Sunday, April 29, 2012

Evening Cruise

No horses cruised this evening, but we loaded up the four dogs into the Polaris and drove up the hill to the ridge for the sunset. It's a really fun little stretch of road to ride on as well as drive, in fact I think I'll take Desire up there for tomorrow's sunset. 

You can see the two big dogs lurking in the back, look for the glowing eyes..

 Wilbur wiener has the need, the need for speed! He ran and ran and ran and ran up the hill until his little stumpy legs couldn't run anymore, and then joined my husband in the driver's seat:

Beavis and Butthead  Tady and JJ. These are two very happy, dorky dogs. J has had them since before I met him and they are reflections of what an engaged, adventurous, happy dog owner/trainer he is:

JJ is part Catahoula and has the spotted tongue and bizarre yodel:

The road winds away back down the hill in the distance..what a great place we live in for riding and fishing and all our adventures! I just love it.

Crazy-eyes-thumbs-up pictures are kind of a family tradition. No, seriously. In keeping, (and conclusion) I'll share this:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Private Trails on a Sunny Saturday!

Actually just the public ones at Lake Oroville, but for whatever reason we were the only 2 rigs there this morning and there was only 1 more when we got back. Absolutely unheard of for a beautifully sunny Saturday in spring. The only thing I can conclude is that all the horse shows/festivals/events happening locally tomorrow kept people home prepping today, but REALLY. It was awesome for us, but kinda bizarre. I do my best to avoid the lake trails on the weekend as it's a true zoo but hadn't seen this (hard working) buddy in a while and weekends are the best time for her, so we decided to meet at 8:30 and hopefully skirt the crowd. 'Course since the crowd never appeared, we just had ourselves a beautiful private morning ride!

We, us, them, I suppose they deserve an introduction, as much as initials and vague details are an introduction. Meet D and her daughter T and their mounts Bob (D up) and Emmy (T up, bareback):

I've known them for a few years now but they used to live up the hill in Paradise and we didn't often see each other, and in fact probably hadn't crossed paths in reality for about a year now. We got back in touch via good ole Facebook the other day and scheduled this ride.

 Last time I saw little T she wasn't too keen on the whole horse situation, she would participate some but wasn't horse-crazy like her mom had been hoping. What a difference a  year makes! As I mentioned T was riding Emmy in just a bareback pad today, and has become a real little cowgirl. Emmy is a really smooth nice horse but has a bit of a mare opinion at times, but T did really well with her and we walked, trotted, and cantered on the "private" trails. At a snack break we were all dismounted relaxing and D said, "Hey T, show her your trick."  I had no idea what to expect as T put her hand low, Emmy dropped her head to her hand, T grabbed Emmy's neck just behind her head in a bear hug and Emmy *tossed* T up over her neck and onto her back. Then T turned around to face the right way, Ta Da! It was a *slick* trick and I so wasn't expecting it.

The connector of the loop was underwater and T was dead set on getting in there, so in she went! D joined her but Blaze was content to graze on the shore and play photographer's mount.

Gotta love kids:


Gotta dump those boots after a good swim:

Lots of flowers today:

"Hey Mom, let's canter to dry off!"  and I quote :-)

It was a great mellow 6.5 miles in a couple of hours, totally enjoyable. During a particularly exuberant canter up a hill the gaiter ripped off of Blaze's Epic as it's been threatening to (I bought the pair well used) but I took the screws out and can easily put a new gaiter on. His heels have dropped so much he may be able to go in Gloves soon!

Congrats to Irish Horse and Major at Trails and Trials for completing their first AERC LD today at the American River Classic, and congrats to my Cuyama XP buddy A and her non-stop awesome stallion for finishing another 50 at ARC, this time in the tough Pioneer division! Keep it rocking in the free world ladies, what a beautiful weekend for all sorts of riding!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Arena Reclamation

I lay in bed convinced I was dying for most of yesterday. A cold, splitting sinus/migraine headache, and 3 or 4 trips to the bathroom to vomit meant I didn't emerge from the cabin/bedroom until literally 6 pm. Being sick is very boring, so I decided to only indulge in one day of it.

