Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Think Pink

Okay, OT for a moment. You need to RUSH over here and donate for this raffle. And when you win, you have to PROMISE to let me spend the night in it one time...

For a good good cause and very adorable too.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Scrapparoo!


I just checked out Viva Volte (still love that horsey kid pix by the way) and found out that I was scrapped! So here it goes, 10 things, leftovers suitable for quilting. (this image is from the Wisconsin Quilt Museum, btw)


1. A dark navy square with a scattering of white dots: I used to work in this planetarium in college, the very same year the Challenger blew up. I remember walking in and seeing the explosion on the large television our director had set up. I went to my knees in the foyer.

2. A pale peach square with fine lines criss crossing: I took up counted cross stitch to teach myself patience. I'm very picky about my cross stitch, and the back looks as neat as the front. My grandmother, who knits, crochets and sews, compliments my work in front of my cousins all the time, resulting in me feeling like the favored one. She does that with everyone! lol

3. Crushed red velvet square: I got a new car and I love it way too much. It's red and it's a used luxury car and I can't bring myself to say what kind it is because it's too pretentious for me. But I love it.

4. A brown square with little lines of red: I had so many scrapes and bruises as a kid my mother kept me in high socks and just prayed stockings would cover the scars when I grew up. And now stockings are out of fashion. Go figure.

5. A deep purple satin with a faint paisley pattern: I was the queen of the elves when I did improv in Chicago for Dungeon Master. It's a long story.

6. A fuzzy black terry cloth square: I hate wearing hats. I'm okay about helmets, but I really hate hats. Unless I haven't dyed my hair in a month in which case I'm in a hat.

7. A green cotton square with brown lines: I grew up on a cotton farm and still have an unhealthy fascination with large tractor tires.

8. A thin white polyester blend: I'm not much of a cook. My house has a kitchen because it's required by code.

9. A faded square of denim: When I'm queen, every day will be jean day.

10. A fuzzy, threadbare square of yellow: When I was a baby, I slept with a stuffed yellow horse. I still miss him.

Okay, now it's your turn:
Melanie!
CKirkland!
Laughing Orca - Lisa (who has some time on her hands... :( )
Mikey the Horseshoeing wife

Come on girlfriends, scrap it up!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Land

we've been threatening. now we may have found it...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I missed it!


I can't believe I missed these antlers! Boy is this on my list for next year (poor Canyon).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Why do horses roll?


My Christmas gift has been glorious weather and hours to go riding. With the intensity of the season over and just a few final sweepings on my list, I've indulged. The things we've forgotten are huge. I had to start all over with the "drop head" bit. This is where you pull on the reins with a steady pressure and reward the tiniest drop of head.

I got out of the habit of doing this and it showed today. We stood there, facing the setting sun, Canyon bracing against his halter, me bracing against the saddle, reins taut. Around us horses were going through their paces, trotting, cantering. Dust rising from the arena, we've been without rain for so long everything seems to have a layer of dust.

Including our manuevers, apparently.

I'm waiting for the slightest give, which seems to come after a few hours. Of course it wasn't hours, but it was a very long time, minutes at the least.

By the end of our session he was dropping his head like an old man with narcolpsy.

We rode in circles, canter, trot, walk, trot. Basics. Side passes were elusive, although there were two. By the end of it all, I had one sweaty horse.

So, given that it was warm, I opted for a bath. (Next time I'm trying this instead) I use the one pictured above. Spray on foam. Rinse off foam. Spray on foam and leave it on.

Unfortunately I did't have the time to hang out until he dried out. So out we go to the pasture, stall by the water (where he proved the old adage, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink even though he was pestering you for the hose earlier, but since it had soap you couldn't give him any...), stroll him toward the hay which he IGNORES (even though he was loathe to leave it two hours earlier) and he walks with me until I "mentally release him" if you know what I mean. Then he spots a nice patch of dirt.

He circles this bare patch of ground, testing it with his clean hoof. He drops it his head low, ensuring that yes, this is that spot, doing a darn impressive dog imitation, then drops gently to his knees and proceeds to do a full body roll.

