Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Fall Trails

It's amazing to me that fall is not spring since it seems that in fall you really come to life. The weather is perfect. But instead of everything else coming to life, the plants, trees, grass--it is on the verge of going dormant--another beautiful transition--in my opinion.

So, maybe fall is the human version of spring. Hmmm...

Today I went on a gorgeous trailride at a friend's barn--up in the Hangman Creek area. The horses were end-of-summer-lazy--if you know what I mean. Basically, their get up and go, got up and went about two months ago.

I kicked Cowboy up a freshly plowed hill at a lope. In spring he'd be bounding up that same hill--but the last day of September, he just wanted to turn around and walk home. His run was was ho-hum, at best--I'm not sure which music you'd play to it--not the Lone Ranger's theme, but maybe the Beatle's "Yesterday".

But what a great day to be lazy, meander through the woods and chat.

Apparently, there had been a moose through that same spot of wood earlier. We didn't think to ask whether it was a cow or, um, "boy" moose. However, we were told after the ride that we should have because the boys are mean in the fall.

Funny, but when we entered the area where the moose had been seen earlier, the horses did get unusually alert. They aren't afraid of wildlife--since during most evenings they share the pastures with deer, but they do perk up at new arrivals--and there appeared to be a new arrival, though we couldn't see it. (At the top of that clearing, we ran into another rider who told us the moose had been spotted there earlier.)

Oh, ignorance is bliss, isn't it?

Well, there's not much else horsey to report today. Tomorrow we'll be doing another trail ride--maybe two, if I'm lucky, and probably clean stalls.

This is a good time at our ranch--everyone's happy and healthy and Beautiful has had all feet trimmed--the fronts several times now. I'll enjoy the lull while I can.

Happy Trails!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Got the Back Feet Done

Beautiful finally got her back feet trimmed today. My female farrier, Tully, came by and did an awesome job with her. She filed off a little in front and took off a lot in back.

She is so good with Beautiful. The front feet were no problem, but when she went for the backs, Beautiful seemed suspicious of the tools. Tully picked up the backs and set them back down several times so that Beautiful would feel comfortable that she could have her feet back if necessary. Also, she found that if she kept busy, Beautiful did better, but when she stopped and looked too long at the feet, she tried to take them back. So, she adjusted and worked fast, and sometime would place the foot back down to give her a mental break.

The only time it got a little hairy was when our barn cat and the dog, Maggie, tried to walk underneath Beautiful just as we were starting to do the work on the backs. She was like, hey, enough is enough and took her foot back! Usually, she tolerates the cats walking under and around her legs even when I'm picking her feet out, but the tools and new person were too much.

Beautiful likes the barn cats--I included pictures of them, too. They hover around her and Beautiful is very cautious with them. If she senses them around her legs, she'll stop and freeze until she can see them again and know that they're out of the way. Even when I'm leading her, if they walk in her path, she stops and bends down to find them before moving on.

She's a good-hearted horse.

Tully gave a wonderful appraisal of her, too. She said the feet are looking great, and she expects that she'll be perfectly sound and rideable someday. She said when she first saw them they were muley, but now they are rounding out and looking better.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Latest

Well, Monday is Beautiful's trim. We'll definitely get those back feet because she's doing GREAT!

A couple of days ago she had a puffy eye when I went out there. I think it was from all the dust blowing around and then bothered by the flies. So, I put her fly mask back on. Today it was about the same, but at least it's not worse.
She's really sweet. Loves to be petted and worked with and FED.

She's next to the pony now and they love to taunt each other. I think they're starting to like each other in their own way. And, I think the pony, Jasmine, gets a little jealous of Beautiful when I work with her--which is a good thing. It makes it easier for me to work with Jasmine afterward. Jasmine is super sweet, too--but doesn't like to get caught in a big pasture. She's doing a lot better at letting me approach her in a large pen and catch her. I'm very optimistic.

The barn cats are funny. Their names are #1 and #42. #42 is very confused about the "barn" in barn cat. She really wants to be a house cat. See the pictures of her journey above. :) Her sister is the good little girl under the wheelbarrow who always stays in the barn like she should!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September in Spokane

We're still in the beautiful month of September--perfect weather for working with our horses. Next week will signal the weather turn.

Yesterday, mid-80's--sunshine and perfection--I got the privilege of riding with a couple of friends in the Hangman Creek area. We went on a mid-morning ride that was just FUN--lots of chatting, trotting, walking and relaxing.

Later that day I cleaned stalls and worked with my filly, Cia. She's doing pretty well, but I'm still trying to get her collected. Also, she's a little confused on "whoa." But it's not bad. I think Billy, her trainer, and I, give her subtly different signals, so it's a matter of her getting used to me and listening to me. She's a baby still.

