Thursday, May 31, 2012

On Cue

The first formal photos of On Cue, or as she will be called in every day life (and on this blog)  Q!  (Thanks to my mom for coming up with On Cue, Andrea for suggesting Q, and Funder for teaching me the differences of "cue" and "queue" to help contribute to the name of my new girl.)

And here's a rough video from my phone of Chris trotting her in hand for me.

She's got some weight to lose.  Most definitely.  But with the riding I plan on doing it shouldn't be too impossible to accomplish ;-).

Things about her that attributed to me deciding to buy her (writing this more for myself so I can see how she changes):
  • she's very forward on the trail - eager to move up a hill and not a wuss about getting down one either
  • she collects over jump obstacles in the woods in a way that few horses I've ever ridden have done
  • she's very, very alert and notices everything (even little butterflies) but doesn't spook like a complete maniac, she notes her surroundings and moves on
  • she's a quick learner - figured out within only a few tries what she had to do (give me two eyes) to get to stop moving her feet in the round pen
  • she's a lover
  • she's responsive - side pass you ask?  No problem.
  • she backs up under saddle like a reining horse
  • her floaty trot is a joy to ride
  • her canter is ground-eating
  • she's in heat and isn't a complete and total witch!  We even introduced her to the herd last night (let her out with them finally) and she only threw one kick (when Little Bit charged her) and then she was aloof the rest of the time.  She'll arch her neck and pin her ears, but isn't all snarly.  Win.
  • stop means stop 
What we need to work on:
  • ground manners; ain't her fault (yes, I just used "ain't"), she just hasn't had someone as "her" person in a long time for her to have to focus on these things (leading, standing tied, etc.)
  • standing 100% of the time while mounting; she'll stand about 50% of the time right now, and when she does stand she's usually lurching forward as you're plopping your butt down
  • immediately after being haltered and brought in to be tied and prepped for whatever, she's super zesty and snorty and prancy - this. must end.  I do recognize she's an Arab and will do these things though.
  • overall she just doesn't seem to trust you immediately.  I think she's been hucked around between different folks for awhile and is so cautious that someone is going to be quick and rough with her just to get stuff done (feet, tacking up, brushing, etc.).  When you move slow and talk to her and comfort her through each step she chills out quick; I'm hope to gain her trust and prove to her that I'm not going to haul off and hit her for some tiny indiscretion that is merely a part of horse nature.
Acting innocent about the fact that she was whirling in a circle and
screaming for attention while crashing her butt into the wall in  her
failed attempts to turn around.
  • she screams for you when you leave her tied and you walk out of sight.  In part with the above statement, I think she's been left a lot and just isn't sure if someone is going to come back for her.  I'm sure this will stop with time.  She shows that she has potential to be good (will stand quietly and not dig a trench/hole to China) when someone is around.  Definitely plan on leaving her tied up semi-alone (where I'm out of her sight but she isn't out of mine) for a few good stretches of time though!  
Her feet: She came to me with two front shoes on.  I'd intended to just continue with those as long as she kept them on, even though I really prefer booting.  Well, the question about when she'd be transferring to boots was decided rather quickly by her.  I went out Tuesday and she'd tossed a shoe already.  Trimmer is (hopefully) coming next week to do her and Griffin and she'll get sized for Renegades!  Bright orange =)  I like my obnoxiously bright orange saddle pad, so I'm adding to the orange theme.  To prove she's a lady her lead and halter are purple though.  (The temptation to do obnoxiously neon pink was pretty strong though...)

So there you have it.  The current ins and outs of the new Arabian mare that so suddenly entered my life (I really just couldn't bear the thought of her going to auction when I had no great excuse to not accept her into my life).  I'm really excited to see how things go.  (I hope they go well.)  Griffin is the master of ground work, so I hope she can learn from his example as he can hopefully learn from her [hopeful] LD/endurance pursuits.  Maybe they'll whisper secrets deep into the night?  ;-)

Coming to you soon - updated photo timelapse of G-man's growth!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial weekend videos

Look who, despite his jerking around, loves water deep down inside!  He thinks fly spray and baths may be out to get him still, but when you give him the freedom to approach the hose on his own he tells you what he really thinks about water....its love <3  Only proper he should love it considering his two-legged momma is like a fish to water (I swam competitively for 10 years and held multiple local records).

