Friday, November 10, 2017

Equine Trail Sports....or "Well, that was fun, but my horse is STILL broken!"


So, at the place I used to board the horses at (Rusty's Walnut Creek [hey, I don't board there now, and since I know my ex still stalks my stuff, I always tried not to mention it by name ANYWHERE {yes, he's THAT creepy}]) hosted another Equine Trail Sports challenge the last weekend, and, while Joe and I both had things to do on Saturday, I kind of whined and got him to sign up to do the ETS on Sunday.

Originally we were going to be companion only riders (which means we weren't going to do ANY of the obstacles), but, they begged and said we should go try and if we just HATED the obstacles, they wouldn't charge us the fee, so, we decided to go.

Now, Strider was CONFUSED.  So, we're at Rusty's, his "home".  There's trailers!  And LOTS OF HORSES!!  IS RACE DAY MOMMA?!!!!  WE GO FAST!!!

No.  No dude. 

My friend H got us this saddle pad at the Bluebonnet Horse Expo, so I HAD to use it!!
People should KNOW that they're in the presence of the Paso Fino!  LOL!!!

Almost fully dressed with our number! 

I told Joe I was going to walk only Strider, and I did, with the exception of ONE obstacle and when he BEGGED me to go for a little bit.

I rode him in the Myler Kimberwicke, which is what Douglas had used on him when training.  Strider wasn't exactly HAPPY in his bit, but it DOES help him refine his moves.  And he tried his heart out for me.

The first obstacle we had to take them into the round pen, step in a square box and you had to have their head naked and bridle them.  Joe and I both opted to do it without a halter around their necks.  Of COURSE both of our horses walked out of the box.  LOL!!!

Our group, consisting of 2 other endurance riders, Joe and one of my friends in the Central Texas Lady Trail Riders group (who is on her amazing horse Kansas!!) mounted and set off. 

Obstacle two was to turn on the forehand down an invisible fence.  Strider and I bombed this one.

This video is obstacle 3.  Move from cone 1 to 2, line up on the cone, back up, move off back to the cone, line up, back again, and then move off the obstacle.

You can tell in this video that he's off.  I wasn't completely sure, but fairly sure he wasn't QUITE right.

Obstacle 4 was to touch a big piece of plastic on the fence with monsters on it. 

We actually did obstacles 5 and 6 out of order. 

So, we did 6 before 5; which was get a bucket of candy off a peg in a tree, move through cones and hang the bucket back up on the tree.

Obstacle 6 was to side pass obstacles going down the trail.

I was actually very pleased with him ALL day (except for the lameness that was intermittent).

Here are our scores.

Strider and I got a shout out for the obstacle with the candy bucket.  And our reward?

Look!  You CAN make money with horses!!!
Now, let me talk about Joe and Tilly.  Joe was COMPLETELY game to try things that he had NO idea what to do, how to cue Tilly or ANYTHING!!  He was so calm and patient with her ALL day long.  The only time he "got after" her was at the tarp on the fence because she would NOT go near it when he asked.  However, once we finished that obstacle, he DID make her touch it with her nose.

We did tell the judges that this was only the second time he had ridden her, and that he really wasn't sure how to cue some of these things.  The judge at the obstacle you were supposed to side pass on said "That's fantastic!  It leaves them a LOT of room to grow!  Good for him to coming out and riding today!"

Here are their scores.

Overall, I enjoyed our ETS ride (minus my hurt horse).  There ARE people who you can tell are there to win and are competitive, but the overall atmosphere felt very laid back and casual, and no one said anything negative about the endurance riders.  Everyone was very supportive, and the judges were FANTASTIC about explaining what the obstacle was, and what they were even looking for.

My endurance friend (TM) taking an over the shoulder shot of Joe and Tilly. 
That's Strider and I and TC and her horse Kansas behind them.

All of our group (except TM, the photographer!) after we finished obstacle one!!
I would recommend an ETS ride to anyone who has never done one!!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Scavenger Hunt...or "Chantilly Lace...and a pretty face"

Sunday Joe was going to come to a scavenger hunt held at a church about an hour from the house.  There was going to be a small group of my friends coming...except as we got closer and closer, people kept dropping like flies until it was just B and myself coming.  Joe opted to skip out and stay home with Kaylee since B's husband wasn't going and he didn't want to be the only guy there.

Not a problem.  So, B and I arranged to meet there at around 11.  I was up at 8, hooked the truck and trailer up, AND I actually managed to catch Tilly far quicker than normal, AND get her loaded in about 2 minutes.  Takes a few minutes to get the divider swung over, long rope fed through the window and encourage her in. 

So, I was on the road before 9.  And realized from the gas station I stopped at to fill the truck up, I was 23 minutes away from the church. 

Well then, time for breakfast!!  Hit up a McDonald's in Copperas Cove, killed about an hour there and then headed off for the church.

This is one of the RARE instances where I didn't blow a SINGLE turn.  GO ME!!!

Got there a few minutes before B, while we discussed ditching the scavenger hunt (I saw 1 trailer with horses in and 1 Gator).  We unloaded Tilly and Baby G while we debated what we wanted to do. We finally opted to go ahead and do the scavenger hunt as we walked behind the arena at the church and saw more horses.

So, loaded the horses BACK up (Tilly bravely marched right into the trailer by following me in!....with the divider moved over) and drove back behind the church.

