Monday, December 6, 2010

Working on Feel & Timing

Saturday's weather was very iffy. We weren't sure if it was going to rain. We knew it was not going to warm up. Around 2pm we asked our neighbor if we could use his arena. This took the risk out of getting rained on.

I took some cones over and laid them out and we worked on some of the exercises on RWC 3. Ranae's horse, Dusty, was full of beans and kicked up a couple of times. Ranae made him hustle his hindquarters around every time he did and I think he got the message.

While she was doing her thing, we tried two-tracking and shoulder in/shoulder out. Trying to get the feel and timing down on these is quite the trick. I could get Jessie to move, getting her to soften and move was another story. We kept working at it hoping the light would magically come on.

We did manage to lope our ten minutes. We did some patterns around the cones, the clover exercise and some squares in all directions. The ten minutes doesn't seem nearly as long as the first time we went under the timer. Trying to get Jessie to soften at the lope is a chore. When I pick up on the reins she tends to speed up. Again, put that on the list of things to work on.

After the loping we did some fence exercises to cool down. We also worked on side-passing without the help of the fence. The arena belongs to an old roping heeler and he has a chute set up on one end. We got on each side of the chute and took off like we were roping a ...a ..., well, let's just we were a couple of steps slower than a statue.

Sunday warmed up a little but the clouds were still around. We went out in the afternoon and got sprinkled on a little bit. We did our loping again and I worked on the shoulder in/out and two-tracking again. We got back just before a good-sized storm came in blowing wind and dropping almost an 1/8" of rain.

Anytime we can get two rides in on a December weekend is a good thing.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Long Weekend was Short on Riding

The weather and family obligations over the holiday weekend made it tough to find some Jessie time. Don't get me wrong, it was great spending time with family. My sister-in-law puts on a fantastic meal and family had come in from Bend,Or. and Salt Lake City.

I had to work most of Friday and that left just Saturday and Sunday for riding. We woke up early on Saturday had breakfast and while we were putting on layers of clothes to go ride, clouds rolled in and the threat of rain appeared. We put the ride on hold until the sun broke through around 11am and we saddled up.

We rode for about two hours working on a few things including our new loping exercises. Ranae was helping me work on my hand position and just keeping them quieter while we're loping.

Saturday afternoon the weather drove me back into the house after doing some yard work, so I thought this would be a good time to reload the RWC Series 3 discs and start working through them once again. I got through disc one on Saturday and since the weather was really blustery on Sunday, I worked my way through disc two. The only problem with watching them is it makes you want to ride. Oh well, maybe next weekend...

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Little is Better Than None

Saturday was cold, drizzily, and rainy all day. I had to spend the day doing chores and cleaning my office, catching up on filing and the boring crap like that. It rained quite a bit in the early hours of Sunday and the pens were a mess by the time I woke up. The forecast was for rain most of the day although the sun was trying valiantly to break through the clouds.

After breakfast, I did my best to clean the pens. I pulled Jessie out and picked her feet and brushed her up. She was quite the mess, too. The wind kicked up and the clouds moved and chased me back inside. About half an hour later it settled down a little and I did some yard work. The sun would come out for a bit and I would take my jacket off, then it would get cold and I would put the jacket back on.

Around noon I decided it might be stable enough to ride and I got Jessie out again. As I was getting her ready the wind came through again. I decided I would opt for some groundwork. There's a little area out back that we could work in and if it started to rain we could end the session quickly. It's under some trees with dirt ground that was still damp (but not muddy) from the rain. We started with just some simple exercises, circle driving, and lunging for respect stage I. We were doing the lunging at a walk because the area required a small circle and the ground was a little slippery. When I switched to stage two, the tree branches blowing above our heads, the freshness of the day, and the antics of the nearby horses got Jessie all jacked up. We did a lot of direction changes and she kicked up, but finally I thought she was paying attention.

Then for about half an hour we just fooled around doing stuff we hadn't worked on much before. Side-passing toward me, backing in a circle, changing eyes stage two, lunging a figure eight around some cones. Our last de-sensitizing exercise was clipping her fall whiskers. She was perfectly happy to stand still for that. So, while it wasn't a ride, at least I felt like we got some work(for her/play for me) in.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


My friend Courtney sent some pictures of her horse Lucy while they were at the Doununder Horsemanship Clinic earlier this month. I noticed Lucy had a nice shine to her coat in the pictures and when I emailed Courtney to find out what she was using, she told me it was S.W.E.A.T.. I had to get some for my horse, but not being familiar with the product I did a quick Wiki search. Turns out S.W.E.A.T. is not a product you can buy and, get this, it's considered gross if you use somebody's else S.W.E.A.T. on your horse. S.W.E.A.T. is actually an acronym for Solution With Exercise Activated Triggers - essentially a substance secreted by the horse in response to work. The best part is IT'S FREE!

Now, I had thought I had work Jessie pretty hard in the past but had never seen this stuff. I was determined to get some out of her, so armed with a stopwatch, we headed out to the biggest field we could find. Once there we started loping and the stopwatch. She wasn't real hot on the idea, even though I tried to explain how good it would maker her look. After about 5 minutes we stopped and I checked her out. Ah, there was a little shine. It was working. Let's keep going. We loped another 5 then walked for about ten and went back to loping.

It was working! She was really getting shiny - and looking good. Something else was happening too. This S.W.E.A.T. stuff not only works on the outside of the horse, but the inside as well. About halfway through the second ten minute session she started to slow down, her lope got more comfortable to sit, and it was even easier to steer. The next day we did it again and it got even better! Who knew?

I've gotta admit I was a little disappointed when I found out you could not buy S.W.E.A.T. And, there's another drawback - I noticed that every time some gets on her, some usually shows up on me too. But the effects are remarkable and I'm sure as soon as word gets out about S.W.E.A.T., SOMEONE will figure out a way to put it in a bottle and make a million bucks.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's Nice to Own a Good Horse

I don't know how you decide what a good horse is. My horse is not the most athletic, or the most sensitive to cues, but she has a good head on her. That doesn't means she doesn't do stupid things...she does. It's what she does after she does something stupid that tells me I have a good horse.

Yesterday was a good case in point. We had ridden pretty hard on Saturday and were looking forward to a steady ride on Sunday morning. It was a beautiful, cool day as we headed down the same canal bank we almost always head down. Ranae and I are talking, the horses are looking around. Every once in a while one horse may balk. Just stop for no apparent reason. It's annoying, but the other horse is charged with going forward and the stopped horse has to get their stuff together, get over whatever alarmed them and catch up. Now, if they balk at something once we are out we really make them work. This one area of the canal is about 1/4 mile from home and has been a problem going out never coming home. We decided it was their little way of protesting going for a ride (I left a perfectly good flake of hay and a nap for this?), so we've been ignoring their behavior (it's really not that bad)

Okay, we are riding along Dusty stops, Jessie and I keep going. Jessie is no dummy, she likes Dusty right up there with her because she knows whatever horse-eating plastic bag, tarp, bicycle, etc is up there, they are going to eat Dusty first and give her an opportunity to escape. Without Dusty she becomes hyper-vigilant because she thinks she's the main course. "OMG!(No really, that's the way she talk's) A tarp or something is in the canal!" Yes, it was there yesterday, but that's not the point.

