Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

My husband and I had a blast this evening carving our home grown pumpkins! My husband carved the 80 lb-er and I settled for a 30 lb-er. There were ridiculous dog costumes involved...

Riding Desire

 Finally, finally, I am trail riding Desire. To be fair currently its "dirt road" riding, not technically trail, but its still great to be out covering some ground on her! She will have been here a year in January and this week have been my first tons-of-fun excursions riding her off the property without the filly. Yesterday morning we did about 5 miles to the top of the ridge and back and this morning we went nearly 8 miles on the other dirt road that runs just east of our property. Desire is such a BLAST to ride. She effortlessly travels faster than Blaze ever can--even in a hurry--and the few times I had a straightaway to let her really *trot* she was flying and wasn't even at her biggest extension. Boy I bet she could really rip at a gallop! There are some fun car-free straightaways at the local Wildlife Area I might have to go try that out on.

I'm quite happy with her attitude so far. She has gotten spooked a couple of times but each time froze and looked around then continued when she was comfortable. The neighbor's baby goats who run through the woods bbaaaaing when you go by (and always terrify Blaze) gave her pause as did a chainsawing project happening just off the road farther along but she reacted with a cool head and even her physical startles weren't beyond reason or difficult to sit. I'm happy about this since she is much more alert and reactive to ride than Blaze and I had some concern what her attitude would be out on the trail, but she is really just a fun, forward, alert mare who seems quite happy to be going down the trail. She had no clue what direction home was a couple of times and we had to have a little talk over who knew the way better but with time I'm sure she'll figure it out. The first half mile or so after leaving home she was very determinedly hugging the extreme left side of the road and looking west towards home and the yelling filly but her feet were still moving forward and I got her attention back with some effort.

All 4 Easyboot Gloves have stayed on for both our admittedly short rides. Even so I consider that a victory since her hooves are still transitioning and I'm basically clueless. I've noticed that her right hind kicks her right front consistently walking up hill, which is interesting and seems to be one sided and only at the walk. She trots nicely in the boots without interference or problem.

Chilly autumn morning rides are my favorite!

 Home grown Pumpkins

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Awesome Morning Ride

My mom is in town visiting and we had a giant escapade adventure to the "city" yesterday for shopping galore. We didn't get home until about 9 last night which is way late for us country folk to be out and about so we are just relaxing around the place today. I decided to take Desire for a spin this morning and roped my mom into playing photographer. It was SUCH a gorgeous cool fall morning, I love riding in the sun and not sweating like a beast! It was my first ride on Desire since weaning Sheza and she was about 100 times more attentive and cooperative to ride today. Her milk has dried up and she is definitely in single working horse mode, no more mama brain at all. She has lost her big baby belly as well since I separated Sheza and was a lot more agile and able to trot and canter than she has been yet. It was a really fun ride and we got some great photos!

 Blaze likes to style men's hair

Wiener on a hay bale

Sunday, October 23, 2011

El Bandito

A reader pointed out that while I have regaled the internet world with a few tales of "the mini" formerly known as Napoleon and now mostly titled El Bandito--but have never posted photos of him. True! So here are a few photos of our tiny pinto beast:

This is how he arrived!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blanket Misfit

 Pretty momma D

 Well shoot. I spent the afternoon cleaning paddocks and grooming the muddy/dusty/hairy beasts formerly known as my horses. I pulled Desire and then Sheza after she quieted down and tried on their new waterproof winter turnout blankets as well. Desire's bright purple 69" blanket fits perfectly which was a relief as she measured exactly 70" but the 72 I had was just slightly too big and let in water at the wither area which caused slight rain rot last winter. I decided to go with the 69" inch even though they usually say round up in blanket size. Glad I did as the blanket fits well and Desire looks great in the color.

Unfortunately I couldn't get my camera to capture the true purple of it but oh well. Sheza's blanket, on the other, looks like the part of the movie Tommy Boy where Chris Farley plays "fat guy in a little coat" Maybe not everyone can call up this movie reference in their minds but its a favorite film of my brother and I and its all I could think of when I saw Sheza in her blanket:

 There's rather a lot of Large foal still hanging out!

