Saturday, March 31, 2012

Successful day with the Colt

My mustang is doing great! He's starting to feel much better, and it's quite obvious. He now lets me pick all four feet, he'll be ready for the farrier to do his back feet very soon! Today I even offered him a bit, he took it fantastically, didn't care at all. He chewed it for about 10 seconds, and then let it gently sit in his mouth.

He leads with just a rope on his front foot. His ground manners overall aren't horrendous. He's pushy, and he gets frustrated when I make him whoa. If I don't use enough pressure right away to whoa and back him he just walks through me, but if I give him direction instantly he does well.

After working with him more, I now see, this little guy was started by someone who knew what they were doing. This little guy is so relaxed about everything. I swing a saddle pad on him, he doesn't care, tighten a rope around his heart girth, barrel, and just in front of his flanks, and he stands stone still. I can swing a rope around him, and he keeps his cool. He even leads by just a rope around his front foot. Judging by that move, I know that someone taught him that little trick. I've never met a horse that just leads perfectly like that naturally. Someone started him with the intention of eventually successfully riding him.

Moses isn't going to be his name, it was vetoed. So I broke into my Sunday School memory (and asked my mother) searching for some bible stories. I have really liked the story of David and the Lion Den. I have a thing for lions, and the story is great. For those who do not know, the story goes something like this. David worked for the king, and the king really liked David. The other workers didn't like David, so they talked the king into passing a law that made it illegal to worship anyone but him. David still worshiped God, thus the king was forced to punish David. The punishment was a night in the lions den. David was brave, and trusted that God would protect him- so he spent a night in the den. Sure enough, the next morning God had protected David and kept him alive. David was loyal, faithful, and incredibly brave. Those are all characteristics that I would love for my colt to obtain. Unfortunately, his name is David, and this horse is not a David.

So how about Samson? Samson was granted supernatural strength by God to fight his enemies- wow! He was so trustworthy, and faithful that God granted him such a tremendous gift! Samson was old, which I can chose to read as wise, and this horse is wise.

This little guy is just amazing to me. He is so level heading, intelligent, and so brave. He is not bitter, or food aggressive, all of the other horses love him. Roxy usually doesn't get along with anyone but Dolly. She doesn't act out under saddle, but that is because she is trained not to, when she's loose or in her stall she fights with everyone. However, I let her and the colt sniff through his mare motels. Instead of raising her head, grinning her teeth and snorting at him, she sniffed him for a while, and then decided to eat some of the loose hay. It was obvious that they liked each other, and it was just too sweet!

I'm excited for this colt and the adventure that he holds. I was pretty worked up and honestly rather nervous to ride him, but now I've settled my fears. By no means do I trust him yet, but I like his personality, and he's a beautiful mover. I think he is going to end up a beautiful functional animal, now if only we can find him a functional and beautiful name.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mustang Manners (or lack there of)

I've only handled Moses 4 times; including the first time I met him at the property across the street. Every time he's seemed pretty docile, and easy to handle. He lives in the mare motels, and just two gates away is a large turn out that I've been working him in. He gets turned out for about 10min while I clean his stall, then gets worked. He never leaves his neighbor's side.
Well Tuesday (last time I was out there) his co-owner turned out her horse Kay, his neighbor. Kay went about 100ft away to the arena, which is pretty visually obstructed from his turn out. I was holding him, and he had been pretty attentive to me, but as soon as Kay left, his focus left me. He called out to her, and wouldn't tune in to me. Although Moses didn't move his feet, his focus completely shifted.
It makes me nervous. I know it's a mustang thing, he's just looking for his herd. I'm sure the trauma that these horses experience during a round up is severe. But will Moses ever look to me as his herd? Will I ever be seen as the lead? Will my presence be enough support for him?
Here is my current plan for Moses, and the techniques I plan on using. I am VERY open to suggestions, as I've never dealt with a mustang before. I have lots of experience with rescues, and young horses, but this mustang seems to be something else all together.

Picking Up His Hind Feet
   - Since he kicks out, I plan on lifting them with a rope. When he gives, I give. This is what I used with Roxy and she does great now.

Perfect Ground Manners
   - Moses leads, but I want him to be a super star on the ground. I want him to promptly whoa, back, and turn  at just visual pressure. I plan on using a crop as an extension of visual and verbal commands, eventually lessening the pressure to just visual. I'll get some video of me working with him on the ground to better display this method.

   -I want him to be ready for a saddle, so I want to desensitize him to a rope, saddle pad, and bit. This is done through exposing him to these objects. Also I think a loud plastic trash bag would be a good thing for Moses to see too. I'd like to get him to give to the bit from the ground too. Also I've found that desensitizing a horse teaches them to respect you, and to enjoy your company. I'm not sure if he's even spookish yet, but just showing him these objects, is valuable time with my big guy.

I figure this list will keep us busy until he gets in good health and weight to be ridden and worked safely. Then I plan to re-saddle break him, pony him on Roxy to get him used to me above him, and eventually get up there for that first ride. I've never been nervous about a first ride before, but this mustang hype has me scared.

