Sunday, June 7, 2009

Any bloggers going to the Western States Horse Expo?

My sis and I were thinking it would be fun to say hi to any horse loving bloggers that are going to be at the Expo this year. If you are going to the Western States Horse Expo this week please leave a comment, we'd love to chat a bit! We will be at the Magnificent 7 on Friday night and all day Saturday. Sacramento here we come!


Back again briefly

Hi everyone, just a little update to let you know we're fine. TONS going on lately, but most of it is good and I just haven't had time to post anything lately. Hopefully soon I'll have a free hour and a half or so to upload photos of the horses and do a real update!


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Two posts in March - oh well.

I have now gone riding with the lady on her Morgans three times. I am still having a ball and my body is getting used to it MUCH quicker than I thought it could. Even though I'm only riding once a week which technically is not enough to build fitness of any kind, I am hardly sore at all today after riding a bunch yesterday.

One thing that's nice to discover is I am so far doing good at my posture and not reverting to the "fetal ball" posture that new riders/out of shape people do. Yesterday Mister did a couple of interesting things that made me think. On the first ride I discovered that his flexible little self (used to be a park-type show Morgan) tends to duck his head behind the vertical when he wants to evade the bit, and he also tends to veer a bit left when walking/jogging. I do my best to always ask as lightly as I can to accomplish something and always reward immediately, but I doubt such a tough problem could be fixed at his age unless the owner worked really hard at it. He is also a cribber and has VERY STRONG neck muscles. Well, yesterday we were loping along a dirt path and all of a sudden he veered to thel left. I got off balance, recovered, and after loping an S-shape we got back on the trail.

She said he just did that with someone else too and neither of us is sure why.

For the rest of the ride I paid really close attention to him and myself, as I was afraid that I was not balanced on him and causing him to veer to get more balanced. Instead, I noticed that whenever he does not want to slow down he immediately bends his ribcage rightward and ducks his head leftward. So, it is not my fault. Interesting little acrobat!

We agreed that for now I won't worry too much about keeping him slowed down at the lope (the owner doesn't want to go too fast) but instead I will focus on using my legs to keep him straight and make sure to breathe deep. That will make him go faster, but it should help a lot with the ducking and veering.

By the way, I just love old horses! There is something so "soft" about old horses and how they relate to people. Mira, of course, is a perfect example of that. :-D

Meanwhile, I have started handwalking Andolu again and it seems to me that he is now sounder than he has been since I got him. Boy howdy, he is finally acting like the racehorse I expected when I got him! Let's just say that snorting, blowing, and tip toe ready-to-sprint with bug eyes describes him quite well lately. I have never been able to ride him very fast before - he never volunteered to do more than a slow lope before, but now that he is feeling so good I have a feeling that has changed. In a week or two I am going to start riding him again, as fast as he wants to go. Yeeks. However, I have a plan! My brother #2 is going to hold Mira at the bottom of a really steep dirt road and let her eat some hay there. I will have warmed Anatolian up and also let him eat some of the hay. After a bit, I'll take him back a little ways on the flat and encourage him to go. Going away from Mira and up a steep hill should keep a limit on his speed and endurance and I will do that the first few times I lope/gallop him so as to keep me relaxed and just going along for the ride and so as to teach him that when I do ask him to slow down it is so as to save him work.

I am looking forward to learning to ride his rather *big* canter/gallop but I want to do it safely for both of us and do it in a way that teaches him to listen to me about the speed and direction and hopefully keep him from developing any bad habits. I also plan to trailer him over for some lessons soon with the local trainer. She can work on him and work on me and hopefully help us do this right.

So, that is where I'm at lately. So many good things going on that I don't have much internet time. I miss everyone and hope to get caught up sometime soon.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Quick Update and Exciting News

Hi guys, (all three of you faithful ones :-D) I wanted to pop in real quick and let you know how things have been going this last month. Crazy, satisfying, and surprising would all accurately describe recent events. First, Anatolian is almost completely sound again and starting to canter around the pasture again! Major relief and hallelujah there! Second, I met a lady a few miles away from me who has a couple darling little Morgans. She has people who come to ride with her on a very large ranch she has access to, so that she can exercise both horses at once. She needed somebody to start riding on Mondays with her so I got to go try it out this week! From the beginning I liked her because of how many questions she asked me and how organized she was. She is 73 and has had horses for several decades now. The gelding I rode I will call Mister - the one she rode we'll call RC. Both chestnut, both with some degree of feathering as well as the typical gorgeous long Morgan tails. Mister is rather swaybacked as one would expect from a 24-year-old guy and he is slightly on the small side for me at under 15 hh, but he is in great shape and full of energy.