Today I still had a pretty strong cold but the rain was gone and there were things to be done. This morning I spent the usual hundreds at the feed store (GULP) and stacked hay etc when I got home. Then it was time to learn to use the rototiller! I've probably done it once or twice in my life but clearly it was time for a refresher since there was a big grassy space that was once our arena and a rototiller sitting idly by...add me into the equation and we've got the potential for progress! 

Very boring, very slow, very hard on the hands, which were barely big enough to wrap all the way around the handle/throttle. But--mission accomplished!

Gate corner Before...

Gate corner After...

and a larger view..

Wahoo! I rock. We really need to buy a rototiller one of these days...just one more thing on a long list! Still, great to have my arena back! Some really nice footing under that compacted top.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blaze Rides Again

You may have noticed that lately I've spent a lot of time jigging and wigging my way through 50s on Desire and working my greenies on lunge lines and now--huzzah!--in the round pen. Where, you may wonder, does that leave my main man Blaze? Loafing mostly, doing the odd ride here and there from home when I need to unwind from dealing with the other horses, but admittedly not getting a lot of trail time. So when my riding buddy C got in touch to get together for a lake ride I figured Blaze was due for a cruise--and this time I brought his saddle pad!

We met at the lake at 9 and since it was pretty cool and grey this morning we decided to head up over the ridge to the visitor center and beyond, but at a mellow pace. Blaze hadn't seen C's gelding Sonny in a while, here they are saying hullo:

When I put the splint boots on Blaze's hind legs he did the horsey goose step for a good 20 steps and gave me a real laugh. We headed out and had a really mellow, fun ride, just chatting away with only 2 sustained trots the whole time, which was just fine for Blaze and good practice being mellow for Sonny, who has come an awesomely long way brain-wise since I started riding with them last year. He is a leggy natural athlete but needed some miles and LSD to get his brain together; he was so quiet and relaxed on the trail today, C has really done a great job with him. He'll be doing his debut 50 at Cache Creek next month and I have total faith in the pair.

By the time we turned around at just over 6 miles out the sun had come out and it had warmed up quite a bit. Blaze grazed and had a few sips of water along the way, and even peed and pooped out on the trail, which was great. He generally doesn't do much of any of the above on rides at the lake, no matter the distance, and since he hasn't been out a whole lot it was nice to see him taking care of himself. He was in great shape end of last summer and has been out enough that I knew he could handle today, but it always eases the mind to see positive signs like eating, pooping, etc.

Heading back up the ridge behind C:

A nice day over the dam:

Aww, he's such a stinkin cutie:

We cruised back into the parking lot at 12.6 miles in 4 1/2 hours, so yes, you could say we were taking our time, hah! It was a great ride though, so good to be out on the trail with C again, and exciting to see how far her gelding has come mentally. And of course happy to have my boy out again. See, he survived:

Nice even sweat marks from the saddle and the Epics stayed on fine, though the gaiter is tearing off one and should probably be addressed..eventually.

I think my mom left her cold with me, I had a blast on the ride today but since getting home and sitting down I'm feeling less and less lively..well the 2 days of forecast showers/rain starting tomorrow is just in time for me to be sick and healthy again real quick-like, right?!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Round & Round

..and round we went! Joey was first up this morning and it felt stifling hot already at 9 am. It topped out in the high 80s today and it's been quite an adjustment. Lots of sunscreen and beverages and hosing myself and any nearby horses off.

Joey wore his pretty new yellow rope halter. I can finally return the halter he came in to his previous owner..

Joey didn't believe me that I wanted him to stop and change directions first few circuits around the pen and instead of yielding to my upraised hand as he has been doing, he charged for the gap between me stepping to forward to block his intended path and the panels, and took a Lipizzaner leap at the pen itself, crashing into it. It was lightning fast, loud, and dramatic. One round pen panel bent and the whole pen pushed out a good 10 feet. He scraped his left front and cut his left hind, but not badly, not ouchy, and so we worked. And worked.

He clearly doesn't believe in me as a leader yet, he'll square up but won't hook on, and will often square up once and then turn his butt on the next transitions for a few minutes before he even acknowledges me again. He keeps an ear on me but his eye often isn't, and I see his other ear and attention sometimes on the other horses away up the hill from the round pen. It was so hot and I wanted to check his leg so when I got two square ups in a row I called it.

Oh, are you tired? Yeah, me too. Oy. Arabs.

