Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gaaaah

I am a horrible horse mom. Over the past weeks, I have been tied up in work and pains and being ill and tired when I get home and then there is the early setting sun and the coooold... and all of this adds up to a horse who's basic needs are met... or so I thought, but much neglect of quality time happening.

Due to this neglect, I had failed to notice that my horse has not been in the best of condition.

When I saw that today was going to be nice, I thought "I might go for a ride today" after all, today is my 7-year-pony-owning-anniversary. And then after I got home from work, Molly the neighbor girl called and asked if I would like to go for a ride with her. I agreed and had my lunch and then went to get the pony.

I realized upon actually getting a good look at him that his fuzzy winter coat has been hiding two things from me. First: he's lost a lot of condition, and a good bit of weight. He's a little bony. Maybe a 3.5 on a body scoring chart. Better than a 3, not quite a 4. I doubled his hay tonight and gave him a bit more grain. I fixed his grain as a warm mash this evening, his first ever warm mash. He gobbled it up like "Dang, woman, why haven't you ever fed me this before?!"

The second thing I noticed is that he has a rather nasty case of rain rot. I peeled off every scab my fingers could find, but my Shapley's MTG is at the other barn where I had taken it for use on Bay's scratches. I'll be bringing that home tomorrow so that I can start treatment.

Needless to say, there was no riding today and will be no riding until his condition improves and his rain rot clears up.

*sigh*

Happy Anniversary, Siaga. Sorry I'm such a bad horse mom.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Still no riding

Still haven't really had time, or been hale enough, to get a leg over that horses back lately.

There's been lots of rain and some snow, frost every morning, cold air and burning lungs. On top of the bleh weather, I've been working with pulled muscles in my back and bruises on my feet from boots not meant for working, but mostly waterproof. And then yesterday I gave myself a rather nasty cut across the bottom corner of my palm, was little, but I got to watch my skin split apart like a tomato skin when dropped in hot water. But, it's nice and closed up and only hurts a little. :)

Anyways, today's supposed to be about 50 F out, and I don't think I can stand it much longer, may sneak out and go for a ride around noon or so.

For an update on animal health: Puppy is still itchy, but not as itchy as he was. Fully on a grain free diet now, I even found grain free treats at walmart.

Greedy has stopped vomiting, thanks to a grain free diet for her, too.

Siaga's looking quite well, thanks to higher quality hay.

For those of you with problems in your animals, look to their diet and see what, exactly, they are taking in. It's a little expensive to put your cats and dogs on grain free, but Taste of the Wild, available at TSC, is pretty comparable to Blue Buffalo's Wilderness feeds and not as horribly expensive, and even made with purified water. If you go on BB website and compare your current dog or cat food to the BB brand, you see just how much grain based foods are lacking and how much extra fillers and junk are in the chow your giving them.

I greatly suggest going grain free for cats and dogs, they love the grain free foods and it's SO much healthier and if they have health problems, like Greedy's vomiting or Helden's itchies, it may even help fix the problems.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

nervous nervous

I live just outside a small town. A really small town. Population: Maybe 30. In the last seven years, there have been two homicides within walking distance from my house. In the last seven years, our house has been broken into twice, and it was me to find the place destroyed both times.

Lately, strings of robberies have been happening almost rapid fire around here. Our neighbors boat was stolen for scrap metal last night, and there have been a few houses broken into, even one today.

The other day when I was taking out trash, there was a green truck parked outside my house, at the corner of the property. Not only parked, shut off. The person turned the truck back on and left when I came out of the house.

I'm getting scared that I'm going to come home to a complete wreck. I even think about taking my laptop with me to work every day, just because it's a really expensive Mac and so much of my life revolves around it.

I worry that I'll come home to find my barn stripped of metals or the puppy or the horse stolen or whatever.

The only plus side is that I have sporadic hours at work and could be home at any time. But I still worry.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mom, I'm ITCHY!!

My poor little Helden-pup has been itching up a storm. I look him over and I can't find any fleas or flea poo. I treated him for fleas anyways, and treated the carpet with a spray and have been vacuuming like crazy, even got Greedy-cat a flea collar, for after she recovers from her surgery that she had three days ago.

So my attention is now turning to other possibilities that could be causing a skin reaction. My first thought is that he might have dust allergies, and the best way to deal with that is keeping the house meticulously clean. (And when you live in the country, and have a wood burning stove that constantly spits out ashes, that's basically impossible unless you do nothing but clean all day, every day.) And another possibility is that he may be allergic to the Sodium-laurel Sulfate in the puppy shampoo I used on him, so I ordered him an all natural, organic, hypo allergenic puppy soap on a natural pet store online.

I also thought that maybe he's allergic to corn or grain products in his dog food, because dogs don't naturally eat that sort of stuff, and they are known allergens in many dogs. I'm too poor to invest in Blue Buffalo, but I've found a comparable (and cheaper, costs about the same as Purina One, which I am feeding him now) chow called Taste of the Wild at Tractor Supply that I will switch him to.

I also want to switch Greedy to a grain free diet, and see if that helps control her vomiting.

As for Siaga, I brought home more hay from work and he started coughing again, so I completely immersed it in water yesterday, instead of spraying it down, and the water (though the hay did not seem dusty or moldy) was a rather murky green brown gray color. It was gross.

Heres to hoping that I solve my otherwise healthy pets problems, eh?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

He has a name!

Puppy is no longer "puppy" and is now named "Helden."

Helden is German for Hero. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

No time!

With the time change, lack of sun, work, and splitting my time between training and keeping new puppy and taking care of Greedy the cat after her spay surgery, I have no time for riding now. It sucks.

On the plus side, I don't know that I've ever been happier. I have a healthy horse, healthy cats, puppy, a job a love, and much more.

November is the month of gratitude, and I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Puppy pictures!






I am thinking Gabe for his name, I think it fits. Short for Gabriel. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

PUPPY

Got the puppy, starting crate training, he's so adorable.

Very energetic, very happy.

No idea what to name him.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Waiting.

I hate waiting.

I'm waiting on the Humane Society to call me back. I really hope they let me adopt the puppy, he was so adorable and sweet and loving.

But I really hate waiting. I've stressed myself out so much that I've had a stomach/headache all day, only got a few hours of sleep and was wide awake and up at 3am. Yes, I really hate waiting. It makes me feel trapped and claustrophobic in time.

EDIT: I called the shelter twice today. The first time the lady said she'd have the main lady call me back, she never did. So I called back a few minutes ago and she said the main lady had left about an hour ago, but she sounded very upbeat and positive when she said the other lady really wanted to talk to me. Hoping!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I don't understand

This morning I woke up an hour early (to compensate for the return to Standard time) and went to feed the horses and pick their paddocks before swinging home, changing my clothes, picking up my nephew, and hi'ing off to the Humane Society.

We returned home without a puppy. Why? It wasn't because they thought we couldn't afford it. It wasn't because they thought we were bad people or wouldn't take care of it. It wasn't because we had too many pets already.

It was because we don't have adequate yard fencing to keep an inside dog.

Wait, what?

Yup.

No fencing, no inside puppy. No puppy at all. I explained that we could line the horse paddock in the back yard if necessary (entirely possible) but that he would be an inside dog primarily and would be only outside on a leash when going for a walk or doing his business.

Dad was so upset he called them and asked why they would rather keep and euthanize a happy, energetic, sweet puppy rather than let him go to a good home that would take care of him and keep him in even better conditions than the shelter keeps them in? (Have you ever been in one? They stink. Like really bad. And the puppy needed a major bath, his coat was thick with grime and just yuck. It's not that it's a bad place, just that they can't keep them all in 100% entirely ideal conditions.)

He asked "Do we need a kennel to have an inside dog?" The lady he talked to on the phone said "No you don't need a kennel."

So I don't understand.

She's supposed to call back later or tomorrow to give us an answer, and if it's no, then I'm going to keep thinking that that little darling that sat on my foot with his head on my knee and his eyes staring into mine won't get a good home and will be put down because there isn't a better home for him.

I'm confused and upset and sad. This sucks.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

5 + 1 = 6 Pets

Mom has finally been talked into allowing us to get a puppy. I'm taking the adoption form to the Humane society tomorrow during their open house in hopes of getting one of two possible puppy options, both are Shepherd crosses, one is 10 w. and the other is 11 weeks.

I'm so super excited, I miss having Beauty around. I still look for her when I go outside, but I'm finally moving on and I'm ready to immerse myself in the world of dogdom again, only with a much better training base. :) (because I wasn't capable of doing serious dog training with a 1 and 1/2 year old husky mix when I was in 2nd grade.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Just stand still, won't you?

Yesterday's ride was not much of a ride, all about standing still and not going anywhere. We ended up going places, when he'd move off or I'd ask him to take a few steps and stop him again, sometimes he would want to move off again as soon as I had stopped his feet (especially going in the direction of grass) And I would shut him down with a one rein stop and flex him to both sides.

