Saturday, February 21, 2009

no more posts from the past, but now you get posts from the present!

So the last post ended my "Posts from the Past". That was as far as I got in my horse journal. And a few months after that, I started writing in this blog, so that takes over for the journal. So, I guess I'm caught up now! What a daunting process it was to write about all that I've done with the mustangs.

It's so interesting to see how calm and relaxed Catlow was getting toward the end of the journal...because then I went and hauled her and the other two to Wisconsin, and completely upset her. Chico and Cody took the relocating to a new place just fine. They could care less where they are as long as they have eachother. Catlow, however, was not okay with this new place...completely new. New trees, new grasses, new sounds...just altogether, NOT the west where she grew up. I was rather upset that she took it so hard back in November. She took it so hard, that all that trust that she built up in me sort of got buried in her worry. She was no where near calming down even 2 weeks later. Now, they've been in WI for 3 months and my parents say that she seems more relaxed. They don't do anything with the horses except feed them and give them treats. Catlow comes over to get her treats just like the others. I think the couple of months to settle in will have done her good and by the time I get home, she'll be ready to have a refresher and she'll be able to put some trust back in me, since she won't be quite as worried about her surroundings. She was REALLY bad though back in Nov when I took her for a ride. What a backslide she did. I really hope this isn't a permanent thing....

Speaking of getting back to my horses, I am planning to be in Wisconsin by the beginning of April! That leaves me only about 5 weeks left here! I'm excited, but torn too. I have great friends here and I really like this area. But I miss my family and my sister just had a baby!

So, back in December, my mom (who is a computer nut), wired up a web cam in the barn and using her wireless internet, she set it up so that I can access it on a link from here in ID! So, I've been logging in to see my horses most days. It's really cool! I took a few screen captures of them, just because I thought it was so neat. It's pretty much real time, although I know that it is a bit delayed (from the times my dad called me from his cell phone while he was up there and I was watching on the webcam). Here are a few pictures.

The way is looks on the computer screen is much higher resolution than what the screen captures turned out to be.

Now, the unfortunate thing is that my parents sold their house (just the house and 2 acres on the opposite side of the road from the rest of our property), and now they are temporarily renting a place a few miles away. This means that today my mom disconnected her wireless no more horsecam! I now have to go 5 weeks without even seeing them. I guess I'll have to get my mom to send me some pictures. It is of course, just not the same as being able to walk out into their pasture and touch them, and smell their wonderful horsey scent. I can't wait till to see them...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

July 13, 2008

"Post from the Past"

July 13, 2008

I haven’t written in my horse journal in a LONG time. Primarily because I’ve been busy riding my horses! I’ve been riding Catlow a lot since her first trail ride. I never did take her to Katie’s place, but we seemed to be progressing fine without it. She is trusting me more and more every time we ride. She now rarely gets flustered while riding out alone (which is what we usually do). She flexes softly, she stands still and doesn’t raise her head when I move around her (this used to be one of her biggest issues, trusting me).

She accepts bridling calmly and actually drops her head for me and opens her mouth to take the bit. It has taken a while for her to trot calmly and with cadence on the trail, but we are getting there. I was previously leary about cantering on the trail because if it was toward home, she’d rush and attempt to go straight for home and put up a bit of resistance when I asked her to stop, but she’s over that now. We have been working on cantering on the trail and stopping when asked…we’ve also cantered circles in the field a couple of times and she’s doing well, but there is lots of room for improvement. She will even jump stuff unexpectedly while cantering (unexpected to me), I’ll almost fall off, and she’ll keep cantering as though nothing happened while I clamber back into position…it doesn’t freak her out! She did have a panic moment and bucked me off once, but that has been a long time ago now and there were many factors that led to the buck (tractors on two sides of her, letting her walk off without making her wait after mounting, and immediately straightening the saddle which spooked her and caused her to panic). Once I'd fallen off, she skittered away and stood while I jumped up and walked calmly over to her (no running home!) I ride one-handed and she is almost neck-reining at this point. She moves very well off my leg with only the slightest pressure such that sometimes when I am riding her, I feel like we really are moving as one unit across the landscape…just the slightest touch will send her over to go around a certain bush and such.

