Friday, March 19, 2010

This time of year...

Is what I call the crazy times. Siaga always has growth spurts at the start of spring, not in height (though I would much enjoy that) but in his hooves and his mane and tail. For the rest of the year, his hooves and mane will grow very slowly, but right now, his mane and tail will grow about two or three inches, and his hooves will have to be trimmed up nicely.

I'll have to get the farrier out to work on his feet. ... That ought to be interesting, since he doesn't let me deal with hooves very well, though he puts up with James, at least.

On top of the growth spurts, Siaga is not liking being confined in the barn and not being out in the paddock. I don't blame him. He hasn't been able to get out his energy in a while, in a way that he wants to, other than when he gets lunged, which is not usually what he wants to do, though he does it.

I am reconsidering allowing James to lunge him. It's great and all that Siaga gets a way to get energy out, but with the care thats been given to other horses there I'm nearly afraid Siaga would break a leg and they'd never tell me.

They didn't, after all, call me to tell me that Siaga apparently hates all the other horses there, though I have just determined that he has a case of little man syndrome and is not comfortable being with other horses, since he has never had a chance to get used to it till now. I suppose I have a lot of work to do this spring. I would like to get him comfortable with other horses so that he can be put in a regular stall, and let out with the rest of them.

He is also getting trained to ride, and while I will let James ride him while I'm there, I'll not let him up while I'm gone. So busy busy busy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Respiratory Infections and Hay Dust

So another of the ladies at the barn, who happens to watch this blog even as I watch hers, contacted me a few days ago to say that her horse Rosie has a respiratory infection and that the vet said its very contagious, and that the barn manager had said he had heard Siaga coughing, which is usually a precursor to the infection.

I then called Shannon, the barn owner, to ask about his coughing and if a vet was required. She told me that Siaga tends to eat his hay very fast, and that he only coughs when eating his hay, be it either the hay dust or just from eating too fast that causes it.

He, being the spirited pony-sized horse with Little Man Syndrome, is in the quarantine stall, anyways, and gets turned out by himself, so little-to-no contact with Rosie is ever made, though I did have him cross tied outside of her stall the other day.

I also asked her to check on his legs and have James the barn manager watch him for any sign of lameness when he gets turned out. His back right leg had some problems awhile back, and while the swelling has gone away, I didn't want it to become too much strain on it with me riding him, and he also developed a bit of a limp on the front right leg after riding, but we aren't sure if he had stepped on something and bruised the hoof or if anything else was wrong.

Even though I have great people taking care of him and checking on him constantly, I always want to go check on him myself, being as I know him best and know what is normal for him and what isn't... Though it's not likely that his peak of health is very different from any other horses peak of health, you know? Perhaps a small difference here and there, the same as you could find differences in humans.

So anyways, I don't know when I'll be able to go check on him, but I will likely be working at the school on Saturday, so I can earn some $40 bucks or so to pay for gas money.

Speaking of money issues, I'll be selling my lovely, hated little car soon, the extra money will go to paying off the small loan we took on fixing Jonathons car, and perhaps a special commission for my graphic designs. :D

Monday, March 15, 2010

So very Stiff

I can't tell you how long it's been since I've truly ridden a horse. Years. Not decades, but years nonetheless.

So when yesterday I rode Reggie the school horse at a trot, I received many bruises all along the insides of my thighs and knees. He's a great horse, but he has a horrid trot. And he is so tall! I'm not sure I've ever ridden a horse that tall, other than the draft horses I used to sit up on.

After that, I rode Siaga. He did pretty well. He was very energetic at first, and nearly had me worn out and exhausted within the first three minutes of having him in the indoor. Needless to say, he got a very good warm up to put off some of the energy, then we tacked up. I got on him and then James the barn manager tightened the girth for me, and then he got on Reggie and we started riding.

Siaga did really well. It took him a while to understand that my squeezing on his sides meant go, but he understood very well the principles of turning left and right, and backing up very well. I refused to let him trot, and I refused to let him stop and stand still, I could feel the whole time he was like a squashed spring, just waiting to bounce up.

After making several laps of the arena in both directions, both leading and following Reggie, and also after getting close to the wall a few times, he decided it was time to get me off, and gave a little crow hop- a little rear, and then a buck. Some how, I stayed on, albeit with more bruising on the front of my thighs.

