Friday, June 28, 2019

The Mustang Lesson that Turned Into A Yearling Lesson

Once upon a time, there was a girl a woman a horsewoman, who had a mustang that was quite stoic, and a bit dangerous unpredictable, and she took the mustang her yearling Quarter Horse, to a lesson with a respected trainer.

I did not take Beautiful Girl to the lesson today, as planned.  Instead, when I went out to get her, Tumbleweed kept following me around, and I thought--this is the horse I will be riding someday soon, and he is the one to whom I should be concentrating my training.

Poor Tumbleweed was probably following me for his supplements, but he was loaded into the trailer instead--much to his dismay.

When we arrived at the barn, there were people and horses everywhere, and Tweed was making quite a ruckus whinnying.  I led him around the facility, down the breezeways, around the parking lot--and then to the lesson.

We worked on some interesting things. 

1.) Moving his front end on the circle by keeping my crop/whip hand and my rope hand in the close together "riding " position.  He did not like that.  I  usually have my arms apart in the "hindquarter direction position", and he is used to that.  But once he understood, and respected, the front end movement--it became quick and quite beautiful.  She also had me concentrate the crop low, at the leg I wanted him to turn on, rather than keeping it high.  So, the arms are close together, in the "riding" position, and it is training him for the day he will actually be ridden.  It was very awkward for me, because I've never done it, but seeing how it changed him, I was quite surprised. And, he was not allowed to come in towards me for this turn.  He was supposed to pick up the front and turn it himself.  That requires balance, something he didn't have much of, at first, but that started to quickly come together for him.

After that we, 2.) worked a little on the hind end turns where your arms are further apart, but your energy is significant toward the hind so that it snaps out during the turn rather than what we were doing--a meandering, slow turn.  She wanted him to spin around--and he did.  Again, it was beautiful to see the results, and easy to accomplish.  He didn't even break a sweat, but he calmed way down. When I'd ask him to turn his hindquarters and go the other direction--he was not allowed to come into my circle--it had to be done on his line of the outer circle.  Again, it required balance, and he had to rock back a bit on the hind end.  (I hope I'm describing this well because it is still coming together in my mind--and we'll be working on it at future lessons.)

We worked on doing that from a standing position, too.  When she takes one step toward them, she wants them to take two steps away from her.  When she does it from the side, to get them to move out, she wants them to move the feet she's going to ask for the turn.  This is all to keep him from turning into me when he moves out.  And again, it worked.  He tried to throw his shoulder in a couple of times, but received a quick reprimand.

Lastly, we worked on leading with the rope in the hand you'd lunge him on, and the whip on the inside--which sets you up to move them out in a circle should that be needed.  His nose was at my shoulder, and he was about 18" away.  If he slowed down, I used the crop to speed him up (remember the rearing a long time ago that I said was a version of stopping?  Well, now it's balking--or slowing down, which is, again, another version of stopping).  If he sped up in front of me, I backed him up with the crop.  We also practiced stopping a lot. 

This is not the way I've usually led him.  If I'm on his left, the rope is in my left hand, the right hand is holding the crop, and the right hand is completely free of the rope.  I've always done it exact opposite.  The problem with my old way, is that if he speeds up and you have to ask him to move on a circle, you will have to change the rope and crop from hand to hand.

We did talk about Beautiful Girl, and she had some ideas about her.  She wants me to do these same lessons with Beautiful and tell her what happens.  They imitate riding, and how you would control the feet if you were in the saddle, and she suspects, she will have difficulty when I ask her for the front end turns with my hands close together.  I think she's right, and I can't wait to get out there and test it.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Yes, You Can Teach An Old Human, and Her Mustang, New Tricks

(Beautiful Girl, at the start of our journey, 2008)

I like to think 
it was some great, 
gravitational pull, 
two spirits, 
in proximity, 
drawn closer, 
meant to be 
I mean, 
why this one, 
not that one? 
You can feel 
the magnetic draw 
between two 
celestial bodies; 
what is that, 
if not destiny?

My husband is what we jokingly call a pathological optimist--he only sees one path--and that is the path of success. It's a great characteristic, because he believes he can do anything.  Projects always cost more, last longer, and have all kinds of surprises, but he gets them done.  If he were to see all the other paths, he'd procrastinate and never start a job.  Instead, he jumps full force into it.  I love that about him.

