Monday, August 24, 2009

Views from Saturday

No riding this weekend. :(

On the productive side of things, we did reinforce a gate - several of the more adventurous idgits discovered that one of the gates at the west end of one divided pasture was not live - unbeknownst to me, since in general G does the moving around of pasture-grazing areas. He ran a single wire across, and didn't connect the electricity for whatever reason. Of course, once they determined that they could get under without getting zapped, that's exactly what they did. But could they walk back under to get out? Nope.Instead, they walked to the east end of the field and waited at that gate to be rescued. Sigh. So we added a couple of wires and some plastic bags, and they seemed to be discinclined to revisit the issue. (We need to sink a new corner post up there as well, which is why we didn't just make the gate wire hot.)

Reunited with the three that stayed on the right side of the fence, the gate crashers were very happy to head up for a drink. After we did the gate thing and the fly-spray thing, we left them to resume grazing and headed out to do a bit of fishing.
Sunday we wormed, which was ever so much fun, since it was windy and storm-threatening. Out of the eight, three were good - as expected. One who is usually not at all fun was a breeze (shock!), and four could have been a lot better. I really need to spend a couple of hours doing the syringe with applesauce thing. On the plus side, I only ended up wearing a tiny bit of wormer this time, and not most of a tube like usual.

And that's the horse activity for last weekend. I am informed that T has been riding and checking on the four-feets, and all is well thus far. Darn, I hate being horse deprived during the week!

School has started for H, and M is back in CT with his mom, so no more fishing and riding with the boy until next summer :( Hopefully, he'll still be as excited about it then! The house is going to feel awfully empty this weekend with one less person in it. (Teenage girls occupy lots of space, too, but the area around them tends to be rather more drama filled!! LOL)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oops - my mistake!

Alert reader Summer Girl commented regarding yesterday's Friday Book Review of Billy Collin's Nine Horses. The horses on the cover are apparently NOT dead. She informs me the shots were compiled from works by the photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Hmmm... Well, couldn't prove it by me. The cover art for the book was designed by Barbara M. Bachman, according to the front matter, but if the original images are part of Muybridge's work, I stand corrected.

They look less than lively. But the possiblity that they were alive and kicking, at least at the time the photographs were taken, is certainly more pleasant than the alternative!

Do be sure to check out the link to Eadweard Muybridge, by the way. He's evidently responsible for developing a motion picture technique that answered "the galloping question."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Has it been THAT long?!

My ankles hurt. And my hips.
And my knees and my back.
Basically, my whole lower body ached.

What in the world?

But let me back up a minute.

I used to run 6-8 miles every day. Then I moved to SD, and for various good reasons, I for the most part stopped running. A couple of years ago I bought an elliptical machine to use winters when it's too cold and nasty to do much outside, and I'll admit, I've gotten spoiled - it's really easy to hop on and exercise for half an hour when I'm half-asleep. It's a pretty painless way to stay in shape for riding and chores!

But the elliptical machine is still taking up space in the basement at home, and since I'm only there on weekends, I had to find something else to do for exercise & stress relief during the week. And I thought, hmmm... why not start running again.


I've gone running on and off since I quit running daily, and although my hips might ache a little, and my muscles might be sore the next day, I've NEVER had sore ankles. Or most of the other sore spots I had after three days of running. Three days, I should add, that weren't even sequential - I went rollerblading the days in between. Yikes.

And then it dawned on me. Shoes. I have good running shoes - IMHO, riding boots & running shoes are two items of footwear worth spending a bit to get good quality, because otherwise you pay for it in other ways!. BUT, although they look pristine on the outside, I'd used them for about 1,000 miles of elliptical machine exercise.

Result? No more cushion - they're fine for walking around in, but for running? I'd have been better off barefoot. A week later, new running shoes, and I've logged three days of running with only a bit of stiffness - hallelujah!

And that started me thinking. How often do I really check over my tack to make sure that everything's still comfy, cushy, and secure? Oh, It looks fine. And I check that Chicago screws (hate them!) are snug, and that my latigo and off billet aren't stretched or cracked - you know, the big stuff. But is my wool pad still fluffy, or has it packed down enough to be uncomfortable? And what about my reins? Okay, so my whole bridle is biothane, so I'm probably fine there, but the stitching could still rot out.... There are any number of little things that might need attention.

