Monday, May 24, 2010

Muddy Boy

This is the picture I am going to use to draw a portrait of him. I think this will be my tradition for every horse I own, to draw a portrait of them. Starting with Siaga.
I'm not sure if I want to draw the mud in it or not...

His mane got cut shorter after that, so that it wasn't going to over heat him while I'm not looking. I'm also going to try and get some thinning shears and attack the underside to thin it out a bit and pull it some too.

My suggestions for a horse with a mane/tail too tangly to tackle: Mane 'n' Tail Detangler.
Siaga's mane gets big knots in it, and I sprayed it down with that stuff and took a comb to it and the knots practically slid right out. I'm a bit wary about using it on his tail, since his tail is about fifty times worse and dreadlocks, but I think the detangler won't have too much of a problem with it. If you're skeptical, you can buy a sample sized bottle at Tractor Supply that is only 4 ounces, instead of buying the huge 32oz, but trust me, you will love it, and you might as well get the big bottle.

Also, while I was working with him on Saturday, I had on my regular tennis shoes and realized that hey, Siaga's shoulders are now taller than mine, but with my current boots and their higher heels, his withers are at my shoulders. Upon a new guestimation (since I forgot the tape measure) Siaga is more around 14hh, and might even break the pony/horse barrier. It has me hoping. When I get home tonight, I might put on one of those boots and measure to my shoulder to see how high he really is.

Barn Clean Up...

Meant there was no bath for Siaga. I did, however, get him out and work with him, only to discover that his time there, living with horses, instead of me, has completely given his mind over. Apparently, I am no longer seen as a part of his herd, since he called. And called. And called, for the other horses while in the indoor. I'm not really around enough to convince him that I am part of his herd too, not just a lead mare to him.

His feet really need a trim, I'm going to call up Shannon later and ask about the farrier and if he has a website or anything. I also keep forgetting to ask about his teeth that the dentist was supposed to look at.

My boots and breeches have not come in yet, but Jeni, who boards there as well, gave me some nice leather Ariat half chaps. :)

And tomorrow is my last day in school. Then I can laze around the house all day whining about having nothing to do and no way to go anywhere. I have really got to call CVS and set up an interview.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tractor Supply

Oh I love the cheap prices at Tractor Supply. I've got to stop by there tonight and get some grooming products for him, and was hoping that I wouldn't have to spend more than $20. Upon looking at the website, other than for the conditioner, I could get all I need for under $10 collectively. :D

I also have to stop by an art or hobby store to get an illustration board so I can start my portrait of my lovely horse. :)

I'm so excited to go see him tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Darn that Weather

Looks like Saturday is going to be having a few scattered thunderstorms, temperatures in the upper seventies, and a humidity percentage in the low seventies. At least for the Dayton area, but also in the Wilmington area, which is where Siaga is. : | That day is going to be hot, muggy, and full of hard work.

Barn cleanup day is on Saturday, I guess I'm going to help out, hoping I'll have time to ride. After riding, I'll have to give Siaga a bath. He has horrible dandruff in his mane and he's been rubbing his mane out. I don't mind so much if he won't let me bathe the rest of him, I hope he will, but if he won't that's fine, so long as I can get his mane and tail shampooed and conditioned. He isn't bound to like it much but oh well, better to keep it clean and tidy than to have to roach it down to nothing, scrub and comb out the dandruff, and start over.

I guess I'll pull his mane some too, to allow for a thinner mane that will be easier to manage and that won't be so hot and heavy on his neck. If I weren't away from him for so long at a time, I would braid up his mane and leave it braided while I'm away, but since I am so far away for so long, I wouldn't want it to damage the mane ... hurm. I think the only answer is to pull it and trim it shorter, long enough to braid, but short enough to not over heat him while I'm away.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Here we come.

Soon, I will be ending my first year of college, and I don't have internet at home. It will become much less frequently that I read the blogs I follow and much less frequently that I make a post.

My last day is next Tuesday, which means I have one week in which to pester you all with mass updates and plans for Siaga.

Speaking of plans for Siaga, I might give him a bath on Saturday, since it is going to be hot and muggy.