Now, to set this up properly, it's important to know that kids ride their bicycles up and down the canal and recently created a big jump by digging a large, deep ditch. This ditch was, you guessed it, right across from the scary tarp in the canal.

Jessie is not spooky afraid of the tarp, she is just giving it the evil eye and hoping Dusty comes up so he'll be eaten first IF said tarp should decide to charge at us. I turn Jessie to face it, because that's what we do - we face our fears. When I urged her to go forward, like an idiot she stepped backward. Yep, right into the ditch.

Everything that happened in the next 5 seconds was in slow motion. As we were tipping backwards slipping into the ditch I was thinking "Are you doing this?" and I could see her eye and she had a look like "Are YOU doing this?" I've trained myself to relax the reins and grab some mane when she trips or stumbles so I don't pull her off balance by yanking on the reins. But, now we're stuck in this ditch. It reminded me a little of the feeling of sitting on the toilet without putting the seat down - a little stunned and "What just happened?" running through my mind. I asked myself "What would Clinton say?" Well, I think he would say she has to be responsible for her own feet. If that's the case, honey you got us into this mess, you need to get us out. I laid forward on the saddle horn, Ranae said she was on her front knees and she calmly hoisted us up and out of there. Once we were out, we stood there for a one Mississippi then walked by the scary (not so scary) tarp. Once we were well past it we stopped and checked for injuries. There were none.

I think it may have helped that on Saturday's ride we had practiced backing up and down some hills, or, maybe not. She is just so cool under some circumstances it's scary. I know there may be times when we get stuck in it and things might not end so well, but I'm certain if I need to put my trust in her, she'll take care of us.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hey, We Learnt Something

We are riding back from our usual haunts on Sunday morning lamenting how people are dumping garbage all along our riding area. I can't figure out what makes people think it's okay to dump their shit anywhere they want. We all pay for trash pickup through our property taxes. They can't use that system?

Anyway, we are riding along and there is this wooden frame thing that is about two feet wide by three feet long. I make the joke that we would try and do a spin inside it. Ranae says we could do a turn keeping two feet inside the box. So, we turn around and I try it first with Jessie's front feet inside the box. She does well and we go both directions.

Ranae wants to try it with Dusty's back feet in the box. Ah, much more challenging! She gets his back feet in the box and starts to yield the forequarters around. At about the halfway mark he steps one of his back feet out of the frame. Ranae stops and tries to get him back in the box. She does and finishes the circle in that direction and says how hard it was to tell where Dusty's feet were and how she needed to move only one back foot. I remembered some Pat Parelli (I think) show a long time ago where he touched one side of the horse's muzzle to move the opposite back foot. I told Ranae as she was in the box, that when Dusty's foot came out, let's try asking for a backup and picking up the opposite rein of the foot we wanted to move. It worked! She needed to back his left rear back in the box. She asked for the backup while picking up the right rein and he moved his left hoof back in the frame. We tried it with Jessie and it worked on her too.

It's still hard for us to figure out on our own which foot needs to be moved, but it was fun figuring out we could move just one back foot at a time.

Here's a thirty second video of how Jessie goes back to her pen after her bath at the end of our ride:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Changing Horses

On Saturday the weather was "iffy" at best. There was wind and rain from Friday afternoon on. Saturday morning was cloudy and blustery. We decided to postpone our long ride until the afternoon in the hopes that conditions improved. I'm not much for riding in the rain.

By one o'clock nothing had happened and the clouds had subsided some and we decided to go for it. We saddled up the horses and headed east out to the city farm. We put our horses in a trot and, judging from the way my inner thigh muscles are talking to me this morning, kept them at a trot for quite some time. We did break up some of the trotting with loping in between, and about every 10-15 minutes, gave them a walking break. We covered over 10 miles as measured by the Garmin, in just under 3 hours. A pretty good average my ass can attest to. The horses did great. We found some puddles from the recent rain to cross and even when my jacket flew off the back of Jessie she stayed calm.

Sunday was switch horses day. Halloween - how fitting. We took each others horse out groomed and tacked up in our respective area (as opposed to the horse's). We then did a little ground work to make sure no one had a problem with the different saddles and bits they were supporting. And, it was off to the development. We practiced some one-rein stops to see how the horses would do, but other than that we were on our own. Instead of offering each other suggestions we wanted to see how the horses did and felt without trying to accommodate our movements to what THEY were used to. It worked out well. I got to see how much work it was to keep Dusty side-by-side with Jessie and she got to feel how big Jessie's trot is. Dusty and I crossed a few puddles and he stayed, for the most part, calm. We had a couple of loping sessions and I got to feel how it is to try and keep him going. But he has a very smooth lope and it's very comfortable to sit. (My sore thigh muscles were appreciative). It was fun having a horse that could neck rein and one that was more responsive to the bit. (Jessie has steering issues) Both horses have a good stop. It was kinda like driving a rental car for a while: we got to do the stuff we would normally do and the stuff we might not have tried. Ranae did some jumping over pipes with Jessie and I did a fast run down with Dusty. The Garmin said he got up to a whopping 15 mph!

It was a fun experience and a good way to practice our horsemanship skills. I mean, you hope you don't get complacent with your horse, but it's hard not to riding the same horse, the same way every time. And that's why we changed it up...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Let's Lope

We were able to get in TWO rides this weekend. Saturday's ride was out to the development. The temperatures were cool and the horses were frisky. We did a lot of trotting to warm up. Once out, we found a place to lope the four leaf clover exercise. We did that for about five minutes in each direction, then loped in a big rectangle. From there we walked over to the "big square" area and loped around that a couple of times. We would cross through the middle and try a lead change. Jessie would change leads, but it is still pretty ragged. From there we went a little farther out and loped and trotted over some berms that some dirt bikers had built up. We had worked up a sweat by then. It wasn't too hard to do as their winter coats are coming in. We walked home and gave them a bath.

On Sunday we started off in the other direction by going out to the alfalfa field. The recent rains left the ground soft and it was nice loping around there. After warming up we fooled around trying to get some flying lead changes. (We really don't have any idea on how to do this other than what we have read and seen, but it's fun to try, and every once and awhile we get one). We headed out to what we call the "quarry" where there is some flat ground with good footing. I found an old piece of pvc pipe to use as a baton and we tried Craig Cameron's pass the baton exercise. We lope side-by-side in a circle and toss the baton back and forth. Jessie is a bit faster than Dusty so we were on the outside. The horses stayed in their circle nicely despite that fact we were out in the open with no fences anywhere.

Jessie's lope is slowly come down in speed and she is getting better at letting me steer as well. More importantly, it is a much more comfortable lope and I actually have time to think about seat and leg position. It's not a rocking chair lope just yet, but we might get there.

We talked about next weekend's ride. On Saturday we are going to try a long ride out to the arena about 6 miles away. Then on Sunday we are going to switch horses for a ride and see how that goes. We'll let you know.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm Feeling Old

It was a beautiful fall weekend here with temperatures in the mid-80s. Ranae is out of town so it was up to Jessie and I to go it alone. I charged up the GPS and we headed out on Saturday afternoon. Once on the canal I put her into a trot and we went for about a mile. Hers is not quite the sitting trot, although it has improved. I alternated trying to sit it and posting. When she got to fast, I asked for a lope then brought her down to a trot again.

