Sunday, September 30, 2012


Long, tough ride today.

Estes is just getting over a cold and her stamina is lacking; I bet she's as exhausted as I am today.

Vet comes tomorrow to float her teeth - I'm sure she'll love that.

I'll write more about the ride once I've had time to process it and put it in some semblance of order.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Missing My Mare

Can't ride.

Too many things on my plate.

Yes, I'm pouting.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oh Boy

Today's ride kind of sucked.  Not sucked-sucked, but not as fun as the last one was.

I braided a neck rein using bailing twine (I love that stuff) and intended to use it for most of the ride, while using the halter/rein as back up.

I totally stole the adustable idea from Julie Goodnight.

On the upside, my favorite wrangler went out with us as far as the switchback.  He was waiting on a four-hour ride to show up, but wandered out with us until he saw his ride pull into the parking lot, then he had to turn back.  College Boy's got a great way with horses and Estes loves him very much - she just buries her head in his chest whenever she sees him.

That's College Boy on Cinchy in the back.
Yes, it's hunting season, time to break out the orange.
Estee was going so well that I seriously considered taking off her halter/rein and stashing it at the top of the switchback.  Good thing I didn't.  We had lots of discussions.

Lots and lots of discussions.

At every trail that headed home.

Estes is pretty light in the mouth, it doesn't take a whole lot of mouth pressure to get her to do anything.  However, she's not so light when it comes to nose pressure.  One of my "steps" to going bridleless was to switch out to Mrs. Mom's halter and Ashee's barrel rein to see how she would do without a bit.  Let's just say I got a total body workout today.  She's starting to get the idea of nose pressure, but she's also figured out it's a whole lot easier to eat without a bit in.  I've got to get that issue figured out.

We stopped for a picnic at the pond again.  Mostly so I could look around to see if I could find my knife that I lost last week.  Ranger Danger really enjoyed the dessert aspect of the picnic.

"Beel!  What is in yer hand?"

"Beel!  Want I should taste that for you?"
"Whoa, that's a wobbly rock.
You're not gonna fall, are you Mom?"
In between the discussions, we did enjoy the views.  The aspen are turning and it's hard to believe that just last week the pond looked like this...

This is what the same area looked like today...

Fall is pretty amazing.

After the picnic, Estes and I continued to have discussions, though they were fewer than on the way out.  I'm guessing that would be because I had come to my senses and we were headed home.

When we got back to the Lodge, Estes very nicely parked herself at the tackroom door for me to dismount.  This time, she didn't go up onto the steps.  I eventually slid off (hey, I was tired and the ground seemed like an awfully long way down) and lead her to the hitchrack, but I didn't bother tying her up.  Once she's "parked" at the rail, she's there until I move her.

Without a second thought, I went into the Lodge through the tackroom door and she followed me right in.  No hesitation like last time.  She just wandered in like she owned the place.

"Last time, there were treats Mom."
Man, I love this mare!

She was showing an interest in all of the people barn this time and headed toward the living room, so Bill hustled out with the video camera.

"Hey Beel, are the treats in there?"

It didn't take much to encourage her to cross the scary rugs once she saw me standing on them, and I'm really glad her little skitter on the hardwood was with her unshod back feet. I'd still be on my hands and knees sanding the floor if she had scuffed up the floor with her shoes.

You'll be happy to know that when she went back to the rail, I actually hooked her up. I might have created a monster.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Ride Home

The first part of the ride is here.

After the horses had finished up their picnic (that's a lie - they would have never been finished)...  After Bill and I decided the horses had finished up their picnic, we tacked them back up.  Let me tell you, that's a real chore when you're barebacking.  I used to be a purist when riding bareback and would refuse to use a bareback pad.  However, her highness is rather bony toward the end of the season and a little extra padding makes both of us more comfortable..

The re-tacking's the easy part,
it's the finding something tall enough to mount from.
*Remember, I'm about the only one on the planet in my family
who can't use *my* Million Dollar Idea.