With his flexing from the riding, he's got more flex to the left, and makes it a point to touch my shin with his teeth, as if to say Yeah, lady, you're teaching me how to bend right around and nab you a good one. He did hit that spot on my shin that is still recovering from my big fall several months ago, felt like he had touched me with a fire brand. To the right, he is not as giving, and wants to fight it sometimes, and I have to lean forwards and hold my hand behind his elbow and tell him to touch my hand, sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't and he just goes around in circles and shakes his head and backs up and suchforth. He's better on the right than the left from the ground, however, which is interesting to note. He also likes to stay flexed after I've flexed him, an ok problem to have, as Clinton Anderson would say.

In the mean time, I'm considering changing his stall over to a no-bedding sort of deal. Even wood shavings are getting too dusty for the poor boy. I also tried a bale of hay from the stable, that none of the horses there seem to have a problem with, but even though it's not as dusty, so that I didn't hose it,after less than a full day of feeding it to him, his cough got about 5 times worse, to where he was coughing with no exercise, instead of after 45 minutes of work instead.

He also got his flu vaccine, which he took well. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Getting better

At riding bareback. I've finally developed my seat, I think, with my shoulders, hips, and heels (and ears) in a straight line but still balanced. We did a lot of work on changing direction with just shifting my weight, sometimes he remembers and sometimes he doesn't and then I have to add the rein a bit.

We also worked on standing still, and doing one rein stops and flexing every time he would move off.

I did fall off, but I lost my balance, not a fault of him, held on to his mane and just slid off, landed on my feet. Took him back to the block, got back on, went back to work. It was over all really nice.

I prefer going bareback to riding with a saddle, I think. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

LOOK A SQUIRREL

Yeah, rode down the road in one direction, he spooked at a squirrel, like he wanted to turn and run, and I made him watch it run away, and then we tried to go around that corner and he did one of his I'm not going in that direction things, and then the neighbors dogs came out of the house at us, running and barking. They blocked off the road the way we had just come, and Siaga wouldn't go the other way and there were fences on either side of us, so I turned him at the dogs and walked him forward. They got to the side, we walked past, though he was skittish to walk between them.

He did his not going that way thing once we got past the house to the other direction, and I had to spank him a few times to get him going instead of backing into the ditch constantly. Managed to get down the road, up and around the hill at the end of the road, and into a field across the main road, around there, and we worked on steering, and I had him changing direction when I would look and tilt my body towards something, it was great. And then home we went, through the woods, it was nice. We went up and down a lot of hills and though going down hill in the dressage saddle was a little scary, it wasn't too bad.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Balance!

Today Siaga and I had the most successful bareback ride ever. :)

I discovered that the second half of my balance issues was that I had been trying to ride with my legs too far back. I only noticed this time because I felt like I was just uncomfortable with the way my pants were, and I lifted both legs out in front and set them back down and realized I might as well have been riding with a saddle. Only without stirrups.

So we walked around the woods, doing lots of turning and bending around the trees and up and down the road. I should have had my riding crop with me, at the end he decided he wasn't going to do a damn thing but go backwards! I was a bit frustrated and vowed that I would not get off until I got him "Over there" and "stopped properly" and that took about 10 minutes to walk 20 feet because every cue I gave him, he went *rush backwards* or *sidepass really fast!*

During our ride, I felt comfortable enough (yes, bareback!) that I wanted to take him down a steep hill covered in roots, through a ditch, and up rough terrain, but I didn't, because there was the extension cord for the electricity in the barn in the way. :/

Oh well, it was a fabulous ride, and tomorrow is supposed to be nice, so maybe tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cuise control

Siaga and I haven't really learned to ride at the trot. Well, we have, and he has a beautiful trot, I just held back for so long because of being scared of his attitude and knowing the saddle would hurt his withers and shoulders with the trot. But now there is no excuse. I'm not afraid anymore, I feel I have decent control over him, and the saddle fits.

So in a few days when the weather clears up, we're going to go to one of the cleared bean fields, not the corn fields, because of the stalks, and I'm just going to ask him to trot. Just trot. I don't care where he goes so long as he stays in the field. I don't care how fast or slow he goes, so long as he's in a trot. If he slows down to a walk, squeeze, click, spank. Canter, one rein stop, restart trot. Eventually we'll get to the canter, but first it's the trot.

So basically, I don't have to worry about where we go or stopping him, I just have to keep him in a trot and find my balance. I'm really excited. It's time. It might take me a few test trots though, to make sure I can hold my balance in the saddle.

Busy busy

I was so busy at work today, trying to get everything done before it started raining. Managed to get all the normal paddocks cleaned, about a quarter of the inside of the second pasture (Second pasture has a track system around the outside. Think of a box within a box. The horses on the track system have to keep moving and pass over rocky areas to get to "feeding stations" where there is hay and a grassy wooded area in the back) and then I fed and watered the ponies and moved one of the water buckets for Bay.

I somehow managed to strain a tendon in my right hand or something, it hurts. D:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More progress

Siaga is now responding to the bit very well, in terms of direction (combined with leg aid) and woah and back up. We had a nice ride today down the road, and even dismounted to end our ride on the road rather than in the yard, because he kept trying to go in the yard, so I let him go in the yard and then worked him there, rode out on the road, stopped him, dismounted.

We did have a few spooks, including a couple barking dogs and one snarling, slinking dog. ._.

Anyways, it went very well and Siaga is fast becoming a very nice, relatively dependable trail horse.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dream horses

We've been talking about our dream horse a lot at the stable. R wants a bigger horse, probably a paint, who's responsive and well trained. The BO's dream horse, when she was younger, was a certain appaloosa. I admit my dreams are scattered, there's a whole list of breeds that I want to have one of someday, and certainly June (the haflinger mare) was one of my dream horses, the one I wanted beyond measure.

I've put a lot of thought lately (and a lot in the past) about whether or not Siaga could be my dream horse. I've thought about the "Horsey-soulmate" feeling I had with June, and I know I don't have it with Siaga. What Siaga and I have is a working partnership. Or is mostly. What we have, we've worked very hard to get for the past (almost) 7 years. Today, I saw my dream horse in him.

After attending a clinic at the stable just to watch others working with their horses with the trainer/instructor, I brought what I learned home and applied it to Siaga. You wanna know what progress we've made in the riding spectrum? Here's a quick rundown of some of the problems and how we fixed them.


*Wouldn't stand still by chair/mounting block.

For this, I would lead him up to the chair and stop him next to it, with the chair at the appropriate position for mounting in relation to his side. If he stopped a bit before or after the chair, just correct him that one step or two if you can. If he stands still, rub him, and lead him off. If he doesn't stand still, keep trying until he's standing next to the chair. Every time he's stopped next to it, pet him.

At the clinic today, there was a girl with her pony, and they were having the same problem. What the trainer did was have the pony stand there and have the girl rub, back off, come back, rub, back off, step on first step of the block, rub, back off, and repeat until she's on the top step and the pony was standing still and behaving. This method worked, but I couldn't see it working well with Siaga, because he just wanted to move as soon as my foot touched the chair. That was a lot of work on my part, to get up only to jump down and line him back up.

So I made the area away from the chair into the work area, and standing by the chair as a nice, pleasant area. I would line him up, and if he stepped away, I hopped down and instead of repositioning him, I would immediately send him out and lunge him around the chair on the long line, and after I saw a sign of thinking/ relaxing (signs of these are lowering the head, chewing, sighing, yawning, and cocking a hip, though it's hard to yawn or cock a hip when trotting in a circle) I would let him come in, stop him by the chair, pet, step up, and repeat the process if he moved. It only took two or three times of being sent out to lunge before he would let me stand on the chair. From there I gave him a back rub, massaging around his spine and the muscles of his back. He even stepped closer a few times!

I also made sure he was ok with the process of me getting on, laying over his back, wiggling the saddle, putting a leg over. He didn't move, but obviously, I would have sent him out to lunge again if he had. I mounted from there bare back the other day and with a saddle today and he stood nice and solid both times. I will continue working with this until he is reliable with it.

*Not taking the bit.

Complicated. But, I figured out if I undo the cheek piece on the near side to the bit and just put the bridle on and get the buckles done up, I can then bring the cheek piece up, control his head, and with some coaxing, get the bit in his mouth. I plan on augmenting this with a treat after the bit is in, or maybe something tasty wiped on the bit so he is more willing to take it.

*Not giving to pressure of the bit.

For this, I started from the ground with flexing to the left and right in the rope halter. I hold my free hand behind his elbow and ask him to touch my hand, and it's so cute when he finds the slack and touches my hand.

To ask for lateral flexion, say, to the left, stand on his (or her) left side, just behind the ribs, just in front of the hips and back legs. Basically, stand at a 45 degree angle (in and forwards) to the swirl of hair between back leg and stomach. Throw your lead rope over the back of the horse, and place your right arm over over their loins so that you have a sort of anchor to stay by your horse (because he will most likely want to turn at first instead of flexing) and slide your left to about 2 or 2 and a half feet down the lead from the halter, pull your hand to the withers and "glue" it there. The objective is for the horse to give and reach for the triangular shaped place right behind the elbow at the bottom of their ribs, or a hair higher. Only release the pressure when a: their feet are not moving and b: they seek the right answer and reach around to find the slack. If the find the slack but their feet are still moving, do not release the pressure. He has to stand still. At 2 or 2 and a half feet, your horses head might barely be pulled around. After that is down, try it at 1 and a half and eventually 1 foot away from the halter. The object now is to guide the horses head around about 2/3 of the way, and for them to give the rest.

