Saturday, December 12, 2020

Hay Huts, Covid, Pregnancy Update, And A Loss

What crazy, uncertain times we live in. I'm fifty-three, and have never lived through anything remotely like what we are experiencing now.  For us, almost nothing has really changed--we already had work from home--before the pandemic--we have our horses--our ice skating--hiking--snowshoeing--family circle--lots and lots of chores--and my knitting.  None of that has changed one bit.  If anything, it has given us more concentrated time for all those things.

But I worry how it's affecting the world as a whole. One of my kids said they'd read an article about how babies who go to daycare are being raised by caregivers with masks, which takes away the baby's ability to read faces--and may lead to developmental delays. Makes sense.  And, it's just another way--out of an infinite amount of ways--this pandemic has altered our humanity.

I live in a lockdown state with 95% mask compliance. I have so many masks--and some are quite stylish.  Lately, I've enjoyed my Christmas plaid--it is cheerful, stylish, and functional--because it keeps my face warm. To my knowledge, I haven't come down with Covid--although, I did have something very much like it last February, after our trip to Sedona. Some members of my family have got it, and did quite well. One is a nurse, and contracted it at the hospital helping others. He started to take a turn for the worse, and was prescribed hydroxychloriquine, at his request--he was 90% better the day after taking it. Yet another mystery. Why do some people have such bad outcomes, and others are barely touched by it? Why do some treatments work for some people--but not others? 

In our county of 500,000 people, we have had, I think, 299 deaths. Unfortunately, despite our lockdown, and our masks, we are experiencing an awful second spike of Covid. Not only that, but it appears to be a deadlier strain. With all the knowledge we have about treatment, we lost a healthy, prominent member of our community last week. She's a woman, about my age, an avid runner--the picture of health--and founded our local magazine--Spokane Living--and she DIED.  Her husband, who I think is older than her, is in the ICU, but appears to be recovering.  Did they get a worse strain of Covid than others? Why couldn't she be saved at the hospital with all the treatments available to us? Did she have underlying conditions which made her more vulnerable? No answers.

I hope you are all staying safe, wherever you are, and that you're finding your way through this--and maybe even thriving, as I know many people are with the slower paces. Less distraction.  Less chaos. More time to cultivate what is important.

And vaccines are on the horizon.


Speaking of vaccines, Cowgirl had her 5 month vaccination yesterday and the vet had an opportunity to look her over. She developed cellulitis in her back leg injury last summer, and it has left her with longterm swelling. It isn't causing any lameness, but it is something we will have to watch for the rest of her life. Standing around in her stall doesn't help. The prescription for her is lots of movement--walk her, ride her, turn her out. But turnout isn't really possible since she doesn't play nice with the herd, and that would risk a worse injury than she has now. The snow and ice don't help either. But we will do the best we can. For now, I'm avoiding standing wraps, because it doesn't really fix the problem.  But the vet said if walking doesn't work, and if we think she needs them, use them. Unfortunately, that's the uncertainty we're dealing with.

I thought Cowgirl was looking too fat, but the vet said she could be fatter. She has 24/7 grass hay--and we purchased a Hay Hut to keep her round bale dry.  It worked so well that we bought another for the herd. So far, it's extending the life of the herd's bale about 1-3 days, and Cowgirl's bale lasted almost 3 weeks-- all of this is dependent on the temperatures, as they eat more when those temps drop.  The hay huts are cutting down on a lot of waste.  Before the hay hut, they'd stick their heads into the bale and just start tossing out all of the so-so bites--looking for the yummy ones.  Now, they have to make their way through the entire thing. It keeps the hay dry. It extends the life of the bale. And, it cuts down on fighting because they can't see each other as well.  I worried that they'd be hard on the hay hut, but it's super tough, and they don't show any interest in banging it around.  It is, after all, their conduit to food.

As for fattening Cowgirl up--that has never been an issue at our house. We seem to thrive on one thing around here--keeping our horses at borderline founder. Our farrier is always watching them closely and cautioning us to slow down the groceries. I guess Cowgirl is eating for two now, though!


