Wednesday, June 27, 2012

3rd Annual HCR!

RCC's nod to Beel's famous
fine art

I can't believe it's already almost time for the 3rd Annual High Country Rendezvous!  Can you believe we've been doing this three years already?  I don't even remember whose idea it was to put together the first equi-blogger get-together, but I do remember how much fun it was! (Upon looking back at my first post, the honor of coming up with the idea goes to Rachel.)

The second year was a bit more hectic for me, coming straight in from Horse Master and RomCon, but still absolutely amazing.

For those of you who are wondering what the heck I'm going on about, HCR is an equi-blogger get-together that my parents host at their B&B every year.  It's a great chance to get to meet our blog friends in real life and spend some time together trail riding.  Any equi-blogger is welcome, we try not to be clique-y, all you have to do is call the Bionic Cowgirl or Beel at 303-747-2552 and lay down your whopping $5 deposit to hold your room or click the HCR 2012 tab at the top of my page for more information.

C'mon, you know you want to...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stylin' GunDiva

Just in case y'all were wonderin' about the proper attire for Buting a horse, here's a little picture to help.
Tank top
*Pink* soccer socks
Blue cowboy boots
Had to swap out the Coca-Cola flop-flops for the boots just in case little missy thought she'd stomp my toes.

Don'tcha just love it?

It's almost as good as Funder's smiley-face riding pants.

Proof of sisterly love -
Nebalee:  Wow, that's not a very flattering picture.  I can't believe you're posting that.
Me: (Innocently) What?
Nebalee:  Guess that's the whole point, huh?
Me:  Yup.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trail Ride in Pictures

Before the Homecoming Queen appeared, Beel and I had a nice ride on the brown(ish) horses.  Took Estes a bit to warm up and stretch out, but we ended up having a nice ride.

First we went down Pinky's Wash...

And then we stopped for a picnic...
I love my detachable reins,
unclip them from the bridle, add to the halter

Ranger was too busy eating to pose

Proof Beel shared his granola bar.
Then we hopped back on, wove through the Aspens, and crossed the creek...

We walked along the creek and headed back home.  But Estes had to be the first place loser and she didn't like it one bit.
Look at those cranky ears.
She's a pissy mare.
It was a really good ride, even she thought so.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homecoming Queen

You couldn't really say that Estes is barn sour - that would imply that she doesn't like to leave the barn.  And that's just not true.  She loves to go out.  But she loves, Loves to come home.

Like, really, really loves to come home.

She's a charge-y little bitch, that one is.

We started working on her "whoa", 'cause she's all go.  She was getting it pretty good and does well with a bit in her mouth, but since I want to be able to ride bridle-less by the end of the summer, she's got to do "whoa" a whole lot better than she currently does.  I can't blame her for not having much of a whoa, I mean, after all, if I want her to stop, I pull back on the reins.  This whole voice-seat-reins thing is completely new to her.

We've been working on voice-seat-reins for all of two rides and while she wasn't stopping on the voice cue, she was well on her way to stopped with the seat and completely stopped most of the time by the time I picked up the reins.  She's a smart one, too.

One of the ways we thought we'd fight her desire to come home is to take her out on a ride, leave her tied and then take her out again - you know, letting her know that just because we're back at the rail doesn't mean her day is done.

Yesterday, Bill and I had an awesome ride, came home, tied up the critters and hung out for ten or twenty minutes.  Since I'd unbridled Her Highness, I decided to ride her with just her halter and lead rope.

That went well for the first part of the ride.  I even dropped the lead rope and did my imitation of Alec on The Black...
Yes, I was even posting.
My body still hurts, running does nothing
for your posting muscles.
Bill has video, but it would make you nauseous, so I'm skipping that.  Just trust me, I was posting a trot with no reins out on a dirt road (closest thing to an arena I have).

Then we rounded the corner to head home.  And the Homecoming Bitch Queen appeared.  I went, "Whoa".  She did nothing.  I sat hard.  She kept heading home.  I picked up the rein and pulled back.  The bitch pulled through and kept going.  Oh yeah, that bit makes a whole lot of difference in her attitude.

So we did some turning around and standing, pointing away from home.  We rode back the other way, away from home.  We did voice-seat-rein.  All pointing away from home.  The minute we headed back to home, she got charge-y again.  Lather-rinse-repeat.

Eventually, she got it.  And when she forgot, we started all over again.  That was the longest trip home EVER.

I think, because her halter is ginormous on her, that she wasn't understanding the pressure on her face.  Not that it should have mattered because she's already received the voice and seat commands.

We've got a long way to go.

Bill took her out in Ranger's halter today, which fits her slightly better, and said he had more success with voice-seat-reins, but it's tough.  If you're not used to doing it, it's easy to forget a step, usually for us that step is seat.

She'll get it.  Sooner rather than later, I hope.

Friday, June 8, 2012

So...I Fell On My Butt...