No, one side just won't do in these situations. After all he was GLEAMING. You gotta get that shine off all sides of the hide...

He rubbed into the dirt so hard I thought he was going to dig a hole and I'd find him later, hooves in the air, completely stuck.

The only thing left even slightly clean were his knees. Odd little white spots on a completely mud covered equine.

Is it so awful to be clean? Why do horses prefer being covered in mud?

I read here that a rolling horse is a healthy horse. Rolling can correct back problems, soothe muscles, keep flies away (did he not note the FLY SPRAY?).

Ah well. Next time I'll carry my camera for a before and after. At least I know he's clean under all that mud.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tornados and minis

Just in time for the holidays! this is just a bit of fiction I'm testing out and if it works I'm tossing it on itunes as a free download... I've got cute pix my daughter did to go along with it that'll be adding in... somehow. Give it a listen and give me your feedback. I think the music is too much, so I'd love some opinions. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Patience, discipline and a side pass

(Canyon, giving me his "are you nuts?" look)

Over the weekend the temperature hads dropped and the clouds dropped their long skirts to the ground, a thin flowing fog blurring the world as far as you could see - which wasn't very far.

I went out to the stables early in the morning on Sunday to meet some folks to ride, and, as so often happens, was on my own. It was in the low 30s and windy, so I suspected they would bail. But I had a kitchen pass from my Cling-ons and wasn't about to miss an hour of my very own.

I saddled up Canyon and could tell immediately that he was crabby. That's unusual, he is not particularly crabby in general. He shifted his feet when I was checking them, dancing away twice. I moved him around a few times and he settled.

I decided to start out riding in the round pen since we've had so little time together. A few minutes into it, it was clear his attitude was lousy. Head tossing. Breaking into a canter. Trotting in the bumpiest way ever. Really out of character, even with time off. Then, about ten minutes later I found out why.

The owners of the stables had been out late at a company party and understandably hadn't feed yet. They are real morning folks and usually feed when it's just getting to be daylight. Since it was about 9, Canyon thought I was there to feed him, and I thought he was already fed.

We need a sign on horses like you have for the dishwasher. Fed or not fed.

Unfortunately they came out to feed as I was having my tough time with him. I realized then that this was why he was being such a pill. But I also knew I couldn't give in to his attitude, although I was sympathetic, especially since he could see EVERYONE ELSE WAS GOING TO EAT. I'd be irritated too.

So I went back to basics to get him to pay attention. I jumped off and did a ground work session as they went around and fed. Then we did some saddle work. Then we rode away past the eating horses, through gate of the property into a small open area, beyond a barrier he's usually uncomfortable with and that usually requires a spin or two to get past. (I rarely ride him out alone, but have made that my new goal - a little further every day. We're making slow progress and he actually did very well)

Anyway, I felt like I had to make a point, that whether it was feeding time, windy, cold or just one of those days, I was still in charge.

So we went over to a fence line and, after working on a few figure eights around some trees, I tried getting him to side pass.

And he did it.

Okay, it was ugly and he'd only do it on one side but it was a SIDE PASS!

So back to the barn we went, going through our gaits the whole way, and he was an angel. When we got back I quickly untacked and sent him off to breakfast.

Later Sharon remarked how well he's doing. "I couldn't believe you were out here with him on such a windy day!" she said, well aware of my panic boy's antics.

I felt like I pushed past something Sunday, that by making him do my bidding (as minor as it was) when he REALLY DIDN'T WANT TO, that I created (by accident) a big learning moment.

If nothing else, I got my first side pass. I'll take it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dremel tools. The ultimate flossing machine

Well, I may not have time to ride, but it was definitely time to go get Canyon's annual work up. One year ago I nervously hauled a horse for the first time over to the vet for a pre purchase exam. He was put through his paces and given a clean bill of health. I got an up to date coggins and we were off.

Now here we are, a year later and it's time for teeth floating and every shot possible. I borrowed Rudy's trailer (thanks Rudy!) since my usual rental place was booked and I drove that same path I took a year ago. It was a beautiful day, temps in the 70s, the days of fog finally lifted although the roads were still a little slick.