Sad news.  We lost our Irish Wolfhound, Riagan. She was 10 years and 8 months old.  I had hoped she'd make it to 11, but her hips gave out and there was no way to put anymore bandaids on the situation. (Our vet had been working with her for the last year and a half, and we'd moved to palliative, end of life care.)  She had also started a mysterious bleeding at the same time. We couldn't get her in the vehicle to go to the vet, so we had the vet come to us. The night of her passing, she was laying on her favorite bed, in front of the fire in our living room.  I made her a big steak dinner before the vet arrived.  When the vet did arrive, she got down on the ground with us and talked to Riagan very gently and respectfully. She gave her a little sedative and allowed that to take effect for five minutes.  She administered more sedative, and gave that one even more time.  Altogether, we had about 30 minutes or more with Riagan in that relaxed, state--very slowly taking her to new levels of relaxation until she fell asleep in my arms. The vet then administered the barbiturates. 

She was the most noble soul and I love her so, so deeply. Before she fell asleep, I was down on the ground, with my arms around her, and looking in her eyes.  She held my gaze to the last moments--never wavering. I felt like it was an affirmation--a message from her--that we will not be parted forever.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Little Hello & Hope You're Doing AWESOME!!

I hope you're all doing well and finding happiness and love and all the things that make life beautiful.  We are certainly trying to do the same in our little patch of the world. Being somewhat introverts, our lives haven't changed all that much in the day to day living part. And, we do find ways to bring in aspects that we lost--like "Symphonies in the Sunroom:" An evening with a good glass of wine, a warm room, candles, and my best friend--my husband. 

All of our horses are doing good, and I hope to get out on the trails as soon as I'm done posting to enjoy a rare Autumn sunshine.

Tumbleweed is still growing and learning. We are participating in something called the "100 Mile Challenge." It's something a friend started to get out walking with our horses.  She has weanling that needs the walks, and I have oldies and Tumbleweed.  We use the app All Trails--which records your path and distance. I have trailered him out for these walks, and we've had some lovely ones. That is probably what I'll do today-- a walk --and tomorrow, hopefully, a ride.

I haven't had as many trail rides as I'd like, but there have been a few.

Cowgirl is continuing to mend from her tendon injury. She is about four months pregnant, and that seems to be going well.  I tried to put her out with the herd, locking Beautiful in, but the other horses were a bit mean to her and put too much stress on that leg.  So, she's back in a 24x12 stall with a large turnout of her own. Honestly, she doesn't seem to mind it and interacts with them through the panels.

This has been a crazy year, but even in these times, there has been much to be thankful for.  Oh, I have a new daughter-in-law! My son married his longtime fiance, and they will have a big celebration post-Covid.  She has always been like a daughter to me, and now she is officially my daughter, so I'm very, very happy.

My granddaughter, Sophie, has been studying the Masterson Method.  She was signed up to attend a clinic in Kalispel, MT, but a snow storm canceled it. I'm trying to decide which one to take her to next. Possibly, the one in Wickenberg, AZ.

Here are a few more photos of our autumn. Please leave me a little note about how you're all doing--and how you're surviving these crazy times! Any inspiration? Suggestions for living a happier "locked in"life?  Any, and all, words of wisdom are welcome.

Monday, August 17, 2020

A Baby, An Injury, A Stellar Report, And a New Hat

Good news first! Cowgirl is confirmed in foal. That's really rather miraculous, since she's a 16 year old maiden mare. When we said we were breeding her, we got no end of comments about others who tried the same thing and failed. So, we had very low expectations for a successful breeding and were happily surprised.

Unfortunately, just a couple of days before this ultrasound, Beautiful Girl kicked Cowgirl in a fighting match and damaged her back leg. She is now on stall rest, for who knows how long.  Tendons can take forever to heal. 

Beautiful Girl certainly has presented a dilemma for me.  She has the tendency to go to the ropes--to the death--to enforce order.  It has caused many an injury in my herd.  On the other hand, she does teach them manners.  But she also keeps them on a high alert and disturbs the peace of the herd.  I go back and forth about what to think about it.  There are definitely positives and negatives.  

BG LOVES Foxy Mama, and she wants Foxy to be the undisputed herd leader.  When we brought Cowgirl back from training, Cowgirl was determined to be the herd leader again. Well, that didn't sit well with BG. So. Much. Drama.  

Now that Cowgirl's out of the herd, BG turned her attention to keeping every other horse away from Foxy--including Tummy, Aka Tumbleweed.  That has been a blessing for me, because he is lonely and needing a friend--me.