Once we were past Panama Rd. we loped and trotted all the way out to the development. I had the ipod in and the music cranked and she was doing most of what I asked. We loped around the square, then trotted down the road, then loped backed through the development. We loped some circles, we loped some squares. It felt good to see I was get her to sweat a little bit. When we got back we had ridden for 90 minutes with an average speed of 4.4 mph. Our top speed was 11.2 mph. Our usual rides are around the 3.3 mph range. The 11.2 top speed was much slower than she usually goes too.

Sunday we started out around 11am and rode out to the city farm. We had to wind our way through more residential areas and traffic was busy on two roads we had to cross. Once out in the open I put her into a lope and we went for about half a mile. The ferrier had come on Wednesday and some of the roads are quite rocky so I put her into a trot and we trotted for about two miles. There was an area where we did trot-lope-trot transitions. We worked on our stops over by a cotton field and then trotted to the canal. From there it was an easy walk home. The GPS total were almost the same except she loped faster. She had a top speed of 13.4 mph and our average was 4.1mph.

This morning I am feeling it. My lower back muscles are sore, my shoulder are sore, and my legs are sore from the posting. What happened?!? Geesh, it's not like I spent all day in the saddle, but it sure feels like it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yes, it's me

It's been a little bit. You know how life is, circumstances sometimes get in the way of riding time. Jessie is enjoying her break, although she got a short little ride and some groundwork last weekend.

A quick update on the puppy, Maddie, that we found. Our friend picked her up (well, really, wrenched her from our arms) after we had taken care of her for 6 days. She is at her new home and settling in nicely. I haven't seen her, but hear she is growing quickly. She is surrounded by toys. She has two cats to play with and an owner who loves her. Thanks to everyone for your kind words and offers of help. They were appreciated.

We have shot some new video. I haven't looked at yet, let alone edit it. I hope to get after that in the coming weeks....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vacation Weekend

We got to go to Las Vegas for the weekend. It was weird being there so soon. I hadn't been there for ten years before seeing Clinton Anderson earlier in June. We went to relax and see the Cirque De Solei show Zumanity. The trip seemed a bit rushed and in doing the math we were only there for 43 hours. After you factor out the sleep, shower, eat, show, driving and walking around there wasn't much time to actually relax. It was fun, though and good to get away.

We stopped at the Southpoint on the way out of town and I got to show Ranae the arena and the horse facilities which were open oddly enough. As for our gaming adventures, let's just say the lights are still on in Vegas ;>)

Now it's back to work both here and with Jessie..

Monday, September 20, 2010

How long do we lope before it gets slower?

Saturday afternoon we went out for a ride to the usual haunts. It was still fairly the nineties I would guess. We did some warm up trotting and loping in the big alfalfa field. Jessie was a bit hard to steer (as most always) and we got through the warm up and trotted down the canal for about a mile. When we got out to the development we saw this little gem that had been dumped. She was cuddled next to the carcass of a cat (I thought it was a stuffed animal) who I assumed would be her food supply for a day or two.

We rode for about two hours and then went back to pick up the pup who assured me she was okay and that once her owners realized she had "accidentally" fell out of their vehicle they would be coming back for her.

I don't know why, if it's the heat, or the extra trotting and posting, or if it's because I'm trying to sit more balanced in the center of the saddle with my feet under my hips, but I've been getting some saddle sores the last month or so. Sunday, I wanted to do a lot of loping to see if I could get Jessie to go slower. She has slowed down from the 16-18 mph she had when we started, but she is still too fast most times. We started our loping about a mile ahead of Ranae and then doing some circles and figure eights until Ranae trotted up to us. We walked about another mile where we found a lot that was about the size of a football field, maybe 100 yards by 60 yards. The track around it was smooth dirt so we started off in our loop. We probably went around that thing six times and she was huffing and puffing but she never showed a sign of "wanting" to slow down. On the way home we talked about ways to improve the exercise like going around a couple of times in one direction, then circling and go the other direction. That fast lope isn't the easiest to sit however, I'll have to toughen my butt up for the next session.

In the meantime, if you know anyone who wants the sweetest little black dog you've ever seen...

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Nice Weekend

Even though I haven't been posting with my usual regularity, we have been working. Jessie and I have been doing more groundwork and working at liberty. The initial reason for moving to groundwork was essentially a time factor. The days are getting shorter and it was a way to get our work in "quicker", if you will. The surprise is, that even though we do many of the same exercises, I think this has improved my timing and feel. Because I'm working on refinement instead of the basic concept, groundwork offers me more time to think about what I''m asking for, giving the consistent cue, and sharpening my release time. Just spending time with Jessie is helping me to learn better horsemanship...imagine that!

We did get to ride on Sunday. We rode out to the City Farm with it's big wide roads in between alfalfa crops. We did a lot of trotting (with posting to stay in shape). On the way home we found a place to work on our "whoa". Jessie stops in one direction just great. The other direction, if you watched the horse h-o-r-s-e game video, not so much. We had to work on it for about 15 minutes before I got two consistent stops in the bad direction.

Ranae rode without her spurs and she got to work with Dusty on trying to work off leg pressure with the 10 thorn berry-bush as backup. At first Dusty noticed the lack of reinforcement, but by the end of the ride he had improved.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Horse H-O-R-S-E

We've been staying busy at work. I've also have a couple of other projects going on that keep me from my weekly blogging. We continue our riding three times a week. We recently had some fun playing an old fashioned game of h-o-r-s-e. You know, the backyard basketball game where you call your shot. Here's our latest video:

Monday, August 2, 2010

At Liberty and Bridleless

Saturday afternoon, after all the chores were done, we didn't really feel like riding. I took Jessie out back and we played a bit at liberty. She is getting so much better at this. I set up a couple of obstacles: a back up lane, a twelve-inch jump, and a tarp. Then I asked her to go through the obstacles at liberty. She did the back up nicely. She had no problems with the tarp and the jump was a breeze.

Then I saddled her up and we warmed up for a few minutes. I then took the snaffle out and tried to control her with my legs. This was tough. She is very gate-bound. Even though the steering was real strong, we did manage to trot through the obstacles and even lope bridleless. I put the snaffle back in and then repeated the exercises before ending the session.

Sunday we trailered out to the river. It's about a 90 minute ride out to Ethel's Cafe where we had a sandwich and a beer. There are a couple of bridges over the river and Jessie would follow Dusty with no problems. When I asked her to take the lead over the bridge, she balked. We did some rollbacks at the entry, I even got off and did some sending exercises to the bridge and away. After about twenty minutes I got her to take a few steps on the bridge and then I had Dusty come by and lead us the rest of the way. I was running out of things to do. At the next bridge there was a much bigger opening, although the bridge itself made more noise (there was a fall underneath it). When she balked here, I was able to do loping circles with rollbacks at the entrance. After about ten minutes of this she walked up on the bridge, but she didn't cross it all by herself. Even though we weren't completely successful, we did make a little progress. I think if we had been out there all by our self, she would have gone over. I think she has some herd bound issues.

