Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lovin' That Filly of Mine

Man, its only been two weeks and I already consider raising a foal an emotional roller coaster. I guess because I have been on the grown-horse end of bad behavior and issues I am always forecasting into the future and wondering and worrying about issues today and issues to come. Really I need to just settle down and enjoy every day of Sheza's young life, which I do for the most part. Just when I was getting concerned (for no good reason) about her always running away from me despite being handled at-and-since birth, she has decided that I am her new favorite thing! She consistently nickers when I call her and is now walking boldly up to me every time I am in the paddock, and sometimes when I am just outside the fence. She is also walking up, more cautiously, to strangers outside the fence (this filly should be used to a crowd pretty quick, she has been "on view" since birth!) and sniffing noses with the dogs. It is SO gratifying to have her walk up to me and want to sniff and be scratched rather than flee like I'm the Filly Eating Monster. I have to remember that they are relying on instincts in the first place and it is my job to calmly and patiently teach her all the things I take for granted in my adult horses.
My granny and mom came to visit yesterday (and will be up for today as well). My granny made me laugh because after watching Sheza's leading lesson she said "you know, I never considered you patient at all but you are really patient with that filly!" Haha! I am definitely not patient but something about a little creature picking up on things in five or ten minutes just makes your heart swell and sing and how can you BE impatient?? I know, I will be, soon enough. But right now I am just lovin' that filly of mine!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hill work and First REAL Leading!!

Hill work, hill work. Sometimes I forget that riding out my own driveway and turning left will take me on a miles long, gradual (some parts a lot less gradual than others) uphill dirt road (after about a mile of pavement, with room to walk on grass on the edge). I've been hauling to the lake 3-4 times a week for a couple months now and its getting a little old. Same trails, different day. Not so bad when my riding buddy joins me but Blaze and I both get a little bored alone. Today I decided to take the home dirt road route and it was a good ride. It's that lovely time of the month that posting a big trot doesn't sound THAT appealing so I mostly just let him take a nice swinging walk (with much encouragement on that "nice" and "swinging" part) for 6 miles. Trotted maybe a mile total, but mostly the walk. Partly sunny weather and a cool breeze and only one car showed for the whole hour and 45 minutes. Sometimes breaking routine and trying something completely different is just the ticket!
Now to Sheza All Star Leading Filly! I decided it was time to introduce my filly girl to brushing and do some leading work, since they are now consistently staying outside in their paddock w/ shed instead of going back inside to their stall at night. Without the stall and back leading practice built in it was time to be proactive. First I haltered mom and tied her to a corner post inside the paddock. I had to figure a way to handle mom and baby alone so I thought having mom under control and tied (since she stands so quietly) was my best option, then I could work with baby inside the orbit of mom's watchful eye. I groomed momma D out thoroughly first and that gave Sheza a chance to watch and then, sure enough, investigate. It took her about three strokes of the brush on mom to be up sniffing me and checking things out. After brushing and lots of satisfying belly scratches for D I turned my attention to Sheza. She acted a little sketched out as she always does when I turn my full attention to her but she stood to be petted and haltered fine. I went with the same method of a little pressure on the lead rope and an encouraging pressure on her hindquarters. She fought me like a little fish for the first 10 minutes but nowhere near as dramatically as last time. I held a constant light pressure on her and let her figure out that flinging herself around like a silly filly wasn't getting the pressure to release. Then she stopped, took a step toward me and voila, the pressure was gone. Ahhh, this made sense to Sheza. Took about 2 more minutes for her to be consistently taking a couple little steps forward at pressure from the halter. I untied mom and had her at my side, backing mom a step at a time down the paddock, and baby was following a couple steps at a time from light pressure on the lead rope. It had to be maybe 15 minutes total and I was leading mom and baby, one on each side, for a full, non-stop circuit around the paddock!! So cool! Applying pressure and then releasing it the second they start to give to it (making the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult) really has proven to be the quickest way to teach horses things, young and old, in my experience. I had a friend snap a couple quick photos of us 3 ladies and then it was time to let filly go enjoy herself after doing such a great job.
I am a happy horse mom today!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lurkers, Morons, and Leading Lessons

