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Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.

Ride with your heart and soul ~ your horse can feel it


Friday, October 10, 2014

Lefta

My little girl is starting to be a grown up horse!  It's amazing how much she's changed in the last couple months.
At the Ed Wright clinic this summer I told Ed that I just had NO confidence when I was on her.  It felt like I was sitting on top of something like this ^ and she just didn't feel solid or "there" under me, if that makes any sense, and I sure as heck didn't feel comfortable even loping her anymore!  Ed watched us warm up and said to only go as fast as I felt comfortable with, to not let anyone push us faster than I felt we were ready for - including him.
Lefta was a ball of nerves that first day, she was just recently working through her trailering issues so I'm sure having to go for a "car ride" didn't help.  But being so nervous and on edge most of the day just didn't seem right, she HAS been to places before and around other horses.  Then again, that has been part of the problem.  Even at home when we had jackpots she just doesn't seem to feel comfortable with everything going on.

*she's been to another clinic and spent the winter before last going to team penning, so it's not like she hasn't been in that kind of situation*

On the second day while I was warming up Ed pulled one of his "eyes in the back of his head moments" when I rode past him and said "Nice warm up, you both look better today"  :)
Seriously, how does he do that.  He is very focused on who he's working with and we warmed up BEHIND him lol
When it was our turn I told him I was ready for some faster work.  That she finally felt solid and like she was there beneath me.  It had changed from feeling like I was on top of this ^ to this ---
And we did work... and things were starting to come along except she was having an absolute FIT about going to the left.  Ed said he thought she was sore, most likely in her neck and I told him that she had been but had been checked by my equine bodyworker and was all clear, and that I thought she was anticipating it hurting.  He looked her over and agreed, then he got up on her to do some more advanced work to try to get her over it.  His comment "Wow she sure holds on to stuff doesn't she?!"
Ummm, yes.  Something goes wrong with her and you'll be investing time to fix it that's for sure! (yes, like the trailering!)

Lefta got most of the summer off, other than trail riding, seeing as I took most of the summer off from barrel racing other than going back to slow, "aim for correct & precise" stuff with Voodoo.
But ever since the clinic when I have ridden her, wow!  She's just felt solid and confident.  She even likes to lead the trail rides and doesn't seem bothered by anything (other than dogs that jump out from nowhere)
Well, well... now it is once again the little miss's turn.  We worked in the arena yesterday just to see where her mind is at seeing as she really hasn't had to do much "work" the last couple months . 
Oooh boy howdy did I second guess getting on her for a moment... I put the reins over her head, tightened her cinch a couple holes and then before I could swing a leg over she was gone.  Zipping around the arena with little humpy whale bucks and just ruuuunnnning.
Once she settled down and stood, looking QUITE  proud of herself, I walked over to her and said "Well I hope you had fun, consider that your warm up!"  and then we started trotting and loping.  Lots of different exercises and drills but no actual barrels.  I just wanted to see where her mind was at and I was pretty pleased that she settled down and went right to work after her little shenanigans!  Geez, I was only wanting to see where she was at with doing work instead of trail riding lol
Today I set up the barrels and we headed back to the arena, warmed up and trotted through.  Not bad, not great... didn't like what I felt on the left though.  Loped through and yeah... left was not good.  She's acting like she's sure it will hurt so that second barrel sucks but when she gets to third she's fine.  Unfortunately that is not going to make for a nice pattern though lol
Until she gets through this "ooh noes it's going to hurt" we'll do some body work and lots of work softening and gaining flexibility to the left.  And it will probably also take lots of just riding through it so there will be lots of days she ends up like this:

"I'm tired mom!"