 So though we had a very nice desensitizing lesson and progressed from wild eyed panic at the sight and shhing sound of the blanket to wearing said blanket in about 4 minutes, it doesn't fit her at ALL. I'll be mailing it back for...a pony size or something? They don't make the foal blankets any bigger. Kind of annoying but oh well.

Last but not least into the cross ties for grooming was Mr. Blaze, who is keeping himself and the mini Napoleon quite slim and trim with his endless mini herding fun. Since I introduced slivers of the awesome locally grown alfalfa I scored recently into meal times Blaze has changed his push-over tune and is now herding and cutting and terrorizing the mini horse to his heart's content, just as long as the mini stays away from HIS alfalfa all is well. Actually not really, I've noticed Blaze randomly running the mini up and down the hill when no hay is around either. They are together in our biggest pasture that has the arena inside and they run laps down the hill, around the arena, and back up. The mini actually looks good from losing a few pounds due to this exercise and Blaze hasn't turned back into a hippo which is nice since he has been off work for almost a month now. Can't wait for that saddle to turn up and get him back on the trail--he clearly has energy to burn!

Sweet boy

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Saddle!! (and a beloved memory of Ireland)

It finally happened, after months of hemming and hawing (and thinking about it since this time last year) I ordered a Specialized saddle! Earlier this week I put a deposit on a Eurolight model so I can do a trial and make sure its just what I want. I rode in them in Utah last November but haven't since and since its such a big price tag I figured I better be darn sure it was just the thing for me and my horse herd first! If it works out and I buy the Eurolight model I am totally getting all the little perks, an extra seat, some woolly fenders for riding in shorts...hey, if I'm going to do it I might as well DO IT right? I've never owned a new saddle before, in fact I've only owned and used two saddles regularly in my whole life. The first was a beautiful little handmade leather English saddle that was given to me by a friend of the family when I was a freshman in high school (prior to that I was either riding lesson horses as a kid in Maine or riding the neighbor's fat Arab bareback when I arrived in CA at 10). When I got the saddle my mom, granny, and I had just flown back from spending two amazing weeks in Ireland. My granny, who went to college in Ireland and had been traveling there regularly for years, set up this amazing trip from Dublin around to Connemara and then all the way back to Dublin. And what did we do along the way on this drive? RIDE RIDE RIDE. Well I did, my granny and my mom mostly went off sight seeing and tea drinking. Though my mom did join me for one memorable group ride when we were all mounted on Connemara ponies and there was a galloping incident:

<"Remember mom, if shit goes down, grab the mane not the saddle, the mane doesn't come off as easily!" Insert more experienced riders, including me, cantering off, leaving the beginners alone (as a former trail guide, my instincts when recalling and typing this say Like DUH, not a good plan there). We had a good canter and then pulled up and turned to watch the beginners come "slowly" over to join us. And by slowly I mean the little bay mare my mom was riding cranked her ears back to her head and ran as fast as her little Connemara legs would carry her over to rejoin the herd. I had a view clear as day and a heart full of delight and horror as that pony flew across the turf towards us with my mom hanging on to that mane for dear life as said life no doubt flashed before her eyes. She arrived in one piece and more importantly, still on board the pony!  Upon arrival she gave credit to my sage advice on grabbing mane but I'm sure pure unadulterated survival instinct didn't hurt either. A great memory>

Anyhoo. It was the trip of a lifetime. And I'm scheming on when it can happen again. Returning to my main storyline, lost somewhere back before Ireland, on our way home from the airport we stopped to see family friends and the lady of the household offered me her father's handmade English saddle. Apparently he had been an old time rancher and for some inexplicable reason rode English! Or had an English saddle, anyway. It was a really light, beautiful saddle and I took it home and used it on the gorgeous buckskin Appendix mare I somehow talked my parent's into buying for me a few months later (credit to the step-dad there, mom didn't want to spoil me! Huzzah for spoiling, re: horses anyway). Speaking of that buckskin, she was the most gorgeous creature. Phew. Miss her nutty self. I should write about her on here someday. I have trouble sticking to the point, don't I? After selling the Appendix mare senior year to head off to college in Oregon I next used the little English saddle on the awesome little QH/Welsh pony mare I bought off my best friend for $100. 2 or 3 more years of use after that and then I bought my big panel saddle used from a friend and used that on MANY horses up until my issues with it and Blaze's back this summer. So now I am embarking on the new saddle journey. I've always preferred used, broken-in things but its pretty thrilling to be expecting a shiny new saddle in the mail. I really hope it works out! There are a couple of different Specialized models I like so it'll happen one way or the other.

