Thursday, April 23, 2009

Willing Partnerships

Here's a picture from my last trail ride with friends. We went out to find all the M.I.A. carrots from the Daughter's ride.

We had great weather for it, and I spent some of the time working Cowboy through water--walking, trotting, and loping him through large puddles. You'd think he'd do that naturally, right? But not my Cowboy. He usually avoids water like crazy! This year was his best ever for going through it.

The first puddle we came to, of course, was the hardest. But I decided, this year, to work on our partnership. So, I reassured him AS I put the pressure on him to go over. I didn't release the pressure until he did it, but I added my hand on his mane as reassurance, and really praised him for doing it well.

Usually I'm a little more hard-nosed about it, with Cowboy anyway. When I first got him, I'd only had gentle, willing geldings who were easy to partner with. Cowboy, on the other hand, lacked trust and respect. He was very smart and could size up a rider. If you didn't know how to make him, he wasn't going to do it. He'd just as soon yank the reins out of your hand and run home.

Working with Beautiful is really rubbing off on working with all my horses in general. It reminds me that I need their willing partnership, not only their obedience, and I have to figure out a compromise to make it work with Cowboy the same way--a balance between respect/firmness and partnership/softness.

Also, it helps to reassure Cowboy in safe situations because it will carry over to stressful ones. When I first bought him if you comforted him by rubbing his mane, he'd look around like, DANGER--WHERE IS IT? So, someone must have done that a lot in his early training when it was time to be SCARED! Better I break that ASAP.

After the first puddle, he went through all the other puddles--which were much longer and larger--without a problem. Whereas, in the past, every water crossing was a new experience--a new battle.

The farrier came yesterday and trimmed a few of the horses--Beautiful was not one of them. He did look at her, though, and commented again how much like a "horse" she looks now. She is definitely more relaxed. The warm weather really mellowed her. She has been wonderful to work with.

She's still shedding off, so she's a bit scraggly, and looks thinner, though I'm feeding her the same. I'm wondering if she's not in another growth spurt. There are times when what I feed her makes her put on weight too fast and you can feel it in her neck--but now she can eat quite a bit and not get fat. I just watch her closely.

All the horses seem happy even though the weather has taken another turn toward the COLD end of the spectrum. There has been no rain since we planted our hay, but lots of clouds!! We need rain!!

Don't forget to stop by and enter the drawing as many times as possible at my gardening website. I'm going to draw a name on the morning of May 4th. Just leave a comment or link it to your own blog and you will be entered once for every comment and three times for every time you link. . I know a lot of you who follow this Mustang blog or work with Mustangs yourself, also garden--so I look forward to seeing you over there as I plant my own and replace weeds with something, hopefully, beautiful. (I haven't had any die yet).

Happy Trails!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beautiful Gets Her Foot Stuck

A friend took this picture of Cowboy and me at our Easter Carrot Hunt Ride at Riverside State Park yesterday. We hung plastic carrots all over trees in the park and the girls rode out to find them. Fun! It was our 2nd hunt like it. Last Fall we did something similar--the Ribbon Ride--where the girls went out on horses and found ribbons tied on trees--each ribbon corresponds to a prize. It's probably going to be a bi-annual event--Fall and Spring.

Some of the horses, if not all of the horses, were fresh, so we warmed them up in the newly completed outdoor arena. Horses, just like humans, have to get used to each other. It also gives us a chance to run a little steam off them before hitting the trail.

Cowboy, meet Gulliver.

I had arrived early with a couple of other women to hang the carrots, and was on horseback about 4 hours--which isn't much, but because it was my first outing--I'm a little saddle sore today. Poor Cowboy--his first time out away from the house--he's probably really feeling it since he did all the work!

It was a BLAST. The weather was great and the setting was perfect. Good first ride.

This morning, when I went out to feed the horses, I saw that Beautiful was standing out in her run with her foot stuck through a hard plastic tub. It was one that had contained a vitamin lick. It was up her leg about 6 inches or so.

My husband and I got in there with a halter and I held her while he pried it open enough for me to pull her hoof through. She was as calm as you could believe through the whole thing. She only pulled back once, but stopped when I held her. Her leg was perfectly fine afterward--thank goodness.

I'm impressed that she was calm under stress--that's a good sign for how she might be later out on the trail.

Don't forget to stop by and enter the drawing for the Floral Bouquet at Emily Dickinson's Garden.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Flower Bouquet Give-Away

This morning--Maggie chasing ducks. She's in Labrador Heaven!

Today started out sunny, then turned cloudy. Yay! Bring on the rain! I've never been so happy to have rain than since we planted hay.