Yesterday, I began teaching my boyfriend about horses. It's such an anxiety trip for him when he takes me to visit Siaga because he's so afraid that Siaga will hurt me and that he won't have any idea what to do. So, I told him how to interpret a horse's body language to best assess what will be the next move they make. He also learned a lot about herd dynamics and hoof anatomy. Here's to hoping I can pass my passion on to him so that he becomes more comfortable with horses and more capable to assist me if I need help with anything. This means first I have to teach him to recognize a horses body language directly from the horse, and not from a mere description of mine. Then, I start teaching him to lead, groom, and handle a horse. I told him if he could lead and groom and tack up Siaga, he could just about do the same with any horse.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ok, Fine.

So it is in sadness at the loss of a dream that I come here now to tell you- I no longer believe that my beloved Siaga is a Morab. It was wishful thinking on my part, after hunting and chasing any stray threads that might connect to the six months of his life before me that might tell me his breed and blood, and after having seen photos of Morabs who look a lot like him.

When I got him, all I was ever told was that he was the breed that "did all that cattle cutting." Which meant, of course, that I was excited to find that Morabs excel in cattle cutting. I've been reluctant to believe that he would be of the common quarter horse line, since I've never been fond of them, and the biggest reason I -didn't- believe he was a quarter horse was all the side view images of quarter horses who were bred for the halter class. With all that heavy muscling and those practically vertical pasterns and stupidly dull expressions, they couldn't be of the same breed as my fine boned, highly alert, prancing bay, could they?

Until I found an image of a quarter horse that was a -working- horse, who wasn't all bulked up, at a perfect side shot. I compared the conformation and nearly fell out of my seat. They have the same flat-with-just-a-touch-of-dished-profile-like-God-wiped-a-feather-over-the-bridge-of-the-nose face. The same set of head, the same low withers and high croup, only Siagas front legs seem longer, or perhaps it is that Siaga's shoulders don't drop as low in comparison to his hind quarters.

It is said that quarter horses aren't used much for endurance, but it doesn't matter since I do not plan on hitting really top of the line rides.

After all, when I was in the tenth grade, my little gelding got very ill and at one point, collapsed, the vet gave him an IV of an energy booster, and I stayed up with him all night outside, under flapping tarps in November during a raging thunderstorm. I later wrote in a paper I did for my english class that year, that "I realized I don't a horse who is a champion at any sport. All that matters is that he is champion of life."

And he is, and always will be, my champion.

Even if he is a Quarter Horse and not a lovely Morab.

Why my address?!

It seems that my address is a problem. I ordered $80 worth of breeches and paddock boots from Dover Saddlery, and the package was supposed to arrive today, however, according to the fedex tracking, the address was incorrect (but it wasn't) and so it was "returned to sender. Please contact the shipper/merchant for more information." I mean, come on. Give me a break. I sure as hell am not going to pay for shipping again, but I -will- get my breeches and boots. Blarg.

Anyways, I'm going to go see Siaga on Saturday. Saturday is also barn clean up day, so I guess I get to help with that, and Shannon the Barn Owner is going to ask people what they think about my idea for a costume class in the Fun Show.

The horse dentist is coming out today, and he is going to take a peak in Siaga's mouth for his wolf teeth and stuff... Just great. I really don't have the money to pay for the removal of them, so I'm hoping he doesn't have them and/or hoping it can wait until I get a car and pay for tags on it and everything.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Maybe tomorrow

I will visit my boy again. This time, I intend to take a tape measure, and get a full account of measures, including from ground to withers for his height, from the middle of his chest around to his tail for a prospective future rug, and the measurement around the widest part of the cannon bone for and estimate of the amount of bone mass he has.

There are supposed to be some storms in the morning, so all outside work is out of the questions unless it has dried up by then enough to work in the round pen. I will, again, be working with halt-to-walk-to-halt transitions and directional work around cones. I want to also work on backing up and if I have time and he has the energy, some side-pass and leg pressure exercises.

He is such a bright horse, it prides me to see him pick up lessons and learn them well very fast.