Anyway we had nice ride along the river. I tried to upload pictures from my phone but neither facebook or twitter would cooperate.

Cowboy Art

Saturday our local museum was having a celebration of the cowboy. The museum is about two blocks from our store and, since I had to stop by and do a few things there in the morning, I stopped by the museum to check out the doings.

There was square dancing, a couple of book authors discussing their books, lots of cowboy art, and pony rides! There was also a display of Visalia Saddles and bits.








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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Saddle Pad Cleaning

Last weekend we rode on Saturday evening out to the usual haunts. It was a warm but pleasant ride to end the day. We didn't do an awful lot of work. It was more of a "kick back" ride. We did one long trot of about a mile or so, then just had some fun.

Sunday, we tried some video taping. We used the middle of the day to avoid the shadows. It was hot. We rode out to the new "working" area and Ranae drove out to meet us. Jessie did great riding out alone. She walked past one of our "trouble" spots without hesitation.

When we got back I decided to clean the saddle pads and cinches. This, as it turns out, came out better than some of the riding videos we took. It's tough watching yourself. Don't get me wrong, I think it's good for me to see myself riding so I can improve, but sometimes it doesn't look as pretty as it feels. We'll work on it some more.

Here's our method of saddle pad cleaning in one minute forty-one seconds:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sunset Ride in the Moonlight

The moon is in a good position for us to ride in the evening. It's also starting to cool off around sunset. Last night we had a cool breeze blowing which made it even more comfortable.

We had planned this night ride a little differently. I picked up some takeout food on the way home. Ranae had gotten home about 15 minutes before me and fed the horses. We had dinner and then saddled up. It was nice for a couple of reasons. One, we weren't hungry and two, we didn't have to worry about rushing home to have dinner.

We set out on a nice leisurely ride. First it was off to the alfalfa field for a little warm-up. The have scraped this field and the dirt is soft but it is uneven. Ranae likes loping in it more than I do, but it is a good place to warm-up.

Sunset Ride

From there it was down the far side of the canal bank. We trotted most of the way out. It's about a mile to Panama Lane.


After crossing Panama we rode around the canal and worked near these irrigation pipes that were stored there. If the horses clunked them they made quite a loud noise. We did some rollbacks, walkovers, and side-passing.



Ranae suggested we try a side-by-side lope and I thought it might be fun to try and get a video of it. Our first attempt was not very good. We were too close together. The second attempt was much better. I left the sound up and the wind noise is a bit annoying, but I love the sound of hooves pounding the ground. Jessie did very well with me riding with one arm stuck straight out trying to hold the camera steady. You can see the very nice style Ranae has at the lope.

From there it was a nice slow walk home as the moon rose high behind us.


It's amazing. The summer has just flown by. The days are starting to get shorter. We have to squeeze these rides in when we have an opportunity.

Monday, July 19, 2010

In the Summertime

It's hot. BUT, we didn't let that stop us from riding. Saturday morning I had scheduled a second stack of alfalfa to be delivered. It was a good price and, while I may have an excess now, I won't have to worry about making time to go pick it up.

Hay stack

Most of the rest of the day was dedicated to doing chores. About 4:30 we convinced ourselves it had cooled down (it hadn't) and there was a breeze blowing (there wasn't), so we saddled up and headed out swimming in our own delusions. We went out to the development. You may hear me call this a development, but since the housing bust, the area has gone to the weeds. In one housing track that was about half built it looked like they may have just recently graded an area about 200' x 400'. Viola! Our new arena. The footing was good and the ground was mostly level. We practiced loping squares and doing some of the exercises on RWC II, which I hope to video tape soon. I tucked my 3" x 5" index card in my saddle and tried to remember how to do all the exercises. Geesh, my memory is terrible. Jessie did well.

Sunday was equally hot and we didn't get a chance to go out in the morning, so that just meant more yard work. We have a lot of wasps this year. I passed some of the time trying to take a picture of them.


Max was nearby keeping an eye on me.

Max on a Summer afternoon

And Dusty was giving me the "Are you nuts?" look.


Sunday's ride was are usual route in reverse. We did some trotting along the canal, found some irrigation pipes to work on rollbacks next too, then loped for a bit at the new arena. The breeze was hardly a zephyr and it was still warm, so we kept it easy and headed back.

On a fly note:
We've been using fly predators for about three years now. They have helped reduce the population, but with our neighbor not using them it seems a bit futile at times. I had been picking up manure twice a week and I recently changed to picking it up once a day. It's sometimes hard to find the time, but it has really paid off in lowering the number of flys around our horses.

One more picture. At work, our neighbor has a cat. When she goes out on delivery he'll sneak out, then, because he can't get back in and it's 105 out back he yells to come into our store. I let him and the the guy tries to take up two chairs! What gratitude. Here's Tony the Tiger:

Tony the Tiger

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Change of Pace

Temperatures are supposed to reach 107 by Sunday....I was up at 6 for a little work with Jessie. I thought it would be good to change it up a bit, so after a few exercises, we (or was it just me) just played around on the ground. I tried to teach her to side-pass along the fence toward me. That was easier than I thought. She picked up on it quickly.

I hopped on her bareback and with just the lead rope on one side, we rode around for a bit. Then I took everything off and she got to play at liberty. She was sticking close to me and we were hooked up really well, then she headed for the gate. She ran up and down the dry lot at full speed. Good golly, she is fast. Then she realized how hot it was and she was at risk to lose a pound or two. I got her trotting in a circle around me before letting her rest. I had laid a couple of barrels on their side and she jumped those in both directions. Then we did some leading beside off lead and she stayed right at my shoulder even through several direction changes. After that it was a little sensitizing before heading off to the wash rack and breakfast.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Me Thinks the Dogs Days Have Arrived

We had company visiting us over the weekend, on top of the fact I had to work on Saturday morning. Add to this that is was well over 100 degrees and extremely humid (for Calif), there was little riding time available. Saturday afternoon we even broke from tradition to escape to a movie theater for an afternoon of cool.

I knew if I was going to get a ride in it would have to be early Sunday morning. I got up around 5:45 and got ready. It was still hot. Jessie gave me the "You gotta be kidding me" look which entails her retreating to the farthest corner of her pen and "hiding" from me. Despite that, she still met me in the center of her pen and I took her out and got her ready to ride.

We mostly trotted. We also did many transitions from the walk to the trot and back to walk. The farmers were setting up a new field for irrigation and they have these portable pumps that make a lot of noise and leaked water out of a couple of different connections. Jessie stayed focused on me as we rode by. Once out on the development we loped and did a few rollbacks. We found a couple of obstacles to circle and then headed for home, trotting most of the way back. As we rode down the canal I would pick up on a rein and tip her nose as I pushed her shoulder in the other direction. And so we rode in diagonals back and forth across the canal road most of the way home. A ninety minute ride where we got a lot in.

She got a nice cool shower and a big breakfast when we got home...and so did I.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's Hot

Saturday I had to arrange getting our stack of hay. I had them stack it behind the horse trailer which meant I had to pull the trailer out. Since I had it hooked up, I gave Jessie practice session on loading and unloading. She has improved quite a bit.

