Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What Happened While We Were On Vacation



We just got back from our summer vacation to Houston, TX to see our kids and new grand-daughter. What a beautiful baby--like all of the grandchildren (My husband has good genetics--wink--wink!!!) I'm hoping we have another horse-crazy girl in the making--one who wants to come to visit us and ride wild mustangs through the wheat fields.

Well, while we were gone a friend took care of our horses for us, and on the first day she got kicked by my Mustang. Apparently, she was feeding her in her stall and while Beautiful was eating her hay she poured the grain. From what I understand, the sound of the grain startled her and she kicked up and got her right in the elbow--HARD. My poor friend had to go to the emergency room for x-rays, but luckily, there was no break.

I guess it's just a reminder that she is, afterall, wild, but I wish it happened to me rather than to my friend.

Also during our trip, on the last night, a wind-storm came through and blew down the electric tape (that's why I prefer smoothe-wire). My friend found it at about 9:30 at night and lucky for us, our horses were still in the pasture. I kept one horse locked up while we were gone just for such an emergency. If the mares are locked up, the geldings won't leave.

So, now I need to unpack and get out there and clean stalls. We also have some serious mowing to do. The weather is still windy though, kind of depressing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mud Bath

This is the way our Mustang takes a bath:

1. Spray her down and lather her with soap.

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2. Rinse with water

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3. Roll in the mud

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4. Respray her with water

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5. Lock her in her stall and let her long for the mud

What's that saying--you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl? Well, this is the same saying for mustangs:

You can take the mustang out of the wild, but you can't take the wild out of the mustang.

Cloud:Wild Stallion of the Rockies



My mom, who stops by the blog to say hello every now and then, loaned me the video Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies, yesterday. I would bet that many of you have already seen it--but as you know if you've followed my entries, I was largely ignorant of Mustangs up until Beautiful's adoption, and hadn't even heard of Cloud.

If you haven't already seen it, you'll want to run out and get it--rent it, borrow it, find it somehow. If you're interested in buying it, please buy it from the Cloud Foundation site (link at right or copy and paste below).

http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/donationrewards.html

I've been studying the site today and they are doing a great job following this new effort by the BLM to euthanize Mustangs, raising awareness and fighting it. If you purchase the DVDs through them, the money is put towards this effort and part of the price of purchase is tax-deductible.

Here are some samples of artwork you can purchase through the site signed by Ginger Kathrens.

Dancing at Sunset

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Sunset Skirmish

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Greeting Looking Glass

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Monday, July 14, 2008

First Ride on Cia








Tonight I took my first ride on my 3 year old filly, Cia. She's still extremely green and just starting to learn direction, but the groundwork had paid off. She accepts me in the saddle and she bends real nice and gives to the bit.

All of this was done in the roundpen, where we'll be for a while.

I'm going out later to work with Beautiful Girl again. She has another farrier appointment in the morning.

I'm back from Beautiful Girl. What a day. I've been out with the horses from morning to night. I took a long ride on Cowboy, my P3 recovery miracle, then rode my filly, Cia--and lastly, had a wonderful experience with Beautiful!

Whenever I approach Beautiful, I always do so with halter in hand and ask her to let me put it on from the front of her head first. If she doesn't take it, which she never has, I rope her with the long rope. When she's secured with the long rope, I work it around her face until she allows me to put it on from the front.

Tonight, I walked right up and she let me put it on like it was nothing.

So, that was it for me. I melted. I spent the rest of our time loving on her and letting her sniff my hat an hair.

I love that girl!

PS. Her mane is starting to grow back! I really think she had a worm load and the stress from changing environments allowed them to take over. She has had two good wormings now, and I think things are coming under control. She also has grain every day and Horse Guard vitamins. I took away her Selenium Salt Block and replaced it with a plain one. I can't wait to see what she's like when she's in good health with good feet.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Girl Got a Bath!

Beautiful got her first bath--but no pictures--my picture girl left for vacation. LOL. I can tell you, it wasn't easy!

The way I've always gotten my colts to take baths is to put them on a lunge line and work them in a circle with the water, like I do with a lunge whip.

This method relies on them going forward by spraying them, at the onset, on the hind.

Well, Beautiful is adept at making tried and true techniques seem silly. What did she do?? She put her butt up against the side of the barn and wouldn't move forward.

The up side?

She wanted to come to me for reassurance. This was good. And, after a little lovin', she stood and let me spray her--partially.

That's as far we got tonight--I let her rest in fresh woodchips. Tomorrow morning I'll go out and do it again and see what she learned. I'll take my husband out to take pictures. :):)

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dirty Girl

My mustang who likes to pee on her food, lay in her poop, and find every mudhole to roll in, is going to get her first bath tomorrow.

Every time I go out to see her she has dirtied her stall and herself in creative ways.

Tonight we went out and she had dirt in round patches all over her side. My daughter-in-law and I had a good laugh--how did she do it?? She finds unique ways to dirty herself every day.