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The New Kid

Not mine! No way, no how... no "new kids" of human or animal persuasion for this lady! 
However, my boarder for the last year or so had given notice that she was leaving September 1st so that left room for a new boarder or two.  That turned out to be a nice little twist of fate for my "new old friend" Jax...
She was able to get a super good deal on a colt and now she was able to keep him at our place, which works out great for a few reasons.
(It's not my deal, 
therefore not my place to divulge the details 
but it was a steal of a deal)
Jax hasn't had a horse in a long time, like since she was in her late teens and she & I are considerably out of our teen years. 
Joey, the colt, is a papered Half Arabian and Jax will be sharing him with her daughter B.  B is "new to horses" so to help Jax get her feel back and B some experience they'll ride some of my horses... so boarding here works because they'll be able to come and work with their horse and ride.  Plus they're more than willing to help out with some odd jobs/maintenance things.
Of course there is still an actual contract to take care of the business part of boarding, and thanks to a comment from Cindy D I remembered to put a clause in allowing for photos...  which allowed for me to catch this bonding moment when we brought young Joey home ;)
So there you have it, my first "official" boarder horses have moved and the new one has moved in.

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's Supposed To Be Fun Right?

Horses that is. 
Yes they're a lot of work. 
A.  Lot.  Of.  Work. 
Especially when you take care of them yourself.
(but that leads me into a whole 'nother topic)
But if you're a horse nut like me, "infected" since you were a wee one, they're supposed to be FUN.

Sometimes though we lose sight of that...
Which actually makes me glad my horses aren't in shape to be competitive at all this year.
We've been entering jackpots still, but working on keeping things correct not on making runs.
We've been trail riding.
We've been working in the arena but not "running" or do a bunch of barrel work.
Just working on softness, suppleness, collection, lateral work, etc.

Even when we're working though we're also having fun...
You know what?  It's showing - even in our jackpot runs :)

Which reaffirms my belief that no matter how competitive you are, you need to respect your horse and keep it fun for BOTH of you!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

If you live in the country for any length of time it's bound to happen... livestock gets out, either yours or someone else's. Not a huge deal if it's dealt with properly and promptly. But when it's not, oohhh man!  Get ready, grab a snack, this is a bit long-winded.

There is a farmer/rancher in the area that is fairly notorious for his cattle getting out, we'll call him BN.  We've been here for 4 years now; first year no problem, second year one got into our horse pasture once and he promptly came and picked it up, last year nothing and then this year... it's gone from a minor inconvenience to a problem.  And I think that's part of his issue, he's been here "forever" and we're "new".  But I know for a fact we're not the only ones having issues with him as he rents & owns several pastures in the area and other people are having the same problems with him.

For the story below a five year old I drew you a little "map" (I apologize, my Paint skills are sorely lacking
Here is the key to the map:  Large purple shape is main horse pasture, green shape is the cow pasture.  Blue rectangle is a hay field (with a closed gate to the cow pasture).  The little grey square is the hay barn, the brown square is the pen with gates that open into the cow & horse pastures, where the horses come in for water (the cows have a waterer in their pasture).  The white space to the right of the pen and below the horse pasture is part of my small horse pasture.  Keep those fuzzy red & orange lines in mind, I'll get to them in a moment!



I went to do chores one night and my cows were making quite the racket.  A couple of the calves were small enough to have gotten under the hotwire so I thought maybe some mommas were upset.  I used the little flashlight on my phone and did a quick head count and everyone was there, and then I heard a snorty sound behind me... I turned and there was a strange cow in the small horse pasture!  No horses were currently in there so I didn't worry about it, I just figured one of BN's cows had gone through the fence. That fuzzy red line is the shared fenceline. 
The next morning I went to check and the steer had crawled through into the horse pasture.  I got him moved into the pen and called BN... he came and got him a couple days later.

This sort of thing has happened repeatedly this spring/summer. 

The last few times his cattle would get into my horse pasture and then crawl the fence right into my cow pasture.  BN took longer and longer to come and get them.  Then the worst part happened... his darn cows broke through my cow fence and took my cows with them, right into the hayfield, they broke the fence where the little, fuzzy, orange line is.
I was at my limit, not only were his cattle eating my grass (and my cow pasture isn't big, I don't have grass to spare) but we also were wanting to put our bull out soon and I have automatic waterers so it was literally costing me money to have his stock here.