I picked out his left front hoof and rubbed his right front leg. You can see by his ears how stoked he was about that:

We both needed a hosing off. Fortunately this is one thing that Joey actually enjoys. This, and food.

Today he put his lips around the hose and really sucked it down, you can see the water dripping out of his mouth if you squint:

I put Trail-Rite's Magical Ointment on the scraped front leg and cleaned and sprayed Vetericyn on the small cut on his hind. He also got fly spray all over which he was fine with.

Looking mighty fine after the bath!

I'm taking Blaze for a lake ride on Tuesday so I wanted to get him out and set the Specialized up for him so I was ready. It was really interesting, he is generally very responsive on the lunge line and always stops, squares up, backs off the rope jiggle, etc. Today was his first time in the round pen and he COMPLETELY checked out when he got in there, turning his butt on every transition for 40 minutes straight, trotting with his head high and a sort of glazed eye. I had to wonder if he hadn't been round penned endlessly (and purposelessly?) in his past, because I've never seen Blaze check out like that in any situation. I finally put a line on him and reminded him of that contact and he was instantly responsive. It was really weird! He was being used for beginner lessons when I bought him and was really sour on the canter and as a rule doesn't get very excited about arena work. But the round pen was something different. Hmm...

He totally looks like a little chunky pony to me here:

So he's missing a head and tail and some feet but I love the body and saddle shot:

And with a few more crucial body parts:

Then a brief spin in the arena and a canter up the hill outside the arena so we could end on some fun.

It was really warm by this time so we loaded up in the Polaris Ranger and headed down to the creek to cool off, swim the dogs, and go for a half hearted attempt at gold mining. High 80s, direct sunlight, working on the chain gang for gold..more like swimming hole, a few half-assed prospecting pans, and back home for root beer floats!

Me and my ma, cool cats at the river:

When we got home everyone pretty much felt like this and there may have been some snoring going on from multiple sources and locations on the property...

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Ahh, that wonderful soothing feeling when the filly you've haltered since birth suddenly yanks her nose away from the halter and heads for the hills, tail in the air. Catch me?! Halter me?! WHAT'S THAT! Never heard of it, don't want it near me!     Breathe deep. Be calm. We'll get through this. WWHHEeee you'll never catch me, just ask my sidekick Bandito, Whheee!

An hour, two dogs, and a sweaty human later, my charming yearling was haltered. It was the usual routine, you get to stand still and be quiet around me, but if you start to spook away, you run. Of course those games works a lot better and faster with say, a Quarter Horse, than a healthy young Arab, but darn it, it DID work in the end! Many thanks to my JJ hound dog and, surprise herder extraordinaire Georgia. I saw a dark blur running the fence line that kept scaring Sheza away from the trough (good, coz she ain't getting a drink while she's being a brat) and realized it was my Chihuahua running the fence with all her might. Pretty cute.

I have to say I was proud of myself for staying fairly low on the frustration scale. There was definitely swearing involved, but I've been through this with her before when  she gets a wild hair up her ass and decides she's never been touched by humans. It hasn't happened in months and she has been coming right to me and haltering politely as recently as 2 days ago. But you know, every day is a new day, especially in Fickle Filly Land. And especially especially if, heaven for fend, you change the color of equipment you are using on/with her. I had some yacht rope halters made for the horses since I'm loving the rope halter over the flat nylon halter lately, and Sheza's new halter is a beautiful bright green. Beautiful in my opinion, anyway. I guess in her opinion it's the popular shade known as Horse Eating Green. I did end up giving up on the green and getting the black halter on, because things had devolved to that point, but you better believe the green halter will be introduced again very soon. I *think* the same thing caused the blanket "fear" issue that started the end of this winter, when one day I could throw the blanket on her loose in the pasture and the next storm--familiar blanket now outgrown, a few weeks later--she didn't want her new lovely purple blanket anywhere NEAR her, under any circumstances. I figured she was just being a ShezaBrat at the time but after today with the new green halter, it really got me thinking. 

See, she really does wear blankets..

Despite the fact that it's really warm here today and we'd both been working up a sweat for an hour just over the haltering issue, I decided to address the blanket issue. My greatest frustration in raising Sheza, my first foal, has been the regression thing. Sure, I haltered and handled her since day one, but some days she won't be haltered. Sure, she wore multiple blankets from a few months old on up, but if it's a new color she won't wear it?!? Drives. Me. Crazy. SO, since the haltering was accomplished, I turned to the other regression, blankets.