But I wasn't worried. I've hauled dozens of times now.

I can't believe how much has changed in the span of one year. I knew nothing about what I was doing, but had no idea how ignorant I was. It was probably a little dangerous for me to even contemplate owning a horse.

But ignorance is bliss, and I was blissed to the max.

I can tick off the things I've learned:
  1. Not every horse has the temperment to carry unbalanced riders
  2. Cinch slowly in phases
  3. a light trail saddle is particularly beautiful - more so than the fancy silver accented saddle - because I can swing it up without looking like a five year old trying to lift her mom.
  4. There is such a thing as too much tack.(But I'm not there yet.)
  5. If you aren't getting licking, chewing and a dropped head, you aren't there yet. Even when your horse tries to tell you you are.
  6. Your horse needs to be convinced you are up to the task of lead mare. Every day. Don't be a wimp.
  7. An inch becomes 15 miles in a horse. Let your horse move to the left before you ask them to is not a "special connection." It's a test of dominanc you have to pass. Again and again.
  8. Horses have the ability to go physically from point A to point M without going thru points B thru L. Quantum power, baby.
  9. There is nothing better than leaning on your horse and having him "hug" you.
  10. Walking a horse - or leading, as we experienced horse people call it - is more fun than I imagined, especially when you have a horse with good ground manners.
To celebrate our horsieversary, here's a slide show of Canyon's teeth floating session. Power tools and horse teeth. I never knew.




video

Monday, December 15, 2008

Horse dreams

I call it horse dreams because I can only dream of riding these days. After being sick for two weeks I'm so behind on the holidays that a veil of terror has descended. I've focused this weekend on getting caught up as much as possible. Horse time is curtailed severely.

I did visit Canyon on Friday and noted how his bite is healing.

Here's the bite.


Now look at this face. Who could bite a horse with that face?




Apparently a sorrel gelding.

There's a gelding at the stables that has become crabby. His owner, a young girl with learning challenges, has been gone for what seems like months. She comes over once in a blue moon, and as a result her horse, Beautiful, has become more difficult. He's learned to buck and be stubborn in the arena. So his owner is now even less motivated to ride. It's become a vicious cycle.

I've noticed that horses who are turned out at the stables and ridden very little seem to develop a terrible attitude in the pasture over a few months. It's almost as if they revert, or get bored and angry. Doesn't happen with every one, but it happens a lot.

I saw this happen with a mare out there. She was a tough mare and was very unfriendly when I met her. But when she lived elsewhere she was fine, reportedly. Dominant, but not obnoxious. The difference?

At her previous home she was ridden nearly every day. At her new home she got very little attention. She turned into a kicker and was becoming a danger to other horses. It was like she hated everybody - including other members of the herd.

Then someone came out and leased her for a while. She went from being a monster to being much, much better. Here was a horse that would bite at anybody that got in range suddenly became a horse that you could pet and safely walk around. Her head would lower, her eyes were soft. She was still dominant, but not dangerous.

It was as if she needed a dominant owner so she could relax and not be in charge. I've seen this in dogs, but never thought it applied to horses.

Unfortunately the woman who was leasing her had to leave and the beautiful mare with reining training went back to her old ways. In a few months she went to the auction. She went for a decent amount, so she probably has a good safe home.

At least I hope so.



Canyon has his wooly coat on. He's never been blanketed, and he certainly looks warm.

I miss him. Maybe I'll sneak over there for a ride tomorrow...

There's something about horse whiskers. Lately it's my favorite thing.



I'm weird, I know.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My first. My VERY first...

Look! Look what I got from Melanie!!!

My first Award!!!

Okay, you know you ALWAYS remember your first.

I'm so excited I'm going to print this out and tape it on my writing wall. Right next to the drawing my daughter gave me that features a horse, our family and a flying ... something.

Thanks Melanie! I'll cherish this forever. :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm Baaaack

Holy cow, what the heck was THAT?