Also, her coat feels like the coat of an elk or deer. So, I'm going to worm her again tomorrow and give her a spray down. It's going to be a beautiful day, so no better time to do it.

(To be continued)...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

All Work, No Play






Because of Beautiful's feet, it seems like we spend a lot of time "training", and not as much playing.

I try to get out every day at least once, and I aim for 3 times--but if something has to go--it's the play time.

If we do have "play", it's usually at night--around sundown--when all the horses come in to relax and mutual groom. That's our time to unwind and enjoy each other.

I'm not sure if the "play" sessions or the "training" sessions have gotten me further, but things are getting easier. Simple things like petting her all over and haltering her aren't a big deal anymore, though she's still shy about the feet.

I know a week or two from now these sessions will be rewarded and picking up her feet will be as simple as petting her. (At least I tell myself that).

Here are some pictures of our session today--taken by myself and working with one hand. (I don't recommend it!) The picture of her in the halter--she's about to fall asleep on me. She didn't really wake up until we started the foot work. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Good Days & Bad Days For Mustangs

Yesterday, after I blogged about the Lauman videos, I went out and had a horrible day with my Beautiful Girl. (Insert violins)

I went out determined to flag her, get her to lead, and pick up her feet with the rope and then my hands--two hours later I had accomplished my goals.

But not without getting very mad at her, and her getting very stubborn with me, making the whole experience seem like a major loss and downer.

So why did I get mad at her and what did I do?

I got mad because she wouldn't give me her feet, and she threatened me with the front left. I had already picked it up several times with the rope, and I'd picked up the right with my hands quite nicely. But it came down to this one issue: picking up the left hoof with my hands. She said NO WAY. I said, you better.

Actually, I said NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO--when she threatened to strike me (as she did the farrier a week before). Her eyes looked a bit frightened, and then something else set in--determination. The fact is, she's not scared of me anymore--it's a battle of who will surrender, and she tries to outlast me.

By the end of it, she haltered, led, picked up both feet, and surrendered her entire body, but let's call that a BAD DAY.

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Now fast forward to today--A GOOD day.

At the very foundation of all of this lies one simple truth: I am my mustang's friend. And she knows it.

There's no horse in the world more appreciative of hay, a warm, clean place to lay their head, and safety, than a poor mustang. Just look at the legislation coming before congress now--to euthanize the 30,000 mustangs in holding because the BLM can't afford to care for them anymore, and you will agree, there is no animal more at risk than these animals.

Everyone will soon be asking themselves the hard question--What is the importance of the Mustang horse to the United States of America, and how much is it worth to us to preserve it?

I have insight to both sides--the cattlemen and the horse lovers. I know the cattlemen want and need land, and the horse lovers want their mustangs. I know that horses tear up the ground and compete for scarce resources and federal land like nothing else can.

But I also know the wild horse is an American Symbol. It represents survival, tenacity, pride--what amounts to the American Dream. At the very least, there should be some HARD thought and innovation put forward to preserve it.

When money is scarce, it's the weakest that die or are neglected first. The mustangs have been protected since the early '70's, so who will be next when money is still short?

Will it be the elderly? Will it be our children? Will it be the disabled vets?

When you start breaking promises, it's a slippery slope.

And, since I got onto that subject, it's hard to come back to the other subject of Beautiful's Training.

Today was a good day--it ALL went well. She surrendered her feet kindly--she led nicely. Every day is, truly, good for Beautiful--or better than her brothers and sisters and cousins that were not adopted in April.

Right now, when a horse goes to three adoptions and is not homed--they're out. It's the three strikes you're out rule.

Hay and money are a scarce commodity for horse owners--horses are a luxury it is more and more difficult to afford. Many of our mustangs are not being adopted--many of them have three strikes.

Should they have been rounded up in the first place? Should they be let loose now?

Let's put our heads together and come up with a responsible and humane solution that will make it a "Good Day" for every sound Mustang in America.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Kitty Lauman: Groundwork for Success



I want to recommend Kitty Lauman's Video: Groundwork for Success, as well as, From Wild to Willing, for anyone who is training any horse--domestic or wild. You will not be disappointed and you'll wish you'd done it long ago.

I finally got to put my over-priced Parelli carrot stick to good use. (If you want to buy a "carrot stick", it's fine to buy it from their site, but it will cost you $36.00 plus shipping and mine did not arrive for 3 weeks. A friend of mine bought hers on eBay and it turned out just as nice, a little lighter, and cost her $16.00--arrived in a few days. I have something very similar, but red, I bought many years ago, before Parelli stuff was popular, but it doesn't have a leather end or a rope on the end--probably cost me 8 bucks).

But for keeping a horse quiet (which I want to do because of Beautiful's feet), and creating a partnership--there's no one better than Kitty Lauman to teach it to you. She uses many of the same tools you already own in a different way, and she's so wonderfully positive.

Beautiful is to the point now where she loves to see me coming--she wants the company. She's near the horses, but not right next to any of them. She has the goats as neighbors. And, I think this has worked out well because of her need for companionship. It also makes it that much more important to go out and spend time with her. As her need for my companionship increases, so does her tolerance level for my "games". Things move more quickly all the time.