Unlike him, I see many paths, failure and success, but I always think there's a way to get to the path of success.  Like my last post on wrinkles.  I'm okay with aging and wrinkles, and I don't think I'm going to stop that process (wouldn't want to), but I'm willing to search for ways to make the natural process a healthier one, even a more beautiful one.

More to the point, Beautiful Girl.  I get that she bucks, and I think that her reactivity will always be in there, but I just can't give up on making our journey a more beautiful one.  I contacted the first trainer who helped me with Leah-- Regina.  She is one of the best I know.  Hands down.  She has taught lessons for at least thirty years.  She has run the pony club and youth 4H clubs.  She's highly respected and sought after. And she is a stickler at finding the holes--a MUST when training kids and horses together.

I messaged her to set up a lesson for me and Beautiful Girl.  She knows a little about her because I had wanted to start lessons with her and BG years ago, but I was unsure about loading her back then.  We talked a lot about her, but she hasn't had an update in four years.  A lot has happened.

My message: I'll tell  you all about her then (Friday). We've had some "interesting" things occur in our journey.

Regina: They are a lot of fun that way. They certainly show you what they understand and what they don't. I look forward to meeting her.

Thus, a new journey begins.

Can you teach what is now an older mustang new tricks?  I have to believe yes.

In January this year, one of my resolutions was to memorize the music I play.  Here I was 51, and trying to commit long complicated pieces to memory--could it be done?  Well, since then I have memorized Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen,  Alla Turca by Mozart, Fantasy in D Minor (Mozart), most of the Venetian Boat Song (Mendelssohn), and I'm part way through Mozart's Sonata K545. I've also memorized some of my own songs, which I previously could only play from my manuscripts.

So yes, I'd say you can teach an old mustang, and human, NEW tricks!


I want to give a shout out to horse daughters. I have a gazillion riding buddies, but when push comes to shove, it is always my daughter who is there to ride with me.  I so love my daughter.  She and I are riding this afternoon when she gets off work.

Cowgirl is her horse.  She bought her and has paid her way from day one.  Cowgirl had a mystery lameness about four days ago.  We brought her in, couldn't find heat or swelling, so we soaked her for an abscess, had the farrier come out and hoof test.  Nothing.  Then it went away.  So, we'll see what that's about today.  Hoping it doesn't reappear.

I am so thankful to have a horse daughter.  I have high hopes for my horse granddaughters, too.

Friday, June 21, 2019

New Bras and Other Non-Horsey Stuff

Yes, I finally got a "bra-fitting"--more on that after a little horsey / puppy update:

Puppies can be exhausting!  Mine has certainly taken away from my horse time.  And to top it off, the weather changed and got cold on us.  The horses are all fat--too fat--and have to be taken on and off pasture, but the cold temperatures have made it even worse for grazing.  I think I'll just make my life easy and keep them all in until the pastures are mowed and the weather is consistently hot.

Remember when you'd dream of just putting horses out on lush pastures and letting them be?!?  What a fantasy that is!  I'll put that one right up there with my barn fantasy.  The truth of the matter is, most horses can't be on pasture all day (although, I am going to have my grass analyzed because I read an interesting article by Pat Ramey on this topic) and horses prefer loafing sheds to stalls in barns any day of the week (well, at least most horses--all my geldings seem to prefer stalls--but I think it's because they want protection from the mares.)


Anyway, back to BRAS, but let me first divert to panties.  (I usually call them underwear, but bras are also underwear, thus, "panties.")

A good fitting pair of "panties" is pretty much the closest thing to freedom / heaven / comfort / happiness you can experience.  And I found that perfect pair "a while" back--and bought about 25 of them.  (That's what I do if I LOVE's an insurance policy.)

Well, some of them were starting to be a bit worn out--and I figured it was time to replenish my supply--so I went back to where I purchased them--Victoria's Secret.  I had taken pictures of them before I left home, so that I could show them what I wanted--and there I was--with the store manager--flipping through my photos--enlarging the photos---

SM: Yes, I remember those!  They're vintage now.

Me: No, they can't be "vintage."  I just bought them a year or so ago.

SM: Hmmm...did  you buy them at a sale?

Me: I bought them here in your store.

SM: (trying to be nice) Well, we haven't had that style for at least 3 1/2 years.

Me: (quiet....thinking, maybe she's right.  Maybe it has been over 3 years!  Honestly, I can't keep track of time anymore.)  Do you have any like these?