She does still have some things we are working through. Primarily cantering more slowly, but I really can’t think of any other major issues that I feel really need to be worked on…oh, she does get nervous and jumpy when I blow my nose while on her back…I can do everything else, cough, sneeze, hiss, whistle, yell at the dogs, but the nose blow unnerves her. I think it is really close to the horse/deer alarm call and it also come from right behind her ears.

She is doing so well, that when my parents were here a few days ago, I put my dad up on Catlow and I took both my parents horseback riding into the canyon. My dad rode Catlow, my mom rode Cody (with me leading her), and I rode Chico. Todd considered coming along and riding Pepsi, but I was actually a little relieved that he decided not to because I was concerned that throwing a horse into the mix that they hadn’t spent any time with recently would put the horses on edge and throw off the comfortable ride with their little cohesive herd unit that I was hoping for. Todd asked me if he would rather I have my dad ride Pepsi instead of Catlow (guess he was doubting how good she’d be), but I really thought that Catlow was ready for another rider (experienced rider of course).

Basically, we saddled everyone up,

then I did a little lunging with each one, just to check attitudes, but I didn’t by any means wear them out. Just a few circles each at walk trot and canter.
watching Kara and chico warm up

warming up catlow

Then I explained Catlow’s buttons to my dad. Then I had him mount her and I led her around to get her used to his weight (he’s about 200lbs). She was a little uneasy when he first went to climb on (wanted to side-step away), but settled quickly with me at her head. Daddy said he could feel that she was tight when I was leading her, but he practiced her cues, then got off while I got my mom situated on Cody. My mom has only ever ridden a horse 3 times before this and once was when she was just a kid and the horse took off on her and she fell off and broke her arm. My dad’s grandpa used to buy and sell horses (many with problems), so my dad learned on them and he’s pretty good with horses. But he hadn’t really ridden in a LONG time (probably at least 12 years).

So, Daddy mounted back up (while I watched from atop Chico, kinda really surveying how she acted cuz I thought that would be the test of the situation).

She was awesome and off we went.
So far so good!

I can’t tell you how proud of her I was. She did so good for this being her first time with a new person (who is much heavier than me). My dad said he really liked her and thinks she’s going to be an outstanding horse, more so than Cody or Chico. He said that even though she didn’t know him, she did everything he asked, around bushes, stopped and waited while he took a picture…and he found out how sensitive she is when a couple of times he asked her to speed up a bit and she leapt into the trot. He said he could feel that she was tense at first, but after about 20 minutes into the ride she relaxed. This is heading down into the canyon.

Chico took advantage of the fact that I was busy leading Cody too and I could hardly get him to stop eating. I also discovered that if he and Catlow walk side-by-side, he wants to speed up and get in front of her. That was interesting. Once behind her, he was fine, but at her side I think he’s got a little bit of the competitive dominance thing going with her. Cody was good, but very busy trying to eat all the grass on the side of the trail, so both my mom and I had our hands full.

Mostly my mom let me lead, but she did try to steer her around stuff…my mom just doesn’t know enough about horses to get it quite right…and Cody knows enough about people that she knows when she can get away with stuff.
Here we are taking a break at the top of a very steep hill.

Daddy is doing good.

My Mom and I.

I was especially proud that Catlow would stop whenever my Dad asked and calmly wait while he took pictures. Here you can clearly see we got pretty far ahead of her.

My parents are so cute!

And on the way back.

So, it went great! I felt like this was the culmination of all the work I put into my horses, that I could take my parents with me on a ride into the canyon to show them how awesome the trails are around here and also show them this part of my life that is so important to me. I did of course lead my mom, but it was still great! It felt really good.

Chico’s cut has almost completely healed up…there is still just a bit of wound healing left (about ¼ inch wound, but all scabbed over and not open at all). I’ve really gotten into the barefoot trimming thing so I’ve been doing that with all my horses and they are all doing great, but Cody is still quite flat-footed and sensitive over gravel so her boots are a necessity for her.

Other than that, horse things are going well and I really enjoyed going back through and rereading my horse journal…after reading this I can see how far Catlow has really come. I can also see how I paid close attention to details when I began working with her. I think I need to continue to do that with her under saddle as I cue her to improve with cantering, steering, and stopping from a canter under saddle. Sometimes I forget to “train” and just trail ride because it is fun and relaxing, but I need to remember that if I want my horses to improve, I need to push myself beyond my comfort zone and trust my horses as I push them in their training.

I'm an aunty!!!! Again!!!