The last time before this that BN's cattle had been here I had been less friendly than normal and I told him that he really needed to do something about this, maybe improve the fence.  And yes, this was HIS responsibility in my eyes seeing as MY animals were respecting that shared fenceline and staying where they belonged.  He kept giving lame excuses as to why they were getting out... and it wasn't just into my pasture, at night you drive slower down my road and the surrounding ones knowing that there's a good chance some of BN's cattle are out in the ditch/on the road.

So anyway, this last time when all the cattle were out (except our bull, poor Baxter was bellerin' up a storm from his pen though!) the Hubster and I were on our own to round everyone up.  Hubster took the quad, I grabbed Voodoo and we got it done -- pretty proud of us and VERY proud of Voodoo, man oh man did he work those cows!  (really wish he could work like that at penning and sorting but I guess he knows when it really counts and when it's a "game") 
After the deviants were penned I called BN, got his voice mail and left a message stating that his cattle had gotten out, wrecked our fence and took our cows & calves with them.  He needed to pick them up NOW and he better bring fencing tools.  Whattaya know, who pulls into the yard with a little black truck (no trailer) about 15 minutes later to 'make sure they were his cows'.  Really?!  I had left a message over a week ago that they were here, and the day before I had called again leaving a message telling him he had until sundown the next day to collect his cattle. 
(dangit, they got out the next morning!)
Well he couldn't deny they were his, especially with those brands haha!  He was back about 20 minutes later and got them loaded then I walked him to the pasture and showed him the broken electric wire and smooth wire.  BN and his brother fixed the fence and after they left Hubster and I put our mommas & calves out.  Hubster went to work and I went riding with friends.
We got back and who was in the hayfield... my girls and their babies.  I was soo mad but also grateful my friends were with me, we got them rounded up and in a pen.  Poor Lefta, she's not a big fan of cows and she had to work them, and not in the confines of an arena but out in the wide open where she had to w.o.r.k. lol
I checked the fence, it was all up but for some reason there was no *zap* to it.  Hmmm
On his day off Hubster and his buddy went to put up another wire and check the ground and that's when they found it... that jerk BN and his brother had wrapped the electric wire around fence posts instead of tightening it properly, it was grounding out!  I was so mad I could spit! 
Funny, once the guys fixed the fence PROPERLY it's worked fine and the girls, babies and Baxter are all contentedly munching away on the grass and staying put **knock wood**
I really need to look into what my rights are in this situation should it happen again, because I'm not really wanting to keep them in my pens or pastures any longer.
You may have noticed I've been referring to Hubster in this post.  Pie & I are still together, I've just renamed him ;)

Good cows!!
**edit to add, those trees in the background? 
The shared fenceline is right behind them, they're further away than they look**

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Smokin' Fast hahaha

Okay, so actually NOT smoking fast. :p

We had our second double header jackpot at our place this past Monday and gave Lefta the night off and just rode Voodoo.  I hadn't rode him in the first one because he had a fresh cut.  Considering he's running and playing in the pasture and it's healing well I didn't feel too badly about entering him this time.  What I did feel badly about is he is sooo out of shape after a couple weeks on pasture without any riding.

Since I knew there was no hope at all of a competitive time and we just needed a jackpot the only game plan was to work on his gate antics and tune our pattern.  He could cruise through the barrels however "fast" he wanted, heck he could walk/trot if that's what he did nicely lol

I am lucky enough to have a fairly large outdoor arena, the pattern at my place is a full set... standard size pattern, standard distance timers to barrels, standard size timers to gate.  I joked that I'd be happy with anything faster than 25.0 ;)

Our first run he threatened to pop up a bit when I went to go in the arena.  I just kept my hands forward and squeezed my legs asking for forward and suddenly in he went (although he felt a little pissy about it).  Our "run" was okay.  *I* really need to work on ME and second barrel though.  We just loped through and our time was 24.31 haha

I mentioned to my friend KD that I may need help getting in on my second run and she laughed and said "Do you just want me & Tiz to ride up behind him again?" and that's when I found out she rode toward us when he started farting around and we joked Voodoo must have thought "I don't want to deal with those blondes" lol 

