Thursday, June 20, 2013

Excuse my hiatus

Wish I could say the whole time I haven't spent posting I've been actually posting (on a horse).  Unfortunately, not.  Other than a Sunny-ride back and forth to pasture on a couple nights, none of them have been ridden since weekend before last.  Which is certainly no way to reach my summer's goal of riding all four of them regularly! 

All is well, but between weather and flies and projects and general busyness and lack of energy they've gotten plenty of attention but no riding.  Not much of an update from here, but hopefully more to report soon!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bath day

So yesterday we had our first triple digit day.  When I read the forecast Monday night, I filled a couple big tubs with water Tuesday morning.  Sure enough. 106' here (warmer in town) with 40 mph winds - blast furnace, anyone?  The horses were standing behind the barn swishing when I got home.  Nasty flies, even with the wind.

It was down to 99' at 7:30 - a good time and temp for baths.  Not soap and water baths, but sun-warmed water rinses with some tea tree wash I got back when Rufus was so itchy but never had the opportunity to use.  It's supposed to be good for skin, and since it doesn't require rinsing off, I figured it would be a good day to try it out.

Sunny was our first victim.  The directions said to mix approximately 2 ounces of wash in two gallons of (preferably warm) water.  I mixed a bucket - it didn't look like enough to wash a whole horse...  Maybe I should get him wet first? 

Initially he wasn't thrilled and sidled away from me, but when the wind hit him and cooled off the spot I'd just doused he stopped moving.  By the time I was ready to rinse him with the tea tree stuff, he was standing still just stomping the flies.  While I worked on his body, my mom used a stiff bristled brush to work it through his mane and tail.  That definitely felt good.

It was warm enough that he was drying off almost before I could do the second side.  While my mom finished up, I collected Thunder.  I was anticipating the same sort of sidling that Sunny had done, but other than one sideways glance at the bucket when I poured it across his back, Thunder appeared to enjoy his turn.  And once she realized I wasn't expecting to stick her feet in the bucket, Amyra stopped making her usual cranky face and looked almost unconcerned.  Or at least as unconcerned as she ever looks. 

But Rufus took the gold star - although giving it to him would have required waking him up, because he went to sleep.

Post-wash once they were dried off I fly-sprayed them and turned them back out in the orchard pasture where they could roll on grass and not dirt.  Dried off, they were really soft as if they'd been out in the rain, and they smelled a bit like herb tea.  Have to say, that was the easiest bath-time I've ever experienced.

No pictures, thank goodness!  Setting a new fashion trend in shorts and knee high rubber boots I definitely was not - lol!

Monday, June 10, 2013

It's so undignified!

Could have called this post the Many Faces of Amyra, but Rufus is in here, too.

Amyra and Rufus both have white and pink noses.  They sunburn when the days get long. 

Which doesn't make either of them really appreciate sunblock.

I don't really blame her - I don't really like the feel of it going on either. 

Rastafarian Rufus
 Rufus prefers to combat bugs and sun with his own personal brand of sunblock - a nice mudbath.  After the last rain he came in wearing enough mud beads for several nice mud pies.   My mom was kind enough to de-mud him, which he thoroughly enjoyed.  In fact, I suspect had the mud not dried up overnight, he would have rolled in it again just for the extra attention.

Amyra, on the other hand, is not so copacetic about her time spent soaking in the bucket. 

That expression says it all, doesn't it.  Actually she's been pretty good about it - only tipped the bucket over once. 

Good Sunny, Bad Sunny

My nephew Z came out Friday evening with his lab Zoie.  She got to run and play in the yard and pasture until it was time to bring the horses home, then got tied up, as she's never seen a horse before.  They've seen a lot of dogs and are generally unconcerned, but I didn't want her getting kicked.  We figured an introduction on leash would go better. 

Anyway, walked over and retrieved the ponies.  Z's never been around horses - he's excited to learn, though.  He led Rufus back, and we tied Amyra and Rufus up.  I soaked Amyra's foot while my mom showed Z how to brush Rufus.  (Amyra popped a small abcess earlier in the week, and I've been soaking it nightly in warm water, epson salts & betadine.)

After Amyra was done, she went back in, and I pulled Sunny out.  Rufus thoroughly enjoys being brushed, and hadn't so much as twitched while Z brushed him.  After a quick brush-off for Sunny, we saddled them both.  I thought I'd picked a saddle that would work for Z, but realized I'd mis-judged the length of his legs pretty badly.  He's 13, but not tall - I couldn't get the stirrups high enough.  He hadn't brought any boots, either, but I did make him put a helmet on.

With my mom on Rufus to demonstrate, and me coaching he spent probably an hour walking Sunny around.  I laid the ground poles out and they walked over and around them.  Sunny was SO good. 

He listened, turned, stopped, all with his ears pricked and without a bobble.  Towards the end, Z really wanted to try trotting, so at that point we did switch saddles to one with shorter leathers.  I clipped the longe line on Sunny and Z gave it a shot.

He actually did pretty well, and was starting to get the hang of it, but I could tell he was also starting to get a little sore - Sunny, too I think. (Sunny doesn't have the smoothest trot, and Z was doing a fair amount of bouncing.)  We called it a night, the ponies got a skiff of grain for being so good and we headed up to finish the evening with Smores.

