her job and I'm doing the best I can to stay out of her way, while communicating which cow she needs to go after next. And yes it is a freaking blast!

If she is on calming paste, she flat out cannot do her job.  She has no energy, she has no adrenaline, and the cows can out run her.

So that is why I needed something to calm her down, that didn't involve adding anything to her system.

Then I saw this:

This is the HIDEZ Equine compression mask.

It is like the Thundershirts made for dogs, only obviously for horses.

Here is a link to their website.  They have several different products.

It works like a compression vest, but it also specifically targets the calming pressure points on a horses head.  (allegedly)

Sooo, I ordered one.  It arrived yesterday.

This morning I knew that we were going to revisit trailer loading practice so I decided to give it a shot.

I was not even sure how I was going to get it on her, given her dislike of having her face messed with, but I rolled it up like a stocking, and fit it over her nose.  Once I got that part on, she dropped her head and let me put it on.

I was amazed.  She immediately started licking and chewing. She did a little head shaking as she got used to it, but after a few minutes that ended.


Red really is her best color!

I let her wear it for about 30 minutes while we got the trailer loaded and ready to go.

Then we asked her to load up.  She balked the first time, so I walked her away, moved her feet for just a few seconds and then asked her again.  She went right in like it was nothing.



The important thing I see is the lack of white in her eye showing. She is calm in both pics of her face.

It really is a big deal.

When we got to the public arena she backed out of the trailer like a pro.  We saddled up and I took the mask off.

BOOM!

I had my fire breathing dragon back, and we went into the arena and everyone ooh'd and aah'd over how pretty she was, and I had a blast riding her and it was just as perfect as it could be.

When it was time to go home, I put the mask on while I untacked her, and then when it was time to load, I didn't not even have to ask.

She walked up to the trailer and hopped in, turned around and looked at me and said, "What are we waiting on?"

*Mind Blown*

Here is my disclaimer.

I don't know for sure that the mask was the determining factor, but it darn sure seemed to help. She was not biting at the air while standing in the trailer, or pawing the floor, or any of her normal antics she does if she has to stand in there for even a few seconds.  

 It cost me $100 for that stupid mask.  I can tell you that at this point, it seems to me like it was worth every penny.

The next test will be to try it on Trax.  Since calming agents have a reverse effect on him, it will be interesting to see what this mask does for him.  If it works, and he can go to a public even and not require an hour of riding to relax, then he will get a pretty blue one.  If it doesn't work, it won't matter, because it worked for Melly!

I have a friend who bought one for her barrel horse who really has an issue with ally's.  She raced him in the mask Friday night and he went up the ally like it made no difference to him at all.   Flipping amazing!!

So that is my review.  It is easy to put on, it seems to work, and no dopey side effects.  If you have an anxious horse- you might want to try this.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Cuz' Shirley Said

So.......I was bitching about facebook (on facebook) yesterday, basically complaining about how boring it is and how much time I wasted scrolling through the exact same stuff

every

single

day!


At that point our good friend and fellow blogger (see title) so kindly reminded me that there is a much better place to spend my on line time.  A place where there is a whole lot less drama; a place where the people tend to be more understanding, and less judgmental.

*cue music from Cheers*

So here I am, back at my blog, sharing a little bit of what is going on with the herd.

Since it has been forever since I posted, I will just stick with the high points.

First off, I am back to working full time.  I am managing a feed store.  I worked for this company before, left to do my saddle shop, then came back for a little extra money.  From there it morphed into me driving 120 miles (round trip) each day to manage a store way out on the other side of town.  It was a cool store though, and I took it from barely making any money at all to being uber profitable and looking better than it ever has.

At that store I got to do business with folks like Al Dunning, Brandi Lyons, Cory Cushing, Brad Barkemeyer, Matt Mills, and lots and lots of high dollar Arabian breeders whose names mean nothing to me, but mean a lot in the Arab world.  That part is pretty cool.

Fast forward a few months and now I am managing a different store, right by my house.  I like that part, but it came with a price.  I still have to assist with the managing of the managers of the other two stores, so I do still spend quite a bit of time driving.  It is my hope that very soon they recognize my potential and move me up one more spot within the company.  But I'm not going to elaborate on that too much until it happens.

Now- lets talk horse stuff.

I finally quit worrying about my horses being "ready" for events and just started showing up.
When I say ready, I mean as in totally trained and not going to make any mistakes.

