Saturday, October 29, 2011


I have been pretty busy with school.  I've been able to do a few things with my horses (primarily maintenance stuff and riding the old steady-eddies), but Griffin has really been put on the backburner.  Today, the weather was so nice.  I had to get out and do something with him.  We went for a walk in the late fall woods.  He is such a good boy.

Stopped to try to get a nice shot of him with the yellow leaves in the background, but he wouldn't stay back and kept following me when I tried to back away to get a pic.

The bright maples have pretty much lost all their leaves, but the brownish red oaks and yellow aspens are still holding on.

Griffin has very soft eyes.  They were not always like this.

You can see the faint whitish scar on his cornea that is currently remodelling - it used to be much more opaque.  I think it will eventually go away completely.

My mom watched my daughter while I played with Griffin and she took this picture of me working with him in my neighbor's arena.  It was the first time I'd taken him over there, but he was pretty relaxed about it.  In fact, as I was talking with my neighbor about the fact that Griffin can still occasionally be reactive when I move too fast toward him, and I tried to demonstrate by jumping at him and startling him, he didn't hardly react at all!   He just backed away from me, but there was no overreaction.  I think his overreacting primarily happens when he's loose in the pasture and hasn't been around me for a while.

The horses got a new round bale today and they are quite happy.  They are not so happy that I haven't let them out in the pasture for a month and a half now, and the grass is still green.  I wanted the pastures to get a bit of a break before winter.  They've been heavily grazed for several years now, and are showing signs of damage in the favorite grazing spots (the lawns).  There is still a lot of taller grass (the roughs), but they prefer to go over and over the same short spots and the poor grass there is starting to thin out and it doesn't recover even after it's had a break.  It needs a whole year off, but I'm not sure how to give it that.  That would require fencing in the field around the pond, and I don't really want to do that.  It's too nice to have to ride in.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Belated post - Labor Day ride

This post is very belated, but I've been busy! I just now decided I needed to take a break from studying and do something "horsey" even though I'm stuck down in Madison right now. So, I found some pictures I haven't posted yet!

These pics are from a ride that my husband and I took with our neighbor's, B and J, over labor day weekend. We trailered to a nearby dirt road where we could ride someplace new and not have to hit pavement at all. My horses stood patiently at the trailer...I love that...a calm sleepy horse tied to the trailer waiting for their ride.

The road meanders through a lot of county land and is primarily wooded with a few logged areas. It is also home to a lot of wildlife. We saw wolf tracks several times along the road (I'm pretty sure they are wolf, as they are known to be in the area).

Todd rode "his" horse again.  He and Cody got along pretty well, except that at one point when we were cantering, he said she planted her front feet and gave a hop...I didn't see it happen.  But I wouldn't put it past her.  Todd isn't the most polished rider, so she could have easily been irritated by something he was doing, especially by over-cueing her to canter (which he admitted he did).  But they got along just fine...that doesn't worry him at all, which I'm pleased about.  He can handle it!

This is my favorite picture from our ride.  B and J rode ahead a bit side by side on their walkers.  They looked so cute together as they crested the hill among the trees.

My baby girl turns 1 year old this Saturday!!!!  I can't believe how fast this last year went!  I've enjoyed every minute of it and am looking forward to her ever changing future!  She is so fun right now...saying some words, super mobile, giggly, good-natured, interactive, loves being outside and her animals (which is one of the hardest things about being in Madison during the week for school - she is just so outdoorsy so she feels cooped up in the apartment pretty quick).  But she is doing super well and adjusted to the change really well too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

More Griffin time

I worked with Griffin again this weekend. He was awesome once again. This time we added the blanket under the surcingle. He is completely non-reactive to it, even when I push him really hard. We began learning voice cues today for "trot" and "canter". I don't like to drill it into him...I just use the works as I ask him to canter with the stick and string. I don't expect it will take him long to connect it, since today I noticed that he knows the word "back". Imagine my surprise when he took a step back when I was just talking to him and my sentence happened to include the work "back". I have never tried to enforce just the word cue since I usually give a leadrope cue as well, but it seems he has figured it out!