Do you have any suggestions, methods, advice, or important lessons that you think Moses should learn? Have you ever worked with a mustang?

Hobby Horse Blog Hop #2

1. My horse does this silly thing....
Roxy is a very funny horse, I always say it's her appy side that gives her so much personality. She has recently started doing something rather silly. I just started graining my girls again, Dolly gets a big scoop of senior feed, and Roxy gets a scoop of super 14 and a very minuscule amount of grain. Well Roxy has recently taken to getting both front feed into her grain bucket (a big rubber one on the ground). So while graining Dolly, Roxy gets both front feet into her bucket and waits for her grain. Silly little mare. 

2. What trick(s) have you taught your horse, dog, cat, husband, or kids?
Well no husband, or kids to train yet. My dog knows a few tricks, she can sit, lay down, stay, shake. Basic dog tricks. My horses I've always wanted to train some tricks to, but I find it hard to find time on the ground to actually consistently train them tricks. Oh wait! Now that I think about it, Roxy can bow! Her previous owner taught her this trick.

3. What was the last movie you watched?
I saw 21 Jump Street. SUCH A FUNNY MOVIE. Seriously, you guys should all go watch it. 

And now, my question to all of you!

Who is your favorite horse trainer?

My favorite is Craig Cameron. I met him at equine affair years ago (I gotta find the picture!). He was so down to earth, and so hilarious. Also a very effective, and realistic trainer. His methods are simple, logical and work! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

New Front Feet! (plus some little fingers! I let my friend's niece play photographer)

At 15.3 700lbs is extremely underweight. 

Just my nosy little Moses asking for kisses!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Newest Addition

I don't usually head out to the ranch on Mondays, I try to take off Monday and Friday from the ranch. However I couldn't keep away from my sweet little guy. Moses is his name, and eating sure is going to be his game. My little guy is so thin. I groomed him up, and he looks even worse, it's now clear just how extremely thin he is.

I'm going to weight tape him tomorrow, as well as measure his height if he stands still enough. He is very sweet. I'm starting him very slow. I turned him out, let him be a horse, then I haltered him, and groomed him. He does very good, and likes to be groomed. I didn't tie him, but I put the lead rope over the railing, and he stood well. I think he would tie ok, but I don't want to over whelm him. He needs a good solid week with just love, no work, and with these feet hardly any real exercise.

Front Hooves

Rear Hooves

He lifts his front feet well, but I don't want to push him, so I just ask him to lift his rear feet, and not actually even hold them. When I tried before he kicked out a little, and I just want him to take it slow. Moses obviously needs to be eased into everything very slowly, and gently. He seems very gentle, and actually likes to follow me around. We went on a walk around the property and he did very well! I am amazed by Moses and his gentle attitude, he has a soft spirit. I only hope it stays that way when he gets some food in his system, and his feet start feeling better. 

I took some photos of his current condition. I'll leave them bellow.


I'm going to weight tape him tomorrow, and measure his height. I imagine he is in the range of 15.1-15.2 he's sweet to boot! I just love this little guy already. He needs lots of TLC, but we're getting Moses back up to health. He's come to us at the perfect time to be on schedule for shots and worming- which is great! I was able to get that nasty tangle-that-was-once-a-braid out! It only took like 20 minutes.... But he's looking more handsome each day! 

 I'll leave you with this photo of his tattoo. His is quite faded, and on his mane side (he has a super cute thick mane!). Everyone send good thoughts of safety and happiness for me and Moses! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Parting the Seas

This morning I walked across the street, and brought home my new fella. I took my hot pink halter over, haltered him up, and walked him back to his new, very loving, home. I'm so sad that he has been tossed around, he is truly adorable, and pretty well put together (especially for a mustang). Meet my colt. 
He is good size, probably 15 hands, and so so cute. He's the rescue. He's significantly thinner then he looks, as his winter coat is hiding him. I would rate him between a 2 and 3 on the body scale. His feet haven't been done in OVER TWO YEARS. Horrifying. The reason "He won't let you pick up his feet!" Funny, because I picked out both fronts with ease, and he briefly let me lift the back feet too. It almost brought me to tears. I slid my hand down his leg and he instantly knew what it meant, and lifted his feet.

I would LOVE to name him Moses. I think it just fits him quite well. I did bring him home with another woman though, so we'll see what she says. My BO/Good friend was quite unhappy. We don't like mustangs, and she has had awful luck with them. But I didn't get him for me, I brought him home because he did not deserve to rot.  He didn't chose to be born a mustang, and he certainly didn't chose to live in that home. This big guy deserves a loving home, and that's what he'll get with me. When you bring home a horse, you are promising to love them, and care for them for their entire life- or at least seeing that they are well cared for at a loving home.
We are guessing that he about 4, hopefully that means he isn't set in his ways, and will take well to being broke. He is quite affectionate, wants to be groomed, and he really wants to be with me. I turned him out in the pasture to run and roll. He saw horses nearby and tried rearing up over the pipe fencing. Not good. He's living in the mare motels, so he'll be safe and won't be able to hang himself, or hurt his legs on his stall.