So, to get her in the stopping mode I circle her and keep her on the rail in a steady gait--walk, trot--then, when she's listening and moving nicely at the gait I've asked for, I sit back and see if she'll stop--then pull back on the reins if she doesn't. I've found that if she's moving out at her own gait rather than mine--it signals that she's just not listening to me. So, moving at the gait I ask is tied in heavily with stopping when I ask.

Beautiful is always able to watch what happens in the roundpen because she is right next to it. She LOVES to watch me work with the other horses. And, I have to think it is a good part of her training to watch and be so close.

The barn cats are FUNNY. Number 42 follows me to the main house every day and sits by my front door crying. She is confused about the "barn" part of her barn cat job. The "house" cats hiss her away and then she stands at the edge of the yard staring at me.

Yesterday, every time I came out to go to the barn, she followed me back like a dog. Then, I'd sit out in the grass/dirt/weeds and let she and her sister play around me. Their favorite game is being tickled with a long piece of wheat and then attacking it. I don't know if they've actually killed any mice yet, but I haven't seen any mice around since they moved in.

This weekend our MDH club is hosting a Ribbon Ride--Sunday at Riverside State Park--2:00. Kids under 18 can win prizes if they find 1 of 4 ribbons that will be tied to trees in the park. This should be a blast. It's free and easy to partcipate.

I wrote about Manito Park a few days ago. Well, they were in the Spokesman Review this morning. Apparently, the rose garden, Rose Hill, was ranked as the United States top All-American Rose Selection Display Garden. There are over 130 such gardens nationwide.

Manito boasts about 400 varieties of roses and a total of over 2,000 plants. I think that's awesome!

You Tube tour of Rose Garden

Friends of Manito Website

The spirit of conservation--conserving our local parks & forests, waterways, & mustangs--is a great and positive force for us and our children.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beautiful Wild Humanity

Today I was combing Beautiful's bangs, and she's so much like an innocent child. I stood in front of her with a brush, much like a "people" brush. I parted her thick, frizzy bangs and combed them down to each side. She looked like a dork, but she didn't care. She just looked at me with those big eyes--she enjoyed having a buddy groom and pet her.

It wasn't one of those moments where you grab a camera, it was one of those moments where you laugh. We're peopl-fy-ing her--good or bad.

The female farrier had been out earlier and she eye-balled her hooves real quick. She said her pastern angle looks much better, as does the slope of the hoof. She even said that long pasterns, like Beautiful's, could make for a smoothe ride someday. All and all, she was impressed with her progress. So, that was very good.

Last week when we lost our water, it set us behind and I didn't get many trailrides in. Instead, I took a couple walks at Manito Park in Spokane. It's a man-made wonder, really. It restores your faith in human decency--that in 1904 there were people who dedicated themselves to the development of a BEAUTIFUL place we can all go and enjoy for free.

It ties into my thoughts about Beautiful, the mustang, today. As I groomed her and did all of my peoply stuff with her--a different side emerged. This wild, young thing, responded to my humaness just like I did to her wildness and a union of the two occured. When mankind takes the time to cultivate like this, something powerful occurs (on a spiritual level) in the exchange.

(Sidenote: I was standing on the bridge at Manito Park Ponds with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, and there were fish swimming in a group underneath. I was like, "Look, they're just like a herd of horses the way they stay together and interact--there's a herd over there." I believe it was my sister who corrected me that a group of fish is NOT a herd, but a "school". ) he he

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Sad to say, but I haven't got in many trail rides this week. I was on my way out to the truck Wednesday to trailer up and meet a friend, but when I got there, I saw my keys locked in and dangling from the ignition. My husband had the only other key and he was at work in meetings until 1:00.

So, I called my friend and canceled, then came in the house and realized I didn't have WATER!! Ayyyy! No water means you're in a world of hurt. We had just planted 10 new trees--mature trees--the night before. They needed water and lots of it. The animals needed water in their automatic waterers. The showers, toilets, dishwasher, cooking, & cleaning--everything came to a halt.

We were not strangers to this since our water had just gone out a month before and they replaced the pump. So, we called them out and today, Friday, we finally got water again. However, we are out about $2,500 due to the cost of a new panel. (It's always something!!!)

So, after dealing with that, today I just went out and tried to organize the barn, clean stalls, clean the house here, clean myself, water trees and plants, etc. It was catch up.

Beautiful is so sweet when I clean her stall. I know I've said it a hundred times, but those eyes and the way she looks over the half door at me--CUTE!! Her stall is next to the barn cats and they're buds. When I was holding up one of her back feet, one of the kitties, #42, walked right under her and sat where her foot should be. Beautiful didn't blink an eye--but I had to manage moving the kitty and balancing her hoof. :):)

Her back feet are way too long now, so I'm really anxious for the female farrier to get here and take care of them. I wish I knew how to do it myself. I'll feel much better when they're taken care of properly.