My second run came and KD was off to the side visiting so I tried going in on our own and what do you know... he went in just fine!  Again I rode with my hands forward, squeezing with my legs and thinking *forward*  and we walked quickly toward the gate.  He had a brief moment when he hesitated and I thought he'd skitter off or threaten to pop but instead he picked up a trot and swung into the arena without any helpers :)
This run was smoother, funny how going in nicely can do that ;) again I just let him cruise through but we picked up our time a bit... to a blazing 23.46 lmao

For the record, the fastest times for the day were 18.38 on the first run and 18.22 on the second.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bid Denied

I'm sure all y'all know by now... California Chrome didn't manage to make history and become the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown.  I'm not going to comment here on whether or not I think his injury out of the gate is what cost him the race*.  Instead I want to touch on sportsmanship and tradition.

Steve Coburn, Chrome's co-owner was quite... expressive... in his post race interview.  Matter of fact he came across as throwing a tantrum.  I passed it off as a passionate owner expressing his feelings in the heat of the moment (I'm sure I'd be less than gracious in the same situation).  However if the follow up stuff I'm seeing online is true he's just a real poor sport.

Going into a bid for the Triple Crown you KNOW the deal.  You know there are horses that raced in the Derby and not the Preakness, or possibly neither the Derby nor the Preakness.  However that doesn't mean the whole field has rested... shocking but there are other races on the TB calendar ;)  One thing is certain though, you know your horse will be facing fresher horses.  Ranting and raving that it's a coward's way out is not very classy.  Also, for the guy that's been doing all the PR, not too smart.  Also let's not forget his horse isn't the only one that ran all three races (hello Ride On Curlin and General A Rod)

Those that are saying only horses that have raced in all three should be able to compete is, IMO, ridiculous.  Trainers & owners choose which races to enter depending on their horse's talent and health. 
It also reflects the "everyone is a 'winner'" way that children are being raised now.  Guess what, not everyone wins and when you grow up and step out into the big ole world without ever having to lose or take a hard knock, or stretch yourself to find out what it takes to better yourself instead of everyone getting a participation ribbon, it's a huge adjustment.

Claiming that your horse has a target on it because it's going for the Crown is also pretty stupid, although yes it probably does.  However time and time again other horses have had "targets" on their back because of how dang good they are.  Google Phar Lap and see how even the stewards tried to take him out.  Talk to people that have worked in the industry and listen to stories about boxing horses in on the rail.  How many horses have been taken out of the winner's circle due to interference?
Bottom line, target or not, it's racing.  You only get paid if you win and it's not cheap to own, train and care for those horses so guess what, you're going to try to win (although I have no illusion that some horses are entered as sacrificial lambs to make things easier for stable mates).
IMO the only way to make it *fair* for everyone would be to have the horses run in lanes like human runners do.  No changing lanes, no bumping/interfering, a staggered start so everyone goes the same distance. (somehow I'm sure even that would have people crying "unfair")

The Triple Crown isn't officially a series of races as in a closed series or set, which is why horses can enter any of the races and don't have to compete in all three.  Guess what, it wasn't even called the Triple Crown until approximately 1930 (guess what, the first horse to win the Derby, Preakness and Belmont was Sir Barton in 1919.  Yep, before it was even known as the Triple Crown). 
Tradition and history have made the Triple Crown what it is.  Every.other.horse that has won the first two races has faced the same thing Chrome faced.  It's part of what makes winning the Crown such an accomplishment and why the Belmont is known as the test of champions... to be able to win all three races, in such a short span, finishing with the longest most grueling run, against horses that may be fresher.

Again just my opinion here, if "the rules" were to change and the only horses running are ones that have entered all three... well heck any of those that win that new Triple Crown wouldn't be able to be compared to Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed!

* For the record, while I would have LOVED for there to be a new Triple Crown winner I had serious doubts that it would happen.  Chrome didn't seem to finish the Preakness very strong and it looked like Ride On Curlin would have caught him if there had been any more distance*