This concept applies with the bridle, also. I asked for flexing simultaneously with the halter and the bridle to clue him in, and then with just the bridle. It took him a minute to stand still for this again, but we got there. I also did this in the saddle, where again he wanted to turn and turn and not flex, but again, we got there.

After achieving lateral flexion, it was time to teach direction. Since I could hold his head up with the bit as I could not with the rope halter, it made directions that much easier. Close off and push with the outside, open inside. We did serpentines around the trees in the woods and up and down the road. This is also helping him understand leg pressure.

Then it was woah and back up time. At the clinic, Steph showed R how to stop Georgia by holding the reins and leaning back in the saddle a bit, rather than pulling the reins. I did this with Siaga, picking up the reins in two fingers at the middle and holding them up about face level, sliding the other hand down both reins at the same time to the withers, separating the reins and holding them there, lean back. If these did not stop him, I added a verbal cue of "woah" and he would stop after a couple steps. Release pressure, and from a stand still, repeat the process, holding and leaning back, to ask for a back up. If he didn't move, I was supposed to pump my feet against his shoulders, but I just added the verbal cue, and he would take a step or two back.

*Wanting to graze while under saddle and pay no attention to me.

I think this pretty much fixed itself just by getting him warmed up and the excess energy burnt off first. It was easier to not fight for grass and do asked. I think it is still something we will have to work on, though.


I know this was a terribly long post, but I thought it might benefit others who might have the same problems as I.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thunder

While at work this evening, I took it upon myself to run out to the other side of the big paddock and herd in the horses for their dinner. Theres about 7 horses out there and only one stays in the paddock all the time.

Anyways, I went out at a diagonal, swinging the whip and whistling, moving in a hammer-to-anvil direction to the horses between me and the fence to drive them to the paddocks.

They took off running, manes and tails flying, and their hooves made thunder that I felt even from that distance. It was beautiful. Yes, please, let me herd them in from now on, I don't think I'll ever get tired of that.

What, hail?

Yeah, so I got off work at about 11am today, and then mom wanted me to go run errands (while it was still sunny and perfectly clear out).

And I get done with that and it's a little cloudy, so I check the weather channel. Radar is clear, only 10 percent chance of precipitation.

Bring Siaga down, jump the little ditch that he used to have so many problems with, he surprised me and just went right over, I was amazed. Anyways, so we're in the middle of desensitizing to the knew whip, and it starts sprinkling. I'm like "Ok, sprinkles, we can deal with this, I'll just finish this up and we'll go back to the barn.

...

And then next thing I know, we're being pelted with little arrows from the heavens! (Ok, actually it was small balls of hail, but they stung all the same!) and so Siaga and I ditched what we were doing and high tailed it to the barn.

Gah!

As for work, I'm loving it. Tomorrow I don't have to work at the stable, but I'm going out there anyways to attend a clinic with Stephanie Phelps, a Natural Horsemanship trainer and instructor here in Ohio, she does mostly Clinton Anderson stuff, but has a blend of Parelli, Lyons, Cameron, Roberts, and other noteworthy NH trainers.

Today was ok, have a double shift, but that's alright. :) I'm loving it to the extreme, not my dream job just yet, but that's ok. I'm loving it anyways. I soak up every minute.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bareback!

Today, I received many tips on getting Siaga to stand still by the chair so I could mount. Our lesson today was primarily that. I asked R what to do, and she showed me with one of the horses at the stable. Basically, the idea was to lead him up to the chair, and step up, and if he didn't stand still, to hop down and make him work. My theory has always been that if a horse doesn't want to stand still, then don't let him stand still until he's standing still by/for whatever you're working on. So when Siaga swung his butt out away from the chair, I hopped down and sent him out, and he cantered and cantered and cantered and threw in some mighty bucks and shaking his head.

I kept him moving till I saw him drop his head and lick and chew. I then brought him in by the chair and stepped up, and started rubbing his back and giving him an extra "treat" with a back rub for standing by the chair. Whenever he moved, I'd hop down and send him out, watch for him to drop his and lick the dust off his brain, and then bring him back to the chair and the back rub.

Eventually he was standing still, and a couple times, even stepped closer and leaned into my hands for his rub! (See, not even horses can resist a back rub!)

Then we worked on flexing, and where last time I had him flexing his nose only halfway around, today he touched his sides of his own conviction, meaning I only pulled his head part way around, it was up to him to find the slack in the rope. Next we worked on more standing still and not grazing. Not much progress on that front.

AND THEN I brought him back to the chair, positioned him, climbed up, gave him a back rub, swung a leg over, and he stood still!

I couldn't pull his head up with the rope halter on, so I just worked on my balance at first. I realized that part of why I have such a hard time staying balanced on him compared to on other horses is because I tense my butt/upper thigh muscles, I brace myself all the time. So I made the effort to stay relaxed, and felt much more secure when I was sitting relaxed.

Another friend of mine suggested, for changing direction, instead of pulling the reins, to open the left and maintain normal pressure on the right, and push with the right leg. In a previous conversation, she had also said to drop the outside hip while pushing with the outside leg but to keep the shoulders level. I had laughed and said "Like belly dancing on horseback, an isolation of the hip!"

I applied all of this. Open left rein, keep right closed, open left leg, push with right, drop right hip... and he moved right around! I tested it on both sides. He's a little slow at it, and I was still pretty unbalanced and probably my nerves blocking his movement, but he did it all the same. :)

And he has a VERY good woah with the rope halter, but absolutely NO back up, and plenty of turn. Gah.

Pictures in new saddle





We have so much to work on, I'm slouching, my hands are terrible, and I keep lifting up my heels. And he was paying like no attention to me at all and kept his nose so forward, but here's some pictures (yeah we were in the western bridle with the hackamore because I had wanted to just ride and not drill stuff, and feel safer with the hackamore than the bit.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Progress!

Siaga is now standing quite nicely on a loose lead, even with distractions going on. He will only stand for about a minute, still, but that's longer than not at all! I gave him more applesauce from the syringe, was so funny, he was simultaneously trying to pull away and get it in his mouth at the same time!

I also discovered that while I'm sitting on the edge of the back porch letting him graze on the lead some 6 or 7 feet away, I can disengage his hindquarters from there, and that's really neat. We also worked more on disengaging the front end, he's starting to get it.

As far as work, today I fed all the ponies, mucked two stalls and the pony track and pulled up a lot of Datura. For those of you who don't know, Datura is a very poisonous, terrible little weed. It has usually white, yellow, purple, or pink trumpet shaped flowers and the seed heads are little spiny balls. It's a very powerful hallucinogen and if not handled with care, can result in poison-ivy-esque rashes on the skin from bare handed handling. So what does that tell you how bad it would be to EAT? So I'm on a Datura crusade now, going to be trying to get as much of that as possible out of the paddocks.

The curly dock out there I am not too worried about, there is plenty of other forage and the horses and ponies don't seem to have any desire to eat it.

Today I have a double shift, so I have to go back to work at five to bring the horses in and give them their dinner.

I felt so bad for poor Dot today. She's a 1993 horse, so about 18 or so. She was rounded up in 94 as a yearling, and spent a big chunk of her life with Curly. Curly went to a "retirement" home in Virginia, as his owner said, to avoid having to live through another Ohio Winter. But all the other old horses will have to deal with it too, and it's not like there aren't stalls and blankets available. And poor Dot! She was screaming her head off, calling and calling and calling for her buddy, poor old girl.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ponies everywhere!

And their poop! Spent my day mucking paddocks, stalls, and the track system, and got to ride along on the ATV while R dragged the arena.

With Siaga today, we started working on standing still while I'm standing still. This is a fundamental hole in his training that I should have taught him a long time ago. He's of the mind that if I stop moving and ask him to halt, that he should be able to stop with me, start grazing, and move away.

Not anymore. Today I started asking him to stand patiently, and he's still trying to sneak his nose down to the grass when he thinks I'm not watching but I intercept him.

Then today was worming day, usually this is how it goes, I halter him, hold on for dear life, get the syringe in his mouth, push the plunge, and let him have at it from there.

It's not a pretty sight.

Today however... I took an old, clean syringe and filled it with applesauce and took my time running it over his face and nose and lips, and took my time getting the tip of it in his mouth, and gave him little shots of applesauce. Eventually he was actively pulling it into his mouth, (with about half the applesauce still there) and that's where I gave him his worming medication, then the rest of the applesauce to help wash it down. It was the smoothest, easiest deworming I have ever done.

And then we worked on some lateral flexion, especially on the right side, which he is stiffer on, and then more standing still beside me.

Later I might go out and work with the bridle some and try to get him ok with having the bridle put on him.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 2, complete with photos

The above is Dot, the mustang mare. She's 18 or 19ish. She was in her stall this morning, so I didn't get good pictures, but this one is striking to me. She's lovely.

This is Spanky, the 6/7 year old miniature stud. Was so cute this morning, did a squealing bucking happy dance when I threw him his hay. He's not violent, mind you, he just kinda did a jump for joy with a little squeal and went to attack his hay!