My youngest sister gave birth today at 5:04 (pacific time) to her third child. Now I have a 6 year old nephew, a 3 year old neice and a brand new nephew! I've seen pictures already, and he's cute...although he has that newborn alien look (sorry, I'm not really a human baby person...only recently, since I became an aunt, have I become interested in kids at all!) I love my neice and nephews. I can't wait to be home in WI to be closer to them. Only 6 more weeks until I move! I'm excited to move, but I can't really plan for it yet because 6 weeks is still a ways away. I don't want to give away my furniture yet! Also, next Monday, the vet school sends out the decision letters by real mail. I'm nervous, but not really yet. I'll be having a heart attack when I see that letter in my mailbox though...until then, none of this will feel real. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

April 11th 2008

"Post from the Past"

April 11th 2008

Today is Friday and I made it out here by 6:30 so it was still light enough to ride. I took Cody out for a trail ride. I put the easy boots on her for our trail ride. Originally I planned to ride down the road, but I wanted to see the creek, so we went down the trail into the canyon. That trail is pretty rocky in some places and the boots did a great job. She didn’t gimp over any of the rocks. I was also impressed with how well they stayed on. They didn’t move an inch, and we went through some really rough stuff…boot-sucking mud, some down trees with lots of branches down, and snow, and up a really steep hillside complete with mud and branches. They were a good purchase. Especially since I can take them off when I am not riding her. Todd's mom had shoes put on two of her horses and it’s so muddy outside right now that she has to keep them in barn so that they don't pull their shoes off in the mud.

On her ride, Cody was a bit barn sour, as usual, but once down the trail, she was better. She was really good about standing patiently beside me while I broke branches down so that we could go under and then over some downed trees. I was very pleased with that. We saw lots of moose poo and moose tracks, but no moose. The creek was very full and the crossing was all blown out. We just looked at it, and then turned around.

After I got back, I grained Chico and put scarlet oil on his cut, then I grained Catlow, saddled her up, and worked with her in the round pen. I pulled the tarp out, and the PVC pipe…I just laid it on the ground in the middle of the round pen. One of the horses reached through the panels and pulled out my stick with the plastic bag on it…they essentially ate the plastic bag off. So, I had her trot and canter around me off the line, then I put her back on the line to do more fine-tuned work. When working free, she is much more in an escaping me mindset, so I prefer to work with her on a line and she reacts better. On the line, we crossed the tarp and the PVC pipe. Then I worked for quite a while teaching her to side-pass over the pipe. At first she didn’t understand at all, and I think she also didn’t want to step over the pipe because it was flustering her brain. She kept trying to back up, then side pass behind it. Whenever she got it wrong (backing up and sidepassing), I kept asking her to move until I did at least get a sidepass out of her, then immediately walked her in a circle and tried again. When she got it close, I let her stop and made a big fuss over her. It didn’t take her very long to get it, and when she did, she started anticipating what I wanted her to do. She knew I was going to ask her to stop while standing over the pipe, then move…usually she wanted to move back first, but she really got it after she tried everything else first. Then I climbed in the saddle, and did some walking around the pen. We practiced steering…she’s getting really good…and walking over the tarp. Then I tried to ask her to sidepass over the PVC pipe and she was awesome! Since she’d already gotten it from the ground, she made the connection under saddle immediately and did it very well. I made a huge fuss over her and gave her treats for that one. I don’t think I could get Cody or Chico to side-pass like that. Each horse that I train gets better and better. I need to go back and retrain the other two now as well. I really can’t wait to take Catlow to Katie’s clinic. It’s going to be so good for her. I can already see that she is trusting me more and more. I do wish that she wouldn’t get high-headed and defensive when I ask her to do things undersaddle. She really only gets that way when she doesn’t understand what I’m asking, or when she thinks I’m being too rough (like when I ask her to trot, because she needs a bit of urging to do it). Perhaps tomorrow evening I’ll ride her out on the trail again.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

April 6th 2008 (evening) - our first trail ride!

