New and Ever Changing

Things have been happening in this horse-world of mine and it’s time to share.

First of all, I’ve let Powder go. I stopped payment on her and she was sold to Alberto’s good friend and cowboy horse trainer, Art. I deeply enjoyed the time I put into her and I’m sad to say I didn’t even get to say goodbye, it was such a quick ordeal. I will miss her but at least I know I can check in on her now and then. She’s well treated, well trained and she’s in a happy home.

This means my foal plans have also changed. Instead of having Powder and her foal, I’m going to be getting first pick out of the other mares…

  1. Scarlet, the palomino, is due first in March and she’s bred to his dunalino stud.
  2. Then there’s Missy, the sorrel tank with a head like Arizona who is bred to his smokey black stud. She’s a looker and I’m excited to see if she throws a black or possibly even a buckskin.
  3. And last there’s Roxy, the smokey cream dun. She’s bred to the dunalino stud as well and she’s actually the mother of the smokey black stud Missy is bred to! I’m more than excited about her color possibilities as among them are just about every color I’d be happy with – but especially – GRULLA.

My plan is to see if Missy gives me a black foal before passing on it but even then I’m really wanting to hold out for Roxy. There are just so many options for her it’s anybody’s guess but my heart wants a grulla so bad. I guess we’ll see. Can’t wait for spring 2015!


Arizona and I are doing well. I do enjoy being able to focus on her more now that I don’t have two to train, and we’re working on basic groundwork (still) and bareback riding right now. The last time I took her out was Wednesday I believe, and Sabrina and I both took some time on her, working on feeling our seats and learning the glue, as I call it. If my mother self-taught all her horseback riding skills bareback and it taught her to ‘stick like glue’ then so will I.

Now here are some pictures to enjoy.

Riding Bareback Being Silly

Taking a pass around Sabrina, doing what I do best. =P

We got in a good thirty minutes at least before we started wearing down the ground in certain places. Thanks to the rain we'd had by then the footing was already starting to go.

We got in a good thirty minutes at least before we started wearing down the ground in certain places. Thanks to the rain we’d had by then the footing was already starting to go.

I wish the photos did this sunset justice. It was beautiful to be out riding that evening.

I wish the photos did this sunset justice. It was beautiful to be out riding that evening.

Working on standing quiet. Yes, even this is work.

Working on standing quiet. Yes, even this is work.

Nothing beats friends and horses! Here is Livi with mama BriBri after taking a walk about the small pasture.

Nothing beats friends and horses! Here is Livi with mama BriBri after taking a walk about the small pasture.

That bareback ass that only equestrians understand!

That bareback ass that only equestrians understand! Being dirty is never something to be ashamed of or annoyed with, it shows dedication and hardwork and payoff!


In other Arizona news, she’s picked up wood-chewing something fierce! Without having a vet come out and draw blood to pin-point if there is some sort of mineral/nutrient deficiency, I’ve been trying other possible solutions. Since this is a new habit, and there have been no changes to her diet in a very long time, I’m left to determine that it’s not caused by her food intake, or lack thereof. However of course, if these snazzy diversions don’t work out it’ll be my next expenditure.

Anyway I firmly believe she is bored and frustrated. She does not get a nightly turn-out with my barn owner’s horses and I’m sure that’s no fun. She’s also been seeing 1 or 2 of the other horses chewing up their share of wood lately and you know what they say about copy-catting. In any case, I’ve been dousing the wood in that anti-chew spray and we’ll see how that works. Additionally I’ve started putting her hay in a slow feeder hay net and I’ve tied a small jolly-ball from the ceiling for her to mess with. Hopefully having something to eat for longer periods of time and something to play with will help. Unrelated to the chewing, I also finally got a fly mask for her, as no amount of anti-fly goo or spray or roll-on whatever has been working to keep them out of her poor eyes. She looks rather fetch, no? 😉

Lovely new fly-mask and salt-lick to hopefully keep her entertained a little.

Lovely new fly-mask. The mineral/salt blocks help to keep her entertained a little, but aren’t much for actual nutritional value.

Small jolly-ball hanging toy and new fly-mask. Here's hoping to a bit of distraction!

Small jolly-ball hanging toy. Here’s hoping to a bit of distraction!

Pretty Quarter Horse Mare

And here’s one last picture of my girl, just because she’s pretty. Look at that gorgeous, slim, powerful QH head!

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She’s A Friend, Lesson Student and Fellow Horse Nut

She is SABRINA!