This is Brandy, she's an older paint mare, opinionated and sorta bossy, but she's still a sweetheart.

These two are the red dun mustang Kota and the darker pony, Cocoa.

I couldn't help but give you guys this picture of Clyde, the barn cat. No, he's not vicious, I just took a picture while he was yawning. I have laughed so hard at this cat over the past few days!

The inside of the barn. :)

Horses on an early foggy morning, this is what I get to go see every day. :D Full of nickering and whinnying and hoof stamping, yup, call me dead and say I'm in heaven.


This picture was also too beautiful to pass up. :) I didn't put pictures of all the horses in here, way too many to catalog all of them, but I'll give you a quick run down:

Lexi: 6 month roan paint, I think she'll shed out to a gray paint.
Georgia: chestnut mare, rescue.
Brandy: piebald mare.
Bahara, Cash, and Tilly: chestnut mares, don't know much about them yet.
Chick: brown Appendix QH looking mare.
Dot: chestnut mustang mare.
Kota: red dun mustang gelding.
Perdu: brown... mare? Haven't learned about that one yet.
Bey: brown Arabian mare, looks maybe 3 or 4 ish... but is actually 20.
Tex: big chestnut paint gelding.
Prince: flea bitten gray Arabian.
Teddy: black Appy with white blanket and spots.
Spanky: Mini stud, black or brown
Cocoa: chestnut pony gelding.
May and Maggie (I think that's their names? Not sure): mini mares, one paint one gray.
Curly: Dot's buddy, going to retirement home at end of week.
Crusoe: shares Tex's paddock, a little black and white pony gelding.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yes, thank you, I know I'm wierd.

People tell me this a lot. Even my mom is a little shocked (for whatever reason) that I'd rather shovel horse poop in frigid winter or scorching heat than pace around in temperature controlled, pink, girly, Victoria's Secret.

This is probably why I looooved my first day, why I enjoyed meeting all the horses and giving them their food, why I loved putting up some 400 feet of fencing, why I loved mucking the paddocks, why I loved helping the current (might as well say barn manager) R with treating a nasty bite wound on one of the older geldings.

And this is also probably why I took one look at the mustang mare (caught in the wild) and the mustang gelding (captive but bred and 'raised' wild, no BLM freeze brand) and fell in love, but mostly that mare. Let me paint a picture of this mare for you.

She's about the same size as Siaga, maybe 14.- 14.2 hh, really stocky built. She's chestnut, but it's slightly darker than the normal shade. She's got slight feathers around her feet and a tail that almost drags the ground that is super thick. Her mane is also thick, almost two feet long, laying several inches off her neck on both sides, and her forelock hangs down almost to her nostrils and over her eyes, thick and gorgeously chestnut and white.

I had been holding her buddy while R put medication on his wound, and the mare, Dot, is her name, had been drinking her water, she came over, and I held out my hand, she placed her dripping wet muzzle in my hand and looked at me with those liquid eyes through her forelock and I recognized that moment as a very special moment. I felt, looking at her, that I had found my June again, my horse-soulmate, that one that I feel the pull of. It was a truly breathtaking moment.

The mustang gelding is tiny, don't know how old he is, maybe a yearling, maybe 2, roughly 13-13.2 hh. He's a light dun color with a dorsal stripe. Adorable.

So yes, I am loving my new job.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tomorrow:

I start my new job.

Yes, that's right. New job. Well. I start a week long trial period, but how hard can it be to prove that I can shovel manure and lead a horse, even misbehaving horses?

They really liked me, and I love the barn owner, Christine, she's so into doing things natural, and she loved the fact that I studied herbology for a while, maybe next spring, if they stick with me, I can help them get an herb garden centered on horse healing started.

So even though I start tomorrow, it's still not a DONE DEAL, but it might as well be. I'm super excited, so yay.

The girl said the only thing she and Christine were worried about is that I'm quiet and they don't want me to get hurt, and I know some of those horses are probably worse than Siaga, but Siaga is a lot better now than he was when he was younger (I mean, he wasn't gelded until he was two, for crying out loud) so surely it won't be that hard, and I'm encouraged to give horses mini lessons as needed, if they spook at something or are not respecting my space.

If I can (and did) deal with Siagas temper tantrums, then I should do juuuust fine.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Yet another possibility

So I got another email a few days ago, someone local looking for a stable hand. It's a 20some horse boarding stable, nothing big, not a show/ competition barn, mostly pasture potatoes and trail horses.

They are looking for someone to muck stalls, do general housekeeping around the barn, and to pick manure out of the pastures. All fine and dandy with me, though colder weather is coming on and the idea of taking an outdoor job... when the weather is friggin COLD... is... eh. But it's ponies, so I'll deal with it. :D

Anyways, the girl I interviewed with liked me, and is going to try to set up an interview with the owner tonight or maybe sometime this weekend in the that Monday will be my first day.

Of course, this is not a set thing. I'm excited, but trying not to get my hopes up like last time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Silly bridle

Siaga's been having serious issues with it, not wanting to take the bit and seeming uncomfortable when he's got it in his mouth. So today I altered the bridle a bit, so that I could easily clip on and off the reins. This way, I can take the reins off and leave the bridle on, under supervision, obviously, to help him get used to it. I also plan on finding a way to get him to enjoy taking the bit, such as peppermint flavoring or something.

Eventually he needs his teeth floated and might need wolf teeth removed, but after that saddle and everything, I have a bit of recovering to do on my bank account and this will have to wait a while.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Love it

Love the new saddle. I felt very secure, very comfortable in it, and Siaga wasn't complaining either. Well, he was complaining about the bit, but that's a different matter. He also decides, randomly, if he's going to back up when asked, he's also going to turn WHILE backing up, funniest thing, like being on a weird roller coaster.

Anyways. I love it, it's not going anywhere.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Horses do love

I've heard so many people say that they do not think that horses have the capacity to feel love, or care about humans the way humans care for their horses (or at least like some of us care for our horses) ...but Siaga melted me entirely today.

I have a story.

I am not the worlds best horse mom. Siaga has a muddy paddock and gets grass only when I bring him down to the yard and hand graze him or let him in the back paddock, which due to summer grazing, doesn't have a lot of grass in it at the moment. His stall is tiny. His only stable mates are a couple of tom cats and some mice, and whatever other wildlife (racoons and possums) that make their homes there.

The barn does not have plumbing or heating, and is a more of a metal shack. It was made by the Amish, does not have a front door, and the roof on the other side had a branch go through it last winter and has a hole. It's cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

I had just mucked his stall and given him hay, which he was busily munching, and leaning on the gate and making little sad sounds, and telling him I wish I were better horse mom, wish I could afford a big rolling pasture and other horses as stable mates and a good trainer and a safe, warm, well plumbed barn, and Siaga lifted his head from his hay and turned to look at me, and I kept talking, then he turned entirely around, came over, hung his head over my shoulder, and pressed his jaw and chin into my back and I put my arms around his neck and said I'm sorry and... and... silly horse pinned me closer and then I did start crying, because it was emotionally overwhelming.

My heart is still having trouble processing it, that he did that, but it's saying, this is why.

This is why I muck his stall and carry buckets of water in the winter and stack hay. This is why I fret over the quality of hay and whether or not to give grain and what supplements. This is why I want a career with horses. This is why I can't go to school unless he goes with me. This is why.

One muddy, bay, 14.1 or 14.2 hh, 7 year old, Quarter Horse gelding with attitude problems is why.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

lol horse hair

All over the butt of my sweats. Went for a very short ride, legs proved too jelly-fied from my work out this morning to hold me on with any degree of stability, so then I jumped down and we worked on direction from the bit. It took him a while to remember how to turn based on the pull from the bit, I finally had to turn and walk away in the direction I was asking him to turn and give a clickclick vocal cue, however, we had a great breakthrough, I had him backing up and woahing on bit cue, with no vocal cues whatsoever.

:) We're getting there. Excited for my girth to hurry up and get here so that I can test out the new saddle.

Speaking of new saddle, that reminded me, before I went to actually get on Siaga, we tested the chair a bit more, walking around and when he was close enough, I laid a hand on his back and said "woah" and he stopped and it made me giggle to look down at his back, because he had stepped so close that his sides were against my legs, I had a directly vertical view of his back. I realized just HOW flat it is, and just how WIDE he really is. He's like a giant barrel. Little tiny horse with BIG HUGE BARREL BODY. xD

I do adore that horse. lol.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

If it's not one thing...

It's another.

When I put the saddle on the boy today, it actually went right where it was supposed to and sat flush but not tight. So we went about getting ready to ride...

Until I discovered, much to my dismay, that the girth from the other english saddle is about 43" buckle to buckle and I need something more like 26 or 28" and this one hung several inches below his belly.

So that idea was nixed, so we instead fitted the new bridle and worked from the ground on left, right, woah, back up. He still needs the verbal addition with the woah and back up, but his response after the verbal command is timely and quick and soft.

After we did that for 15 or 20 minutes, we went to the front yard and started working on side passing from the ground. After about a half hour or so of that, I had him taking a step or two across. :)

Saddle!