I know I don't check as often as I should, because after all, it worked fine the last time I used it.

How about you? What's your tack maintenance schedule? Do you have one? I know I've had reins break. And on one very memorable occasion, walked home because the horse spooked, a stirrup leather broke when I stood down into it, and thump! Off went my horse without me.

Friday Book Review: so, it's poetry.

Do you know many people who sit down and read poetry? I don't. At least not that I know of, although they must be out there, because lots of it seems to get published. It just isn't usually on my list of things to read.

But I ran across mention of this week's book, and the title (and the comments) were intriguing, so I tracked down a copy. After I read it? Well, I'll let you read the review...

Nine Horses by Billy Collins
I picked up Nine Horses on a whim ( I liked the title, and as I said, the comments I read were promising). The cover has horse heads on it. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell from the picture I saw, that the horse pictured is, well... dead. That was the first surprise.

Although it's not at all horse-related in the sense the title suggests, I enjoyed it very much. After the dead horse on the cover discovery, that was the second.

Collins' poems are lyric and accessible at the same time. He muses on every day matters -- 3 AM wakefulness, love and domesticity, or the simple act of watching the scenery click by on a train trip -- and makes them experiences worthy of remembering.

I'm not usually a poetry reader, so this isn't a particularly literary review, but today I've been more watchful for the beauty in the everyday. I'll look for Collins' name in the future if a poetic mood strikes me, and I'm adding Nine Horses to my "books to purchase" list.
Even if it does have a dead horse on the cover.

What's in story for coming weeks? Well, one of the beautiful things about working is a library is that occasionally I run across nifty titles that might otherwise escape my notice. For instance, this week I found The Secret Life of Cowboys and a old book of compiled (purportedly non-fiction, but we'll see) tales of long riders and endurance challenges. The best part? They're now mine, as the library already has copies and no one else wanted them. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"The Unwanted Horse"

Received an interesting email today about the Unwanted Horse Veterinary Relief Campaign.

It's evidently a non-profit joint effort by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health and the American Association of Equine Professionals (AEEP). Here's their opening statement:
We’re for the unwanted horse. For the broodmare whose breeding days are over. For the Thoroughbred that’s just not fast enough. For the workhorses. The pasture pets. The foals that fell through the cracks.

At Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), we’re for the road home. Through the Unwanted Horse Veterinary Relief Campaign, we pledge to help the overburdened equine rescues and retirement facilities provide healthcare so they can rehabilitate, revitalize and, ultimately, re-home America’s unwanted horses.

Get involved with the Unwanted Horse Veterinary Relief Campaign. And help these horses find the homes they deserve.
They seem to be putting their money where their mouth is. Neglected Horses Receive Help.

Anyone heard of them?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Color me pink!

I'm just a tad sunburned, but we had a great ride. It stormed last night, and this morning was cool, overcast & breezy. Rufus and Bubbles were their usual laid back selves, but Sunny was definitely feeling his oats.

T dropped me off with saddle, etc. just before 8 a.m., and headed on over to meet J and collect Rufus & Bubbles.

When I brought Sunny up from the back pasture none of the herd came along, so he had to stand at the fence by himself - poor baby, grin - and wait until T & J pulled in. He wasn't terribly pleased, but other than whinnying a few times waited fairly patiently.

M stayed home, so no one had to walk/lead and we headed out at a brisk trot. Sunny tossed in a couple of crowhops - twit! But - touch wood - he hasn't ever figured out that to be effective he has to drop his head, and a slap on the neck discouraged him after the second buck. And after a mile of steady trotting he was settled and ready to behave himself.

It was a perfect day for riding - good stiff breeze to clear the bugs, the clouds blew away as we rode, and it stayed fairly cool. After the last week of 90's, 60' this morning actually felt almost chilly.

We did a fair amount of trotting and a couple of nice long stretches of loping. Sunny has a lovely long trot, so since T wanted to practice picking up leads with Rufus, I'd long trot out in front a ways and drop to a walk. T & J would jog until I was a ways up in front, then lope up past me. We leapfrogged along talking turns leading and following and being in the middle.

One thing I really hate about riding with a large group: often you have people that race up behind you and past you - or into you. And it seems like when there are a lot of riders there's always someone that's going to do that, regardless of how rude and dangerous it is.