He leads very well, backs up and everything. He's a little pushy, but someone at some point actually put some trained this cutie. I am so thankful that I was able to rescue him, and I only hope that he over comes his mustang habits (pictures of the tattoo coming soon!) and becomes a solid riding horse.

Do you have any experience or opinions (good or bad) on mustangs?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Unwanted Soul

Today I have done something absolutely crazy. There is some property across the street, and they simply don't know much about horses. The guy that was caring for the horses suddenly left, leaving three horses without a caretaker. Three horses that were not fed since Thursday. That's 3 days, with no meals planned. One of the horses, a sweet arabian mare, used to be owned by a boarder on our property. The other is an adorable little mare, and the last is a super cute mustang.
I've never been fond of mustangs, and honestly I don't know a single person who is. They are always just a little unpredictable and wild. But this poor little guy is being starved, and neglected. He had metal coiled in his tail, and BROKEN GLASS is all over. His feet are horrific because "He won't let you lift them." The horses are skinny and wormy. They need some good meals, and some wormer. The horse that used to be boarded on the property came back, two girls decided to share the sweet little quarter horse. That leaves the 'wild' mustang colt. He has the BLM tattoo, and they've owned him for 2 years. That's about all that we know.
Tomorrow morning I will be bringing home the sweet little fellow. He was gentle on the ground, let us pet him, stood still, was not scared of us at all, and he is so cute. Myself and a dear friend have decided to rescue him. We want to pick a Hebrew name for him. He's a dark bay, with a light muzzle, and is just ADORABLE.
Pictures are sure to come tomorrow, and I'll let everyone know how the day goes. I've been wanting to get a new project horse, and I think he was really placed here for a reason. This poor little guy has been passed around, and he truly needs a home. I imagine he is about 4 years old (oh Roxy's age when I bought her). He's been saddled, but never successfully ridden. I think with a little time, love, food, and proper handling he could come very far. Did I mention he's adorable? I have experience working with rescues, and young horses so I think this fella may have found a forever home.

Any rescue stories you want to share?

Friday, March 23, 2012

We Really Need a Cow

My trainer has been dying to get a cow for years. We all learn to rope, and some of us girls have started team penning down the street. Roxy's previous owner took her around cows once, but it wasn't really the woman's thing so she didn't know what she was doing. She did say that Roxy appeared to really like them though.

Often when the girls go out together, Roxy cuts Dolly all on her own. It's so much fun to watch them, because you can really see what they are telling each other. Roxy is so pushy, she shifts her weight, and Dolly will move away. Roxy will get her running, and then direct Dolly on where to go. It's absolutely hilarious.

Sometimes when no one is at the ranch, I'll turn Dolly out in the arena while I ride Roxy. Often we go 'play' with Dolly by moving her. Sometimes Dolly loves it more then Roxy, and if I ask Roxy to actually work she comes running up beside us begging Roxy to join her.

The weather has been pretty raining, and I was sick so I wasn't going out much. I turned out my girls together, and Roxy was herding Dolly for literally 10 minutes.

We seriously need a cow. Do you have any cows on your horse property/boarding stable? Have you taken your horses around cows?

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Bit of Knowledge

I am a huge fan of the right bit for the right horse. And I am a huge fan of understanding how bits work. Every client's first lesson includes information on bits. I don't care if you are learning english or western, you are going to learn all about all of the types of bits, how they work, what 'level' they are, and the idea of graduating a horse up to the next bit.

I am not the type of person who throws whatever I want into any horse's mouth and tells them to listen to it. I don't solve problems by going up a bit (if anything, you should go down). I thought that I would take a moment to walk you through the bits that I use daily, and why. I'll go in order of my most common, to least common.

This is my absolute favorite bit in the entire planet. I have no clue how I came to find it, because lord knows I never would have spent $80 on it without knowing how well it worked first. I have never even been able to find my exact myler online, but it looks like this one, only the port is a bit lower, and the roller is copper.
I love my myler because it's gentle, and most horses take to it really well. You get horses that are salivating, collecting, flexing at the pole, and overall docile. I like giving Roxy a roller because she gets excited and rolls the bit, which I highly encourage. It keeps her salivating, and it keeps the bit soft in her mouth.

Alright, this isn't a bit. But I love my mechanical hackamore. Dolly has a thin rawhide hackamore, and Roxy has a thicker woven rawhide hackamore.

That is like Roxy's it was really tough to find a round hackamore, not a flat mechanical one. Honestly, I like the round ones more because they are much prettier then the flat ones. My girls seem to like them too. As with most tack, the wider the nose band the more gentle. I like the hackamore because it uses pressure points along the horse's cheeks, poll, and chin. Dolly likes it because of the infection in her mouth (I swear I'll tell her story soon), a bit bothers her sensitive jaw.

