Monday, August 30, 2010

Ain't No Denyin'

I knew I wouldn't ride on Sunday (busy, busy weekend), but it was too gorgeous a day not to visit my barn buddies and at least smooch on my Boyz.

Kris was feeling lazy, so I offered to let her ride Jaz after I cleaned him up. He's handsome in English or Western tack.

Luster's Pink has made such a difference in Poco's nappy mane.

And then it was Daltrey's turn for a patience lesson. I love his rib markings.

I pushed it longer than I should have, but he was being so good. I was able to pick his front feet, and pick up his back feet.

Already a looker at 6 months old. As far as Poco is concerned, this is his baby. It's the sweetest thing you ever saw. Jaz is teaching him to play the bite-the-face game.

It's official:
Baby D makes three.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hot & More Hot

Actual temps have been 105°-107°. I don't even want to know the heat index. It's hard to muster much motivation.

I got back in touch with the guy that sold me Poco to see if he still had the Aussie saddle he had back when. He doesn't have horses anymore and I figured that even if it wouldn't work for me, I could clean it up and sell it or trade it. He showed up not only with the Aussie saddle, but with the cutest little Mexican-made kid's saddle, which he gave me. No pix until I work on them, but that ain't gonna happen until the weather breaks. Sweat will be involved even then.

I haven't mentioned it here before, but the reason I'm excited about the kid's saddle is that our son and daughter-in-law are expecting our first grandchild, a boy, in October. Let the spoiling begin. My revenge will be complete. They have been warned.

I rode Jaz Sunday in the Aussie saddle. It's okay, but I don't feel the need to keep it. It's an inexpensive saddle, but I think I can make a couple bucks selling it. If one needed an additional saddle, or one to break youngsters, this would work. I can tell by the way it fits Jaz, that it won't fit Poco; he's very particular about his shoulders.

Whether Jaz was expressing his opinion of the saddle, the heat, or was just being a stinker, the ride was a struggle. Heather rode Dream, her leopard Appaloosa filly. Both were perfectly willing to walk, but neither wanted to move out. And who could blame them? We made the mistake of sitting in the shade after we hosed them off, and there was no getting back out there. I groomed Poco, who was also kind of cranky, and we let him, Jaz, and Daltrey graze in the area outside the pens.

I keep reminding myself that summer is the price we pay for being able to ride in jeans and a T-shirt most of the winter. It's hard to keep that in mind as your brain bakes.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

O What Progress!

Heather and I made the 2.5 hour trip to Weatherford, Texas to visit O at his trainer's, Wendy White Performance Horses. It was great to see the big lug.

Turn the sound down on the videos. It was quite windy and that's all you can hear. It's unfortunate, because Wendy talked to us the whole time she longed and rode, explaining everything he did and she did.

Wendy bridling O

Wendy longeing O

Wendy riding O

Ready to be hosed down after his workout.
Doesn't he look great?!
He is lean and muscled.
That's his soon-to-be new owner, Heather Crispin
holding him, and Wendy with the hose.

How could you not love that face?

I was chastised for feeding O cookies. Wendy is of the opinion that you should never feed a horse from your hands. The Heathers and I don't agree. She is a woman after my own heart, however, in one respect: after working O and hosing him down, she tied him to the fence in the shade so he could dry off, and as a lesson in patience. There was some initial pawing and fidgeting (which got him nowhere), then he settled down. He was still standing there quietly when we left.

Heather H. and I felt like proud mama and auntie for the foundation work we laid on him over the last 2 years. I think he'll be at Wendy's for at least another month. Although he's made tremendous headway, there's still lots of room for improvement. Heather C. said she wants to enter him in a halter class in October. When you're talking 1800 lbs. of testosterone, solid training is even more of a no-brainer.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday in Pictures

In this heat, I like to get going early.

The sunrise alone was worth the effort.

Jazu, the Wonder Horse

Sarah and Keeley

Nita and Ishka
Ishka is Keeley's daughter.
I like how big everything
looks in this photo.

Sarah and Keeley


Someone had a hard time staying focused during our ride. Oh look, a girl. Oh look, another girl. Is that a butterfly? Another girl! Ooh, a bit of hay. Talk about flaky.

Sarah & Keeley, Heather & Cayenne
Look at the sky ...

... which proceeded to dump on us ...

... at times so hard, you couldn't see that it was raining.
Nita, Heather, Sarah
Sorry, guys. I know you'll hate this photo.

An August rain in Texas is pretty rare, so no one even minded that we had to cut our first ride short. We yakked for awhile after the rain stopped, then I decided to take my chicharrón for a short ride bareback in the half of the arena that drains well. Nita and Heather joined us bareback on Cayenne and Ishka as well. We just walked because the sand was slick. For Poco and me, it was more of a token ride than anything.

I spent a few minutes with Baby D (Daltrey), touching and grooming. He just loves being brushed and scritched. Someone is coming to look at him and Rico on Thursday, so fingers crossed for Heather.