Other good news.  My farrier came to take off Tummy’s shoes, and Cowgirl's, since she won't be on the trails anytime soon.  

He was duly impressed with Tums.  He said, "If your horse stays like this, you're going to have quite a horse." He said I have beauty and brains in Tumbleweed--and calm.  Besides breeding, and early handling by Shirley, I credit that to my trainer bringing out the best in him.  And, Beautiful Girl--for knocking him off his perch a bit. And maybe, too, maturity AND the heat we've been under.

Regarding his nickname--Tummy, Tommy, or Tum Tum, we find ourselves shortening his name to some version of this.  I always called him "The baby".  When I go out there, he will see me and come walking fast or running to me.  I always greeted him with a, "Hi baby."  But my trainer didn't like me referring to him--or more the case--thinking of him, and treating him, as a "baby" anymore.  She really encouraged me to think of him, and treat him, as a full grown horse--and raise my expectations accordingly.  My beloved grandfather was always called Tommy, and the name may settle towards that. 

So, I have removed "baby" from my vocabulary, and it is helping me shift my image of him.  Either that, or he's just looking, and acting, less like a baby.  We may never know which came first. 

In any case, the two of us continue to develop a strong bond for one another. That's the beauty of raising a horse from baby to adult.  You grow a relationship through good times and bad, and as the horse matures--you see all the paths converging into one--your heart horse.


Hats.  I have a thing for hats.  You will rarely see me without one, and if you do, I won't be very happy.  Boots and hats are my passion.  My current hat, that you've seen in almost every photo of me for the last two years, has been through a lot.  Most recently, our wolfhound Piper got it and tore off the band on the outside and inside of the hat.  I fixed it, but it left me thinking I need to find my next great one.

I had been looking at Gigi Pip hats for a while, but didn't buy one, until today.  Their natural colored "wren" sold out on their website, and I was able to find it elsewhere, so I figured I better pull the trigger before it's gone. 

I hate buying hats without trying them on first, but that's kind of the way with hats.  We don't have any hat shops in our city, and the small selections some stores do have rarely carry the type and style I like.  This hat will not be a riding one--because the color is just too light to stand up to the dirty hands that would be touching it.  My dirty hands.

So, I'm looking at this one from Buckaroo Leather.  4" brim, 4" crown--leather band. Made in the USA.

The Palm Leaf Vaquero hat with horse hair strap looks more like a working one.  Unfortunately, it only has one review on their site.  Do any of you have thoughts, or experience, with this hat?  Do you have recommendations for any others, in this style?

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

All About the Wait

The more we work, the easier things get. After the first bucky day back, Tumbleweed has settled. It's extremely hot outside mid-day, so we have to get our work done in the early morning.  If he has had time to eat, he's great.  If he's still a little hungry, he is preoccupied with getting back to grazing.

We are working on everything: standing tied while I spray him with fly spray, use the clippers, saddle and unsaddle. He does all of it fine, now that he had the training, but he still flinches.  Until he learns to accept it without flinching, I have daily work to do.

Which brings me to what I've been learning to do better since starting the Masterson Method--WAIT for the RELEASE.

There are two reactions from our horses--relaxation/acceptance and bracing/flight. I used two words for each, but they are really the same thing. When I spray Tweed or throw a blanket on his back, he is fighting the instinctive reaction to brace himself for flight--to pull and fight himself away from a threat.  When he knows he's okay, and he's ready to accept being sprayed or having a blanket thrown on him, he is engaged and relaxed, and ready.

But when are they truly relaxed?

That is the key to the Masterson Method--waiting for the signs: licking, yawning, chewing, shifting weight, relaxed eyes.  And it comes...if you wait...and wait...and wait.

Sometimes, it's difficult to know if they're giving you relaxation or evasion.  Tweed is good at evasion--something I knew before he left, and something the trainer picked up pretty quick.  He will try not to see what he's scared of by looking the other way and tuning it out.  So, you might see some signs of relaxation, but it is really him just avoiding and thinking about something else.  I am becoming better at discerning between the two. Here is an 18 second clip showing him accept the fly spray.