I know a lot of people would not agree with the way I'm starting him under saddle, in fact, some would probably hop on and have him trained in rudimentary walk, trot, canter, left, right, go, stop, halt. But I don't want to ask him to go faster when I don't feel that I have developed in him the urge to stop when I say stop or go left when I say go left. After all, -they- may be able to sit through his bucking and/or unsteady motion, but just because I rode through that last buck doesn't mean I can do it again. He was like a tensed spring during the first ride, and I knew that if I were to let the reins looser and give him a nudge, he'd be off in a flash and I would be little more than a passenger with no control. Second ride was much smoother, he was even standing with one leg cocked and eyes closed while I sat on him, having a conversation with the barn owner.

The reason I'm training him this way is that I want to be absolutely sure that when I start to ask him to pick up the pace, he is going to yield to my hands, voice, legs, and weight. It may not be the conventional way to have a horse trained nearly perfectly at a walk before asking for a trot, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. By working him at a walk, he becomes accustomed to feeling me and listening to me while his mind is not occupied with things like moving faster and watching where he is going. This way, responses become ingrained and he will begin to follow them automatically. When I start asking for a trot, it will be no more than a few paces before I ask for a walk, and if he decides he wants to keep trotting, I will turn him into a one rein stop.

This speed control will insure that when I ask for him to trot for longer amounts of time, I will have the control to stop and turn him as I please, and this will work the same for canter.

He's a good horse, I just want us to both get through the training process hail and whole, by ourselves, or at least with as little outside influence as possible.

I've always been told I will never be able to train him. People put me down and put me down and tell me to get a trainer, and I always refused. Here is proof that I can do it. I have a wonderful, usually calm horse who stands still and calm to be groomed and saddle and just as calm for me to mount up. I have a horse who starts walking with a squeeze of my calves and steps away from the fence with a nudge. I have a horse who walks, trots, canters, 'woahs,' and 'easys,' on the lunge with just a word from me (and an occasional tap of the whip on the ground if he forgets) and a horse who backs up when I give the vocal command or at a touch of my hand on his nose, neck, or chest.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Plans, Plans, Plans.

I am going to start building up a kit of first-aid things for Siaga. To make a tally of all the things I need to go in it:
Tape measure, plastic thermometer, something to use as lube (poor Siaga.) string, cotton or gamgee gauze, vet wraps, scissors, needle, thread, hydrogen peroxide, anti bacterial salve, and perhaps some medical tape.

I would like to also have a piece of paper in there with things like Siaga's regular temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate written down.

Now, about his training. He's pretty good now with the basic left, right, go, stop. He's beginning to learn things like side-stepping away from my leg and backing up. Stop is a bit hard for him, but he's also learning the one rein stop. Next time I work with him, I want to walk him about in the round pen and then out of it, maybe walk to the outdoor arena and ride around in there, with the cone set up, of course, that I have designed, to work on walking straight and on walking in serpentines around the cones.

Only when I feel he has the big three down pat (stop, backup, and the one rein stop) will I attempt to move faster than a walk, but it may be a while before I ever ask him to canter with me on.

I may want to ride endurance with him, but I know before I can start conditioning him, he has to know what's what and he has to accept me as an unmovable figure when I'm on his back. He absolutely -must- know walk, left, right, stop, one rein stop, and back up before I take him on the trail, and considering how well he is coming along, I have no doubt that I will be out on the trail with him by September.

So I think once I have him going well with directions and going and stopping, we will likely alternate rides between going on the trail for one ride, and going to one of the arenas for technical practice and speed control.

One might ask, how the hell do you plan on teaching him speed control? Well, I fully insist that first, he be fully accustomed to shifts of body weight and position on my part, as well as a verbal command, and a rein command if need be, to slow down and/or stop. Generally, he recognizes "Woah" to be stop, and the frequently used "Easy" means "drop a gear and slow down." In other words, if I am, say, lunging him, and I have him cantering, he know that "Woah" means to slide to stop right then and there, and "Easy" means to drop into a trot. If I say "canter" he will go back up, while if I say "easy" again, he drops to a walk. However, "Easy" has never meant "stop" and he will not "woah" when I say "easy." At least not usually.

So anyways, once he is accustomed to my frequently asking him to slow down or stop, and once he listens to that non stop, I will begin to ask for a trot. I will ask him to trot a few paces, then slow back down. I understand that he may not want to stop, and if he doesn't want to stop, then I will do a one rein stop and force him to come to into a circle and divert his energy, engage the hind quarters, and stop the fore quarters.