We led them across the highway and then mounted up over there. Then we followed a small road until we got to trails that wound around all over the area - it is interesting b/c some of the time we were on the ranch which is a huge old open area but still has neighborhoods bordering it, and sometimes we were on dirt roads going between lots of houses. We crossed the river (in Western terms - it is about 15 feet wide max) and an adjoining stream several times, which was fun. I love water and going through it on a horse is so neat! The horse she rode tends to be a little bit harder to control so that when we would canter sometimes he would try to go as fast as possible and my horse wanted to keep up so he would be going practically flat out and I would be trying to coax him to take it easier. Neither of them was bad, just happy and eager to go. The funny thing is it has been so many months since I was able to "really" ride that I was slightly nervous I would be horrible at it and feel tense when loping. However, I guess the opposite happened - I was so glad to FINALLY get to RIDE that I just reminded myself to breathe and have fun and I did! Also, Mister spends a lot of time jogging to keep up with RC's walk, but his jog is incredibly smooth. About 2/3 through the ride we got off the horses for a while and had a snack and gave the horses a snack. All told we rode for at least 2.5 hours and I had an absolute blast!

One thing that was cool but could have been bad was when we were going past some houses and someone right behind one of the house fired off a gun twice, about 30 seconds apart. It was close and both horses spooked, but I just gave Mister enough rein to jump and move out of there a few steps and then slowly drew him back to a walk and then the second time it went off he barely spooked at all.

I really enjoyed talking with the lady and she said she had fun too. The best part of the whole day was that she is NOT the kind of person who is effusive or goes around complimenting people naturally, but she said several times that I was a naturally good rider. She actually sounded kind of surprised as she said it, and I knew it wasn't just flattery. That means a lot to me because I have often wondered if I think too much of the compliments people have given me on my seat in the past, if I blew them out of reality, and wondered if I really have any talent at all in riding horses. I have yet to actually go to a show and get judged on that, but this really restored some of my faith that I can learn to ride really well if I keep working on it.

The next couple of days after the ride I was quite, quite stiff, but it was worth it. Monday is coming up again and I can hardly wait to go again! This is such a cool opportunity and I intend to make the absolute best use I can of it - so cool that I only have to pay for gas! I still want to see if I can get some longe lessons for my seat from the trainer I was going to go to, but getting to ride every Monday for free is way cool. Like I told my brothers, I got to go riding so hyper me is here again :-D


Monday, February 16, 2009

Ideas percolating...

We sure did get a lot of snow with that last storm. At least 4 inches, but probably more like 6. For our area, that is a very heavy snow. It has turned back to intermittent downpours now, but the snow was so beautiful! Fortunately, despite the horses' liking to stay out in the snow/rain when not eating a meal under the shelter, they neither of them got very cold. I didn't really see any shivering this time, so that is good.

I think I just might have had an idea about Andolu and the hoof boot situation. It could be a great idea or it could be a total flop - so I am going to test it a whole lot before I tell my idea, if ever. I am pretty excited about trying it, though.

Meanwhile, back in the house while snow piled up outside, I had fun this weekend. I was able to get my work done quicker than usual and we had company, which is always fun. I actually got to play a board game - Risk, which I love, although I didn't win this time. Must be losing my touch...

I am trying more and more different recipes and ways of preparing old favorites. I thought I was a pretty good cook, but now I am learning so many new things with this different style of cooking that we have had quite a few "interesting" meals lately. Fortunately the boys don't mind. It probably helps that they have both had their own not-quite-as planned meals too lately! I am really having a ball though, much more than I ever expected. I always felt kind of bad that I wasn't one of those girls who talks about how much she likes cooking. I wanted to be interested in it, but didn't really get why some people thought it was so cool. For you horsey people, just think of it as searching for the perfect supplements to add to your horse's diet, or the pleasure of getting an area totally clean and free of manure, or taking the time to groom until the horse's coat gleams. For lack of a better word, the housework is very "zen" to me just like horse chores are, although of course my counters lack fur and a personality. Thank goodness! :-D

None of us has much time to do chores, though, so we are still trying to get the living room and some other areas clean and organized. Right now my living room has my saddle, bridle, a couple new brushes, some wormer, and SmartPaks in it. I think that's fine, but I realize most people feel more comfortable sitting down in a living room not a barn, so I will need to relocate that stuff soon before we have company again. Bummer. The kitchen and dining room are probably the cleanest rooms nowadays. We'll just keep trying to take little bits of time here and there to clean things and hopefully the house will start to look really nice and neat soon.

I hope everyone had a good Valentine's day. The weather should clear up here soon and I want to take some pictures of the horses to put up as soon as possible.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Now for Snow!