Tomorrow is our Daughter's Easter Egg Hunt on Horseback. It will be sunny and warm--perfect weather for a ride.

We went to our neighbor's house this morning to check out his indoor riding arena. Some of us in the neighborhood want to form an association to keep it up and purchase insurance--as well as provide my neighbor with some extra income. It won't take much--some sprinklers to keep the dust down and a tractor to rake up the footing material. I've found that in Spokane--an indoor arena is a real treasure!

I have a new blog I started that centers around my garden project--it's Emily Dickinson's Garden.

We purchased our house two years ago and concentrated on the basement, driveway, trees, barn and fencing--the important things! However, we put off landscaping because we do everything ourselves and we didn't really know how to tackle a sprinkler system, not to mention, we kept running out of time each year because there were so many other projects.

This is our year for landscaping and making everything "aesthetically pleasing". In that spirit, I'm hosting a Teleflora Bouquet Give-away on that blog. Click the link above and go to the site and leave a comment--you'll be entered into the drawing. We'll choose the winner May 4th--the more comments, the more entries.

You can choose from these two arrangements just in time for Mother's Day!

Both are GORGEOUS! Thanks to the Teleflora Flower Blog for donating this arrangement!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Making Hay

Well, Cowboy is back to normal--acting up and eating ferociously. So, back to the normal blog--about making hay.

This Easter weekend we spent our time discing ours and our neighbor's land--a group effort between all of us to replant our fields which had gone to weed--Yellow Tumble Mustard, to be exact.

Originally, our property and all of our neighbor's properties, were part of one large Dairy Farm. All of our fields were planted in alfalfa and irrigated.

However, the owner was getting old and he gambled a lot. A new casino opened up about a mile away where he began to spend a lot of time, eventually going in hock about 16 million dollars and having to parcel off everything he owned.

The original owners of our home, purchased the acreage during that time--and paid extra for "water rights". Water rights in Spokane County are a mixed bag. I believe water rights are determined on a first come basis--the date they were originally acquired. Also, you have five years after the last year of irrigation to maintain them by keeping up on the irrigation. It could also be that you have to water from a farm well rather than the house well--but that has been debated.

Needless to say, throughout these last five years or so, the land has not been maintained, and so has gone to weed. We're the only ones in this general area who have horses, but our neighbors are interested in growing hay as part of a "weed control" program. They're willing to plant their fields and let us harvest the hay. Yay!

This is the first time we've actually planted hay--so this is quite a learning experience. We're planting a drought tolerant (if there is such a thing) blend with Fescue, Orchard Grass and Alfalfa, and I'm not sure what else--because our neighbor is the one who chose the seed and then picked it up today from some farmers in Rearden. $2.00/pound--500 pounds for 20 acres.

Right now we're in waiting mode as we try to locate a seeding implement that basically pushes it into the ground and then comes behind and rolls it. The men were originally going to broadcast it, but are skeptical that would work with all the wind.

Does anyone know anything about baling options? For example, what is the going rate to have someone come in and cut and bale it when it's ready to be harvested?

Here are some pictures of the weekend.

42, the cat, checks it all out.

The fields after discing.

Cowboy Seems Off

I went out this morning and Cowboy was lying down in the run--which is unusual for him at feeding time, but he got up when he saw me coming. Then, he went into Red's stall and wouldn't leave, even when I fed them. He just stood there next to Red--and then walked back out and laid back down.

At that point I figured something was wrong, so I got his halter and went in there--he jumped up and tried to evade me. (Also unusual). Then he went into another stall and laid back down. I haltered him and took him to the roundpen--gave him some water and grain with a little oil in it. He ate it. I gave him a little hay. He's eating it now.

I had wormed him two days ago. Could that have something to do with it? He doesn't act like it's colic--or if it is, it appears to be very mild. I haven't given him any Banamine, like I usually do, because I'm not sure what I'm dealing with yet. He's been out there about ten minutes eating and not lying down.

Any suggestions? I probably need to go out and take his temperature.

Friday, April 10, 2009

2009--Lern'ed Myself To be Smarter Than My Horse

Mark the year--2009--date April 10--I got smarter than my horse today.

Yes, Cowboy has always been a pain when it comes to worming, and with his long neck, he can easily evade me. He puts his head about ten feet in the air and moves it back and forth away from me.

I've had a number of stupid tricks to try to get the wormer in--but usually end up wearing it. He's a tough customer!

Well, today--maybe from working with my smart little Mustang for a year--I decided to try to outsmart my horse. I put the wormer tube up there in his mouth---wayyyyyyyy high up in the air--and moved it over his tongue--and removed it and petted his forehead. I didn't squirt it, but he licked his lips like--ooooh yuck! Then, a light went on in his head--she didn't squirt the icky stuff. Hmmmm...he starts to wonder.

