Monday, July 25, 2011

Thunder on a Sunday ride

Finally - riding!

With the boys' feet done, T home, and the humidity (and the temps) a bit lower, we actually managed to get a nice long ride in on Sunday. And I'm still wearing a big happy smile.

We loaded up Sunday afternoon and headed over to J's - and Thunder got to go, too. Not only did he load like a champ (in both directions), but he ponied as if he'd been doing it all his life. Didn't fuss at the strange horses, either. Next time he can go along saddled.

We did an 8 mile loop, scared up a deer and several pheasants, passed dogs, were followed by a tractor, and navigated the railroad tracks, all without him turning a hair. Of course, it didn't hurt that as lead monkey, Sunny was his usual calm self, but Thunder did me proud as the monkey-do part of the equation.

Back at the trailer,
after a cool-water rinse

Since I wasn't sure how Thunder was going to react to the world beyond the pasture, I did ask that we not risk too much speed as a group. I really didn't want it turning into a race and subsequent wreck - and thankfully, everyone was considerate.

But nobody, including me, wanted to walk the whole way, either. We jogged and trotted some as a group, and a few times J or C loped ahead solo while the other three of us loafed along and talked. Where the footing across more of the road was good for loping in something other than single file, the other three either let me go on ahead and then loped up, slowing down before they reached us, or two loped ahead and two just jogged along quietly behind until they slowed down and we caught back up. I've done enough rides solo that even on his own Sunny doesn't mind riding away from a group or get particularly anxious about being left by himself. With company right beside him, yesterday was no exception and Thunder took his cue accordingly. Good boys!

Everyone got a kick out of the fact that I'd lope Sunny off, and Thunder would be right alongside, his head at my knee, ears pricked, eyes soft, floating along at this lovely road trot. He never did lope - if I'd ask Sunny for a bit more speed, Thunder'd just extend some more.

I didn't gallop, and did more trotting than loping, but it was a definite thrill to have both of them moving out so freely and easily with no fussing, fidgets or antsiness. And I've ponied enough real pills to know just how sore my arm (and other assorted bits) could be today.

That loop in the leadrope?
Stayed just like that 95% of the ride.
Not too shabby for his first time off the farm in 5 years.

Hope everyone else had a wonderful weekend, too!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Weekend update

Days ending in y are busy - LOL. This weekend was no exception. I had the house to myself - well, me and the cats - and two whole days to get a week's worth of house stuff done. Still, it was good to be home.

If you're pretty much anywhere in the Midwest/plains/continental US... you don't need telling how hot it's been. If you've somehow managed to avoid the heat - lucky you! Suffice it to say that the temp gauge on the car, in the shade, read 103' on Sunday afternoon.

The boys were dozy and sweaty, but had shade, access to what breeze there was, and plenty of cool water - they didn't seem too perturbed to be fly-sprayed and left alone. I didn't have the heart or the energy to make them work.

Sunday the farrier finally wedged me into her schedule - she was out until 2 a.m. Saturday getting show horses done before they departed for Arabian Nationals, and she said between emergencies and must-be-done-before-departure appointments, her whole month has been like that. With only Sunny and Thunder she was done and on her way in less than an hour, as both boys stood beautifully.

It's supposed to be cooler by this weekend, so hopefully I can take advantage of their shorter feet and actually get some work done!

Other activities? Well, it was Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo week, so Thursday thru Sunday was the rodeo, complete with the mixer Thursday evening, parade Saturday a.m., and of course cowboy church and chilli cook-off on Sunday. What did I attend? About half an hour of the parade. I stayed through most of the horse entries before deciding I'd had about enough sun. Terrible cop-out, I know - but somehow without T and the kids I just didn't feel like enduring the heat and the crowds. Too many people.

Monday, July 11, 2011

"The Horse Jar," or pennies saved

The ladies over on the Equestrian Ink blog are generously running a summer reading giveaway (info here). The title and description of the latest read struck a chord.