He trots!  Rough beginning of the clip as we adjusted speed for him so I could get a better video, but you can see how his feet are landing.  We do this once or twice a week for two or three miles to help wear his tootsies a bit.  He gets to see all the scary things of the world, too.  He's very focused on his job most days. This was the hottest of all days he's done this thus far, we only did a mile this day due to it.

My puppy, despite his breeding, loves water, too.  He was even frog hunting last week!!  (He failed, by the way.)  Our Sunday hike was hot, hot, hot.  It was a good thing Kenai knows how to drink from a Camelbak hose!

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By the way, Miss Q has successfully been moved to her new home.  Photos/videos/updates on her to come this week!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

Hosted weekly by Ramblings and Photos

1. Beneath your feet - He's never far from me.

2. Capturing movement - I love him.  And I love when he plays with me!

3. Texture - All the saw dust and crumblings from the many trees and branches that have been cut.

4. Face your fears - taken with my cell phone, this behemoth was sitting outside my front door on Thursday.  I didn't kill it, but I didn't like it either!

5. Currently - Currently I'm hiking somewhere in West Virginia, but no matter where I am this fire will be burning.  Its been burning for well over a week now.  We've cut down a lot of dead trees and numerous branches that needed trimmed lately in our yard.   And when I say "we" I mean dad and the boys. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My hoof care preference

One of my favorite parts about having horses is caring for them.  Riding is second to that.  In the four months between owning horses, I sorely missed the responsibility and JOY of going out daily to groom, pick feet, fly spray, and whatever else I could come up with to dote on my equine friend.  Getting dirty in this process doesn't bother me a bit.  Its fun.

Learning to trim and maintain feet is this whole new awesome world to me - another facet of the "Yay, I get to go take care of my pony!" love that I have.  I get pleasure from it.  (Maybe because I can't manage to keep my own nails as neatly manicured and need an outlet?  It just isn't as important to me to have long, pretty painted nails.  Keep 'em short and clean, good enough for me!)

I like being able to be free from relying on someone else for this part of horse care.  This in NO WAY means that I wouldn't have a professional out to do it.  I'm just saying I'd like to be able to work on becoming more self-sufficient with this process in coming years.  Though I wouldn't hesitate to call someone if I was uncomfortable or unable to do something.

I'm on a quest to have happy, healthy, sound horses.  I'm a constant student to the methods of doing this.  Part of this quest includes hoof care.  There is SO much to learn about it though.  And there are ups and downs with any method you choose.  Shoes?  Barefoot?  Boots?

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I know there are a lot of cult-like barefoot gurus out there.  I love, love, love the articles I've been reading on Click and Trim, like this one that point out myth vs. fact of barefoot.  I can't describe how much I appreciate that someone has taken the time to point out the whole story and not just one extreme side.

I really strive to hear all sides of stories and methods and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  But with so much information on the barefoot cult movement out there it's hard to find something like the above that is more down to earth and accepting about different ways that can, and DO exist.

Learning about strictly-barefoot horses in the past year or so has been this crazy new world to me.  I had no idea it existed.  The diet restrictions, the need for turn-out etc. - these were things horses I've known have always had. 

Most horses around here live in big open fields with run-in barns/sheds.  They get grain occasionally, but its not a necessary thing unless they're under hard work.  They have their grass and hay and salt/mineral blocks.  They're happy and healthy whether they have on shoes or not.

I grew up knowing I should pick out a horse's foot before and after ride.  I never knew a strict reasoning behind this, it was just something that needed to be done according to my mentors, so I did it.  I knew what the frog was, but that was it.  I always wish I knew a little more, but I never really knew who to ask.

Owning my own horses has led me to be a lot more aware though.  I'm learning more because of it and I enjoy the new learning opportunities.

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From what I've learned and soaked in during the past hour + of readings, combined with what I personally have experienced has lead me to this conclusion as far as my horse's feet:  I prefer the boot method - but ultimately, I will do whatever is best for that individual horse.

Why?  Why do I like boots?  Honestly, because it is one of the most frustrating things in the world to me to lose a shoe and then have to jump through hoops to get a farrier out to tack it back on.  It just peeves me for some reason.  I just reckon if I'm going to ride with a couple "back-up boots" just in case I lose a shoe on the trail in the middle of no where, I may as well just strive for booted feet.  This seems the most reliable to me.  Yes, boots could break and then I'd still be screwed, but I can just buy another and overnight it if it's such a huge emergency.