After the lesson I tied her up for half an hour, then gave her a bath. Later that afternoon we went out by ourselves. It was hot but there was a nice little breeze blowing and we were able to stay cool. A couple of mini-bikes passed us on the canal bank. These kids had a bit more energy about them and didn't really care there was a horse 3 feet from where they buzzed by. Jessie did great.

We did some loping out and around some open areas where the footing was good. We practiced some rollbacks. Man, she hates doing those. I gotta figure out a way to make that a better deal for her. I try to limit myself to two in each direction so she doesn't get resentful about having to do them. It was exactly a two hour ride.

I had left the truck and trailer hooked up and on Sunday we had another trailer loading session. I think it was good for her to go in it easily and then be returned to her pen. She's loading well, I also wanted to work on my cues.

Ranae got home in the afternoon and we went out to the development. There was less of a breeze blowing and it was hot. Being the 4th there was quite a bit more noise. Our neighborhood has a lot of illegal fireworks going off. Anyway, we still did some loping. We even did a little side-by-side loping which is always a lot of fun. Dusty will sometimes get a knot in his tail over having to lope next to Jessie, but this time he behaved himself.

Ranae was off today. I had to work. She'll have the horses ready to ride when I get home.

Side note: We got some free publicity in the local paper today. They have a feature they call "Conversations with..." and they featured...ME! Here's the link if you're interested.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Riding Solo

Because Ranae was out of town last weekend and didn't ride Tuesday night, our last three rides have been by ourselves. I did wear my spurs and she did ride out quite nicely. The only spur action she got was when she wanted to bail off the side of the trail and luckily that wasn't very often.

It's been hot here. Close to the 100's. We did some trotting and worked on transitions for trot to walk. On Saturday, we were riding along the canal. We had a chain link fence on one side with a dog barking just on the other side of the fence. Coming along side of us was a quad with two riders on it. Jessie stood perfectly still and, cautious, but relaxed. I was very proud of her.

On Sunday, we went out along the canal, crossed over to the other side and headed back. I wanted to ride a little longer so I turned her away from home and we trotted in between two unplanted fields that had gone to the weeds. When it came time to turn for home I decided to cross one of the fields. The ground was uneven and the weeds were knee high in parts. I worked our way over to what looked like a good road to head back on and then....da da donnnnnn... A discarded horse-eating mattress appeared out of nowhere. The wind was blowing and the mattress had a tear in it and the loose fabric was flopping around. On the far side of the mattress was the road and it had a bit of washboard in the asphalt so as the cars went down the road there was a scary sound.

This was one of the first times I can remember Jessie being frightened of something where we had some room to work. We trotted back and forth turning into the monster and when she looked like she wanted to check it out I backed her away from it. We went over to the other side. She jumped at one point when the wind and the cars coordinated their attack to make both motion and sound at the same time. We worked back and forth for five minutes or so. She was getting closer and closer and more relaxed. I hated to move on, this was such a good experience for her. After she walked right up to it and tried to take a bite out of it, I thought it best to turn for home.

Tuesday's ride was very similar except that we were a little pressed for time so we trotted most of the way. It's about a three mile loop. Heading for home on the far side of the canal we worked on transitions from trot to walk. They were a bit ragged.

It was nice to get a weeknight ride in. We will ride again tonight (Thursday). I love summer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Energy

It's a favorite pastime of horse owners to anthropomorphize (attributing human characteristics) our horses. I'm certain Jessie hates it when I go to a Walkabout Tour.

Last Saturday, we hadn't ridden for about ten days, so I started off with some groundwork. If she could talk I sure she would be saying something like, "Hey, it's pretty warm out here. You sure we want to work this hard?"

Once we headed out to our usual riding area we were doing serpentines and collecting. We were changing gait and direction a lot. We got out to a big field and did the "flower power" exercise I had seen Ian Francis demonstrate. We were going to the right and I could hear Clinton saying, "The way you get your horse slow and smooth at the lope is to lope them a lot. Put some miles on them." Jessie was doing pretty well and we loped a little longer. She was really looking to stop and we loped some more.

Once she was comfortable going to the right, we stopped in the middle for a moment and then loped for awhile to left. She is a lot less balanced on this side and would try to speed up from time to time. We just kept loping and soon she was listening better and slowing down.

Sunday we rode for two hours. We found some natural obstacles (garbage) to circle and we did more loping...a lot more loping. The had cleared one of the fields nearby. It's about a quarter mile square and we did the passenger lesson.

Ranae is off to a Matt Sheridan Horsemanship Clinic in Tehachapi with her friend Susan tomorrow night. I have some maintenance work to do here at the store. We'll ride after work tonight and I'm hoping I don't have to work too late Saturday and Sunday. The moon is full so an evening ride would be perfect.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Clinton Anderson 2010 Tourcation Las Vegas Part 2


I arrived the arena at 7am and one volunteer, Keely, was there. The Downunder folks hadn't shown up yet. Shana was rehearsing with Jillaroo for her trick riding demo, so we watched for a few minutes. When the crew came in our first chore was to wipe down all the graphics and displays and then fill in any missing merchandise from the previous night.

Clinton had had a crew doing interviews with guests, crew, vendors, and volunteers. They had interviewed me on camera Saturday night. Pretty straight forward questions, "What's it like to be a volunteer? Why did you volunteer?" Stuff like that. I ran into Renee, a long-time crew member, and she asked how my interview had gone. I said, "okay", but I told her I spent way too much time thinking about what I could have said. She had been interviewed the night before, too. We both agreed our "best lines" came about twenty minutes too late.

Shana's Trick Demo
Shana's Trick Demo w/ Clinton Watching at the Gate

Shana did her trick horse demo. It was slick. A lot of laying down and sitting up, nodding and shaking of heads. Shana felt teaching the horse tricks kept both the horse and you from getting bored from doing the same exercises over and over again. DUH is scheduled to have a trick teaching DVD out in the fall.

Next was the spooky horse demo and they had found a really good, fearful horse for this demo. This horse was literally scared of his own shadow. By the end of the demo Clinton had the horse calmly dropping its head every time the crowd gave a huge roar. Before each break Clinton would give away a whole bunch of merchandise.

Giving Stuff Away
Giving Stuff Away

We broke for lunch and that's another big selling time. It was hard to know what to restock as we were all well aware we would be packing everything up in a few hours. There's an old adage in retailing, "You can't sell from an empty wagon", so we brought out as much merchandise as we could.

The afternoon session was Gaining Respect Under Saddle followed by the Trailer Loading Demo which always a hoot. By the end of that demo Clinton couldn't keep the horse out of the trailer.

About 5pm they gathered all the volunteers together and told us what we could start taking down. Once Clinton was out of the arena things hit a fevered pitch. We took down the banners, the arena manager took down the panels and they moved two big semi-s and Clinton's trailer into the arena. We busied ourselves tearing down all the retail displays. I hooked on to Rob, Clinton's dad, who has to be well into his sixties. This guy looks tough as nails. He was lifting all kinds of heavy stuff. I find guys like this are the best to lend a hand to. You don't want to say much, because if you're talking you can't hear what they say, and they only say it once. And, you better be walking at top speed or you'll be left behind. And, have your gloves on if you need them (he didn't) because he ain't stopping to let you put them on. Clinton didn't fall far from the tree.