 I don't know if this seems overly meticulous to all of you, or spot on.  Years ago, I probably would have said overly meticulous, but then I discovered there is no short cut to true acceptance / partnership / unity.  I learned that the extra time you spend waiting at each step, builds a more solid foundation for the next.  When I've failed to wait for these things, I've sometimes gotten into trouble. I'm basically an impatient person, and prefer to power through everything. Sometimes, that works--or, I should say, I get away with it. And then, sometimes I don't, and barely live to tell about it.

I took the saddle I was trying out to my saddle guy yesterday, and he said it's solid, but the latigo is original--aged and thin--and he's going to replace that and a couple of other things to make sure nothing snaps off.  It's a little squeaky, so I'm going to powder it and hope to get rid of that.  I had to buy a new blanket (ended up getting one just as large as the others.  It said it was 30", but is really 32" and too long for him right now, but I like the color and will save it for later), and a new smart cinch for it.  It should be ready to go in a couple of days.  For now, he's packing the kids english saddle.

So many blankets, but so few that fit.  Isn't that always the problem?  I need to take some of these off for consignment.

Here's his new blanket--too long--but I love the color.  I'm going to keep it.

And here's the blanket that came with the saddle I'm buying--not as nice or pretty-but it fit better.  Grrr.

This week, besides working to get Tumbleweed going and me in the saddle with him, we are redoing the arena to prepare for it.  My husband just left to get all the materials for two new bridges: one, the squishy bridge mounted on tires, and two, a much longer, wider bridge on the ground.  It will three times as long as the last one.  These will be sturdier and will be made of treated wood.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Getting Started Again With Tumbleweed

I hope everyone is surviving okay during the pandemic.  Crazy, crazy times.  I haven't really mentioned it in the blog because it is so sensive / painful / chaotic / emotional / fill in the blank.  Depending on which day you talk to me, I have been alternately sad, mad, depressed, resigned, or in denial.

I keep my sanity by getting outside into nature and really practicing gratitude--especially on the hardest days. While the world has gone wonky, nature has remained the same, and I'm very thankful for that.

There have been good things about Covid. Because of the many extracuricullar cancellations, my grandkids have had more time to come over this summer and play with horses.  They've also helped us with projects around the ranch.  Covid has restricted our gatherings of friends, and concentrated our emotional/social time much more toward family--where it has always mostly been, but now even more so. Our adult kids are over more, too, and we've been playing more games.  I suppose, it has simplified life.

We just finished up a wild and crazy week jam-packed with kids, a new grandbaby, our brothers and sisters and families, and yesterday, my granddaughters for a very busy horse playday.

The playday was planned around a practictioner for the Masterson Method coming here and working on Cowboy.  It was his second session with Sarah Krahn. I have been watching the videos on his site and following along with his book, but it's always better to see it done in person. Some of what I've learned, I passed onto friends and family--including my grands.  I wanted them to come watch Sarah in action, especially my oldest granddaughter, who is going to attend a weekend workshop this fall.

So, we did all of that--and it was wonderful to watch--Cowboy is very expressive with his releases--and then we spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the arena.

It was the first day back to work for Tumbleweed, who had fallen through the cracks because of all the family gatherings.  I had hoped to ride him a week after he got home, but I didn't have a bridle and bit or saddle set up for him.  I had to go shopping, and then test out a smaller, used saddle that would fit his short back.

I didn't know what to expect on the first day working him, but I tied him to the trailer and threw on the blanket and saddle.  He flinched, but stood still.  He continued to stand still while I dinked around with the cinches trying to get them fitted properly. That was impressive.

After he was saddled and walked around, I lunged him. He was quite bucky going left on the line, and then a dust devil hit us, and scared the bejeezers out of him.  Let's just say, we had a lot to work through. Besides the dust devil, it seemed like his pissiness was due to the other horses being loped around him, and Foxy being led out of the arena.  (They've rebonded.)

This video was towards the end.

Needless to say, there was no way I was going to ride him in that frame of mind.  So, we finished up and he practiced standing tied while I threw the new saddle onto Cowboy to try it out.  It wasn't bad.  The seat feels hard, compared to mine, but the fenders hang nice and are thin enough to put your leg in a natural position around him.  It is a Pioneer Big Horn, and it seems like it's in great shape.  I'm going to take it to our local saddle shop tomorrow and have him inspect it.  If my saddle guy likes it, I'll put some money into updating it for what I need.