Thankfully, his previous forward movement kept him from getting a lot of power into it, so it wasn't major, and he undoubtedly learned it is not so very easy to ditch me in the mud, which is a good thing.

One thing he has issues with, is standing still while there is a person on his back. Or I guess with me on his back. He didn't have any issues with it when James was on him, in fact, he stood stock still. James squeezed, nudged, kicked, swatted with a crop, and still Siaga stood. Finally James pulled on just one rein and got him moving in circles and then walking, and Siaga did well with him riding, too.

So, Siaga is well on his way to becoming a great horse. :D

Friday, March 12, 2010

I must wait

I'm not going to get to visit my Siaga on Sunday, and now must wait till next Saturday, maybe. Jonathon is off only one day, and that is Saturday. Also, my best friend Jacy is home this week from her college, and I want to see her too... But it's looking like its either going to be me visiting Siaga or her, unless I can get her to drive an hour up to Dayton and spend time with me while I work Siaga.

I would love to have her there with me. I miss her so much and I miss Siaga too, though I haven't seen Jacy in a much longer time. :(

What to do, oh what to do...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Name Tags

Since I have discovered that everyone borrows everyone else's halters, I decided to have Jonathon make a name tag to put on Siaga's halter.

I mean, I don't really mind that people borrow it, but what I hate the most is that they borrow it... then they don't return it and don't set its settings back to normal! I mean, Siaga is the smallest horse there, being only 13 hands and 1 inch high at the withers. His halter is sized at "small horse" from TSC... and is set on the smallest settings in order to fit him, and it fits perfectly.

Also, I did need that halter for his indian hackamore, since it clipped onto his halter, and even though I don't now, still. Every other horses halter is too big for Siaga! If I still had to clip the hackamore on, and couldn't find his, I'd never be able to go riding!

Besides, don't you all have halters of your own, that fit horse better than Siaga's halter? I mean, I understand that if a horse gets out, you grab and go, catch said horse, return it, and then what do you do? Hang the other horses halter on your horses stall? That isn't right.

I don't want to have to go hunting mine down every time I go visit. SO....

I'm putting a name tag on it, and also hanging a sign on the hook that his halter hangs from saying that I don't mind if you borrow it but please return it in the original settings and stuff.

We are going to make the name tag out of a key blank, apparently, with the actual key blade removed.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I should be able to go visit Siaga and start riding him sometime next week/end, either on Friday evening or on Sunday.

I'm so excited about it I can't hardly sit still. I crave something to do for him, even cleaning tack! I enjoyed cleaning the leather bridle, even though he wouldn't be using it, since I will have him bridled with the pretty red nylon one.

So anyways.

Shannon is going to watch while I train Siaga. That makes me feel better that if something happens, someone with horse sense is there to help. I have also decided that it wouldn't be too bad for him to learn how to trot with me up there, but of course I will only do that if I feel he understands how to stop and turn and go at a walk well.

When I feel, after riding several times, most likely, that he is understanding what is being asked of him, I will move on to riding outside of the indoor, probably in the outdoor arena. And, when he understands that the rules are no different outside than inside, we start desensitizing him to things we might find on the trail, such as ditches, creeks, tall grass/bushes or branches.

And my ultimate goal for this is, well, I want to be going out on the trail by summer. I don't really care when in the summer, just at some point in the summer. Shannon will go on the first rides with me just in case, but any of the others are welcome, we just have to be careful that Siaga doesn't try to fight any of the other horses. He is quite a silly horse.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Excited I Am.

Because I have decided that I will be taking a break from my night club that I frequent in order to save gas money for visiting Siaga. I will be missing my weekend night out, but I will survive.

Especially considering that means that I will be saving up money and will be able to visit Siaga every two weeks. Or so.

Also. When Spring gets here, Siaga gets a bath. He is a funny horse, he's terrified of hoses and stuff, but doesn't mind getting his front legs and shoulders and neck washed and sprayed with a hose, but not anywhere else.

I'm hoping he will stand nicely on the cross ties or something... I'll have to ask Shannon how to do this. Or where, rather. I would rather him have a place that isn't going to get muddy and slippery, but I don't think there is a stall specifically meant for washing a horse.