I reach up again--his head goes up high--I put it in his mouth--leave it there--remove it. He starts to work his tongue again and again icky stuff. We do it multiple times like that until finally he doesn't lift his head anymore. I reward him. We do it again and again. All good. Then I squirt the entire icky wormer into the back of his mouth, and he doesn't even care. Can you believe it??

It worked so good, I tried it with Cia next--and voila--an angel. And what's best, the entire contents of the worming tube is in their tummy rather than my hair.

So, besides worming, I rode Cowboy and enjoyed the sunshine (which was supposed to be rain--ha ha), saddled my green filly Cia for the first time this year and lunged her (she did great), lunged Beautiful again and then groomed her while she was sweaty--trying to get some of the mud off.

This is a blog--and blogs need pictures--so here are some action shots. The first one is right after I tucked the rope under my arm pit and tried to snap a shot--I wasn't paying attention and I captured her flipping a u'ey.

Next is her being a good girl. (Looking back at the pictures, which I don't recommend taking while you're lunging them, btw, I notice the halter is not tight enough and almost in her eye! Sheesh!)

And last is her going by the side with the other horses--which is always where she acts up.

Then, the DISH technician came and got somewhat attacked by my dogs--and I had to run back to the house to save him. (They don't bite--really--just bark!)

All and all a great day--one for the record books--the day I got smarter than my horse--but only a little bit!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Wild Spring Day

I took Cowboy out for a ride today--hoping to take advantage of what may be our last nice day for the next week. Beautiful was really excited and just went nuts bucking around her run--all four feet off the ground several times. A lot of head tossing, rearing--having fun, being a baby. (Oh yeah, she's not a baby anymore--he he).

When I got back, it was her turn. I went and haltered her (with Andrea's wonderful creation--I love that thin halter--lots of control!!) and led her to the round pen.

From there, I did something she'd never had done--I lunged her on a long line. I had decided to do that rather than free lunge because I feel I have more control.

At first she was a little confused and mad. She bucked like crazy, but as long as she was moving along in her circle, I didn't care. It didn't take long for her to settle down.

Then we practiced going the other way--whoaing--turning in---and switching directions. At the very last, when I was letting her rest, I tossed the lead rope all over her from both sides and practiced tying her up.

All and all, she did pretty good for what may have been her first "big girl" lesson.

One thing I was very impressed with while watching her run those circles today, was how far she had come with balance. When I first got her, her feet were so awkward, she had a hard time running right. Today she got down low and dug in those heels--she was a regular Speedy Gonzales. She might not be very tall, but boy can she run circles. She's come a long way.

Monday, April 6, 2009


These are some happy cats--Emjae and Girl Kitty (her daughter)--enjoying the warm weather.

Sliding Stop! If only she'd do this when we ask!

Someone is looking for her buddies.

This weekend was gorgeous....and BUSY. The Chili Feed was a huge success. It was packed!! One chili brought in $750.00--and it wasn't mine. I was so happy to see it well attended--Palisades Park is a TREASURE for horse lovers here in Spokane. We've got to support the horseback riding trails in our area if we want to keep them. The city (especially in these hard economic times) could sell some off--and that land would be worth a fortune. So, to preserve it for generations--eat chili once a year! Oh, and volunteer 3 hours April 25 to clear trails.

These are pictures of Cowgirl taken yesterday after Shiloh and I set up the roundpen. My husband had been traveling out of town on business and got caught in a Nebraska snow storm, so travelled all day Sunday and barely made it home. The ranch work was solely up to Shiloh and me--and I must say, we did pretty good.

Shiloh rode her horse after these pics--she's working on getting Cowgirl less buddy sour--like she has to do every Spring. Cowgirl did GREAT! But the horses are generous when the weather is warm like this. They don't want to fight.

Beautiful's run looks at the roundpen. She came out of her stall with grass in her mouth and stared at Cowgirl's running and sliding stops! Wow, I want to grow up to be just like her. BTW, Cowgirl is a born mother, and she watches over Beautiful. Beautiful is totally tuned in to her--so when she's released I know who's going to be a pair.

Beautiful was groomed yesterday. Lots of hair coming off! Then we did our leading and some light circles. She didn't do very well to the right, so it was a long session.

Mom is taking pictures AGAIN!!

