Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Tooth Fairy Rings Twice

Thanks to everyone for making me feel so much better about my big splurge. I can *almost* breathe normally. But for now we take a break from our horse obsession for a visit with one of our favorite mythical creatures....

The Tooth Fairy has proven to have real staying power at our house. Doubts have clouded the status of Santa, and the Easter Bunny, but the Tooth Fairy remains completely real.

Which is why I was in a total panic on Sunday. I texted my sister in Chicago: Help! I need an intervention!

Why? Because somehow I got roped into promising my daughter she could CALL THE TOOTH FAIRY.

Like most things around here, it started very innocently. The second of Mireya’s front teeth finally came out on Saturday and she began the grand preparation for the visitation of the Tooth Fairy. We ran our usual slate of errands and I never realized what machinations were going on in that curly head.

About 10 pm on Saturday I strolled into her room. I reached under the pillow for the tooth, the note and cash ready. That’s when I found it. A note to the tooth fairy:

Dear tooth fariey,
I hope you like my tooth.
If you don’t have that much money, just give me a very small stuffed anmal.
Love Mireya.
PS Does my mom really call you and why didn’t you pick up my tooth last time?

First of all I was sort of impressed that she thought the economy could have impacted the tooth fairy.

But secondly, I was reminded that this kid doesn’t forget ANYTHING. The tooth fairy had been late one time and at the time I explained that I’d forgotten to call her. And now, here I was, having to make excuses for the TOOTH FAIRY.

The Tooth Fairy left her slightly edited response:

Cute Tooth.
Sorry I was late that time, there were high winds.
And yes, your mom calls me.

The next morning, Mireya was thrilled to find her note. She wrote a thank you letter and wanted to talk to the Tooth Fairy personally.

“You can’t talk to her,” I protested. “You’re not even supposed to know I have her number! It was a secret!”

“Then why did she tell me you called her?” asked Mireya, a.k.a. Perry Mason.

I sighed. “You know, to be honest, she’s not exactly the smartest fairy in the forest.”

Truer words were never spoken.

I called my sister and explained my predicament.

“Can’t you just wait until she forgets?” she asked.

“This is Mireya. She still hasn’t forgotten the green eggs incident from April Fools day, 2006.”

Fortunately a Texas Tooth Fairy was found, and after school on Monday Mireya talked to her. Imminently satisfied, she hung up and smiled a gap tooth grin.

Big sis Sierra pulled me aside “Who is that on the phone?”

“The tooth fairy.”


All I could do was smile.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Okay, does anyone have a paper bag handy?

I just bought this saddle and I'm about to pass out.

Tennessean® Lite-Rider Saddle With Horn

Seriously. I'm going to pass out. I don't spend this kind of money on saddles. Not for me, anyway.

It's the tree that will fit Cibolo and it's the style I like.

But it's 3x the cost this frugal girl has ever paid for her own saddle (never mind that I've paid close to that for DH's saddle. He's picky.)!

Good thing I've almost got the other two sold and got a bonus the other day.

I feel dizzy. I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Clinic - part 4 of a whole bunch

My favorite saddle, now for sale on craigs list

The Gray and the Long Way to the Side Pass

The final horse of the first day was John's beautiful gray. This Nebraska born Fox Trotter was a gorgeous horse - very "baroque" in style, I was told. I think of this as meaning Rubenesque in physique - thick neck, huge shoulders, stocky build. The kind of horse you'd see in a medieval tapestry. A line backer of horses.

And the best mental condition of any horse there. Like many of the gaited horses, this one was a bit of a Toyota too, but what John wanted to do was work on side passing.

I was interested in this because we haven't been able to get Lily to side pass. I suspect she can, but maybe as a barrel horse, side passing is way down the training list.

Many articles I've read talk about teaching the side pass in front of a fence. But Kathleen noted that you just end up teaching the move twice, because as soon as the obstacle is gone, then so is the move.

Instead she focused on freeing up all four legs.

I have to say, I was surprised how long it takes for a horse to "get" this move. And this was one very smart horse. But side passing is very complex, apparently.

First she focused on cueing and getting the horse to turn on it's back end. She did this by encouraging John to back the horse to get it on its back end, then put it into a turn. In time, the Gray shifted his weight and in about 30 minutes he was turning fairly reliably. With the front freed up, it was time to move around the front end. This took much more time. I'm not sure if it was because this horse was very forward by nature, or if it just found the cues confusing.

By the end of the hour, the Gray was only marginal on the front. "Usually we just do one turn a day," Kathleen said. But she felt this horse and rider were advanced enough to give it a try.
You could see the wheels turning in the Gray's mind. It seemed like it had been some time since he had to really puzzle something out and while he was very willing, he was also having a heck of a time "getting" it.

The next day, John would work on tieing the two moves together. That's when things really came apart, and the calm Gray decided to bite. But that will be a tale for my next set of posts.

Meantime, in current life.

I won't write about my surreal round penning work, because I haven't written about that point in the clinic yet. But I am confronting one big problem and one small one.