Tom Thumb
I am not a huge fan of this bit, but it's what the lesson horses use so I use it often. The Tom thumb is actually a pretty controversial bit. I use to use it on my girls, and on most of the horses that I ride. Now the Myler has replaced the tom thumb, and I actually own none! I still use it on the lesson horses during lessons though. The reason that I don't like it, is because it pinches. It can be a really nasty, and painful bit.

O Ring Snaffle

The mouth part on mine is a little big thicker then this- which I LOVE. I only use a snaffle on the babies. It's just my preference to get an older horse into a shank bit. To me, it makes more sense when neck reining for the bit to have shanks. Notice how the sides of this snaffle don't end at the ring? That's to avoid pinching, perfect for babies with nice soft mouths.

What type of bit do you and your horse love? Thinking of shelling out for a Myler? Do you have any specific questions about any bits?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Envy of Every Horse

I don't know a single person who doesn't romanticize a horse with a long flowing mane and tail. Think 'Andalusian' or 'Friesian' and you instantly think hair. Well Roxy is part appy, and her mane reflects that.
Appaloosas can have two kinds of hair. They either get short wispy hair, or thick nappy hair.

Short Wispy hair (yes this horse doesn't even have a side with mane)

Thick nappy hair
Well as you can see, Roxy got the nappy hair gene. Which by all means is better then the wispy hair! I keep her mane pretty short, in a quarter cut. The shortest it's ever been was about 3inches.
Looking back, this was too short, it makes her neck look even fatter then it is (like we need that on the cresty beast). So I prefer to keep her mane about this length:
Since I have given up the fantasy of growing out Roxy's mane, I started to work on her tail. She has always had a long beautiful thick tail. I love it. It was so long, I started braiding it, to keep it up.
 I would wash it, and then french braid it all the way down.
Then I would go one step further and bag it so it would stay extra clean. Then the other day something magical happened. I came out, and her tail was down (it sometimes falls out on the bag and braid. And when I saw it, I realized that it was dragging on the ground.

Now I am left with this awful situation. Roxy is a gymkhana horse, can you imagine how dangerous it is for her to be running full speed and possibly step on her tail? UHH! Now I have this beautiful long tail that I have always dreamed off, AND I HAVE TO CUT IT OFF! What the heck. Now what will I do? I can never grow out her awful mane long enough to do this:
It's official my life is over. Now Dolly, she has a little tail... Maybe she'll be my next growing out project. 

What are your horse hair fantasies? 

The Ride that Almost Ended in the Dirt

In case you have not been keeping updated, I've been sick. I even switched stall days with my trainer in hopes that I wouldn't be sick later in the week. I was still sick. However, I went to the ranch on Thursday to do stalls. I don't mind doing stalls at all, but doing falls while sick sucks. I did stalls, and then I decided to ride. The weather was great, and I was already there, so why not?
I'm not a huge fan of routine. Some people are, and I realize that some horses do REALLY well with a routine. I like to keep Roxy mentally challenged. Sometimes I turn her out before I ride, sometimes after. Sometimes her and Dolly together, sometimes not. Sometimes I lunge first, sometimes I lunge after, usually I don't lunge at all. Roxy hadn't been out since Sunday, and she usually gets out 5 days a week. I really should have turned her out, but I just wanted to go on a quick ride. So I tacked up my sweet little Roxy, and headed out to the arena. She was hot, but I really like her when she's energetic.
I started my ride with a little pleasure, making her jog, and stay very collected, with her head long and low. Roxy did great, she kept her headset, and a fantastic topline, she was responsive to leg and vocal commands. As a reward, I let her go into an extended trot. Roxy has a super extended trot, and I really like to stretch her with it before we do any gymkhana.
After that I let her run barrels. She was FANTASTIC, so I let her really run. We usually lope the barrels, and sometimes we move through at a hand gallop. Well today I let her really gallop them. Roxy runs a really clean pattern, and she pretty much runs it all on her own.
I ran the barrels like 3 times, and I could feel that my saddle was loose, but I'm pretty good at just keeping it balanced, so I continued to ride. I mean I was all rigged up with a real saddle (not just a bareback pad), stirrups that were my size, and a breast collar. So I took Roxy around the first barrel, and we were really running. There is this 'point of no return' when your saddle is slipping, and I could feel that I Was a mere millimeter from this point. In an instant you go from on top of your horse, to being in the dirt, and your horse running like mad with the saddle underneath them. I was determined not to let that happen. Remember I'm sick, I didn't need to be sick and dirty.
I jammed on the brakes, swung my saddle back onto her back, and promptly hopped off. Roxy stops on a dime even mid pattern, good to know. I rig my saddle using the holes in the latigo, not the tie, and when I raised it, it went up 3 entire holes. For those of you that don't know, 3 holes is quite a lot on an English saddle, but it's even more on a western saddle.

Who could resist that smokey dun face? 

This is my usual tack, myler bit (which I want to talk about in my next post), reining saddle, breast collar, and fancy little pad, and I'm trying so hard to use splint boots regularly. I am planning on switching my english reins out for my nice blue gymkhana reins, since that's what we are doing so much more of.