Beautiful does have odd conformation. Sometimes when she stands just so--the leg that has the club foot looks odd. It almost looks like the shoulder is out of joint--but it's not. When she shifts it looks normal again. It does make me wonder about that joint though--if there isn't too much movement in it--like people who are double jointed.

I'm going to look it up on the internet right now.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Other Girl

There's no shortage of horses around my house! So, there's always one that needs riding.

Today was Cia, my 3 year old filly's, 8th day of training in the last 2 months. My good friend, Katie, was kind enough to take some pictures of me riding her in the roundpen--the last is of backing her up.

She's starting to be a lot of fun to ride!

Hard to believe, but one day Beautiful will be under saddle, too. I can't wait!!!

I LOVE my horses!!!

We were talking today about how expensive they are with hay and farrier costs--not to mention vet, etc. But they're not a hobby--they're LIFE. They're a part of the family.
There are days, when the $$$ are tight, and we look around and think how can we downsize--but I couldn't let go of one of my babies--not even my little pony, Jasmine. I'd get a job sweeping streets to keep these animals--though there's no such job anymore, is there?? I guess the equivalent would be a janitor. LOL.
I don't know, if it gets too bad, I might renew my teaching license in WA and go back to work. I've had the privilege of staying home while my kids are young, but they're getting older now--so I might have to rethink things. If costs go up much more, it may become a necessity.

Things happen for a reason, and you have to go with the flow, but I do think it's important to latch onto your passions and NEVER let them go. Horses are that for me.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Beautiful's Third Trim

Well, another day, another trim--Beautiful's third in three months. Didn't get the back feet, unfortunately, but she almost gave them. If all he'd done is pick it up and hold it out, he could have got it, but he couldn't get her hoof and leg in between his legs. She just didn't trust him enough. The female farrier will be out in a few weeks--so hopefully, she'll be able to get them then.

My farrier did say that her feet are looking great, and she's going to be just fine. He said there's not much you can do about the bad care she got to start with, you just have to give her good care now. And, he complimented me on gentling her--and said she has come a long way.

The weather here in Spokane has been GREAT--so I'm out on trail rides almost every other day. I'd go every day if I could, but I run out of riding partners willing to ride at the same times I do. The ride I'm including here is up at Palisades Park in Spokane. We rode Rimrock Drive which overlooks the city and Mt. Spokane.

There's hardly ever any horses out there--and I'm SHOCKED!! Back in Lewiston everyone took advantage of the local trails, but here it seems like I never run into other equestrians. What's the DEAL??? Do people ride their horses in Spokane?? Hope I see more horse and riders out there this month!!!

Happy September Trails, Horsey friends!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fall Rides!!

I love the Fall. I feel like I should be going back to school with my kids! So much of my life revolved around education--my own K-college--then teaching--and finally going back to college again. A lot of time has been spent in school. And, they're all happy memories.

It's the same with Fall horseback rides. I can't get enough of them. We're on a countdown to October and colder weather. Unless we have a milder winter this year--let's hope.

I went on a ride with friends yesterday. The picture of them was taken over my shoulder without looking--thus the weird perspective. The other was taken over my horse Cowboy's head--which is the view I had going down the trail.

The farrier canceled the other day and rescheduled for Saturday, so Beautiful didn't get her feet done. As soon as that happens, I'll post about it.

Happy Fall Trails, everyone!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Day Before the Farrier

Tonight my husband and I sat out on the bench in front of Beautiful's turnout, and we reflected on how far she has come--and what a different horse she is today. Sometimes it's hard to believe she was ever wild.

I've continued to work with all four of her feet in preparation for the farrier. I can hold the backs and pick them out just as well as I can the fronts now. I don't know if that will translate to the farrier being able to do the same.

She seems to love her life in the barn. The new barn cats share a cage next to her stall and she often puts her head down near them and looks in with those big doe eyes. When they're out, they run all around her and perch themselves above her on the rail, and she seems to like it.

The goats, too, and the pony, share a stall on the other side of her. We let the three goats out and they did laps around her stall and turnout--and she didn't bat an eye. The big wether even ate from her pile of hay and she let him.

When the gate's open, she never acts like she wants out of her little world in the barn. She communicates to us and the other horses and animals with her happy whinnies--she kicks it up in her run when she sees the food coming--she comes to us for petting and watches everything we do when we're out working.

I thought today how much I've received from her, too--how much I've changed for the better because of her. Its only been three months, but she has taught me so much. We've each learned to trust the other. We've become family.

Wish us luck tomorrow--good or bad--I know how far she has come, and I'm proud of her no matter what happens.