I can't bring myself to put my saddle on my horse. Hence the photo above and the listing of the saddle on CL. Now that I know just how badly my saddle fits on my horse, I'm not willing to put any of them on him - not even with a shim pad. So instead, I've been riding bareback, working on just the walk. And I'm buying a brand new saddle. I'll be ordering it tomorrow.

Cibolo is still being a pain to catch, but it's getting less and less difficult. I had sort of hoped we'd be totally done, but I guess that's just not realistic. And this weekend I hauled him even though I wasn't going to ride him. He had been unraveling his trailering skills and I wanted him to adjust to getting out more often. So when we went to my friend TR's place, I took him, although I would be riding another horse.

Here is me and Sierra - I didn't have my helmet, because my daughter's head has grown and doesn't fit in her kids helmet anymore. So she got the helmet. That's motherhood in action. Thanks to TR for a great photo! (I'm on Woody, TR's wonder horse who I just adore).

When Cibolo was reluctant to load on the way home I gave him three firm taps on the butt on the lunge line. Then when I offered him an opportunity to load, he got right in without the two steps in and out dance routine. I realized I had been giving him a few too many options and darn it, this horse knows how to load. He just forgot - as did I - that I was serious about him getting in.

And I did it without the emotional impatience. It was flat, but it was firm.

That lesson from the clinic is slowly soaking in...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Clinic - part 3 of a whole bunch

The rain made for muddy paddocks...

First, more on saddle fitting. Someone asked me why a gaited saddle seemed the right kind. Actually, it wasn’t the one recommended at first. At first I was trying a Meleta Brown that Kathleen said seemed to work better for this new, stockier generation of quarter horses. It was the only one of all the mass produced saddles she recommended because of the tree. Every other “production” saddle was built on the same tree, so no matter if I was looking at a Circle Y or a Tucker, I’d likely run into the same problem. The Meleta Brown is on a different tree though, one that is convex, with a flair to the shoulder.

Lou had one and we tried it. It fit much better, but I still thought it fit tighter in the shoulder the the pressure wasn't even. Improved significantly, but still not quite correct. But probably the best I'd get in a production saddle.

I learned that there shouldn’t be any uneven pressure from the bars of the saddle and merely a wide gullet won’t do. According to Kathleen, the traditional quarterhorse tree is like a plank – basically a straight line from shoulder to hip – or pretty close. It was made for quarterhorses of 100 years ago. Only problem - quarterhorses have changed a good deal as we've bred for a very different horse. So while you *can* make room for the shoulder by getting a wide gullet, that doesn’t take into consideration what happens along the back. In fact, it makes the tree really only fit in two places – the shoulder and the back. Or if it doesn't fit on the shoulder, it's likely to slide backwards, and really compromise your horse's back since he'll be carrying you in the area not over the rib cage.

A gaited tree, on the other hand, has a significant flare at the shoulder, and some at the hip too. Cibolo has big shoulders and a big butt. I suspect that this is why this tree is so much better.

I had still been considering the Meleta Brown when Peg, after the trainer left, showed me a saddle she got on ebay. “You don’t have to buy an expensive one,” she said. She encouraged me to try it.

I was pretty new at this saddle fitting, but I had to say, it fit perfectly to me. Later I asked Lou’s sister Catherine and Kathleen and they were surprised. It was like it was made for him. In fact, you could get in the saddle without tightening the cinch. And when we rode around for a minute, the saddle didn’t move at all. It was remarkable.

Here’s the website I’m shopping, the model she had is the Tennessean (initially we thought it was a crates, but National Bridle went out on their own some years ago). They have their own, exclusive tree. Thanks to Peg I have an option that’s not going to run me 2k. I’m hoping to buy one some time soon.

Our next horse: Diego, AKA, I got your number

It was when Kathleen worked Peg’s horse Diego in the round pen that I got the first training answer I’d been looking for – what is appropriate and effective intensity with horses. I did not want to have to become a witch, but my brand of firmness wasn’t working. I was missing something.

Diego was a beautiful gaited spotted saddle horse. He had tossed Peg during a buck and she’d broken her ankle. He could be pushy on the ground and was pushing her around a bit in the round pen by doing scary things – like rushing her.

Kathleen took over the round penning.

One of the things I watched was how Kathleen upped the pressure without upping the emotion. He turned with his butt to her, for example, and she brought that rope into a whirling snapping form. He nearly jumped out of his skin in response. You could tell no one had gotten after him.

And yet there wasn’t any meanness or even aggressiveness in her approach. She was firm, but firm like a tree is when you push against it. She didn’t cut Diego slack when it was clear he had no clue what she wanted. She let him figure it out, and her intensity and consistency made him very motivated to try all kinds of things. The second he did the right thing – change directions by turning in to her instead of with his tail to her – she backed way, way off.

It took a while, but she didn’t baby him, didn’t make excuses for him, didn’t try to guide him much more than the clear signals she was giving. He had to figure it out through trial and error.

“We aren’t doing these horses any favors by trying to avoid freaking them out,” she said.