I will slowly be working up to longer times of trotting, until I trust him at a trot to not decide it's time for an impromptu dismount and send me flying. When he is well behaving for walk-to-trot-to-walk-again transitions, I will up the notch and ask for walk-to-trot-to-canter-to-trot-to-walk transitions, with the canter time limited again to a few paces before asking him to slow.

While on the trail, I may keep up with these sorts of things, asking him to move up to a trot when the footing allows for a few paces, then back into a walk. Other than that, however, trail rides will be a time of relaxation and fun. At various points, we will stop and I will allow him to graze so that he doesn't associate the trail with a lot of hard work. Since the trail is going to be his working zone, I definitely don't want him to go sour on it.

Now, while I often seem to have a hard time following plans, I do love to make them, I guess that's my virgo side coming out in me. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Boots and Breeches

So I splurged on myself and bought a pair of black riding breeches and a pair of black synthetic paddock boots. I will likely have them in a week or so. Also, I received a job offer on Craigslist asking if I was still available and saying that I seemed perfect for their company. I'm really excited, I hope I get a job that I can utilize to pay for gas and stuff to visit Siaga and to help Jonathon by helping to pay for stuff like food. :)

I did enjoy my ride with the English saddle so much that I think someday in the future I will be getting one. Right now I'm just going to try to master it on Reggie. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bruises, stiffness, and happiness

So yesterday I went to the barn with Jonathon's mom. I had initially told her to be sure to bring a book or something to entertain herself with, but she didn't get that far, too enthralled with the horses was she. :) (I don't blame her. I couldn't read while in the presence of a horse either, except for when I first got Siaga and would sit in the stall, reading out loud to him.)

I got him out of the pasture and took him into the barn and put him on cross ties. Unfortunately, that didn't last long. He hates cross ties. Personally, I love them... if the horse likes them. The cross ties mean I can let the horse stand there while I groom without trying to hold the lead and groom at the same time.

So, when it became obvious that he was too excited to stand still and be safe, I took the ties off and led him to the round pen. I lunged him for a while until he was too tired to move (he just LOVES the word Woah. He knows it so well.) I then had Jonathon's mom get my grooming supplies out of the barn and began to finish what I had started. I trimmed up his bridle path, as well.

Once done with that, I let him wander around in the pen while I fetched my tack, brushed him off again, and saddled up. I ran him around again and let him buck to his hearts content until he bucked no longer, then I switched out the halter and lead for the bridle. Shannon found me a helmet (since mine has gone missing. :| ) and a stool to use to get on. For some reason, I can't seem to pull myself onto Siaga, but I have no problem at all pulling myself onto a horse much bigger than he.

Once on, I nudged. I squeezed. I smooched and clicked... Nothing. Not a single movement out of him. Shannon got the riding crop, and I popped him a few times with it. He moved. We went around at a walk, stopping, going. Turning left, turning right. He did very well. Eventually, I had him start walking with just a squeeze of my legs. It was great.

Here is a picture of me riding him, I apologize for not putting the picture itself up, but blogger is being screwy, I think: Me on Siaga.

I always knew, when I first got him, that someday I would be riding him. I didn't know that it would be just over five years before I actually did. I didn't know, also, that I had it in me to train a horse by myself, albeit with much advice and help along the way. The years of ceaseless study and learning about horses and drawing their anatomy has done wonders for me. Siaga may not always be a perfect gentleman on the ground, but in the saddle, he's fantastic. This makes the sixth time that he has been ridden since he turned 2. The first ride, by the way, was no more than 3-5 seconds long, when he was about 4, dad got him, Siaga bucked him off, Dad got back on, sat, got off. Then when we moved him here, I rode him, then again two months ago, then James rode him, and then me again. Ok, well, 7 times if you want to count the fact that Dillon was the first one to ride him, when I led Siaga and dad held Dillon on.

I also had my first taste of riding in an English saddle on Reggie. It was... an experience. I had no problem riding at a walk. At a trot, I felt way unbalanced, at least I didn't fall off. Reggie's trot is like no other. It's soooo bouncy. Here is me on Reggie.