Wow, it is coming down HARD out there. It looks to me like several inches before the storm is done. I guess this will be a four or five meal day for the horses. I try to save bran mashes for days like this, so I'll probably do a nice hot bran mash in mid afternoon. I guess I'll also be going through some rags drying them off - Just now as I was looking out the window getting pictures of the snow I noticed that they were both standing under a tree (which gives about three inches total of shelter) and had quite a bit of snow on their rumps. Well, if that's what you prefer!

By the way, Anatolian is almost back to being sound on asphalt. He's such a weird horse! I'm not going to try to exercise him for a few days though, I don't have the "worry energy" right now.
Gotta go. I hope everyone is having a nice, snug day.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rain, sleet, mud...

I'm very grateful for all the rain in the last few days. It is much needed and I was really hoping for a good rain. Of course, I had just given Andolu a bath with shampoo right before it rained. Below: His tail then and his tail now - that is about the cleanest part of him, as he keeps rolling. I took more photos of him today, but he's too muddy even after getting some of it off to ride. Sorry, I'll get cleaner pictures of his whole self soon!

I did ride him today since the rain cleared up long enough to go out. It is rather frustrating though, because lately he has been off again on the left front. He is somewhat tender anyway with being barefoot again, but on wet, slightly soft sand his left front still was not happy. I have wondered about his knees ever since I got him and I am wondering even more now. So I hardly rode at all today, basically just enough to say, Yup, he's not sound. Mira was happy to be out, though - as usual. She kept (politely) asking my brother who was holding her to let her run. After a bit I handed him Andolu and took Mira running up and down a bit. She has always been so sound around the legs that if it weren't for her arthritic back I'd still be able to ride her. It is fun to watch her trot really big. Of course, when they lope together she is like a dainty toy next to Anatolian's big motor. :-) Anatolian was snorting and "getting big" as he usually does when watching her run, but he didn't try to pull my brother in order to follow. So yeah, he's not comfortable. If I thought shoes would help I would have him reshod, but it does NOT seem like a foot issue other than a bit of tenderness on harder ground.

The other frustrating thing is that after all this time he still really hates his boots. I have not been able to get him used to them at all, really. He tolerates them but does not like them or go well in them.

Oh well. Mira is happy and he at least is healthy, if not earning his keep. One of these days I'm sure I'll get Andolu's knees and fetlocks x-rayed to see what exactly is going on. Hopefully he'll snap out of this and be better soon, though.
And I am really, really hoping to start taking lessons in March so I can ride whether or not he is sound at the moment.
A few days ago I went out after dark, I believe to let Mira out after eating, and it had temporarily stopped pouring rain. I could see dimly that Andolu was lying down in the (COLD - why is that better than dry pea gravel?) mud and I had to go past him to get to Mira. I talked to him a bit as usual and he moved his head as I went by, but didn't bother getting up. After letting Mira loose I came back past him and said good night and he just looked at me. When I was almost to the house I heard him get up and mosey over to check to see if Mira had left anything, but he didn't bother to move until then. It was nice to see that he doesn't feel the need to jump up when I come by :-)


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I am Horsaii!

Mugwump coined this word here and I think it is great. Read all the comments, they are very cool. I was going to comment but then I decided to put it into a post. Like the other horsaiis that posted, I cannot remember when I fell for horses. I probably saw horses first in story books. Anyway, I do think I was born with horsaii, because I don't remember ever discovering that horses were cool - they were always amazing and wonderful to me. The first time I ever got to ride one was when I was seven or eight at a circus. We were in the US on furlough and my grandparents took us to a circus and I got to ride the pony ride. (The adults knew they couldn't escape their fate as soon as I saw the ponies!) I believe my pony was a black pinto. I remember wishing desperately that they could untie the pony and let me ride him around. I was sure how I would do great and the pony wouldn't be bored then. I sat very solemnly the whole ride and petted the pony and tried to soak everything in as much as I possibly could. My little brother was really nervous on his pony, I remember that, and my older brother didn't want to ride, as I recall. Weird kids... I talked to the pony some and petted it as much as I could before I absolutely had to leave, looking back the whole time.

My second time riding a horse was later that same summer. My cousin, who was a teenager, had her own horse. I thought she was the luckiest person ever! He is still alive as far as I know - a bay pinto quarab named Classy (just about Mira's age, as a matter of fact). I got to ride Classy two or three times on our visit there, and got to experience my first fall there, too. It wasn't his fault, he just tripped when trotting fast and I flew off in a graceful arc and landed in a clumsy heap, losing my glasses. Maybe that was when me being horsaii was confirmed. I remember feeling really stiff and sore as I got up, but no WAY was I going to WALK back to the house. I couldn't lose my precious and limited riding time just because I fell off. So, I got back on right away. Classy was cute - he obviously was surprised and sorry that I fell off and happy that I was OK.