So the new saddle came in the mail today, so excited. It's gorgeous and black and... well... Wintec-y. When I first pulled it free of the bubble wrap and the saddle cover (wasn't expecting it to come with a cover, that was nice) I took one look at the gullet and thought "That looks like it'll fit!"

It's nice and wide (being the white extra wide plate) and looks like it will sit comfortably on his back. I'm so excited to get to use it, but letting the ground outside dry up and myself start feeling better before we try it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

As Usual...

I've spent a big part of my day thinking about Siaga, my current long term goal, and how the heck I'm going to get there.

Long term goal:

Transfer to the University of Findlay for an Associates of Arts in Equestrian Studies with an emphasis on English riding/ training via the Dressage Program. I fully plan to take Siaga with me.

The problem:

I have to submit a 5-minute long video of Siaga doing dressage, at the very least walk, trot, and canter both directions, and anything else he can do, by June 1st. It seems like a long way off now, but it's really not, especially when you consider that with winter coming on, there will be very little riding actually happening unless I can get him to an indoor arena.

This is a big thing, a big, huge, not so easy to reach long term goal. It's stumping. So I'm going to break it down, because my thoughts must be organized.

Goal 1: Score lessons in exchange for work, waiting on a reply, if I don't have a reply from the lady by Sunday, I have to call her or find someone else.

Goal 2: Take back everything I learn in my lessons to Siaga. Whatever I'm learning, he can be learning, too, whether or not there is a trainer around to help.

But for now, until I get those lessons, I have to start working these things myself. Next time we go for a ride, my goal is:

Get one ear.

That one ear back to me saying "I hear you, I'm paying attention to you." and the swiveling ear saying "I'm also paying attention to my surroundings." That is what I want. Normally his ears are both forward or to the sides, swiveling around paying no attention to me, though he generally obeys what I ask him to do. To accomplish this, our first lesson will probably be riding up and down the road at a walk until we achieve that relaxed, long and low, swinging back, easy going walk. Then back to the yard to do a lot of walk/halt/walk/halt/backup/walk/etc transitions and direction changes, while trying to maintain that long and low form.

We may attempt a rising trot, if I feel that my balance is good enough for it and if I feel that he isn't going to go hog wild and throw me. Even if we achieve only a couple paces or so of the trot, before we switch back to a walk, it would be good for me, and for him, and I'm glad that he has trotted with me before, though I don't remember if we have gone faster than a walk since my bad fall. (Shin still hurts from that when pressed, and the skin there is numb still, though all memory functions have returned to normal.)

Anyways... we have a long road ahead of us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Mine

THIS RIGHT HERE IS MIIIINE.


Yup. I just bought a Wintec 500 dressage saddle on ebay. So excited.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Victory is mine, and so is the failure

Well and so, Siaga and I had several victories today, and one loss.

Victory 1: After much spiraling around and around, I got Siaga semi-used to standing by me on the chair. So when we finally got tacked up (second time around, had a heat-exhaust attack the first try) I was able to very easily get up there.

Victory 2: Siaga stood tied. Yes, he's 7. Yes, that is something he should have been taught a very long time ago. I tried, I really did, but it never worked out very well. But somehow, today, he stood tied while I tacked him up and held his head up while I put the bridle on! It was nice.

Victory 3: We successfully backed up with minimum contact on the reins. I simply "sponged" my hands on the reins, and he tucked his head and backed up.

Loss: The saddle has to go back. It fits him better, in width, than the western I have, but it has somehow managed to rub the hairs on his shoulders in the wrong way, even though I put the saddle on a little forwards and scooted back like one is supposed to, and he kept giving me little crow hops when asked to move forwards.

So now I'm going to look for a Wintec 500 Dressage saddle with the gullet system.

Also, although it's not set in stone (as I have learned that focusing on one thing too often leads to much despair if it doesn't work) I am planning on taking lessons in dressage and working in a barn, with the intent of taking everything I learn in my lessons back to Siaga and starting him on dressage. And then, I called the art school I went to today to see how many transferable credit hours I have, and I have like 60-something, so I will be able to transfer to Findlay if I want, so I might try to go next fall and take Siaga with me. I would probably be going for the english/dressage program.

Have a maybe

In regards to a stable in which to trade barn work for riding lessons. She mailed me back, asking for more details about me, my age, my experience with horses, and my riding experience. I very honestly told her I have about 7 years of horse ownership experience, and all my riding adds up to maybe a year of western trail riding and only two rides on an English saddle. I told her I knew I had my work cut out for me, but that I am highly motivated and really want to learn.

So... hopefully. Hopefully I will get another email here soon.

Also, I haven't heard Siaga coughing at all lately, so that's good. Going to bring him down and work with him some today I believe. :) Maybe go for a ride after I listen to his breathing and stuff, if he seems alright. And try to get up there from the ground again, with the regular saddle pad instead of the fleece. That might have been the problem.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

When you fall

You gotta get back up. Get back in the saddle. I am trying.

To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. That was like my dream job and the universe held it in front of my face only to snatch it away for a lack of experience with no practical way to get that experience.

But.

As always, when life knocks you down (or the horse, or the boss, or whatever) you have to get back up again. So now my game plan is this: I have contacted a local dressage stable and asked if we might work out a deal where I take a lesson every week and in turn, I will work for them. This provides me with two levels of experience, both on, and off, horse back. And it gives them pretty much free labor.

I'm only contacting one stable at a time, because I don't want a bunch of refusals all at once because my spirit in this matter is currently quite broken, and I do not wish to risk it fully broken.

I wish, oh I wish, I could have had that sort of childhood where I had riding lessons and a horse with sense and had gone to school for horses instead of art. But... here I am still. Gotta keep slogging on.

Nope.

The owner of the barn told me that I do not have enough experience with people and horse management and that I need to start from the bottom and work my way up. So I didn't get the job.


However...


She did refer me to another lady who is starting another stable and expanding the Dancing Horse Farm name. She's got about 20 horses on the old property and no help, so I feel like I should be a shoe in.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Getting closer to being a BMA

I went to tour the stable yesterday.

Holy crap. It's huge. And full of warmbloods. Walking into that first barn full of jumping horses was like a car fanatic walking into a garage full of Ferrari's.

I felt so at home there, like I was nervous on the way there, but I forgot all about being nervous when I stepped out of the jeep, it was just awe inspiring, and huge. Did I mention it's huge? I mean, there's three barns, an indoor, two outdoor arenas, a round pen (Oh, excuse me, they called it a lunging arena, lol) and several pastures, and they are making a new indoor, also. And horses everywhere!

The whole place is very cutting edge, they don't even worm the horses, they send off fecal samples for each horse and give targeted worming only IF the horses have worms. Brilliant. And they have top nutritionists and saddlers come out every so often to make sure all the horses are healthy and that their saddles are fitting.

One rider there won a silver medal in the USDF riding dressage on a one eyed Thoroughbred while riding side-saddle. Are you beginning to see how big this is?

To top it all off, I was asked to write up a business proposal with all of the things that I need to have as pay, being how much I expect/ need to be paid, and also including Siaga's stall and board and once a week dressage lessons if I so choose. I could ask for jumping lessons, but it would probably be better that I learn to sit in that saddle before I learn to jump in it, you think?

So basically, it's not final, but it's really close, and I'm really excited, and .... and... and... Yeah I'm just really excited. It's like I let go of Victoria's Secret, gave myself over to the flow, and bam, here I am, with this amazing opportunity hanging in my face. And I plan on doing everything in my power to grab it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Still Coughing

Gonna call the vet and see if I can get someone out next week to take a listen and see what can be done, I've tried wetting down his hay and that hasn't helped much, maybe soaking it more thoroughly would help, I don't know.

We have a camping trip next weekend that I look forward to every year but if his cough gets any worse or if the vet prescribes medicine for him, then I'm probably going to stay home, because I have a hard time trusting anyone else to take care of him (especially when medicating comes into question) and aaargh.

I'm really frustrated. I still haven't gotten a good chance to see if the saddle fits properly, because I refuse to ride him while I don't know what that cough is. It reminds me of heaves or RAO (formerly known as COPD For Horses) because the only symptom I see is this coughing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Barn Manager Apprentice

I got an email today, asking if I might be open to a job as a Barn Manager Apprentice to a large boarding/training facility in Lebanon, an hour away.

I expressed interest and am going to go tour the place on Friday with Mom. I'm so excited and I really hope it goes through. It's such a big opportunity and I want this job.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Whyyyy?

Horse is sick or something. He's got a cough and a slight wheeze after having bouts of being active (even riding at a walk for ten minutes had him wheezing)

I do think the saddle will work out, I felt a major difference in his movement and the fluidity of it, even though he was coughing quite a bit.

I discovered it's very hard to pull myself up into the english saddle from the ground, without a horn to hold on to, also saddle was slipping a bit, very challenging to get that thing tight enough! Tried getting on from the chair.... ended up flat on my back. Thank goodness it had rained and the ground was soft. Finally did manage to get up there, but almost went over the other side, not used to a slick seat, since my western saddle has a suede seat. Got the stirrups adjusted, but they might need to be adjusted a little bit more.

