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.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Two Months

Well, not quite.  It dawned on me last night that yesterday was the two monthiversary of Copper choosing Jay.  He didn't come home until the 15th, but he chose Jay on the 8th of August.  I don't know if I will ever have the words to adequately describe how amazing it is to see someone chosen by a horse.

You. You are my human.
I told Jay this morning that it's like we've always had them, but it's really only been a few of months (two for Jay, five for me).

Here's a run-down (with pics) of what Copper has learned in less than two months:

~ That his human isn't so bad.

Oh, that scratch thing feels good.
~ And he met his new sister.


~ How to knock down his 6' rail on his gentling pen (the day after he came home!)

~ How to supervise his human while he works.

Doin' good work, Dad.
~ How to be caught and haltered.

I do not think I like this.
~ Being dragged around by the face isn't any fun.

~ But spa day is kind of nice.

~ Getting caught and haltered is okay, even if it's crazy Grandpa doing it.

I am a good boy.
~ But getting dragged by the face is still no fun.

I'll come with you because I am a good boy, but it is under protest.
~ That if he tried really hard and didn't put up a fuss, he'd get to "graduate" to the big pen.

Hi Dad.  I like it out here.
~ The new grooming bucket isn't scary.

I helped, Dad.  Now you can find everything.

 ~ Grandma's braids are nice and keep his hair from tangling.

No more dreadlocks
~ The blue saddle pad might feel funny, but it smells like his sister and didn't eat him.

I make this look gooooood.

~ That even though being dragged around by the face is no fun, if he actively participates, he gets to go on a walkabout in the real world.

This is the people barn?
~ That taking a family walk outside of the big pen is a lot of fun, even if he has to remember his manners.

This is nice, Dad.
~ And if he's really good on his walk, he and his sister get a surprise picnic.

Food grows out of the ground?!
~ And after he learned all of that, the hard work began.  In one day, he met the trailer, learned to tie, and wore the bareback pad.

I do not think so Grandpa Beel

That wasn't so bad
I'll just take a nap.
I almost forgot about clicker training.  Grandma and Copper started with targeting and he thinks clicker training is a pretty cool game.

So.  I touch that thing, hear a click and get a treat? Cool.

It might not seem like a lot when compared to events like the Mustang Makeover, where the trainers only have 100 days to train up a horse, but for part-time "training" they've both come a long way and are already great horses. We've got years and years with these two, there's no need to rush them, though it's hard not to feel rushed when we look and see how fast other mustang owners are able to move.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Getting Caught Up

I say that like it's actually going to happen.


But I do have video from a couple of weeks ago that I meant to get uploaded to share.  Copper got introduced to the saddle pad.  He's getting closer and closer to meeting the saddle and I think it won't be a problem whatsoever.

And for a horse who saw absolutely zero reason to allow himself to be dragged around by the face, he certainly figured out his lead line manners once we got out of the pen.  Outside the pen, he leads like he's been doing it forever.

Princess Skeeter, on the other hand, still gets a little "chargy" and gets her face in front of mine, which I don't like.

For being such great horses, they got a bit of a picnic.  No complaints from them at all over the spontaneous treat.


Tomorrow Mom and Bill are coming down and I plan on hard tying Skeets to the truck (since she's pulled up the panel fence and broke the tie on the trailer) to groom and saddle her.  That will be one of the places she'll "get dressed" up at the lodge, so she might as well learn it, right?  Copper might get to wear the bareback pad for a bit and get soft tied to the truck.  We haven't introduced him to tying at all, since we don't have a safe place to do so.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tarp Training with Copper

Skeeter's been through the tarp training before and was a rock star, but Copper hadn't been.  Last week, when I was inventing new and interesting ways to torture train them, I decided to spread out the tarp and feed them on it.  I secured the tarp to the fence and spread it out.  I knew it wasn't going to be a problem when Copper came over to help me.  He picked it up with his lips and backed right up.  He didn't care one iota about the rustling.

Since it looked like dumping the hay on the tarp wasn't going to be a problem, I decided to drag over the tub we've been using as a mounting block and put their food in a "bowl".

