Arizona – The Good, The Bad and the Mareish

Today I enjoyed the rewarding splendor of what consistency and patience can provide a gal and her horse. I also received an uncomplimentary reminder that my horse, not unlike myself, is a female.

What I mean by this is…

The Good: I had intentions to ride today, however I happily settled for some bareback ground mounting practice. I know I can get on her just fine with the proper leverage, but in order to improve my body awareness properly I need to work both on and off the horse. Just riding around bareback isn’t enough for me. I finally have to learn this too. Since she was standing much better than times previous I really felt proud and confident that she could take a bit of banging around.

Arizona, showing me the fruits of my labors. Standing quiet, no chewing, no fidgeting about, no trying to pick at the grass... Very good job, girl!

Arizona, showing me the fruits of my labors. Standing quiet, no chewing, no fidgeting about, no trying to pick at the grass… Very good job, girl!

I wasn’t having success actually getting my leg up onto her back enough to get on but I didn’t get too discouraged. I quickly rubbed her down in the areas where I was putting pressure after each attempt and I just let myself focus on the movements I needed to be making. My clumsy self even threw my shin into her hip bone a time or two and she stood like a champ. I was very impressed with her, more than enough to keep me positive about my failures.

The Bad: I wanted to reward Arizona for being such a good girl for me all morning and turned her loose to graze for a while. Sabrina and I took to the hitching post next, for further practicing my form. Just like a horse, a little success builds confidence! And it worked great. Sabrina gave it a try for fun first and third time was a charm! She hit it every time after that.

Well… When it was my turn I greatly underestimated the necessary momentum because of how much shorter the post is than Arizona’s back. I didn’t want to throw myself clean to the other side so I dropped my effort down a notch. Up and over I go only I begin to realize I’m not going to make it. My legs were already hooked around but my upper body didn’t follow enough, and I was dragging myself down. I just held on and let it happen, refusing to accept it, and when I had reached complete upsidedownness Sabrina was laughing hysterically and my arms were in pain. She shouted, “You’re a sloth! You’re a sloth!” between strong bouts of laughter. It was pretty funny to me too but my arms had lost their steam and down I went. After this initial try though, I stuck my landing successfully each time.

And what would my practice fail be without a picture?

Horse life fail.

Horse life fail but practice makes perfect. I’m only glad this didn’t happen with Arizona instead. πŸ˜‰

A slight wood-burn as a result of scraping my arm down the post to hang on. Some bruising, popped blood vessels and torn up skin but it was worth it.

A slight wood-burn as a result of scraping my arm down the post to hang on. Some bruising, popped blood vessels and torn up skin but it was worth it.

And now…

The Mareish: I guess Miss Zoni just wouldn’t be true to herself if she didn’t give me the horseverbial finger every once in a while right? But really Arizona, on such a GOOD day?? She decided that when it came time to get put up she wasn’t going to take it. I’ve never had so much trouble catching her than I have today in all this time. She made both of us run and exercised us good! When I finally caught her (you could just tell she was thinking “Fine woman, whatever”) I made her arse run circles up and down the small hill beside the barn. It’s enough of an incline to wear her out but hey I figure she wants to run, I make her run. And we’ll build up some toplineΒ  πŸ˜‰
I was positively exhausted by this point and it took me a good [sad] while to fully catch my breath. Darn her, making me sweat and stuff. Unfortunately there are no pictures of this. To help make up for it I’m going to share a few pics from our last two rides instead!

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Sabrina and Oreo. Her first time out on the roads! They both did amazing . Tuesday, 10/7.

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Sabrina and Oreo leading the way back to the barn. I think they look good together πŸ™‚ Tuesday, 10/7.

Sunday, 10/5.

Letting Zoni dry off some after a really good 1.5 hour ride out on the country roads. It was a good day to be up early. Sunday, 10/5.

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Arizona Practices Her Patience

Training time: 2 hours

Today was a much needed day of easy to grasp lessons for Miss Zoni. We worked on patience and to sum it up: she did great.

I started by tying her up at one of our hitching trees. I groomed her right away because she still had week-old caked on mud on her and I wanted that off pronto.