(The gap between the fender and the seat skirt closed when I adjusted the fenders shorter, but the little bulge was still uncomfortable. I'm going to ask my saddle guy what he can do about that.  And, it needs D rings, a new Latigo--and an overall leather & tree inspection. It doesn't appear to pinch him anywhere.  It's a litle saddle, which is what he needed, but the seat fits me, and the stirrups are rigged to go pretty long, too--well past the length I need.)

This week is going to be super hot, so any work we do will have to be in the morning or evening.  But I have to find a way to get out there everyday with him and get him back to where his trainer left off. Until the saddle is inspected, I won't ride him in it, but I'll let him pack it around while he gets his working brain back.  I had been giving him a little grain, but I'm going to cut that out, too.  The number one thing my trainer asked me to do was SEPARATE him from the herd A LOT.  If I do nothing else all year, that is her number one request.

So, let the adventure begin.  I will take it day by day, and never do anything that will be too risky.  I will also make a date with my trainer up here.  The sooner I start lessons with her and Tweed, the better.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Tumbleweed is Home

On Friday my daughter and I drove down to Clarkston, WA to pick up our horses--Cowgirl, after getting a tuneup and being bred to the appy stallion, and Tumbleweed, who went down for what I call "kindergarten."

Before I sent Tumbleweed down for his 2 year old training, I did debate the pros and cons of sending a horse that young, and I realized he was an immature 2 who still had a lot of baby characteristics.  But I also realized that his mind was a sponge for learning, and what he learns now, good and bad, will stick with him for the rest of his life.  In fact, Cowgirl, my daughter's horse, got 30 days with our same trainer, 14 years ago, as a 2 year old, and that's all she ever needed until this last "tuneup."  (But mares are different, and she was a much more mature 2. Tumbleweed will definitely need a follow up next year. Also, the only reason she needed a tune up is because my daughter was finishing up her college and neglected her the last couple of years.)

The first week of Tumbleweed's training was really just "weaning" him from Foxy mama.  I added on 10 days to make up for that.  Sarah, the trainer, thought that was a good idea, and she said that he was really just starting to absorb the lessons in the final week.  However, it was also ending at the perfect time, because he was about at the max of what he could handle for now.

So, what did he learn and accomplish at 2 year old kindergarten?

1. Weaning from Foxy Mama and learning to self-console and be indepedent.
2. Standing tied all day long, when he wasn't working.
3. Loading in a trailer and backing out of the trailer.
4. Picking up all four feet and standing still, like a gentleman, for the farrier. (1st set of shoes, he did awesome!)
5. Respecting space.
6. Bending, disengaging front and back. (Lots and lots and lots of that. It's one of the foundations of Sarah's work.)
7. Ground driving.
8. Carrying a saddle, bit and bridle.
9. Trimming bridle path. (She worked on him with clippers everyday, even if it was just turning them on and holding them against his skin.)
10. Being ponied and showing respect while being ponied.
11. Being ridden at all three gaits.
12. Stopping, backing up, understanding leg cues.
13. Inroduction to spurs. (The only time he ever kicked up was when she first had to lay a spur on his side. It shocked him.)

Report Card:

One thing about my trainer, Sarah, she will give you an honest assessment of your horse at the end of the day.  Some of it, you'll be proud, and some of it, you'll go, ugh.  You just have to be ready for the truth of the current snapshot.  It might change next year--in fact, it probably will change next year, and the next--but some of it is their personality, and may remain forever.

Regarding Tumbleweed:  I'll give you the bad report first.  He's butt high and and gangly, and she warned me that his trot is rough.  She wasn't kidding.  It almost shook me out of the saddle as I tried to sit back and ask for the lope.  It's what I laughingly refer to as a "jackhammer" trot.  But Sarah is used to riding two year olds, all day long, for thirty years, and she knows how to sit it and absorb the roughness in her feet while letting the rest of her body relax into it.  He will continue to grow, muscle up, and the front will catch up with the powerful back end, and that will all change.  So, no big deal.  For now, she says it's probably best that I continue to work him at the walk--and leave the loping to her next spring. He did amazing when I lost my balance (something I'll get to about his POSITIVE list) but if I were to come off working on that transition, it would set his training back.

Second negative, he's "lazy."