Where we sit and chit chatted and just had a good time hanging out while waiting for the scavenger hunt.

Baby G on the right, Tilly on the left.  Two MFTs just hanging out!!!

B's horse Baby G begging for more Nutter Butters.
The hunt actually ended up starting at 1 instead of noon.  And the rules were that we were hunting for man-made objects ANYWHERE within fencelines and without crossing beneath large power lines or cattle guards.  And we had 2 hours to find as many objects as we could find.

Here's some of the things we found out there on our aimless meanderings.

What no one mentioned until we were already present and saw for ourselves was just how ROCKY it was.  Oh, there were some patches of soft, grassy dirt, but mostly it was rock, rock and MORE rock.  Tilly doesn't have boots yet, but after this ride, she's moved up on my priority list to get her a pair of at LEAST front boots.  She was quite brave and bold and forward when she led, but after about an hour, she was asking me to PLEASE get off the rocks, so B and I quit after an hour and 15 minutes.  We're going camping this weekend and we didn't want to lame our horses.  So, we headed back to the trailers.

Sweaty, dirty, hairy horse-yak.
Other side of a big booty horse-yak!!!

B and I only ultimately found 8 items, so we each won a $5 gift card to Tractor Supply.  So, yay!!  We talked about trying to grab lunch, but...between trying to find a place that we could maneuver the trailers in to, and Joe needing to get to work, we rain checked and said next time.  PLUS, we're going CAMPING THIS WEEKEND!!! 

Scavenger Hunt

So, once again, Tilly hopped into the trailer and we headed for home. 

I decided there were 2 things I wanted to do with her before I cut her loose at the house.  Practice trailer loading AND at least rinse her off.

And that is exactly what happened when I got home.  I pulled the trailer through, off-loaded her and left the divider in place.  Then asked her to load up.  Which she did.  And off.  And on.

All in all, I got her in 6 times.  5 of them with the 30' long line through the window, and the final one, I walked her completely away from the trailer, gently lunged her around me away from the trailer, then walked her confidently up to the trailer standing beside her with one of the trailer doors closed, divider still in place, and she hopped right on in as I pointed her where I wanted her.

SMART mare!!!

Took her over to the small stand of trees by my barn, easily tied her up and hosed her off.  She stood like a champ, not a single flinch at the water.  Took my nails scraping off some of the grime and filth, but eventually she was mostly white again.  Sighed because I was SURE she was going to roll, but removed her halter and watched her charge off to go find the herd.

Walked into the house with Kaylee after unhooking the truck and realized something.

Why, I do believe I ENJOY that big mare.  She isn't Strider, he's always going to be my favorite ride...but...she's actually quite pleasant to be around! 

Once you catch her. 

And tomorrow begins my camping trip with my girls!  I CANNOT WAIT!!!!

Monday, November 06, 2017

Armadillo Run (take 3)....or "Part two"

Finally rolled out of my trailer around 6 and got to work.  Pulled Socks out of his pen and started getting him dressed.

I mean, as always, he looks gorgeous once he's dressed!

Yes, reins on.  What you can't see is my "Booma Rein" holder
to prevent them from falling over his head.

Ears up and a happy face!!  My body was already flinching.

I made sure to put my HRM on, and when I turned on my Garmin...nothing.  In fact, my Garmin started acting SUPER strange.  Like the numbers went sliding sideways.  The ONLY field that worked was pace per mile.  I'm unsure what happened, and I turned it off and on several times, but it never EVER wanted to work.  Frustrating.  BUT, I have my watch, so I can keep an eye on the time, which is really all I NEED to do.  HRM is just bonus.

I almost forgot to eat my own breakfast and prep my water, so quickly did that.  I also pre-loaded some Aleve.  I walked over to another friend's trailer (we were going to start out together, and I said I'd drop back when I needed to [spoiler alert; I needed to]).  She then asked if someone had come by my trailer yet to tell me that the LD's start time had been pushed back to 8:30.

I was already upset the LD's were going to start at 8.  It was hot and humid, and I prefer to get started as early as possible so I can get as much as I can done before it gets too hot.

But, that just wasn't to be.  Lovely.

Trail opens, and we do as I'd planned.  Left mid-pack.  It was great.  He was forward.  Happy.  Straining to go.  But not uncontrollable.

We settled in behind D and her large mare and away we went.  Trot, trot, trot.  I actually didn't feel bad.  Socks wasn't slamming my spine into fine sand, he was happy and forward, ears pricked.  D was a little faster than I wanted to go, so we slowed up just a little.

And, in a brief stretch with horses a little behind us, and trail open before us, he spooks at an invisible Boogeyman, and off I tumble.  Two for two at Armadillo where I've come out of the saddle.  I heave a huge sigh, laugh, and the ladies behind me are kind enough to wait (despite my telling them to go ahead and move on, we're okay!) while I hop back on.

Away we move again.

At this point, I'm hot and sticky, and Socks gets me a little TOOOOOO close to a ribbon on a tree, so it clings to my body, and off it and the clothespin come.  Great.  I hear a voice sing out a few horses behind me "I knew you were competitive Erin, but you don't need to sabotage the trail!" with a laugh following!  It's Zurkh's Mom!!!  I crack up and hollar back "Well, you know me, always fighting to win LAST PLACE!!!"

