Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Hi. Um. It's me. Cibolo.
I've been a little reluctant to start this blogging thing, because it seems to me that it really cuts into grazing time.
But I thought since I've got the internet in my stall and everything it would be a shame to just let it sit here.
Besides, I was promised a cookie if I did a post.
Personally my favorite cookies are those nicker ones. I can smell those a mile away.
Now where was I? Oh yeah. A post. Okay.
Let's see. I guess I could tell you about our day. Me and my alpha mare were in the sorrel circle today. It was really weird. She decided it was time to put the little rocks in a water bottle and shake them.
I'm not sure what the point of that whole thing was. I swear, she needs to stop reading those magazines. I just sort of looked over and she'd stop shakin' them. But we hadn't been in the sorrel circle for a while so I was sorta curious about the other barn across the way and such. Then she was jumping and shaking that thing. So I looked at her and took a step back, because I was starting to think she was going to go loco or something.
Turns out I was supposed to be SCARED of that thing.
Yesh. It's a water bottle with rocks in it, for goodness sake. I didn't get scared of that crazy dog, the other day, I'm sure not going to be scared of a bunch of rocks in a bottle. We had a good laugh over that.
So we left the circle and went on our first trail ride alone, just me and my alpha mare. I was a little excited at first, I mean, who wouldn't be? She hadn't gone anywhere with just me. Like I was a baby or something. I guess she had to cowgirl up a little. Anyway we got it figured out. Pretty soon she was singing and I was keeping the rhythm going and it was really nice to be out and away from all the flies and other horses and just do some running around. Well, actually more like walking and trotting. She says no running. Not yet, anyway. Fine with me!
Oh, hey, I thought it might be nice for you to meet Lily's BOYFRIEND. She says it's just platonic, whatever the heck that means. All I can tell you is he has a hissy fit every time she's with me.
I keep telling him she's like a sister, but you can't really talk to Pasos, you know?
His name is Armador. I call him Big Nose. I mean LOOK at that Snoz! Alpha mare says he has a pretty mane. I say he's wasting all that energy growing hair instead of muscles. He's not a bad guy, I guess.
And here's a picture of the little alpha mare with Lily. She loves to spray with that thing. Lily is really brave, she stands on that flat rock where they spray us. I fell off one of those once, so I move over to the grassy part.
Alright. That's all I got. I guess I better head out, I can see that thoroughbred is getting all the grass. Take care and watch out for those water bottles. Ha ha!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Plan A: Ride with Anisha (friend from the stables who is always looking for a ride, just like me) to Bandera.
Plan A/2: Invite a couple from the stables to go too.
Complication A: Anisha has and unexpected dismount and her participation is iffy.
Solution A: Husband agrees to take her place.
Complication A2: Cibolo is injured (minor, but still concerning) and loses a shoe.
Solution A2: Farrier makes quick stop and puts two shoes on, just in case.
Complication A3: Friday we learn Lily has thrown a shoe. It's too late to get farrier out.
Which leads to:
PLAN B: Husband and I will bail on the couple for a shorter ride at the Lake.
Complication B: Husband wakes up at 2 am, tossing his cookies.
Which leads to :
PLAN C: Rudy had invited us over for a trail ride. His kids are over for the weekend, our children are excited. We call this morning and confirm at 10 am that we'll be over about noon.
Complication C: Youngest tosses her cookies at 10:15. Eldest is also not feeling well. Text Rudy.
Which leads to:
Modified Plan C: Me and Cibolo ride with Rudy, no kiddos...
Yesh. Good thing I wasn't trying to plan a meeting at the UN or something. They'd all have been meeting in the parking lot.
That said, it WAS a great training ride for our upcoming long trail ride in the Valley (a 12 miler). We did 7 + miles in about 3 hours, the second 3.5 miles almost at a constant trot, thank to Rudy's fast moving Paso Fino.
My posting, needless to say, is much improved as are my stomach muscles. I hope I will be able to sit up tomorrow.
This was also the first real training ride with Cibolo. At first he was a bundle of nerves. Dancing around, concerned about being in a new place. But soon we had our rhythm working. I had no idea how he'd react to anything - dogs, traffic, horses calling at the other side of fences, bridges and a fast moving Paso. The last time I'd been on that trail, it had been with Canyon. I'd lost lots of confidence and for me Cibolo is so new, I was worried about what could happen.
Cibolo was remarkable. We were charged by dogs, vehicles came up on both sides, there were roofers working on houses, Rudy pushed the pace and at one point I had to hold Cibolo down to a fast trot and not lope - because I'm still nervous about it.
