Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Getting Back to Normal

Well, things are slowly getting back to normal, whatever that means.  Since the first of May my Dad was having some fairly serious health issues.  We lost him on the 21st of October.  He was 88.  He was a good man who always taught me to keep moving forward, even if it's only the smallest of steps in the toughest of times.  He needed his kids by his side these last 6 months.  It was easy to do for the man who gave us so much.  I have not blogged here much over that period because it was important to keep my brothers and sister informed of Dad's status.  I was posting on a blog I set up for my Dad to do just that.  My sister asked that I make the blog public.  I'm not sure if it has any appeal outside our family, but if someone is going through a similar experience who knows, it might help.  It's not all serious.  My Dad had a great sense of humor and though his body was failing him, he always seemed to find a reason to smile.  The link is here:  W.E. Harrer Blog

While I was thankful to get to spend time with my Dad, the first few rides back on Jessie were incredibly therapeutic.  After working through the funeral arrangements and taking care of most of his household estate, we were finally able to get out to the river for a Sunday morning ride.  It was the morning of Daylight Saving Time and we were out earlier than most other folks.  We started on the far side of the river.  It's a bit quieter over there.  Both horses were doing exceptionally well for having been ridden so infrequently. 

On the single-track trail Jessie would try to get nose-to-tail with Dusty in the lead.  The trails out here are well used and many times one will fork at a big plant or tree only to come back to the same single trail on the other side of the obstacle.  At one such point I took Jessie on the right fork while Ranae and Dusty continued on the left fork.  We temporarily lost sight of them and I thought this would help Jess get her attention back on me. 

From the other side of the big plant between us I could not see, but heard Ranae say "Wow!  Oh, my!"  I could not even get a response out when I saw a bobcat move in front of us and crouch not ten feet away!  He was a very handsome fellow.  Jess stopped and we exchanged pleasantries, "Well, hello Mr. Bobcat"

"Hello, Miss Horse!"

"How about we move slowly over here?"

"That's fine.  How about I move slowly over there?"

"We were hoping you would say that.  Thank you."

And, in a moment the experience was over, the bobcat, which looked about 30 lbs, had dashed under some brush, and we were back with Ranae and Dusty.  I was very proud of Jessie and Dusty. 

We continued on with our ride and enjoyed a couple of river crossings.  The river was about three feet deep in the place we crossed and we took turns leading the way.  We found a couple of places to do some light workouts to help get the horses back in condition then headed back to the trailer.  We still have a lot of catching up to do in the way of chores, but it's nice to know we have a place to get away from it all with our horses, too.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Changing bits and Team Sorting

I'm making the change from the snaffle.  I've started working Jessie in a Tom Thumb style bit.  I think it will help me become a better rider by refining my cues.  It's something new and exciting.  One of my biggest concerns is where to go after the Tom Thumb.

We also did some team sorting yesterday.  I worked on two teams.  One was with Ranae and Julie (another Downunder Horsemanship follower) and one was a pickup team with two experienced, competitive gals on very nice horses.  We tied for 2nd and had a ride off and won!  It was a very interesting experience.  I'm getting to publish the podcast with a lot more details, so if you want to listen to the story you can find it on our Facebook page or subscribe in iTunes.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Second Day of Summer

Well, it's been awhile, but we finally got an evening ride in.  Family issues have kept us fairly busy the last couple of weeks.  Dad's had a serious ear infection and was hospitalized for 10 days to get iv antibiotics.  We busted him outta there but we still have to give him antibiotics every day.  He's got ten more days (we hope).  He is doing pretty good this week.  It's good to have brothers and sisters though, as sis is in town to help, and my younger brother will be here next week. 

Ranae got home and gave the guys a flake of hay and by the time I got home and saddled it was 6:30.  With the long days we still had plenty of time for a ride.  The breeze was blowing and it was a beautiful evening.  We were back on our own horses (Check out the DUH Podcast to hear about our horse switch) and it was good.  Jessie was riding well.  There was stuff blowing around and a number of other horses being ridden and she did good.

We went out and did some loping.  I continue to work on steering, going straight when I want her to, and doing a decent circle.  It's improving...slightly.  The ground we were riding on was extremely hard and I don't know if that was a factor.  But, hey, it's what we got so we're going to use it.

We rode for an hour and a half and by the time we got home, put the horses up and ate it was almost bedtime.  Ah, but it was so nice to get that ride in...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Our first 10 Miler of the Year

It's in the 90's here already which means the best time to ride is in the morning.  Dusty still has issues and Ranae was going to stay home and ride with our friend Susan, so Jessie and I headed for the City Farm on our own.