I do manage to get it pinned back on a tree as we keep up our rhythm, but I know that this speed is NOT sustainable for him and I, and the way he's fighting to keep up is NOT healthy for him, so I slow him back down and we drop back again.

He's strong, my hands hurt a little bit, and so do my shoulders.

See?  Compare this image from our first year and they're light years different! And look at GREAT he looks!
Photo by John Nowell (purchased image)

At some point on this loop, we're going along, all alone, and he spooks.  I cannot figure out what caused it, so from my mouth pours some filth (something along the lines of "What the FUCK Socks?! ASSHOLE!!!").  THEN I hear the hoofbeats behind me.  I turn and realize it's Doc Conway and his wife, and I probably turned a million shades of red. 

"I am SO sorry!!!"  

"Don't worry about it!  He probably heard us coming up behind him like a freight train."

I'm hoping that he doesn't put me together as I'm not on Strider as we fall behind them because Socks is back to fighting to keep up.

First loop done, 8 miles down.  We did a pulse down and trot by (had to take a few extra minutes to bring his HR down, but no big deal).

Armadillo Run; First Loop

Swing back up (okay, so not gracefully, I didn't tighten my cinch quite like I need to, so, saddle rolled, and I about fell off...from a MOUNTING front of the RM!  Lovely).

Back out for loop two.  We're chugging along, and we tuck in behind a junior on the CUTEST mule and his sponsor at some point, and keep on going.  I get a little concerned that he refuses to drink at ANY of the troughs.  He thinks the herd he needs to catch is ahead, and he cannot seem to settle down enough to drink.  The humidity is sky high (at some point my mentor mentioned it was like 90% humidity) and I'm dripping sweat.

He's still chugging along, happy to go, ears forward.

Telling the photographer this isn't our good side.  Look at him!
Photo by John Nowell (picture purchsaed)
 Before I know it, we're almost back to camp.  Hop off, loosen cinch and walk in.

Armadillo Run; Loop 2

Pulse through fine (5 minutes to get him to drop), and head off to see the vet. 

And that's where the wheels came off.  Jugular Refill and Skin Tenting, C's.  And, at our trot out...slight gait aberration.  I was told to go back to the trailer and see if we can't figure out why he's slightly off.  Maybe some hoof boots?

I'm basically resigned to pulling, then see my mentor and her husband, and a lightbulb goes off as I go over to ask if they might have any boots for him.  We go to check, and immediately her husband sees the problem.

Remember when I said trust your instincts?  Yep, should have used the bell boots I didn't buy!!  He'd torn up his heels.

I briefly considered borrowing a pair, and then said "No.  That's not right."

My first instinct was the right one.  Pull.  For his welfare.  So, we did.  And I have zero regrets about it.  I laugh and realize I'm going to be chasing those last 5 miles for my LD patch for who knows HOW long.  Who cares.  My ride record is crap, but I'm having fun overall, and learning as I go.  And, I didn't push nor ask him to do anything.  He willingly gave.  And as humid as it was, things could have gone south, so I'm grateful we did the smart thing and pulled.

Our vetting in on Friday night.  As usual, all A's for Socks the Fox!!

And after 14 miles.  Those C's worry me.  But, the humidity probably had a large hand in that!
I spent some time at camp relaxing.  Waited for my new friend and her reiner turned endurance QH to come back to camp.  They looked great when they came back in!!!  And my friend D on her horse finished as well!! 

Overall, it was a great ride.  I had a great time!!  Socks had a great time!  I actually didn't hurt at all as I packed up camp on Saturday evening.

Storms were rolling in, and Joe had to work on Sunday, so I knew I wasn't staying for the breakfast on Sunday morning.  The drive home was painless and easy, though the last few hours were a little hard as I was getting tired. 

Once again, if you're ever in Texas in October, come do the Armadillo Run ride.  The ride managers are simply the best.  And it was at this ride in 2014 that I FINALLY started feeling comfortable in my endurance tribe.  Why?  Because this ride manager, who also is the in/out timer at most of our rides, called me by NAME because she RECOGNIZED me.  And as such, this ride has earned a place in my heart. 

Good job Socks.

PS-He now has TWO brand new pairs of bell boots in my tack trunk.  I'll NEVER make that mistake again!!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Armadillo Run (take 3)....or "Trust your instincts, they're not wrong"

I'm pretty bad with ride write ups!  But, FINALLY here is part 1 of my "Armadillo Run" write up! 

Thursday was a fast run to Tractor Supply to get a gallon of Kaolin Pectin, more CMPK, 2 square bales and a bale of alfalfa for Armadillo Run.

Socks was brought up Wednesday night to begin his electrolyte protocol.  He's so laid back that I can dump the mix into his beet pulp/grain "tea" (it's more water than food) and he'll lick the pan/bucket clean. 

Thursday, repeat.

Now, I waffled back and forth Thursday evening evening, should I pen him up, making it easier to load and go Friday morning?  Or let him have the freedom of movement and stay with his herd overnight.

I opted to do the best thing for my horse, and left him out.

Now, Thursday was our wedding anniversary, but I pretty much warned Joe, I was going to be busy with horse stuff all night long.  Because, as we all probably know at this point, I'm a professional at procrastinating.  Which means the tack/changing room in my trailer was STILL a mess.  And that's where I sleep.  So, I HAD to get it cleaned out.  I did NOT want to do that on Friday once I got to ride camp.  I was done with that before 9pm, and even moved my big tack trunk to the barn after grabbing 2 blankets out that I thought I -might- need at camp.  FYI-I didn't need them.