Skeeter was interested in the "bowl"
Copper had to head over to check it out, too.
Yeah, the tarp's not a problem.
If food is involved, not much is a problem.
My plan was to feed them under the tarp the next morning, like I did with Skeeter.  There was a problem with that plan, though.

There wasn't much tarp left to hang, and what was left was full of mud.

I think we can say that they are both appropriately desensitized to the tarp.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Copper's First Walkabout

While Tuesday was a huge day for me and Skeeter, it was also a Big Day for Copper.

His training with the lead rope had come to a stand-still and I thought that maybe he just didn't see the freaking point of it.  He likes to learn new things, so I asked Jay if it would be okay to take him out of the pen when Mom and Bill were down.  It's such a milestone that I felt bad for asking, but I didn't know how Copper would behave and I thought it would be nice to have experienced back-up (or lead in this case).

Copper has learned to respect his halter/lead enough that he'll give to pressure, which came in handy a couple of times.

He marched right out the gate behind Bill and then got a look at the world beyond the pen.  His feet just had to move, so Bill circled him a couple of times, but Copper is just so level-headed and laid-back it didn't take much.  He might actually now see the point of learning to lead so we can go do cool new things.

Food pushy horses really irritate me, so they are not even allowed to look at the hay when we feed until we give them a verbal "eat" command.  Bill took Copper to a green patch and told him to "eat".  Poor Copper didn't realize that applied to anything other than hay, so Bill pulled some grass and hand-fed him, then pointed to the ground and said, "eat".   The light bulb went on and Copper enjoyed some hand grazing.

There were only a couple of times where he sort-of had a temper tantrum.  His are pretty pathetic compared to Princess Skeeter's (remember the dirt skiing?).

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Rode My Horse!!!

This was not an unintentional ride, I climbed aboard with every intention of riding.

We don't have a round pen and Skeets and I have never figured out the whole longing thing, so we're not doing this "right".  But, hell, every time I try to train "according to the rules", we don't make any progress.

We just started introducing neck reining from the ground a couple of weeks ago, and she mostly gets it.  With Bill's first ride last week, the transfer of information from the ground to her back started, plus she figured out she can go forward and carry weight.  Last week's first ride made my first ride go much more smoothly.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Skeeter Had Her First Ride

I haven't said much about it, because I wanted to have the video ready and just haven't had time to mess with it.  Finally, I was able to sit down long enough to put it together.

Last week, Mom and Bill were down again to work with the horses.  I was supposed to meet them at the house after a funeral, but the funeral/graveside service ran long and they had more time to play than I did.  While I was on my way home from the cemetery, Bill slung a leg over Skeets and she moved off.  His options were to fall or slide on over, so he slid on.  Since he hadn't planned on an actual ride, he just had the halter and lead rope on, but didn't have the lead rope tied around as reins.

Skeeter wasn't so sure what to do, so she tried backing out from under him.  She didn't panic, just tried backing up.  After a few minutes, Bill had Mom tie the lead rope around and they started working on getting her feet moving.

It was just a few minutes, but she moved with purpose, under direction, so that counts as a ride.  God willing, I'll get my first ride on her this week.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Play Day

Mom and Bill have been so good about helping us with the horses.  Our schedules pretty much suck right now and focused training time is limited, so when they had a free day, we took them up on it.  Eventually, they'll get a blog written up on the day.  Until then, here are a couple of videos that I put together of the videos they took.  (How's that for confusing?)

Today, Jay and I were able to work with our babies for a bit.  Copper worked on leading instead of dragging and Skeeter worked on wearing the saddle some more.  She was kind of scooting around when I first threw the saddle and it was all jacked up, so we had to strip the saddle and start all over again.  She stood much nicer the second time.  We don't have a hitch rack, so she has to ground tie while I'm saddling her and ground tying is not her strong suit.

She asked to go out of the pen, so we went for a walkabout, which caused Copper to lose his mind a bit.  She's better out of the pen for me, but not perfect.  I can't tell if she's crowding me because she's being a pushy bitch or because she's looking for reassurance.  Next time we're out of the pen, I'll have someone video tape it. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Copper Graduated!

I'm very late in posting this.  Very late.