I had a cough that was so bad, I pulled a muscle in my back. Parts of my left lung are lying around here somewhere and my daughters have become so immune to the sound of hacking they'd feel right at home in a TB ward. And I am really, really sick of cough drops. That's all I ate for three days and I slept with one in my mouth - can you say choking hazard?

They finally gave me something to turn off the cough center in my brain when the delightful mucinex, aka the pflegm flavored horse pill, didn't work worth a darn. I didn't even know I had a cough center. Is that like a Christmas store, only open for a few months out of the year?  Turning it off artificially sounds kind of scary, but better than getting 15 minutes of sleep between coughing.

I still have some residue cough, but I'm so much better I consider myself largely healed. Exhausted, but vertical for most of the day today! Woo hoo!

During a brief respite in my two week coughing adventure, I went for a ride in the arena. It was last Sunday and the winds had kicked up as some artic blast wandered down to Texas (eventually dumping SNOW in Austin and the Hill Country by Monday).

Windy days are a little iffy for riding in the arena because of the barrels.

We have these vinyl barrels at the stables. Vinyl horse eating barrels. Apparently the horse eating aspect of these evil barrels is activated by high winds. *sigh*

I've spent a good number of days taking Canyon around these barrels in every possible position. Standing up barrels, leaning over barrels, crumpled on the ground barrels (he hates those). But the last time he bucked in the arena was when a wind came through and drastically altered the shape of the barrel just as we were circling it. Canyon bolted to preserve himself from the deadly barrel, I attempted to slow him down by pulling on the reins and he bucked in a panic.

Anyway, that was before our bucking school. I've gotten better at handling these situations - when he's in a panic I make sure to do something different rather than pull on the reins.

So there I am on a windy day on Sunday, riding in a bareback pad because I wasn't feeling so hot and didn't want to tack all the way up. I was only going to ride for 20 minutes. We were working on transitions, then circled a barrel when...

WOOOOOSSSSHHHHH

You know how they say a horse has reactions 5 times faster than we do?

They are not exaggerating.

In the exact instant the wind activated the horse eating barrel Canyon did the fastest side pass ever. Pretty impressive since I can't get him to side pass at all. It was  a quantum side pass - one moment we were in one spot, the next instant we were five feet to the right - without ever moving those five feet in between.

Well that's how it felt anyway. LOL

I would have thought I'd have been on the ground, especially since I was only on a bareback pad, but apparently I've developed a better seat than I realized, or my guardian horse angel was working overtime.

But Canyon didn't run. He basically spooked nearly in place. Well, it qualified as in place for my panic prone boy.

He stood there waiting for further instructions, a little concerned, but calm enough to listen.

And most importantly, THE BARREL DID NOT EAT HIM.

I swear we are making progress. It feels like progress anyway...

Tonight was the first time I'd been back to see Canyon since. We had fun, but it's late and I need to crash. So I'll write more tomorrow.

I took a few pictures today, here's two of the beautiful  moon tonight...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sick Mommy.

This is a cross post from my momma blog:

Sick mommy.

I'm sick. There are a lot of funny things about being sick.

(notice how my dogs still look up to me even though, as pack leader, I am infirm. It the wild they'd tear my throat out and take over the pack. Good thing we aren't in the wild.)

1. The doctor asks you if you've been around any sick people. I mean who is SHE to talk.

2. My congestion skips my sinus cavities altogether and heads right into my chest. So who's hogging up my sinus cavities? Sure I can breathe, but only when I'm not coughing myself blue...

3. Mucinex tastes like the stuff you cough up. Is that on purpose?

4. You learn things you never knew. Like your dogs like to eat pop corn (video below). I guess it's not surprising. They eat cat poo too.

5. I went to the grocery store to get my medicine and I was coughing up a lung. Then I placed my hands on the handle of the cart. Then I was mortified that I had just contaminated the handle and quickly wiped it down with a tissue. Then I coughed in the tissue, because, hey I'm ALREADY sick. Then I grabbed the handle of the cart with my tissue in my hand. You can't win in these situations. Healthy people - wear disposable gloves until April.

6. The internet allows me to be around people without getting them ill. Which is killing my whole "misery loves company" thing.

