Saturday, June 28, 2008

One of the best inspirational horse clips ever...

I don't think I've ever posted this one here. If you haven't seen this before, watch it now. Extremely inspiring! If you have seen it, you'll be happy you watched it again. There are so many things I could say about it, but I'll just say that I hardly breathe when I watch it. And I love the pinto foal at the end!


Friday, June 27, 2008

And the Award goes to...

Suvalley! She did an excellent job rehabbing a starved mare recently, a mare she does not own, and at her own expense. I appreciate Suvalley's outlook on animal welfare issues and how much knowledge she has to share. Not only does she work hard to make sure her own horses have great care, but she also tries to educate Alaskan horsepeople on proper care and help make good hay supplies available up there.

Here is one of the posts about the mare:


Monday, June 23, 2008

Alfalfa Patch: 1

The beginnings of the alfalfa patch. There are lots of little sprouts, but they are practically impossible to photograph as of yet. This used to be our grandparents' lawn - they have not been able to keep it up lately and starting to grow forage plants here is a good way to get a green spot for them to look at without wasting the horrendous amounts of water to sustain a lawn. Also, being close to the house it is easier to take care of and harder for wild animals to raid.

This patch is only about 6' x 15', but I fully intend to plant more. My goal is to try to plant enough in the next few months to produce 1% of the horses' yearly needs. More on this later on. The way I figured it out is, with Mira on a mostly concentrate diet, I use roughly 6 tons of hay a year. In this area, with decent soil amendments and LOTS of water, a person might be able to harvest a couple tons per acre. Say I would need two acres. One acre is 43,560 feet, or (squared) about 208.7 feet x 208.7 feet. One percent of two acres is 870 feet, or 20' x 43.5' patch. So far I have 90' planted. I will keep you guys updated on this project's progress!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Catching up

First, an oops moment. I have excuses, such as working 60 to 70 hours a week most weeks for several months, but still... My blog reading and other fun online stuff has been quite patchy due to being overwhelmed. (Hopefully that gets better soon!) Anyway, I somehow managed to miss this award. Sorry OTB, I wasn't ignoring you, I was just out of it!

Even two months later your post made my day, so thanks! When I have a bit more time I will pass the award on. :-D

If I missed any other links from people, sorry!

Regarding the horses, they are both pretty frisky lately. A couple weeks ago I was able to measure Andolu's feet after his trim, and I went and got him some Simple Boots to use for riding! Then I started leading him and Mira up the road a little after dawn every morning. The dawn part is to avoid flies and heat. I just led them for a while, but now we are starting to have Sis get on Andolu for a short time. She is pretty light, so I figured that would be a good way to get him back in shape for riding again without all of a sudden putting 5' 7" me on him.

When leading them, it is pretty funny to observe the differences in their reactions. I had forgotten how Mira never looks tired going somewhere, unless it is somewhere she is totally used to. After a long jaunt she will look tired and walk slow as soon as you head for home, but anyplace new is just too exciting to think about being tired. She walks fast and her ears bob in rhythm :-D She is also the one who would love to escape and explore the neighborhood and look in everyone's windows and investigate their dogs and flowers, whereas Andolu would head straight for the hay and eat as long as he could, and then go to sleep.

Andolu is more energetic with his boots on, but walks with long slow strides. However, he does pretty regularly spook at noises in the bushes, (one spot is really wooded and there probably is a skunk or fox there); his spooks are just a jump and an attempt to trot away with his head high. And if I ask him to trot I have to be careful or he will try to gallop away with me. I cannot wait 'till I can find a good spot for galloping someday - it will be so fun! I might be crazy, but it's nice to see him acting more like a young OTTB. I like a horse with energy!

Sometime soon I'll try to get updated pictures of them both. They are kind of dusty right now and need baths, though, despite getting hosed off every day.

Oh, and we planted alfalfa. That'll have to wait for the next post, though!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Blogger at the Western States Horse Expo 2008: 3

I always love watching the Magnificent 7 competition. It's so much fun to watch these horses, the best of the best, doing 4 events in one night.

I have learned quite a bit by watching all these years and I know a lot more about how to tell different levels of quality in a sliding stop or a spin or flying lead change, etc.

One thing I have noticed lately is the different amounts of applause for different riders when they are introduced. The "new" riders always get less applause, which is logical. Bob Avila, who won twice in a row AND one year got 1st and 2nd place, is understandably very popular.