My favorite horse yesterday was Jasmine the pony. She was soooo sweet when I took her for a walk and groomed her. Maybe after 18 months with me she's starting to realize life is good around here and I'm not going to hurt her. I spoke to my trainer last year and she had a pony very much like Jasmine. She said it took her two years to get him to come around and now he's used as a lesson pony. My two year anniversary with her is coming up in July! I'm going to have fun with her this Spring and Summer!

If you want a good Spring tune-up clinic--this is a good one--Charlie Hanson. Mark your calendars for May 2 and 3.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Palisades Fund Raiser Saturday Night April 4th

Palisades Park near Spokane is a TREASURE--views, wildlife, trail riding, flowers, birds--it's a Garden of Eden.

But its care, though it's owned by the City, is left to volunteers. The task of clearing trails for the horses and hikers, protecting it, acquiring more land--falls upon residents.

A year and a half ago, after ten years of bugging the city, Palisades Friends won an important victory and got Rimrock Dr., a road that runs right through the heart of the park, but was barely used except by people going in to drop off garbage, closed to motorized traffic. Now that same road can be used by hikers, bikers and horse back riders.

Tonight there's a Chili Contest to raise money to keep Palisades Park going. You get to eat the chili for FREE, but you can buy a ticket to vote on the best one there. There'll also be trees and shrubs for sale and DOOR PRIZES! (Details for this are below).

The pictures here are ones I took on my recent hike to Palisades. The views and the deer are all part of the experience.

Palisades is almost 500 acres with streams, trails, waterfalls, and much wild life.

It's also a great place to go and take pictures. You really can't take a bad one when Mother Nature looks so beautiful all on her own!

This is a picture of our cat, 42, following Shiloh out to the barn this morning. She acts like a dog and always has. She even thinks she can herd horses.

Information on the Palisades Fund Raiser:


the home of




For more information: 624-8384

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Gift from Artist Jana Johnson--Thanks!

In all the excitment last week with little Catherine, I forgot to blog about something very important!

One day, we were driving in with the grandkids from McDonalds (got to love that Play Place!) and we stopped out on the road to get our mail. There was this thick card in there for me from Tennessee--and I thought--now who in the world from Tennessee--some J. Johnson--would be sending me a heavy letter like this?!? (Have I inherited some money from some long lost relative---my relatives are from TN after all?)

So, I opened it up and lo and behold, it was a gift from one of the artists from the Whoa Horse Art team, Jana Johnson!! I'd won a drawing on that site after leaving a comment, and Jana even threw in an EXTRA ACEO card!!

Thank you, Jana! It made my day!! Your art has made it to Washington state where it will be loved by many generations in my family of horse lovers to come!

Here is Jana's link to her Etsy site.

And, the temps have made it to 55 degrees today. All five of my horses were laying down in the pasture.

Snow in April!!

Joanne's prediction was correct--we got about 4 inches of snow at our house last night!

This description was in our paper: "The snowfall record for April 2 was shattered, according to weather officials. Three inches of snow was recorded at the Spokane International Airport as of 7:30 a.m., topping the 1920 record of 1.2 inches.

The snow is expected to continue today, said Jeffrey Cote, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Rain will be added to the mix as the day warms up to about 40 degrees. More snow is expected tonight with additional accumulations expected by Friday morning." Spokesman Review April 2, 2009.

I wanted to highlight a wonderful blog entry today by Angie at Ranch Dressing about making your own frames for art work. It's a WONDERFUL article.

A couple of years ago I purchased a piece of art by Nancy Glazer--unusual diminsions--so I had it priced for custom framing. My first estimate was over $400.00 whereas, the print was only $60.00. (I found that Michael's ran a special for the same high quality, double matted, non-glare archival glass, custom frame for $200.00) Here's the picture without a frame--

Angie's suggestions may also help you if you're sitting around with a print that needs framing and you don't want to pay those high prices, but still want it to look good. Or, if you, like her sister, want to learn to do it as a gift for your family members. You could also frame your own pictures--the ones you take on your travels and hang them around your house or give them as presents! Check it out today while you enjoy the snow.

So, what else can you do when it snows in April?

Take your beautiful daughter who, after all, is on SPRING (wink wink) break--to coffee at Chaps!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I win! I win!

Yes, you can congratulate me. I have won a first place award. Actually, all of us who have lived in Spokane--Winter 08'-09' have won--first place for the MOST SNOWIEST WINTER EVER!!

That's right--EVER--or at least since the late 1800's. (Long enough!)

I was a little sad, however, that I lost my 2nd place award from last year when the previous first place year displaced last year for 2nd. (Are you confused?!?)

I'm looking out my window now, and guess what I see? Yes, snow. It's April 1st--and there's snow.

Other good news--we took Catherine a little stuffed Paint horse today and she looks better than last night--each day better and better.