My dear friend Sabrina is probably the other piece of whatever I came from because aside from our taste buds we could not be more alike or more understanding of one another. It’s invaluable to have a friend feel so much like family. It’s a wonder how I went 25 years without knowing her, and I truly don’t know where I’d be without her anymore! Please enjoy these fabulous shots of miss Sabrina from our first cowgirl inspired photoshoot here as I go through this post. 🙂

Cowgirl Sabrina
One major thing we have in common is an unmistakeable and undeniable complete adoration for horses. The smell, the sounds, the feel and the mere company of a horse often brings us together after a bad or good day and it’s at the barn that we’ve spent many good nights talking and relaxing. There’s a special kind of therapy two friends enjoy when sitting out in a lawn chair, drinking a good beer, listening to the sound of a horse chomp-chomping away at grass next to you.


Along with that I’ve been teaching Sabrina the basics of horseback riding and horse care. She picks up everything as we go along and is quick to recall a past instruction. It’s a breeze to teach her and seeing as how she’s my first official [unofficial] lesson student, this is a great thing for me too. I know not everyone that I have the pleasure of teaching come the future will be this readily spongeable, if you will, but it’s great to have this positive reinforcement while I’m starting to teach.

Cowgirl Sabrina


Thank you girl for being in my life and sharing this great love I have for horses with me. You’re an asset to my barn and my family. Here’s to many more good times!

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Mr. & Mrs. Go For A Ride

Today Orlando and I went for a quick ride before the sun went down. It’s been a long, trying week and tomorrow marks day one of a new future and there’s no better way to face that than through the ears of a horse. I’m only sad I don’t have a picture of the ride but that would be due to the fact that I rode Oreo today instead of Arizona.

Oreo is currently in foal and due next spring. She is a sweet girl and will fall asleep in your arms if you stand at her stall and pet her. Today she was pretty feisty. Hunger, mosquitoes and a slight case of “I don’t wanna” made her a ride I had to concentrate on. She took off trotting back to the barn and I cut her off and made her turn back around. We proceeded to also face a few neighborhood dogs that were all up in our business and maneuvered a few patterns on both sides of the road. I discovered a gorgeous western pleasure trot of magnificence on her though I didn’t ask for it. When I finally let her go back to the gate we stood and watched a giant truck and trailer go by and when it passed her, semi-spooked and swung her hindquarters around so she could watch it more. Overall after my first ride on this girl I’m not pissed off or defeated. I’m looking forward to putting some more miles on her.

Oreo - APHA Mare

Meet Oreo! She’s a gorgeous in-foal paint mare at my barn.

 


 

Also… Yesterday Sabrina and I rode around the pastures with Arizona and Oreo. The only thing to note is that I got Arizona walking through the puddles on the driveway. Hurray for [small] victories!

Powder Makes Clear Progress!! – Training Day 5

Training Day 5 – 60 minutes

Today I had another glorious taste of all the wonderful things horses teach us when we teach them correctly. There’s no better reward for all my sweaty hard work than seeing her get something — that *I* taught her! Nothing will replace this feeling.

First I took Powder into the round pen to move her feet. We’re both doing way better at this. I’m able to keep her driven and she’s able to keep up momentum in the correct forward direction. She is turning to the inside too, which makes me super happy. That’s one major progressive maneuver right there! She is not hooking on but perhaps I’m just not doing it for long enough. I don’t let her stop whenever she wants, she will go until I’m satisfied she’s performed well enough but she just doesn’t come to me yet. When my back is turned now she will simply stand there. She’ll listen to this and that, look here and there, but she is firm. Prior to now if I eased up and turned away she’d just meander off and pick at the grass. At least now, I can tell I have more attention. I see her inside ear on me and I see her understand that I don’t want her stopping her feet in those certain spots, and she will trot through it on her own now.

I noticed a while back that Powder is afraid of the wash rack and I really want to see her get over that. What I did was walk her toward it so I could gauge how bad of a reaction she really had to it. She would pull on the rope and rear a little bit, nothing major but it was clear she was putting her foot down on the matter. Okay so, I walked her around the wash rack a few times in each direction before I’d ask her to follow me over it again. We continued doing this a few times until I saw her offer to walk around the rack while I was standing in the middle of it, so I turned it into a mild lunging. After more tug of war, I changed my approach and instead of trying to take her directly across it I asked her to simply take the corners. To my everlasting joy she ended up with her two front hooves resting on the concrete corner and I just let her sit there for a good while. I even gave her some praise rubbing on her neck and face and just let her relax and soak it all up. “You see Powder? Nothing is out to get you. And I bet you don’t even notice!” I said to her. After she gave in that little bit I walked her around the rack again a time or two and asked her to cut a little more of the corner. If she wouldn’t I would just readjust myself so that I could pull her in a different direction and then I’d ask again. With confidence, a gentle but assuring voice and not backing down, I got her to walk all four feet across the concrete! She did not freak out as she did it and she didn’t try to run across as fast as she could. I immediately rewarded her with verbal and physical praise and allowed her to stop there. I was ecstatic and still had more to ask of her and she’d been doing so well.

