Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sandy Circle Time in New Territory -- by Canyon

Dictated by Canyon...

Well, you may have heard the big news by now, but I was recently forced to relocate. Generally I'm all for adventure, being the courageous horse I am, but it appears this is not just a camp out. I'm actually ... moved.

Granted, my last home was filled with dangers - tigers thinly disguised as tarps, wolves hiding behind flattened cows - but I maintained the upper hand in that setting through intense vigilence.

But a horse's life is one of change and I'm taking on this latest one with a renewed sense of terror... er... caution.

The new place is pretty different. Fortunately there is an avalanche of hay, which helps one adjust.

I've been placed in a stall of considerable prestige, well suited to my station in life. I greet nearly everyone who comes by.

Of course the place is terrifically dangerous. First there is far too much cover for all the predators around here. It's almost as bad as those terrible open spaces in my last place.

Then there is a bunch of white snakes that hang in the air and bite. I really hate those things.

I've established a few tentative friendships, which helps one feel at home and have vowed to alert everyone to the slightest danger. Far too many of them are oblivious to danger here. Sound familiar? It's no wonder there are any horses out here at all. I arrived just in time.

Today my "alpha mare" came out to give me my treats, but insisted on walking around first. She actually took hold of some snakes and expected me to walk past them. I protested, but she had that stick thing with her. Tough choice, you might say.

We walked into the sandy circle with the metal trees and I knew I was done for. We were going to do THAT again. "Alpha mare" is OBSESSED with the sandy circle. I really thought it was time to get back to the stall with the hay... er... you know, to protect the others.

This sandy circle had pretty creepy items which I stayed well away from. As you can see these are just the sorts of things that many ignorant horses would just not give a second thought. That's how we lose so many in the sandy circle.

As you can see, I wisely kept my distance from all those creepy things.

I kept a brisk pace right from the start.

Because look at this place! See all the hiding places? Fortunately, I scared most things off after about 20 minutes. Another few minutes and alpha mare let me follow her around. I even sniffed one of the creepy things. Just one, though.

During cookie time with the alpha mare (who admittedly had done a decent job with the snakes), we decided we'd probably be able to make this place work. It's going to be a big job to keep so many horses safe, but I think I'm up to the challenge.

Please do pass on my regards to my fellow equine bloggers who may not have internet service in their stall.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quote of the day (or week, or whatever)

Horses and children, I often think, have a lot of the good sense there is in the world. ~Josephine Demott Robinson

Monday, April 20, 2009

Moved. Between sneezes.

(forgive my spelwing, I can't brweath thrwo my nose)

I hab a cowd today, but we had to move Canyon. So we woaded up and went ober to our first bawn and got all the tack, feed, cookies, saddles, meds.

Tonight he's in a new stall, meeding new horses, dealing with new noises and new people. I gwoomed him when we awwived, twying to help him welax.

I was onwy miwdwy successfuw.

Mow next time. I don't wand do sneeze on my keyboawd.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quote of the day (or week, or whatever)

He usually knows when you're happy,
He usually knows when you're sad...
And he
always knows when you have carrots.
-- Unknown

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Last days

I'm terribly sad about leaving our barn, but sadder to see it feel like a ghost town.

Here's Canyon, walking by the empty pole runs. I remember when these and the barn were completely full. There were nearly 20 horses. Now there are three boarders and they have only two horses of their own left.

We did a long round pen session and a little arena work. I'm really working on side passing with only a smattering of success. At the end I learned he can side pass really well - if he's facing the gate.

Why am I not surprised.

(Canyon, giving me his "if I just DO everything, then you'll take me for granted" look.)

Usually I embrace change fully. I'm easily bored and am always looking around the corner for what's next.

This time... not so much.

We move on Sunday.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Roxi joins the pack/herd/flock/insanity

Because we are not happy having one horse, two dogs, one cat, a mouse, a hamster and a lizard, we decided to add a puppy.

Next I plan on bringing peace to the Middle East.

Here's Roxi.

She moves a little fast. She's a rescue puppy. We got her from Great Dane Rescue of San Antonio. Which, ironically has a ton of non Great Danes. In fact, they've got the cutest dogs on Pet Finder, IMHO...