Have a bid placed on a bridle on ebay, made a ridiculously high max bid so that people hopefully won't try to outbid me.

Worried about that cough, thinking it's just from having such a dry and dusty climate lately. No runny nose or eyes, stool is normal, temp is normal, hay isn't moldy or dusty, same stuff he's been getting.

Bah. Why are the things we love most also the most frustrating and problematic?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Are you kidding me?

Rain?! I mean, I love rain, and we need all the rain we can get, but seriously? The day after I get the girth extender in the mail? Really? :(

I just want to ride. Maybe tomorrow evening after work, jeez.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

100+ and counting

In regards to how many posts I've made in this blog, I think this one is number 102 or something.

Girth extender came in the mail today. Too hot/busy to ride today until later, may go for a late evening ride if I have time/ it cools down some.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stuff we need to work on

I got the book in mail yesterday, already on chapter 6. The first thing that the author (Kurd Albrecht Von Ziegner) says to teach the young dressage horse is Relaxation. He says that a warm up to reach the stage of Relaxation may take 10 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the horse, the atmosphere, and the horses level of fitness. What he's describing as relaxation and being ready to work, I've thought were symptoms of being tired in Siaga, who takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach that stage.

So this is the first thing we will start to work on, is reaching relaxation and being willing to move forward with me and listen to what I ask of him. Before beginning work in the make-shift arena I'm going to make in the front yard, we'll probably go for a little trail ride just to get the juices flowing, so to speak, and watch for that relaxed, long and low, swinging back signal to say he's ready to work.

Once he reaches that stage of relaxation, we're going to start on Regularity, which comes next in the book. Regularity refers to the foot falls of the horse in each gait, and such exercises as going up and down hills and over cavaletti helps.

These are the first two sections in the book.

The third section, which I will start after I feel that Siaga has developed a soft, even, long and low, relaxed, regular movement in walk and trot (and canter if I feel brave enough to attempt that) is Freedom, where the horse is to feel free and willing to move forward, but not rushing, when asked. This should, I would think, develop in tandem with the other two.

The fourth section on the training tree outlined in the book is Contact, which is getting the horse on the bit in a rounded and relaxed, but not collected, frame. Then, in order, is getting the horse On the Aids, where the horse is appropriately responding to the riders hands and legs and seat, Straightness, having the horse developed evenly on both sides and moving fluidly in a straight line without flex to one side or the other, Balance, or having the horse carrying his weight properly, but again, this is not collection.

Then it goes into Durchlässigkeit. I'm assuming this is pronounced something like "Durch-less-i-kite" but I'm not sure. Anyways, this means that the horse is supple, capable of shifting his center of balance forwards, backwards, or to either side. That one is going to be very complicated.

Next is Schwung, another German word, which refers to the powerful impulsion of the hind-quarters. It would seem that Siaga, as a Quarter Horse, by breed, should have quite a bit of Schwung, with that big butt. A horse unwilling to propel strongly with the hind will have a hard time achieving Collection, which is the next, and final phase.

After this section, the book goes on to discuss figures, movements, transitions, and then onto the basic first level test. The final sections regard lateral movement and finally the flying change of lead.

So far, I think I'm getting around to understanding this stuff. I have no plans for showing Siaga in dressage, but hey, you never know, maybe some day, maybe. Anyways, I understand we are both new to riding, more or less, and certainly both new to English riding, let alone Dressage. But, as with all things, we will get there some day, some way.

Check here (Google books) to see the book I bought, The Elements of Dressage.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Well, there's the bit.

Bit came in the mail today. Side rings are nice and massive, won't be slipping in his mouth any more. Problem will be getting bridle set tight enough to hold it up where it needs to be. Might have to switch back to the red nylon one until I get an English bridle.

Book I ordered about starting the young dressage horse is still out there in the mail somewhere, tell me, how does a book in Indiana take longer to get to Ohio than a bit in Georgia when the East Coast is being slammed by a hurricane...? I don't know.

Also still waiting on my girth extender. I'm excited to get this show on the road.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

So cloooose!

Got the new saddle on him and evaluated the fit compared to the western, with no padding, just the saddle straight on his back.

Off the withers- always a good thing.
Not pinching around his shoulders- he's gonna be able to reach further out with his front legs and hopefully won't protest carrying me up a hill as much anymore.
Laying on his back the whole way, not rising up in the back- unlike the western saddle, which somehow managed to sit far off his back under the cantle.

Only problem? Girth too short. D: Bought an extender on Dover Saddlery, should be in in the next week or so, then I can evaluate the fit while riding.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good-bye, indian-slip hackamore

I'm retiring it after I get a new bit. I tried my loose O-ring on him today, and he was amazingly responsive to it, it was awesome. It's just a little too narrow for his mouth and the rings aren't enough to keep it from slipping all over the place and the rings get in his mouth. :|

And Saturday, picking up saddle. If the preliminary check shows it fits, I'll test ride with the hackamore still, gonna look funny, Siaga in an english saddle and a western bridle with a hackamore. Oh well.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Terrible ride yesterday...

So out we headed, as usual, down the road, making a plan to go around the block. At the end of my road there's a huge hill and here Siaga threw a huge hissy fit and decided he wasn't going to go forward and kept stopping and anytime I asked him for forward movement he would back up, turn, try to bolt, or buck.

I decided this is two things. A, it's starting to be a learned behavior from the last few times, when the storm was rolling in and we were both really tense, and when we heard the strange noises on the road (which, as it turns out, was the sound of people moving furniture and stuff as a family moved into the house there.) And B, the saddle fit is finally starting to get to him. I've figured that because it's so narrow on him, and because it pinches around his shoulder blades, going at a walk on the road is easy for him, but when I ask him to move up or down hill, his stride is greatly affected and painful, which causes him to react the way he does.

So anyways, I'm on the hunt for a decent but cheap dressage or all purpose saddle, and bought a book on Amazon about training the young dressage horse. He needs a little more discipline and a lot less pain, and after that I think he will make a really awesome trail horse.

I can't afford lessons with him or a trainer to come help me or a trailer to take him anywhere, so I'm limited to who is going to teach me for free... myself. Thankfully, I'm a book-aholic and don't mind investing in books to get the job done. :D

Jeni at Supersize My Cob has offered me an all purpose saddle with pad, stirrups, and leathers for $90, just needs a good cleaning and stuff.

So hopefully we'll actually be riding soon!

Also, have any of you ever had any problems switching a horse trained and always ridden with a western saddle (in a more english style, regarding posture and how I hold my hands and reins) to an english saddle?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Today, we are one less

Today, my dog Beauty is making that last trip to the vet. I'm so sad. I can't seem to stop crying.


I remember the day we brought you home, you were in our backseat eating up french fries. I remember being on the phone with my brother while I told him how awesome you were, and saw you running laps around the house even as I told him how fast you were. I remember all the times you saved me from falling over, the way you'd pull in just the right direction on the leash and correct my balance as we slid down a steep hill at a creek.

I remember all the nicknames I had for you, my Hesibu, my Moon Spirit and my Wolf Child. I remember the story my brother, Adam, told about how you were chased by and then chased in return the coyotes when he was out fishing. I remember how you hunted like crazy and brought home the neighbors chickens and wild bunnies and raccoons and possums and moles and mice and rats. I remember how you tried to take down that deer that one time.

I remember all the times I took you swimming, how you hated baths and the pond but loved the creek. I remember how kind you were, never bit a person on purpose, even if you were a skilled hunter. We'd rough house and you'd get your jaws on my arm, stop, pull your head carefully back and close your mouth when you knew my arm wasn't there anymore. I remember how Dad always wanted to get a German Shepard to name Beast, so we would have Beauty and the Beast.

I remember when you started going deaf, when you started limping, when your shoulder puffed up and when the vet said you had cancer in the bone. I remember seeing the xrays and knowing it wouldn't be long. It's been about two months since then.

This has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, Beauty. You're still up and walking and eating and living but I can see it in your eyes how much pain you are in, and your bone mass in that leg is such that stumbling the wrong way could break it clean in half. I can't stand to see you suffer and know you'll only get worse and that there is nothing left for me to do. Nothing left but this one last trip, this mercy killing.

I love you, Beauty.

I remember you. I will not forget. You took up so much of my childhood. You were the one I ran to (before Siaga became my crying shoulder) when bad things happened and I needed comfort. The one I cried my tears into, the one I giggled to and told secrets to when no one else would listen.

No, I will not forget.




Saturday, August 13, 2011

Whats that noise!

Went for a ride today... Siaga stopped and stared at everything. He stopped and stared at a grasshopper, at a flag, at a barn in which there was a crowing rooster, a tree, a field, a shed, a plastic goose, and a car.

We were going to go for a ride around the block, but didn't get all the way as mysterious noises around the bend in the road had him nervous and I couldn't tell what was going on and instead of advancing and seeing what it was (as I couldn't get him to go any further forward anyways) we stopped there in the road for a while and then turned around and came home, then practiced turning off my leg pressure in the yard until I had him consistently turning when I applied pressure. He's getting better at this, not perfect yet though. I see improvement each time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Went for a riiide

I know I said I was gonna wait, but today was so beautiful and for the next couple of days, I'm working 10+ hours each day and/or bad weather predicted.