She kept asking for the same thing, in basically the same way. The pressure would only stop when he figured it out. Because horses will keep trying to figure things out.

Now she knew he was a pushy horse and could handle some pushing. With Skoal, she’d never gotten this intense – but he’d been already working hard at a tenth of the pressure.

Which is why there isn’t one way to work a horse.

Now sometimes a horse will get stuck. They will keep offering the same thing while they are in “Tahiti” mentally (they imagine themselves elsewhere and just have their body go through the motions. Ever work with one of those people? LOL).

In those cases she’d do something alarming to the horse, like tossing a rope out toward it’s hind quarters, slapping her rope to her side, something to jar it. But never getting aggressive.

Standing firm.

Eventually Diego turned into a model citizen in the round pen. But it was lots and lots of wrong turns, Tahiti moments, and a few jarring moments. He softened, listened, and followed Peg’s directions when she took back over.

So what I was missing was persistence, without emotion. Staying flat - or, as I came to see it, centered within myself - was what was the missing element.

Today I used a few lessons from that in the round pen – and even more when I was loading Cibolo when we went to the vet.

More tomorrow – it got late on me.

Have a great day!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Clinic - part 2 of a whole bunch

Skoal, the worrier

I felt terrible. For weeks I’d "checked" Cibolo’s back, but now I realized I hadn't been doing it correctly. The vet checked him just a few days earlier – nothing. And while I was disappointed not to ride, I was more worried about what else I was doing wrong that I was unaware of – that could be harming my horse.

There is so much conflicting information you get with horses. Some people tell you that this bit is gentle, others say it’s harsh. Some say barefoot is the way to go, others swear by shoes. Some insist on blanketing, some clipping, some nothing.

I’d decided, before coming to the clinic, that I’d take what I learned to heart, that this particular philosophy of this particular trainer was one that I agreed with.

Cibolo’s saddle soreness had taught me a harsh lesson. While I was disappointed, my horse was INJURED by ME. Unintentional, yes, but that hardly mattered. I needed training, yes, but if he wasn't feeling better, he needed plenty of time off.

Ignorance is very bad for your horse. I decided on the long dark drive to Linda's home at Pipe Creek that night: I’d learn what I could by watching during the morning, then I’d go home early, letting him heal and rest at home.

As it turned out, that was not to be.

The other horses on that first day: the “Toyotas”

Three of the horses at the clinic that first day had the same challenge. We called them “Toyota” because their accelerators were stuck. (You know your brand has trouble when you are now used as a nickname for chargey horses.)

All the horses were gaited and used in the field trials and were simply beautiful. I have few pictures of anything because the rain was a constant threat, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

For the first horse, a sorrel Fox Trotter ridden by Arch, Kathleen encouraged him work on turning the horse when it broke the gait from walk to gait. This was not the “yield the hindquarters” turn I had learned in my bucking course. Yielding the hindquarters always struck me as an attempt to ride the brake. Instead, this was just a relatively small circle, maybe two meters or so. What was critical was it didn’t mean that the energy of the horse was cut off. It gave it somewhere to go. These were just small circles, not tight, nose-to-tail circles, just small. Over and over. Never forceful circles. Never yanking on the mouth. Just steadily asking for circles until the gait came back down.

Kathleen: “Remember, energy can not be created or destroyed. It has to go somewhere.”

By the end of the hour the horse was walking on a loose rein. He had walked into the round pen pushing right through the bit.

“You have to master the walk,” she said. “It’s the most important gait.” This would be a lesson that I really needed too...

Skoal, the worrier

Lou (who had organized the clinic) came in on Skoal, a lovely sorrel Fox Trotter. Lou is quite a trainer, very experienced, and Skoal needed every bit of it. He would get quite nervous, had reared, and had a Freeze then Panic approach to life.

He shuddered at being patted. He twitched. He worried. He needed a good deal of ground work, but at the kennel there’s little time for a well developed ground work program.

Kathleen explained that it was still what Skoal needed. One thing about Kathleen. She has no interest in short shrifting horses and has a way of silently letting you realize that that is indeed what you are proposing to do. She did this a number of times, with me, with other riders, because it’s something we do without realizing it. We are so often not taking the time it takes to do it right, in horse time. Even trainers are “getting by” with things, she said many times, things that eventually melt down because we didn’t really do what needed to be done. Because trainers can ride those problems, they do, rather than fix them.

They worked on desensitization, watching how Skoal responded to pressure and realizing that he’d need some serious confidence building. Skoal needed an environment where things went right more often, to build up the confidence for when things went wrong.

Soon: Diego, The big gray and side passing, and day two...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Clinic - part 1 of a whole bunch

(UPDATE on Colic: Cibolo appears to be fine. He's eating, but no grain. Hopefully he's done with that nonsense (whew).)

It started with the rain.

I drove though driving, pouring rain to drop off Cibolo on Wednesday. I’d never hauled in such lousy conditions, and was glad I’d left with plenty of daylight. DH was dropping off my saddle in Pipe Creek (where I’d be spending at least two nights, thanks to Linda’s gracious offer, which was thanks to Mindy), but first, I needed to get Cibolo to his “room.”