On September 6th, Copper graduated out of the gentling pen.  It went beautifully.  Jay worked with him in the pen for a bit while I worked with Skeeter, then we just opened the gate and watched to see what would happen.

It was absolutely anti-climactic.  Skeeter took a few minutes to realize that Copper was really out of the pen and then they spent some time running about.  All in all, it was a pretty boring release day.  In fact, when my girls came to visit, Skeets and Copper acted like they'd been together forever.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Sat on My Horse!!!

I know it doesn't seem like that big a deal to some people, but it's huge to me.

I mean, I can stay on top of a horse (as a general rule) and I have hundreds of hours in the saddle of the past seventeen years.  The last five have been primarily bareback on rugged mountain trails.  I mean, I can mostly keep the horse between me and the ground, but getting on Skeeter for the first time is a Big Deal.

I've never started a horse.  I've ridden green horses until they were well broke.  I've even corrected training issues in some horses, but I've never started a horse.

I know what I expect as far as ground manners and Skeeter is about 95% perfect on ground manners.  She leads with the lightest pressure, but can also get distracted and forget to focus.  I'm much, much more confident on what I expect from her on the ground and I'm much more confident in my ability to get her there.

From her back is a totally different story.  I know that good ground manners translate to riding.  I know that, but it was still a huge deal to climb up on her back today.  I had to trust that she trusted both Bill and me enough to let me climb up on her.  I had to trust that I've instilled enough ground manners that if Bill told her to whoa and stand she would do it.  And I desperately don't want to screw her up and have bigger problems in the future.

It took about ten minutes for me to actually make it onto the back of my horse, but it felt much longer.  It seemed like I did the pressure/release thing forever before finally sliding up.  We started with leaning over her, which Bill has done lots of.  It's not a big deal.  Then I kicked her back, hip, flank and leaned some weight on her.  When she shifted, though, I removed all the pressure by standing back up on my "mounting block".  We did this several times until she didn't care that I had one leg dangling over the other side and she was bearing more than 50% of my weight (not that she cared a lot to begin with, but I had to be sure she'd stand stock still).  She moved off a little bit when she realized I wasn't going to relieve the pressure by stepping off, but didn't bolt.  She took a step or two and then froze.  She's young yet and has never had to balance an extra chunk of weight on her back.  She eventually figured to tighten her stomach to help balance the weight and was able to move a step or two before I slid off.

All of the time Bill has spent playing Dead Indian with her has paid off.  She doesn't care about someone laying across her back and sliding down.  My knees are far too old and abused to be just popping down off a horse.  I need as soft a landing on my feet, and therefore my knees, as possible.

Bill scrambled up on her after I got off and she was just as good.  I lead her a step or two and we called it good.  I removed the halter and just let her be.  As we wandered over to fill the water, I realized I had a halter in my hands and I could just sneak into Copper's pen and quick put it on him for a minute, so I did.

Copper did really, really well. He's still figuring out the leading thing, and asks that I remember to lead him properly instead of dragging him by his face.  He very much prefers to be lead with the person just forward of his shoulder (you know, where you belong) instead of out in front of him.

After Copper got "worked" for all of about three minutes, it was back to Miss Skeeter Bang.  On went the halter and back to the mounting block.  She really balked at it and didn't want to play, so I changed the rules and had Bill lead her up so I could mount from the off-side.  I don't think it occurred to her that I would change the rules and she'd have to learn from both sides.  Ha!

She didn't make it easy on herself by parking out a bit from the block.  I was able to get my leg over, but then had to leap from the block onto her back.  In the video, you can tell that she wasn't exactly thrilled with my weight landing on her back.  You can almost hear her go "ooof".  I started sliding and grabbed onto her with my left leg to try to get centered again. In the video, that's when she started turning into Bill.  It took me a second to realize I was causing the turn by grabbing on with my leg (good for her, moving away from pressure) and as soon as I relaxed, she straightened out and relaxed.

When Bill hopped up on her, she was pretty much over the whole day and pranced a bit.  I made her stand and relax before he got down and we called it a day.

Next time, we'll wander a bit farther.

I actually am just making it up as we go at this point.  I know there are great training videos on how to start horses, but I'm just kind of letting her (and Mom and Bill) tell me what she's ready for next.  It's worked so far, let's hope it continues to work.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Just Because

This picture cracks me the heck up.