So, early to bed so I could be up early Friday morning.  I still needed to hook up to the truck in the morning, but I had it loaded with my clothes and blankets and such. 

Got up, loaded the last few things and took my final pre-ride shower.  It was still dark at 5am as I was loading the last few things into the truck and then hooking up to the trailer.  At 6, I headed out looking for the horses.  I know they're out in the back pasture as I hadn't seen them out front.  I grabbed a flashlight and, I saw Zurkh's form gleaming as he laid in the grass.  I couldn't resist going over to him and snuggling him for a few minutes.  He was quite content to lay there as Tilly wandered over, wanting to know what I was doing to "my Zurkh".  He then told me he wanted to get up, so I moved, while sweeping my flashlight around, looking for 1 or 2 dark forms. 

Nothing.  So I kept walking. 

And walking. 

More walking.

At this point, I figured I would be better off to just go grab the ATV with its bright lights and come back to look.  Except, I see, tucked behind Tilly (who had followed me some of the way), 4 high whites.  SOCKS.  *sigh*

I ask aloud "Okay, so where is Strider guys?"  And there he is, that SUPER dark spot between Tilly and Zurkh.  Horses.  Sometimes I think they're jokesters at my expense.

As always, get Socks loaded quickly (he's such a saint), and hit the road.

Now, I realize as I'm fixing to leave, Socks USUALLY is ridden in bell boots.  Now, H had bought me 2 rubber gum ones, but they're size large.  I hadn't tried him on them yet, so went to go through my tack trunk to see if I could scrounge up a pair of his bell boots.

I found 1.  Not useful.  Considered stopping and getting him a pair....and then...didn't.  Trust your instincts.  They're not wrong.  But, I was trying to do this ride on the cheap, and didn't want to spend the money.  So, figured the ones H had gotten me would probably fit, so I'd be ok.

The drive was uneventful.  We did a quick stop for groceries.  I spent maybe $25 for food, and didn't eat all of it.  If nothing else, Bo and Linda make sure riders are well fed all weekend long. 

I pull in to ride camp and have a decision to make.  Park where I've parked the past 2 years?  It's open, quiet, NO neighbors, and I can make my pen whatever size I want.  BUT, it's far from the potties, and vet check, and it's in the sun with really no shade.


So, I camped in a new spot this year.  As I'm pulling in, I see one of the Blazin' Belles already pulled in and set up, some buckets beside her camp, so I pull down past them, swing wide and pick my spot.  It's a hike from VC, but near the potties AND gets my horse in the shade if I set him back far enough.

Off load and start setting up.

As always, quick and painless.  I'm getting better and better at this part of the endurance process.  The ground was harder than normal, so I had to hammer in my posts.  Unusual, especially since A from the Blazin' Belles mentioned a brief storm had rolled through a little before I got there.  Soften the ground?  NOPE!!  HARD!!! 

As I'm getting established, a new lady pulls in next to me on the other side, and we get to chit chatting.  Another new friend made!!  Who actually happens to be friends with another Paso rider here in my region with a 100 miler Paso.  COOL!!! 

We get smacked with another brief storm (maybe 30 or so minutes), so I hang out in my trailer and read and relax.  That's always nice!

We get vetted in around 5 or 6, prior to ride meeting.  I really like to let my horse relax.  Tank up on water and hay and I made Socks another slushy meal.  As normal, he vets in with a lower HR than Strider ever seems to.  *sigh*  Arabs. 

I try the bell boots on that H had bought me, realize they're so large, I fear rubs.  Consider the Mueller tape I'd bought; discard that idea.  Vet wrap?  Nope, discard that idea too.  The last few rides we'd done, he hadn't overreached, so maybe we're past that?

Any which way, I get settled in for the night after giving him some more electrolytes, another meal, and more fresh hay and I take just a moment to say good night before I turn in.

And realize, I've talked about my set up post "The Ride Which Shall Not Be Mentioned", but I've never really gotten good pictures of it at night.

Here's the quick breakdown.

I ordered a set of beta tack from "Trail Blazers Tack" off Facebook for Dakini in wine and reflective silver (I've shown it before on this blog).
I ordered indoor/outdoor "fairy lights" in 100 feet (came with a remote control even!) that I string up on my pen.
I bought some inexpensive solar lights that I stake/zip tie to all corners of my pen and then put sporadically on posts as well for additional light.
I USUALLY tie a glow stick to the halter overnight (for this ride, I forgot).
And I JUST bought battery operated bands to go around the pastern.

No, I don't play anymore.  People think the lights are pretty, but they serve a few purposes on my fence.  One, so that my horse can SEE the barrier at night.  Two, so that any potential LOOSE horses can see the barrier at night.  Three, to add one additional layer of "fencing" for my horses.

Glowstick on the halter.  Light up high, so if they get loose, I stand a chance of seeing it.

Reflective?  Shine a light on my horse, I can see them.

Battery operated bands?  Again, lost, hopefully I'll see them, even if they ARE down low!

Lights on the pen at the corners?  Again, to help ward off loose horses so they don't go crashing through my pen.

These were ALL ideas tossed about after that unfortunate incident, so I have put ALL of them to use in my camp.

And these photos are the end result.