The facilities for the clinic were really beautiful. The place is a dog kennel and training facility for German Short Haired Pointers. There they raise these AKC champion dogs for field trials. I don’t know much about field trials – well, actually I knew nothing before I came to the clinic – but there is one thing for sure. Field trials are all about the dogs. Keeping an eye on the dog, watching for the dog to point, watching for … whatever it is that can happen when German Short Haired Pointers are pointing to quail.

But at field trials, people also ride horses, almost exclusively gaited horses. Beautiful, fit, extremely chargey and forward gaited horses.

So there we were, in this beautiful place, lush green fields in Hondo, the rain pouring down and – here’s the exception to the really beautiful part - there was no covered arena or round pen. And since I come from the “hey, it’s raining, let’s watch a movie” approach to horseback riding, I was not particularly suited to sitting in the rain, let alone riding in the rain.

But I wouldn’t ride the first day. Because as it turned out, Cibolo was completely saddle sore. Apparently all this time the saddle I’ve had on him (which I was told fit him fine) has fit him so badly it made him very sore. When I saw him jump at Kathleen’s touch, I felt sick to my stomach. This is why he was avoiding me. This is what was going on. He was in pain and he just couldn’t take it anymore. And he was trying to tell me. He was avoiding me in the field and the only other time he’d done that was when his shoe had torn off and he was in pain.

But this meant that he couldn’t work, we couldn’t work together. It was unclear if we’d be able to do ANYTHING.

All I’d do was sit in the rain and watch others work with their horses. Yes, there was certainly value in learning what the root of his problem was - pain. And while there’s a great deal to learn from watching, it wasn’t what I’d paid for, wasn’t what I’d hoped for, and on one level, wasn’t what I needed.

I needed to know what I needed to work on, what wasn’t going well. I needed someone to look at what I was doing and say “You need more of this and less of that.” I needed guidance on my technique, which, at the end of the day we are all blind to.

And it looked like I wasn’t going to get it.

So, as the rain poured down on my saddle sore horse, we switched to the barn for an hour long saddle fitting session with Cibolo as the model. I learned a good deal (and later I’d find out that actually the best saddle for him is a gaited saddle which I hope to order sometime soon).

As they day wore on and with my disappointment and horror at the pain I’d caused my horse was evident, Arch, a wonderful older rancher and accomplished horseman, took me aside.

“I think I can help him feel better,” he said.


He smiled. “I can try to give him a chiropactic adjustment.”

My spirits lifted. “That would be fantastic!” I’ve been having a terrible time finding a chiropractor. Would Cibolo feel better?

We went out to the barn and Arch started to work. First he adjusted his wither. Cibolo dropped his head with relief. Then he used the back of my hoof pick (the round part that is opposite of the pick part) and pushed down in a straight line from the top of his butt to his tail. This made Cibolo arch his back like a cat and I heard a series of pops. He relaxed even more and I saw some of the brightness come back into his eyes. Then he took Cibolo’s head and “adjusted his axis.” There was a pop as Cibolo pulled away and his face looked relaxed. He still had muscle soreness, but it was clear – he felt much, much better.

But I had no idea if I’d get to work with him at all the next day. If he was in too bad of a shape, there would be little we could do. And all my planning, money, time away from work and kids, it would all have been … well, not for nothing, but since I didn’t plan on auditing the class, it would have been a considerable waste.

Tomorrow: a few of the other horses on that first day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

update on Cibolo

I ended up taking Cibolo to the vet yesterday because he had stopped eating again. The doctor found hard stuff in his small colon and treated with a tube up the nose, filling him up with epsom salt, water and some other thing I can't remember the name of.

He ate that evening, and this morning, and has grazed for the day. He's off grain for a few days, but I think we are on the good side of things...

At least I hope so.

More later. Hope all is well with you and yours...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lily and Cibolo and the Near Colic

There is so much to say, so much to catch up with. There were the wonderful people, the miserable rain, the crushing feeling of disappointment, the laughter, the learning - so much, so much.

And I will catch up with that, report on the clinic and tell you about it all.

But tonight, I am much too distracted by the night's events.

Because tonight, Cibolo would not eat.

I arrived at the barn just before feeding time to drop off my clean and re-organized trailer. Everyone was there and we visited while I took Cibolo out and began the process of learning to put on his very, very pink boots.

He seemed bright and happy to see me. He was still in the stall, since he is on bute (which is part of the story that will come later), I didn't want him to hurt himself dashing around the paddock. I put his grain in a bucket, gave him some hay. I finished unpacking, then worked on putting his new boots on. Then I gave him his final bit of bute and prepared to take him for a walk.

That's when I noticed he hadn't eaten.

Hmm, I thought. Maybe it's early.

As if *that* has ever slowed him down.

I walked him around in his pink boots, and after a few dancing steps he settled into them. I offered him a chance to graze. He passed. Was it the boots? Were they too weird?