It's horrible manners.

But knowing that it happens, it's not a bad thing to practice having other riders pass you at a different gait in a controlled fashion so at least when it happens in a larger group you've had a chance to judge how your horse reacts. At this point Sunny is content to flick an ear back to listen to the horses catching up without getting all worked up about it. There were a few rides when he was younger that he got used as a brake pad for riders who couldn't stop their horses. It's - a bit more than - mildly annoying.

A few miles in with J in the lead we were all lopeing along steadily. He warned us, then opened Bubbles up and really let her fly. Sunny wasn't terribly pleased to be rated to a steady gallop - he wanted to catch her, darn it!

And tossed in another couple of bucks to express his disgust with being held. Again, TWIT! He got swatted for his trouble and behaved for the rest of the ride.

He has yet to buck hard, but I'm happy he's grown into my old nickel-spotted saddle so I don't have to keep using the lighter Arab-treed Simco. I can sink right down into the seat on the spotted one and stay solid. For whatever reason I've never felt secure in the Simco, and it wasn't just on Sunny. Not sure why....

But I have ordered a slightly longer cinch - I'm just not riding often enough for Sunny to loose his grass pudge, and even though the latigo stays snug, I like having a bit of tail left to tuck through the cinch knot.

We covered not quite 8 miles, finishing up just before noon. No pictures - I remembered to tie the cantle bag on, so I had binoculars, tissues and chapstick, but I forgot to put the camera in. Sigh... maybe next week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Is this not...

...the cutest face?

Sunny at the trailer - he's keeping a weather eye out for Eyore to go by again. He wasn't too sure what to make of the little guy. But once M got on Sunny decided those long ears didn't make him a horse-eater.

Friday night barrels

Last night we headed out to the rodeo grounds to watch a friend run barrels. Unfortunately for her (and her pony) last week in Pierre the ground was really muddy & sloppy - it was pouring when she ran - and her good gaming horse overreached and yanked a shoe loose. That would have been bad enough, but he also developed an abscess in that foot, darn it!

So last night she was running one of their mares. Bubbles had about a month of barrel training a couple of years back and has been an all-around using/roping horse since. So when she hit the arena, she was looking for a cow (grin!). For all that, they did pretty well - not enough to be in the money, but only a second off. The first barrel wasn't real pretty, the second one was better, and the third turn was pretty.

They were running 4-D, and had a good turnout in spite of the 90'+ heat. Clouds moved in by 8 o'clock or so, and it was a bit more comfortable. They were raking the heck out of the arena, but the ground must have been packed & slick underneath, because there were a lot of slips at the first barrel, and one horse flat out sideways at the second. Nobody hurt though, which was good.

K's dad asked me to video her run with their camera, which looked close enough to mine to be familiar. Unfortunately, it had a record button that I didn't know about, so what she ended up with were some not-to-great stills. Oops. Should have just used mine.

I was informed I should have brought Sunny or Rufus along and had a turn or two myself - gulp! Sunny and I had a few playday outings the year he came back from the trainer, and actually he seemed to really enjoy the whole deal. But with no place to practice and no real desire to run him, it's not high on my list of things to do. I enjoy watching, though. And I am kind of curious to see if Rufus has gamed. My guess is yes, but who knows until we try?

Anyway, it would be kind of fun to get one or both of them patterned, but I don't know about running. I've always thought barrel racing is sort of like falling off a cliff - it's not the fall that gets you, it's the sudden stop!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunny on the road

I was going to post some pictures of Sunny and of M riding the donkey from the other night, but I seem to have left my camera in the truck. Since it's currently at work with T, pics will have to wait.

It's been a hot two weeks, and I haven't gotten to ride as much as I'd have liked, but I guess that's life. We rode for a couple of hours the other night, although we didn't cover too much ground. T and I planned to alternate riding & walking leading M, since he really wanted to come along. So for the first mile I rode Sunny while T walked leading Rufus with M aboard. Sunny - in strange territory - was being a perfect gentleman.

Unfortunately when we traded off, Rufus decided to display the barn-sour, herd-bound side of his personality, and balked about every 100 feet for the second mile. His new girlfriend Bubbles wasn't along, and he didn't think Sunny rated notice, I guess. Led Rufus was fine, which was why we had no problems for the first mile. But when T got on, with no one at his head, Rufus decided he did NOT want to go any further.