And now I'm really a horse owner: after watching Heather give Poco his rabies vaccination, I gave Jaz his.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ea$y Come, Ea$y Go

I just got paid yesterday and at this rate, I'll be operating in a deficit by Monday. As usual, the finger can be pointed at vet bills, but this time, the horses are not to blame.

Minnie Mouse

Minnie is a foundling who made her way to us in 2002. Within a year, she was diagnosed with a bladder infection and struvite crystals in her urine. She went through antibiotics and although the vet suggested at the time that I put her on Science Diet CD, I blew it off. A year or so later, she started peeing in the sinks, a common sign that the inflammation had returned. Treated her again and both she and Leeloo have been on CD ever since.

Yesterday morning, I walked barefooted into the laundry room and the rug in front of the litter boxes was wet. Sure enough. I have no reason to suspect Leeloo, who, like Poco, is made of cast iron.

Took Min to the vet this morning. I was surprised that she weighs 8.2 lbs. She's a little slip of a thing, unlike Leeloo the moose cat. Temp normal. Her bladder was full, which it would not have been if she had a bladder infection. They did a sonogram for stones and found none. They did a urinalysis that needs to be sent off, and sent us home with amoxicillin. While I was there, I got a bag of CD and rabies vaccines for the Boyz. I was not prepared for the $188 bill.

And here's the weird part: all four cats we have had since we moved out here have developed struvite crystals, and we give them filtered water. Heather's cats have crystals, too, and her dad was also recently diagnosed as having them. Hmmm.

While I was there, I also asked Dr. G about ECR. He said he never heard of it and without studying the various ingredients and what form some of the substances were (like magnesium and calcium), he couldn't definitively say whether the product would interfere with any other possible treatments for gas colic. He said that instead of using that, he'd rather I give Banamine and stick the horse in the trailer, which 9 times out of 10 will make them poop. How true. A tube of Banamine and camping in the trailer is cheaper than the $80 for one dose of the ECR.

Chores are done. Mr. Fry is helping a friend. I am enjoying a quiet day in the cool house all by me onesy. Tomorrow, it's up to Iron Ridge to play with ponies and bond with barn buddies.

Enjoy your weekend, be safe, and don't forget to smooch your ponies.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How I Love That Man-o-Mine

I'm reading my new book, Clicker Training for Your Horse by Alexandra Kurland, when Mike walks by, toothbrush hanging from his mouth. He bends to read the book cover, cocks an eyebrow, removes the toothbrush, wags it at me and says, "Clicker training?! No way am I giving up the remote!"

The guy cracks me up every day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Quite the Contrary

Cold snap! It was only 102° today.

I hit the ground running this morning and was unloading tack at
Iron Ridge by 7:30. I had decided I would only ride Poco today. Lest you think Jaz was off the hook, Kris arrived as I was tacking up Poco and asked if she could ride Jaz. Why, sure! Our new friend Sarah arrived next. She showed Kris the finer points of English tack, since I didn't bring both saddles, and Heather's western saddle doesn't fit Jaz.

Meanwhile, Pokey and I were already doing laps in the arena. As soon as he realized something was going on with his buddy, the crap started. He called out and got the whole damn barn started. Every time we passed the gate, he'd veer and stop. He tried to convince me he had no idea what I wanted and made me steer every step we took. Dude, we're walking and trotting in circles. It ain't rocket science. It got better when Jaz and Kris joined us in the arena, but he acted up whenever I tried to do anything that took his nose out of Jaz's butt.
I had no choice but to be in/on his face the entire time.

By this time, Sarah joined us on Nita's mare, Keeley, and Heather rode her dad's horse, the ever-dependable Doodles. I set up barrels, thinking that perhaps if I engaged Poco enough, I could actually get some real work done, as if matching wills with him somehow isn't
real work. Yeah, it is. At one point, Kris left the arena for something, leaving Jaz just outside the arena grazing. We've been doing this with all the horses — they won't go anywhere. Poco decided that if Jaz got to stop and eat, he should, too. He was a complete turd. We did lots of yo-yos, lots of backing. There was even a moment where he set his body in a way that teased, "I could rear if I wanted to." I jumped off and made him back the entire length of the arena. I rode him for a lot longer than I normally would have just to make sure I cemented my win in that walnut of a brain.

Both Boyz got hosed down and grazed themselves as we yakked. Then I pulled Daltrey out of his stall and hand-grazed him. He's still in the stage where he's learning that people are allowed to touch him anywhere they want, and kicking is not a wise option. He also doesn't yet know where his feet are, or that it's not acceptable to mow past people. Part of the problem is that he's growing so quickly that about the time he figures out how much space his body takes up and where his feet are, it changes. I'm desensitizing him to clippers; he got his first bridle path today. He's learning to yield to pressure — "over" and "back". One of these days, we need to start walking in and out of the trailer in preparation for the ride here.