In time, in time. (We did do one or two lopes, not long or anything. But I wasn't quite there. Getting closer, I think).
Cibolo was wonderful. He spooked in place for the charging dog, but other than that he was largely unfazed.
Last time I was on that trail, my horse bolted.
This time, my horse listened and looked to me for guidance; although he did want to stay up with the Paso, we had no arguments. Other than a reluctance to side pass to the keypad to open the gate, he was incredible. In fact on the first 4 miles, he didn't even break a sweat.
I have a TRAIL SAFE HORSE!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
It started when I got to the stables. The ground of the paddock area where Cibolo runs (with a grouchy arabian and a lanky thoroughbred) was a horrid mucky mess thanks to the rain we've had for the last week. I walked out as usual and generally he'll either walk to me, or stand for me. This time he avoided me.
I was stunned. Not just because he was heading out like that, but the way he acted was so strange. It was "stand offish", exactly what they had told me about him.
Since it was a muddy mess I wasn't about to make him run like I normally would with a horse avoiding me in a field. I found he did let me direct him, so I waved him into the barn area.
Still he wouldn't let me even pet him. Talk about holding a grudge, I thought.
I got some feed, some cookies, bribing him a bit. He took them from the greatest distance possible, but his attitude was just terrible. After a while I even dropped the rope to make it clear I wasn't going to "catch him."
It was raining, so all I'd planned on doing was spending some time with him. But this threw me for a loop. I sat down for a bit and he kept a distance, not looking at me at all. Was this the standoffish horse they talked about? Was our last flex-a-thon that bad?
After a while in the barn aisle, I waved him into a stall since I wanted to keep him out of the muck. I stood outside his stall, wondering what had happened to my Bo, feeling a little sad. I looked down and I saw it. One of his shoes was coming off. (I took pictures, but I'm a little too tired to download. I'll get them up tomorrow)
"Cibolo! Your shoe! That's terrible," I said, walking into the stall.
Right then something weird happened. He didn't avoid me like he had been, but was just a little wary. He let me move around to his side actually touching him and check his hoof. The shoe had slid on the hoof but was firmly attached somehow. It's as if it was slipped back to the middle, like to the ball of the foot if he had a foot instead of a hoof, and his toes were completely shoe free.
When I stood back up I saw something else. A big fat scrape right at the round part of his jowl as if he had banged the mess out of it on something! Banged it hard.
"Oh no, Cibolo! What happened to you?" I said as I checked it.
Everything changed in the moment. I don't know how to explain it, but his energy and demeanor changed. He softened, trusted. He didn't avoid me. He met my gaze. He let me doctor him, rub him, check him over. He had a good size bite on a hip too, and I guess he'd knocked himself hard on the jaw during some nonsense in the paddock. It was a serious scrape and it must have hurt terribly. He asked for his favorite rub (circles on the jowl, which I did carefully), and rested his nose on my leg.
By the time I left, he was carefully putting his head over the stall door towards me, reaching towards me but careful not to bump his jaw. Just like always.
It was an incredible experience. I hadn't been aggressive, or angry, mostly just confused and a little irritated. But when I realized he was hurt, he changed his attitude.
I'm still a somewhat stunned by the whole thing...
Monday, September 21, 2009
I'm still saddle shopping and I think I'm inappropriately in love. It's an off brand saddle and I probably won't bid on it because I can't find anything about the brand anywhere online. You can find it here.
I love the shape and color and simplicity (no tooling) and love that it has a short skirt too. But I'm pretty paranoid about off brands. So I probably won't bid. probably. (come one, someone talk me into it! lol)
Today we took another set of lessons from the trainer. I have more to work on and overall everything went great. Adam even learned to bit Lily.
Now Lily will take a bit readily - if you know what you're doing. I never realized I was just doing it for everyone and never forcing them to do it. This is why I wouldn't make a good teacher. I'm too focused on accomplishing the task rather than teaching the task.
It took Sierra 30 minutes to get her bitted and pretty much the same for Adam.
Lily is such a good teacher, she really is. She won't do it unless you have some ability to figure it out.
Cibolo got a bit irritated with the repeated flexing we were doing and when I got off him I could tell he was just bummed. But he's very forgiving and he eventually started palling around again.
The thing about Cibolo is that he seems somewhat resentful of repetition. So while I listen to the trainer and flexed over and over on my lesson, I want to make sure to reward and stop the first time he does it correctly. As long as his turns get more curvy, I think we're good.