Also, he has horrendous dandruff in his mane that I would like to get out. I'm not entirely sure how to go about that either. I mean. I can wash whatever needs to be washed, including his sheath and his bum, but... Scrubbing the base of his mane with my fingernails like a mother would her child... Disturbs me. I can't hardly stand to scrub my own scalp, let alone all of his. I'll have to grab a fine-toothed comb and go at it first to loosen some up, and when the worst of it is gone, maybe I can find some sort of rubber toothed brush or something to scrub there.

I also intend on learning how to french braid his mane when I ride, so that when I start teaching him to neck rein, the rein can sit flat on the right side of his neck, and not pushed against mane and then neck.

When Siaga was younger, in fact, when I first got him, his mane fell over both sides of his neck, all the way up and down, from ears to withers, equally. Then in the spring after I first had him, I took it all over to the right and braided it into place for a few days. Some of it still flopped to the left, but I don't mind.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nylon Bridle

Is secure. I will be using it for Siaga. I tested the strength of the buckles and they fit well.

Even if I don't train Siaga for a bit until June or so, I can attach the hackamore to the bridle instead of the halter, which means I can take the clips off of it now, yay. :D

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stiff Leather

So I got my other two bridles and my surcingle today from my parents house.

The leather bridle, having been stored in the garage, is very stiff but not beyond repair. I'll start working the cleaning and softening of it after this post. My newest concern is that the tom thumb bit that is already on it will be a bit hard to remove.

The cheek pieces come down, loop through the bit openings, double back, and has a leather lacing that holds it together. The thing is, while I know I can UNTIE the leather laces, I don't know that I can RETIE them after replacing the tom thumb with loose o ring snaffle.

Also, I will be testing the durability of the nylon bridles buckles to see if it will be safe and secure if Siaga starts fighting it. I am also considering just using the bridle to attach to the hackamore instead of clipping it to the halter. At least he will look more stylish. :O

By the way, when I say a hackamore, I don't mean those nasty mechanical hackamores. Yuck.

This is what I mean I refer to the hackamore I use with Siaga, which isn't a real hackamore, but called an Indian hackamore:

So you can see that when the rein is pulled on the left side, it tightens a little on the right tide and causes pressure enough to tell the horse to move to the left, and when the pressure is let off, it slips back to 'neutral.'

Well. This ought to be fun.

Does the Saddle fit the Horse?

Thats the best question ever.

I don't know how many people buy a saddle and have no idea if it fits the horse or not. Myself included.

My grandparents, who are avid flea market goers, have bought me two cheap western leather saddles, one dark brown and slightly falling apart, and another in much better condition that is a yellow tan color.

I used the dark brown one on Siaga to get him used to the idea of a saddle on him, being as if he bucked it off and it went in the mud, no big deal. I don't think I've ever used the light tan one on him, being as I bought myself a nice red canvas and black leather one.

While Siaga has had it on plenty of times, I still don't know if it fits. I'm going to have to work up a sweat with him, so I can see if the saddle fits.

A lot of people don't know about sweat checking the horse or the saddle pad. When you take the saddle off and they've really worked up a good sweat, you can look on either the saddle pad or on the horses back, and the back is probably the best.

Check to make sure the sweat is evenly distributed on the area the saddle sits. Typically, but not always, there will be a dry line right over the spine and withers. If there is a patch surrounded by sweat that is dry, usually on the withers or in the front area, the saddle doesn't fit.

Why? Because if there are dry areas, then that means there's too much pressure there and its cutting of circulation of blood and also not letting the sweat glands work. This can cause discomfort for the horse, muscle atrophy, and skin problems.

So people, check your saddle sweat before you put that thing back on again and make sure it fits!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bridle Paths, Bridles, and Bits

Siaga, although used to wearing and using a bit to some degree, is primarily used to wearing hackamore type thing, which is like a slip loop that goes around his nose and clips onto the halter. When the left rein is pulled, the hackamore tightens on the right side, causing pressure, which the horse then moves away from to turn left.

Anyways. Because Siaga is a horse in a pony body, his head is hard to fit. Pony size is too small for him, and most horse sizes are too big. So anyways, when Siaga was younger, I bought a red nylon bridle for him, and while it fits, I do not trust the buckle style, and I fear that if I for some reason end up fighting his head for something, then the buckles will let loose and the bridle will fall off.

