Monday, June 29, 2009

Transforming the Buddy Sour Horse

Training a Safe Trail Horse AKA Goodbye Buddy Sour Brat

In my job, I start where my client is at, considering their resiliency and what strengths are already evident - gonna take the same approach with my Red Horse.

  • He has never hurt me or tried to dump me when I am riding him.
  • He is safe around other horses, no kicking or biting.
  • Red can ride in any position - lead, middle of the pack, or bringing up the rear.
  • He is responsive to my aids on the trail, in the presence of other horses.
  • Trailering is not a problem as long as he is not in the 1st slot of a slant.
  • Red will give me everything he's got. If he is tired or breathing hard, he still works for me.
  • When coming upon an unfamilar object, Red will stop, back up, spin, and retreat. He will fight to ignore my request to move forward.
  • On a few occasions, he has made little bounces with his front feet. Not a full fledged rear, more like a threat about where he might take the argument.
  • Red does not "do" trails by himself.
  • If our trail buddies leave or go out of site, Red panics, calls out, rushes forward with his head as high as can be.
  • I often feel like I am riding a potential powder keg, as Red moves with high head, mincy steps, and total hypervigilance.
  1. To tolerate having his buddy horse go out of site.
  2. To accept unfamilar objects and move on down the trail.
  3. To focus more on me instead of what imagined predators are hiding under the twigs and pebbles.
So here is our ultimate goal: Red will go safely and calmly down a trail by himself.

  • ride the horse the entire trail. Guide, direct, cue so that your horse is tuned into you, not the buddy horse. "When you are on the trail it is so important to focus on the journey and to be ahead of your horse. I always suggest people ride actively and guide their horse's foot falls in some way the entire ride. Lightly side pass around the odd rock on the trail for instance and always pick the path, sometimes diverting one way or another where it's safe just to keep the horse expecting and receiving the rider's input. Whenever a horse is "left to his own devices" and is allowed to navigate his own way down a well marked trail for instance, they tune out their riders much easier." (historyrider, horsecity training forum, thread: terrified, what to do about a horse that gets terrified when riding alone, post #4, 11/08)
  • On a trail ride go "against the flow". Ride away from the group on every opportunity - to the side, back in the opposite direction, stop and let them walk away. Get your horse used to being left and leaving others. (bella's rider, Half-Ass Flat Ride, 6/09)
  • Ask for collection and bending, get the head down. Head down is the signal to calm down. (Smilie, horsecity training forum, thread: terrified, what to do about a horse that gets terrified when riding alone, post #2, 11/08)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

At the Half-Ass Flat Ride

Friday afternoon my friend Laura and I headed south to Capetown, California for the Back Country Horseman Redwood Unit's Half-Ass Flat Ride. I don't know that I have ever been on any event as well conceived and coordinated as this one! You can see in the photos that the terrain and scenery was amazing. What you don't see is the hearty, delicious food that was part of the sign up fee - all our meals from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. We met alot of great people, had two days of great rides, tightened our camping skills, and experienced immensely rewarding and significantly challenging trail experiences with our horses.

This is a panormic view of the country we covered on our Saturday ride. We did the long ride in the morning and then switched to the medium ride group which got us back to camp about 2 hours sooner than if we stayed with the long riders. My dang knee and ankle demanded the change. Stupid O.L.D. Syndrome!

Here is the view NW from our camp. There were 150 + folks there for the weekend.

Here is a shot as we headed down the hill to Capetown.
Does it give you a sense of the VERY steep drop into the valley?

Check out our camp and extremely cool, portable electric fence. Jerico, Laura's arab, is turning to check up on his mom. Laura and I have done several weekend camps together and I sure appreciate our good team work. It makes for a safe and fun adventure.

After traveling down a river, up one ridge, down across a valley and up another ridge the long ride group headed toward a STEEP hillside taking us back down to the ocean. This picture shows the windswept pasture approaching the drop off. The wind was intense, as was the incline. Red did an exceptional job with this part of the trip. He did not spook once, was steady and sure-footed, and ignored the annoying sound of my windbreaker's hood flapping in the wind.

What a good Red Horse!

