Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cats & rain

Had to begin with a quick cat update.  My mom can't stand not being able to monkey with the outdoor cats, and her mission to get her hands on them has paid off.  Squeak is now rubbing on our legs and flipping over in the path of feet so that the tall, food providing mammals with oppoable thumbs can put them to their intended use: scritching the cat.

Miss Silence continues to be stand-offish, but will now come up in the morning and sit next to Squeak while the food hits the dish.  Progress. 

We put a new storm door on that has a full glass panel.  The indoor cats are having a ball watching the world - and growling and hissing at Squeak and Silence when they look in to see how the other half lives.

Rattle continues to be a wonderful granary guardian, and demands (and accepts) lots of attention as his just due.

No riding last night - instead we had storms.  Bringing some much needed rain so I'm not going to complain since they didn't also bring hail and other nastiness.  We had high winds all yesterday and the weather radio announcing all sorts of direness a couple counties away.

Sunny was happy to be off the schedule, but Amyra whinnied after us when we left them to their after-graze snooze.  I think she likes the extra attention, if not the actual riding.

Pictures of shiny ponies, gate progress, and (parent-painted) cavaletti, coming soon.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Amyra rides again

Wind finally died to a reasonable level last night, so we saddled Amyra and Sunny again and rode for a while as the thunderheads stacked up across the horizon.  One really rumbly growl of thunder had me thinking maybe we should pull the saddles off again, but one long roll was all she wrote for that particular storm.  Everything stayed south and east - which was too bad for the rain quota, but good for our ride.

Amyra was less glassy this time, but still anxious.   She makes me want to dig out the bungy trailer tie.  I actually untied her while I saddled her, because she does this thing where she kind of eases back until the lead is not quite taut, and then sort of sinks onto her back end.  I start having visions of her sitting down.  She does it being unsaddled, too.  She doesn't act like anything in particular is bothering her once the saddle is on, so....  Will have to study on that particular quirk for a while.

She relaxed much more quickly, and we're figuring out a shared vocabulary.  I've gotten sloppy again poking around on Sunny and slipped back into bad habits, but I can sure tell when I manage to communicate something clearly.

At the very end of our ride I asked her to walk out the open gate and venture into the "yard" for want of a better word.  Holy Hannah!  You'd have thought I was asking her to step onto ground glass with a coating of grease. 

She walks out that gate every day.  But not by herself.  With encouragement she managed about 10 feet before we stopped to look around.  I stepped off, then back on, and with some additional coaxing we made it up to the granary door where my day was watching us from the bench.  He had a treat, which she graciously stre-e-etched her neck out to accept. 

No confidence in her rider yet, that's for sure.  But, although she was anxious and hesitant, at no point was she spin-around-and-run-away feeling.  Just trepeditious.  Which spell check is telling me is not a word, but anyway.

Mom and Sunny had another nice ride.  I despaired often when he was a youngster that he'd ever settle that much!

Ponies are 75' of the way to having a gate at the north end of the pasture!  The gate posts are set - two former telephone poles (shortened).  And there's additional electric run.  All of which happened while I was at work yesterday and therefore did nothing to assist with.  I owe a couple of parental units BIG!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A New Tail for Rufus

Not much riding this weekend, unless you count hopping on Sunny this morning for the trip up to the south pasture.  I took advantage of the Monday off to sleep in, and was still in my PJs, feet stuffed into knee high rubber boots, although I had thankfully yanked a sports bra on with my tank top and scraped my bedhead into a pony tail.

Because of course we encountered the first vehicle in two weeks, a neighbor, who stopped to chat.  "You won't get much exercise up there, now will you," he informed me.  Probably not, but I was only one cup of coffee into the morning and riding sounded a lot more appealing than walking.

Should probably have ridden in the cool, relative calm really early the last couple of days because by the time 8 a.m. rolled around the wind was up and the humidity was an ugly thing.  This evening we have a tornado warning in effect until midnight and huge thunderheads on the horizon.

With all the wind, the flies haven't been too bad until this weekend.  Spray helps, as does having a nice long tail.  And among other non-riding activities we got the barn cleaned out really well so that should help with future numbers.  But Rufus, thanks to the barbering efforts of Eyore the donkey he used to pasture with, does not have much of a tail to swish with. Poor guy - his tail goes like a propeller, to not much effect!

So tonight I ran a bucket of warm water, washed his tail out and let it dry - which didn't take long - put a loose braid in below his tail bone, slightly amazed that it actually has grown enough for a decently long braid, looped it back on itself, ran some twine through, and wrapped it up with vet wrap.

The  first thing he did on getting turned back in with the rest was whack Sunny with his extension.  Did I mention I used bright aqua vet wrap?  Sunny sucked back and took a good look at Rufus.  Something wrong with this picture... he walked off, still studying the tail out of the corner of his eye, and of course Rufus followed him.  It was comical - Sunny was trotting to get away from Rufus, who couldn't figure out why Sunny was concerned but wasn't going to stay behind to get eaten if the boss was worried.  I really thought I'd split.

