Friday, December 12, 2014

Adventures in Christmas Cards

Oh my.

I had the perfect Christmas card composed in my head.  Jay and I each with our well-mannered horses with Allie-bird sitting calmly between us.  Each of the horses were going to calmly stay in place and were going to set up for their pictures like pros.  They weren't even going to mind wearing their Christmas colors.

We spent some time a couple of weeks ago getting them used to their Christmas clothes.

I should have known that it wasn't going to go as planned when Skeeter pulled her clothes off the fence and proceeded to shred them.  I think she liked the sound of the material tearing, because she kept doing it.

I didn't like how not-Christmas-y Skeeter's blue halter looked, so I changed to a purple flat nylon halter.  Have I ever worked her in a flat halter?  No, but she's got good ground manners, right?  She's solid, I shouldn't need the reinforcement of the knots on the rope halter, right?

Jay got the camera all set up and it was show time!


After trying to get Skeeter (the damn mare) to line up nicely, I said screw it, let's just do pictures one at a time.

Since Copper was being a good boy and was already in position, he and Jay went first.

Then Skeeter and I took our turn.  Lord is that girl food-driven.

Skeeter needs some serious work; she hasn't been worked in a few weeks.  Her ground manners in the pen are amazing.  Once we leave the pen, it's like her brain falls out her butt.


We said, screw it, let's just get our picture with Allie-bird and call it good.  We put the horses away, threw their hay and got ready to take pictures with the dog.  As soon as we got ready to take the pictures, over came the horses, like, "whatcha doin'?"  Skeeter even kicked the fence to remind us she was there.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Copper's Owie

On November 13, the day after it got *really* cold, Jay noticed that Copper was lamed up.  We thought it was maybe due to ice balls that had built up in his hoof, so we cleaned out his hooves.  Even though we'd never "trained" him to have his hooves picked, he stood like a champ.

Only, that didn't solve the problem and he looked more and more pathetic.  We buted him, which helped for a day, but then he got more pathetic.  I was at a loss, I knew it wasn't an abscess and we had cleaned his hooves out every day, so I know there wasn't anything stabbing him when he stepped, so I took video and posted it to our Facebook page in hopes that someone would know what was going on.


I was so focused on it being his foot, that it never occurred to me that it could be his shoulder.  We continued with the Bute as needed and just let him be.  Tincture of time has worked and he's still a bit gimpy, but not much, and started trotting around a few days ago.

It was a huge relief to find that it was his shoulder instead of his hoof.  Shoulder injuries heal much better, while hoof injuries can be expensive and may never heal right.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Skeeter's Baby Pictures

On some of the FB pages I follow, I've seen that people are able to find pictures of their horses before they were rounded up and I got curious to see if there were any of Princess Skeeter.

I went to the Piceance/East Douglas FB page to see if any of their photographers had managed to capture her, but their page only goes back to 2011 and she was rounded up in 2010.  I was bummed, but determined.

I remembered that I had seen a YouTube video of a gather (this was while everyone was up in arms about the Wyoming Checkerboard gather), so I decided to see if anyone had videotaped her gather.

They hadn't.

However, the BLM produced a "pre-gather" video explaining the necessity of the gather, so I watched it and there she was!

Her blaze back then took up most of her face (she's grown into it), but you can see it's the identical "Unicorn facing to the right" blaze (thanks for that description Funder).  Here's the video, let's see if you can find her:

There's a lot of talking, but I found her eight times in the video.  I'll post in the comments where I found her, so you can enjoy your scavenger hunt.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

It's Not All Rainbows and Unicorn Farts

There are some days when the stars just aren't aligned properly.  For Copper's training day, his stars were aligned beautifully and his training went well.  Skeeter's stars were not aligned properly and, well, this his how her training went ...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dead Indian

When Ashinator was younger, she used to like to lay across Jesse's back and play "Dead Indian".  The horses would wander all over the pen with her draped across their backs.  The bonus to Dead Indian is that you can usually just slide down and land on your feet, so we've introduced our weight to Skeeter and Copper's backs by using the Dead Indian "technique".

This past week, Mom and Bill came down to work with Jay and Copper.  Skeeter just got yelled at for being "helpful", since it was Copper's training day.

First, they made some progress with Copper and the trailer.  Instead of flat-out refusing like he's done in the past, Jay managed to get two feet in without a fight.

After they "loaded" into the trailer, it was time to start with the getting people on his back thing.  Copper's not big on having people be taller than him, so we've taken to standing on the black tub here and there while petting him.