I brought him back, took off the boots. He still didn't eat.

Maybe he doesn't like the bucket I'd hung the grain in, I thought. It's kind of torn and might feel weird because it's hanging a little high.

I put him in a stall, noticing the change in his face now. He didn't seem bright anymore. I dumped in his grain. He ignored it. He walked away and dropped a small load of manure. He walked around slowly, then rolled.

Then he did it again. He rolled, but more slowly, reluctantly.

My heart sank. Cibolo began pawing the ground. Then he'd lie down and get up. I listened to his belly. Nothing.

With Kelly and Davy's help, I gave him banamine and called DH. DH said he'd be right over.

Then I started walking Cibolo. His head was low and he walked closer than normal, as if he was distracted internally. When we'd stop he'd lean in slightly for a pet. He put his muzzle to the ground halfheartedly, but it was as if there was nothing appetizing within reach.

After a few minutes I wandered over to the area just the other side of the paddock where Lily is. There's a big field there, and it's a place we've hand grazed before. Surely there would be something he could eat in the field.

Nothing. Cibolo would nuzzle around with despair. Then I heard a call from one of the horses. I was shocked to see it was Lily. She was staring right at him, walking toward the fence.

Lily NEVER calls to Cibolo. Never. I've hand grazed him in this area half a dozen times and she never calls him. I've grazed her near Cibolo and he never calls out to her.

But there she was, staring straight at Cibolo, stepping as close to the electric fence as she could. I walked Cibolo closer to her, and could tell she wanted to touch noses. I didn't want her to get shocked, though. I remembered that at the gate to her paddock there was no wire.

"I'll go to the gate Lily," I said. "Meet us there."

She walked over to meet us at the gate. She and Cibolo touched noses through the bars, then stared at each other for a few minutes. Then, Cibolo started to graze. And graze. And graze.

Lily walked alongside us, looking directly at Cibolo, even though she was leaving her own piles of hay behind. This never happens - she's usually back to her own group after a cookie check - if we even get that.

After a while, I snapped from my surprise and pulled up some grass for her. Lily nibbled on it as Cibolo continued to chow down.

After 15 minutes or so, I put Cibolo back in his stall and he began to eat his grain. I could hear his belly sounds. I left him to his food and went to give Lily a little something special.

As of this moment, Cibolo is doing fine. He has passed several good ... piles, and looks fine.

And Lily looks like more than a good horse. A lot more.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bluebonnet bonanza

(Due to my crowded hard drive, our galloping colt video is delayed. But here is something fun all the same)

It’s that time of year. It’s the time that we parents in the Texas Hill Country do what no other parents in their right mind would do with their children.

We pull over to the side of busy highways, drag out our children from back seats who are dressed just for the occasion, and traipse them through deep weeds so we can get our coveted Texas BlueBonnet Picture while semi trucks blow by at 60 miles per hour.

Why? Because we’re sentimental around here, that’s why.

It’s been a rough two years for bluebonnet fans. The few bluebonnets that poked up during the drought in the wild were straggly loners, not suitable for photo time. Those that did manage to spring out of the parched ground for a day quickly collapsed when 14 families huddled around them for a picture.

I’ve tried many times to seed my yard with bluebonnets so I could avoid the roar of the 18 wheeler as we sit in a “field” also known as the Highway Department’s “right of way.” But those flowers must require exhaust fumes and asphalt within 20 feet to grow.

This year we headed out to our traditional spot along Hwy 306 (based on the number of trampled bluebonnets, this location is no big secret) for our big photo shoot. The flowers are stunning. Having saved up their blooms for so long, they have burst forth on the scene like second graders pouring outside for recess.

Unfortunately, it’s been at least three years since we’ve taken our pictures in the flowers and during that time there’s been a development.

Mireya is not thrilled with bugs.

Okay, a mild understatement. A tiny grass bug flew into her room the other night and we nearly had to call in the National Guard.

Needless to say, with wildflowers, there are bugs. I chose not to mention this in advance. Timing would be everything, I reasoned.

After hustling the kids into position, I managed to snap off a few pictures before Mireya high tailed it to Daddy and the shoulder of the road. Frantic brushing off of the dress followed.

The pictures are filled with that “get me out of here, there are BUGS” look on her face and a very strained smile. Not exactly the look I was going for, but one thing for sure.

It’s a Hill Country kind of memory.

(PS We are at C-1 - although I'm hauling later TODAY, so technically we're at C Day! *happy dance*)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New Baby's Birth Story and A Name!

Here's the story from Donna, who literally yanked this colt into the world (movie below)...

What a challenging few months this has been. After the recent loss of our dear friend Randy, the death of my Azteca mare, and in the last week the death our little Fox Terrier Buddy, our hearts have been heavy and it has been a challenge to carry on. However, looking forward to new life, the birth of a foal from my mare Heather has kept me going. I have learned to have faith and never give up. We have a lot of challenging moments here, and each day is a new challenge indeed..