Do you have any almost in the dirt stories? How about any tack that you love, or that needs to be switched out?

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Crazy Life

This new job is literally crazy. I enjoy it, but I'm very hesitant to enjoy it. I'm a preschool teacher, and I work at the school founded and directed (basically owned but it's non profit so it has no real owner) by my mother. My sister also founded it, so some of the 'owner' duties are on her, and they trickle down onto me. Today I was in with the older kids. I generally stay in the infant toddler room, but I'm good with any of the age groups so they utilize me everywhere.
I was helping set up for nap by laying out mats, and the kids were wild. I'd put bedding on a mat, and they'd pull it off, tell them we were JUST looking at books, and they'd run to the kitchen. They were pulling jackets off of hook, and pulling the hooks off the wall. They were literally going from one naughty thing to the next as a herd. My mother was in the other end of the classroom cleaning up from lunch. I told her about 5 times "I need help". My mother didn't get it her said "I am helping!" she was helping to clean, I needed help to regain control.
My sister walked in to take her girls somewhere and I just told her "Are you in here? I have to step out." She was confused, my mom was too, and I just repeated "I have to leave." and walked out. Where I promptly burst into tears, and head to the kitchen/break room.
I have never been so instantly overwhelmed like that. I am usually pretty tough, and the kids listen to me well. I've also been in the room during the lunch to nap transition and it is wild. But I've never been so totally spent that I broke into tears. I'm just so overwhelmed lately. I've been sick, but we are short handed at the school so my mom hasn't been too understanding when I tell her that I can't come in. She makes me feel bad for being sick, and it is unfair. No other employee gets talked into "take medicine and call me in half an hour". If they are sick, they are sick end of story. They sleep it off and come in tomorrow.

So being sick I haven't been able to go to the ranch much. I need my ranch time. That is my relaxing me time, and I now realize that I desperately need it. The other day I had the MOST fantastic ride with Roxy. I did almost fall off, but that's tomorrow's entry. I went to do stalls, but I talked myself into riding Roxy, and it was great. So I plan on remember how important that me time is, and continuing to really thoroughly enjoy my riding time.

Are your horses your me time? How do you unwind? Have you ever burst into tears at work?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nick Names

Personally, I think that I have the funniest, most lovely horse in the world. Roxy is smart, silly, sassy, and tons of other things. Thus she gets all sorts of nicknames. Here's a list of the most common ones:
Foxy- Who could resist calling her 'Foxy Roxy?'
Fox- It was only natural that 'Foxy Roxy' would turn into Fox. This is her most common name, possibly more common then Roxy.
Bear- Anyone who owns a Poco Bueno bred horse knows how fluffy they get during winter. Roxy is the FLUFFIEST most hideous creature in winter. It is because of all of this fluffy hair that she is a bear. 
Creature & Beast- Similar to when a child is called by their whole name, these are reserved for when Roxy is in trouble. 

Other note worthy nicknames at the ranch:

Tahiti- Often referred to as 'Black Bitch' because she is so mean. 
Dolly- I call her Dandy. Dolly's registered name is Sheza Little Pistol. Previous to my mother owning her she was 'Pistol' we changed her name to 'Dolly' after 'Dandy Doll' who is Doc Bar's dam. She's not a Doll for me though, so I much prefer Dandy.

Do you have any nicknames for your horses?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Roxy Rant #3

So I have been a perfect 100% fabulous horse lately. Well mostly. I like to break into the lope from the trot, it's just so much more fun. And my girl has been trying to get me to do my super fast Roxy trot, but I'm just not feeling it. Oh and also she's been doing this weird thing where she RIDES OTHER HORSES. Doesn't that girl know that I'm her one love?

My girl rode this big fat paint mare at her lesson on Sunday. The fat mare tried to buck, it was quite hilarious. I remember being that fat and trying to buck, so ridiculous- it just does not work.

After my girl's lesson she rode me! She put a saddle on me, and took me into the arena with lots of other horses. We tried to lope the barrels, but the other horses were super in the way and annoying. So instead we worked on our slide stop. I'm a good slide stopper!

After that went on a trail with 7 other horses! We went up this huge hill, and when we were almost to the top Wendy was all "Hey guys, lets get ride of our saddles!" I tried to tell Wendy no, but her saddle just slipped right onto her side. Her rider leaped off in perfect timing, and my girl did too (my girl kind of runs the show at these trail rides, thus making me the lead mare). I got to hang out with Dolly for a few minuets while they put Wendy's saddle back on. Then we continued on. We were all very brave. We passed big scary monsters like yellow tractors that were fixing our road, big heaps of trash on top of bright blue dumpsters, and even a menacing dog. Ok, the dog scared me a lot, but my girl rubbed me with her spurs so I held my breath and passed it quickly hoping that it would stay as sleep about not turn into a wolf and eat me.

Some of the trail riders! See my Roxy ear in the corner? 

The trail ride was fun, but after I thought my girl was going to ride me more. Instead, she tied me to a post, where I stood very nicely. During this time she rode a palomino Morgan mare. The mare is really funny, her name is Lily, I have a feeling she will ride this silly mare more.