Another push for boots is that, for me, the booted route is a cheaper route in many cases - especially if you can learn to trim and maintain your own horse's feet.  And I'm having SO much fun learning how to do that!  But seriously, the price of having shoes put on, what, 4? times a year vs. buying a pair of boots that may last me multiple years is an easy choice to make.

Booting my horses its sort of a middle-of-the-road option to the whole shoes vs. barefoot dilemma.  But it's worked for me over a lot of the terrain I have pursued.  It's worked for my horses, too.  And if they're happy and sound, that is what really counts.

As long as my preferred method can help out my horses, I plan to stick with it.  It's been a fun journey so far, and I hope I can continue to learn more and improve my horses' well-being as we go along!  ....besides, the boots come in fun colors! ;-)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Film Friday

A little something for everyone.  All the same song (ish).  All LMFAO.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sleeping crazy person

"When a woman gives birth to a crack baby you don't get her a puppy." - I love Gilmore Girls.  =)

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So I've been taking 5000IU of Vitamin D3 every morning for a month now, per the recommendation of Funder (thank you!).  I noticed a difference in my sleep quality the first and second nights, but shoved it aside as a potential fluke because at that point it may have just been in my head, or maybe I wasn't experiencing any stress, etc., etc.

Bigger than a quarter.  Not in my house...yet.

But I can definitely say that after a month of taking it, through stressful times, typical times, and the happiest of times, it is really, truly helping my quality of sleep.  I fall asleep quicker, too.  I know that if I just lie still for a few minutes I'll begin to get drowsy.  Then wham, bam, I'm asleep.

The greatest, most significant difference  though?  Waking up, feeling rested, feeling ready to get up and start my day.  I'm just all, "Okay, yep, time to get up."  Not, "Uggghhhhh, FML whyyyyy do I have to get UP!??!"

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Griffin is doing well.  His I-must-run-from-you-and-play-this-obnoxious-catch-game phase is dying out lately.

He's frequently at the gate with his friends wanting to come in.  Tuesday night I drove up to the barn and went inside to prepare his grain/mineral supplement prior to even putting forth effort to call him over.  I think I may have whistled a little bit as I got out of the car, but definitely nothing major.

Imagine my surprise when I come out with halter and lead to go fetch him and discover that he's taken initiative to leave the herd, walk across the field, and stand waiting at the gate for me!!  Made my little heart go pitter patter to see he wanted to come in and eat spend time with me.

We've worked on driving some more.  Had a second successful lesson.  We moved from the ring to the barn paddock.  Practiced lots of turns and straight lines.

Then I did a mean thing and put the bit back in his mouth for the second time.

No head tossing this time.  No giraffe impressions either.  And he spit it out at the end like a very, very good horse.  We even did a little bit of driving with the long reins connected to the bit (two turns and a halt with two big straight lines).  He resisted a little, but did give to the pressure eventually - definitely gave to pressure before it was evil, head-wrenching pressure.  I just had to apply a little more than previously with the side-pull halter.

We also did some more tarp work and practiced some more my-mom-is-a-crazy-broad desensitization.  The latter consisted of me bouncing up and down in a circle around him while he stood in the middle of the round pen.  While bouncing I made strange noises (don't judge me) and patted my hands all over his body (erry'where) with 2x the force of your typical pat-pat good horse kind of patting.  Enough force to make a tiny noise but not enough to injure him in anyway.

He stood like a good boy.  His eyes rolled around at first though.  He thinks I'm a certifiable crazy person, but he trusts me all the same.  Win.

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As for the mare?  I've been hesitant to say much until most everything has been solidified as far as the details of getting her, but I am slated to pick her up (and go on a trail ride over there once more before coming home) on Monday!

D and I are going to pick her up and ride.

Her name?  I'm going with a combination of what I wanted, what my friend Andrea (heeyyyy, Andrea!), and my mom suggested.  On Queue.  So on any sort of writing (vet records, endurance rides, etc.) she will be On Queue, but in every day life I'll just call her Q.  (I didn't want to just give her a single letter because that would look really weird in written records!)

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This long weekend (a 4-day for me!) looks to be full of beautiful weather and outdoors pursuits.  I can't wait to dive into it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

HELP! Buy/Don't Buy?

I have a pros and cons list for this horse where the pros far outweigh the cons already...but, what do you think?  Buy her or don't buy her?