Friday, May 7, 2010


I get to go see my Siaga. :) First I have to go to the bank and deposit a check and get out some moolah to pay for his dewormer, pay gas money to Jonathons mom, and likely some to pay for the farrier when he comes on June 5 to trim up and balance Siaga's hooves.

I admit I'm really nervous about how its going to go with the farrier. James has little to no problem picking up Siaga's feet, but Siaga hates to pick them up for me. His past experiences with farriers has not been good, and its been a few years since he has had his feet trimmed, since the day my grandpa died, actually. That day was windy, rainy. The farrier was my bosses farrier, and managed to get Siaga's front feet done, but not the back feet.
Before that, Siaga had an experience with a farrier who just -sucked.- Siaga wouldn't stand still for him, and he had a rage moment, grabbed the rope from me, slid it through both side rings of his halter, and under his upper lip. Then, he proceeded to jerk at Siaga, and knocked both front teeth out, granted, they were baby teeth, but I got in and steadied Siaga, let him finish his job, paid him, and never had him back.

I'm hoping they can get it done without having to sedate him, but it is entirely likely that they will have to do just that.

Anyways, Shannon's going to watch and supervise my riding of Siaga, and then I'm hoping that she will allow me the use of a horse so that I can ride a horse that knows what's what. It helps me to stabilize on Siaga when I'm more confident on other horses. I also want to set up some small jumps and trot poles for the other horse, which ever I ride, so that I can do a few small jumps.

I have no doubt that Siaga and I will encounter things he has to jump while on the trail, but I don't want to be getting my first jumping lesson on a horse that's never jumped with a person on it's back.

Since my goal is to be riding Siaga on the trail's by summer's end, it's a lot of work that I have ahead of me, not just brushing up on my own riding and doing things I've never done before but also teaching Siaga. We have a lot of catching up to do, and no time to waste. Such a challenge has two possible outcomes: either we both end up ruined on the process of riding, or we both come out of it hale, whole, and a million times better.

Here's to hoping it's the latter.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

To Dream a Dream of Freedom

Lately I've been really interested in the sport of endurance riding. I know Siaga is no where near ready to take that challenge, but someday, he will be. Even if I never get to do an endurance race, there are long trail rides and camping trips that sound 100% fantastic.

I'm actually currently sitting in my traditional art instructors class room, and I'm looking at a painting he did. I'm not sure where it is of, but there's a rich blue sky with puffy cumulus clouds. In the distance, there's foothills coated thickly with evergreen trees, and in the foreground, the viewer seems to be standing on a rocky ledge, in a bit of a horse-shoe shaped canyon, looking down into a crystal-clear lake.

It's so beautiful. I want to travel all over the place on Siaga, just to see what I can see. Someday, I hope I will have ridden enough miles to know practically every inch of Ohio and Indiana. It isn't likely, but it's a beautiful dream to have. I want to see pretty places and I want to see them with my horse. After the life he's had, he deserves it, and since I'm an artist, I merely want to see it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Money -should- grow on trees

Because I could really use some. Spring shots are coming up, and those are going to cost about $60 or $65, I can't remember which. Thank God Siaga takes shots like I do, though. He's super calm about them. HOWEVER. The farrier is coming out tomorrow and is gonna look at Siaga's feet, which ought to be interesting, but if he decides they need trimmed and balanced (which I already know they do, since it's been a -long- time since he's had a trim) that's going to cost $25.

On top of all of this, I've decided that I need a car right now, so that I can visit Siaga more often. I've found a good possibility right here in Kettering, and for only costing $900, it looks like its in really good condition. However, I only have about $850, So I'm -hoping- that Jonathon or someone can spot me the extra $50 I need, and going to have to tell Jonathon he has to pay for Siaga's shots and feet, too. :(

It saddens me, however, that I'm going to have to use my Sweden Money to buy the car, but I really can't keep delaying in the hopes that my grandma's house will sell so that her husband can buy a new truck and give me his old car. I do, after all, have a horse that has to be trained.

The goal is still to be on the trails by the end of summer, but we shall see how that is going to go. After all, for a going-on-six-year-old, he is only saddle-broke in the absolute -lightest- sense of the word. I'm still quite proud of how well he did on that first ride though. :)