The teardown went fairly smoothly and extremely efficient. Most people knew what their jobs were and they did them well. Once everything was just about loaded Clinton came down and pictures were taken with the Downunder Crew. They had a professional photographer, but I sneaked in behind him and took this shot.

The Downunder Crew
The Downunder Crew

A short while later they gathered up the volunteers to give us our free stuff for volunteering and to get a picture with Clinton. In 2008 my camera ran out of batteries. This year I gave my camera to volunteer Scott from Montana and he took a picture. I didn't realize Amy was taking pictures too and Clinton, at one point, tells me to look over at her camera.

Getting My Bling
"Look at this camera, mate"

I'm not really an autograph person, most of them look like squiggly lines on a polygraph of a terrible liar, but I had him sign my copy of That Winning Attitude, the motivational book he wrote with Ian Francis. We were told that we could ask questions. I didn't have any training questions (because those are answered in the DVD's), but I did have a question about riding on the hard-pan roads that we do and wondered if I should be concerned about injuries. He told me as long as she wasn't having problems, don't worry about it, and keep riding.

So, we were turned loose. After saying my goodbyes to some of the staff we headed for the exit. After the last two hours of intensity it was oddly calm. I was tired, but not sleepy. I hadn't eaten much, but I wasn't hungry. I went back to my room, cleaned up and got a fresh change of clothes.

I hadn't been to Vegas in 10 years. My games are roulette and Blackjack. I had a system of roulette I had been working on the first three nights and it had worked moderately well. (That means I hadn't lost all my money.) Since this was the last night, I was going to take my meager winnings and put my system to the test. I headed down to the roulette table and lady luck was on my side. I didn't keep track of the time (who does in Vegas), but I think I was there for about an hour and I was doing well. When the wheel turned cold, I cashed in my winnings and headed for a blackjack table.

The night before, I had sat down at a blackjack table where Aaron, Clinton's sound man for the event, was playing. He's a nice guy, heck they all are, but he didn't talk much, and when I saw him playing at a table with an open seat I passed it by for another table. You never know if these guys want company or to be left alone. I had played about half a dozen hands and was just about even when Clinton walked over to Aaron's table. He asked him how he was doing and after a minute or two sat down. The table was full, but a moment later the seat next to Clinton opened up and I immediately grabbed my chips and moved over there.

Ha! I was sitting right next to Clinton Anderson at a blackjack table! You could tell this was his first time playing blackjack. He was asking for advice on which hand move to make. The "wave" for "no more cards" or the "come hither finger" for "hit me". Some of the Downunder staff gathered around. The table came alive. We were all encouraging the dealer. She was doing the best she could. At one point the pit boss came by and most of us lost that hand.

"Who's the guy in the suit?", Clinton asked.

"He's the pit boss", someone said.

"Well, keep him away from here. He has a bad vibe. We don't want that."

Every one was razzing and encouraging every one. After one winning hand we threatened to "bring the casino to it's knees". After a losing hand, "what just happened there?"

Clinton asked the dealer if she knew the rules. "Of course" she said, "I've been dealing for sixteen years".

"Well", Clinton said, "are you familiar with a little black and yellow book called Blackjack for Dummies? 'Cause I've read it and you better watch out!"

Once he was trying to decide on whether to hit on 14 with the dealer showing a two. (All the strategy books say no). We were all screaming, "Stand" "Don't Hit" "Let the Dealer Bust". Staring at his cards he stroked his chin with his fingers and said, "Sorry guys, I'm just going to have to trust my gut here, and my gut says take a card." He draws a six and wins. The table erupted in cheers and laughter.

The South Point
Amazingly, the South Point Casino Still is Standing

We played for 45 minutes to an hour and it was great fun. We were up at times, but in the end, the South Point Casino is still standing. It was quite surreal sitting inches from Clinton the person, and for a brief time the Clinton I know and the "real" Clinton blended into the same friend.

The South Point is a great venue. By staying there, I was only an elevator ride and a five minute walk to the arena. Their restaurants seemed nice although I preferred to walk to the little sport's bar across the street just to get away for the casino noise.

Monday morning I headed out to Hoover Dam to take in another wonder of the world. It's an amazing piece of architecture and one that will never be matched. This was THE thing that had to inspire the saying "They don't build 'em like that anymore".

I was exhausted by the time I got home. I've had to spend most of the week just catching up, but the experience and memories have been energizing enough to get me through.

Hoover Dam
The view from a Vent in the middle of the dam. It felt like Harrison Ford in The Fugitive

Just for snickers and giggles here are the two blog posts from my first volunteer experience. This one describes the experience and this one offers my ideas on how to make things more efficient. Many of the things in the second post are in place (kinda like Windows 7 - it was my idea) but only because DUH has a powerful marketing engine working for it now.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Clinton Anderson 2010 Tourcation Las Vegas Part 1

Last Thursday I headed off to Las Vegas to volunteer for Downunder Horsemanship's June Tour stop. This was my fourth tour stop, and my second stint as a volunteer.

Some of my friends and family wonder why I take the time and expense to work my ass off for two and a half days, essentially for free. Let me see if I can explain. It may sound corny, but it's my blog, it's supposed to be corny...

I don't have many natural talents. When I have a situation in life I'm not sure how to handle, I rely on the people in my head. I've got a pretty good team up here. These voices are of the people I believe are the best at what they do. If it's a moral dilemma, I hear my Dad's voice. In a crisis, I hear my older
brother's. If it's having fun and getting along with people, I hear my wife's voice. And, when I'm around my horse, it's Clinton's who is talking to me.

Jessie isn't the best trained horse by any measure, but she is safe and I attribute that safety to Clinton. To me safety is THE most valuable aspect of sharing time with Jessie. So, part of volunteering has to do with saying thanks for showing us the safe way. Every product I've bought from Downunder Horsemanship, while at first glance seemed expensive, has been a great value. My tack is five years old and still in excellent shape. The dvd's remain a constant reference for exercises and training. One challenge in "saying thanks" is to see if I can give him more value than he expects from a volunteer. (His expectations are pretty high and that makes this an even bigger challenge).

Now, Clinton, the person, couldn't pick me out of a lineup of kangaroos. But that's not the Clinton I know. The guy I know is the voice I've spent hours and hours listening to, the one that has never given me a bad piece of advice, the one that, if I look a hard enough, has always had the right answer, and the one who has taught me ninety percent of what I know about horses. THAT guy is a very good friend of mine. That's the guy I was helping out.

Well, before all this talk of imaginary friends and voices in my head gets me sent off to the looney bin, let me tell you about the weekend.