Yesterday I kissed her on the nose and she jumped back--but then came back and put her nose out for me again.

She's still not totally comfortable when you touch her when she doesn't expect it. She's young and not a confident horse, which works against me, but she wants my friendship, which works for me.

My focus now is flagging her--getting her to move in both directions and disengage the hind to face me and the flag, flagging her all over her body, and picking up her front and back feet with the end of the rope to prepare for the next trim. I'm not sure which day that will be, but I know it's coming soon--possibly this Wednesday--I have to check our calendar.

Today I'm going out to ride Cowboy. I had a bad dream last night that I took him to the vet for some procedure and it went bad--he got a "blood clot" (Remember, it was a whacky dream) and the vet put him down (euthanized him). Later in the dream I discovered it was the vet's fault and they offered me my money back, but I was screaming at them--I WANT MY HORSE BACK!!! Apparently, I was talking in my sleep and woke myself up at that point!! Crazy dreams--he's alive and well, right outside of the window here, as I write.

Oh, another thing. Our fence blew over on the 4th of July!!!! We thought the concrete forms had stabilized it enough, but NO. My son, Coleman, came down and said, hey mom, the fence is down. I went out of here like a bat out of hell with a lead rope and carrot in hand---caught Shadow the leader--and took them all to the barn. Since then we made legs for the fence and we're setting them in concrete--a hurricane won't knock the new fence down!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Equestrian Diversity & Friendship

I'm part of a non-profit organization that I helped found over a year ago, Moms, Daughters & Horses (see link to the right "Women and Horses"), that has been a wonderful addition to my life. Our 501 C-3 Organization is now under the presidency and guidance of Samantha Leavell, a wonderful horsewoman and friend.

We raise money for college scholarships for young women, emergency equine aid, unwanted horses adoptions, and we have a number of free clinics, rides, libraries, and an interactive forum. In fact, it was working with this group at Ride the West when I discovered Beautiful.

The thing that impresses me most about this group is that we all have different styles of training and riding, but still we come together with mutual respect as horsewomen. We build each other up.

There are many people in the group who have different opinions and training techniques than I do, but I know they are equally good horsewomen--maybe even superior horsewomen to me.

I've had horses most of my life, raised and trained four babies, and now taken on this beautiful mustang. I've found working with her each day that she is a baby horse--smarter and less trusting than domestic--but a baby horse, all the same.

I would recommend to all the women who find this blog that they also join the Moms, Daughters and Horses forum. It is unique to find a group of women who value each other's opinions, build each other up, and come alongside one another. You will find riding partners and be inspired by ideas--we are a non-competitive group. There is no one person in charge, but a very large group of ladies with large hearts for horses.

There are also a number of places you can serve as we reach out to our larger equine community. There are three committees: Adoptions, Scholarships & Activities/Clinics--and there is a board of directors that is elected annually.

If you live far away, you can join us online and share your pictures and stories as well as your blogs.

Update on Beautiful:

Beautiful is doing great. I think the wormer really helped, but I want to follow up with another in a week. She has learned to love her grain and Horse Guard vitamins. My husband is a people doctor rather than an animal doctor, but he knows enough about equine physiology in general to do basic horse check-ups. I had him look at Beautiful's skin and he saw no evidence of lice. He recommended the same things everyone else has--worming and spray to keep the bugs off.

She still isn't keen on being groomed, but my wise farrier suggested the best thing for her would be lots and lots of brushing--especially around the legs. So, that's what I do--as well as lots and lots of leading and work on giving to pressure. She's only a baby still--so I try to keep her training fun and short.

As for her hooves, she's putting pressure on the heel and hasn't been lame. I think he took off the perfect amount to keep her sound, and will continue to take more and more off as time progresses.

It's a good feeling to have the "time" issue off my shoulders, and just be able to enjoy her as before. That was a horrible situation to be in--a clock ticking away and your sweet horse crippled with poor care that resulted in putting her on stilts--too painful to run and play like a normal baby--not knowing if she'd ever be sound. It's so wonderful to know she's going to be okay now.

I have other horses that grow similarly to Beautiful, that is, straight up. If I don't keep them on a regular schedule--every 6 weeks--they get trippy and unsafe. But if they're trimmed on schedule, they are great trail horses. I expect it will be the same with her, if not better since her hooves will probably be stronger.

The horses that are out on pasture are still loving it. So far they aren't getting any fatter than before--which is to say, they're still fat, but what can you do about it? We just ride and exercise them.

Cia, my 3 year old, is in training. She is really ready to be rode, but I'm putting it off for some reason. I need to get it done and make her another priority this week. I could be out there riding her today, she's so eager and sweet, but I know when I start her that far, I have to keep going, and I'm hesitant to take my time away from the mustang and Cowboy to concentrate on her riding, but I do want to use Cia for my dressage lessons in the fall.