Monday, November 25, 2013

November, Briefly

We got a couple of inches of rain early last week, and overnight horses and property were transformed from endlessly dusty to mucky, sloppy, winter. I didn't believe the rain's enthusiasm and ended up soaked through a couple of times, wearing inadequate outdoor gear at feeding time. Desire either rolled or lay down in the rain one night and she and her faithful Schneider's blanket were soggy, bedraggled messes come mornin, with more rain forecast. Fortunately N's TacknShare had loaned me a really handsome purple turnout that fit really well and kept her snug and dry until the storm passed. 

Scrapper in his new sstack.com blanket after 3 days of storm--great blanket!
Sheza is growing, growing, growing. She channeled her psychotic winter alter ego for the storm, going quivery and snorty and bucky for the duration of the rain, but at least deigning to pause in her spazzing to greet me at meals. She didn't try to involve me in her slip slidey shenanigans either, which is an improvement. Last fall and winter she was pretty well a wackadoo for any and all storms, and not very polite to handle. I guess what I'm saying is that I see maturity and growth in her style of spazzing this time around...
There was a lot of this going on during the rain, and the few days of screaming cold winds afterward. 
The rain cleared, the wind died, and it is glorious again. Highs in the 60s, lows in the 30s, perfect riding weather and yet I am off for a week of non riding. My glorious Gold Rush Shuffle plans didn't make the Thanksgiving tradition cut, but I wish all my friends going the very best of luck, and my ride manager friends great luck on this first time ride, as well. For me, it's hooves, hay, house cleaning, and off to the coast for familial birthday and Thanksgiving festivities come Wednesday. I've got a bridle customization and 2013 season wrap-up post yet to share, if any of you other folks end up nearer a computer than a horse this holiday week.
 Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Non-Arab Hot Rod

This past Saturday I met buddy J and her steeds in Wheatland and we parked out at by the Camp Far West ride site to cruise the trails out there. These are some of the trails also to be used on Gold Rush Shuffle at the end of this month. It's the perfect time of year to be out there and it was a blast to get to ride J's Mustang mare, Sedona. I have owned and ridden one Mustang in my time and it wasn't anything like Sedona. Actually, for that matter, J owned the same other Mustang after me and can vouch for his lazy, herd-bound disinterest in human cooperation. Of course that's one individual and doesn't reflect the breed, but that was my previous experience so it was great to get to ride a *fun* Mustang! 

PERKY! 
J rode Chief, her cute Half Arab Pinto that I conditioned up for her over last summer. Her boyfriend has taken him over and done a few more LDs on him since his first last fall, and they are a great pair. He was too busy to ride though and J and I have more than an hour's haul between us so we finally got wise to just drive to each other's town and share each other's 2 endurance horses that need to get ridden anyway.

 J&Chief
Great footing, fun spaces to zoom around, natural water, perfect temperatures, a fun horse. What more do you need?
Sedona looks like she wants to give me some other finger ;-)
Glad I wore orange, there were lots of hunters parked at the trail head and on the way in but we didn't see anyone but a few hikers out on the trails.

The horses did really zooming around for about 10 miles in their heavy coats. I haven't ridden a non Arabian in a while and Sedona is a really fun ride. She is small, handy, FAST and sure footed; she reminded me a lot of riding the Connemara ponies in Ireland, actually. Next up we see how J feels about Blaze's wonderfully bouncy trot!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Autumn Arabians

Scrappy looks for more Asian Pears, but I shook the last one down for him today
 Arabian tails!
 Scrappy has built some muscle 
 Just in case you hadn't seen my 8 yr old next to my 2 1/2 yr old recently...Ermmm...starting to braid my future rope mounting ladder now. I'll clamber up there somehow ;-)
Not only Arabians have fun! Dashing mini Dachshunds 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Devil on His Shoulder or: Gold Rush Shuffle Pre-ride

Yesterday Scrappy and I hauled an hour south to meet N and Willow at the Gold Rush Shuffle ride site. It was a recon mission just intended to familiarize N with the driving route and ride site area, and refresh it in my own mind since I hadn't been in about a year. Camp Far West Lake is in a sadly shrunken state but still present, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Two other horse trailers pulled in after us but otherwise all was empty and silent. It was totally refreshing to be riding at a different lake and seeing some different sights.