I too, like Annie in the book, had a horse jar growing up - or in my case, a horse hoard. Yes, I had a pony - and yes, we had horses. But the pony, lovely as he was and as much as I loved him, still had to be shared with my sister. And the other horses weren't mine.

So my tiny hoard started to accumulate in hopes that it would one day grow up to become a horse of my very own. It collected years of dish-washing quarters ($.25 for every time I did the dishes when it was my turn - without arguing -Ah, the lost opportunities there!). It ate birthday and lawn-mowing money, a $1 an hour for music practice, and a few dollars here and there from dog/baby sitting (dogs are more fun and less work!) and odd jobs. The hoard certainly didn't get every penny I earned, but eventually it added up to about $400.

As time went on, I got a regular summer job with a real paycheck, but I wasn't always completely faithful to my horse fund - when I started driving, too much of my paycheck went to fill the gas tank of my old, gas-guzzling Impala and having fun with friends. But it didn't get any smaller, either.

It stayed with me all through college, although it didn't get much bigger. Money I earned summers continued to go to gas money (so I could get to work) and textbooks for school. Any extra after that went to riding lessons while I was away at college so that I could at least have the smell and feel of being near horses twice a week. But my ear-marked $400 stayed in the bank in the savings account my mom talked me into opening. It didn't draw much interest, but it didn't get spent, either.

When I got my first real grown-up, now-I-have-a-career sort of job, I transferred my bank accounts, and that $400 came along to South Dakota. I found people to ride with, and there was certainly never a shortage of horses to ride. But just like always, none of them were mine.

So at long last, seven years ago, my long-held $400 finally left the bank and I bought my very first horse all-on-my-own horse.
Ponied along on a wagon-train ride (2004)
For $500.

Of course, since Sunny requires upkeep, I still have that "horse hoard" where all my pocket change goes. He's a just a smidgeon more expensive than spare change will support, but you'd be amazed how much a year's worth of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters total out to when you don't spend them on anything else. Changed into green stuff at the bank, they'll pay for quite a bit. And the mental health Sunny brings me? It's worth every penny, nickel, dime, quarter and dollar saved - or spent.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saturday - Summer has arrived

It was in the 90's - which, I know for all you folks down south who've been living in 90+ temps since May or before, probably doesn't sound that bad. But up here it's been cool and wet - this is the first real heat we've had, and I can't say it's altogether welcome, especially when SD's omnipresent winds decide to take a vacation, like yesterday.

Optimistically, I thought that the breeze might be a little stronger out of town. Unfortunately, it was just as swelteringly sticky at the farm. The horses were happy to see me, having learned that the trailer means bug spray and brushing.

I'd planned to do some groundwork and maybe hop on for a bit, but it was just too hot. The boys were grateful for the fly-relief, and Sunny promptly assumed the position and went to sleep.
Guarding the trailer

Not wanting the day to be a complete black hole training-wise, Thunder got to wear a headstall for the duration. After licking, chewing, and trying to spit it out for the first little while, he went to sleep, too.

They were covered in sweat just standing there, but thrilled to not be stomping flies. I'd love to keep fly-mask/sheets on them, but I'm too afraid they'll get tangled in something.

Ordinarily, I'd just bring the truck and tie the boys up in the top lot, but the flies are AWFUL up there. If I bring the trailer, I can park away from the sheep, and once they're sprayed down the flies aren't too bad.

Since I don't have anything terribly exciting to report, for your viewing pleasure: Sunny, doing his best to get rid of some very persistent mosquitoes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Missions accomplished

Well, mostly...

Sunday the boys got more trailer time. I set up ground poles and cones, and worked on backing and sidepassing.

Sunny's new girth fits (Hooray!) - and will fit even better once he loses a bit of that belly.
Thunder was great with the saddle, as well, but I didn't have a hand free to get pictures of him wearing it. All things considered, he was a start this weekend. I really would like to get him sent off to the trainer... But his owner isn't too interested, unfortunately.