When I go to the Tree of Happiness, I often pick an apple for me, too.  It takes a little searching to find one that's not wormy or been pecked at by the birds, so when I find one that I can bite into with fairly high confidence that I'm not going to get extra protein, I enjoy it.

Skeeter does not enjoy this and believes that all the apples are hers.  All the apples belong to Skeeter, and she wishes I would hurry up and learn that lesson.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Growing Up (Warning: wordy and media heavy)

Tuesday was a busy day for Skeeter.  No more coddling, she's on her way to being a grown-up horse and one step closer to being ridden.  Bill would kill to get up on her, but for now he's mostly okay with just playing Dead Indian with her.  I won't be able to hold him off much longer, so if I don't hurry up and get my ass on my horse, he's going to end up with the first ride.

Mom and Bill offered to come down on one of their scheduled days off this month (yes, they only schedule two days off a month for themselves during the season) and help get Skeeter moving.  We've kind of been in a rut.  I tried clicker training, but she's just not getting it, but she's a horse who needs to learn new things on a regular basis.  With Copper coming home, she was preoccupied (as were we) with the new family member, but now it's time to get back on track.

I cut my work day short and headed home, but Mom and Bill still beat me by a few minutes.  When I arrived, Bill had Skeeter's halter on, with the rope tied around her neck and was introducing her to neck reining from the ground.  Sorry, no pictures because I just watched in awe as she moved forward, to the left and right, and stopped.  It wasn't pretty, but she was thinking it over and trying really hard.

I left him to it and ran in the house to change out of my scrubs.  By the time I was done (it only took me about three minutes), the storm I was hoping to avoid had moved in and thunder was rolling.  Mom made Bill put Skeeter away and we ran a quick errand during our rain delay.

Luckily, the rain delay didn't last too long and we were able to resume when we got home.  Bill took Skeeter out of the pen, while Mom and I stayed with Copper.  Apparently, the first time Skeeter left the pen, Copper lost his mind, so we tried to get some video. He must have realized that Skeeter would be back, because the second time was much less exciting according to Mom.  He was concerned and called for Skeeter, but didn't seem to be out of control at any point.

Copper was boring, so I followed Bill and Skeeter around like the paparazzi.  First, they had to squeeze between the truck and the sheds.

They wandered around and looked in the other shed ...

... then Bill got the brilliant idea to have her walk under the clothes line ...

... they did their "Peeping Tom" impression after Skeeter saw Allie-bird move through the window and had a little moment of bolting panic ...

... then they visited the "Tree of Happiness".  I think Skeeter thinks that apples - her very favorite food on the planet - are gifts from the heavens.  She didn't know (and how could she?) that they grew on trees ...

I forgot that she loves apples so much that her brain short-circuits, so Bill had to make her feet move to re-engage her brain, then back into the pen we went.

A visit to the trailer, where my "elasti-mare" consented to putting three feet in the trailer.  She's so long that she doesn't need to put the backs in to reach the hay in the bunker.  With enough coercion from Bill, she finally put that third hoof in.

And then she backed out nicely with a voice command ...

Whew, she did so much, but we weren't even close to being done.  Bill tied up her lead rope and tried with the neck reining thing again, but she wasn't having it.

He deemed her focused enough to get to the main event: Saddling!

I was warned that the second time might not go as well, and I knew it was a possibility, but I wasn't worried.  I asked Jay to come out with me to hold Skeeter while I saddled her up for the second time and it was fine.  She didn't stand stock-still like the first time, because she knew what I was doing and didn't want to put the squeezy thing on, but Jay corrected her and she stood nicely.  We walked around a bit and I tightened the cinch a couple more notches.  She wasn't thrilled with the cinch being snug, but she was good about it.  She twitched her ear and flicked her tail.  That was the extent of her temper tantrum.

She's so good it makes my heart all full and happy.

Tomorrow, the focus will primarily be on Copper and working with leading so that he can come out of the gentling pen soon, but Skeets will still get saddled.  This time, from the off-side, as that's how I usually saddle up at Mom and Bill's place.