More Road
On the Road to Las Vegas

Thursday morning I woke up feeling lousy. My body ached, my stomach was queasy. I'm 55, I had applied to be a volunteer in January and had used the event as motivation to work out and maintain what little muscle mass I have left. Now, I'm on the verge of leaving for Las Vegas and I was going to need all the energy I could muster. Having spent 26 years in the health food business did help. I have an arsenal of supplements I believe help keep my immune system strong. I used every one of them. I had to work the first half of the day. My wife would relieve me at 2pm and work Friday and Monday for me. By the time I left I was feeling a little better, at least my stomach had calmed down. It's a four-and-a-half hour drive to Vegas from Bakersfield and I was in my room and checked in by 8pm. There was small restaurant across the street from the Southpoint resort that was about a ten minute walk. It was overcast and there were a couple of raindrops, but the fresh air felt good. I felt much better after a good dinner and the walk back to the Southpoint.

The Empty Arena
The Empty Arena

The next morning I showed up about 9:30 and there wasn't much to do. The retail area was almost completely set up and my first task was to help number 3,000 programs that would be used for a raffle. Gae, a No Worries Member from Australia was there, too. Clinton was in the arena practicing his first session. I learned this tour stop was going to be filmed for a series on RFD. Downunder had brought the largest number staff here of of any tour stop - ever. And, here's another reason I volunteered. Clinton surrounds himself with only the best people. Everyone was so pleasant, professional, and energetic. Having an opportunity to be even a small part of a winning team is a privilege I'll reach for every time.

The Setup
The Store

Clinton worked on the lighting and choreography for quite some time. He established his timing marks within the song, had to have the spotlights hitting him just so, and, of course, have the sound exactly perfect. We hauled two thousand programs up to the registration booth. I came down and tried to get familiar with all the back stock of merchandise, trying to figure out where it would go and whether it had to be assembled or not. We broke for lunch (taquitos and chips) a little before noon. We had a business meeting which really didn't pertain to us very much. We got our assignment sheets and a couple of t-shirts, which were our uniforms for the next two days. My assignment was the saddle area. The empty boxes for the saddles were about 60 yards away. When someone bought a saddle my job was to get the corresponding empty box, bring it to the sale area, load the saddle and take it to the check-out area. If necessary I was to carry the saddle out to peoples' cars.

Sounds easy and it was for the most part. During the selling times the people were elbow-to-elbow in the selling area and negotiating the route with a huge box was actually quite fun.

We were dismissed at 1 PM and I headed for the pool area to catch some rays. As coincidence, there was our national health food convention happening on the north side of town. Later that evening I drove uptown and had a most excellent dinner with one of our sales reps and his company's big wigs. Ah, this was living...


Saturday morning I was up at 5:30 and went down for breakfast. A couple of nice gals from Minnesota, who were there for the show, invited me to sit with them for breakfast. We shared horse stories for about a half an hour and I headed for the arena floor. Clinton was rehearsing for his opening one more time. When they set off the smoke machines, the fire alarms went off in the arena. This had not happened the day before. There was some discussion and the arena manager was contacted to make sure it didn't happen during the show. They started letting the No Worries Club members in as soon as Clinton left the arena. About a half hour later Clinton showed up in a clean shirt, his brown felt hat, and went through the retail area shaking the hands with his staff and volunteers encouraging everyone to have a good show. He seemed happier and more relaxed than I remember him in 2008.

The Place is Filled
The Show is About to Begin

The intro and Mindy's performance was excellent. It went exactly as choreographed and it was very impressive to see Clinton and Mindy walk through the smoke with the sound and lights blazing. Clinton gave his philosophy talk and then took a break. I worked the saddle area and the place was packed! The next demo was advanced riding after which Clinton announced that this was Mindy's last tour stop. She would be retired. There was a break for lunch where once again much shopping took place and our station was buzzing along pretty good. I'm not sure exactly how many saddles were sold, but there were quite a few (some people had theirs shipped home).

Clinton and Mindy
Clinton and Mindy

We helped set up the round pen for the afternoon demo and then I went to take a break. As I walked up to the bathrooms to clean up, I noticed Ian Francis sitting alone near the top of the arena. I went down, got my snacks and water and headed up and sat next to him during the round pen demo. We didn't talk much, but he seemed like a nice guy. After the demo we tore down the round pen and set up the water supply for the EZ All and Ritchie Waterer Demo, then it was back to my station.

Ian Francis
Ian Francis

The late afternoon session was a riding demo with Clinton (on Mindy) and Ian (on Diez). Ian demonstrated a number of techniques for getting the horse to go where you wanted and then Clinton demonstrated a few things too. Near the end of the demo Clinton was saying how horses are very specialized today, almost too specialized he said. When he trained horses in Australia they knew how to do a number of different things; rope, rein, herd cows. Even Mindy, he said, was good with a cow.

"Who wants to be a cow for us?" A woman, 60ish, raised her hand and came into the arena. Clinton instructed her on "how to be a cow" and had her running back and forth across the arena. Then Mindy "worked" the woman/cow. After a couple of turns and rollbacks Clinton said, "You are the best cow we've worked all day". As the crowd roared he continued, "For such good work you get to have Mindy's very LAST ride at a tour stop." He put her on Mindy then he played the cow. The first rollback was so quick she almost came off, but Mindy took care of her. It was a very touching moment and there were many tears flowing as Mindy left the arena for
the last time.

The shopping area kept us busy after the last demo. Shopping went on so late that I was asked to man one of the exits because the security guards were going into overtime. It was an easy assignment that lasted until 7:20 or so when Amy came by and released me for the day.

On to Sunday in Part 2...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

If I were to measure the success of a 3-day weekend by the amount of cholesterol consumed, the amount of sunscreen spread, and amount of saddle oil transferred to my jeans, I would have to say the weekend was a success.

Saturday morning we had some errands to run and chores to do. We got to ride in the afternoon. Since it had been ten days or so since Jessie's "episode" we decided on a shakedown ride just to see how she was feeling. We did a fairly routine canal ride out to the development. We loped around and she was none the worse for wear.

Sunday we headed for the river. We started in a different place. We began at the barn at Horseman's Park and rode to Lake Ming. The trail wound along the river and went through some very gently rolling hills. We had to circumnavigate the campground because it was very crowded for the holiday weekend. The horses all did very well. Dusty wore his boots and got along well with them. After the ride we had a picnic lunch in the shade of the barn. I made a simple little video of the ride, if you're interested. It's a beautiful area less than 30 minutes from our home.

Monday morning we took the dogs for a walk in the park before we rode in the neighbor's arena. Jessie and I worked on rollbacks, collection, and speed control. I thought we did a lot of loping. It was warm enough to at least get Jessie to break a sweat. She is gently improving in all these areas. I am hoping for a light bulb moment for one of us. I can't tell if it's my communication skills or her laziness that is keeping us from doing these maneuvers more snappily (is that even a word?). We'll just keep working at. I know it will come.

One other note: I heard Adam Carolla say, "Find something you love and would do even if no one paid you. Show up early and often and pay your dues". For me that's volunteering at the Downunder Tour stop. My application got approved last week for the Las Vegas stop June 11th ~ 13th. My wife is going to cover my duties at work, got my hotel room booked, and I'm ready to go.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Quick Update

Well, I don't know what it was, but it appears to be gone. Jessie seems almost back to 100% as measured by how much she kicks up at feeding time. She doesn't kick up excessively but I can entice her to kick up if I make a few playful moves or if she is just feeling "perky".