Stay, horse. He does, mostly, and sometimes so well that I forget he isn't tied! 
 I'm still fiddling with my Indian bridle/sidepull rope headstall I bought used recently (pictured above with orange noseband). Scrappy and I both like it *but* it seems to have a major design flaw or two. First of all, there is no weight underneath his chin on the crossed straps with the rein rings, so there is no way for the pressure to relieve once the weight of the reins/pull of the reins pulls those crossed straps tight. It makes the noseband stay very tight, and even tighter when you clip the rings to both rings to lead with, because that is the only way to do it, since there is no ring under the chin either. I'm not comfortable with how tight it stays around his nose, so after some brainstorming with N, I am going to enlist my husband and see what we can come up with. The current idea is a clamp-on ring and then vet wrapping tiny oval fishing weights along the ropes under the chin, however much it takes to have some drawback and release that nose pressure..we'll see--and there *will* be a blog post! In the meantime, I decided to really try my luck and ride him in his big ole halter...
One of the joys of being around Scrappy is that he is hilariously expressive and easy to read. As soon as I mounted I knew that he knew he was only in a halter. And he was fresh. And there was a tiny red devil on his shoulder whispering naughty ideas. Willow seems to love new trail and was at her best, boldly striding along, which was nice because Scrappy was conversing with his devil for most of our eight mile tour of the lake. He never did anything truly out of place, but the debate in his brain was clear to both N and I, and it was hilarious. He'd start to jig a little, hump up his back, and when I checked the reins on his halter he'd shake his head and trot faster. Another check on the halter and he'd slow to the walk, the little angel on his other shoulder soothing him back to Scrappydom. We did fine in this little personality juggle until the cowbell we heard turned out to be on a herd of goats, and then we briskly turned in the other direction and marched away before the little devil really took over. Scrappy isn't a goat fan, by the way!
N and Willow
Camp Far West Lake
This is the perfect time of year to be out in this area, and the ride site will be great as long as it doesn't rain. The short section of dirt road into the horse camp is iffy at best and rain won't be kind to it. 4 x 4 is always a good idea, especially going to winter rides. The footing is phenomenal and I won't be surprised if some people ride some of it entirely barefoot, though there are some sections of gravel road and some really nasty big sharp rocks down by the water line (not likely to need to ride that bit though..).

Along with the lake there are natural streams, many of which are currently dry but there are a few flowing and if we get some rain in the next week or two more may revive.

Scrappy and his devil and I all survived the ride just fine, of course, and here he dives lovingly back into his hay bag after that strenuous 8 miles.... ;-)
...And on into sleep eating...zzzz
Gold Rush Shuffle should be a lot of fun and is the last ride of the 2013 AERC season, with Day 3 actually falling into the 2014 ride season, unless you ride all 3 days in which case it can count for 2013. We'll be hanging out and riding there Thursday-Monday, hope to see you all down there at the end of this month!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sheza+Saddle!

I've noticed that in the last few months Sheza has been running around like a nutter enough to self trim her hooves a bit. At least, there wasn't the insane sloppy toe growth within a few weeks like previously. Anyway she was certainly due for a maintenance trim and a fall de-worming today, and then since she was being such a good girl that I causally slid on a near weightless English Wintec saddle--courtesy of Nikki's LoanNTack--and let her wander around with that for a while.

Startling the old hound
 Just can't get over her stature..
 Her mane does pretty well whatever it pleases, while fortunately Sheza herself hasn't been as willful lately. Said mane is long and luxurious on the bottom right half of her neck, and then flips sides and is scrubby and half length on the upper left half of her neck, as pictured below. Mmm whatever! It'll grow..
 Hey mamma, look at me now! 
 I didn't even put stirrups or a girth on it, just keeping things super low key. I did pull the saddle on and off a bunch and set it back up there from each side repeatedly. She raised her head and tensed a little at first movement of the saddle each time but immediately relaxed and kept snuffling for goodies. She really is quite sensible for a Haat gal!
 Mom and baby sniffed today without squealing, thank you ladies
 Finally after wearing it for 10 minutes she realized she could still turn her head, and had to itch her sides furiously where all the floppy straps were hitting her. As for the saddle itself she just didn't care.


 Almost disappearing..
 Love that short back and big powerful butt! She is built better than momma
We walked all about and she was very polite and overall just acted grown up and sensible! The worst I saw today was some shuffling about while trimming right right front hoof, but so minor. She started to resist when she saw the de-wormer syringe but I confused her switching sides quickly and she munched the wormer down passively.
 I taped her at a hair below 14.3, as tall as Scrappy and well on her way to taller...and Boy are we are such the same color RED, it's classic.
 Having a chat with my gal
 Heading home to mini Napoleon who was screaming and doing his cardio classes the entire time! What a big, gorgeous red thing my filly is. I may forgive her for growing to 15 hands and beyond ;-)

The wise and all knowing Rippiedoo Wiener dog says, "That is one smart filly!" 

Monday, November 4, 2013

November Trails

Screaming wind gusts at the lake today, but gorgeous perfect weather otherwise and no one else on the trails. A well paced 15 miles and back home in no time, I do like the light coming earlier but it sure seems wrong that it's now 4:30 pm and nearly sunset..anyway. 


Scrappy does so wonderfully alone and I experimented with my tack a bit, figuring out to strap spare boots on the back of my saddle out of my way with no flopping. After watching it for a while, and ruminating on the partial self correcting value of it, I removed my rein clips so they weren't swinging wildly off the bitless bridle rings and smacking Scrappy in the face, attaching the reins directly the rings without the scissor clip. It took a lot of the swing out of the reins and Scrappy stopped raising his head in avoidance of it. I ride with pretty loose reins, obviously, as Scrappy prefers, so find myself still dialing in the tack for optimum slow paced, loose reined bitless comfort, haha. 
 4 happy feet and 4 solid boots

 Maintained that 5-6 mph moving average, had a good long trot up to the top of the dam after a quick tour of the gorgeous footing and colors of the horse camp loop.I am still in awe that my horse does a collected 8 mph canter on a loose rein, of his own accord. It's all just so smooth and efficient, it boggles my mind after riding careening space cadets for so long. (There were a few careening space cadets previous to Blaze and Desire, pre blogging..)
 Ahh, autumn

 Slurpslurp
Gorgeous weather for riding. We sorely need rain to come soon and last a long time, as the local cashier gloomily stated, but I can't help but get out there and revel in this gorgeous season!