When I couldn't ride him, I spent every minute available out next to his paddock feeding him pieces of grass and talking to him and, yes, drawing him. I learned a lot about horse conformation during that visit and finally started drawing identifiable horses! :-)

My mother fortunately saw to it that us kids had plenty of books, including lots of horse ones, when we were in the jungle and I spent lots of time playing I was a horse, drawing horses, wondering how much it cost to feed them and how much land an acre was and trying to figure out how tack was arranged from pictures, and hoping as hard as I could that I would see a real live one again soon. Meanwhile, I read all the Black Stallion books and others and absorbed every possible bit of horse handling knowledge. At one point I remember that for a month or two I even collected all the weeds and tall grass I could find and put it in a pile behind our house and hoped and prayed that a "stray" horse would come wandering along (in the slum?!) that needed a home. If I was prepared already then of course my parents would have to let me keep it! Eventually my parents wouldn't let me keep stacking it up anymore...

What is your story? Do you remember the first time you saw a horse, petted a horse, rode a horse? Tell us about it!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mira Today

Here is a photo of The Spoiled One. I picked a bunch of grass today so they had fun chowing down on that. While they were doing that I used the new camera to take what is seriously the best ever head-on picture I have gotten of her. I have GOT to clean her up really good and try this a bunch more times now. With the right grooming, pose, and background it would look fabulous. I love her ears, and Andolu's too. Does anyone else just love seeing their horses perk their ears as they watch you come over? I do!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fencing photos

Here are some photos of the finally finished fencing project. It SOO nice to be done with it. There are a few little details left, of course, but it's done! I suppose a fencing professional would cringe, as it is definitely not perfect, but it should be strong enough and safe enough to do its job, so I consider it a good job.

I am discovering a downside to my wonderful new camera - everytime I take pictures of the horses I always cringe later at how much dust you can seen on them! I hate to immortalize bad pictures of them; on the other I probably shouldn't get so perfectionistic that I'll only post pictures right after a bath and thorough grooming and before they've been able to roll...

Meanwhile, they are doing well, although a few days ago when I went out to feed we had a little incident. Ever since it got dry and sunny I drastically cut back Andolu's feed amounts from when it was cold, in order to help him lose a little weight. He has gotten somewhat grumpy with "only" getting about 15 pounds a day. Anyway, they saw me come out and came running over to the fence, but Andolu, for whatever reason, suddenly double-barreled Mira. I saw it happen and saw her stagger but I was too far away to throw anything at him, so I yelled at him and then went into the house for a couple minutes (bad behavior = no food). I got some first aid stuff and went out again. By the time he was settled eating and I could tend to her, she had already developed a larger-than-my fist bruise right behind her right front leg and there a bleeding wound on her shoulder. Argh! The wound was already clotting but I put alum on it to help the clotting and then iced all the bruised areas for 20 minutes 3 times a day for the next day and a half. After that I did heat for a couple of days, and now I'm just watching it. She was definitely stiff the first few days, but seems back to normal now. I'm really glad it didn't require a vet visit!

The grass around here is growing really nicely so far. I've been taking some to the horses and I hope to start doing some rotation grazing soon.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sun? Really?!

Wow, today we had nice sunny warm weather the WHOLE day - not just for a teasing hour or two. It was nice. :-D

I haven't posted new photos of the horses yet because, well, they both are enjoying sleeping and rolling in the mud. Mira is quite thoroughly grimy and Andolu somehow managed to get his legs completely muddy again right after I had thoroughly washed and dried them. Oh well. Hopefully tomorrow I can get them presentable enough for pictures.

My brother #2 and I are almost done with the fencing project, finally. Only a bit over 100' of fencing to go. It would be super fast to do except that this is the part where the ground varies so much that you have to do each section separately. It should take us only one more session, though. I'll try to post pictures of the new fencing; it looks nice. I am definitely a fencing freak. I just adore sturdy and safe fences. I do not, however, like white board fencing or some of the other "classic" fencing, simply because I can't help thinking how much work it would be! My ideal fence would be a nice thick 5' or 6' high hedge...

The other day I called Sis in Washington and let her talk to her dog, Kippy. It was Kip's first time hearing a phone call (outdoor dog) and she was hilarious! She kept trying to lick the phone and as Sis kept talking she started looking around in all directions and barking intermittently. Obviously she recognized the voice - I felt sorry for her that she could not see Sis, but oh well. Maybe she or they can visit this summer.