My goal for today was simple: Intro to round pen and let me at least rub the blanket on her neck and shoulders, since at last attempt she wouldn't even let it touch her face. *majoreyeroll* Since it was 40 degrees and raining a week ago and as of yesterday it's suddenly been 85 degrees without a cloud in the sky, there is some adjusting to be done, especially for us redheads. *pantpantapplysunscreendrinkwaterhideinshade*   
Luckily my mom is visiting and she took some great photos and brought me glasses of water, ahhh luxury.

Intro to the round pen was a non-event, since she has been lunging on the line nicely in the last few weeks. She eyeballed the round pen heavily, snorted as we walked through the gate, and that was pretty much that. I unsnapped the lead rope and raised my hand behind her and off she went, trotting around the perimeter. 

She got the stop and direction change quickly and squared up to me right away, but as I started introducing the blanket she got snooty again and turned her butt on me for transitions, so had to keep trot trot trotting around for a few more minutes. Once she decided to pay attention again and squared up and came to me nicely I started letting her sniff the blanket and touching her face with it:

She tolerated that fine but when I moved it toward her neck she took off again and did some more circles and direction changes until she was respectfully back and ready for more. This time I made it to her neck and rubbed it all over her neck and shoulder on the right side, which she didn't move a muscle for. (Remember, she ran circles for an hour in the sun before I even caught her so the edge was well off by now!) When I moved around to her left side she made as if to spook away but then stopped and decided maybe the blanket rub was better than trotting again:

See, you jackass wonderful filly, the blanket won't hurt you! Can you just imagine Joey rolling his eyes at that? "YEAH RIGHT! That thing will wrap around your hoof and turn into a death trap! Don't believe her!"

Sweaty filly, thinking about things, hmmm, this blanket maybe isn't so bad, hmmm...

I called it a day at that, having rubbed the blanket over her face and on both sides of her neck, chest, and shoulders. It was seriously warm out and I wanted to end on a win without completing exhausting us both. She was so hot and sweaty I knew it would also be good for another hose bath lesson, so after much praise for the round pen work we were off for the cross ties.

Okay, I know her head looks giant in the photo below but it cracks me up and I had to add it, the eyeballing she is giving the hose is SO Desire-esque. And it's also photo evidence that my nutty filly can be sprayed off with a Terrifying Hose Creature and we can both live to tell the tale. Small victories, people, small victories.

You can see me in the back left corner scraping the water off as she eyes my mom and the camera dubiously:

I had pulled Desire too and made her hang out in the cross ties while I was working Sheza. She tapped and danced and pooped and then danced in her poop, and called for Sheza, and was just generally silly when we first left for the round pen. I heard her quiet down after about 10 minutes though and she seemed to be chilling in her cross ties when we returned. I have been wanting to properly wash and shampoo her mane and tail for a while now so after Sheza was bathed I turned the hose on Desire, which prompted the whole tap dance routine again. She's so funny, she acts SO angsty the whole time but really doesn't move much of anywhere, she doesn't even swing her butt around, just stands in one place with her rump in the left corner where she likes it, tapping and stretching and angst-ing away.

I don't have any snazzy bluing shampoo, just Cowboy Magic shampoo and conditioner that I dilute quite a bit with water. So the mane and tail didn't come out amazingly blindingly white or anything, but certainly less yellow than before and at least the hair is clean and fully combed through now.

The girls wouldn't stand up and pose for us, every time one looked toward the camera the other one started grazing, so we got what we could for size and growth comparisons.

 Hey ma, you aren't so big anymore! 

Finally the horse torture was at an end for the day and we headed for the paddocks, past the scary man with machines, aka my husband and the leaf blower.

Ready, Ready? You know it's coming... I like big butts and I cannot lie! Look at those serious and for real Arabian butts!

Woah, what happened to that tidy mane!  It's like fire :-) She isn't shaking her head here, that's just how it fell after her bath.

Not too much distance from that filly back up to mom's...yikes...

Desire's tail is nice and fluffy looking, and again, I LIKE BIG BUTTS AND I CANNOT LIE!!! Okay, I'm done.