Also, someone, I am pretty sure it was my old boss Erica, gave me a pretty western bridle that has no throat latch, only comes along his cheeks, and around behind his ears with one ear loop. Right now it has a tom thumb snaffle on it, but I will be switching it out for a loose o ring snaffle so that I can start riding him with a bit.

Now, my concern with the leather bridle is that because it has no throat latch, he could very easily toss his head hard or snag it on something, and it would come right off. Also, it is not tight enough to allow the bit to be raised enough to be kept out of the way of his tongue- which usually results in him putting his tongue over the bit, however, it has been a while since I've put the bridle on him, and so I will have to try it and try it with both the tom thumb and the loose o ring snaffles to see what works best.

And while it sucks massively, I have never had his teeth taken care of, so I need to get a vet out to do a float job and a removal of wolf teeth as soon as possible, which likely won't happen until June or July, which is OK. We have time to save up the money to afford the farm call for the vet, the cost of floating and possible sedation (unless I get him used to holding his mouth open, eh?) and also the removal of the teeth. I don't need anything like a professional bit seat or hook removal or anything.

Right now, it doesn't really matter the condition of those teeth, since he does well enough with the hackamore and I can put of further bridle training until later.

Oh right. Bridles. So anyways, I want to take the throat latch off of my red nylon bridle and put it on the brown leather bridle, I know it won't look nice, but if I can't get it to fit right then I need a way to hold it on his head safely.

As for the bridle path... He needs it clipped. For those of you who don't know, a horses bridle path is the area right behind the ears where the headstall of the halter or bridle sits. When the mane grows in there, it can get tangled in the bridle or halter and/or make putting on and taking off halters and bridles very challenging, which is why I like to keep Siaga's clear.

It's almost spring

And I can't wait.

I've been correcting Siaga's (my horse) problems one by one and while he still has issues he is getting so much better. I've ridden him some but he really isn't broken yet. So, next time I get to go to Triple S and see him, I am going to start riding some too.

I think first I ought to teach him to back up under saddle and to turn left or right. What's the point in having a gas pedal, after all, if there is no brake system or steering? While the backing up will be the main point of the lessons, I know he has to learn to go forward too, so I may only have him back up for a few minutes and then go into turning left and right, then let him walk forward and practice stopping and turning throughout going forward at a walk.

If I feel comfortable with him while riding in a saddle, I am going to remove the saddle but leave the saddle pad and put on the surcingle and ride like that, where he will be able to feel how I'm sitting.

It will be hard, but I also have to remember to keep a good form while I'm riding. Shoulders down and back, chin up, back straight, hip bones down, down, down, heels down, down, down. Also, I must remember to keep my arms in. If I am well balanced, it makes it that much easier for him to be balanced.

After he is relatively able to be ridden, I am going to start desensitizing him to things we might find out on the trail, like water ways, ditches, logs, and steep hills. That ought to be fun.

While Siaga is a decent jumper, he does much better with low laying things that stick up off the ground. However, he has never jumped with a saddle on, let alone with me on. Not only has he never jumped while carrying a saddle or a person, I have never jumped on horseback. I will have to borrow a horse from someone, likely Shannon, and learn to do simple jumps so that I know what it should feel like and how to keep my balance on a balanced horse and a better idea of what to do on one that isn't balanced. Oh boy.

Hoof Prints and Far Away Dreams

You might be wondering why I have called this blog Hoof Prints and Far Away Dreams. I shall tell you.

Ever since I was little, and ever since my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a passion that I cannot describe. While I know a lot of little girls experience this, I was one of those who never grew out of it.

I was delighted when people gave me horse books or encyclopedias or horse figurines for my birthdays or Christmas. My parents didn't have the money to get me lessons or a real horse, at least not when I was younger, and so I feasted my mind on anything and everything horse related.

My best friend had horses then, and I loved to go stay at her house and go riding with her, those were my first by-my-self rides. Her horse Taz was a miracle worker. He knew I had little to no experience on horseback, and so even if I asked him to go faster than a walk, he wouldn't. I knew when I had mastered my balance, at least with a saddle, because he let me ask for a trot. And then, he still refused to canter, until I knew I could either sit through the jostling bounce or post. And when he did finally canter, I thought "ice cream."