I've had better days, but I've also had worse. My barn buddies are just as much fun, and the beer tastes pretty good either way.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Carpe Mane

Seize the Morning, or Seize the Mane, if you need to.

Words to describe this oppressive heat escape me. I wanted to ride both horses, so I got to Iron Ridge before 8 a.m., accompanied by my tankard of coffee. As I made endless trips to my truck unloading tack, gear, the cooler, etc., I recalled the days of lugging a baby around.

Poco and Daltrey were in the arena. I swear, that baby gets taller each time I see him. I moved them into the barn and threw each a flake of hay. Jaz, who was in with the juniors, was up first.

I must be learning better how to ask for a trot, because Jaz actually gave me a pretty decent one. We did 30-40 minutes of walk-trot. I've decided I need to do a lot more trotting in order to transition to the canter. I'm okay with a couple strides of it, but still not ready to fly just yet. Hosed him down, put him in the barn, and grabbed the other one. Lather, rinse, repeat with Poco. It wasn't a good day to die — I didn't canter either horse.

No pix riding because we all had our hands full.

Nita and Ishka with our new blogger friend Sarah and Heather

Cayenne grazing herself

Nita and Ishka cooling their jets

Poco grazing himself

"Auntie" Keeley and Daltrey — look how tall he is!

Groomed, tacked, rode, tacked down, hosed, groomed again, hand grazed x 2, yakked for an hour, loaded up and was home drinking a cold one by 2 p.m. That was a bit ambitious. I was wiped out. Riding one horse in this heat is plenty.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Head Games

Head games, it's you and me, baby.
— (Mick Jones)
Title cut from the 1979 Foreigner album "Head Games"

Faithful reader Lisa got me thinking after her comment on my horse personality post, thinking more after a comment she left on Winter's post about her problem child, Cibolo, and thinking even more with her own post about Bella's bucking episode with one of her sons. Lisa eventually parted ways with the mercurial Baby Doll (who twice caused serious injuries), and Bella just blew a cushy spot as sweet Apache's pal and light mount for the kids. Winter announced that Cibolo also has a new owner.

And I've had crazy Poco for 4 years. What's up with that?

Well, for one thing, he makes great blog fodder. If it weren't for his shenanigans, this blog would be even more boring than it already is. How many uneventful rides down the road on my perfect little Jazu can you possibly stand?

I've made no effort to conceal my naiveté when I bought the big lug.
I was too dumb to realize the danger or the improbability that it could ever work. I once said that I was Poco's last, best hope. What I meant was that no one would buy, much less put up with a horse like Poco. He'd likely end up on a greasy paper plate in a Juarez taqueria.

I lucked out when I met Heather and her family. She and Sig (RIP) were the only people who didn't tell me to get rid of Poco before he killed me. Heather's been there for me every step of the way. Let's not forget that she sold me darling Jazu. Where would I be without my Steady Eddy?

Having Jaz took a lot of the pressure off me, and allowed me to view my situation more realistically. That's a euphemistic way of saying that I lowered my expectations for Poco to less than zero. As I began to understand the nature of horses in general (because I knew nothing), and Poco in particular, I was able to accept him for what he is, and both of us for what we're not. It was okay that Poco might be suitable as nothing more than Jaz's pasture pal. Selling Poco has never been an option for me, not only because a taco shell calls his name, but because I am and always have been completely smitten with his bad boy ways.

I must note again that Poco has never kicked, bitten, reared, or done anything intentional to hurt me. The only time he has bucked has been out of fear, and right there is the key to everything: the bluster is a clever ruse to hide the fact that he's just a big chicken with hooves.With him, it's all
about intimidation.

I'm still a novice rider. I've gotten better, but I'm still lousy. What has enabled me to progress (besides Jaz) is that Heather has taught me how to get in Poco's head. Once I had Poco's number, I began to enjoy interacting with him. My primary job is to be a calming, neutral, yet assured presence. He can spot an agenda clear across the pasture, and he's so hypersensitive, he can pick up the slightest uneasiness in me. Because I let go of my expectations for him, I stopped fighting with him. Want to act up when I saddle you? Fine, next time, you can't go. Bubby and I will go, and he'll get all the treats and all the attention. You will be invisible. You want to back up when I ask for forward, or go left when I say right? I will make you back up or turn in tight little circles until you're dizzy. I've learned to redirect and rechannel his energy. I think the game got to be less fun for him when I learned how to play. I honestly can't remember the last time he gave me a hard time. I finally feel like he and I are on the same page.

My choice was that I would keep this horse for better or for worse. Believe me, it's been both. Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with a decision to let a horse like this go, because they can wear you out — or hurt you. But, as Beth at Fearless Riding has noted, they have choices, too. I believe Poco has started making better choices. And that, as Robert Frost said, has made all the difference.
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