I suspect Rufus's been allowed to get away with that type of behavior in the past, and he'll continue to try it when it's convenient for a while.

Balking and backing up were about the worst of it - his front feet didn't leave the ground. We were both careful to spin him rather than backing him when he balked. And he doesn't (thankfully) run away backwards, a good thing, since there were ditches full of stagnant, two-foot deep, mosquito-harboring water on both sides of the road!

Rather than let Rufus get away with being a twit by putting M back on and leading him, T and I just took turns riding Rufus and Sunny ended up with the easy task of packing M.

With both of us consistently winning the battle, by the time we turned around to come back Rufus'd mostly decided to give in and go the direction he was pointed. But I expect we haven't seen the last of it yet.

So, I didn't get to ride Sunny much that evening, but on the plus side, he left his herd without fussing, loaded (alone) into a strange trailer, hopped out and stood politely to be tacked up, went merrily down the road packing M without paying the slightest bit of attention to what Rufus was up to, ignored the accompanying dog (and, for the most part, the miniature donkey that was in the yard when we unloaded him) and then loaded up and went home with perfect equanimity. For those of you that haul routinely, that may not seem like a big deal, but I haven't trailered Sunny anywhere since last year and even then he went with other horses, so it's good to know he's retaining his on the road manners!

Friday Book Review - when the best man isn't

I'll readily admit it - I read a lot of fluff. I like to be entertained :) This week's entertainment I picked up at a yard sale for $.75, and I think it was definitely work the expense.

The Best Man by Maggie Osborne
Cattle baron Joe Roark carved his ranch out of the Texas dirt the hard way, and he's not plannig to pass it on to anyone who can't, or won't do the same. But four wives and three useless daughters later, he's pretty sure he's doomed to die without a male heir to take over where he left off, and he writes his will accordingly. The conditions are simple: if his three daughters, with nine hands to help them, can't trail 2000 head of cattle to Abilene, Kansas then his latest wife, Lola, gets it all.

For three pampered, polished, petted women who've never so much as picked up a dirty dish, the trail has one or two challenges in store.

With only two weeks to learn ride, shoot, rope, and in one case, cook, the situation looks pretty grim. Add in the fact that the only trail boss who'll sign on is an ex-drunk, and that one of the sisters is in a wheelchair and "hopeless" covers it well. But all isn't lost, and as Lester, Frederick and Alexander (dad really wanted a boy) learn to work together, the odds may not be quite as long as they seem.

I was actually expecting something fairly shallow - but Osborne did her research. Her heroines aren't in for an easy time of it. There's plenty of dirt, determination, and a lot of challenges to overcome. And romance, of course.

Not technically a horse story, but I like a well-done western - a steady diet of Louis L'amour, Zane Grey and Luke Short will do that to you - and this one's not bad at all.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


It seems weird to have just started and have two weeks off, but my contract is for 11 months, so I'll take two weeks now and two in May. Not a bad thing, just weird timing. There's a ton to do at work before classes start, but I'm determinedly not feeling guilty about it.

And we rode yesterday! I'd say about 8 miles, although I didn't end up riding quite all of it. I could definitely tell Sunny hadn't been ridden in 3 weeks when I first tacked up, but he settled quickly enough - too lazy to do much else, silly boy.

T and the vet trailered over. M came along, too - I wish I'd remembered my camera. He didn't show too much interest in the horses last year, although the year before he was really excited about riding and did lead-line with Sunny. Probably the only kid in CT that has a blue ribbon in lead-line from the South Dakota State Fair. We were lacking a horse quiet enough for him to ride by himself, so he rode behind T for a bit, but that didn't last too long. His legs were getting pinched by the saddle - conveniently so, given the grin he was sporting. Ultimately we ended up rotating who walked and led him.

It was a goregeous day for a ride. Who'd have thought it would be August 1 and only 75'! Just enough breeze to keep the bugs off. Today's supposed to be much the same, and I think we're all going again.

After we rode we collected some big buckets and picked choke cherries. We ended up with almost 4 gallons, so T and I were up 'til nearly midnight boiling and straining. We have lots of juice for jelly - YUM! We missed the choke cherries last year. You have to get them quick, otherwise the birds get there first. But with all the rain this year the crop is bumper enough to feed everything.