Now, I could put this in the PRO column!!  In fact, for me, it is a pro.  I can handle lazy much better than hot.  Sarah, though, had to introduce him to spurs to keep him going.  When I rode him, I had to constantly urge him forward with my legs, and smack his butt with the rein. I need to ride him actively and keep him turning, and walking, and learning how to balance a rider AND listen for cues. She says I only need to do that a couple times per week so that he remembers his lessons.

My feeling about it is that he was trying so hard to think about everything and do right--he was more mentally exhausted than physically.  When he felt me coming off at the trot, he slowed down and tried to catch me.  So, he's really wanting to do right by the rider, too.  That's a lot to think about for a young colt.  I believe that when he matures in body and mind--he's going to feel comfortable in his work and eager to move out.  Even the little bit of time I had with him, in the arena, he was already starting to walk out faster for me.  And since I'm a trail rider, I think he will learn to love moving out, and exploring the world, on the trails.

In the photo above, you can see how he is sloped down. That's why his trot is so uneven.  Light work at the walk, while he grows into his body, suits me just fine.  We followed Cowgirl for a while, and then I asked him to move away from her and walk opposite.

So, the pros now.  Laziness, for me, is a pro.  Also, he doesn't spook.  ZERO spook. She said he never spooked at anything, ever, and when I was riding him, I noticed the same thing.  Even when I started to come off, something that would have freaked most young horses out, he held steady and got me back on. Sarah rode him out, and she said even away from the property, he spooked at nothing.  In the time she rode him in saddle--3 weeks of light work--he never reared, bolted, or bucked.  The worst thing he did was kick out when he felt the spurs for the first time.

For some reason, the "stop" came slowly to him, but when he got it, he'd put his back legs underneath himself and stop on a dime. (Wonder where he inherited that ability. Daddy and mama, for sure.)  He has a genuine interest in cows--again, bred into him.  His lope is dreamy.  She said he has natural collection.  She just throws him the reins when he finds the right lead, and off he goes.  I experienced it in the roundpen, and it is wonderful.  Finally, she said he is extremely smart, learns fast, and retains it.

One thing about Sarah, she gives a colt a ROCK SOLID foundation, and she doesn't sugar coat anything in her assessment. The fact is, you don't really know what you've got with a baby until they're put to the test.  A bucker might always resort to bucking.  A rearing horse might always resort to rearing.  A spooky horse, might always contend with spookiness.  Almost everything can be worked around, but you have to ask yourself if you have what it takes to get past it, should they resort to that particular thing in a pinch.

Another thing about Sarah--she's not their "buddy."  A horse like Tumbleweed, who had nothing but oohs and awws and hugs and kisses his whole life--gets humbled.  When he entered her world, the days of "something for nothing and your kicks for free," were OVER.  You get one thing with Sarah--release--and that comes when you give the right answer.  If you're not training, you get REST.  Rest and release and a few good boy pats when you're extra special are about the extent of your "spoiling."

So, when I picked him up, he was happy to hear my voice.  He was happy to load into that trailer!  He was happy to be rolling, rolling, rolling down the highway.  And he was oh, oh, so happy to unload and be turned back out with the herd.

Sarah told me to give him a week off to rest and reflect on what he just experienced, and then start him back up with bending, releasing, and walking--working off the leg--stopping, backing--just the basics--a couple times a week. Haul him away a lot--to keep him from being herd bound, and do a lot of ponying on the trails so he gets used to it.   He has a date to return next April and build on the training.

For now, I have to set up a bridle and snaffle for him and find a saddle that is narrow enough, and a skirt small enough, to fit on his back.

I will also have to invest in a heavy duty sports bra.

It sure is good to have him home!

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Some Big News

You might remember a few years back when my daughter told me I could breed her horse Cowgirl--a palomino foundation QH, for a baby.  I had found a stud, and was all set to go, but in the end, I just didn't feel right about breeding her horse, considering all the things that can go wrong.  Then, Shirley's mare, Rosalee, foaled Tumbleweed--from Beamer--and the rest is history.


Well, fast forward two years, and we took Tumbleweed and Cowgirl down to the trainer for tune up and starting. And, while there, Cowgirl was doing a lot of  calling out to our trainer's stallion. He was sired by her former TB stallion who passed away in his late 20's.  The former stallion, Brilliant Knight, had sired quite a few foals, and one of them wasborn to an appy mare, and they named him Mr. Tom Horn.  She acquired his Mr. Tom Horn, raised and trained him for ranch riding, roping, and barrel racing, and started breeding him two years ago.