Over all it was a good day for Roxy! I had lots of fun, and I love being in charge of everyone. Maybe my girl will take me out on more trail rides!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Roxy Quirks

I have a quirky little horse. Lately she's been extra quirky. My horse has always been quite private about her bodily functions. If Roxy needs to poop, right before I approach her stall gate she will walks away from me do her business, and then walk over to be haltered.
Roxy very rarely uses the restroom while tied. Remember, this is mare that I will often leave tied for 2+ hours, and stands to dry after every hosing off or bath. So she is tied a lot.
Recently, like the last 2-3 weeks, almost every time I begin riding Roxy feels sluggish and uncomfortable. She stops after the first half lap (and in almost the exact same spot) she pees. I find this so weird. I find it weird that she does this in the same spot, and almost every time I ride. This is a mare that usually uses her pee to mark her territory (as in peeing in front of her feeder of so bad that we had to stop feeding her there and change the spot). Is she marking the arena as hers? That sounds like an odd answer to me.
Is this some sort of medical issue? I imagine not, I mean she's just using the restroom. It seems like if she wasn't going it would be a bigger issue.

Does anyone have an opinion on why she would do this?

My sweet little mare, with Dolly in the background. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Very Wordy Wednesday

I have started this new job as a preschool teacher, and I am starting to like it. It's weird though, I feel like I'm playing grown up, like it's just pretend. I wake up early, get to work at 7:15, open the school, kids arrive at 7:30, and I leave sometime between 1:00 and 1:30pm. If it is a ranch day I then head out to ride. If it is not a ranch day I head home and try to clean at least one thing. All of my friends live out of the city, so I don't see anyone, or have anyone really to hang out with. I currently live at home, but I am planning on saving my pay checks for 3 months, then looking to move out (because I can now afford it). I am giving myself until June to start looking out, so I can throw a house warming party with my friends actually in town, and at my 3 month review I may get a raise. In addition it would be cool to be out of the house by my birthday, July 3rd.

I have rethought my tagging system. Here are the new tags:
- Life
- Nostalgia
- Lessons (the teaching of humans)
- Training (the teaching of horses)
- Rant (the Roxy rants)

I originally wanted to be able to look back on each horse, but it's hard because I'm not consistently training anyone other than Roxy right now. So I feel like 99% of my posts are about her anyway. I think this will help.

When I first started learning gymkhana I rode a fantastic finished horse named Roulette. She was great, she could spin, slide stop, and she ran a great barrel pattern. This horse taught me the pattern, while Roxy was still learning it. I hope other gymkhana riders get the chance to learn like this.

Well, I recently started teaching a 19 year old girl gymkhana. She already knows how to ride, and has a pretty good foundation. She can catch, groom, tack up her own horse, and Dolly loves her, so it works out fantastic. Today I had her trotting the barrel pattern. To be honest, it was pretty sloppy. Dolly runs a really loose messy pattern if you don't really cue her and nail her to get it right. So I let the girl, Jamie, ride Roxy. I told her "Here, why don't you trot it once on Roxy so you can feel what it's like on a finished horse."

Another thing that I love about Jamie, she really understands the horses and picks up on subtleties. I had her trot Roxy a lap in both directions to get the feel, and then I had her approach the barrels. When I say Roxy is not hot, I mean she doesn't bolt, or run through the bit. She is sharp, listens to her cues well, and is very forward. She's hot when you ask for it, but settles down quickly, so I was confident that despite my galloping the pattern previously, she would trot it for Jamie. And Roxy willingly did. They turned the first barrel and Jamie instantly said "Wow!" She could actually FEEL how tight, Roxy was running the pattern. She could tell that Roxy knew it. They turned the second barrel, and it was great again! Heading to the third barrel they bannaned a little, but I think it's Jamie's cue because Dolly was doing it too. I could tell that Jamie really enjoyed Roxy, and it was so fun for me that my horse got to be the teacher.

Here's a photo of Roxy (+ long awful appy hair) and I taking a 6th place ribbon with grace.

Has anyone else had a moment where your horse got to be the teacher? Were you proud? Or were they less of a teacher and more of a tester? 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Success times 2

First things first, I have been trying to love on my horses more. Grooming is one. I suck at grooming. Sometimes I just dust my horse off with my hand before switching tack over. Sometimes I ride bareback instead of grooming. I think I've gone weeks without cleaning my own horse's feet. I am lucky that everywhere my horses ride is rock free, soft terrain. 