Not a great picture because of the flash, but this is my usual set up.  Socks is in Dakini's old tack, so it's silver reflective.  "Fairy" lights that twinkle all night long.  Solar lights at all corners and some of the posts.  And, a new addition, blue flashing pastern bands for my horse.  I usually also do a glow stick on the halter, but didn't for this ride.

This is what it looks like without the flash on! 

And a profile view of my pen.
So, I set my alarm for 4 am to do another electrolyte dose, a little bit of beet pulp and I doze until about 6 for our 8 am start time.

Monday, October 23, 2017

And then it was Sunday....or "Pony Spa Day and Tilly Ride Day"

Sorry it's been a while.  :)

Sunday saw me hustling out of bed early again (country living, am I right?  Can I get a high 5?) so I could hitch up the trailer, load Tilly and Zurkh and get them trimmed and then go for a 1 hour ride, assuming the trim didn't make her sore, on Tilly at McKinney Roughs.

Knowing myself as I do, and having Waze'd the length of time to drive from my house to Holly's, I gave myself 2 hours of drive time and 45 minutes to hook up and load horses. 

Hooking up went off without a hitch (HAH!  See what I did there?), but, Tilly KNEW I was up to nefarious goals when she saw the halter.  So, off the herd (except Zurkh, who just wants to hang out with the humans) raced.  Cue annoyed sigh as I go into the barn and grab a bucket of grain and start shaking it.  I know if I can just get Strider, I can get the rest of the herd.

*shake**shake**shake*  I walked the entire front part of the property, rattling the feed.  I walked to their favorite hiding places.  Nothing.  Puzzling. 

I keep walking and shaking.  Still, no horses.

Well, lately they've been interested in hanging out behind the tree line, so maybe they're back there.

To my incredible annoyance, and my concern, my back gate is open.  Into the back pasture that has uncapped TPosts, coils of wire laying willy-nilly and who knows what all else my horses could kill themselves on. 

I mutter under my breath and push through my anger and fear as fast as possible before I approach them.  I cannot and won't chase them ALL the way to the back of the property.

I tried to catch Tilly, but she just ran laps around Socks and Strider, and it was getting me no where, fast.  

So I hope that they won't bolt as I approach Strider, who is happily grazing away.  I dump a little bit of the grain on the ground, and halter him up.  Leading him off, I expect Socks and Tilly to follow him.  Which means they won't and they didn't.  Horses.  They'll fool you EVERY single time.

I get Strider up to the feeding pen, Zurkh following along like the sweet puppy dog he is as my time keeps ticking away.  Internally I'm groaning, but still knowing I have time to make it on time as I turn around and head back out to the pasture to get Socks and Tilly.

Socks is an easy catch, and again, leading him out, and Tilly just refuses to go back through the gate, so I flick the end of the lead rope at her butt, throw my energy her direction and point her through the gate.  FINALLY she goes through, so my little trio heads up front. 

Toss Socks in with Strider, Zurkh goes into his pen, and then it's the Tilly tango.  She and I dance back and forth and back and forth with one another.  If I can physically touch her with a hand, she will stop dancing.  But it's getting a hand on her that is a challenge.  And she KNOWS if I have a halter or if I don't.  I may need to just get a string halter for her.  And really and truly focus on my body language and emotions. 

And now comes the fun part.  Let's see if Tilly will go in my straight load.

At this point, according to the clock, I should be pulling out.

Except I know Holly will understand if I'm late because of loading.  So, time table is tossed, and we set to work.

Doors open, thread the lead rope through the bars of my divider, let's load up.

I put some pressure on her hind and she steps forward.  Sniffs the floor.  Is doing well. 

We have some refusals.  Rearing outside of the trailer.  Typical "NO!  I won't!" reactions.  Nothing I haven't seen before.

Step towards.  Get one foot in, think she's being pressured too much, so she rears, thwacks her head on the roof and squirts out backwards.

Okay then, no go. 

Let's try something else then.

Around the center bar?

No go.

Slide the divider over and run the rope through that?

Another negative.

Okay win mare.

I remove the entire divider, and she hops right in.

Go figure. 

I close the door behind her and bring the divider BACK in, set it back up, slide and lock it and the butt bar into place then go get Zurkh.  Who has only been in this trailer one other time.

He marches right up, sniffs the floor, then hops right in.


Leap into the truck, ask Joe to please let Socks and Strider out AFTER I've left so they don't try to chase me out the gate and I hit the road.

I send Holly a text, assuming I'll be closer to 11 than 10:30 getting there.

Go figure, for once, I'd have been RIGHT on time.  Except, having sent that text, I opted to stop, fill up the truck, grab a drink and some breakfast and show up at Holly's closer to 11, as I'd predicted.

We pull in, and immediately Holly starts laughing at the height discrepancy of the butts in my trailer.  And, I should have taken a picture because it really is rather funny.  Tall Tilly on the right, short Zurkh on the left.

I went to unload Zurkh, who just refuses to back out of my trailer.  I suspect because it's a LONG step down for his little self.

Tilly hops out without much fuss or muss.  She gets a little spazzy when Holly sets down her HoofJack behind her, so Holly brings it up, lets her sniff it and, I say again I'm really not sure how she'll do, but I've worked with her consistently the past few days and she was okay at home.

And then, Tilly stood like a rock.  She was fantastic for all 4 feet.