The swelling in her pasterns is down. I'm still a little concerned with the crack in that hoof. I'll keep an eye on it. The farrier is do out week after next.

It's what I call a fugitive occurrence or, as Paul Harvey might say, "Not why, just what".

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Trouble in Paradise?

So far I've had Jessie for three + years and thankfully no health issues. We were scheduled to leave town for a family wedding 250 miles away last Friday. Thursday night I came home and was busy getting ready for the trip. About dusk I went out to see Jessie and noticed she seemed a bit lethargic. I went in and rubbed her and she felt warm so I took her temperature...103.4. She was eating her dinner, her stools were normal, her rear pasterns were a bit swollen but held no more heat than the fever, and she walked, but it was a laboring kind of amble. No discharge from either the eyes or the nose. Normal stomach sounds. I ran my hands over her entire body and found no wounds or marks of any kind. I gave her some bute hoping it was an antipyretic. I checked on her a couple of times that night and she was still up and moving. She usually lays down around 10 or 11 pm and she followed that pattern. (A couple of other tidbits: I had noted in my journal that she was in season on the 9th [this was the 21st], and she is up-to-date on all her vaccines having had them about a month ago)

The next morning I checked her at 6 am. If her temperature was still high, I was going to take her to the vet for the weekend. She had pooped two more times overnight, both normal, and peed once. Her temperature was 97.8 which is a little below normal but it was a cool morning and I think she had just gotten up. She went after her breakfast with "almost" all of her usual gusto. She seemed to be walking better and her rear pasterns seemed less puffy.

We went on our trip and had a good time seeing family and friends. The neighbors took care of all our animals. We got back and Jessie was looking better. She had had a crack in her rear hoof that I thought was just a minor thing. Sunday afternoon I lunged her around. At the lope she was more willing and balanced going to the right. Going to the left her gait was choppy and less smooth. The crack in her hoof is on the outside of the right rear hoof.

right rear

bottom closer

It is somewhat interesting to note, although I really have no idea when they appeared, but there are several "dents" in the TOP rail of our good Priefert panels. Not to say these could have cause the cracks, just that they are there.

Kick points

This morning she looks like she is getting her energy back most notably by the display of impatience at my hay dispersal techniques...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Oldest Trick in the Book

After 55 million years of evolution, you gotta believe they have us figured out. So much so, that I believe there's a book of tricks hidden somewhere. They all have it. They all know the tricks. You know what I mean. Leave the reins in the wrong place - they get chewed on. Trying to take a picture - your "stone still" horse appears to be standing on an ant hill. Late for a trail ride - your horse decides the trailer is "just not for me right now". There has to be page after page of these tricks. Gotta give 'em some medication - suddenly your horse "hates" oats and molasses or tips over the bucket.

I almost fell for the oldest trick in the book. Page One. Right inside the front cover. We had taken off on our morning ride. We had about 45 minutes scheduled. I had some very specific exercises to work on. It was windy. We got about 1/2 mile out and Jessie "decided" that was far enough. The tree we've passed a hundred times was frightening. The horses in the nearby stables suddenly had horns ready to attack. She was all over the place, going everywhere except forward. And, I bit. The hook was in. She had me for about ten minutes as I worked, cajoled (I like that word), and encouraged her to move forward.

After about ten minutes I realized, this wasn't what I had come out here to do. She had tricked me into playing her game. I went back about 1/8 mile. I could "feel" the smile on her face as she thought she had won and we were going home. There was a wide enough spot, in a place big enough for us to work, and we did. We worked on the stuff I had planned. The fight was over. We were working on transitions from walk to trot to canter going both up and down. And, we had enough room to work on the flexing, bending and softening I had wanted to do. Just before we were done, we headed down to the "scariest" part of the canal and as she took a couple of relaxed steps, we turned and headed back home. I wonder if Amazon has that book...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Five Straight Days

I'm not a morning person, but I will get up if there is an opportunity to ride Jessie. We rode Thursday and Friday mornings before work and got two two-hour rides in on the weekend, then another hour ride Monday morning. I don't know about her, but I'm a little sore.

The Sunday ride was out to the city farm area. There are a lot of natural obstacles like this ditch to cross.


Of course, I neglected to get the picture of us coming upon four half expired helium birthday balloons flopping around in the weeds. Jessie was fine with it and actually wanted to bite them. Dusty got to do some work around them.

The temps were in the mid 80's and there was a slight breeze. It was very comfortable.


We ran across these little "training" areas the Hispanics use. They are fairly small circles. I don't know if they are on the ground or in the saddle when they wore this into the ground, but from the looks of hole you can tell the horse was working hard.


Sunday evening the weather turned cloudy and windy. Monday morning at 5:45 am it was still quite threatening and breezy. Neither Jessie or I wanted to go back to bed (although I got the feeling she would have preferred to just have breakfast), so we decided to ride. Rain came later in the day.


I highly recommend a sunrise ride if you have the opportunity. We are looking forward to one tomorrow.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

A conversation with Jessie

I was up at six and had the horses moved and Jessie saddled by six-thirty. Armed with with my index card of exercises, fresh from re-watching the DVD's for the ??th time, we were ready to go.

The first exercise, Yield-to-Stop at walk, trot, and cantor, went pretty well. Jessie stops easily and isn't crazy about yielding or flexing, but I could feel her trying and getting softer in the process. The next exercise is the same except I add a bending circle around my inside leg and her head is supposed to stay tucked. Sounds easy enough. Here's the transcript:

Me: Hey, why are you popping your head back? Keep it tucked. Don't stop walking. Keep moving forward. Don't bail on the circle. Okay, okay, stop. Let's try this again. How can I get you to understand?

Jess: Simple. You give a cue. I'll do a series of things, when I get to the right one, let go.

Me: Do you speak English?

Jess: No, you idiot. You cue. I'll give you a series of choices, when I get to the one you want, let go. That's how I'll know.

Me: Okay. Here goes...Hey, you pulled your head back to quickly after the flex.

Jess: That's when you let go. I thought that's what you wanted. Listen carefully. I'm quick. Whenever I feel you let go, that's how I'll know what you want. Do it again.

We trot off, I give the cue..

Me: Hey, you stopped!

Jess: You stopped riding. Hello! Remember our deal.

Me: Crap. Okay once more....Yeah...good girl...that's you've got it.

Jess: Ahem!?! I've had it all along. Now YOU'VE got it.

Me: Well, maybe...for now...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Another River Ride

We try to take the trailer out at least once a month. Family obligations are taking up many of the May weekends so we decided to take another river ride on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and we planned to ride out to a little bar about 4 miles away, have a beer and a snack, then head back.

I always feel like I should be doing something - trotting, loping, doing circles. Just walking along the trail for an hour is challenging for me, so I figure I need to do more of it. It's okay for a change of pace.

The trails are nice and the bar has a hitching rail. It's good for Jessie to stayed tied up for a time while we have lunch. Kind of like a mid ride patience pole experience. My camera somehow switched to B&W mode. Sometimes I think everything I have has a mind of it's own.

The terrain is nice and we have the Bakersfield oilfields as a back drop.

A hawk checking us and the air thermals out as he searches for lunch.