Today I took some time to love on my horses. I turned them outlet them graze. I free lunged them, successfully! Roxy is a bitch, and I will be the first to say it. I have never once even thought that she wanted to hurt me, or would charge into me, but when I try to lunge her with a lead rope, not a whip, she does this weird backing up thing. She turns her hind end away from me, and sometimes rears up. So today I got really serious with her. I made her back up aggressively, she reared at me and I shouted to her "NO!" she looked shocked. I swung the rope up and hit her in her upper neck, and she took off away from me. YES! I praised a silent victory. It was short lived, as Roxy turned herself away from me. Great. I went over, got really assertive, and told her to move. After some coaching she did! 
During this fight Dolly was lunging herself like the perfect little angle that she is. I recently lunged her alone (without Roxy) for the first time, the mare stayed on the rail in the arena, at a beautiful jog. What a fantastic mare. 
Back to Roxy, whom repeats this about 4 times. Then the clouds parted, and the lord must have whispered into my horse's ears "Roxy, you're an angel remember?"
"Oh yeah! Silly me, thanks God!"
And Roxy sent herself off into the most beautiful canter. I know horses should lunge easily, and willingly, and it's a super big deal. But Roxy lunges fine with a whip, and I usually don't have time to fight with her. I promise to make time to actually get her to lunge properly now. 

 I rode Dolly today! I tacked her up in all of my tack (even my fancy pad cover). I was comfortable, and it does fit her pretty well. Her and Roxy are built strikingly similarly. I didn't even have to raise the cinch on the short latigo. Dolly is a funny little girl, but she did good. She jogged so beautifully, I think she really enjoys being in lessons again.
Since I literally pulled my tack off of Roxy and straight onto Dolly I rode her in a very gentle myler bit. She hates bits. Dolly was chewing, and making a sour face even when I didn't use the reins. I think her mouth is really hurting her again, I need to start cleaning it out. I'll talk about Dolly's health problems in my next post.

While loving on Roxy I noticed something. I noticed it a while ago actually, but today I confirmed it. Roxy is getting extremely smokey. Her face is so black, her tiger stripes are very defined in summer (even in her thick winter coat you can see the stripes by her knees), and the mother load of all smokey-dunness Roxy has shouldering bar.

"I am a pretty dun!"
 But Roxy hasn't always had such a beautiful shoulder bar has she?
A fluffy shoulder bar in 08
A shiny shoulder bar in 07
A ribby shoulder bar in 07

How have I never noticed something so cool? Oh well, I sure have noticed it now!

My ride today was excelent. Roxy has a fantastic stop, but I want to start using 1 of the 4 cues, instead of all 4 all the time. I hope that every rider is well aware of the  4 whoa cues. They are vocally, with the reins, and that is where most people stop. But I teach my clients (both equine and human) 2 more tools, sitting deep, and bringing your legs forward. Today I tested Roxy, she responds quite well, to all but sitting deep. Interesting. She knows that it means easy if I squeeze my but and thighs, but she doesn't read this as whoa. I was surprised that she responded so well to just putting my legs out. It's crazy difficult to just put them out, or just sit deep, and not say whoa. It feels like I am doing her a disservice because I know how much milder it is on her to just talk. Regardless I plan on putting a super whoa on my horse, and when I use all 4 cues that work just as well separately, when I do all 4 at once I'll get that super whoa. 

I tacked my horse up today with the intention of really working her, mentally and physically. I want to build my pudgy mare back into great gymkhana shape. I know this means more lunging, and letting her sit in her gates for longer, oh and actually riding her for more then 10minutes. Today I did all 3! We worked on barrels, I let her run them, and really encouraged her to go fast. She's usually demonstrating the pattern, so we keep it slow so it's extra clean, especially since it wouldn't be appropriate to train her while trying to train someone else. I trained her hard on the pattern, and she did really well, and she enjoyed it! I love having a horse that truly enjoys being ridden. I think it's vital for horses to have a job, and to enjoy it.

Then I switched, and worked on some lead changes. I started with simple changes, and she minded her cues quite well; both the transition walk to canter and vise versa, and picking up leads. Twice I got BEAUTIFUL flying changes out of her. It resulted in an instant reward of a walking lap and some heavy petting. Overall I was proud of both girls, and I had so much fun actually putting tack on, not being in a hurry and riding!

All booted up and ready to ride!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Roxy Rant #2

So the other day my girl came out to ride me. I was actually looking forward to it, Dolly was already out on her ride, so maybe I could join up with her! I had no such luck. My girl brought me out, gave me pets, and kisses, and told me how much she loved me. How embarrassing, not to mention this was all in front of Bux!

Anyway, so my girl took me over to tie post, and actually tied me. Cool. Usually when I actually get tied, and don't just stand in front of my tack shed to be tacked up it means I have to wait for a while. So I closed my eyes, and rested my legs. It is such hard work looking so drop dead gorgeous all of the time, so I cat nap whenever possible.

My owner returns in a few minutes, to show me to some lady and her kids. They lift the boy up to show him my super cool color, and let him see all of my stunning fantastic beauty. Then they leave. About 20 minutes later I was really enjoying my nap, but my girl was back! Great! Maybe she'll put a saddle on me, sometimes she does on Sundays. I saw the barrel pattern set up really big and straight, maybe I'll get to run!

Again, no such luck. She doesn't even put a bareback pad on me like she usually does. She just gets my bridle, and then leads me to the mounting block. I stand patiently and let my girl on. Then instead of going in the arena and actually getting ridden, we head towards the mare motels, where I stand for a bit confused, as the people blabber, then move past and find Dolly! My girl even lets me sniff with her since we are such good sisters.