My mom is *hopefully* coming to visit this weekend and if she does there will be some wine and memories of Ireland aired.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sheza Blaznhaat Xpres 6 month old Photo Shoot

 Getting her hair done and clearly enjoying it

 "Hmm..smells like me"

 Wilbur the wiener dog

 Going for a Walk

 Working the feet and mind

 Look at that rump!

 Mom in the background

 Big girl!

 Practicing for our future vet checks :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dogs and Horses etc

Today was so gorgeous and warm! I mowed our front lawn which was a big lush Amazonion jungle (and killed the mower 4 times even on the highest setting) and the fresh cut lawn and warm air just made me sooo sleepy all day. Not sleeping due to our dogs barking like nutters all night also made me sooo sleepy all day. This whole week of the "harvest moon" the dogs have been on edge and barkier than barky. Its ridiculous with four dogs because if one starts even with an idle half-assed bark all four in their various locations take it up and its like COME ON you don't even know what you're barking at but you're going bananas?! Well I guess I am less tolerant of barking than some. I was saying today though that it's like The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The dogs bark at nothing SO often that eventually we stop checking what they're barking at. And one of these days they are going to be barking at something important. So I am wishing they would preserve their barking for real security occasions rather than buzzards and phantasms only doggies see. Well that's an idle wish but I share it just the same. Its pretty funny the whole selection of barks, actually. Our Catahoula hound mix does this crazy high pitched yodeling when he is messing with the cats or there is something to do with chasing prey. Wilbur the mini dachshund has an incredibly sharp ear splitting bark and isn't shy with it, in fact he just barked out of nowhere in the quiet living room and startled the crap out of me!

Anyway another lovely fall day spent working around the place, only would have been better if I had been riding. Speaking of--big news! I've sent off the email initiating my order for a Specialized saddle through Desire's previous owners at GETC in Utah. I'm going to do a trial on a Eurolight, and if it works out I totally want all the awesome options like fleece fenders (riding in shorts, yo!), interchangeable seats of fleece and leather, etc. I can't believe the saddle is only 12 lbs. I rode in them in Utah a year ago but I have done so much riding since then I don't remember the feel of the weight. I'm really excited, I've never bought a *new* saddle before, I know there are downsides to it but its still exciting.

The new winter blankets arrived in the mail yesterday. Sheza's is a cute little navy blue waterproof turnout and Desire's is a great bright purple! I will definitely have to take photos of them wearing them. And get Sheza used to having it on and off!

I've been grooming Sheza in her paddock every day and hanging out with her and playing with her Jolly Ball enticing her to play with it. She had a great time kicking around a red feed bucket in the big pasture this summer but I didn't like the risk of the bucket and handle with her little legs so I threw a big white sealed jug and a Jolly Ball in her paddock instead. I really enjoy hanging out with her and our bond is getting pretty strong! She is so social, every when my husband pulls up she trots over to the fence and whinnies at him. Cars can come and go but she only whinnies at the truck and any time she sees or hears me. I am loving my filly! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sheza Gets a Pedicure

Let me start this post by saying @%(#^*@#$&!! I already wrote this post and edited it, and was pressing Publish when I had yet another mysterious gibberish error occurrence and said post disappeared into the black hole of computer error-land. I'm really tired and don't feel like writing it again. But I'm going to. Call it a lesson in self discipline.