Plus there's this weird thing about flexing.
By flexing I mean the kind when you turn your horses head to your stirrup. I do it on the ground, but never did it much in the saddle. I've done plenty of hindquarter one rein stops (Canyon flashback here). But she wanted Cibolo to float to a circular stop. To give to the rein and curve his body because he's a little stiff. So she wanted more flexing at a stop and all the way to the stirrup.
So here's the weird thing about flexing this way. John Lyons is sort of in a different camp about flexing to your stirrup (and I'm walking a line between my 3 favs: Parelli, Lyons, and Rashid. hopefully they don't all show up at my door at once and ask me to choose!). John's like "look, when you pick up that rein, your horse should do something. stop pulling his head around. It's not doing anything."
Yea. Me and John. We are on a first name basis around here. Ha!
Anyway, I sort of lean this way. But I don't know much about riding, I'm very much learning. So I'm trying to figure out what works well. I know part of why she wants me to work on this this way is because he noses out so much, he needs more discipline there. And she's a Parelli based trainer, mostly.
Anyway, I think I know how Cibolo would vote. Flex schlex. where's the cookies?
Oh. And I'm really figuring out how to post. I'd say I'm at 60% on take off and 80% once we're going. It lasts a little longer too, breaking down at every other turn (which is a massive improvement, trust me).
I'm probably on the wrong shoulder or what ever, but I can feel the rhythm. Cibolo is doing better at keeping the trot going, which helps (I guess he's better since I'm not like some crazy monkey on his back, right?).
And here is this week's gratuitous ear shot:
Isn't he handsome?
Sunday, September 20, 2009
8 yr dark chestnut gelding 15.2hh and 1250 lbs
strip and a cross freeze brand on left hip
big boned, and stout made
used on exotic game ranch for 5 years
day hunts and pulled the kill back to camp, from the horn
gentle for kids and idiots
AQHA RNACH GELDING 15.2HH AND 1250 LBS KID GENTLE
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Today was our second day of posting practice. Cibolo is being a very patient instructor, now staying in a slow jog trot which I'm finding easier to match rhythmically. I'm not by any means on beat every time, but it's so much better. Plus I find he stays in the trot when I'm in rhythm which I find to be very reinforcing. I swear i feel like he's saying "there you go, you got it."
He also didn't nose out today, and I was able to avoid trying to adjust his head as I was trying to stay in rhythm, keep track of my leg pressure, sit straight, blah, blah, blah. Yesh. Was I even riding before?
Keeping his head in is tough for me because I really want to not be heavy handed, especially knowing this bit is more leverage than I'm used to. But I stayed on the lower ring all day today because he was so inconsistent on Monday's ride. I decided I'd work hard to keep my hands neutral.
We worked on floating around curves, doing the bullseye exercise and some in saddle bends. I'm gaining confidence. All I want to do is spend time out there, neglect my work, let the dishes sit, never buy groceries. Just family and horses.
These days I'm in the market for a saddle because the aussie i have is just not feeling right... I tried a Tucker that's for sale at the barn (isn't it gorgeous?), but it's too large and so new that it squeaks like a cheap box spring. Why is it that every listing I see for a Tucker says "Ridden only 3 times" or "Only on a horse a handful of times"? How can people pay that much for a saddle then not ride in it?
I am in love with a Martha Josey Circle Y that's on ebay. I don't barrel race but I like the deep seat. Still I'm trying to widen my horizons beyond circle Y and big horn.
What's your favorite brand?
I'm getting a little paranoid. We have a nice little trail ride planned for the 26th and my trail companion's steady eddy horse spooked and she's banged up (although she's still determined to go). When I tried to get together with some blogging riders, there was a fire and then a horse injury that required girth area stitches!
Seriously. Is it me?
Here's my horse responding to my request for him to pose for a picture (the first picture on this post was about 2 seconds before this one). Nice ear, right? lol He has no understanding of focal length.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Today was my first lesson with Cibolo. I decided that since Cibolo has felt a little distant that before the lesson, I'd do a focus exercise.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Loading Cibolo took some doing at the barn, and finally he loaded when I went to the front window and Adam sent him in.
It was a sign of things to come.
Lilly, on the other hand, jumped in lickety split. Our trainer had worked with her and said she really made major progress. No kidding. She loaded like nothing, then unloaded like nothing.