SM: I have these over here--they're kind of like them.

Me: (thinking--why do you discontinue PERFECTION?!?)  I'll buy 5 of them.

SM: Have you been fitted for bras?

Me: (Is she asking to fit me for a bra?) No.

SM: Do you want to?

Me: (Well, at 52  years old, I think I know what size bra I wear.)  Yes.

Hands up over my head.  She measures and informs me I've been buying my band size 2 sizes too large and  my cup size one size too small.  Wow, this explains why my strap kept riding up my back!  But the bra fitting was not over.  Next, I was whisked away to the changing room and given a bra in the size she measured.  I put it on, and then a store clerk (a young lady) came in and inspected it.  The new bra was so comfy!  I had to admit, I obviously didn't know SQUAT about buying bras.  And bras, my dear friends, are about as important, if not MORE so, than panties!

So, I left there with 4 new bras and 5 new style (not as good as the old, I might add) panties.  My back feels so much better with the correct size bra on!!  It's like a miracle!!  And, their bras have cloth covers over the buckling portion so that the latches don't rub against your back.

Moral of that story: if you haven't been measured for a bra--I highly recommend it!


Continuing on the subject of health and beauty.  I am at the age where I've started to seek out miracle products for my wrinkles, while at the same time being very skeptical that such miracle products exist.

One beautiful woman in her 80's told me (about 6 years ago) her secret face regimen was Eucerin lotion (for the face), BB cream, and a spritz of Rose water.  I've noticed that rose water is all the rage lately.

So, I stocked up on rose water, BB cream (now they have CC cream), Eucerin--and for good measure Olay Regenerist--oh, and Rodial Stemcell Super-Food Cleanser (because I read rave reviews about it).  I'm pretty much throwing everything but the kitchen sink at my face.

But I remain a skeptic.  So, I'm testing this all out by standing in the same place outside (lots of sun), everyday, and taking a picture of my face.  I'm going to do this for a few months and then see if I can notice any difference.  I'll let you know what I discover.

In the meantime, as I was thinking all this over, and over, and over, I realized that there is one thing that improves your face INSTANTLY, makes you look WAY younger, and it's FREE!


Even if a smile doesn't make you look younger (it does), when you smile at people, they won't care what your face looks like.  All they'll remember is how it made them feel.  And,  you'll get better service everywhere you go.  Throw in a true compliment, and you'll have a friend for life.

Here is my list of things you can do to improve with age:

1. Smile
2. Drink lots of water
3. Stay out of the sun or use lots of sunscreen
4. Sleep well (nothing ages you like fatigue)
5. Don't smoke
6. Don't drink (well, don't drink a lot)
7. Exercise (my exercise is cleaning stalls, riding, raising a puppy, short walks, yoga, and gardening)
8. Meditate / pray every day and practice relaxation. Stress is a killer.
9. Eat healthy (I, for one, do not do this, but I trust that it does help.)
10. Grow bangs (bangs are better than botox!)

I would love to hear your health and beauty tips.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Visit with Rosalee

I got an invitation to see Miss Rosalee, Tumbleweed's mama, who is in town to be bred to DP Gunnaoutshineya, aka "Boo." I was excited to see Rosalee and, as an added bonus, Boo and his first foal crop at McBride Quarter Horses.  

She came right up to us, but the visit was cut short by a dominant, bossy mare who ran her off.  Oh well.  She looked great, and is going to make beautiful babies with Boo.  I can't wait to see Tumbleweed's first Rosalee sibling next spring.  Here are some photos Marcy McBride took of her.

I took a few of Boo, but pictures don't do him justice.  I guess, like so many horses, it's the movement that makes them magical.

Here are his professional pictures to give  you a better idea.

I'm a sucker for a bald face and blue eyes (like my heart horse, Cowboy).  Boo has passed that on to a couple of his babies.

I was surprised at how beautiful all the mares were, too.  Just lots and lots of eye candy.  

One of the babies latched onto my husband, Mike.  Horses really like him.  It was this little guy.

Marcy's daughter, Shelby, helped give us the tour.  She is the one mostly responsible for their gentling and halter training.  We got to watch her do her thing, and she is exceptionally good at it.  All the babies are in your pocket types--much like Shirley's babies.  I can't speak highly enough of this early training! I'm so thankful Tweed got it. Here's a picture of Shelby this spring with, I think, Aries, a Boo baby.  He's sold.  I think they all are except one--who happened to be in Mike's pocket.  LOL! 

