Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring and the New Guy

Apache arrived to beautiful unsettled spring weather
he plays shy but briefly, already hip to who delivers the goodies

it's spring everywhere, beautiful and sneezy
Scrappy can barely contain his excitement at the season..
Meanwhile Rippie the Doxie has been tuning up his navigation skills
Feigning disinterest again, but easily enough persuaded. 
The eye of the tiger in the background..
Finally got a chance to do more than deliver food. 
Scratchies win me another friend 
No, come back, more please
 He's settling in well, putting on a grand show when he feels like Blaze and Desire have been out of sight down the big hill for too long, but otherwise all is peaceful. And boy, he moves niiice!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Apache Joins the Crew--and other Excitement

A few weeks back I shared that a Little Bay Gelding was headed our way for life camp.  I had hired a shipper and thought that I had the new guy Apache scheduled for the Oregon to CA transit, however the shipper played games with the date. With ever-narrowing eyes and a bit of redhead steam boiling out of my ears I decided right then and there that I didn't want to use the guy--and just as quickly found a great deal on the perfect size horse trailer I've been looking for, not far from Apache. After 6+ years in my faithful 80's 2 horse straight Miley (and 6+horses in the field), it was time to stretch into a bigger space, so the dogs and husband and I jumped into old Orange and made a 24 hour round trip jaunt north and back. There were a few small kerfluffles along the way but the important part, the horse meeting and loading and safely arriving part, all went wonderfully. And the "new" 90s Morgan built gooseneck hauls like a dream!

Late one night in Oregon, a Facebook friend entrusted a darling little bay to me. Say what you(and I) will about FB, cool connections are made! 
10 hrs later, big orange brings home a two-fer of fun! 
no more tent, no more tent, no more tent!!!
Welcome back to CA, Apache
 bleary human..interested ponies
Of course it's WAY too early to know much of anything about who Apache is but having done it a few times now, I find that a long journey in a strange trailer and the reaction of my herd is pretty telling. From what I've seen now, Apache has a great head on his shoulders, is a people lover, and has some ego! Blaze took one whiff and told me, then Apache got to check out his new quarters and told us himself. 

Haiii mare! Check me out
 Blaze says MY MARE
 First mash at home, Apache approves
 lovely spring evening. Mini horse says whaaat
 Apache watching Mare Tv
 Oh haiii!
He came trotting right up when he heard/saw me this evening

Can't wait to get to know this little guy better and see what the future holds!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Not Bad for 2.5 Months

While I'm certainly not 100% satisfied with the results of my 50 at Mojave XP, the actual ride itself went pretty darn harmoniously for Scrap and I. One of the reasons that I love ride photos is that they are lasting memories reflecting the reality of horse and rider in that moment in time, a moment perhaps (and sometimes hopefully) not to be repeated again. We'd all love endless years of wonderful photos of happy horse and rider but realistically we're mortals on willful, fragile critters who can't entirely talk, so let the ride photo record stand.

Here's the pro photos from Gold Rush Shuffle 55, November 2014. Credit to Baylor/Gore. Please note I am grateful to all ride photographers and in no way blame them for my horse and I being mad strugglers in photos. Tis the nature of it!

me: We're gonna die in a hole!
Scrappy: Grin and bear it--towards camp! 
Me: motherefinnhor--ooh haiiiii photog!
Scrappy: [insignificant fly on back not registering, brainless trot commencing]
That ride ended in a Rider Option after 27 miles because he had worn holes in my fingers and started on his way to cramping his hind end by moving out brainlessly way faster than we train.

Now, Mojave XP Day 1 50, February 2015, photo credits Lynne Glazer:

my derpy thumbs up finally made a ride photo--oh and um loose rein at the start you guys!!

grooving along some miles in

So what did I do differently?

1. Bit: No, I don't think you should answer every training problem by sticking more or harsher hardware on your horse. Yes, if you're having an issue with a horse ignoring a snaffle in this sport, I do think you should experiment with bits, potentially with a curb action option. Scrappy is not the first horse I've ridden in endurance who will run through a snaffle merrily to the detriment of us both,  but check himself approximately twice on the curb setting of a quality Kimberwick and then *not question it* for a good while if not the whole ride. Many folks start in a stronger bit and switch out once the initial start excitement is over, and that may certainly be a route I take with Scrappy in the future if I get the chance. Anyway, after having literal holes in my hands at GRS in November, I added gloves, but I also switched him to a ported Myler Kimberwick, and will continue to use it.

2. Camping/Ride Strategy: At GRS I got lured into the lovely temptation of camping and starting the ride with friend. It's the most natural thing in the world to want to camp with if not ride with your buddies at these events, but it's not always the best thing for your horse. In this instance, Scrappy and my friend's gelding became buddies on arrival, camping at the trailers, strolling around, vetting in etc together, and when we started on ride morning and her gelding set off at a faster trot than he was managing, he came unglued and never recovered his composure until sweetly and sleepily vetting in 27 miles later. I wasn't willing to let Scrappy run blindly through the uneven but flat and open footing, which meant we fought the entire time, and a yo-yo effect of catching and leaving his "buddy" meant he was just a pisser the whole time.

 At Mojave, through circumstance and some cultivation, I went entirely alone, with just my crew chihuahua on board besides Scrappy. The only friend I knew going wasn't going to arrive until Friday afternoon for Saturday's ride. We pulled in Tuesday night, set up next to friendly strangers, and spent our extra day in camp just doing OUR routine, doing a pre ride, walks, vet in,etc. The extra day in camp and pre ride without it being an actual ride were definitely helpful to a better brain state too. He jigged around like a goober on the pre ride and then had a big "Ummm HUH..." moment when we came back to camp after a few miles and that was that. He watched horses come and go throughout but never got worked up or attached to anyone and when we strolled out of camp on ride morning, well, you see that we did indeed stroll.

3.Home Strategy: I can't speak to facts on this but I always try to look at and include the full picture of the horse and issue at hand. Up until the GRS ride, Scrappy lived alone in a pasture, sharing fence line with other horses but not actual space. We mostly train alone, with at most one other horse once in a while. It occurred to me that ride camp was becoming nearly his sole horse group interaction setting, and that could really add to the stimulation. While acknowledging a potential need for work in other group ride settings, I also finally braved the risk and put him in with my fillies after GRS. It's been going really well as you've seen in pictures. They're peaceful but entertain each other, keep each other moving, and Scrappy is certainly friendlier for being around the mugging fillies.

So there it is, for what it's worth. We haven't solved the loin soreness issue yet but we've got ideas. I'll take the ride mental game win anyway, in the meantime!