I couldn't wait for Estes to get home from winter pasture so I could try out my Million Dollar Idea, but the day we brought her home, I just wasn't up to trying it out.  The BolderBoulder kicked my arse and I was plum tuckered out.  I managed a ride around the block on her the day I brought her home and that was it until Sunday, when I worked at the livery.

We closed down a bit early on Sunday and I decided to give my Million Dollar Idea a go. I pulled Estes from the pen and brushed her (Mom did an AMAZING job on her mane - truly astounding).  Mom had pulled her Aussie saddle out and thought it might fit Estes and in order to try out my Idea, I had to make sure that she'd stand still while I mounted.

I tacked her up with the saddle, kept the lead rope on and started bouncing in the stirrup.  If she moved one foot, she got sent out to circle.  It only took a couple of times to remind her to stand still, so I went from bouncing in the stirrup to completely mounting up.  Well, I tried, any way. I got mounted without her moving once, so I dismounted and started all over again.  Only, this time, when I went to swing my leg over, the saddle slipped and I couldn't regain my balance.  I almost did - my right leg came back down and as soon as my foot hit the gravel it slipped, but I still  almost managed to keep my feet.  I got my left foot out of the stirrup and took a step back.  And the gravel went out from that foot.  It was, not only embarrassing, but the most slow-motion fall on my butt I think I've ever had.  I was laughing before I hit the ground and Estes pivoted to look down at me and laugh.  If I'd only had the camera for the look on her face.  She's such an expressive mare and if y'all could have seen the look she gave me.

I re-saddled her and mounted up - she didn't move a muscle, so off around the block we went at a pretty good clip. We got back and I untacked her, then told Bill to get the yellow tow strap out of the truck so I could try my Million Dollar Idea.

I got my Million Dollar Idea from Mrs Mom's mounting strap.  I thought it would be great if I could figure out a way to attach a mounting strap to Estes for bareback riding.  When we go out on the trails, if something needs fixed or picked up, Bill has to do it, because he's the only one who can remount from the ground.  You know, tall Bill, short Ranger.  Makes life easier.  I have to use the mounting stump in the yard to climb up on Her Highness and finding a place out on the trail that's tall enough for me to remount is a pain in the butt. 

I mulled it over for a few days and thought that if I had something that was long enough for Estes to stand on with her front right hoof, drape up over her withers and hang down far enough for me to get my toes in, I might be able to mount up from the ground.  I didn't necessarily want anything like a stirrup - I just needed something to give me a little extra "boost" so I could jump up to lay across her back and then scramble up.  I just flat-out don't have the springs any more to jump high enough to get across her.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my horse?  No, really.  I love that opinionated, pain-in-the-ass mare.  A lot.

Bill got me the tow strap and I started on the near-side, guessed where I thought the loop needed to be and then dropped the whole thing over her neck.  She didn't even twitch an ear.  Then I went around and lifted her right front, situated the strap where I wanted it, and placed her hoof down on the strap.  I tugged on the loop, fussed with it a bit, put some pressure on it - nothing.  She didn't care one bit.

The loop on the tow strap was so small I could barely wedge my toes into it, but I sort of managed and tried to heave my way up.  The first couple of tries weren't so successful, so I decided I needed to shorten the strap a bit, so that it wouldn't have the tendency to want to wrap under her belly.  I rearranged the strap and tried again.  Almost.  I had it too short, so I couldn't put my toes in AND get enough of a spring off my right foot to get across her back.

Bill gave it a go and it worked for him.  In fact, after the first time, he was able to swing his leg over like he was mounting from a stirrup.  I never quite got that far.  It was going to take some more adjusting for me to do it, but after seeing Bill do it, I'm confident my Million Dollar Idea is going to work.

The plan is that once I use it to mount up with, I'll have Estes take a step off the strap, and wrap it around her neck and let her carry it.

Throughout the whole thing, she stood rock solid and didn't give a damn what we were doing.  Love, love, love that mare.

Now, Mrs Mom is ordering the stuff to make a 9' bareback mounting strap to match Her Highness' halter.  As soon as I get it, I'll be sure to post pictures (and maybe a video) of how it works.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Survived and Have the Brown Boogers to Prove it.

As nervous/excited as I was to work for Compass, it was a relief for Sunday to actually get here.  While I've known Compass for years, I've never actually worked for her.  We hang out sometimes when I'm at the lodge, we go for rides on ocassion, and I help out scooping poop when it needs done, but she's always managed to have her rides covered and hasn't needed me as a day rider in the three years she's been Barn Boss.

This year, her wrangler pickins is kind of slim.  Three weeks into the season and she's already fired two wranglers and had one walk out.  Which left her with her one full-time kid, Packer.  Packer's a rock star and I hope she can keep him for the season.  The problem with rock star wranglers is that they get burned out; new people always coming and going, having to train new people and pick up the slack when they get fired or walk off wears on a person.  Packer hasn't had a day off in three weeks and he's been busting his ass every day since he got there.  He's obviously no stranger to hard work and loves working for Compass (I heard that from his own mouth).  I'll do whatever I can to ease his burden, and subsequently, Compass' burden, because I want him to stay.  He's good with the horses and guests and works from sun up to sun down.