We took a walk to the pond and he drank from the pond, and then followed me in.

But the duck that my dogs scared out of the cattails gave him a bit of a start.

The apple tree we came across was heavenly!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back to school

Today, Griffin learned some new things in the round pen.  First, we lunged, did desensitizing, yielding the hind quarters, yielding the forequarters, lateral flexing and backing.  He's done all that before, although it has been a long time since I've consistently asked him to do any of it.  But we worked on perfecting his response to all those cues. We also learned to back up with a wiggle of the rope today rather than just the lead signal.   Then, I used a small lightweight saddle blanket to desensitize him and get him used to wearing it on his back.  He did great with this.  I expected that since I've put a fleece cooler on him before without any problems.  Then I got out the surcingle.  I wasn't quite sure what he'd do with it, since the rings on it were very jingly, and there were strings hanging off it, but after the blanket, apparently the surcingle was absolutely no big deal.  I practiced pulling it tight without buckling it first (no reaction, he got a treat reward for standing), then buckled it up snugly, but not tight.  He paid no attention to it, even through flexing and lunging.  And he's now becoming more comfortable with lunging.  He's finally starting to understand that I'm not just chasing him around (he responds by snorting at first, whenever I begin asking him to lunge).

Griffin says "What do we do now?".

Friday was my first day of classes.  Silly, I know, since then we got a 3 day weekend.  But both Wren and I made it through, although not without tears on my end!  I'm really dreading the next 3 years.  It's going to be so hard to sacrifice my time with Wren to school.  But I'm focusing on the end.  We'll make it...I hope.

In the meantime, I really love blogging (posting what I'm doing and reading other's posts), but it takes a lot of time.  Now my schedule is even more packed and to keep up with all the things I want to do, I think I'm going to have to let the blogging slide.  I will still check in once in a while (probably once or twice a week), and I think I'll still post, when I actually get to do things with my horses (which I plan to try to do every weekend), but my posts might be more brief...and I might let the photos do the talking more than me.  We'll see.  I am just letting you know that I'm not going to dissappear forever, just become a lot less present. 

In the meantime, you can see more of my horses in the pasture, since that is the view that I will miss the most while I'm down in Madison during the week in school.  Well, that view and my daughter's beautiful face, but at least she is coming with me to Madison so I get to see her every evening and we'll be together all night long.  Daddy is the one who will be missing out the most.  He only gets to see us on weekends now.  And now, I must go and enjoy my long weekend home.

The herd heads back toward the barn...probably for water.

Griffin lags behind.

But the herd is lolly-gagging so he easily catches up.  He shows Kachina he's her boss by pushing her forward in front of him.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Riding with friends

School is looming and this week has been busy with getting ready for that, so I've not ridden horse since the weekend.  But this last weekend, I spent some time riding with my neighbors.  Their daughter was visiting and they wanted to show her some of the trails and they asked me to come along!  I rode Chico on one of the days, and Catlow on the other.

Remember I've mentioned that my neighbor has all dark horses?  Technically, a few are dark bay, and smokey black, but from afar, it is difficult to tell the difference between them!  And it is difficult to tell even when I'm riding with them!  I always have to ask, because when they switch tack around, it makes the horses look so different! 

These horses are Shady, Belle, and Honey Doll.  Belle and Honey Doll are the two that B and J have been riding most often this summer.

The previous picture was taken from the point of a ridge that over looks our houses!  You can see both my house and B and J's barn and shed.  In the lowest shed belongs with the cranberry marsh visible on the left side of the photo.

We saw a turkey vulture in a dead tree alongside the trail.

The next day, their daughter rode Shadow (gelding) instead of Shady (mare).  Shadow, even though he's a sibling of Shady's, is quite a bit flashier of a horse.  He holds his head and his tail high and has a very swingy walk.