On this day, though, he got the full Dead Indian treatment, first will Bill and then with Jay.

He's thinking about it.  Strange, but not bad.

You should have seen how Jay lit up when he was telling me about this.  It's such a huge step for both of them.  In no time, he'll be sitting astride.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gate Training, Pool Time, Saddle Work, Oh My! (10-15-14)

I wish I could get my posts up in a timely manner, I really wish I could, but the video uploading takes forever.  Editing, no problem, fifteen-twenty minutes and I'm done.  Uploading takes hours due to our slow internet connection.  By the time I'm done uploading all the video, I've completely over doing any sort of posting, so I apologize.

Jay had a day off that coincided with one of Mom and Bill's days off, so for the first time, he got to work his horse with them and it was great.  I was able to focus on what I was doing with Skeeter and let Jay do his thing with Copper, which meant that both horses got worked pretty hard in just a couple of short hours.

The very first thing Jay wanted to work on with Copper was his sticky gate issue.  Copper did not like coming back into the pen.  At first, we thought it was because he was enjoying his "out" time too much to want to go back in the pen.  However, Jay had a Temple Grandin moment and realized that the alley narrows down going back into the pen, and it's often cast in shadows.  Leaving the pen isn't an issue, because the alley widens and then opens up to the outside, but coming back, the alley is nothing but a scary, shadowy horse chute and who knows what monsters lie in wait?

It really only took three times in and out for him to get it.  The gate is no longer a problem.

He did so well with the gate, that he got to wear the bareback pad for most of the rest of the training session.  He might not have thought it was a reward, but he's growing up, so training sessions have to be longer and more mentally challenging.

I love their relationship :)

Skeeter was a rock start the first time we put the saddle on her, but now that she knows what it's about has decided she really doesn't want to wear it and has been kind of a shit about getting saddled.  I figured she had taken to it a bit too calmly at first and what she needed was a good blow up to realize it wasn't going to hurt her.  She really does not like the cinch and it's not because I've cinched it too tight, I think that it's pokey from being sweated on and used by other horses, so I'll eventually buy a new cinch to try out.

Skeets got squirrely when I first slipped the latigo through the cinch and since Mom had her head, I let Mom move her out until she could stand still, then I went back to tightening her up.  She started to get squirrely again, so I took the lead rope in my left hand and kept the latigo in my right and circled her until she stopped.  I managed to buckle the latigo before she got silly again, only this time, I just let her go.

Her entire temper tantrum lasted less than a minute.  I literally let her go, pulled my flip out of my pocket and started recording.  I actually feel much better now that she's got that out of her system.

Once Skeets had her saddle on and her temper tantrum was over, Bill took over over to the trailer to see if she'd load up with it on.  She got halfway in, but the "stall" is too narrow to accommodate the saddle too.

Darn, I thought I had a still picture of her in the trailer, but it's a video and there's no way in hell I'm going to upload/process yet another video, so you'll just have to believe me :)

Jay decided to walk Copper through the pool.  I've yet to be able to get Skeeter to go through it.  The first time I introduced her to the pool, she pawed at it and got her belly wet - she hasn't wanted anything to do with it since.  Copper went through like a pro - he'll do anything for Jay - and I mentioned to Bill that Skeeter wouldn't go, so Bill took that as a personal challenge to get her across.

Bill put some weight on Skeets while she had the saddle on and she didn't offer any attitude, so I climbed on.  We didn't ride, just sat, but she wasn't bothered.

Even on the last hole, the stirrups are too long.  Time to break out the leather punch.

Skeeter did well with the saddle, so I went ahead and took it off, then we had the bright idea to throw it up on Copper.  After all, he'd worn the bareback pad most of the training session and didn't have a problem, so why not introduce him to the weight of the saddle?

Since they were both so good, we took them over to Estes' pen for a bit of hand-grazing.  It also served the dual purpose of seeing if Copper's gate training had taken.

His gate training totally took.  He marched right down the alley to get back in the pen like he'd done it a million times, not one second of hesitation.

He was still eager to learn, so while Skeeter and I just sat and relaxed, first Mom and Copper played clicker training, then Jay and Copper played clicker training.  Copper really likes it, even though he's not at all food-driven like Skeeter is.  I would have for sure said that the food-driven horse would like clicker training, but she hates it.  Copper?  He loves it, thinks it's a fun game.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Jay and I took a break from our own horses and headed up the hill to go out on a ride with Bill.