"Post from the past"

April 6th 2008 (evening)

This afternoon, I rode Catlow in the round pen again. I tried to get a canter out of her, but I could not get it again today. We did, however, ride over the tarp today. It was no big deal; she walked right over it when I directed her there. She was so calm that after I had trotted her quite a bit in the round pen, I took her outside the barn. I rode her up and down the driveway and around the driveway bushes and such. I also trotted her around the wagon and the tree, and tried to keep her trotting and listening to my cues. Then we weaved our way out the gate (she wouldn't walk in a straight line anyway, so I did serpentines in the direction I wanted to eventually go, and that kept her mind occupied whenever she wanted to think about balking). I really only meant to play around in front of the driveway on the road, but the circumstances were just right (other horses weren't galloping around and freaking her out like yesterday; that's why I took her for a walk instead of trying to ride her). So, we headed off down the road, with me riding her! I stopped at really succulent grass patches and let her graze a bit (it kept her mind interested in being away from the other horses). We went down the trail that leads to the canyon because I wanted to see how the trail was (slightly muddy, but firm in most places). She was on alert and didn't really want to be walking down this trail without other horses, but I kept urging her, talking to her, and having her flex and yield her hindquarters whenever she started thinking about going home. We went all the way to the clearing about halfway down to the bottom of the creek before the trail got too muddy (I didn't want to damage the trail too much). Then we turned around and headed home. Of course, on the way home, she walked at a nice pace and in a straight line, but I would expect that. We periodically stopped and backed then stood calmly for a bit (with ears pricked alert for danger) to make sure she was still listening to me. She was awesome until we got back out into the field and the neighbor kids came tearing down the road on their dirt bikes. Now, Catlow is not afraid of these; they routinely go tearing by her pasture, but she was out in the open in the field and away from the safety of other horses, so she did get a little hyped up, and upset at me continuously moving her one way with bit pressure, then the other way. She was really chewing and gaping at the bit...obviously upset, so I flexed her and yielded her hindquarters (we spun around and around alot even after I stopped cueing!), and as soon as she stopped and flexed we did it the other way, then backed up, then stood still for a bit, then walked on...and that seemed to reset her a bit...she still just wanted to go home, and we did, but she was back under control and not thinking about panicking. Once we got back out on the blacktop, she was incredibly calm, and we continued back home. Then I yelled for Todd to come out and document Catlow's first trail ride.

I am so excited that I actually was able to ride her out. I didn't think I'd feel she was ready for that for a LOOONG time. My goal was to ride her by herself on the trail by summertime, and I just accomplished that today! She can only improve now. I'm also glad that her first ride out was by herself because it gave both of us more confidence, and now I know that she does trust me, so it will be that much easier when I ride with other horses.

So, I just accomplished the big goal I had for this spring. Now I need to reset my goal. I plan to take Catlow to Katie Whetzel's horsemanship clinic on May 3rd (I think Todd can take me with the trailer). I have yet to get a good canter out of her with me on her back (round pen is hard to keep her going), and at Katie's clinic, I can do that in the safety of an arena and under the watchful eyes of an experienced person.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I have 10 followers!

I haven't posted anything from the present in a long time. Today, I noticed that I have 10 followers! How exciting! Thanks to everyone who finds what I write about interesting enough to "follow" me. I'd also like to encourage commentary on my training style and things, as I know I am only just beginning.

I've really been ignoring my blog lately. Part of it is because I really miss my horses and reading my journal makes it worse. But the other reason is that 2 weeks ago, a friend of mine introduced me to knitting, so I started making a scarf, then last week (at our now weekly knitting circle), another friend showed me how to crochet (which I did when I was a kid, but that was a long time ago). So, I started crocheting hats, and I've become obsessed with making them! I think this is my "I miss my horses" new obsession. I've been averaging 1 hat an evening since last week, so I'm up to 7 hats made now! Most of them have already been sent onto friends and family. What fun! In these pictures, the hats are shown in the order I made them, so you can see how my "skill" has progressed. (Please excuse the model...the hats just look better on my head than holding them out or posing them on my knee or something...)

I have been trying to get out and enjoy the outdoors every weekend. Today, I went to Philip's Farm with a couple friends. I had my boys along, and my friend brought her dog. We had a very nice hike (it was so sunny and warm!), and the dogs had a great time running through the snow (although it was very difficult in places where the snow was still deep because it was too soft to walk on top of, but also too hard to sink in consistently, so it was a strange sort of stumbling crawl that we all had to do).

The snow was very deep in places!

A view of Kamiak Butte from Philip's Farm.

This was a picture of my boys that I really liked, but it was a little blurry. With some photo editing, it looks even better than it would have if the picuture was not blurry!