Speaking of beautiful babies, I love Tumbleweed's multi-colored mane.  I had to take a picture of it as I was grooming him today.  He's getting tall and lanky right now.

You can see him resting his head on Cowboy most days.  The geldings are all quite handsome.

I told you how the mare herd keeps Tumbleweed in their little circle--here's a good photo as Tumbleweed watches me approach.

Oh, horses.  I just love them.  Can't get enough of them really.  Mine...or others.  It was a perfect day, and I was very happy to have seen Rosalee.  She will always have a place in my heart.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

One Mellow Dude

Gelding a stud colt really does mellow them out, as does releasing them with the herd.  Tumbleweed is officially one mellow dude nowadays.  Today was the first day he was released into the big pasture which, for all my other horses, has always been a bit exciting. Not Tweed. He entered through the gate slowly, and then he got down to business eating and following the rest of the herd around.  I didn’t see one burst of energy. 

It took him about a week of reprimands, but he was finally able to hook back up with Foxy. My husband was worried about him with Beautiful Girl, but I told him what she was doing was good for the boy, and to let it play out. Honestly, I thought BG was downright tame compared to how much guff she received upon her release. BG just wanted Tweed to listen to the whole herd and not be a complete mama’s boy.  It worked fabulously, and he’s a safer horse for her lessons. I owe her as much thanks as I do Foxy. Once he got the lesson, they let them back together. “Reunited, and it feels so good.”

Now, he is looked after by the whole herd. He’s quite their baby. 

When I come out to get him, he’s always so happy to see me. I think he feels a bit smothered by them all, especially those BOSSY mares!  He’s usually tucked away between them, but moves away from them whenever he sees me coming. Like, PLEASE save me!  (Giving him his supplements is also a bonus.)


In other news, now that we’re semi-retired, my husband and I have started eating dinner earlier, when we’re most hungry.  It has made a huge difference in our quality of sleep. We eat dinner around 4 pm now. It’s not always easy, because the rest of the world eats after work, but we plan to continue it as much we can. 

The puppy, Piper, is doing great. It’s so easy to raise a puppy when you have a fenced in acreage. She still cosleeps with us, too, which helps. But as easy at it is, our schedule changed pretty drastically.  Piper needs a lot of love and attention at her delicate age. I will say, it’s fun to give it to her! We’ve had her for 11 days now, and if you count the time going to get her—2 weeks. In that time, I’ve had zero horseback rides.  But she is growing closer to the other dogs, and I do plan to get a short one in this Thursday. She’ll be all grown up soon enough. In the meantime, I can’t tell you the amount of joy she has infused into our lives.  She’s such a sweet soul. 

Life is good. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

2,050 Miles, 6 States Later, We have a New Irish Wolfhound Puppy

The time came for a new puppy; Riagan, our oldest Irish Wolfhound turned nine in March, and Loki, our five year old Wolfhound needed a younger companion, especially should Riagan pass in the near future.  For that reason, we had planned to do it earlier--a couple of years ago--but kept putting it off and putting it off. One reason was that I didn't want an IW puppy jumping on my old lab, Maggie, the love of our life.  But sadly, Maggie passed last August. And anyway, truth be told, puppies require a lot of care at first--and drastically change your lifestyle.

Last fall, around the time Tumbleweed got sick, I contacted Riagan's breeders at Laloba Ranch, to see if they had any upcoming litters.  They did.  But then Tumbleweed got sick and I put it on the back-burner.  Luckily for us, they did not put it on the back-burner, and had us down for a pup. We put down a deposit and waited for the birth--March 14th.  Our puppy, Piper, was one of three that were taken cesarean, and weren't breathing until the vet, and both owners, rubbed their little bodies to life.  Thus, they became the "MIRACLE PUPS".

Eleven weeks later, after our Piper miracle pup was the first to open her eyes (five days earlier than the rest) and showed an aptitude for "singing"--a wolfhound thing--it was time to go get her.  (They do not fly pups.)

So, we said goodbye to our big dogs (Riagan didn't look very happy...even then.)  And we hit the road to Steam Boat Springs, Colorado--a thousand miles there, a thousand miles back, with puppy in tow.

(Getting Loki's smell on a stuffed toy to bring Piper.)