Initial thoughts; Tilly is laminitic.  She is cresty necked, has fat pads, and thin soled and lots of rings on her hooves.  I am currently reading and learning how to care for a laminitic horse as I've never had one before, so want to make sure I'm doing right by her.  In the spring, she'll be in a grazing muzzle, or I'll create her a dry lot, OR she'll stay in my feeding pens, OR I'll set up my hot wire fencing and create her an area all of her own. 

Holly did say that, while I may have eventually gotten Tilly's feet set to rights, I may not have.  They were pretty bad.  She said that what she suspects is that, if Tilly wouldn't stand still for previous farriers, they wouldn't have done an in-depth job on her feet, thus allowing them to slowly degrade and get worse.  No one wants to be under a horse that won't stand still. 

She praised the work I did with Tilly for her feet, and said once again that I am a miracle worker with getting horses to give up their feet for trims.  Made me feel wonderful.  As I've said, I'm no trainer.  I don't really know what I'm doing, and I cannot finesse a horse, but I CAN install some very basic things on a horse.  And apparently, giving the feet is something I can do.  Go me.

Then it was Zurkh's turn.  Apparently, I should have worked with him some as well.  Holly said he wasn't BAD, just impatient about standing still.  He also said he had a negative palmar angle.  That is next for me to learn about.  Again, not something I could have corrected on my own, so, good that I brought them to her.  She said she also thinks he MAY have a slight touch of ringbone, but without X-rays we'll never know, and, even if he does, he's not carrying a heavy rider, so he should be just fine.

We stood around and chatted for a little bit, then it was time to load them up again.  Tilly took a little bit of time.  And, I wasn't thinking and had clipped her in the trailer, and then she had a freak out.  So, I was trapped in the trailer with a thrashing horse trying wildly to get out.  Once she stood still I unclipped her and she rocketed out backwards.  I was SURE she wouldn't get back in, and yet, brave mare did. 

Holly was like "You were so calm to just stand in there while she was in a panic.  Most people wouldn't have been so calm."

Honestly, the ONLY thought I had during that whole thing was "Please don't crush my toes Tilly."  She kind of pinched one of my toes, but nothing bad.  And I hadn't even thought of ducking behind the divider until after it was over and Holly mentioned it.  I was more focused on getting her unclipped to let her out.  Sometimes I'm not so smart.

I had asked Holly if she thought it would be okay to take Tilly across the road to McKinney Roughs on the Pope Bend side for a brief trail ride.  She she thought a walk only ride with a little bit of gait, as long as we were careful on the few rocks we encountered would be just fine, and probably good for her.

So, away we went.

Offload them again, put Zurkh in one of the permanent pens with a bucket of water and a big flake of hay, saddled Tilly up, and away we went.

Brand new set of ears!  Tilly girl!

When we first set off, she didn't really want to go.  She cried for Zurkh.  Was a little sticky until she realized I meant it.  Then away she went.  Down the trail we marched, her walk is HUGE and forward.  I haven't ridden such a big horse in....well...I can't remember how long.  Eyes on my Garmin, and already her walk sets her ahead of Strider.  *sigh*  Not fair.

Then we set into a gait.  And again, eyes on my Garmin.  Oh my gosh.  At a slow gait, we're down to 7 or 8 minutes a mile with minimal effort. 

I briefly ask for a canter, but she doesn't seem willing, and I'm not going to fight AND, knowing she's fresh trimmed (so everything must feel WEIRD to her), I don't ask more than twice, and just insist she gait a little longer.  Then back down to a walk. 

She was a champ about the Mule/Gator that came up behind us on trail.  Once we turned to face it, it was no big deal.  The horses and hiker who passed us going back to the trailers were a minor hiccup.  She wanted to turn around and follow them.  We got to a point on the trail where she did NOT want to go forward.  So she backed up.  And backed.  And backed.  Fine then, let's keep backing up.  I stopped, asked for forward, and got more back up.  Okay mare, gentle pop on the shoulder and it was a "Yes Ma'am" response as she moved forward.  And past whatever thing she didn't want to pass before.

Tilly ears on the Pecan Bottom trail.
After about 31 minutes, I turn us back around and start our way back to the trailer.  I had promised Joe I would only ride for an hour, and I was determined to stick to it.  I could tell she was sweaty, but not panting or super sweaty.  Nothing dangerous.  She was great for the whole ride.  Deer leaping through the brush and hopping across our path, no big deal.  In fact, I think she thought she WAS a deer and wanted to go bounding off after them.  The ONLY spook we had was when a leaf fell off a tree.  And her spook was a simple startle in place with a small drop.  I can handle that.

She could tell once we got close to the trailer.  She started to cry for Zurkh again.  And wanted to speed up.  And attempted to cut trail.  Naughty girl.  Can't do that!!!
Hey.  Aren't we done?  Why am I still dressed?!
We got back and I hopped off, really very pleased with her.  My hips hurt a little bit.  She's MUCH broader than everything else I ride.  But, I do believe she'll make a GREAT horse for Joe, and I think I'll enjoy riding her some myself.

No, seriously.  I'm DONE!  Get this off me. (Photobomb of the Red Draggin!)
Stripped tack, hosed her off and for the 3rd time of the day, popped her back into the trailer.  She was a little easier.  Not great, but better.  I didn't have to remove the divider, just slide it over again.