Only got about 9 miles today due to a lurker. I drove out to Lakeland to ride, which is the problem. Lakeland is waaayyy down little back roads and then finally down a dirt road to nowhere. So if you park out there alone, you are on your own. And so is your vehicle while you are off trotting merrily down the trail. I always worry a little when I go and take my wallet with me in my saddle bag. Today I was about 1/4 mile from the trailer and a sketchy looking guy in street clothes came flying down the other branch of the road (the branches meet in the parking lot) on a dirt bike, looking over his shoulder. Furtively I say! Dirt bike aren't allowed in the area but mostly this guy just wasn't dressed for recreational riding. He was dressed like a sketchy fool coming to scope out my lonely truck! I turned Blaze around trotted back, then went full paranoid by hiding in the bushes and scoping the parking lot. He apparently needed to use the porter potty.....? Bike was leaned against it. I parked Blaze and I next to my truck and made myself look busy on the cell phone. The guy came out, took one look at me, jumped on his bike and hauled ass out of there! Now he could just not want to be reported for dirt biking back there but he sure seemed like he was a little more surprised to see me than that.
Anyhoo I couldn't get comfortable being out riding while my truck was there alone (not that there is that much to steal inside it, but I have a serious problem with people violating my personal property). And I just bought rice bran, beet pulp, and momma D's grain. Come on, those are hot items. So I jammed up Sycamore hill, meandered down the other side (I swear if Blaze watched WHERE he was going as much as he tried to watch what is behind would nice!), and pulled a U at the road intersection and went back, but along the flat road and through the tunnel. My plastic water bottle crinkling inside the tunnel made Blaze jump out from under himself like something was grabbing his feet! Too funny, he really rarely spooks at anything (though eyeballs each and every rock while trotting by). There is a nice wide open half mile stretch that we hand-galloped along.
On the drive home came the morons. There is new road construction out by Lake Oroville and its a big long stretch of it with a big intersection and side roads as well. Well the flaggers were total morons and almost caused a wreck by starting to wave the rig in front of me through while a fire truck with lights flashing, but no siren, came barreling over the crest of the ridge and down the road behind us. Um, standing facing up the hill seeing a fire engine roar down towards you, yet you wave traffic onto the one lane road??? Go back to flagger class. Then the guy at the turn I was taking was standing in the middle of the turn waving us on straight. I pointed at the turn (my signal was on) and he stared at me then got the picture and got out of the middle of the road. Le sigh. People are bad enough drivers without throwing crap flaggers into the mix. I was glad to get home safely!
As for leading lessons, we brought D & Sheza out this morning for turn out. I put a lead rope on the filly's halter for the first time, and was leading her with that and pressure on her hindquarters. She fought me quite a bit at first when she felt the steady light pressure on the lead rope. But after ten minutes or so of one step, freak out, one step, freak out, we walked quite nicely to the paddock and into the gate. She had a moment where she sort of gave in and started mouthing and sniffing me, like her blind instincts clicked off and her brain kicked in. That's when we started making leading progress across the yard. This afternoon I called to her three different times and she whinnied at me and came towards the fence!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rain, wind, & A Cold?

Its been rain, hail, and wind for the last two days. Blaze and the mini were standing out in the most horrendous pounding hail and rain yesterday afternoon, despite their lovely solid shed..I think it was too loud on the roof and they couldn't handle it. At least Blaze was blanketed..
Sheza and momma D have been stuck inside due to the bad weather. Yesterday I wasn't feeling well and today I don't feel much better, feel like I am getting a cold. Its supposed to be sunny and warm starting tomorrow for the whole week and the race is in a week and a half so I really want to keep to our schedule and keep Blaze moving. I took a crap ton of Vitamin C so hopefully will be ready to ride tomorrow.
Sheza is SO strong already!! Today she was being a pill when I was trying to handle her in the stall and man her body just feels like pure muscle and energy, I won't be able to man handle her for long!
Here is hoping for sunshine and feeling good tomorrow!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