He, more than any of the other yearly contestants, is well known for consistently exhibiting high quality horses with high quality maneuvers. You can pretty much count on a certain high level of performance and professionalism. As usual, he did a great job that evening. However, Russell Dilday got a score of 147 in the last event of the night, the herd work. This event is where the horse chases the cow up and down a fenceline, demonstrating he can keep the cow there. Then, he takes the cow off the fence and runs it in circles and figure eights. It is a very exciting event! Russell was brilliant in it that night. One of the best performances I've ever seen - he was totally in charge of that cow, which was a fast one! Everyone in the stands was really excited and clapping more than at almost any other time that night. He was now within a point or two of the frontrunner, Bob Avila.

When Bob Avila came out a couple horses later, he did OK. There were a couple of bobbles and he was not totally in control of the cow, but it was decent. Then the score was announced - 147! That score meant that he won. I am not the only one who felt that it was unfair. For the first time at the Expo, there was booing from a large part of the crowd. So yes, Bob Avila made history by getting three Mag 7 wins in a row, but I'm sure he has mixed feelings about it, as it should not really have been his trophy this time. I am glad for him, as he is a good trainer, but I really hope Russell Dilday does great next year and wins!

The whole issue was a good example of some of the failings of human nature. Judges are human, and when they see someone time and again, especially someone who always does a good job, and usually a great job, they can start to expect great things from that person and, rather than examine them as closely as they would a stranger, just give them credit they might not deserve. It was disappointing. Hopefully that will not happen again.

On the good side, there were several improvements in the organization, such as the speed at which the arena was dragged between events. Rather than taking 10+ minutes, it only took a couple of minutes this year - phew!

And just look at these gorgeous horses! Drool...

Those horses are so amazing to watch. :-D


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Blogger at the Western States Horse Expo 2008: 2

More Breed Demo photos:

Two of the horses are from the Arab Demo, and the buckskin one is a PMU horse.

I unfortunately do not seem to have any good pictures of the mounted shooting demo, but oh well. It was interesting to watch, and the shooters were very fast and accurate. It's not that hard to hit a balloon from 15 feet away with spreading powder, but it is hard from a galloping horse, doing it in a certain order.

One thing we did this year was collect more free samples than I usually do in the shopping areas. I got quite a lot of feed samples, and the horses have really been enjoying having something a little different.

I don't have time right now, but next time I'll do a post entirely about the Magnificent 7 competition. I have some thoughts to share about it... and some good pictures, too!


Sunday, June 8, 2008

A blogger at the Western States Horse Expo 2008: 1

I just returned from a fun vacation at the Expo. This is, I believe, my fifth year in a row there. This time we only went on Friday, as that was the day with most of what we wanted to see. My sister and I arrived shortly after the gates opened, and after walking around a bit we headed over to watch part of the Mustang Challenge, the in-hand competition. This event is based on the Extreme Mustang Makeover which was such a huge success. The horses in the Mustang Challenge were taken off the range and given totally wild to the trainers, who had 90 days before the show to train them.

We did not see more than 6 or 7 of the horses, but there was one trainer and horse who really stood out to me. I hope she won. The horse was VERY attentive and precise. In the trailer loading, it did exactly as requested, down to stepping out one foot at a time, waiting on her cues. It was already trained to ground tie, and she demonstrated that. If I were the type of person who didn't like training my own horses and I had a young horse to send out, she would be on my list of trainers. I believe her name was Jamie Thomas, according to the program.

Ray Ariss (and Hail Yeah, the mustang from last year that brought $50,000 after the Makeover) was there and did a demonstration and talk. We also saw more trainers from the Makeover later and I cannot remember who said it, but I loved this line: "The difference between training mustangs and domestic horses is, with mustangs you get to be a trainer. With domestic horses, you get to be a psychiatrist."

I can't remember who the picture above is of, though, I'm afraid. Sorry!

While we were watching the trainers later on, guess who sat down about four rows in front of us. He is publisher of Western Horseman magazine, and among other things, takes the official photos of the Magnificent 7 winners every year. Yes, Darrell Dodds. The sad thing is I've probably sat very close to many other famous horse people and not even realized it, as I do not frequent shows... Oh well!