Compass has changed things about the livery - mostly how the horses are treated.  They're happy horses and I love that.  But each Barn Boss has their own way of doing things, so I was pretty much in the way at barn call.  I eventually got the hang of the new routine, but I was definitely a third wheel.  She and Packer have it down to a science.

She offered to let me come up after barn call, but I insisted on being there.  I *hated* day wranglers who just showed up and took out rides and never had to do any of the actual work of the livery, so I was up and on the road by 6:00 am to make barn call.  I was ten minutes late because I couldn't remember where all my stuff was, but I did make it in time to throw a monkey wrench into their routine.

I love the physicality of working the livery.  I love the grooming, feeding, saddling - all of it.  Call me crazy, but I feel like I've accomplished so much by the end of the day.  There actually aren't many people who get to do what we do.

Compass had a private ride scheduled for me at 10:00: three semi-experienced riders for a three-hour ride.  Estes' feet aren't ready and I don't have a saddle that fits her, so, darn, I had to take out Eli.  I like to ride Eli because he makes my butt look small.  Seriously.  Ride a draft - they're good for your self image.

My ride showed up almost an hour late, but we got to go out.  Remember how I said Eli makes my butt look small?  Well, that's pretty much all I love about riding Eli.  He's huge!  Mounting from the ground is an issue for me, but I did it.  Repeatedly.  He's also twice as wide as Estes.  Add in the Western saddle and he's closer to three times as wide as Estes.  My ass told me about it for the first thirty minutes of the ride.  It's still grumbling a little bit, to be honest.

Funny story: Compass' legs are longer than mine.  I know, it's no surprise.  So I made sure to mount up before my people got there to adjust the saddle to fit me.  I had to raise the stirrups all the way to the last hole.  Again, not surprising.  Only, even with the stirrups on the last hole, they were too long for me.  That didn't bother me so much because I only use stirrups for mounting and dismounting anyway and since I ride bareback 99.9% of the time, not having them wasn't a big deal for me.  Anyshortlegs, my ride got there and we got mounted up and as I was leaving the yard, Packer asked me if I wanted help getting my stirrups.  Poor kid thought I dropped them and couldn't recover them on my own.  I had to admit that they were too long, so he started to offer to shorten them.  About halfway through his offer, he must have seen the look of amusement on my face because it dawned on him that they were as short as they would go and he sent us off with a laugh.

The ride was amazing and the guests were fun.  We passed a pile of Moose poop and I told them about how I'd never seen a Moose in real life on the trails, but that we'd been seeing piles of poop for the last year or so.  I told the story about how I went on a "Moose hunt" last year and finally saw one over Trail Ridge Road.  I told them about how Beel had seen one just a few weeks ago at breakfast.  But not me.  Poor GunDiva, moose repellant.

And then we rounded a curve and were able to overlook some beaver ponds.  I was pointing out that shortly we'd be riding down through the beaver ponds and I saw something move.  No way!  I just been talking about moose and there were two of them, about 300 yards away down in the ponds just as happy as they could be.

For such big critters, they're hard to spot

Does this help?
One is broadside to us, the other is facing us head-on.
I'm so glad that I learned years ago to always take a camera with me.  The guests didn't have a camera with them, sad day for them.  They weren't quite as excited about seeing them as I was, but whatever.  I'm the first one to have seen them while out on a ride, nanner, nanner, nanner.

Since we saw the moose in the first hour of the ride, the rest of it was pretty ho-hum.  At least for me.  The guests loved it, even once their knees and ankles started hurting.  All I can say is thank God the scenery is so breath taking.  If it wasn't none of the wranglers would make any tips at all; the guests would be too busy focusing on their sore bodies.

We got back to the livery dead on time - something I've always prided myself on being able to do after the first and only time I've ever gotten a ride lost.  There were no other rides on the books, so Compass had called it a day while I was out, to give Packer a break.  A half a day off is better than no day off, I suppose.  It all worked out, because once I got my horses broken down, I still had time to hang out with the family for Nebalee's belated birthday celebration and spend some time with Her Highness, who was P-I-S-S-E-D that I was working with Those Horses.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Back in the Saddle

And I mean literally.  I'm going to be doing some day riding for Compass at the livery this summer, which requires riding in a saddle.  Wonder how that's going to go after riding bareback for the past few years? Last year, I saddled Estes exactly one time and that was for HCR (which, by the way is coming up the first weekend in August).  Wait...I might have saddled her twice last year.  No matter, the fact is, I haven't had to ride in a saddle in a very, very long time.

Estes isn't ready to lead rides; her hooves still need trimmed and I have to find a saddle that fits her, so I'll be using one of Compass' wrangler horses.  I'm nervous/excited about taking out rides tomorrow - I always worry about all of the things that can go wrong on a ride and can't relax until we're safely back in the yard.  Wish me luck.  Hopefully, the rides will be so uneventful that I won't have anything to write about.