That is the approximate noise Sheza filly makes when she hears my voice. It is SO endearing. She has done it consistently the last few days every time she hears me. Yay!
Another gray day..was going to go bass fishing with the husband but zooming around in the cold gray icky didn't sound THAT appealing. I was a slow starter today too, hey, its Saturday. Time to brew a pot of tea and relax. Blanketed Blaze last night, a nasty cold wind picked up. He is outside lying down napping now. He has started lying down and napping more since becoming a fast fit fella. I'm paranoid and have to call him and see him lift his head so I know he isn't ill..and I'm convinced someone is going to steal my filly because cars keep slowing down when she is in the front pasture and the cars crawl past the house staring out the window. PARANOID MOM. I'm sure they're just admiring her but I tell ya..having a flashy chestnut with those markings and beautiful mom out there trotting around as classy as can be..ooh I want to wrap them in bubble wrap and and love my Arabs!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Miles, Good Filly!

13 miles at the lake again today. This time from the Lakeland end, Sycamore hill, etc. Switched off between a steady medium trot and walk. Took us just under 3 hours. Blaze did well. He peed when he got back to the trailer but that was it, no extra stretching out. Didn't drink water from the bucket and ate a couple of carrots. He really seems to be in "ok, done, take me home" mode when we finish training rides, no matter the pace. He gets home and is a happy camper. I guess I am technically still learning him since I have never ridden him this much, consistently, over mileage, before this year. Josh got the hot water going at the wash stall again which was nice since I got to scrub his couple dirty sweat marks off without worry. It was supposed to be sunny today but was totally gray and I didn't want to chill him.
Now, for Sheza good little filly! This evening when we were walking momma D and Sheza back to the stall, Sheza was the best she has been yet. I barely had to give her hindquarter pressure and click and she was walking forward 10 or 12 steps at a time instead of her usual locked legs. I usually have to semi manhandle her to get her from here to there but t
his evening she really did it herself off a little halter pressure and clicking (and a couple encouraging hindquarter pressures). It was so gratifying! I haven't been through this before so I don't know exactly how much progress and how much stubbornness to expect but I say walking nicely after only her third outing is great! She'll probably be a little shit again in the morning but it sure is nice to see encouraging signs like that!

"That's right, I'm smart!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Endurance Riders: Please Read & Advise!

I would love if some of my endurance riding friends would share their thoughts on the following. At the Whiskeytown Race Blaze ate and drank like a champ and got As at preride vetting and lunch time. At lunch time the vet asked if he was eating (he was scarfing hay as we waited in line for said vet check) and said his gut sounds were a little quiet. Blaze went back to the trailer for our hold and had some mash and carrots. He peed and it was a fine yellow color. BUT after peeing he stretched out twice more and let his peeper down as if he needed to pee again. Nothing else came out. He seemed in fine spirits and ate more hay and drank as we waited for our riding partner to head out on the last loop. At the end of the ride he got all A's except gut sounds, the vet said there were almost none and asked me to come back in an hour. Took him back to the trailer and he ate loads of hay and drank, we went back to the vet and all was well, he received his A on gut sounds. He didn't do it again after that and ate and drank like a hog all night.
When I rode this Tuesday he peed twice in good color (one pre, one post ride) but after peeing at the trailer at the end of the ride, he again stretched out and dropped trou like he needed to pee again. He wasn't interested in hay or water (he NEVER is on training rides, hence my amazement at his eating and drinking so well at the race) but we got home and he ate rice bran and beet pulp and took off like a bat outta hell into his pasture and was trotting around grandly with his mini and seemingly feeling fine.
So, lots of details, but my main question regards the stretching out to pee multiple times. It doesn't seem like a good thing and I would assume signals discomfort of some kind (mild colic or??), but he seems to get over it quickly, he eats and drinks fine and is in good spirits otherwise....Thoughts????