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After she was as curried and brushed as she was gonna get I simply let her stand there. I pulled my chair and water bottle out and sat in the shade, either on my phone or just sitting there, but ignoring her bottom line. We remained this way for a time before I put her saddle on, cinching to varying degrees of tightness as a time, and then the bridle, and then I let her stand there again for a good long while. And I sat ignoring her. Unless she felt like biting at the bark, then I made myself loud and uncomfortable to make her stop.

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Something like an hour passes by time I messed with her next. I pulled her onto the wash rack and tied her close so she couldn’t reach any grass, and I sprayed down the post so she wouldn’t chew it. If ever she tried I made the same annoyance of myself to her and it was a nonissue. Once she was good and chilled I ended this block of time by tightening up the chinch good at finished.

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After a semi-brief while I began putting weight into the stirrup and pretending to get on. Granted, she was still tied at this point, but she remained still – with her feet and body. She could have still danced about with what space and slack she had but she didn’t.

I decided I was going to try mounting her from the ground solo as well. And as luck would have it after two solid tries I stuck it! It’s maybe a trivial success, but a success to me none the less. She is 15.1 and I am 5″3 and stout! This mounting from the ground stuff isn’t new to me but with her it is. I’ve always used a step ladder, mounting block, fencing, a leg up – whatever was easiest just to get on with minimal strain on her back. Well I wanted to take my lesson further by getting into the saddle and what better day to practice doing it from the ground than this?

Yea. It was a success.

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When I got up I patted her down; neck and rump, and told her what an awesome girl she was. I just stayed out and enjoyed the view, and the amazing 80 degree breeze. It’s as cool as it’s ever been since I’ve been here and it was much appreciated after the rotten humid heat. It was a great day to build on my relationship with my horse and her abilities!

When I was satisfied (and now running on a schedule to pick up the kids from school) I dismounted and undid her tack as structured as I put it on, albeit a bit faster. She stood quiet while I put things away and grabbed a few pellets to reward her with.

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Thank you to my girl for being amazing and receptive. I love her. She is a girls best first-horse-since-childhood hands down.

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“Flash back Friday” to the day I truly bought my girl. Signed paperwork and handed over my final dollar and she was 100% MINE!

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? πŸ˜‰

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!

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.

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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!

Arizona Rides the Open Highway

Today was a GREAT day! I took Arizona out for another long evening ride and it was beautiful and fun. Very relaxing and it took my mind off some things to boot. I met up with Krista, from my old barn (where I got Arizona) down by the bamboo that Alberto was telling me about. I’m glad to know where that short-cut is now so I can bypass the pitbull around the dump. Although, Krista says that dog is a wimp.

Arizona and I faced our fears this evening and RODE ON THE HIGHWAY! I’m very excited for us, we did wonderfully. She only spooked one single time and of all times it was right by our barn… by the neighbor dog… that she sees every day… Jeez, horses. We also trotted more than we usually do and it was okay. I’ll keep working on her collection because she’s still bumpy as hell, even though I know that slow beautiful trot is in there!

Now when I enter Powder’s stall she retreats to the corner and gives me her butt. This is UNACCEPTABLE. Instead of pissing her off though I have been doing the approach and retreat method and I’ve been able to get close up to rub her in the end. I didn’t pull her out and do anything today because Krista was ready to ride but next time I will put her back to work. I didn’t want to start anything I couldn’t finish. She’s not going to get away with testing me anymore though so I hope she realizes her kicking days are done!

I love this girl though. She’s an awesome mare and will make a great rider someday. We’ll get her there πŸ˜‰

Arizona and I out on the county highway road, doing wonderful together!

My gorgeous view from atop my amazing horse. It was a great first time out on the busy and loud country highway road!

The bruise I got after being kicked by my Quarter Horse mare Powder.

The bruise I got after being kicked by my Quarter Horse mare Powder.

Powder Gets A Trim

Today I had Jessica out to trim Powder’s feet and I was looking forward to seeing how she did. She’s BTDT with trims but I had yet to see it. Well, the minute I got into her stall she had ears pinned and had me backed into the stall wall and kicked out at me. Luckily for me she didn’t do it with intent to damage, because she could have. I’m a little bummed that for my first kick (I hate breaking my track record) I don’t even get a nice bruise.

ETA: I did bruise a day or so later!