We head to the arena, where my girl makes me jog, and I do so. But I do it really awkwardly, with my haunches in, and my head facing the arena. This results in a kick of the inside leg, and a jerk on my reins. Fine. I fix my body so it's less awkward, and continue to jog. This is done for about 3 laps. Then she asks me to canter. Despite the fact that I really want to gallop as fast as horsey possible, I stay collected and round. Then my girl has the nerve of putting me away!

What the heck? What person rides for literally 5 minutes? Did I get stuck with the only person on earth who makes horses stand longer then they ride? That's it! I want a new human! This one just will not- What? You have grain? Oh please can I have some? I worked sooo hard, and I am sooo tired. I don't even care if you coat it in the white powder stuff that tastes all yucky! Gimme gimme! I guess my girl is forgiven this time.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Memorabilia Overload

So lately I have written about either past events, or future events. I think this is pretty true for where I am right now in my own adventure in life. I'm not very good at living in the present. However, I plan on using this post to lay out the present right here, right now. I promise to not even mention the future one bit! I won't talk about starting up my own ranch, or taking over KO Korrals, or getting my car fixed, or moving into my own place, or anything! ;)

School- School is a nightmare. A nightmare that I try to avoid speaking about. I am a freshmen, taking classes at community college (CC). Although I dropped all of my courses for the current semester, the CC offers 8 week courses. They start in March. I am signed up for a few, and I plan on participating in at least one of them. We'll see. The toughest part is ordering the books, because I know that my heart isn't in learning this stuff, and I never used my books when I actually attended college. *sigh* moving right along.

Career- I am currently a preschool teacher. I have yet to decide if this role fits me, if I can properly wear this hat. I know that the children are well cared for, and loved. I am very good at this job, but I am not certain if my heart is in it. The school I work for is my mother and sister's, so it is family run and that's kind of cool. My interview was almost a joke because I knew that I was hired before it anyway. It is ok for now though, it pays the bills, and fits right into my schedule.

Horses- I love my horse. I love my horse so very much. And I am such a snob when it comes to anything about her. This woman today came out today to meet me, and see if she wanted her son to take riding lessons, and possibly lease a horse from me. I always walk new clients around and show them the place, so that they see how well cared for and safe the horses are. I show her my horse (whom I had tied because I forgot she was coming and I was getting ready to ride), I told her "This is my mare Roxy".
The woman turns to her son and says "Look, Roxy is a bay like our old horsie!"
"Actually, she's a dun." I snapped, where I quickly caught myself, and lifted her son up and told him "Do you see the stripe down her back?" I then keeled with him and pointed to the inside of her hind legs "She's also got zebra stripes!"

But despite loving my horse, I'm not sure what I want to do with her. She's 10 years old, she can run an amazing barrel pattern, go long and collected for western pleasure, tuck her little head in, and keep contact for english equ, she has great form over jumps, but right now she is a little purposeless. Or maybe I am... I was entertaining the idea of endurance. But it was short lived. Not because Roxy wouldn't be good at it, I'm certain she'd actually be quite competitive, but I wouldn't be. My hips are awful. I am in constant pain, let alone if I ride for too long. How in the world would I condition Roxy for endurance, let alone actually be competitive? Then there are pageants. I could run for Bulls Only Rodeo Queen next year. I think that I would be quite good at it, and I know Roxy would love it. I feel like this future talk is acceptable.

This is the reason that I haven't had any posts about what I am doing with Roxy. Because I feel like I'm not really doing anything. What new obstacle/discipline do you think I should entertain?
What? You want me to do something? 

My First Blue

My first blue ribbon I won at my first show! It was a little ranch show that my BO/trainer put on for all of us. It was a valentines show, hence all of the red shirts. I won the ribbon in the event 'musical poles'. If you've never played, it's hilarious, and I'm planning on having my girls play it sometime. Imagine musical chairs, only on a horseback. And we were relatively green riders. We could all lope, and most of us even galloped on the track to build our horses up, but some of us were pretty green. The event started out with around 20 kids I would say. It was packed. 
Looking back I have no clue how my trainer kept that many of us, and taught us all so well. She is a force of nature, that I hope to some day emulate. 

Jessica on Missy, and Myself on Roxy.

We were down down to the very last pole, and the last two riders- myself and my good friend Jessica. I'm a pretty bold person, and Jessica is very timid. So when the music stopped I kicked Roxy, and we ran to that last pole. Roxy had an awful stop at that point, so I'm pretty sure everyone thought that we were just going to breeze past it. Everyone except for Jessica. I jammed on the breaks, and turned Roxy, grabbed onto that pole for dear life, and made my horse stop.

We smiled, and laughed after, assuring everyone that we would not become archenemies.

  I was soon after awarded my first blue ribbon!! Look how excited I was with my fat, fluffy, sweaty, dun monster!

What was your first victory? Whether it be in training, or in the show ring.