Teaching Powder to Accept the Wash Rack

Teaching Powder to Accept the Wash Rack

It was my first goal today to give her a deep cleansing bath because she had managed to get especially dirty this last week. Her mane was crusted together in clumps of mud and her body was covered in dry muck of the same kind. Girl was over-due for a good sudsin’!

I already know that Powder is shy about the hose. At my barn we have a nifty homemade PVC pipe attachment that has holes drilled up it so that the water sprays out in a line of little jet streams, almost like a shower, if a shower were shaped like a yard stick length pipe. I always start at her front feet and work my way up to her chest/neck area and then go down toward the back feet and up the belly to the flank. She only reacts at the flank, and today especially, because she has a nice little booboo from Scarlet right on the right side of her rump! We played a little doh-see-doh around the spray before she’d quiet down but quiet down she did eventually! After I scrubbed her down with the body wash I brought her back for a good rinse. She was not as busy in the feet but when she did move I persisted and waited her out, and encouraged her to relax a bit more by giving slack in the rope and letting her eat. I gave her permission to do this so she could associate a good experience (getting to eat) with a not so good experience (being blasted with water in strange places on her body.) It worked well and I’m looking forward to seeing how she does next time without the food incentive.

My goals changed from my last entry by the time I’d had her out for a while but that’s okay, I am happy with the steps we took today. I know I’ll have to break down today’s lessons and go back and solidify each one individually and next time I go out there I’m going to single out that wash rack and really get her going over it with no hesitation. I’ll take her around the round pen for longer too because I really want us perfecting that.

What’s the Point of all This?

There are times I ask myself that question, especially on the days when my horse(s) and I aren’t communicating effectively and things go wrong. I may blame her and let my emotions (usually sheer frustration) cloud the big picture; what I really should be seeing and what’s needed FROM ME to correct it. I like that in reading Downunder Horsemanship it’s put into BLACK and WHITE words: If your horse is not performing correctly or is misbehaving, it’s 98.9% always YOUR fault. The bottom line is for me that I always want to learn and improve. You don’t get to the level I want to be at by faking it and getting your feelings hurt. You have to educate yourself and allow others to educate you! Everybody wants something out of life but not everybody gets their dreams fulfilled.

One way I’m educating myself is by reading Clinton Anderson’s and Stacy Westfall’s training books. CA’s book goes into depth about horse psychology which is INCREDIBLY important since you can’t understand the choices you’re making until you know why those decisions are necessary. SW’s book is very exercise oriented and each stage and maneuver is detailed and explained in such a coherent way, which I especially like because cut and dry instruction are easiest for me to follow. It’s a very straight forward method. Both of them are, in fact. I get a great deal out of each of them but I’m not finished yet!

I have also borrowed a handful of VHS tapes of various CA and Chris Cox training sessions from my barn guy which I’ve only just started watching. I can tell I will need some extra practice watching Chris Cox because he doesn’t have the same flow of communication that the other two do. I noticed that when I watched one of the RTTH competitions recently. He does not allow his viewers to follow along quite as well, he simply takes action and sums up. There’s no detailing what exactly he did, why, or how. This would not matter much to me if I had a better level of understanding of the things I’m specifically watching him to learn, however I will manage this by taking notes and asking questions to those who know better.

Life is metamorphosing before my eyes and I’m going to continue to change with it. I’m taking the road to my training career  more seriously as well as certain smaller scale life goals, and I’m not disappointing myself. I wish I had more pictures to share but that will have to wait until next time!


 

Goals for Arizona’s next refresher session:

  • Groundwork for respect.
  • Groundwork for basic riding cues.
  • Quiet mounting exercises.

Goals for Powder’s next training session:

  • Lunging and respect groundwork.
  • Desensitizing body with hands and rope.
  • Desensitizing the space around us with lunge whip and string.