The three of them followed me up "Buck Pond Valley" to check out how much water was in the little pond (there was none - it's been dry).

There was, however, water in my parent's pond, so we all crossed on our way back.  Belle (in the lead) and Honey Doll have been crossing the pond regularily this summer, but Shadow has only done it a few times and it is still new to can tell by his expression (Shadow is far left).

But he went in sticking close to Honey Doll for some confidence.

And then he pawed the water.

I've had fun riding with my neighbors.  It's crazy that this is the first year ever (in my whole life), that I've had a pretty large group of people nearby to consistently ride with.  I grew up riding alone, rode alone most of the time out in Idaho, and even my first couple years back here.  So I've really appreciated the company, but I still like heading out alone, just a horse and maybe a dog or two!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Family walks

We had a family walk the other night.  My honey and my sweet baby accompanied me as I led Griffin on a walk through the woods.  Once again, Griffin was fabulous!  He's so calm and level-headed.  He is now getting so comfortable with me that he's starting to be bit pushy about treats and apples, so we'll start working on that now.  How I deal with that mainly is offer less treats and make him have to earn them more.  I'll back him up and when I get a nice respectful backup, he'll get a treat, but not if he's lipping at my hands when I don't even have a treat for him.  I'd rather him be this comfortable in the beginning.  I can fix the lippiness pretty quick now.  We walked through the woods and ended up at my parent's house to chat.

I like to wear my helmet when I'm taking young horses for their first never know when/how they might spook and sometimes when they whirl, your head can be in the path of their head (and they have such hard heads!).  I like to have a little if they get too close to my head, I can just bonk them with my helmet and it makes them back off and give me a little space...they think my head is really hard then!
I love this picture of me leading him, but the color was pretty dull because it was so cloudy so I edited it.  I kinda like the "sepia" look.

He had a lot of fun standing under my parent's apple trees and eating apples.

My mom's chickens look so happy and busy foraging under the apples trees.  Right after I took this picture, we were all just standing around chatting when my parent's dog and my dog got in a fight...right next to Griffin.  Griffin was startled, but not bothered.  After his initial startle (threw his head up - he'd been grazing), he just stood and watched them as they worked it out.  It was a brief fight.  He really does have a nice temperament.  I think he'll be bold and secure like Chico, but not quite as forward...Griffin seems a little stickier with moving than Chico.

And Griffin also has that typical gelding know, where there is so much going on in their heads and the only outlet is to get into everything and be a pest?  He is the horse that sticks his front leg in the water trough and gets it all muddy.  He also tries to graze under the panels, even though he could walk out to the pasture and find nice grass there

And of course, he has to stomp and squash the rubber tubs that I occasionally feed them grain in (they get grain very rarely). 
I guess maybe he's trying to tell me something?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Today I rode Cody out on the trails....

with Griffin in tow!!!!  He was really good!  He was actually less worried by some things on the trail than Cody, my seasoned trail horse, was!  Cody just gets a little bug-eyed about things sometimes, but usually they are warranted (for example, today, the trampled ground under some wild apple trees kind of got her acting balky, but she probably also smelled deer there recently).

We stopped here to take a picture of the nice view.  It is hard to get a feel for how high of a hill we are on from a picture, but you can see we are above the level of the huge steel power line poles along the interstate on the left side of the picture.  The trail going down this hill is a lot steeper than it looks in the picture too.  We did not go down because there is a fence down laying along the left side of the trail and I didn't want to risk it with leading another horse.

Griffin enjoys the view too.  He really was so relaxed on our ride.

Back at home, he made a pest out of himself by picking up Cody's bridle off the hitching post.  I took it out of his mouth before he scared himself with it and got into trouble with being tied up.

I think I've made a loyal friend.  After I turned him loose, I crossed the pasture to get back to my house and Griffin followed me the whole way.  Maybe he just wants a treat, but it is amazing what a little positive association can do and how it can quickly change a horse from being evasive to interested and willing.

He even stood at the gate after I closed it in his face, wishing he could come through too.