I brought him down and trotted him on lead on the road to see if he was ouchy at all. Nope, apparently not, and apparently, full of piss and vinegar.

So we saddled up and went on a ride and visited some old church friends down the road and theeeen... had a moment where I have never been more proud of that horse.

Walking home, a herd of Harley Davidson bikers popped up over the hill, and literally, honest to God literally scared the poop out of Siaga. They came up over the hill, Siaga tensed up and jumped a little. I lifted the left rein so that if he spooked he'd fly into the bean field and not into a biker, but he stood frozen still. After they passed, he lifted his tail and promptly left there a reminder of just what he thought about those bikes.

And then we went and stood on top of a hill and looked down in the valley and it was gloooorious. Wish I had brought my camera with me.

Also, I liked looking at Siaga's shadow on the ground, where I could see that he was walking along with relaxed head, droopy lip, tail relaxed. It was awesome.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Farrier appointment

Went soooo well. The farrier pulled in just as I was going outside to give the shot. We waited about a half hour on the stuff to kick in, while the farrier just stood there and talked and then knelt in the paddock with us for twenty minutes, waiting on Siaga to come over and sniff him. He was so patient and so kind.

Once we got started and the tranq had kicked in, I was able to lay my head on his neck, close my eyes, and just hold my hands under his chin to keep his head up. He was that calm. Which was awesome.

Also, he learned part of his lesson, he was still with it enough to think and lick and chew at me and the farrier while he worked.

Turned out that the limp problem came from the sole as it was splitting and peeling off. It wasn't as bad that day, but must have been the riding that caused the chips to split further. No thrush, no abscesses, just overgrown sole. I'm expecting it to take a few days to a week for him to stop feeling tender footed, so until then, no riding.

Here's to hoping that the next round will float along much smoother than some previous ones, and won't need as much of the tranquilizer.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Farrier tomorrow

A little nervous. I know I shouldn't be. Even though he's going to be sedated, I half expect at least a half hearted temper tantrum, since he won't be aced. It's also been a while since a farrier has seen his feet and with the horrible weather I'm not entirely sure what he's going to find.

And of course, considering that lameness, I'm worried about that too, though I haven't seen any signs of it still. Gah. Little stressed out. This week is major busy for me.

Working way more than normal with about 50 hours of work total, instead of 20ish, and then of course dealing with the farrier. I'm just a little spazzy. I keep telling myself everything is gonna be fine.

But... I still have to go... what if? What if it's not?

*explode*

Friday, August 5, 2011

Frustrated so much.

Had some halfway decent weather and the time... so Siaga and I went for a ride. Made about a quarter of a mile before he threw in a really out of no where (no signs before hand) crow hop and bounced me up on the pommel of the saddle, bruised my thigh and scraped my left wrist up. Decide it's the tension in the air as the supposed storm (that ultimately never hit) was collecting faster than I had thought, and get back out on the road to go back, and suddenly he's lame.

Hop off, walk him around, looking looking... not a damn thing. No bobbing head, no obvious limp or lurch. Get him home, look his feet over again, nothing. *sigh* Called farrier. Should be out next week hopefully. Hooooope.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Not so scared now.

Siaga used to be petrified of the water hose. One look at it turned his way would send him running.

With this heat wave, though, he now stands rather nicely with only minor dancing around at it. He's still skittish about the water hitting the top of his loins along his back and that soft spot behind the last rib where the belly meets up to the hip. He tenses up and bunches up his back and walks around in circles. And I just wait till he stops and then take the hose away. He's getting better. :)

I love the way he looks when he's sopping wet. No longer a gleaming red gold color and suddenly a beautiful mahogany. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

HALP!

I'm stuck in a quagmire of murky air so thick you can barely breathe it. I, at least, have the capability of escaping inside to the AC, but Siaga doesn't get that opportunity. All I can do is hose him off and keep him full up with water and electrolytes. :/ Poor pony.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ahaha... Ack!

So I make my way to the vet's office to pick up Beauty's pain medicine and Siaga's sedatives.

Lady hands me a baggie.

Room full of people and dogs and cats are all listening close when she say's "Here's your horse tranquilizers!"

Yes, I know, I'm in a vet's office. There's a perfectly good reason for buying horse tranquilizers. And it's perfectly understandable to be buying them at the vet's office.

I still felt weird. Also, it was INSANELY easy to get hold of these. I mean, all I said was, over the phone, no less, that my horse is terrified of the farrier and that I was wondering about getting a sedative for him. And ta-daa. I'm well aware that some horse tranquilizers are making their way around drug addicts, who shoot themselves up on them. So it's a little unnerving that they are so easily obtained.

I mean, they didn't even ask about which horse, though only Siaga is on our account there, but still. I could have gotten a new horse between 5 years ago and now (when last they saw Siaga.) Guess it's just a little strange seeming is all.

It's not Ace, at least. They wouldn't give me that, as they want that to be given IV and I only know how to give a shot IM. Anyways, that reminds me. There's a lot of liquid in the vial. Lady said to give him the whole thing. Didn't even ask how big he was. I'm thinking I might give half of it on one side and half on the other just because there's so much liquid in it. :/

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hoof care. It sucks.

We shall soon be having another meeting with the farrier. It'll be a new farrier, who Siaga's never met, but I know already that he's going to know he's the farrier and he's going to be scared. He always is, no matter how calm everyone else is.

Soooo I talked to the vet today and I'm going to be given a vial of Dormosedan to give him by IM shot, and apparently a vial of paste for later. Or something like that. I'll learn more tomorrow when I get to the vet's office.

I'm thinking this hoof trim will be calm, and I've read a lot of good about Dormosedan that horses learn lessons very well while sedated, and it will be good to have him learn that the farrier isn't going to kill him with those nippers or that rasp.

Hope, hope, hope.

PS: Today I had a job interview at my work place, for a promotion. I'm so excited. If I get it, it'll mean more hours and a pay raise. Yay!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Around the block we go!

And in the country, "around the block" means at least two miles. We're working our way up. We rode all the way around and by the end of the ride he was quite tuckered out and walking placidly on a loose rein.

We had only one big excitement when we passed between two pastures of horses. We were on the side of the road and the horses were all excited and racing the line and it made Siaga excited and I had to employ the one rein stop a few times to prevent him bolting and trying to jump into one of the other horses pastures.

But I kept him in check and urged him past them.

The next excitement, not nearly so big, he stepped on a plastic water bottle and it exploded under his foot. He tensed up and got his haunches under him and I picked up the reins and said "woah" and he relaxed right away. Then we went on our way. :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Silly horse.


I'll show her! I'll just lay down and eat instead of hauling her all over the place!
(Joke's on you Siaga... now you have to get up with me on your back.)
Really?
Yup.


Wait, you want me to do what? Back up? I don't think so.
Do it.
Ok. Fine. But I'll remember this.



Yes. This is really what our conversations are like. He puts up a little resistance I turn from asking into telling and then he does it without a problem. I'm aware I have bad posture while bareback. (And probably with a saddle, too...) but I was really focusing on not falling and not much else at the time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hey Siaga, why are my feet on the ground?

So today I decided to do something new. I brought out his bridle (with my newly fixed leather reins) and the helmet, and the riding crop and all the grooming supplies. Brought him down. Brushed his back and legs and belly and brushed out his mane, got his bridle and my helmet on, got him next to the chair, and got on board bare back.

Now, this was my first actual bareback ride. I mean, I've ridden bareback before, but always I was riding double (and had someone in front to hold on to) or someone leading from the ground, where I could hold on to the mane with both hands. This time was way different. Because I was in control and the only one on his back, I couldn't hold on to anything or anyone. So I had to use my legs and butt and core to stabilize and hold my balance. This was a challenge. It was really hard to do! So I ended up just letting him stand around and graze for a while, while I got used to the way he moved and how to hold myself in that transition between movement and stillness. After a while I asked him to move out of the back paddock and into the back yard. Then after mozying around there for a while, we went to the front, walked around the woods there. We spent some time working on moving off of leg pressure. And then we were in the front yard, grazing again, and dad walks out with his camera... just in time to see Siaga LAY DOWN with me on his back. At first I thought he was going to roll, but he just laid there and grazed. So dad took some pictures of me taking advantage of this and sitting all over him. Should have laid on his back. :)

And then when it became clear Siaga wasn't going to get up, dad came over and got the reins and I leaned forward over his shoulders and held on to his mane for dear life. Up he scrambled and I nearly fell off but held on. And then after dad went back inside, damn horse did it again. The thing is, his 'lay down' is so smooth that I didn't, honest to God, feel a single thing when he went down pretty much until my feet were on the ground. Up is a different story. Second time, I sat there and pulled back on the reins to keep his head up and his nose out of the grass and popped him on the hip and up he went again. That one was a little better, managed to stay on still. Then we went around the yard a little more and back to the back lot.

I also noticed in the first few minutes, that my legs are long enough that, without a saddle between us, I can touch my toes together, just barely, under his belly! That made me giggle. :D

Sunday, June 26, 2011

He says: HAY!