I know it's a bit funny to be thinking about ice cream when cantering along on a horse, but you know how when you get soft-serve ice cream from the DQ or McDonalds? Well, they swirl it up on itself, making a vertical spiral. If you start at the very top and slide your eyes down, it has a smooth, evenly bumpy surface. Cantering was like that. A soft waving motion. Magnificent.

Now, when I turned 14, and was in the 8th grade, I got a horse for Christmas. I remember that day very well. I was laying sick on the couch, most likely a cold or some thing like that, and dad came in and told me to get up and get a coat and shoes because he had some work for me.

I whined and complained; I wasn't feeling well, but I got up anyways. When I looked out of the door, I nearly dropped over. There was a horse trailer in my drive way!!

I got suspicious then, wondering why in the name of sweet Heaven was there a horse trailer sitting out there?

I then figured that my dad's cousins Timmy and Anthony had come for a visit, because at least the one, I don't remember which one, had always dealt with horses too, and thought they must have been on their way home from Houston Woods which was practically in our back yard and decided to stop for a visit.

I went out there, and first thing I did was notice that it was, indeed, Timmy and Anthony, and then I looked in the trailer. In it was a beautiful, adorable, 6 month old golden-red bay foal. They told me it was a female, and when I asked what breed, they said "Oh you know, the kind that do all that cattle cutting." ... So naturally I figured he was a quarter horse, and while I had never been entirely fond of the breed, I was happy to have a horse of any breed.

I asked where they got him and still didn't get a straight answer, but apparently my horse had been born in the pasture and never had much, if any, human contact, and when my parents put in the order for a "Golden filly with a blond mane and tale" they rounded up the foal, was so very not that color, put it in a stall, and then when my distant cousins (being as they are my fathers cousins) got there they took the foal, put it in a trailer, and brought it to me.

Which meant, yes, there I was, with a $350 foal of indeterminable breed or bloodline, who had never even had a halter on or much human contact, given to a girl who had never had a horse, let alone trained one, and yes, I had to train it.

So of course, after I peaked in at it, I fell head over heels in love, and Mom, who was standing there too, said "Do you like it?" "Yeah!" "Well, he's yours." I was FLOORED. My eyes had to be the size of saucers and my jaw was hanging open I'm sure, and I squealed a few times then said "Oh my God, I have to call Jacy." Jacy is the above mentioned best friend ever in the whole wide world. I called her, but they weren't home, so I left a message on their answering machine that was rather like "JACY! OMG JACY, GUESS WHAT I GOT! A HOOOOOORSE! I GOT A HORSE! OMG! CALL ME BACK!!!"

After that, we had to get him in a barn. We took the trailer up to the old Amish style barn and had to practically round him in to it. It took a long time, but we finally got him in there with a halter on.

It wasn't the best thing we could have done, but I was new to the training process and they weren't, so they got it started.

So I was sitting in there watching the horse one day, trying to think of what to name "her" when I realized that the pretty little filly- wasn't a filly. I had a colt on my hands. That was interesting.

As for the name, my favorite book ever, I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade, by Diane Lee Willson, frequently mentioned this antelope, that while being very ugly, had a beautiful name. It was a Saiga. I loved the name and hijacked it for my horse, switching the first a and the i and calling him Siaga.

Siaga became his "stable name" but I wanted something I could use for a show, too. So I began the search. One day, Siaga was standing in the door way of his stall, being as his stall opened on the outside to the paddock. It was January, and he was fuzzy. This was about the time of the evening feeding, so the sun was setting.

The result was that I was in the barn, and it was dark, and he was partially outside, the golden, setting sun highlighting the long fuzzy hair on him, giving him a bright gold halo all the way around.

So I had to find something about gold, preferably in another language. I settled on "De Oro" which is Spanish for "Of Gold" or "Golden." And so he became De Oro Siaga.

As I watched him grow up, I came to realize he was not a quarter horse. Couldn't be, he didn't have the build. I guessed he was a Quarter horse crossed with an Arab... but a few months ago, I found pictures of a breed called a Morab, which is a cross between a Morgan and and Arab, and the horses in the pictures had the exact conformation of Siaga. So now I am on the hunt to find the place he came from and find out what he is.