Of course, Sunny being Sunny had to follow up his stellar evening with a morning reversion to his 2 year old days.  There were storms blowing in, and all four of them were on their toes when we went down to feed.  The other three were minding their manners, but Sunny was convinced that there was SOMETHING in the trees behind us that was going to get him, and he didn't want be last in line as we walked over to the south pasture.

By the time we got to the creekbed crossing, I was pretty sure there was no way I was navigating successfully across with two horses, and since Rufus was still behaving himself I waited until my mom and dad had Amyra and Thunder down and through, warned them, and let Rufus go to take himself over.

Which of course made Sunny even more frantic.  We spent several fraught moments going around and around in the bottom of the creekbed, me determined that he was NOT going to charge up the bank, and him just as determined that he was.  I won.  Mostly.

By this point, Sunny's twitichies had communicated themselves to Thunder who was also behaving like a twit.  My dad had Rufus and Amyra - still sane - through the gate and unhaltered by the time we had the other two idjits half the rest of the way to the gate.  Sheesh!

Once loose, they ate about two bites, then took off as if we'd lit a brush fire under their tails.  They spent the next five minutes rocketing around the big pasture as fast as they could go, bucking and kicking and caroming off one another like pinballs.   It was quite the sight to see.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Listening Horse

We ventured out into the orchard pasture tonight - it was a beautiful evening, with just enough breeze to discourage most of the bugs.  Sunny and Amyra again.   Tonight at the trailer Amyra actually moved around - which, with most horses I wouldn't be thrilled about, but with her it's a sign that she's actually relaxing.  I can work on relaxed and standing still later.  For now I'll take not stiff.

Out in the bigger space I wasn't sure what to expect.  But right from the first her neck wasn't as knotted.  We walked big circles, played follow the leader with Sunny, and eventually I asked her to trot.

Her head popped back up and it took five minutes or so of going around in figure eights and circles before she started to relax again.  And probably that long before we managed a nice round circle.

She's so responsive that she picks up on every bump and shift I make, and she wants to do whatever you're asking her right now!  Which would be lovely, if I was actually telling her to do all of the things she thinks I am....

It's unfortunate that I'm used to Sunny who takes a LOT of leg, and doesn't concern himself overly with my sliding around.  Perhaps she'll cure me of that.  In any case, we spent a fair amount of time trotting.  If we managed a circle that felt relatively smooth, I'd asked her very softly to walk, and let her have a nice loose rein.

She was still very aware of where the other two horses were.  And if I'd let her she would have eased her way over to the fenceline closest to them and stayed there.  But she wasn't insistent about it. 

Back at the trailer she did her bracing thing again briefly.  But all in all a really good ride.  Not sure how much actual riding my mom did - she sure spent a lot of time taking pictures!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

High on Thunder

Saturday was lovely once the clouds finally cleared and the wind slowed down.  We saddled Sunny and Thunder and did some more circles (my dad despairs of us ever leaving the lot).   But since Thunder, like Amyra, hasn't been ridden since last fall and unlike Amyra, only had the benefit of 45 days of professional anything...  I think we won't be venturing into the larger world for at least a little while.

Unlike Amyra, Thunder was not at all worried about saddling or even being ridden.  His attitude was such that I had no issues walking him out into the lot, checking the cinch, and stepping on.  He's nowhere near as responsive as Amyra is because he knows next to nothing, but he's a good sport about it.  Although we did have one minor go-round about 10 minutes in when he decided he was done.  

Which in Thunder body-language consists of planting himself and refusing to move.  When it appeared that the balking might get more assertive and turn into backing up, I got off and moved his feet on the lunge line.


Which at one point probably looked more like him lunging me, since he'd apparently forgotten how to go around clockwise.  If we looked half as ridiculous as I felt, it should have been pretty entertaining.

But I won and he went for a spin.  Just long enough to get his feet rehooked to his brain, and since he showed no sign of having any airs above the ground on his mind, I got back on.  And off we went.  Total work time maybe 45 minutes, but a good start.

It's very odd riding him after riding Amyra.  Neither of them feel bucky.  They both listen.  But he just feels steady, even though he has very little clue what anything means.  Amyra waits anxiously for any kind of communication that makes sense.  When she does eventually relax she's really responsive, but she sure doesn't give off the calm vibe he does.  On the plus side, they both stop very well.

We'd planned to ride all four of them today, but an auction and evening company waylaid us.  The auction had continuous fence panels, gate panels, a bale fork and a couple of fork-lift attachments advertised.  

I came home with a saddle yeah, yeah, I know - like I need another one of those and two emergency battery power packs.

The saddle will, I hope, fit short-backed, round bodied horses.  It's definitely an older model and it's seen better days, but it's solid.  Pictures to follow at some point when I haven't had too much sun and several hours of company.   Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Work in Progress...

Finishing touches

We used the new gate last night and this morning :)

No pictures, because we all had our hands full of horse - the ponies were well-behaved, but definitely chuffed to be approaching the same old barn from an entirely new vantage point.  Maybe tonight I'll set up the tripod and get some video of the creek crossing.