We went over to the lake and I had a feeling I didn't really have Cibolo's attention. I did some ground work, but only made a little progress. Still we went down to the water and let them swim for a while - we didn't want to ride, it was just a test outing.
So, after an hour it was time to go home.
Cibolo would not load. It was as if everything unraveled. We switched roles a couple times, increased pressure, reduced pressure, did work outside. Finally the only thing that worked was opening the window so he could stick his head out. The only problem with that is that he sticks it so far out that it's dangerous to drive with him. So Adam had to twist his nose to push him back in.
It took an hour.
Then Lilly jumped right in.
I swear, it's enough to drive me to just buy a motorcycle.
I was pretty discouraged but Adam made a good point.
"We won. We got them loaded."
We need to take another trip immediately, and I was hoping to do it sooner rather than later, but life is already hectic. Hopefully we can do something tomorrow.
(was going to post a video on this, but my memory card is MIA... maybe it's in the trailer)
The Judas horse was released, it bolted beside the band and charged past Cloud and instead of following the horse’s lead Cloud slowed down, peered forward and then came to a dead stop well away from the end of the gauntlet and waiting gate. The chopper pressed harder and forced the remaining members of Cloud’s family into the gauntlet only to stop and gather around their leader who obviously was aware that something was deadly wrong. All of the observers gasped and stared as this had never happened before; no herd had just stopped and refused to near the gate.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
When Kate suggested reading a bit of Harry Whitney, this particular area of the website really caught my imagination.
The exploding box.
First Harry explains how to recognize confusion:
How do you know a horse is confused?
A confused, resentful, or anxious horse may pin his ears, brace his neck, tense his back and his topline, and swish his tail. Those emotions may also manifest themselves in something as subtle as a peaked eyebrow, distorted nostril, or a flattened chin.
A horse who is feeling those emotions will also show mental symptoms. He'll take his thoughts elsewhere so he doesn't have to deal with the question that he has not been able to answer right no matter what response he gave. Some horses will escape their lack of understanding by pretending that the question was never asked; they do nothing. Other horses make extremely large escapes. They run off, or buck, do whatever it takes to get the person asking the questions to shut up!
I see this in Lilly a great deal. Somewhere in her life she got a great deal of mixed signals. She's always worried that she's not responding correctly. I'm working on relaxing a great deal around her, being very consistent because when it gets confusing for her you can see the panic rise.
I'm not saying she's eager to please. It's more like she's eager not to displease. Which is something to unravel if we're going to get that connection. Which is why I'm interested in trying the exploding box exercise with her - and with Cibolo too, actually. Whitney explains the steps in the article, and I found it fascinating. I always have to understand the why of what I do (yes, i was an annoying child), and he takes the time to do that.
What I hope to achieve with both horses is a sense that with me, there is peace.
I wonder how many explosions it'll take to get there.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Okay, enough politics. Onto the big news of the day.
We got two horses in our trailer today.
Fortunately it was the two horses we own.
I'd been waiting for our trainer to come back from her trip because I felt I needed all the help I could get. Over the last two weeks I'd gotten Lilly to the point that she wasn't bolting out and Cibolo was strolling in there like he owned the joint.
But I didn't really try to get the butt bar on let alone load them both. I still couldn't get Lilly to stay in place and didn't feel confident that I knew how to solve the problem.
So today was the day. Adam and I went together to meet the trainer. Adam has a good connection with Lilly and I was glad he was going to be on hand. As it turned out he took care of the bulk of the loading while I was merely a calming influence just outside the front window.
Our first step was to load Lilly. It took about three tries, but with rhythmic tapping on her butt (not hard, just rhythmic) she loaded and let us secure her in place. She had a nice grain reward once she was secure, and after a few more tries she unloaded about one or two gears slower from her previous bolt. Progress.
Then we loaded Cibolo. He was confused at first at being in the back area only, but then I could almost see the light bulb go off in his head. We shut the rear door and marveled that we had two horses in there.
But unloading Cibolo then Lilly seemed to increase Lilly's fear. She was back to bolting out.
We decided to try her in the rear. Initially when we were trying to deal with all this bolting weeks ago I'd suggested loading her in the rear. Sure, you'd have to get out of the way fast when you opened the door, but she couldn't really build up a head of steam either. She'd be out and not left alone in the trailer. But there was one significant hurdle - she couldn't seem to figure out how to get in the back section of the trailer.
We loaded Cibolo first and he was fine, although he leaned on the butt bar a bit. Loading Lilly in the back was challenging at first. It was as if she didn't think she'd fit. But with more tapping and soft words, she was in and stayed in calmly for the door to close.