The bruise I got after being kicked by my Quarter Horse mare Powder.

Wait. What?? Are we talking about sweet little Powder?!

I was stunned but it goes to show you how an animal is an animal, bottom line. She’s the sweetest horse I’ve damn near ever interacted with but she turned a dime and essentially flipped me the bird. I wonder what was up her ass though.

Jessica drove her around her stall after that. She turned her attitude around well enough and gave no trouble for her trim. I even put on her new, radical halter and rope and stood her for some pics. Next time I’ll get better ones.

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Cremello Quarter Horse

I also learned that Cheri from the feed store is friends with Alberto and actually was the one to convince him to buy Powder! I told her I was buying the rainbow tack for my new cremello mare and she said “Where’d you get her? Because I only know of one around the city and my friends got her.” I told her I got her from a private breeder named Vega and she gives me that look… “Albert? You got her from Albert?” Small world, Corpus.

She confirmed she’s had no training and supported my ground-zero breaking methods for her. She said she’s a great mother and she knows of at least two foals so far. It’s all pretty interesting to me.

I do love my girl Powder. A little at a time, a little at a time.

Powder Gets Ground Worked – Training Day 3

Training Day 3 – 50 Minutes

Today I tried to lunge Powder again but it’s increasingly clear she does not get how and I’ll have to take baby steps to get her there. I worked on directing her to walk out and forward instead of just moving her butt around me and keeping me at her forefront. I quit making her move and made her face up when I was satisfied she was really walking and not just making circles. We did this on each side and ended on a positive.

I need to get advice on the video I took while trying to free lunge her. Maybe the problem is that I’m trying to free lunge her at all but I’m really just trying to drive her so she’ll hook on to me, but it’s not happening. She stays distracted and slightly lazy, as even at my most large and dominant she does not take the correct action. She will take action and even pick up speed but she cuts across the pen, does not turn to the inside, and does not keep up her pace. Basically I’m not able to direct her well enough yet. Someone on my forums will be able to tell me what I’m missing.

Between that I desensitized her with the lead rope. I stood in front of her with my hand up to steady her and keep her out of my bubble, and I swung the end of the rope around with my other hand. Small circles at first, then when she settled I did larger circles, and then louder, harsher circles, and then at last I did huge, noisy circles. Again, this was done on both sides with success.

Additionally I threw the rope around her body and legs at a stand still until she tolerated and then accepted it willingly. She did great and this went by fast. After that was done I wrapped the lead around her back legs and pulled the other end, forcing her to follow her nose toward the pressure to release it and thereby spinning on the haunches. She was slightly reactive turning toward the left but I did this 2-4 times on each side and she was great when we stopped.

Lastly I used the lead rope to squeeze around her belly to introduce her to the feel of a girth and rubbed my bright pink bareback pad on her. She gave it a good sniff and I rubbed her all over with it. When I eventually put the pad on her she stood still for it but when I began to walk her out she turned into a little hopping bronco and did a lil jig for about 10 seconds before she quieted. I did not ask her to continue walking, but I let her rest for a minute before I rubbed her and took it off. Next time I will do each step a little longer and make her move around more with it on.

Overall this was a productive day!

Today was also a good day for miss Arizona! We all had a little ride around the round pen with her bareback pad on and she was wonderful. We are all strengthening our leg cues and not having the saddle junk in the way is excellent. Plus I like to keep her working even if it’s just a little bit, to mix up our routine. She wasn’t worked much and hardly had sweat on her when we left, but it was a no-big-deal kind of day and she needs those to. I don’t want her thinking I either expect too much or nothing from her. She’s such a good gal.

One of the best feelings in the world is to dismount your horse at the end of a work out and feel stiff, sore, satisfaction πŸ™‚Riding BarebackRiding bareback Learning to rideKids on horseback

Perfect Evening For A Ride

Krissy and I went riding tonight and she introduced me to a new riding buddy named Erica. She has an adorable mare named Whiskey. We took the horses up and down the lovely county road. The breeze was amazing so our ride was nice and cool. The horses did some light spooking but nothing terrible. I was rather impressed with Arizona! She handled the neighbor dogs almost perfectly and didn’t spook at any of the traffic. I’d like to build her (and myself) up enough to get out on the main roads. I see cowboys up and down them all the time but we just aren’t there yet. From the experience we had today I’m thinking I may be best off doing it by myself too and not trying to go with a group, because the group spooked more than she did! She ‘herd-spooked’ once or twice off of Sable (Krissy’s pinto Arabian) and Whiskey (Erica’s bay mare) but I know she wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s interesting to observe this.