The City Farm is about 1 1/2 miles away and maybe 3/4 of a mile wide.  We rode through it on our way to the home of the woman I bought Jessie from.  It was an impromptu thing, and I hadn't called ahead.  I was just going to say hi if I saw her working outside.  I didn't.

Most of the ride was at a trot.  We did a fair amount at the canter when I could find some good footing.  Most of the roads were pretty hard.  Jessie was on alert most of the ride, although I thought she did well for being out alone so far from home. 

The ride stats according to my GPS were 10.77 mi over 2 hours 20 minutes averaging 4.7 mph.  That's a good workout for early in the year.

I am hoping to get another early morning workout in this week. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

An Early Morning Ride

Got up at 5:30 threw the horses some grub, then went back in the house and played with the dogs.  Cleaned the pens and then saddled Jessie for a "ride at daybreak". 

I love my work, but that doesn't mean there aren't rocky times and the start of the week wasn't going my way and I knew exactly what was needed to get some perspective back.  Jessie was happy to oblige.

It had been quite some time since we went out alone.  She moved out willingly.  I'm not sure, but her shadow was very long and she kept looking to that side.  I wondered if she thought someone was riding with us.  I had my ipod on listening to a podcast with the comedian Kevin Nealon.  I finally had to change it and listen to music because every time in our long trot he would say something funny and I would laugh, Jessie would stop.  So then I would try not to laugh, only that made it worse, cause I'd stiffen up and then relax and she would feel that and stop.

We rode for about an hour and did a lot of transitions, worked on picking up leads, and two-tracking.  It was a great morning - a little hazy and mid-60ish.  It's likely to be a hectic day at work.  Bring it on.  I'm ready now.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Almost There

We (well, just Jessie and I ) got in two rides this weekend.  Let me go back a bit.  On Thursday, we had some time for some groundwork.  Practiced more of the backing in angles.  Not sure why I can't get that one down a little better.  She was trying and that was a good thing.  We also did a few other exercises like out and back and changing eyes 3.  She has those both down to my satisfaction.

Dusty has been off for two weeks now.  I think he's had issues in two areas and while we were focused on the front, he strained something in his hind.  He got the weekend off.  Ranae got to ride Charlie, our neighbor Susan's horse. 

Charlie was one of the first horses I worked the method with some 6-7 years ago.  It was right after Ranae got Dusty and then hurt her back.  I rode Dusty for three or four weeks to keep him in shape and shortly after that Susan banged up her knee and couldn't ride for 6 weeks or so.  Charlie and I did a lot of groundwork, and even though I didn't own a horse, I had invested in  a stick and string, halter, dvd, and cowboy hat. 

Most of  our workout sessions were early morning and sometimes we worked in the afternoon.  Charlie helped me learn a lot.  Because we hadn't ridden him in quite awhile, we started at the beginning with flexing and desensitizing.  He picked most of it up quickly.  We practiced one rein stops and, when we were certain he could do those, we headed out to our usual haunts.

We did some trotting and Charlie was kinda stuck in high gear.  Ranae kept working with him and she did a great job of working on her horsemanship.  We kept talking about how easy it is to get in a rut just riding one horse.

Sunday we went out to the river.  We're not sure what is going on with the team sorting, but nothing has been scheduled.  I wonder if we can find another group.  We had a nice long ride around the river.  Jessie and I warmed up in their arena.  We did quite a bit of loping the first half hour.  All in all I think we had about a three hour ride.  I rode Charlie for the last half hour or so and Ranae rode Jessie.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sometimes You Just Feel Like ...

Sometimes it just feels like you're in a vortex.  A couple of weeks ago Jessie stepped in a hole while loping and was limping.  Ten days ago Max, my 10 year old Aussie did a turn in the yard while playing and tore up his knee, then last weekend Rane's Dusty pulled up lame.  What's going on?!?!

Jessie looks like she's back to about 90%, Max is still about 40%, and I'm not sure what's going on with Dusty.  I just know I'm watching MY step.

Since we didn't ride much last weekend I watched some of the dvd's and worked on some GW III exercises.  We worked on the Out/Back, Backing Angles, and Changing Eyes Stage III.  We had a pretty good time, actually.  I love groundwork, just wish we had a better place and more time to spend on it. 