It took longer for the other two to notice, but once they did, they joined Sunny in a tight knot with Rufus about 10 feet away looking at them all puzzled, still swishing but much more effectively.

It didn't take too long before they'd decided his tail wasn't going to reach out and grab them, but watching them try to get close enough for a good sniff without getting swatted sure was funny. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Amyra under saddle - Pics

Thinking hard - both of us

These should have loaded with my post from yesterday, but for whatever reason...  Pictures are a bit blurry - it was easing into evening, and I had the flash setting off.

Okay, Amyra. Just relax.
Not the rider she's used to

You want me to do what?

Starting to have a 2-way conversation

Sunny, happy to walk, being a good example

Relaxing more - both of us

Not so horrible after all

I can handle this.

Ending on a good note

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Amyra under saddle

Thankfully, the storms that blew through Kansas and Oklahoma this past week missed us.  And this morning it looks as if Nebraska is having a turn.  Hope everyone is keeping safe!

Weather here was decent, albeit with wind, until yesterday.  Now it's sticky.  Not hot yet, but the humidity and the temperature match and it feels like storm.

Not sure what's on tap for the weekend, but there will be riding!  Weather permitting.  Thursday evening was gorgeous and after supper I neglected the mowing (it's sad when the pasture's mowed, but the lawn is knee high) and we saddled Sunny and Amyra.  Sunny just looked resigned.  Amyra looked stiff.

I should note here, I actually have pictures - I just can't get them to upload. 
Maybe later.

When the stiff look to her eye didn't go away after a bit of a walk-around, I clipped on the lunge line and sent her out in circles for a few minutes.  No hunch, but lots of anxiety.  She spent about a year and a half with Eric, but T was only home to ride her a couple of times, and I'll admit I was less than enthusiastic.  She and I have never quite clicked.

Circles in both directions were uneventful, so I slipped the bridle on over her halter and my dad stood at her head while I stepped on. You've probably heard that old saying about many horses making a rider, but one rider makes a horse? Eric's a very still, efficient rider.  And of course, he's also a lot better than I have a prayer of ever getting

Watching Amyra under Eric was a treat - soft, flowy, willing horse working easily.  Unfortunately, it was obvious that T, who is not (yet) a still efficient rider, freaked her out some.  Not what she was accustomed to.  And she's a horse that gets worried quick.

So stepping on last night I reminded myself to breathe and think happy thoughts.  Rubbed her neck a bit and asked her to walk off, focusing on keeping myself relaxed and centered and not stiff.  Or floppy.  Arms in, legs around her gently, hands quiet as I could keep them.  Her neck was stiff in front of me, and when I could see her eye it had that glassy, brittle look it gets when she's worried.

It was pretty clear she didn't like this.  And she was very focused on where Rufus and Thunder watched us through the gate bars by the barn.  Her brakes worked extra-special good right there - lol!

I talked to her, talked to my folks, and walked circles.  Circle left, circle right, wound a serpentine down the lot and back... Gradually I could feel her relax underneath me and begin to walk out.  Eric had warned me that "whoa" was a word to be thought.  Softly.  And even at a walk, that's true.  (He admitted, he enjoyed working with her enough that he'd probably put too much handle on her.  Truthfully, I think he was very hopeful that we'd let him show her.  He had her starting to slide and spin, but I wasn't that excited about riding her.  Doing hunt seat with Buddy was more appealing.)

After a few minutes when I'd decided I really wasn't going to die my mom joined us with Sunny.  Amyra relaxed even more with equine company.  She would have been content to walk around with Sunny, but to her chagrin we kept doing circles.  Big, little, spirals in and out, counter bend reverses.  By the time we finished, never having left a walk, she was relaxed and her eye was soft.  After the last whoa she cocked a hip and stood calmly waiting for me to dismount.

Oddly, I realized as we took saddles off and her eyes got slightly worried again that getting saddled and unsaddled at the trailer was a new experience for her too.  Just never occurred to me.  But Eric does everything at the cross ties in the barn, and before that saddling always happened at whatever fence post was handy.    It was only after she was already at his place that we started leaving the trailer out at the farm.  

My mom, meanwhile, was working on getting Sunny to "whoa" nicely for her.  My lazy, increasingly round guy is perfectly content to walk along with her wherever she points him - but for some reason he's equally content to poke his nose out and just keep walking, even when she'd like him to stop.  It's mildly entertaining, but only in the sense that I usually have to work to keep him moving, and she's having the opposite problem.

On the plus side, they were perfectly relaxed - lol!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cheat grass and rain

I've been bad, bad, bad about staying up to date around here!  It's been two weeks since I posted - the good news is, there's not much in the way of news.