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Yes, I was very happy with her performance today. We did a little trotting and she gave me her sweet western trot for a while but then decided it was time to stop. When I asked again she gave me her bumpy Ichabod Crane maneuver. (Am I the only one who uses this as a reference? I tried finding a YouTube video with no success. Gunpowder is one bumpy ride!)

Anyways… I’m looking forward to seeing how Powder does with her feet. We have an appointment with my friend and farrier Jessica, on Tuesday before work. She’s in serious need of a trim! And still a new name… I think once I make a payment or two on her I’ll feel more confident about name changes. I am also watching every Clinton Anderson video I can get my hands on and taking notes to carry with me when I take her out next. I need to work in working her out into my barn schedule. Currently I’m riding Arizona every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Time to go watch more videos. I’m re-watching 2007’s Road to the Horse competition DVD! Side note about that year: It’s awful watching someone as amazing as Stacy Westfall tank so badly >.<

Powder Gets Lunged – Training Day 2

Training Day 2 – 45 Minutes

Today I met with my horsey pal Krissy at the barn and she helped me do a quick evaluation of Powder and even she’s concluded she’s one hell of a mare. I have lead her, bathed her and tied her up until today, and now that I’ve taken her into the round pen and worked her a bit I have more confidence that she will be a breeze to train. (I’m taking my own comment with a grain of salt.)

To my knowledge she’s never been lunged and when we got her out there she in fact did not know what to do. She was also not afraid or threatening. I sent her around me and tried to keep her out of my space – this is one thing we’ll need to work on going forward. She does not make circles around me yet and will often just disengage and face me then walk forward instead. The lunge whip does not bother her even when it touches her rear and this is a great thing.

I also gave her another rinse bath. She moved a bit more this time but I made sure to stop at the right time. After she’s able to lunge properly I’ll introduce more specialized desensitizing techniques like the plastic bags.

In other news, I’m going to rename Powder as soon as the right name sticks! All I can think about is that horrible movie about the albino boy and it doesn’t inspire good memories. Right now I’m thinking about Gypsy or Opal or Sequoia. Hmm.. I’ll be thinking on it.

Powder Gets a Bath – Training Day 1

Training Day 1 – 35 minutes.
This event marks day 1 of her training as I’m calling it. The first day of me really getting nitty gritty with her and instilling confidence and my leadership with her.

The other day bode well for Powder’s second bath since I’ve known her. Who knows what number it was in her whole 10 years though, but we know she hasn’t had much training. You can tell by the way she reacts to certain loud noises close to her and the way she is curious yet cautious of the new. This is all fine, she will come along.

So this bath I gave her, it went well! She did not react as much as she did when Alberto gave her one after our ride that Sunday last month. I remember she was doing circles around him. This time I was careful to watch the water pressure and start her gently, and low. Started with the feet and worked my way up to her chest, then down the side of her body. She had a bit of busy feet but I kept with her and talked her down as I went. When I saw her start to stand with acceptance or even boredom I would move the water to another part of her body and eventually the other side. I switched back and forth a couple times and waited for that golden reaction each time. I was even able to jerk the hose over when I needed more slack without any spookage. It was a success.

I also tied her up for a while at the hitching tree to see how she would do during a short dry-off. She was able to stand quiet from the get-go. No issues whatsoever giving to pressure on the halter I’ve noticed, but she does need work on giving from the ground off her body. When I push her back from the chest she usually does fine, I’ve only seen her act even somewhat pissy about it once. However when I’ve asked her to move her hindquarters from the ground she may have offered to kick out. I’m not sure as I was in the stall with her and not keen on testing it like that but I will be paying close attention to her attitude toward that when I get her into the round pen this weekend.

On Sunday Sabrina and I are going to the barn for a ride and afterward I really want to work with Powder. I need to get more of a taste for what kind of effort she’s going to require from me as her boss-mare.