SO. My new barefoot trimmer came out this morning. We have Desire on a strict 4 week schedule so we can closely monitor her hoof growth and adjust it as needed. Her hooves were a hot mess this morning when I gave them a pre-trimmer clean out. I don't know why I just feel like I should have my horses a little cleaned up for a farrier or vet. It doesn't always happen, mind you, but I try to when I pull them early enough. Anyhoo Desire's hooves were "shedding" for winter, as it were, and were a chalky nasty mess. Some low grade thrush happening again too as this sudden heavy ground moisture we got with the two brief storms of the last week.We had to get 6-8 inches of rain at least! The trimmer, D, said that the very good news was that Desire had grown a significant amount of new healthy hoof. In just 4 weeks she has grown enough hoof to give her a small jump start into concavity in her hooves again. Her fronts are scary flat. The move and pregnancy really wreaked havoc with her feet. But D keeps telling me all will be well. I am just mortified and frustrated to have my horse's in any sort of bad state. But I have confidence in D and am really opening my eyes to hoof reality with Desire. She had little bruises along the wall of her fronts as well, internally caused we think. So yikes. Anyway, D helped all the shedding stuff slough off and the hooves looked much better. Desire has consistently grown hoof quite quickly since she has been here and D says that will be my saving grace in getting her back into healthy hooves more quickly. In the mean time we will continue to re revaluate her hooves every 4 weeks.

Now, to the big news! Sheza had her first farrier work today! Well technically hoof trimmer work but farrier just flows more in the sentence I think. I noticed a couple little chips in one of her front hooves and thought she must be due for some farrier attention (See, I'm sticking with it despite its slight incorrectness, oh well). Let me just say, my little junior redhead behaved SO WELL! I was really pleased with her today. I stood her on the black mats in the wash rack stall and stood at her head while D worked on all four hooves with her rasp. I have been picking up and cleaning/tapping on Sheza's hooves since she was a couple of days old, but I have to say having a handler and then someone else working around her and rasping on the hooves no less! I was really proud. She stood quietly and was just very curious, snuffling all over D's head when she could get it bust mostly the rear end of course because that's what we see of our hoof trimmers and farriers, isn't it? Sheza was also snuffling the ground for hay scraps even while her hooves were being done. Pretty relaxed I'd say. D is also an Arabian breeder and endurance rider and has a very nice quiet energy and Sheza reacted quite well to her. D corrected a couple of small things but pronounced the hooves sound and healthy. Sheza walked out with me so D could watch her stride quite nicely, despite being headed away from mom and the herd, and was a perfect lady for her halter to come off in her paddock. Very proud of my little redhead today!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Good luck and Safe Riding

The Tevis competitors are on the trail already and I am sending out good thoughts, wishes, and prayers for all horses and riders to get home safely after this unusual October Tevis with snowfall and trail changes galore! Hopefully many complete and have fun but ALL get back to their rigs safely.

Hoping for good results for Christoph, I see from the Tevis webcast that he is on the trail on Linnzell. How exciting, hope the day goes well for everyone!

 I'm sure everyone following already knows this but in case someone doesn't, follow Tevis progress here:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Return of the Sun and the End of (some) Procrastination

After steady rain all last night and half of today, the sun finally emerged from behind the clouds this afternoon. It was intermittent but it was there and the forecast calls for more sun tomorrow and for the next few days. Temperatures in the 70s, 40s at night. Sounds mighty nice to me! I think I'll try hand walking Sheza out through the neighborhood tomorrow or the next day. Desire still has a fairly full milk bag and I am letting that subside before I ride her more. I can't imagine its comfortable. I'm not going to pony Sheza off Blaze riding him bareback, that's for sure! So going for a nice walk or two and get some more exposure, more practice on ground manners. And get that practice going out and about without mom for the first time.

I ordered Desire a purple Viking II Turnout from Schneiders and a navy blue Expandable Foal Blanket from Schneiders for Sheza. She takes the size Large foal blanket! I noticed today that she is a little butt high, having another growth spurt for sure. It was funny how friendly she became again once the rain subsided, the sun was out, things were a little calmer. She was spooky and would hardly be touched during the 3 day storm but was nearly back to normal tonight. She was still silly and spooky when I brought her mash in but I made her stand quietly and let me touch her all over when she came to eat. I don't appreciate the violent spooking around my person and I wasn't going to let her just do that and then get to eat with no issue. Little brat!