Later we went over to the Toyota Arena and spent quite a while watching the Breed Demos and the Mounted Shooting Demo. During that time, my sister and I spotted a really gorgeous black Arabian stallion. I don't believe in breeding horse for color only, of course, but everyone likes a truly correct and gorgeous black stallion. So, of course we went over to pet him and take pictures!

He happens to be a son of Bey Shah, and his name is TC Bey Cedar. You may have seen him in Hidalgo. His owner was really nice, and it was fun meeting the stud. He was very well behaved, but you could tell he was a stallion by how he kept moving his muzzle around and lipping at the air. Not nippy at people, just doing stallion stuff. At the end of the Arabian Breed Demo, he came in and did various tricks, including rearing, which you could tell he heartily enjoys being allowed to do! He was very light to cues and counted out his age for us, as well as other tricks.

The last photo is right as he came down after a rear.

Anyway, after we finished petting him, we climbed back up to our seats in the stands to find that my aunt and brother had just sat down right below where we were, without realizing we were around! They had come over after we did, and wandered around separately, and we figured we'd run into each other eventually, but hadn't made any plans. I guess Sis and I are rather predictable, though - I realized that we always sit in the far right and back of those stands!

More to come...


Friday, June 6, 2008

On vacation!

I'm here at the Western States Horse Expo today! I'll be taking plenty of pictures for you guys, and I'll upload them and do a couple posts when I get home. See ya later!


Monday, June 2, 2008

News & Updates

Phew, what a busy week!
First, an update on the toddler. I have been anxious to try out all the good ideas you gave me, but due to the death of one of their family friends and various other things, they have been too busy to come over the last couple of weeks. I will let you guys know what happens next time they are able to make it!

I did write to the local newspaper regarding racing and my idea, and hopefully they will publish my letter this weekend. I am almost done with my letter to the Jacksons and Eight Belles's owners, too. Just trying to get it "just so" before I send it off. There were some good comments in the previous post on that issue. I encourage you to read them!

Something else that happened in the last few days was I decided that this fall I intend to get bees! I have thought about it off and on for a few years. My grandfather used to keep bees years ago, and so he has a lot of knowledge about it and would be a big help. Bees do take a lot of checking (not a lot of time, but a lot of daily attention) and that intimidated me in previous years, when my job situation was always fluctuating and I couldn't predict things more than a few months ahead.

But now I finally got tired of reading about the bee die-off crisis. I have been trying to ignore it, because I am trying not to get too worried about all the bad things happening that I can't help. The bee problem is serious - over 1/3 of our food is only there because of bees - and in some places 80% of the bees have died. Nobody is sure exactly what is causing it, but it is a very new and unique problem. Not only are bees dying, but sometimes they will up and abandon the hive and the queen and fly around aimlessly and then die. Nobody has ever, ever in centuries heard of bees doing that! I have read that when they dissect dead bees in the hard hit areas, they have found that the bees have every single disease known to bees - like bee HIV or something. Since bees have been around pesticides for decades and not had this dramatic of a thing happen, my personal and firm conviction is that the Genetically Modified plants are to blame. Genes are too complicated for humans to mess with like that! Anyway, I like my food, and prefer to be able to keep eating a lot of different things.

So, I decided to do something about the problem. Over the summer, I am going to find out how to establish a patch of alfalfa. That is not only good for horses, but it is one of the BEST bee fodders out there. I will also be planting other nectifarious plants... We were planning to get more chickens soon anyway, so probably what we will do is mark out a patch for the alfalfa, put a fence around it, and put all the horse manure there every day. The chickens will eat all the fly larvae and get plenty of protein and keep the fly population under control, and they will aid in decomposing the manure and loosening the soil. In the fall it should be a nice, rich patch of earth ready to plant. Then we can move the chickens to another spot. We might put one of the dogs up there next to the patch to keep deer away... I'm not sure what is the best season to get bees, but I'll find out. I'm really looking forward to this project! I've discovered the only way to get rid of the rather frantic feelings I tend to get after hearing/seeing any world news is to do something, and it's amazing how well it works! We don't use any pesticides/herbicides at all on our property (even the fly spray, when I use it, is organic) and I have a great idea about the neighbors. I think after I've had the bees a little while, I will invite the neighborhood to a party and serve honey-themed dishes and have little tidbits about bees and what they do for us and what chemicals do to them, and alternatives to chemical use. Not in a preachy way, just little pictures and clippings on the table.

Well, so long for tonight!