I haven't been out on the trails since my birthday ride last year, so it's been about fifteen months. (I'm not sure I even blogged about that ride because I was so heartbroken over having to do it on Washoe instead of my Estes.)  It had been even longer for Jay.  He and Washoe had a blow up a couple of years ago, which just about turned him off of horses forever.  Washoe didn't dump him, but he tried to decapitate him and was just such a shit that Jay lost interest in riding for a while.

I'm very glad that Jay's interest in horses was re-kindled with Skeeter's arrival and that he's built such a good relationship with Copper.  Jay's such a natural with Copper and Skeeter that it's easy to forget he's a greenhorn.  By spring, Jay will be riding Copper and he thought it might be a good idea to get back up on a horse other than his own to get back into riding.

The weather yesterday couldn't have been any better.  The sun was out and the breeze kept the temperature just perfect.  Mom and Bill put Jay on the Old Man (Ranger) to start with, just until he got comfortable again.  I took the Wonder Idiot (Washoe) and Bill rode out on The Mare (Jesse).

It felt so good to be back up on a horse, and what a treat a finished horse is!  It's easy to take it for granted when that's all you've been riding, but after my two very short rides on Skeeter, it was nice to just be able to tighten a leg and flick a wrist to get a turn or make a steering correction.

Still not a fan of saddles, though.  It's hard to remember a time when riding bareback was still a novelty and terrifying, but I definitely prefer it now.  I'm sure once I put the money into finding just the right saddle for me and Skeets, I won't hate them as much, but they're torture devices, I swear.

Ranger took really good care of Jay for the first part of the ride and then he was done.  Jay and I both weight a bit more than Bill and Ranger wasn't going to go one step farther until he got his human back, so we played musical horses.

Jay went to Washoe, Bill went to Ranger, and I went to Jesse.

Me riding Jesse is monumental.  I don't like Mom's horse.  Never have.  To say we've had a "personality conflict" for her entire life would be an understatement.  In all honesty, I never had any plans whatsoever of sitting on Jesse.  But, I gave Jay the choice of greys and he chose Washoe, which left me with Jess.  I took a moment to scratch her and try to make friends before I mounted up and sent up a quick prayer that she'd be in a good mood that day and not want to kill me.

Washoe tested Jay a bit, but didn't throw a temper tantrum.  He just refused to do what Jay asked, until he asked properly, with clear signals.  It was a really good lesson - who says horses can't be good teachers?

Once Washoe got Jay straightened out on how to steer, the ride went smoothly until we got to a downhill, then Jess put on the brakes.  Bill and Jay merrily tromped down the hill and Jess was going nowhere.  Period.

I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on.  She wasn't upset about anything, there were no animals around, she just was NOT going down that hill.  I tried everything I could think of to get her feet moving.  She would circle.  She would go uphill.  But downhill was NOT going to happen.  So I let out a big sigh, hopped down and lead her down the hill to where Bill and Jay were waiting.

I finally found a place to re-mount, checked the cinch, which was a bit loose, but didn't think anything about it until I put my weight in the stirrup.  My assessment of a "bit loose" was maybe an underestimate.  I took six inches out of the cinch.  No wonder she didn't want to go down the hill with the saddle that loose.  Once I tightened it up, we didn't have a single problem the rest of the ride.

In fact, Bill even took a cute picture of me and Jay with Mount Meeker in the background.

We hope that next year we can recreate this picture with our own horses.
Jay has been wanting to go riding since mid-summer, but our schedules just never worked out.  Now I'm sad that we weren't able to make it up until October and we missed all of the beautiful greens and summer mountain flowers.  Next year, though, we'll be up there, if not on our own horses, at least ponying them to get their muscles conditioned to moving on mountains again.  It's been a few years since Copper and Skeeter have had to go up and down hills.

I should have had my camera out to capture the look on Mom's face when she came out of the Lodge and realized I'd just dismounted from Jesse.  *That* alone was worth climbing up on Jesse's back. 

The horses don't look too fuzzy in the pictures, but it was apparent, after we took the saddles off, that they've definitely grown some winter fuzz.

It almost looks like Ranger has tan lines.
Mom, of course, had treats for the poor, abused beasts when we got back and handed them out.  None of her horses had ever tasted peppermint, but they all agreed that peppermint is pretty yummy.

The greys weren't so certain at first, but quickly decided they would have more, please.

And Ranger broke out his super powers to get the last stick.