  • ~9 years old
  • Arab,  probably 3/4 at least, but was likely crossed with a paint at some point considering her markings (one tiny crescent moon on her belly)
  • 14.2/14.3hh, I'm not entirely positive

She's healthy.  Some lady couldn't afford her any more and dropped her off with the trainer last fall.  He's had her all winter (horse market being what it is and people in this area not wanting Arabs - trainer specializes in working QH - you should see his studs...). I rode her for two days.  She's definitely my kind of horse.  She can lead, she can follow in the very back or middle, she can ride on her own, she can walk off on her own away from a group of horses and be okay with it.  She's forward on the trail.  She moves well up and down steep hills.  She's alert.  She didn't offer a rear or buck any time I rode her.  She willingly crosses streams, logs, and other obstacles.  She collects well over a jump.  She gives well to the bit.  She's going to a sale next weekend if I don't take her.

Oh, and she's IN HEAT right now, and despite two studs on the farm she isn't a complete witch!  (One even went on one of the trail rides with us - everyone behaved.)  Sure, she pins her ears and tossed a kick before I could recognize her warning signals towards a gelding, but after that I learned them and could warn her to behave before she acted.  She listened every time.

Somewhere in this mare's life someone obviously put a LOT of time and good work into her.

She's not expensive by any means.  $600 is his asking price and I wonder if I could talk him down?

A lady was interested and took her home, did tons of vet tests incurring a bill >$300 and then just up and returned her to the trainer with no reason.  That's the sketchiest part of her mysterious past life.

Lots of experienced and skilled horse people were there this weekend.  The lady who keeps Griffin was there.  Her friend who rides endurance was there.  Her friend who is a vet was there.  (And I reckon these are all my friends now, the number of things we've done together merits it.)  EVERYONE thinks I should buy her.  EVERYONE thinks she's the perfect horse for me right now.  The vet says she's built really well and sees nothing the matter other than a crack in her hind hoof that I would need to take care of sooner than later; a crack that she assures me the farrier D uses could fix in one session.

I'd likely keep her in shoes through the summer (and the race) as transitioning would be difficult to do AND successfully ride in the race.  We would do the 30-mile LD.  I would only have a month good conditioning on her, but she's capable, and its not like we'd be trying to win the damn thing.

I've played with the idea of having a second horse for weeks now and fumbled around with my finances to prove it could work.  The hardest part about it financially would be if she for some reason incurred some large medical bill (hopeful this doesn't happen) and the cost of moving two horses whenever I move on.  Its a big commitment and I'm scared.


Friday, May 18, 2012

ta-ta technology!

I'm headed off to a weekend horsing around in the Nat'l Forest.  South of my county and into the land where technology doesn't work.  Hurrah!

I leave you with photos of this beautiful state.  She's finally greened up and leafed out in her entirety.  Happy weekending, all!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My life as The Blur

My busy life.  Busy, but busy with things I love and choose to pursue.  Funny how these choices still cause me a little bit of anxiety due to the compact scheduling.

I have a mere three weeks left before I trek to the Great Smoky Nat'l Park for three weeks of Backcountry Horseman of America (BCHA) Leave No Trace (LNT) master educator and stock training.  Each weekend between now and then is already planned.  Each week day between now and then consists of work (and a holiday! squee!) and then interactions with friends and time training Griffin.  Not a lot of time to chill is slated.

In the midst of my busiest of days I have brief moments (literally, just seconds) of panic where I'm all, How the HELL did I get myself into ALL of this?!  Why is my life SO busy?!  Will I EVER have time to sleep in/sit on the couch/watch movies ALL DAY LONG?!  ...I love doing all these things.  I love my life.  Panic over.

Misty mountain sunrises, the plus side to waking up at o'dark thirty for work.  I love West Virginia.

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Per my busy schedule, I've clocked in a lot of comp time at work this week attending some out-of-office training.  As a result my horse time has been minimal.  SIGH.  First world problems.

Last night I was able to get out to the barn though, albeit a little later than preferred.

Steve (who seems apt to take any opportunity to drive the 4-wheeler around - not a bad thing) volunteered to help me head out to the back 40 to get G-man.  As we trekked back across the property (Steve driving, me sitting on the back with Griffin leading in hand behind), I noted to Steve how beneficial it would be for Griffin to have more work on hard surfaces to help his feet (and I've read some additional information about stimulating bones/tendons/muscles/etc. through brief workouts on a hard surface).  To this Steve offered we trek up the road a ways.  Most excellent.