Meanwhile back at the ranch:
Fri. April 9th : It was a quiet warm 70 degree evening, after an exhausting week, and looking forward to finally getting to bed, at 11:00 PM I did my mare check to see how Heather was doing. She was not due for still at least another week, but I knew I needed to keep a close watch on her. I had her out in the paddock area, walking around in the dark w/my flashlight I could not see her standing. Then I saw her lying down and heard her moaning, my heart pounded as I ran to her side.

Suddenly I forgot how tired I was. Upon examining her I saw she was in labor and serious trouble...and here I was by myself, w only a small flashlight, no cell phone on me in a critical situation. The baby appeared lifeless, had its head out and 2 front legs, (good I thought), in the right position, and was still in the sack which I tore through to get to its head. I saw no movement in the baby, I opened its mouth, eyes were closed, and I feared the worse, but still had hope. Upon closer examination I realized the worse: The baby's head was actually coming out the rectum, and it's legs were coming through the vaginal opening, and it was stuck, (who knows for how long). It was hung up in the tissue between the rectum and vagina and was appearing to be strangling by it's neck. My heart pounded as I raced into the house for Michael, cell phone, towels, knife and better lighting.

In the few minutes that I was gone Heather somehow broke the tissues that was holding the baby in and was really struggling. I realized at this point the life of the baby and mare were at high risk. We had to get the baby out, so Michael and I each grabbed a front leg and pulled.

It took a lot of pulling, slipping in the blood and water bath on the ground. We got the baby out, and I still had hopes for a live baby, I cleaned around his face and removed debris around his mouth and even blew into his nostrils. I saw some movement in his eyes as I flicked upon them and soon we had life. We massaged him vigorously w towels, cleaned him up and before we knew it he was flopping around!!!

Oh my God, he's alive!!

Meanwhile Heather just laid there in a pool of blood, w much pain and exhaustion. We tried to keep her quiet, I was calling every vet that I know while Mike struggled w the baby, trying to keep him from bothering her so she could rest. She talked to him and he talked back. What a moment. My heart pounded as at midnight no vets yet were available. I could not give up, went into overdrive, the night had just begun.

Finally I got Dr. Williams on the phone, however he was out of town...he told me how serious this was and that since he was not available I should try and get the mare and baby in the trailer and drive to the Retama Equine Emergency Center, or Texas A and M, (someplace that has 24 hour care). I knew this could not happen. Heather was near death, could not get up, the baby went through a horrible traumatic birth, but I still had hope. Then I was able to get Dr. David Behrends, in Blanco on the phone. He talked me through what to do to get her through the night, and to bring her in first thing in the morning. I always have medication on hand for emergencies such as this.

First we needed to give Heather Banamine to get her out of pain, and anti-biotics to reduce infection. I needed to milk her to be sure the baby got the much needed colostrum. She allowed me to milk her; we put it in a baby bottle and by this time the baby was standing and hungry, and full of life! My barn buddy Nancy also came over to assist, we had our hands full! What a delight to have this beautiful colt, (it's a boy), looking into your eyes as he takes in his first nourishment.

After Heather had a much deserved rest, and the pain meds set in, she was able to rise. I had hope! We got them settled in a stall, and the colt was able to nurse on his own, and she had plenty of milk!

I was able to turn in about 3:00 AM and fell into bed. I could sleep a few hours, then at daylight, get them in the trailer, and get Heather the medical attention she needed. Upon walking to the barn I the morning, I had my fears, but was delighted to see they made it though the night! They both greeted me and was I happy to see them both perky.

The good news: Heather has a chance of making it. The vet trimmed up the torn tissues, internally sutured the floor of the rectum, and the internal wall of the vagina. She will be on pain meds, anti-biotics, stool softeners, need lots of flushing, and attention... The colt is the most gorgeous baby, friendliest baby on the planet. He certainly got lots of imprinting, since he was born in our arms. He is bay like mom, white stripe on face, and four white socks. He is the biggest baby, so strong and healthy. His size is what hurt....Heather just could not get him out in an easy fashion.

The colt's sire is a gorgeous Spanish Andalusian with a page of National Grand Champion wins. Heather is a Thoroughbred that I rescued from Retama, she has been the most gracious and loving mare and gave me a perfect gift. We are going to register the baby as a sport horse w the Andalusian Horse Association. His registered name will be Magnifico Magico. His father's name is Majico. And this is such a magical story it brings tears to my eyes.

And here's a little video of that big boy. We'll have cantering video later in the week. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A new baby at the barn!

Heather delivered her unbelievably large colt last night at 11.

He is so tall, so beautiful, and so affectionate! He was born into the arms of the barn owner, who fortunately spotted that Heather was in trouble.

And here's why. Look at him! Huge! He's 19 hours old in this picture.

Delivering such a large foal ripped her badly, but after a check at the vet it appears that she'll be fine. But it was an exhausting night.

And the colt... I've never seen such a friendly colt. He comes right up to you for a petting and loves to be handled and hugged.

And he bounces around so happily.

His legs are nearly as long as momma's.

He's got the cutest little curl to his ears. Can you see them?