Rufus got new shoes early (really early) Sunday morning. He gets his feet done by the farrier J uses. He's a nice guy and he does a good job, which also means he's super busy. J said he called late the night before and arrived to start working around 5: 30 a.m. That's not uncommon - which means I often find out he's been there after the fact. Not ideal since I like to be on hand, but he does a good job and Rufus's feet looked fabulous.

J and I rode about 8 miles Monday a.m. - my thighs are telling me about it today - before it got too hot. We walked where the breeze kept the bugs off, and trotted or loped the grove lined sections. I tend to have a hard time getting Rufus to take the left lead, but he picked them both up without too much work on my part for a change. Both horses were eager to get out and go, and it was a beautiful day for a ride. A lovely way to spend a few hours - I hope everyone else's 4th was as pleasant!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Baby birds and lawnmowers

Went out this morning to water the flowers and found this on the arm of the bench. Momma was up in the tree over his head, and she was NOT happy.

I stuck him back up on a tree branch.

He was gone later, and mama was too, so unless a cat had him for breakfast, his second attempt at flight must have gone a bit better than the first one.

Whatever karma I accumulated there apparently didn't cover the lawnmower - I managed to get about a third of the lawn mowed before a big chunk of twisted metal flew out from underneath to the tune of much banging and some smoke. Not the blade - that was last year. It's why I mow in boots and jeans, not flip-flops and shorts!

I don't mind push mowers, but I think that one has had it.

Did some weeding, some laundry, took a nap... And decided it was time for some fun.

Pony Time!

Hooked the trailer up, headed for the farm and collected the boys. They look thrilled, right? Actually, they were pleased to by fly-sprayed, and since it rained yesterday, nature took care of the bath, so that was one thing off my list.

What do you think - do they look like half-brothers?
Same sire - but Thunder's dam was taller and a bit more elegant.
I'm biased, but I think Sunny has a prettier head.

Sunny also got less hairy genes. His fetlocks, without clipping...

Don't look at their toes, please - the farrier's coming!

My mom likened Thunder's to draft horse feathers - okay, a slight exaggeration, but he does have big feet even when they're freshly trimmed, and they are certainly hairier.

Sunny says, "Come on, already -
put the camera down and let's DO something."

Did some trailer loading practice. Thunder was a star. Sunny... tried backing around the corner of the trailer the first time up. But I was expecting that, and once he realized it wasn't an option, he stepped right in.

I worked with Thunder some on saddling steps - completely forgot to take one of the lighter saddles along, but he was a-okay with the pad. I upped the ante a bit with some rattly saddle bags, and he was fine with those, too.

As I turned them back out, I could hear the fireworks starting to pop off towards town. They didn't seem too concerned. It's times like these when I'm really happy they live next to a pheasant hunting lodge. Things that go BANG! don't generally phase them.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I've been mostly absent lately - and not just here, it feels like, LOL!

Summer, what with one thing and another, is just flat running away from me. I haven't ridden since (GULP) May?! Yikes. And I won't be riding my pony this weekend, either - his feet are still long, although I did finally manage to get in touch with the farrier and confirm a date, if not a time, for next weekend.

So.... my plans for this weekend include:
  1. Baths? Or at least a thorough grooming. If the boys are as muddy as they were last weekend and it's as hot as it's been the last few days, they're getting baths.
  2. Saddling Sunny English and making sure things fit - I have a new, longer, girth to try out.
  3. Groundwork with Sunny & Thunder - I have cones and a new tarp, and I'm not afraid to use them!
  4. Saddling Thunder western and making sure things fit. He's way past overdue for some work, and since it's just the geldings these days, I'll likely be ponying him along for a while once I'm back to riding again.
There. That's simple enough - four things to accomplish, and a whole long weekend to do them in. Hopefully by the time I'm back to work on Tuesday the blahs will be gone!