And Zurkh, just hopped right on in.  Sweet pony.

Overall, I was quite pleased with them.  And with my ride!!

4.08 miles in 1:07

Monday, October 16, 2017

Did I really have a weekend?....or "Horses consume a LOT of time, even if you're not WITH them!"

I knew moving to the country would mean early mornings and lots of things to get done.  Weekends are still fairly scattered and just as hectic as weekdays.

Saturday morning I was up early to take my 14 year old cat to the vet for a follow up appointment.  He's just getting older, but that doesn't mean I like it.  He's got some kidney issues, so he now gets B-12 shots every 6 weeks.  He's lost weight, and isn't all THAT into the special diet he's on.  But, this was just a follow up to see where he's at weight wise. 

So, I got that done then stopped at our local donut shop for breakfast.  We are nothing if not healthy.  HAH!! 

I then needed to go run my phone to get the screen fixed, which, once we found the place, was simple.  I dropped my phone and then called and had my old S5 activated so I wasn't without a phone for the few days it's going to take.

THEN a run to Fry's for Joe to look at long range digital antennas.  We're serious about seeing how long we can live without internet access.  So far, almost 2 months. 

THEN we ran to H's house to look at the carports.  Joe believes it will be a job that takes a full day, so we just let H's dogs out and visited with Dakini.

It was actually charming.  Kaylee gets out of the truck and screams out "DAKINI!!!!"  And, that sweet gray mare lifted her head and started walking towards us.  She left the herd to come and see Kaylee.  It was charming and lovely.  We all made sure to give her lots of love for a few moments, and then put the dogs back up and hit the road again.

Haircuts for Joe and myself.

We ran to pick up Josh, then home for a little while to work on projects and such.  I went ahead and fed the horses early, so Kaylee and I went out and did that together.  She's a good little helper.  Sometimes.  I mean, for a 3 year old, she's not bad.

Joe and Josh worked some on the back pasture, and after a while, we all went out to go grab dinner.  By that point, I was so exhausted, I was practically falling asleep over my dinner plate.  But then, once we left, I was awake again.  Not exactly sure what that was all about.  Potential sugar crash or something.  Who knows.

I just knew I needed to get to bed early so that I could get up early again on Sunday, hook up to the trailer and load Tilly and Zurkh to go get their feet trimmed!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Unexpected illnesses....or "How I got a day and a half at home"

So, on Tuesday evening, the minute Joe got home, I dropped Kaylee on him and I went outside to feed.  Figured that since Strider's feet were done, and Tilly's looked SO very bad, I'd snatch her and trim her.

Well, what a mixed bag that was.

She let me pick up her feet.  That's not a problem.  I can pick them out, again, not a problem.  But nipping?  Forget about it.  She'd stand for a bit, then start squirming and such.  Reared up a few times in a panic. 

I got frustrated.  Not AT her, but how she was acting.  I'm very careful when I'm around them to direct my energy at the ground, and never project it AT them.  Or, if I am projecting something at them, there is a specific reason I do so.  I know, how hippie dippie of me. 

Honestly, she was just flat dangerous to keep trimming.  I got one of her feet kinda-sorta done.  Didn't look great, but looked SIGNIFICANTLY better.  But I wasn't going to continue on like this with her.

So, I grabbed a spare lead rope and then ran the tail through the clip to make a loop, then put her foot through it.  And, voila!  A safe way to hold up a foot without me getting clobbered by accident!!

So, I would *kiss**kiss* at her, then tug the rope.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Oh, she lost her mind a few times.  Freaked out.  Tried to jerk her foot back from me.  Anything and everything she could think of to NOT give me control of her foot. 

Nope, sorry.  This is a skirmish (not a battle, not a war) I cannot afford to lose.  So, we kept at it.  Over and over.  My time holding it up slowly increasing.  She finally dropped her head.  Big sighs.  Licks and chews.  Good. 

Other foot.  Same thing.  Over and over and over.  I have time.  I don't need the sunlight to hold up a foot. 

We worked until after sunset, the big mare and I.  Front feet are easy. 

I knew Wednesday night we would need to do the back feet.

I contacted Holly, asked if I could haul Tilly and Zurkh to her on Sunday after her horsemanship lesson to get them both trimmed.  She said that was fine.  I told her what was going on and that I was working with Tilly.  She expressed, as did H, that she knew that I would be able to get Tilly straightened out, the same as I had Dakini.  Rather flattering considering she's a trainer herself. 

But, it has to be done.  For my own safety if I'm to trim my horses, right?

So, I had just started getting into my work groove on Wednesday morning when the inevitable happened.  We knew once we transitioned Kaylee to a daycare with other children instead of the one-on-one scenario she's had for 3 years, she'd get sick at SOME point.

Took 2.5 weeks, but, she got "sick".  And by sick, I mean she puked once at daycare and had a low grade fever.  "Sick".  *sigh*

Whatever, I left work and took the the slow ride home on the bus.  Yeah.  Got her picked up, home, where we pretty much spent the afternoon playing.  Watching Frozen.  Now, she DID take a very long nap, so she was feeling a little bit "off", but I stayed inside (despite the GORGEOUS weather outside) simply because...well....things happen.

Okay, okay...I also binge watched "Reign".  Fretted over the work I dropped on co-workers when I fled the office.  And got some things tidied up around the house.