She's so patient while I throw myself at her,
only one ear twitch

I try to have a goal for each season.  My goal this season is to ride the one-hour trail bridleless.  To that end, I've been practicing dropping the reins when we're out on the trails.  Estes was doing so well on this ride that when we hit the bottom of Pinky's Wash, I decided to try to ride back home entirely without using my reins.

We did okay.  Not spectacular, but okay. I had three times I used the reins.  The first was to reinforce the whoa.  Even that was good.  Estes is a very forward horse and we've been working on her whoa all summer.  I knew there would be no way in hell I could go bridleless without a good whoa.  She and I have had some pretty good battles over whoa this summer.  This whoa wasn't one of those battles.  I gave her the verbal command, sat down hard with my seat and she didn't stop, so I reached forward for the reins and slid them back on her neck toward me.  She stopped.  That's a huge step.  You can see in the picture how relaxed she is and how much play I still have in the reins.  I never even picked them up, just slid them toward me.

Rein touch number one.

I don't have a picture of my second rein touch because Bill and Ranger were trying hard to keep up with us.  I'd moved her into a trot, which was really nice until she realized Ranger and Bill were trotting along, too.  Then the horse race was on.  Before it really got out of hand, I had to rein her in.  With Bill bouncing along on Ranger's crazy lope (he looks like a porpoise), there wasn't an opportunity for a picture.

After we got them back down to a walk, I dropped the reins and away we went.  Into a tree.
I was calling her bad names, pressing like crazy with my left leg,
trying to move her away from the tree, and laughing my butt off.
I think this is payback for stopping the race between her and Ranger.
Since she wasn't able to scrape me off on that tree, she tried a different one.  I figured I could duck under the first set of branches, but then I got a look at the second set of branches and there was my third rein touch.

I feel pretty good about that touch, too, though.  It didn't take any mouth pressure to move her off the tree, simply rein pressure across her neck.  One of the things I'm going to do when I do my bridleless ride is to use a neck rope like the one Julie Goodnight has designed.

Only, I don't own one of Julie's yet, so I'll probably use braided twine until I buy one of hers.  Since I'm planning on using a neck rope, I was happy to see her respond to just neck pressure.  Yes, she's trained to neck rein, but when she gets stubborn (not that that ever happens), I have to go do direct reining.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, which I was really thankful for.  We'd agreed that we'd go to reins to cross the highway, just for safety's sake.  Our "rule" is that the bridleless riding will begin and end at the highway.  Not sure how that will work once I actually leave the headgear behind at the lodge, though.

My plans to continue toward my goal are:
  • switch out to the halter that Mrs Mom made me and attach Ashee's barrel rein
  • make a neck rein and start riding with it in addition to the halter and barrel rein
  • put on my big girl panties and Cowgirl Up, in reality the only reason I haven't done my ride yet is because I'm a big ole chicken shit
I should note that Bill doesn't have enough sense to bridle his horse and has been riding essentially bridleless forever, so while I get all giddy about riding home without the reins, he's been doing it all along. He's just gracious enough not to rub it in my face.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What a Difference! (Warning: media heavy)

Just a week ago, I was contemplating retiring Estes.  I was trying to come to terms with the fact that we may have had our last ride together.

Yes, we'd gotten her on supplements and she was moving better.

Yes, we'd gotten her back fixed and she was moving better.

But she still wasn't right and I was trying to figure out what to do.  I could probably still ride her if I moved her down to the flatlands, but what kind of fun is that when we're both used to riding in the mountains?  She has to have a job or she's destructive.  Ask Mom.  Estes has eaten several of the crossbars of the fence.  I wasn't convinced that moving her down to the flatlands would work for either of us.  But I can't afford to keep a horse I can't use, either, and I promised her other mommy that I'd be her forever home.  I wasn't a very happy person while I was trying to figure out what to do.

And then our farrier suggested shoes.

Oh, my hell.  My mare is back!  She was shod on Monday and on Thursday, Bill and I went out for a long ride - about 2 1/2 hours.  She was feeling so good that we went on some of our favorite trails, starting with the Willow Tree Trail.
And the fun begins...