DH always has a way with animals. Colt (yet unnamed) walked right up to him.

And Heather is a wonderful, attentive mom.

Tomorrow I'll have a little movie. And maybe a name too.

Colt will be sold relatively quickly, he's really built for hunter jumper and Dad's a national champion. As affectionate as this boy is, he's going to be a dream.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Countdown Begins C -5

I realized today that I have not taken a trip away from my children for my own ... entertainment, for the lack of a better term... since they were born. I've traveled for work, and I've lingered half a day to see the sites, but I've never just gone off on my own.

I prefer it that way. I love my girls dearly, and I miss them when I travel for work. I wish I could be there to absorb them into my arms every day when they are dashing out of school. I cut work trips short, always missing the closing day because I just want to be home with them.

But I have a pretty intense glee about this clinic. Hence the countdown - C-5 (clinic -5 days to go)

In fact, just two days ago I was at the Gaylord in Dallas (which, by the way, is unbelievably stunning and we should have a equine blogger convention there and get spa treatments) when I saw this.

That was it. All I could think about for the rest of the conference was the clinic. Isn't that pathetic? I must have bored at least 4 people yaking about it.

Forgetting, of course, that going on and on about horses is strictly for the blog, because otherwise you embarrass yourself.

Is there such a thing as clinic fever?

Today we went out to get our shots and coggins.

Cibolo wasn't thrilled to see me, but he warmed up once I got him and jumped right in the trailer.

And out.

And in.

He's funny that way.

Lily got in with that matter of a fact air. I spotted a wasp in the trailer just in time and managed to smash it before we had a trailer rodeo.


At the vet both horses were perfect. No problem with shots or that nasty straw up the nose. Lily managed to sneeze all over this nice guy's shirt.

Before that he called both my horses "dulce", because they are so sweet natured. He had this neat technique of grabbing leaves from the ground and throwing them in the air to get the horse's attention for a photo. It made me laugh. I guess the coggins is sort of like a driver's license photo.

I hear stories about horses that have a heck of a time with shots. Nothing like a 1,000 pounds worth of "don't get that needle near me!". Glad I've got model patients.

We have to postpone floating until next month. Too many expenses in April. Fortunately I should see a little extra money this month, so it'll help.

Cibolo was not interested in loading on the way back, and I knew why. First the guy was trying to help me, but it was just distracting to Cibolo. Then another horse was calling out from inside the clinic, shouting "Don't get in there, Man! Don't do it!" or something along those lines.

At first I felt like I was getting frazzled, then I relaxed and realized what he needed. When I had his attention, I stopped sending him in and walked in with him. We hung out in the trailer for a minute. Then I backed him out.

This is the hardest part of training for trailer loading for me. You spend all that time getting them in, then you take them out instead of trying to shut the door. Even though you desperately want to shut the door and MOVE ON. But he just needed that reminder. Trailer is a good place. We did it one more time, then I sent him in and he loaded.

And Lily just jumped in.

With the coggins out of the way all we have to do is get the trailer ready. I hope the boots arrive in time. I'd really like to use them there...

Thanks for putting up with all this. I can't wait!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I won! Again! and they are... pink?

I certainly hope Cibolo is secure in his ... geldinghood, because I just won some Cavallos - but they're pink:

He has a tattoo/freezebrand, so I'm sure that will offset it, right? LOL

And unfortunately they won't fit Lily/Cinderella, who has the teeniest hooves EVER.

Ah well.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I won!

Got that saddle I had my eye on... A "vintage," aka old, big horn. Great price too. It's nothing fancy, but I loved my last big horn more than my circle Y. Sits deep, comfortable ride all day.

It's got a nice wide gullet for my wide quarter horses, but is still on a QH tree..

Woo hoo!

Tomorrow I'll order Cavallo's for Lily and Cibolo.

And a girth.

And a rear back strap.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Getting ready for the clinic

I got my questionnaire in my email the other day for the Kathleen Lindley clinic. I'm nervous, excited, and really looking forward to my first multi-day clinic. The last time I went to a clinic it was a one day despooking clinic I took Canyon to. I learned so much it was well worth the time and money. I've used things I learned there every time I'm out with horses.

Plus this will be 3 days of nothing but horses! OMG I may just bust.

I'm scouring the web for ideas on places to stay since the clinic has been moved and will be a 2 hour drive from my house. I'd like to camp, since money is tight. But a girl has to shower. We shall see...

Here are the details of the clinic itself:

April 15, 16, & 17

Uodibar Kennels & Stable

510 County Rd 343 , Hondo, TX

I know you can audit the clinic, I just don't know how much it is per day (please, join me!). $20? Something like that.