Only one ride - my mom and I saddled up Rufus and Sunny and toured the pasture for a while, swapped horses and did it again.  Just a nice quiet evening ride, and we had them unsaddled, brushed and the tack away just in time for an evening shower.

The orchard, which looked so gorgeous and green, unfortunately turned out to be coming up more in cheat grass and not so much the nice cool weather pasture mix we planted. :( I let the horses enjoy it while it was still green enough that they could eat it, but it was starting to get barb-y so I spent a long, slow couple of hours yesterday mowing a good chunk of it.  Stopped for supper and ended up not finishing due to a nasty pop-up storm that spawned a tornado down south of here.  Here it was high wind and about an inch of rain in an hour, leaving everything much too wet to finish the mowing.

When I can get the rest mowed (more rain today) I'll drag it and see if I can reseed it... Otherwise I'm going to spend the rest of the summer mowing it off.  Darn cheat!  Sure was pretty coming up, though.

Other than that, there was an encounter with a snake, a raccoon looking in the bedroom window, riding time with my niece before she and her mom headed home, and a failed-to-show by the farrier... stories for later.  Now I need to go catch up on all my blog reading, which I've also been neglecting.  TTFN, but more soon, promise!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Shot reaction & pony rides

Here I was so pleased that all the ponies were good for their shots and nobody tipped over twitching (a fear that lives in the back of my mind whenever I stick them), and when I went out to feed the morning after I noticed Amyra was pan surfing.  She couldn't seem to find one that she liked, which since everybody gets exactly the same amount and mix, was a little odd.

I checked necks for bumps and heat with no surprises, haltered and headed up the hill.  Turned them loose and three heads went down to eat.  And one did not.  She could turn her head/neck a limited amount in both directions, but she couldn't or wouldn't lower it enough to graze.

I've never had a horse have that particular reaction before, but apparently it's fairly common.  No heat or swelling.  She could reach the water, and didn't seem otherwise distressed so I let her be.

After work she was still stiff, but when I put hay in the feeder she could reach it well enough and ate with a good appetite. She was gradually better yesterday, but still reluctant to lower her head all the way to the ground so I gave her a gram of bute last night - anti-inflammatory - and  she was back to normal this morning.  Chalk it up to good luck and being wiser for the experience!

I did a single 5-way with West Nile this year for the first time, thinking it would be less poking for them and less stress for me.  Always before I've done the West Nile separately.  Did some reading, and Amyra's reaction isn't uncommon with multiway/multiple shots given all at once.  I think next year I'll go back to multiple shots spread out over a longer period of time, which is what I've always done before with no problems.

On the family front, my niece R is having a grand time "riding" - she's thrilled to be led around, clutching a bit handful of mane tightly in both hands and grinning fit to split her face.  (With an adult right next to her holding on so she doesn't slide off.)  So far Sunny, Amyra and Rufus have all been very accommodating.  Thunder was not so keen on the idea.  He's not entirely sure people that short won't bite.

Several of the cats had similar concerns, but the indoor cats have all come around.  Rattle is still in OMG, hide! mode whenever she appears.  She isn't trying to chase or be rough, but she moves fast and she's excited.  Like the indoor critters, he'll figure out she's not interested in picking him up or chasing eventually.

And that's the news from here... OH!  And we had nearly an inch of rain over the last three days.  Hooray!!!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shots... DONE.

Folks are still here, and mom had her camera out so there are probably pictures.  Not that it was a particularly exciting event.  The only one that even remotely worries about a needle is Thunder and he was a VERY good boy this year.  The other three go, "Eh?  That was it?  Huh.  Okay, back to eating."

With helpers back and forth to pasture, I've been riding up and back - feeling kind of guilty about it, but I can't talk anybody else into getting on board.  I've been sticking to Sunny and Rufus, but last night I thought I'd brave Thunder at least for the trip back across the pasture. 

It was a very abbreviated ride.  We were fine for the flat part, but when we hit the first downhill it dawned on both of us at the same moment that we'd never done a hill bareback.  He was okay with my wriggling on and walked off just fine, but getting squeezed when I started to slide forward - not to mention the sliding - was a bit too much.  Since I've been on him a sum total of twice since November, I chickened out and slid off.  Not that he did anything bad, but I could tell he was getting anxious.  No sense pushing my luck - we'll have a few refreshers on the flat and then tackle some hills. 

So I swapped horses and hopped on Sunny instead with renewed appreciation for the time we've spent learning each others quirks - realizing just how much I wiggle around, bump him, squeeze him just hanging on.... and he still listens and determines what is random noise and what is an actual cue.   Pretty darn smart.

The horses and I are on our own up the hill again this morning - my folks are headed to the airport in KC to pick up my sister and niece.  They'll be here for a week :)  Vacation for them scheduled pre-new job for me, so I won't get to see them quite as much as I'd planned on, but at least it looks like the weather will be decent and they'll all keep one another entertained.

Other than that, not much new on the horse front.  So many excuses not to spend time riding, darn it!