Griffin is a CHAMP.  Kid hasn't seen half the potentially scary things that exist in this world, he took everything we passed like a seasoned pro.  He'd note things, give slight berths to others, but mostly he focused on his job at hand.  We kept speeds between 8-16 mph, but averaged around 9-10 mph once G-man was warmed up and comfortable.  He's a 9 mph kinda horse right now.  And, believe it or not, after 3.5 miles of total workout (break in the middle of this) he wasn't even sweating.  He was damp in his immediate armpit area and at the base of his ears where the swivel wrinkles are.  That was IT.

I don't have video this time, hope to next time, so you're just going to have to believe me when I tell you he had a heel first landing all the time.  Hurrah happy feet!

I'll do feet photos here in another week or so when his trim is due.  Before and afters just like before.

He's really turning into quite the amazing horse.

Like me, he pursues yoga in his free time.

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Tomorrow I'm headed to the horsemanship & colt starting clinic.  Two trail rides are planned as well on the Nat'l Forest.  Woo!  And - I'm uncertain as to whether or not I've mentioned this - I will be riding an Arabian mare for the whole weekend.  Duke's owners know my love of Arabs and conveniently the trainer has one he's been working with (who is for sale) currently, so they helped to arrange for me to ride her for the weekend.  Here's to hoping she's not crazy!!

Additionally, I'm super psyched to sleep outside for the next two weekends (and for three weeks of June!) as our area's seventeen year cicadas are back in force!  SQUEE!  Crickets and lightning bugs are also out early.  West Virginia nights are officially in their magical season.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another memorable weekend

As of today, I've been a college graduate for a year.  Eerie.  In less than a month I'll have been at my current job for a  year.  Double eerie.

This weekend the rest of my close friends graduated from college, though I only saw three of them walk (and only have photos of the two posted on the web as the other ignores all things social media).

Mr. Graduate and I.  He's headed west to CO later this summer for his new job.  Congratulations, dear.
Our Big Sky crew.  Yes, I'm blinding white, don't hate.  I like to think of it as "cancer-free".

It was fun to get to watch Chris make that walk across the stage, shake hands, fist pump, and grin excessively. He completed a dual major in aerospace and mechanical engineering.  Completed it cum laude.  A daunting task that few accomplish.  Fist-pump worthy, indeed.

Photo by one of Chris' family members

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I had the pleasure of doing the engagement shoot for our Big Sky trip friends this weekend, too.  It was the first time I've done such a lengthy shoot (~2 hours).  My editing skills are growing with this new load of experiences lately though, for that I'm thankful.  Granted, if I keep up shoots like this I'm going to have to start charging something.  I'll never be huge, but it would be nice to make a little something to help support the hobby and be able to provide more to any future clients.

I think the shots turned out beautifully.  I'm very please and the couple (+ family & friends) seem very pleased, as well, and that's what really matters.

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Despite my body (and my liver) begging me to go straight home after a weekend of celebration and last-hurrahs, I went to the barn on my way home.  (Can I have a gold star?)

Griffin played his na-na-na-na-na you can't catch me! game for a bit, but did eventually come in.  His herd of 3 has grown to a herd of 9 horses.  They're a pretty site to see on that lush pasture, bay roans, overo paints, a grey, a dun, a sorrel, a purlino, and a black.

I touched up G-man's tootsies and then suited him up with the surcingle and tossed him in the round pen to warm up.  Once he was chill and paying attention, I tossed on a side-pull bridle and long-reins.  I pushed him away from me into a few more circles and reverses with the long reins skipping along beside and behind him to let him figure things out.  He high-stepped a little, but no reaction otherwise.

Then we just jumped into the whole ground driving thing head first.

I've read some literature on it and knew what he should be able to do prior to beginning ground driving, and from the steps on articles I've read he can already do the pre-requisites.  Excellent.

I praised him for standing still, and then worked my way behind him, snapped the lines together, and gave a cluck and shake of the reins.

He walked forward, heading to the panels and around in a circle just as if I were in the center asking him to move around me.  Good horse.

I prepared to reverse, loosened one rein and applying pressure to the other.  We turned.

I had to straighten him out a few times, and we had one or two misunderstandings with him wanting to turn and face me instead of moving forward, but not bad!

We reversed direction several times.  We halted successfully several times.  And we even trotted for a revolution.  Good horse!

Its weird for me, and weird for him, but he's listening to me and giving to pressure.  I can't ask for much more from our first lesson.  He's a little superstar in the making.