My new motto has been  "Show up, Saddle up, and have a good time."

Once I adopted that attitude things like This started happening.  I have decided that I love sorting.  The bonus is that I have a horse that enjoys it too.  We actually managed to get a couple of perfect runs in last winter, which was a big improvement for us.

I'll be honest.  There just are not many places to practice sorting. I guess because cows aren't cheap, so it seems that our competitions is where we learn.  It isn't cheap, but we get better with each run and most people are pretty understanding if you are just starting out.

I have a girl who works for me.  We will call her J.

She and I started hauling around to different sorting events and even though we had no clue what we were doing, we still went and figured it out.  It was a ton of fun, and each time I showed up, I was a little less nervous.

She has a pretty cool horse named Spur.  Here is a video of her sorting as well.  When we started all of this she had never even practiced this before.   Her horse is a total bad ass, and everyone is seeing her as the up and coming competition.


When sorting season in the valley ended, we started looking for more things to do.  She wanted to barrel race so that is where we headed.  I am pretty much sick of sitting in the stands watching everyone else ride, so now I barrel race....sort of.

This is what happens.  Not fast, but she runs a pretty pattern!

The real reason we went to barrel races was for J and Spur.  Let me show you Why

I decided that Melody needed to save herself for sorting and since Trax really wasn't doing much and loves to run, I thought I'd give him a shot a barrel racing.  Sometimes  I run him, sometimes I have a young friend who runs him.  Mostly we are still in the training stages, but some serious progress is being made.

We have gone from this

all the way to this

Unfortunately I don't have any videos of me running him, because if I'm not filming, no one is there to do it.  But the important thing is that we are both learning and having a good time. We are getting out there and not worrying about what people think, what they say, or if they laugh at us.  Well Trax might care if they laugh, but I don't.

I love the fact that in the first video he was looking for the gate at the second barrel.  But in the second video he was looking for that 3rd barrel.

Doing this sort of riding had really forced me to step outside my comfort zone. Not with Melody so much because I trust her an awful lot, but with Trax I still carry a lot of fear.  I have really been pushing myself to go just one step further each time we ride.

I practice going fast with him.  I am learning to trust him again.  We sprint up and down the length of our arena.  Did you know that if you don't go fast on a horse for 30 years, you have to learn how to ride it all over again?

This is what learning how to go fast again looks like.




I am actually pretty impressed with the old guy (he is 17 or 18 now).  It has only taken him 3/4 of his life to decide that he is a broke horse!  Ha Ha!.  No actually I'm just impressed with how hard he tries.  We did a little sorting with him too, and he doesn't do too bad.  He does get a little balled up if there are too many cows around his back side and since you sort in teams, I decided that it isn't fair to my team members to lose out because he is worried.  So I still take him to practices when we can to help him get over it, but I don't compete on him yet.  For now, I think he will just stick to racing.  The more we do it, the more he enjoys it (or so it seems) and to be honest, I'm having a good time with it too.

In other news Princess Melody has a couple of bad days.  We went through some bad trailer loading issues.  It took a couple of months but we finally got her past it, and she was loading up just great...until one day when she didn't.

We were out at the trailer working on it, and she had two feet in the trailer.  The next door neighbor was working on a tin shed at the same time. He dropped a sheet of tin (accidentally) which freaked her out, and she went straight up.  She pretty much ripped her face off.




The vet came out and stitched her up and she got a couple of weeks off.  Now she has a nice M scar on her face.  The M is for Melody Moody Mare.




It took quite a bit of work but we do have her loading in the trailer again.  It actually wasn't near as bad as I thought it was going to be since every single one of her fears involving trailers had come true.   She still doesn't love a trailer, but she will load, and that is about the best I can ask for I think.

I manged to trade myself into a remote control mechanical flag, and we do a lot of practicing on that.  This mare, who seems slower than molasses in January, loves to work if she gets to chase stuff.  It is so funny to watch her videos because it seems like she is hardly moving, but when you are on her it feels pretty darn fast.

In a couple of weeks we are headed up to Mormon Lake to do a summer series.  I'm pretty excited.  I have some friends who will be up there also, so it will be nice to hang out with them AND get to ride horses too.  The series is one weekend per month for the entire summer.  It is a couple of hour drive, but totally worth it to get to cooler weather.

So....there it is, my first discombobulated blog post in eons.  Now to go do a little reading and see what everyone has been up too! .