The first couple times opening the door were something else and she even banged her leg once getting out. But by the end she came out somewhat quietly. Quiet for Lilly anyway. Okay, not so quiet but just a bit more slowly.
Cibolo comes out very quiet. Hopefully he can be a source of inspiration. (and hopefully he won't pick up her habit!)
It will take more time and practice, but I think we're through a hurdle. We're going to try to take them on a picnic at the lake tomorrow. I hope we don't end up having to walk them home!
Wound update: we have some proud flesh starting. I'm still cleaning it every day and putting on salve. Tips are welcome...
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Documents obtained from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) via the Freedom of Information Act by a Phoenix-based non-profit, The Conquistador Program, reveal shocking and detailed plans to destroy healthy wild horses in government holding facilities as well as those still remaining in the wild on public lands.
BLM employees as well as a USDA veterinarian held weekly “Implementation Team” meetings beginning in July of 2008 in which they discussed and developed strategies aimed at ridding BLM of thousands of mustangs. In October they completed a 68 page document entitled “Alternative Management Options”. Tactics included in this document are reminiscent of those used to wipe out Native American tribes in the 1800s.
The BLM team created scenarios for killing mustangs using barbiturates, gun shots, or captive bolts. Bodies would be disposed of through rendering, burial or incineration. They discussed killing 1200-2000 wild horses per year. The document states that “the general public would be prohibited from viewing euthanasia.” Additionally, the Team felt that “increased support from public relations and management staff would also be needed to insulate those doing the actual work from the public, media and Congressional scrutiny/criticism.”“Minutes from these meetings as well as the Draft Plan reveal what amounts to ‘the final solution’ for the American mustang,” states Ginger Kathrens, filmmaker and Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “Despite a huge outcry from the American public last year regarding BLM plans to kill wild horses in holding, the agency is still pressing forward with a plan to destroy our American mustangs both on and off the range.”
Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program Don Glenn told The Cloud Foundation that “no decision has been made to move forward on a large scale with this plan, yet.”
BLM meeting minutes speak for themselves. “Security at facilities and at gathers would need to be increased to combat eco-terrorism. Having the people that are willing to put down healthy horses at gather sites could be a problem. Having vets putting down healthy horses at preparation facility[ies] could also be a problem.” Meeting minutes reveal the psychological toll that employees would pay-“have counseling for employees and contractors that have to euthanize the healthy horses because it is very stressful.”
The report created an option in which wild horses of all ages could be sold “without limitation”. In other words, horses could be sold directly to killer buyers in unchecked numbers. The Team admitted that “some wild horses will go to slaughter”.
“Once they are gone, they’re gone” says Karen Sussman, President of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros. “To lose this incomparable species would be a travesty.”
Team Members formulated ways in which they could circumvent the National Environmental Policy Act, asking “How many (wild horses) could be euthanized during a gather (roundup) without having NEPA?” BLM discussed ways to circumvent the federal carcass disposal law (43 CFR 4730.2). Conversations included how many wild horses could be rendered at the Reno Rendering plant or “disposed of in pits”. The Team concluded that “there will not be large numbers of horses euthanized during gathers or in the field. This is due to state environmental laws.”
Recommendations include the creation of gelding herds, and sterilization of mares to create non-reproductive herds in the wild in place of natural herds. The team recommended changing the sex ratio from the normal 50% males and 50% females to 70% males and 30% females. Then the experimental two-year infertility drug, PZP-22, would be given to all mares that are returned to the wild. Plans call for rounding up the wild horses every two years to re-administer the drug.
“Mares on the drug will cycle monthly and, with the altered sex ratio, the social chaos will be dangerous and on-going,” Kathrens explains. “Any semblance of normal wild horse society will be completely destroyed.”
Kathrens has spent 15 years in the wild documenting mustang behavior for her PBS television documentaries which chronicle the life story of Cloud, the now famous pale palomino stallion she has filmed since birth. “Even Cloud and his little herd in Montana are in serious danger if BLM implements these options,” she continues. “The BLM plans a massive round up in Cloud’s herd beginning August 30, 2009.”
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
These wild horses are our inheritance. Only our inaction will allow it to be lost.
Visit Cloud Foundation and Angels for Cloud to learn more. Then pick up the phone and call both your senators, the white house, the BLM and your representative. That's 5 phone calls. Make sure they note your name and zip code when you call.
Thanks to Baba Yaga and Grey Horse for the updates.