7. Mom's taking care of the kids. Otherwise they'd be right here, fighting me for the computer, falling off the trampoline or requiring me to run around the kitchen until I collapse. It's a vacation, in a way, without the ability to actually enjoy it...


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Six things you don't know about me


There's a meme making the rounds (I got this from Horsefeathers) so I decided to jump in... This is my first go.

1. Before last year I hadn't been on a horse in 28 years other than a few random trail rides. I didn't even know how to cinch a saddle because my grandfather always did that for me.

2. I'm more interested in personality than breed. I find horses to be a little like dogs. If you get a chance to be around them you can discover rather quickly if you are going to connect or not.

3. When I was a kid, all I wanted to do on my horse was RUN. Now I'm constantly trying not to run. LOL

4. I have ruined one pair of really nice boots my Aunt gave me because I never oiled them. I have learned my lesson. Buy cheap used boots on Ebay.

5. The only shopping I enjoy is related to tack. But I have everything. But I still want to buy something. Yet I'm a minimalist - I don't like all those girths, fancy chest collars, decked out headstalls. I would never win one of those shows because I'm just not flashy.

6. I can't post. Not at all. But I can sit a trot. Isn't that weird?

Okay, let me know if you've done your six and I'll post all the links! Also I had an idea for a giveaway which I'm going to do next week. And since I'm such a newbie, your chance of winning is HUGE! :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Side Saddles and voting.


I recently read about the connection between women riding horses "straddle" and the sufferage movement.

I don't know about you, but I take for granted that women can vote. But when I read this article (written by by CuChullaine O'Reilly FRGS, of the Long Riders' Guild Academic Foundation), it set me back on my heels. Women were literally beaten in the streets for calling for the right to vote. Some were sentenced to insane asylums (although men were not crazy for wanting to vote. Somebody help me figure that one out).

What really piqued my interest was how it coincided with women no longer being willing to ride in the insanely dangerous side saddle style. (photo is Queen Victoria's side saddle from this site)

Consider this:

[riding sidesaddle] also handicapped the rider in another way, communications, as unlike male riders a sidesaddle rider could not apply the pressure of her leg to the right side of the horse, nor give her mount any signals with her thighs, knees, or heels.

Even worse, she could not drop her hands in order to turn or stop a runaway horse.

Sadly, if she was involved in an accident, a girl was more likely to suffer serious injuries in a sidesaddle. (most accidents ended up with a broken back, because the women would fall under the horse)
Not to mention the tremendous pain to the horse who had to carry a woman on one side. Can you imagine how the chiropractic issues from that???

The irony was that women had been riding astride for centuries (if not longer) before someone decided they needed to o protect... well, let's just say the purity of the young ladies riding around to their eager bride grooms. Then it became a fad.

Times changed, though. In the late 1800s more and more women rode astride, and by the early 1900s women ultimate endurance riders (called long riders) were crossing the country astride. Alberta Clare made the connection between the right to vote and the right to control your horse:

In 1912 this diminutive pistol-packing Long Rider made an 8000 mile solo equestrian journey across America that took her from Wyoming to Oregon, south to California, across the deserts of Arizona, and on to a triumphant arrival in New York City. Throughout the course of her long journey, Clare publicly stated that she associated her desire to vote with her right to ride astride. Upon her arrival in New York, Alberta was greeted by Teddy Roosevelt, who praised Clare's courage and urged that women be granted the right to vote.

We voted a few weeks ago, most of us never gave a thought to Clare, or Inez Milholland (pictured here, who led 10,000 marchers through New York on her charger Gray Dawn, died young fighting for the right to vote), or the hundreds of other women who fought, rode, and did not give up until they had won the right for women to be able to touch a screen and have their opinion, their vote, count.

Wouldn't they be proud of us voting, riding, and standing up for our families and communities?

I like to think so.

For real fun read about Two Gun Nan here. At 31 she rode across the country, covering nearly 4500 miles in 180 days on her bay mare, Lady Ellen. Twice she had to shoot her way through town.

I tell you, I'm going to make a kids book about that woman. Who's with me? Yee haw!