My daughter hadn't been thinking of appy's, but it is fitting, since she was born at the edge of the Palouse, in appaloosa country. In fact, my second horse was a leopard appy way back in the early 80's.  Not as pretty as Mr. Tom Horn, that's for sure, but flashy.

Mr. Tom Horn has a good mind, solid bone, strong feet--all things my daughter wants.  And, if all goes well, their foal will arrive in late May, early June.

It wasn't an easy breeding.  Cowgirl kept kicking out at him, yet was also acting like she was in heat.  They took her to the vet for an ultrasound, and she had a cyst.  The vet gave her a shot, and she was in full heat within two days.  It was live cover.  I think she has bred the two of them everyday she has been in heat, but that has been between Sarah, the trainer, and my daughter.

Cowgirl did have a sibling that was an appy.  Here's a photo of him:

Cowgirl's father was a buckskin QH. Here was their old ad for him.

It'll be an adventure for my daughter, who just completed college, and was ready for a new, and more horsey, challenge.  I'll be standing back and watching from a safe distance, helping her when she asks. It's her baby.

But it will be good for me, because I was keeping T'weed in the baby mode--like the last child of a family--and now that there will be a new baby in town--if all goes well--he can grow up and be an adult now.

Speaking of which, one more week until he comes home!!  We may pick up Cowgirl this week, which means I'll be able to visit him again.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Tumbleweed Training Update

(Tumbleweed learning to pack a saddle and bridle. This was the first week, and I guess he went around kicking the sides of the roundpen and crying for Cowgirl!)

It's been a while since I posted. My, how time flies!!

 Tumbleweed finally settled in, and I went down to see him and had a lesson. 

(Standing tied the day I went to see him. 2nd week.)

He remembered me, of course, and it didn't take long for him to start rubbing his head on my arm, like, "Oh, you're the mommy who lets me be naughty!" He laid his nose in my hands and just rested it there, but after a few minutes, he gave it a little love bite, and got moved out of my bubble. That was two weeks into his training.

While there, I got more of an update on those hairy first few nights.  Apparently, he was throwing a fit for the record books. He was rearing in his stall and banging his head around because he was so upset he wasn't paying attention.  I told her I was glad she hadn't told me all of that because I would have been more worried.

(Standing tied after our session. 2nd week.  Relaxed and resting.)

Sarah was ground driving him in the arena, and then she bent him well in both directions, put weight in each of the stirrups, mounted, and did some serpentine work in the arena--just patting on him, and giving him praise.

A few days after that, they were doing trot, lope, and gate work. She thinks he's smart, and just needed time to grow up and get used to being "weaned."

But because it took a week for that big emotional step, I decided it would be better if he could stay another couple of weeks.  Luckily, another client was willing to put her training off, and I'm able to keep T'weed there until mid-July.

Sarah thinks he's a solid colt, and as long as I'm doing light riding without a lot of stopping and starting, he should be good to ride.  That is really what changed things in my mind.  I had been thinking it was only kindergarten, but turns out, he is able to make more progress, and I will be able to follow up with him up here, rather than just putting him back out to pasture.  I needed her to put more time on him and give him a foundation I'll feel confident building upon.

He's doing better at being alone.

(3rd week. Standing tied after being hosed off.  Looking at the cows.)

She says he likes to watch the cows.  He also needed shoes, now that he will be there longer and be ridden more. Oh, and she said he has a nice lope--it's "smoothe and collected."

She did say he has a tendency to get lazy, and she has to get his attention.  I've seen him be lazy, too, being led, so I wasn't surprised. And, it's getting hot, which makes them all lazy.

At Sarah's, they spend a lot of time standing tied.  As I was leaving, a couple of weeks ago, I realized her trainging comes down to lots of "R's".  (These are my "R's, from watching Sarah train--she doesn't refer to it this way.)

1. Respect. She doesn't treat horses like pets. When they're there, they have to respect her space and listen for her, and they do.