What? Can't make her out?

Well, she moves quick. How about here?

Yea. I know. She's really quick. Most of the time she looks just like this.

She's a Maltipoo. We wanted a poodle mix because my niece is allergic but loves dogs. I hate that when she comes over she can't love on our dog without her eyes sealing shut. Discourages conversation, to say the least. Plus it's time for a lap dog.

I was leaning toward Chihuahua, but Adam was not wanting to go there. Too "la raza," probably. (which reminds me of this guy that always cracks me up. I'm just all over the mental place today)

She's a really cute blur. Really.


Even with Sierra, her mom.

She's 4 months old. She's 6 pounds. She's made herself so at home I'm not sure she hasn't been here all along.

Okay, here's a better one...

Welcome home, Roxi. Sierra has already started her agility training. Roxi has walked on a rock wall, chased a ball and gone up to the top of the A ramp.

Now me, I've got other plans. Roxi, hope you like horseback riding.

Friday, April 10, 2009

New Horse and New Barn

There's as much horse
sense around as ever.
Unfortunately, the horses
have most of it.
-- Unknown

I mentioned that Rudy got his new horse (he's started a blog which you can find over here), but I have to say, I found the whole process a bit unnerving.

Rudy is one of those people who is pretty exacting. He knows what he
wants (note his list) and is the kind of guy that reads the instructions to things before putting them together. These are great qualities, particularly in his field.

So when he sort of went off the deep end looking for this horse, I was a bit concerned. Because he bought his new horse based on an internet ad. In Tennesse. He never even laid hands on this horse.

I can't stress enough how much this is not like Rudy. But this is what horses do to you. They make you crazy.

His new horse, Cowboy (now known as Vaquero), came off the trailer with little resemblence to the horse described in the ad (shocking, I know). His hooves were long, he'd clearly been left to sit in the field, and Mr. 1-2 temperment is hotter than my horse. Touch the rein and the horse practically spins in place.Time will tell, though. Rudy has worked out his share of kinks in horses. And the horse has a kind eye, if he'll just chill, he might be come around. I hope so, it's very early in the process.

Rudy convinced me to ride Vaquero for a bit in the arena. That Paso Fino gait is something else. It looks so odd to my eye, like a mechanical tin horse running along a path. You feel like you're not moving at all - and you're trotting.


Leaving Home...

On another note, I'll be leaving our stable. The owners have had the place for sale and as a result nearly everyone is gone. They've had a few nibbles on the place at last and it looks like it will be sold very soon, so they're closing down and moving on to a really great opportunity.

Still Waters has been a great place to board. The trails are fantastic, they take good care of the horses. They were a place we came to celebrate and enjoy time away from computers and work and rivers of asphalt.

But once it started to empty out, it just got progressively sadder to be there. They've been selling off things, and there's a feeling of desolation in the air. Empty stalls, barren tack room, only a few names on the dry erase board.

I rediscovered my love of horses there and gave in to it. They helped me through my learning curve. I spent hours in that round pen, learning, eating dust, trying to figure out the workings of my crazy horse's mind, while the azure sky wide and open over the wide field promised another beautiful day.

My daughters ran around like it was a second home, made friends, had a blast, but as it's quieted down they've been reluctant to go. Other kids left, people divorced, horses died, even friendships and kinships shattered in ways I never experienced before. Maybe there's something about horse life that makes emotions so much more volatile, and people more unpredictable. Maybe I've been sheltered.

All this time I've been stubborn, not wanting to leave, probably needing to leave because there was virtually no one left, sadness permeated the air like an ache, but I wanted to linger, as if by lingering I could bring it back.

But that's not my role.

I've found a new barn, and it's nothing like the old one. I suspect I won't get as attached (you never forget your first), but there are more folks riding there, big trails are all around and all the horses look good, no bitten up horses, the barn's clean, the accomodations modest. I know Canyon will be well looked after and it's closer to home so maybe I can ride more.

I'll move in a week or so... And I'll try hard not to look back.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Canyon's sleepover

A few days after our disastrous ride, Canyon was invited for a sleep over at Rudy's.