Went to get hay today. Prices have risen at my normal hay supplier from $3 a bale to $4 a bale. Went there expecting to shell out $42 for 14 bales (as that's about all I have space for) and ended up paying $56 for 14.

Got the grass mix instead. It's nice and greeeen and smells delightful, and Siaga was fairly quivering with anticipation when we backed the trailer into the barn.

When I was done I cut open a bale and tossed him a couple flakes, which he happily dug his nose into. :)

Pretty boy likes his hay. And now maybe he will calm down further with there being only trace alfalfa in it instead about 50/50.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Poor Beauty...

I took my lovely husky to the vet today, because her leg that she's been holding up suddenly puffed up and swelled to twice it's normal size.

Vet took a couple x rays and discovered that her bone mass in the humerus is very abnormal; there is very little wall left and is mostly just the hollow. Her shoulder was very swollen as well. The vet said that it looked like a sort of cancer.

She gave me three options. I could opt to have her put under for a while for a biopsy, and then if it actually is cancer, to treat it as such. I could have her put under for an amputation of the whole leg and shoulder. Or, I could put her on pain meds and wait.

Because of her age, I decided that putting her under was too risky and the vet had also said that the surgery would probably be pointless if (if indeed it is cancer) it had already started to spread throughout the body. So I opted for the pain meds.

I just want her to be happy and comfortable. She's already 14 or so years old, and she's lived an active and full and happy life, and I have no desire to prolong her pain more than necessary.

The vet said that when she starts to have too much trouble getting up and down, shows no interest in food, is very lethargic, and won't take the pain medication, that that would be the time to bring her back. For.. well, you know what for. That last trip.

I have a feeling it will not be long. I want to be there with her when they give her that shot. I want to be holding her.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hrm

My grain bucket was open again this morning. There must be like... a whole family of coons living in my barn. Or something. Because I even sat something heavy on it this time, but it was sitting nicely on the ground and the lid removed and another day's portion missing.

Good thing I'm not planning on continuing to feed him grain, which he doesn't need right now. After this stuff, I'm going to be switching him to all hay, which will mean that he'll get a little more hay than normal every day, but that's ok. He needs the extra bulk, I think. I just can't get him to cover those ribs up, though he's plump in every other area.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Soundproof

Siaga has taken "soundproof" to a whole new level. Dad fired off the gun in the barn today, only five feet away from Siaga (raccoon that had started stealing my grain and tearing up my barn and terrorizing my cats) ... and Siaga jittered a little, but I give him major props because he didn't make any sounds, he didn't rear up, he didn't buck, he didn't run, he didn't even try to go outside or step away. He just jerked back a little, like he was going to rear up, but didn't.





Maybe I should try mounted shooting with him...?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

SHOT!

Belatedly, Siaga got his 4 way vaccine today. I was terrified of the process and even the idea. I told him "Siaga, I love you, and I don't want to hurt you. So just please stand still and don't kill me when I stick you with this."

And I poked the needle (big needle!) in his neck muscle, pulled back a bit to check for blood, and gave him half on the left, and half on the right.

And I wasn't expecting it to be so easy! Siaga didn't react at all. He stood perfectly still and paid it no mind, and it helped that the needle was so sharp that it was like poking soft out-all-day butter with a tooth pick. There was no resistance at all. It was a little freaky. But I did it, and I'm confident I can do it again.

PHEW!

Monday, June 6, 2011

That's much better.

Siaga and I went on a ride with Molly and Jughead today for the first time since my fall. He was a little nervous at first, but settled down and was content to let Jughead walk in front of, beside, or behind us.

Jughead had a few issues today, though. He kept arching up his neck and prancing around, even after Siaga settled into it and got used to the idea.

I probably won't purposefully ride with other people very often, but he does need to get used to other horses being ridden around us, whether we are going along with them or not. The horseman's camp in Houston Woods will help a lot with this, as there will be lots of horses that he will have to share the trails with.

Also, I learned what happened when I fell all that time ago. Apparently, after I jumped and hit the ground, I rolled several feet, which explains all the scraps and bruises I had. When I fell, I fell close to Siaga and he jumped over me, though Molly at first thought he had stepped on me, though he didn't. Then Siaga kept running a little way, turned back, came up to me and sniffed me, then walked away a little bit while Molly took over, which is where I came to. Scary. And to think my helmet only has one little crack in the visor. So glad I had it.

Oh, Siaga saw cows today. As a QH, he was, according to the people who brought him to us, bred specifically to cut cattle. I don't know if it was just curiosity, fear, or 'cow sense' that caused him to go high alert and want to investigate the cows. I lolled at him.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Explorations

Siaga and I covered new ground yesterday. A lot of it.

This time, we rode for fifty minutes. I've not been timing it specifically. I've just been deciding it's time to head back when I see his energy start to go down and him lose interest in the goings on around him, which is when he normally tries to force me to let him stop and graze, on the side of 725, no less, with semi's screaming by, which he doesn't even flick an ear at.

Anyway. The farmer who tends the field across the road, aka my normal riding ground, plowed. And soon he'll be planting, and since it's corn this year, I won't be able to ride there, even around the perimeter, as there won't be room for Siaga between the trees and the corn, and won't be room for me between Siaga and the tree branches.

So, we rode the road yesterday. We turned left out of the yard, passed the neighbors pond, where he spooked at the neighbors boat, with a little sideways jitter and a snort. (This is, apparently, how he spooks at things. He does a jig and snorts, realizes its not coming after him, and calms down.) Then walked on by it. We turned and went up and around the big hill at the end of the road, since I didn't want to risk the narrow shoulders of the road going up the hill.

Then we walked into the next corn field, went around part of it, and came back, not wanting to get caught in a place I probably shouldn't be in, crossed 725, headed along the corn field across the road, turned right on Simpson, headed toward Huston woods, and turned around at the house that belongs to a couple who I used to go to church with, who farms most of the land around there.

Siaga then proceeded to spook at their barn, which is big and white and close to the road. He was fine with on his left, but once he turned around and saw it on his right he was all "WOAH WHERE'D THAT BARN COME FROM." *sigh* And he jittered and snorted, and we went on our way, back home.

Cross back over 725, go to the very top of the big hill, and look out over the valley...

It was stunning. I have never felt so on top of the world. On Siaga, on the hill, the whole thing was amazing. There, I did let him put his head down and graze, while I sat there in stunned and awed silence, wishing I had a camera.

The way back down was quickly impeded by the neighbors dogs. *another sigh*

One is a little fuzzy white terrier, and the other is just as small, black and white, very fat, very slow, with long silky hair. The terrier was running along, and Siaga spotted it before it spotted us. He was on high alert.

When it finally noticed us, it came running and barking and I felt all of Siaga's muscle tighten up like a really pushed down spring, and I said to myself, "To hell with this, I'm getting off the roller coaster." And so I hopped down and led Siaga away, with me between him and the dog. I was more afraid of what would happen to the dog, if it tried to get Siaga, and what would happen to me, if Siaga bucked or bolted, than what would happen to Siaga. Anyway, I urged the dogs away with my riding crop, until the neighbor came out and apologized, saying she wasn't aware I was out riding, and I told her it was no problem, that I hadn't known the dogs were out.

After get past the dogs, I remounted in the middle of the road, passed the boat and the pond (with no problem) and then just when I'm about to cut across the road to my drive way, a white van comes up behind us and I get Siaga in the grass, and the idiots don't even slow down. Thankfully, Siaga is road safe, and didn't care that a big white thing pulling a trailer just sped by him, about 4 feet away. He was too busy trying to get his nose in the grass.

So that was our ride. And it was nice. If I don't have to work this evening, we're going to ride out again, this time saving our energy for exploring down Simpson road, rather than exploring corn fields. This way, I can work up to getting him fit enough to ride all the way to houston woods, and ride the trails there.

His muscle tone has already greatly improved since he came home, and he's packed on quite a bit of weight. He still has visible ribs, but there is a layer of fat over them, and he has a slight case of a gutter back. Which confuses me; a sign of being too skinny, paired with a sign of being too fat. Hrm. Well. The way I see it, his coat is normal and shiny and gleaming, he's drinking plenty and eating enough for his level of activity, and getting a decent balance of nutrition, and doesn't at all look unhealthy or too skinny in any other place save for those ribs, while everywhere else looks normal or slightly plump.

Also, I'm saving up my money to buy a car of some sort, preferably a little truck, and then after that, I'm going to be getting him a new saddle. The one I have, I don't know what size it is, but it is pinching on his shoulders and not doing its job properly. I pulled out the ones from the garage, only to discover that the one that I had thought was in good condition had a broken fender strap, on the left, and I wasn't about to risk riding in it, though it was a beautiful saddle. I took all the usable billets and straps and even the stirrups off of that one, and set it and the other one (not the one I use) out for trash, and someone, who wasn't the trash man, picked them up in the middle of the night, so hopefully they will find their way to a saddle repairman.

Also, I'll need a fully leather saddle if I go to Findlay anyway, so I might as well get one that's all leather. I'll have to find someone who offers demo's, though, because I really want one that's going to fit him right. After all, he's a small horse and I'm a bit of a big girl, and I don't want to cause him any problems.