You can reach Lou here for more info:

I have been working on the questionnaire and here's the description I put down for Cibolo:
Cibolo is a “low man on the totem pole” horse. His previous owner said he wasn’t very affectionate, but I have found him to be pretty affectionate and respectful, although he can have moments when he doesn’t want to be messed with – usually when he doesn’t want to leave his buddies in the herd. At that moment he’s stand offish, but then comes around once he’s away from the herd. He is curious, but cautious. He can be a tiny bit spooky, but is doing better. He’s very social, will call out to a herd if we pass near one.
And here's what I said I wanted to work on:

Cibolo seems to respond best to a firm approach and will test if I’m too soft. I have trouble figuring out how to be firm without being harsh in attitude. He had done some crow hopping and little bucks and really pulling some attitude and I was nearly ready to sell him. A trainer helped me begin a process of being more demanding and firm. He responded, and we are much, much better, but I’d like to tone it down without him feeling like he has to take charge instead.

He also had a meltdown [this is where my talent for understatement comes in] in a large group of horses and I’m concerned that he might do so again.

I’m also working on confidence at a canter.

That should be plenty to cover in 3 days. I'm also hoping to see if he's in the right bit. I got the one he'd had for years, but am curious if it's the right one.

Sigh. April 15 is NEVER going to get here! :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Another new face, herd conversation and Hoppy Easter!

This is Little Dude.

He's at the barn for training. But he may end up for sale. His owner is older and want a very quiet ride. And Little Dude is a bit... over aware, I guess is the polite way of saying it.

He's handsome, isn't he? A bit bossy in the paddock, I had to send him around a few times, now he's pleasant. But I can see he'll be a testy thing.

And here's another shot of Smokey. I seriously love this guy.

As young thing and quiet by nature he's been getting the run around pretty badly. Even in the feeding stalls they were pinning ears and giving him heck. I was getting irritated at this, and left the boss gelding in after feeding for a while to see how everyone else got along. They were fine, mostly.

Then I had a talk with boss gelding as I let him out.

Look, I know you're the boss, but you don't have to be a jerk. You can be a kind alpha - everyone knows you're in charge.

I set him loose and he stood there awhile with me, then slowly walked off.

Then something weird happened. They stopped chasing Smokey. All day.

Just call me ... the herd negotiator.

Just something fun for your Easter viewing:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Solo ride, a bad hoof, and a pregnant mare...

Cibolo, with his "you can't catch me" face.

Today I finally got a chance to ride alone. I don't seek a chance to ride alone, I really prefer going with others, but I feel strongly the need to get out and make sure my horse will ride alone.

After ANOTHER game of chase the horsey (SIGH), we saddled up headed out from the barn.

Cibolo is very, very slow right now, which I attribute to his new barefootness - I know he's tender and he's reluctant to hit the road. He gravitates to the edges, which I accomodate as much as I safely can. But his hoof wall is still a mess and he's not too thrilled to head out. I'd say he was barn sour, but he's even slow on the way back.

I was pretty thrilled that he crossed threshold after threshold without balking. We haven't been out alone in over a month and he kept going without a hitch. We were taking a new route to a pond area, and he crossed barking dogs, junked boats, weird rusted metals and only really had an issue getting close to one building.

We came back up the hill and he called out to the horses in a different stable. I didn't worry about it this time. Last time I felt like it was a sign he wasn't listening, but the ride and his responses were perfect. So I figured he was being social.

What do you think?

Back at the barn I met our farrier and she looked over their hooves. The hoof walls are still really bad and she suggested boa boots. I'm switching from saddle shopping to boot shopping now. Any recommendations?

I was most worried about Lily. Here's some pictures of her left hind.

The farrier trimmed it, then put some sort of plastic adhesive. It looked like rubber cement. It's there to protect the hoof while the wall grows out. I'll get pictures of that later.

Now, an introduction. Say Hi to Heather.

Heather was headed to auction when the BO came and got her. She's a OTTB who had no desire to race. She's bred with a champion Aldalusian.

The baby will be an Azteca.

She's due on April 21. So exciting!!!

Hope you had a horse filled Saturday...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bella's first trail ride

Today was quite momentous. Today was Bella's first trail ride.

Don't remember Bella? Well, she's the star of this film:

I've been pretty nervous about mixing dogs and horses, especially after my last escapade during which I had a heart attack -- and no one was even out of their stalls.

This post on 7MSN had me nervous too. Which just goes to show the power of a good re-enactment.

Even my farrier told me on numerous occassions - dogs and horses are NOT a good idea.

Yet our BO has her dog tag along all the time. So we decided to try it out.

We were excited to take Bella with us. Alone. The other dogs were at Grammy's with the kids and Bella is a very good hiking dog.

But would she stay safe? Would she understand how close was safe and how not to get under foot? Er, hoof?

She did fantastic. I was so proud of her.

And both Lily and Cibolo did fantastic. Cibolo was in his quiet space and on the trail he was just perfect, only one brief pause before a steep incline.

A great day. I can't wait to ride again! And I'm taking our dog too (but this time I'll carry water for her. We had to turn back early because we were worried she was too thirsty).

Tomorrow I'm going to take picture of some new horses - many are at the barn either for sale or for training. Smokey, who is for sale and is my dream horse even though he's just 4 and green as can be, is a buckskin Morgan, btw. Someone had asked about him after my last picture of him...