Those idiots at the ranch down the road have trimmed
back the willows.
I hate them.
No, really, I do.

It's been a while,
"Hey Bill, which way?"
"Just go up and over"

After we lived through going on
"Not the trail"
Doesn't look so bad from this angle.
Bill didn't take pictures as we were picking our way down.
Something about being afraid we'd fall on him.
But he kind of redeemed himself with this video of the last climb out of the trail.

Estes was feeling really good after the Willow Tree Trail, so we decided to head across the Beaver Ponds.  She must have been thirsty after the hike over the Willow Tree Trail, because she did something that I don't recall her doing before.
She almost didn't leave any water for Ranger.

When she was done drinking up Rock Creek, we crossed over and I got the coolest. picture. ever.

Not sure how I managed this,
but I love it!
The Beaver Ponds were gorgeous as always and Her Highness was still feeling good, so on we went to a trail that isn't my favorite, but it's a good test of how her feetsies were doing.  It's a rarely used, steep, ugly trail.  Not ugly as in looks-wise, but ugly as in rocky and steep.  I don't even have a name for that trail.  I've pretty much named most of the ones we ride, but this one has remained name-less.
We decided that since the horses had worked so hard, they deserved a picnic.  Ranger chose a nice place, but was a little too insistent, so Beel said no and we pushed on to the pond.

It was a real horse picnic,
I even took Estes' iron bar out of her mouth.
Look closely...
there's a napping Bill back there.
No singing frogs this time of year,
but it's still pretty.
It was a pretty good picnic.
I'll pick up the last part of the ride in a later's one small step toward our goal of riding bridleless by the end of the season.

Where to Start?

Let's see...we ended with the Estes saga a couple of weeks ago (maybe), and when we left off, I'd had the chiro out to crank on her and get her sorted out.

After her back was aligned, she was moving better, but still not "right".  She was walking like she was really footsore, so I took a peek at her feetsies.  Being barefoot, we usually just let their feet be.  We have our fabulous farrier come up at the beginning of the season, trim them up, and that's it.  I tossed around some ideas with Mrs Mom, but in the end called up our farrier.  I just couldn't do what I wanted to do. 

And all I can say about that is Thank God! I thought that her sole was overgrowing her hoof wall and wanted to cut back the sole.  Turns out the sole was fine, but the hoof wall was lacking.  Our farrier said that it happens sometimes when it's been dry and the ground is hard.  It's not been overly dry, but the ground has been hard and was wearing away the hoof wall.  Her Highness digging with her club foot didn't help either.

I know it was hard for our farrier to say these words to me, "I think shoes would be good".  He knows how much we love our horses being barefoot.  Love that they're easy keepers.  But one of the reasons I love him so much (besides his absolutely adorable family that we finally got to meet and besides the fact he came up on his day off) is that he ALWAYS has the horse's health and comfort in mind.  He's been working on Estes' feetsies since before I bought her, and his dad was her farrier before that.  There's some history there, which I appreciate.

When those words left his mouth, I knew I had to do it.  He wouldn't have made the suggestion off-hand.  Even though I love her being barefoot, I'm not so hard-core that I wouldn't even entertain the suggestion.  Rather than shoe all four hooves, we went with just shoes on the fronts.

Which we had to borrow from the livery. 

Knowing we were barefooters, our farrier didn't think to bring any of his shoeing stuff.  Luckily, Compass' horses are always in need of shoes and she had what we needed.

Within an hour after getting her shiny new shoes, Her Highness was feeling much better.  I hopped on her in the pen, which might not have been the best idea, as she had a bad case of the zoomies (that's a Mrs Mom-ism).  She trotted along the fenceline and then came to an abrupt stop, which just about unseated me.  Then she trotted along the next fenceline and I prepared for another quick stop.  But, nooooo, she decided to execute a beautiful 90 degree turn.  And just about unseated me.  At that point, I decided it was about time for me to leave her alone or I was going to embarrass myself.