Sheza: Halter & Leading Training

Leather Halter FINALLY

I'm starting to think I'll stick with Sheza as a barn name for the filly. It is sort of strange to call her by what is technically a contraction, but then again Sheza sounds sort of fancy and Arabic, is clearly feminine..and I don't want to call her something completely different than her registered name. Speaking of, I need to sort out getting her registered etc...though I think I have a month after birth and she is only a week old, today! Happy week old, Sheza cute lil filly!
Every morning and night I bring mom her mash (finishing up her round of antibiotics the vet left to be on the safe side, since the placenta was in for a while), and oat and alfalfa hay, and muck out the stall. They seem to stick to making an utter mess of the back third of the stall; at least their consistent! I can't wait for consistently great weather so they can be outside! Today is rainy and crap again so I think they'll have to wait for tomorrow for turn out.
I halter Sheza every morning and have started working on her leading the last two days. She runs away like a complete loon and its a bit of rodeo until I can get my hands on her. I assume this is normal baby behavior and once I have her she stands quietly enough and I can run my hands all over her body, face, legs, etc. She sniffs at me and doesn't seem very bothered to be handled so I suppose her mad fleeing initially is instinct/play? I also just go out to the stall sometimes and don't do anything, just hang out, and she always comes over and sniffs at me. My leather foal halter FINALLY came, after two weeks (never ordering from Horse Tack Co again), and I had to punch two extra holes but it fits her great (and boy is leather easier to punch than even dreaming of messing with that nylon shit). I put the halter on while I clean the stall and put fresh water etc, then handle her and work on leading. For leading, I put a little pressure on the halter and give her pressure on her hindquarters and click as I will when I am really leading her. As soon as she steps forward (from the hindquarter pressure, at the moment) I release all pressure and praise her. She seemed to really get it this morning and took a couple of steps with barely any hindquarter pressure multiple times. She gets mad fits sometimes when I am handling her and starts to try bucking and getting away but I hold gently but firmly until she stands again and don't let her go until she is calm. Today she threw her head out of the halter dramatically when I was taking it off so I put it back on and took it off again with her standing quietly.
Momma mare Desire is a total saint. She lets me do what I have to do with the baby and doesn't interfere in the least. I swear sometimes she even seems to be trying to block the baby's mad dashes like she is trying to help me out. Probably not but it seems that way. I am so incredibly grateful that the mare has stayed so gentle and willing.
I know the filly is only a week old and I have months but I am already nervous about weaning!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crap Weather, Horsies Resting

Another dark, cloudy day. Only 20% chance of showers but 70% tomorrow. I know, I know, I'll be complaining about 95 degrees in no time but seriously, I am indeed done with rain! I want Sheza to be able to go out every day and and...whine whine whine. Blaze is having a day off today anyway, that was a solid cantering, hill climbing ride yesterday. His mini is SO fat. Obscene. Or should I say obese. Oh man its looking really dark outside..arg.
Oh well better go try to get a lawn or two mowed before it rains..

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Successful Horse Day

Look at that trot on mom...I am dying to ride her again. No rest for the wicked! Okay, maybe a little. And she isn't wicked, at all. She is a completely classy and fantastic mare, so far. A great mom. And such a beauty. I think its very striking to see the chestnut filly and the gray mom. What a pair! We put them back in for the night and baby was similar, planting her feet and not even wanting to follow mom, then suddenly unfreezing and we were moving right along. I had a lead rope around her as a butt rope to help the process as I saw and heard suggested and it worked out. It gave me a good handle on her and assisted in the pushing along process. She stood nicely for me to take off the halter. She is already so strong! It makes me nervous sometimes when she is resistant, as I've never done this before. Clearly I have to establish boundaries now. She does understand though and I harass her until she stands quietly to be touched all over, or haltered. She is a curious little thing, which helps. Always ready to sniff me and investigate.
Rain in the forecast again..I'm really over it. Time for sun, sun, sun!

Oooo, I have Followers!

Haha, thanks girls! :)

Sheza's First Turn out!!!