Turns out, we weren't the ones who drove the furthest.  The Laloba Hounds are highly sought after for their longevity and temperament.  The "breeders," I almost hate to call them that-the human puppy parents--live with nine of their own hounds.  The hounds have free access to the inside of the home, all over it, and we joked with them that the people parents are actually the hound's pets!  That being said, the pups are showered with attention while growing up, and it makes for a wonderful start.  (They even think epigenetics figures into this--generational human/hound bonding passed on through the turning off and on of genes, and included the science on this theory in our notebook.)  The new owners were driving from New York, Florida, Georgia, further west of us in Washington, --pretty much everywhere.  When we arrived, a day after the release date--there were only two left, ours, and the Florida family.  All the rest of them beat us there.  (You don't pick your own puppy, the "breeders" do. They base it on the needs of  your particular home, and the personalities of the pups.  You are expected to send them a detailed account of your lifestyle and the personality of your other dogs, if you have any.)

We drove most of the way there on Tuesday and admired the beauty and wildlife throughout Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, but finally stopped in Rock Springs, WY for the night.  At 23,000 people, it seemed like a METROPOLIS compared to the rest of Wyoming.  It was about 10:00 pm when we pulled into the hotel, but the next day, Wednesday, we only had to drive another four hours to get to the Laloba Ranch in Steamboat Springs.

What an exciting day!  Our pup was so happy to see us!  It was like she had been expecting us all along.  Her brother seemed to know we weren't his people, and was a bit more stand-offish. But Judith assured me, what was happening was normal--for some reason, every pup seemed to know their people and get excited when they saw them. (But I still pulled the little boy over to love on him, too.)

We had a two hour orientation about all the latest vet science on the wolfhounds, and were sent off with a binder of information.  I received a notebook with Riagan, too, but it had grown a bit bigger.  Oh, they also sent us off with note cards that had pictures of the ancestors of our pup. (Of course, we own one of her ancestors--Riagan--and she has been a compliment to their hounds. Someone even called the IW club to tell them how great Riagan was, and they, in turn, called the "breeder"--Laloba Hounds.  I still do not know who that was, but she was told it was someone who met Riagan.)

We couldn't take Piper that day because we were staying the night in Steamboat and had thought it best to pick her up early the next morning on the way out of town.  She was so sad to see us go!!

We couldn't wait to get back to her the next day!  (Although, we did have a wonderful dinner at the Cafe Diva next to our hotel/condo.)  They had been calling our pup Peeper (because she opened her eyes early), Piper (because she sang), and Cady/Cadence (because she had an original tune).

We celebrated with a "Cadence" wine in her honor.  (We are having a hard time settling on a name now.  I love "Piper", but I also love "Cady May--Cady from Cadence, and May, because we picked her up in May".  Unfortunately, though, Cady sounds like Katie--and I know a gazillion Katies.  Cady May is great, but everyone shortens it to just "Cady"--which gets me back to the problem--too many Katies.  So, we'll see what sticks.)

In total, we drove 2050 miles.  We tried to drive all the way home on Thursday, but called it quits in Missoula, MT around 10:30 pm.  We'd been on the road since 7:00 am--going from Colorado to Wyoming to Utah to Idaho to Montana, then Washington.  A total of six states in three days!

Piper slept, or rested, in my arms the entire way!!  She also slept with us in the hotel room, and didn't make a peep, or have an accident.  The puppy parent/"breeders" suggest that you co-sleep with the pups until they acclimate.  We did it with Riagan, and it worked out great, so we're also doing it with Piper.

(First night, Piper in bed looking at her stuffed lamb.)

Outside the Hampton Inn at Missoula, MT--they even gave us puppy treats for Piper!  And, they had a little path in back of the hotel that goes down to a stream--which made for the perfect puppy walk.

At a rest stop in Utah--Echo Canyon Welcome Center Rest Area.

The day after we arrived home, we took her out on the pontoon boat to Lake Roosevelt.  
She LOVED it.

She's trying to bond with the big dogs, but they're a bit stressed with her.  This was a rare moment of peace.  For the first two days, they did nothing but drool and run away.  Now, they're starting to growl at her and set some boundaries.  I'll be glad when they fully accept her.

She was doing a lot of sleeping, but today she gave me a fat lip with her head trying to get off my lap.  I broke out the marrow bones, and she is now contentedly chewing away out on the deck while I write this post.  

The days of this...

appear to be coming to an end.