2. Relax / Rest. She likes for the horses to stand tied a lot--and just chill.  She also gives them lots of time to relax during a training session.  It's always about building very slowly, and incrementally, so they experience success each step of the way.  She doesnt' rush it.  They get where they get--no time table.  She absolutely will not progress to the next step until they are relaxed at the current one.

You can tell the horses like it.  Tumbleweed clearly trusted and looked to her, and when she tied him up afterward, he was quick to cock a leg and take a rest.

3. Be Ready. Sarah is always wanting her horses to pay attention and wait for direction.  They are mentally ready and in a learning frame of mind.  Plus, as I said, they are adequately prepared -- and truly ready, and excited, to learn more.

4. Which leads to the "Riding" mind--the last "R".  She says she would never get on a horse that hadn't progressed in all those ways.  It might seem slow, and I'm sure she could do it much faster, but she's giving them a foundation they will take with them the rest of their lives. And rushing them won't help get there. Nor, would it keep her, or the horse, safe.  She has been training for many years, and has avoided injury by being smart in how she progresses.

(1st week. Standing tied, watching Sarah ride another horse. His look: "There's a new sheriff in town." And you can see where he had banged up his face.  He has thin skin and his fur easily rubs off to reveal his daddy's black.)

I will see him again when I go to collect Cowgirl at the month point (June 30th), but I know he's in good hands and learning far more there than he would here.  The further she gets with him, the better I'll feel about continuing it when he gets home.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Tumbleweed Left for Kindergarten--Or is it Reform School?

There was a sitcom in the 90's called Dinosaurs, and the baby of the family would always say, "Not the mama," when anyone went to pick him up or console him.  That sums up Tumbleweed very well, too.  From the time I started to visit him in Canada until now, he has always had a real, "Not the mama" vibe about him.  He was like you're good for butt-scratching....but NOT the mama.

When I got him home, Foxy was more than happy to continue on with him in that fashion--stepping right into the mama role.  I was able to chip my way into it, too, through feeding and caretaking.  Whenever I go out, he will come running to me, and he loves to have me pet on him.  But the farrier...."NOT the mama!"

So, of all horses, Tumbleweed is probably the best candidate for being sent away and learning to get along with another person, without the help of the herd.  Of course, it was hard for me--the human mama--to part with him, but the 2 1/2 hour road trip went great--he had Cowgirl in the trailer with him--and when I left him in his box stall, two down from Cowgirl, he seemed quite content to eat his hay and relax.

Apparently, after I left, things got dicey, and he had a rough two nights.  The trainer definitely got the "NOT THE MAMA!" treatment on their first day together.  I assured her he would be in her pocket once he warms up to her--probably, too much in her pocket.  One of my biggest problems with T'weed is making him respect my space.  He thinks we need to be glued at the hip most of the time, and the trainer will ask him to respect her space.

She wrote yesterday to say they had a better day and he calmed down in his stall.  As I said, he has Cowgirl there, so it's not even a completely cold drop-off.  My trainer says Cowgirl is acting like a perfectly dignified student.  LOL.  Smarty pants!

It will be a long, interesting month.  I pray he settles, does well, and learns all the things a working, nice-mannered horse knows, and comes back to me an angel!

In the meantime, Beautiful Girl was literally terrorizing T'weed and Leah, and she injured Leah, so I removed her from the herd. I'm not sure what dynamic was at play, but she took to Tumbleweed, and there seemed to be some weird power struggle and mating dance going on.  If he didn't mount her, she'd start kicking out at him, then run him off, bring him back, repeat.  To Leah, she'd keep her away from the herd and run her into objects.  After I had her out of the herd for a few days, I put her back in, only to see her run into their midst and start kicking and squealing and making them all run in different directions.  So, she's back in jail,the herd is much happier and relaxed, and we're working on At Liberty, which she loves.

I've had a few rides with the granddaughters and daughter--which helps, too.

On another note, regarding underwear--that old post on panties--Gray Horse suggested Duluth undies, and I"m here to tell you, she was right.  I bought lots of different brands, but found myself going for the Duluth everyday.  I went on a spending spree and bought a lifetime supply.

I also had a recommendation for Bomba socks, which I took, and found that Bombas are candy for the feet. They guarantee their socks for life, even if you lose one to the sock monster. They donate a pair to charity for every pair you buy, but I'm not sure if they donate Bombas or just some other kind of sock.  But they are comfortable, and I didn't buy them for that reason.