Yep, the filly went outside for the first time this afternoon! After I got home and tended Blaze and scrubbed out the trailer it was officially time for filly's first outing! Josh led the mare and I haltered and butt roped the baby and just sort of cradled her in my arms and walked with her that way to the pasture. She was surprisingly iffy about the whole thing and let mom walk on away from her without moving an inch away from the stall! I suppose it is the only place she has ever been though. I clicked to her and helped her with a little pressure from behind and then she unlocked and started trotting after mom! So I was kind of running alongside still cradling but letting her do it. We got to the paddock and it was time to let them go. They actually stood still for a few minutes just sort of getting bearings and mom was pinning her ears and telling the geldings to go far far away. The mini was absolutely pressed against the fence trying to smell the baby and Blaze seemed much less impressed. Blaze was surprisingly cool about the situation, actually. I know he heard the baby from the pasture outside the stall since she was born so I don't think he was hugely surprising to see her..maybe? I dunno, he stayed pretty mellow though. The mini was fascinated, maybe he thinks the filly is another mini, maybe his long lost lover from his last residence. Sheza finally started running around and mom was right on her heels. They had a great run and I was snapping photos and Josh videoing.
WOOHOO! Loving my horses

Trot, Canter, Cell Phone, Drink Damn it!

Had a nice 13 mile ride at Lake Oroville today. Blaze did well especially since there were two horses tacked and heading out as I was just getting tacked up so he had to stay all aloney on his owney at the trailer as they headed off and left him. Poor chap. I put the snaffle on him today anticipating a bit of silliness as he had a few days off and saw those horses leave the opposite direction but he was a total doll and I could have easily stuck with the new S Hackamore (bought @ Whiskeytown Chaser, used it on 2 rides, so far so good). We trotted and cantered quite a bit and he was well tired by the time we got back to the trailer, though we walked most of the way back. The way back is, however, a BIG gradual ascent so I thought walking up it was still pretty quality on the workout front. I walked the last mile to the trailer--he was tired but even when not he walks SO.SLOWLY. For a fun, fast little Arab he has the slowest, most dead-headed walk in the world. I have to admit it drives me slightly insane, I love a good brisk walk on a horse. If anyone ends up reading this and has any suggestion about speeding up the walk (other than constant clicking, heel pressure, oh, been there done that 239048775231 times) I would love to hear it! I think I should ride him over poles in the arena as well to help him lift his clodhoppers, he can be down right sloppy with them sometimes. OH, and he didn't drink a darn drop. I thought after his extremely awesome drinking performance at Whiskeytown he had magically turned it around but not so much. I do know he only likes crystal clear water and the two troughs along the Oroville trails are dead gross, I wouldn't drink it myself. However I offered him a clean bucket of clean water at the trailer and he wasn't interested. He also didn't eat hay when we got back to the trailer. He ate like a damnable hog at the race...I don't get it! His name isn't Whoa Damn It, it is Drink Damn It! So is he just not impressed by training rides? He came home and had a warm bath, a good roll, a pan of rice bran & beet pulp with his supplement, peed and pooped..he just seems to suck it up and wait to get home to take care of himself. I'm glad he chose to kick it into gear on that front at the race but it sort of worries me..will he just magically do that at every race?? Here is hoping! We have about 2 1/2 weeks til Cache Creek 25..
Oh, the Cell Phone part. I was trotting along the trail listening to NPR on my ipod (haha!) and I heard my phone ringing. Happened to be a good friend I haven't talked to in ages so that was a nice 10 minute interlude getting to chat with her!
Big development on filly front, going for a different post for that though!

Why Not?

I have started reading other folk's blogs about endurance and it strikes me its a very good idea to keep one..I already write down my daily mileage etc on my desk calendar, so why not put it up on a blog for posterity (and in case said desk calendar disappears). Also since I am embarking on training my first foal from scratch, I will surely want to track her progress; it will be an experience to remember!
All that said, I'm off to Lake Oroville for a trail ride! More later..