 I've been paying bills the last few days and the outflow of money is just crazy. Bills, bills, bills. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Trying to Shop Local

I grew up in a small, community conscious area so "Shop Local" has always been a relatively present concept in my mind. 90% of my shopping is about and for my animals, naturally. I now live much closer to more shopping opportunities, both local and in the "big city" (Sacramento) but the last four times I was actively searching for something for my horses I drove the hour up to the next town to shop at the locally owned tack store. Each and every time, including today, they haven't had what I needed! Its hard to shop local when its..just not possible. I was really frustrated after driving all that way and not finding a THING I was looking for (if I can walk through a tack store and buy nothing, something is up!). Then I thought about it and realized that it was most likely related to their most common clientele. If I were an average trail rider, or weekend warrior, and/or particularly a western rider with a QH or other good sized animal I suppose that store would be just the ticket! All the leather and camo and western saddles would be exciting, no doubt. Since I'm working my way towards being a full fledged endurance rider, ride English, and have shrimpy Arabs, this store has nothing useful beyond absolute basics like brushes or wound spray that I don't buy often. They don't carry blankets small enough, small enough splint boots, much of any English tack, and certainly no endurance gear. Once I got that concept through my noggin I wasn't so perturbed--its just the way it goes. To this day I have only ever been in one tack store that carries endurance gear in stock, and that's Christensen's in Loomis which is a good haul away from here. But a very cool store! Have gotten some beloved tack there and my favorite breeches, half chaps, and winter riding coat as well.

So here I am listening to a torrential downpour, credit card in hand, ready to order the horse things I need online. I tried!

Torrential Downpour!

Last night we got some SERIOUS rain. It was gray with on and off sprinkles all day but by dark the rain had started and it absolutely roared and poured most of the night. Since we bought our home last year and have the horses at home (I boarded my horses out most of my horse-owning life) I don't sleep through stormy nights very well, there is so much to think about as far as trees down or possible property damage, the horses etc. I also get paranoid about the power going out because I HATE it when that happens. It really doesn't happen very often here but when I was growing up on the coast it happened quite a few times a winter so I am still ingrained to expect/dread it.

This morning Blaze was snug as a bug in a rug in his thick waterproof blanket, the mini looked like a little swamp creature, Sheza was bug eyed and spooky, and Desire was shivering. Poor girl doesn't have any sort of winter coat. It looks like she at least managed to stay under her shed most of the night since she wasn't soaked, but Sheza was sure soaked. I definitely need to order D and Sheza's blankets, it was in the 40s and pouring last night and is supposed to be in the 40s again tonight.With wind and/or rain and a horse with no winter coat that's pretty chilly!

Everything is soggy and cold and wet. I'm drinking a hot cup of tea with my chihuahua curled up on a heating pad next to me. Enjoying it, since the forecast says sunny and in the 70s by Friday.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Busy Busy

Well I've been neglecting the blog the last few days. The weather has suddenly decided its fall, or maybe winter, and rain is forecast with winds and 45 mph gusts by Wednesday. The last few days I have been cleaning up around the property, putting the camping gear and other summer stuff away, etc. We need to stack some more wood that's for sure. So far we haven't timed the whole restocking the woodshed thing well, we certainly don't want to do it in 100 degree summer but seem to then leave it to late in the year.

Anyway, Sheza and Desire are doing well, Sheza has started lying down to nap again in the last few days, she didn't for the first few days after I separated them. She is eating like a hog and there isn't a wisp of hay left come next feeding time. I'm feeding grass hay with some Elk Grove Milling hay pellets and Sheza gets some Foal Developer as well. The hay grower I am trying to hook up with will not return my call so I'm really frustrated there but hopefully that will come through.

I put Blaze's blanket on for the first time tonight, since rain is forecast and he and his mini are out in the big pasture with lots of trees but no shed like the other paddocks have. Blaze loves standing in his sheds so I feel a little guilty he doesn't have one now but he does have plenty of shelter in the trees should he choose to use it, and now he has his thick waterproof blanket on as well. Napoleon the mini is hairy as a little mountain goat so I'm not really worried about him. I still need to order Sheza a blanket though she as grown a nice little winter coat. Desire doesn't seem to grow a winter coat, she didn't have one when she arrived last January and isn't particularly fuzzy now. Curious.

I'm exhausted and have to figure out something to make for dinner...