Which meant that when Joe got home, I was a little tired of being inside.  So I bolted out the door and raced to go feed the horses, looking forward to another foot session with Tilly.

She was easily caught and put up so we could work.

I had mentally considered how I wanted to teach her about her feet and realized that just going *kiss**kiss* wasn't really useful.  So, I added a touch to the leg, THEN *kiss**kiss*, and I'd give her a moment to either shift weight, or pick up her foot.  SOMETHING to tell me she was putting it together, if not, I'd gently tug the rope.

Mare is smart.  She started putting it together quickly.  There are times she's so fast to pick her foot up, she thumps herself in the belly.  Impressive.

Now, time to start wiggle-waggling her feet.  So I did.  Banged on them with my hands.  Gently wriggled them around.  Made strange noises.  Banged on them some more.  Really, just acted and sounded silly while holding up her foot and wiggling it around.  Calm and relaxed.

I stood back and laughed at the whole thing.  I honestly think she was acting so 'scared' to see if she SHOULD be scared.  And I was so anxious about being hurt by her because I don't know her well enough yet that I was probably feeding into her "Yes, be scared" anxiety. 


Last night, she was a little harder to catch.  I think if she sees the halter, she knows.  So, I tucked the halter into the back of my jeans, and did a lot of approach, pet, retreat.  More lather, rinse, repeat.  Until finally I haltered her gently and led her back for another foot session.

Went MUCH faster this time.  And we even got around to her back legs, which was a token "fight" and minimal resistance.  I grabbed my rasp and banged it around some on her feet.  Rasped some.  I just wanted to do all sorts of weird things to her before Holly gets under her on Sunday.  Mare was just fine.  The back feet she is perhaps going to be a little squirelly about, but Holly has a cradle on her stand, and I don't. 

I had also grabbed my Michael Gascon halter and my long line in case I had time.

I had time.

So, I switched halters, and took her out to the open area.  Grabbed a tarp and then I went through all the steps.

I checked to make sure she was focused on me.  Check.

I checked to see if she'd back up from me.  Check.  It isn't pretty, but she does.

I had her walk in a CALM circle around me.  She's fine at a walk when going to the left, but to the right, it took her some time to calm down and settle to a walk.  I kept repeatedly mentally checking myself to see if I was conveying it to her.  I will say, tucking your thumbs in your pockets and letting your shoulders relax forward ever so slightly REALLY makes a HUGE difference to this mare.  She almost instantly relaxed herself and downshifted to a walk.  Very nice.  Check.

We worked on flexing.  This is something she is NOT good at.  Like, at all.  She's stiff, and her response to asking for a flex is to rapidly back up.  We spent quite a bit of time on this.  I finally got her to stand and give her face to me SOME on each side, and called that a minor success for the evening and made a mental note to continue to work on it some more.  She has SOME steering, but it's loose.  Check Minus.

I then swung the rope all over her.  Over her back.  Around the legs.  I'm actually great at pitching the rope around as I've done it extensively with each and every horse I've ever had.  Not even an ear flick.  Check.

Okay then mare, let's see what you're made of.  I grabbed the still folded up tarp and just willy-nilly shook it to unfold it, expecting an explosion at the end of my lead rope.  HAH!!  Nope!  Tilly just stood there like it was no big deal. 

I expected shivering when I touched her with it.  Nope.  Like a rock.  I rubbed her all over with it, then tied it up high around her neck.  Still nothing.

Okay then SURELY at a walk on the lunge she'll spaz?

NOPE!  The most reaction I got out of her was when it slid over her side, she stepped on it, it ripped and made a noise.  She kind of tucked tail and squirted forward, but didn't totally freak. 

It was just no big deal to her at all.


I had forgotten to swing the rope around her sides, so I remembered and did it late.  Again, no big deal.

I shrugged.  Laughed.  Said "Okay then mare, let's call it a night!"

Walked her over to the barn and got her undressed from her tarp and halter. 

It's interesting that I uncovered such a minor hole in her training.  Flexing.  Everything else, she's actually fairly decent at, but will need consistent work with. 

I don't think I'll love her as much as Dakini.  But she's quite impressive.  And already is showing me she knows how to properly yield the hindquarters (she crosses over when I point and cluck at her hip). 

So, on Sunday she and Zurkh will get loaded up and hauled to Holly's for a trim.  Post-trim, if she isn't tender, I'm going to run over to McKinney Roughs, saddle just her up, put Zurkh in one of the pens, and go for a ride for about an hour and see what I've got with her.  The plan is to ride her in just the MG rope halter. 

Joe and I go around and around on this.  He thinks she needs a bit.  If she NEEDS a bit, no one should be riding her.  As I mentioned to him, "You don't see me riding Strider or Socks in a bit, do you?"

"Well, they don't need it."


Do I have a bit for Strider?  Yes, yes I do.  And I will use it to finesse a move.  But I know it isn't how I control him.  On this Michael Gascon and I agree.  If I cannot control a horse from the ground, I have ZERO business being on it's back trying to control it from up there. 

So, I'll continue to work on Tilly's steering tonight.  Her brakes work just fine.  And we'll see how Sunday goes!!

Equine Trail Sports....or "Well, that was fun, but my horse is STILL broken!"

I COMPLETELY FORGOT TO MENTION THIS!!! So, at the place I used to board the horses at (Rusty's Walnut Creek [hey, I don't board ther...