It was good to dust off the old dvd's too.  I've got a couple I haven't even look at yet.  If my horse stays healthy, maybe I won't ever get to them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More Whip Crackin'

We had a nice ride on Sunday. The horses, while not 100%, are much better. I decided to take the Aussie stock whip out with us and "practice". I also took the camera. Do you ever get the feeling you are carrying too much crap? Anyway, it was a fun ride and we took just a little video of the brief whip crackin' session.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hey, Doc. It Hurts When I Do This!

Then don't do that.

I got Jessie out last night and did some groundwork.  Before I started, I stretched her front legs.  I could tell there was a certain position I got the right leg in that caused a twinge.  It was a position that put pressure in the shoulder area.

On LFR she demonstrated a head bob at the trot.  It was slight, but easily visible.  We worked for about ten minutes at what I would consider a low energy level.  Then I put her up.

Have I told you that she will sometimes kick up when I go out to feed her?  It's not always.  She gets her ass up in the air quite high sometimes!  I do always make her calm down and walk over and let me touch her face before she gets her hay.  This morning she did it and didn't seem to feel any pain.  She was NOT trotting mind you, she was just kicking up. 

We are looking forward to a ride on Saturday....

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here mostly becasue we'v been working on the podcast and time has been at a bit of a premium. One thing that has kinda blown a tumbleweed in our path happened a couple of Saturdays ago. Ranae and I were riding in the nine acre lot by the airpark. We were both doing our loping exercises in separate areas. Jessie stepped in a gopher or squirrel hole and I could feel her sink. She's done this a number of times and I've learned to just drop the reins and get out of her way until she catches her balance.  Everything happens so fast and I'm not exactly sure what, but this time she dropped a lot lower than I had felt before.  My brain had actually started to plot the emergency dismount sequence. 

She did catch herself in time and, because I didn't feel she was paying close attention to where she was placing her feet, we kept loping.  A little later in the ride, at a trot, I noticed a head bob when she placed her right foot down.  I dismounted and checked for stones and tried to palpate for soreness.  I found one stone in her hoof and thought that was the problem, but when we trotted again, she showed me it was sore.  She didn't try to stop trotting, she just kept the head bob.

Sunday it rained and there was no riding.  I gave her some bute for a couple of days and had a chance to do some groundwork on Thursday.  The head bob was significant when we started and lessened as the session progressed.  We were working on LFR stage 2 and trying to get our rollbacks better in anticipation of team sorting on the weekend.

Our Saturday was very busy I went out to shoot some photos at a team roping north of town.  (The finished photos)  By the time I got home there was only time for a short ride.  After evaluating Jessie I couldn't really decide if this were anything serious.  She still had the bob at the trot, but I could not palpate any pain and she willingly went into a lope on both sides.  My general policy with my animals is to try and work them until something definitive is revealed or they show reluctance to move.  Since neither of these conditions had surfaced we went for a short walking ride.  We did a little bit of trotting from time-to-time and we even loped a few strides on each lead.  She did these exercises without resistance, but there was a slight bob at the trot.

Sunday was supposed to be team sorting but a weather front moved in and we got the day off.  With Easter this coming weekend, I'm not sure how much riding time will be available.  We hope to at least ride Saturday.  It does add a bit of anxiety to our loping to know that she could injure herself like this.  We're just going to have to find a place with an arena ;>)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Last Weekend's Kern River Ride

California is experiencing some wonderful riding weather. Last Sunday Ranae and I were able to get out to the Kern River for a trail ride. There were a couple of nice places where we could shoot video. This is a short little piece to give you an idea of the wonderful places we get to ride:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pics from Ojai

We got to spend some time in Ojai.  It is a great retreat for us.  We love to walk the trails and just relax.  There's Bart's Books one of the largest used outdoor book stores EVER!  I found an interesting book I won't have time to read:

 We also took an advanced trail ride at Oso Ranch:

Our trail boss, Rob

Some beautiful scenery

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Little Cow Work

Yeah, that's right. We got in a little cow work over the weekend. When I interviewed Frank Knight for the podcast he mentioned he had tried team sorting, then I heard one of our local stables was holding some practice sessions as well as competitions. Ranae and I (read that "I") thought it would be fun.

We got out to the stable around 10 am. It was cloudy and cool. The practice was light with just five or six teams. We were assigned a team and you just do it. We got three runs for $20. It took a little over an hour. The horses got to stay in the arena the whole time with the other horses and it was quite a good time. Dusty kicked up a little bit when Ranae was trying to work a cow, but it wasn't that big. Jessie was alternating between "off with the fairies" and "let me go and I'll show YOU how to handle this cow". I made her work real slow and I thought both horses did great. Ranae said she was happy I "suggested" we give it a try.