Rudy bought a house with 5 acres and a barn and, most importantly for my daughters, a pool. His own daughters are nearly the same age as mine and they were pumped to have a weekend of swimming while mommy hung out with the horse.

I asked Sierra if she thought Canyon and Woody would paint hooves and gossip about the other horses at the barn.

Mom, she said, they're boys. They're going to tackle each other and run around.

Silly me.

I was still a little reluctant. We'd be in a new place, and given that we hadn't had much time to work out our problems really, I felt it might not go well.

But I decided to give it a try anyway.

I worked Canyon in the neighbor's round pen three times as long as usual, at Rudy's suggestion.

Here's the thing with Canyon. He joins up instantly. But you can tell he's not all that into you, if you know what I mean.

It reminds me of guys I'd date way back when. They'd say all the right things, make all the right moves, but you knew they were full of shit. That they'll be doing the horizontal tango with the chick in the double Ds five minutes after you left the room.

So even though Canyon was doing absolutely everything, (by which I mean yielding to a look, flexing, backing, dropping his head) I kept him going until he was starting to sweat. Then I pushed him out until he came up to me, licking and chewing. Just coming up to me wasn't going to be enough.

I hopped on his back to check his attitude towards cues and he was right on them.

And he behaved very, very well. We eventually went on a ride through the neighborhood, and he managed to hold it together even when being charged at the fence by crazy dogs. He was startled by the silhouette of a metal horse. Rudy had warned me that even the bomb proof Woody had startled there.

Ironic, right?

It was a great sleepover and the kids had a big time.

During this ride, or maybe during a walk later, Rudy and I talked his requirements for his next horse. He had emailed me this long list of what he was looking for, which I've excerpted below:

I want a gelding. The 2 geldings I have stabled right now don't have a scratch on them. I want a gelding that gets along with its fellow horses.

I want a height between 14.2 and 15.1. 15 HH would be ideal. Anything shorter than 14.2, I would just look and feel goofy on. They could probably carry me, but I would never be happy with how I "feel" on the horse.

I want a paso fino. I've ridden Tennessee Walkers and I like them, but if I'm going to go "gaited", I want a paso fino.

No temperament hotter than 3 on a scale of 1-10. I think I could handle a hotter horse, but I don't want to. This is to be a good second horse, and I want to be able to put the occasional semi-newbie on the horse or pony a rider.

Cannot be a "dead head". It's OK if he goes "dead head" with a beginner, but I want him to come alive when a better rider is on him. Spirit and Woody can both "turn it on" when asked and calm down for a beginner.

Must be able to do the "paso corto" AND "paso largo". I do not need the "classic paso fino" gait, and nothing less than $10,000 would get it for me anyway.

While color would be nice, "you can't ride color". So any color is acceptable, if the other criteria are met.

I want the horse to be registered. "You can't ride papers" either, but if I'm going gaited, I don't want any crosses. I want to know the horses lineage and that it is a purebred horse. You can't be sure of anything without papers.

Horse cannot be extremely high withered or mutton-backed.

It goes without saying, I want a horse that works well with a farrier, loads well, and stands for mounting. If the horse doesn't move his hindquarters or do forehand transitions, I'll teach him. If he doesn't back well, I'll teach him. But he needs to do the basics well.
I laughed when I saw this list. But it's good to know what you want, precisely. Rudy had also suggested (after my last post) that maybe it was time for me to move on to a different horse given Canyon's issues, and asked what my dream horse would be. We talked about it as Canyon settled into his guest stall.

First of all, until I can ride more, I can't fully give up on Canyon. The reality is that when I rode him the most, he did well enough for me. But without consistent wet saddle blankets there is no point to either giving up or trying a different horse.

And in nearly every way, Canyon is my dream horse. He's got great color, a sweet trot and lope, willing attitude, love his fine face and arab tail. He's a gentleman on the ground. If he just wasn't insane.

If I get to a time where I can ride him 4 times a week and he still doesn't do well, then I may have to make another choice. But not until then.

We also joked around about the list. "If you think that's bad," he said, "you should see the list I have for dating. I really want it all." But more on that next time.

Also, Rudy took delivery of his new horse this week. I'll have to write about that next time too...