Didn't get to take may pictures because we both spent most of the time on our horses. You have to be ready to go when they call your name. I got a couple:

We'll have more detail on an upcoming podcast.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Natural Horsemanship Playday

Some of the Parelli folks around here got together for a playday on Sunday. We joined them for some groundwork and some riding exercises. It's always educational to see someone work through the exercises in person. Here are a few photos:

Ranae doin' a little work.
Come on over big fella
See.  Nuthin' to be afraid of.

Why kids make good horse trainers.

Trotting over the sundial poles.

A little sidepassing

Look at her eye here. I think she fell asleep on me.

Backing IN the trailer.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Quick Video Post

The podcast has been keeping us fairly busy. It is a lot more work than I ever thought it would be. Anyway, we had taken some video on our last ride out at the river. It is from January 8th and it's short. We found some pipes laying on the ground and Jessie and went to work on them. Boy, it's oftentime difficult watching yourself. My posture is terrible and when we are side-passing, I'm leaning forward. What's up with that? It causes Jessie to back up and the whole side-pass gets messed up.

Ranae was having a good time going through these gullies. Dusty stayed nice and calm. This is a fun place to ride. If you look closely you will see a stand of trees in the background. That was where we wanted to do some jogging around the trees but there was too much deadfall.

It's just three minutes long. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Episode Four of the Podcast

I'm duplicating posts here and on our other blog, DUH Podcast.blogspot.com for a short time, just to keep those interested informed on the progress of our podcast. We hope you'e subscribe and if you use itunes, please rate our podcast. Thanks.

We're looking at the stats and the good news is you are finding us. We don't know exactly how, but we certainly appreciate it. Thank you.

In Episode Four we try and transform this thing into a regular show. We've added some production elements in the hopes it will be more interesting to listen to. We've added a feature called "Problems We Used to Have" and you'll get an update on Ranae's trailering problem. There's Downunder Horsemanship News with an update from the latest No Worries Club Journal, and you'll get health update, along with a question from the mailbag.

As always, your feedback is important.

Episode 4

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Podcast Episode 2

We've been working out the technical bugs to the podcast. There are still some challenges ahead. Once we get these worked out, I think we'll sound more relaxed and comfortable at the mic. It's a tricky situation trying tot juggle sound levels, content, and pacing when everything is new to us. We will get these things worked out. We will be adding some more production elements. We would like to add some interviews. If you would like to share your Downunder Horsemanship experiences, please contact us at jharrer@pacbell.net and put DUH Podcast in the header.  We'll set up a convenient time, and give you a number to call so we can record the interview.  Don't worry, we can edit out the bad parts ;>)

Anyway, here is Episode 2 Oh, and just one note. They do seem to take a minute to load on my computer, so be patient. Or go to itunes and subscribe :>)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Our Podcast

Ranae and I have started a podcast. It is available on itunes. Just do a search for DUH podcast. We hope you will enjoy it. We hope you will participate. We hope we can keep it interesting. Here's Episode 2.

Episode 2

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Year-end Tribute To Jessie

Each year I try to compile some of the unused video and photos we've shot to put together a montage of our year. This year I put the video to a mashup of my favorite "Downunder Horsemanship" songs. (My audio editing still leaves much to be desired) Some of these clips where from our ill-fated movie, "The Method is Bogus", a sarcastic look at the training technique. Yes, we had a script and everything. Unfortunately, we were well into production when we learned that I cannot act, and the project was put on hold.

Other than that there was not a whole lot to choose from as 2011 was a year where I worked more on my photography than my videography. Looking back I didn't realize how many times I stood up on her. Jessie is such a good horse and continues to be a shining light in my life.

Happy New Year

California has been experiencing some very mild weather and we've been fortunate to ride not only Christmas Weekend, but New Year's Weekend as well.  The horses are doing very well.  We took some cones out to the Airpark field and worked on a number of exercises.  These cones were under ten bucks and they are easy to carry.  We can set them up in a flash and they let us do all kinds of exercises with them.   They act as our trees if we are bending.  At the trot we can two-track to weave in between them and at the lope they work well to help us keep a decent circle.

Here are a few photos from the rides:

Ranae loping at the Airpark field.

Ranae and Dusty practising their Steeplechase
Jessie the side-passing monster
Doing circles around our "tree"
Practising our lope-over skills
Hope you are getting to ride!