This part of the trail headed up the ridge to the lunch camp. We covered about 14 miles, even with switching groups. The trail from the beach to lunch camp had a steady increase in elevation and several stretches of relatively short but intense climbs. Red showed his great heart and scrambled up every steep spot but I need to work alot more on his conditioning.

I Loved, no - I ADORED my new EZ Ride stirrups - they took much of the strain off my knee and ankle. If you have any joint issues, do yourself a huge favor purchase a pair. Happy, satisfied, and totally pooped, I am enjoying a chai tea while I wait for my Aleve to kick in.

In many ways, Red and Jerico have gotten to be outstanding trail partners. They tolerate each other in all situations and show absolutely no agression. Regretfull, my one really significant, potentially dangerous challenge involved their co-dependence attachment. Red displayed extreme "buddy sour" behavior the second day. While he did well encountering many unexpected surprises and coping with 150 other horses with no spook, he became highly agitated if separated from Jerico. More than once I felt his behavior was seriously unsafe. It also dimished my enjoyment of an otherwise awesome ride to the beach on Sunday.

Guess my next training project will deal with the buddy sour horse on the trail.

ps: once this ride was opened to mules only - then the BCHC opened it up to all equines and changed the name of the ride to the "half ass" flat ride.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fixing Bessie Blue (a summer adventure in process)

My husband (deceased) was a mechanic. During our marriage (circa 70's - 80's) we would buy old vehicles, fix them and sell them. Bruce taught me a few mechanical skills. A few. But enough to leave me with a sort of compulsion to try to fix my vehicles when they don't work. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes I think I'm crazy. My track record is about 50/50.

My current challenge. Bessie Blue is not starting consistently. She has juice but the starter only cooperates when it feels like it. Been at this for a couple of days. I mechanic like molasses. Every step has to be considered, re-considered, researched, and considered again.

My first challenge - how to safely put a 1986 F150 up on jack stands. My son loaned me his, but they were to small. I am now the proud owner of a 3 ton jack and jack stands. This stage took me a full day. Just to be sure and safe. Dang. Folks - raise your girls to use tools. Give them their own tool box when they leave home.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grace: In the Hidden World

What we perceive is often very limited. We move through many hidden worlds, visible and invisible. One of those worlds is that beneath our feet. When I was a child, I would spend hours upon hours on my knees, my nose almost touching the ground. I was not pretending to be an ostrich, I was peering into the rich and lively world that was hidden within the grass and flowers. There insects lived out their busy lives and a thousands forms of beauty lay waiting to be revealed to the searching soul.

One lovely member of the hidden land is Self-Heal, an herb with healing properties on many levels. Many years ago I made and used flower essences, believed by many to carry the healing vibrational gifts of the flower from which they are made. Flower essences are a form of energy healing. The flower I first came to know and love was Self-Heal. As a flower essence, this lovely little herb encourages self-forgiveness. It is helps to ease our grief and shame over how our own actions may have hindered our growth. It helps us to experience the ever-present, ever-accessible connection with the Creator.

As a herb, Self-Heal is very helpful for both humans and horses. For humans, one of Self-Heal's many suggested uses is for skin ailments and wound care. For horses Self-Heal was used by the Black Foot Tribe for skin and eye ailments (Plant Biographies: Prunella vulgarisl).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Stills: Tri-Color


Lyra's New Boots

For more vivid photos visit Sunday Stills. This should prove to be a most interesting day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Visit the People of Iran - Stand Witness

Technology has been a force opening parts of our earth that some political systems would prefer remain dark. I am including a Blogroll of Iranian Blogs. Please visit them. You can use Google Translate to read the passionate feelings being shared and the events being reported. You can easily add a google translation gadget to your elements. This allows folks from other countries to easily translate your entire blog into their own language. Consider opening a Twitter account. This social networking phenomena has remained the one link out of Iran for many ordinary folks who want to share their experience. Google Earth brings faraway lands close enough to tough. The world is growing smaller. May our hearts grow larger.

Visit Demotix Images for photos of the streets of Iran taken by regular folks - all reporters are pretty much gone. Read more here at Live-blogging the Uprising. To understand why people are raging over the election, read this article in the BBC News. Remember when Bush stole the election after Gore won the popular vote? This is far worse to the people of Iran.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Skywatch Friday # 49

Clouds Moving in from the Ocean

Skywatch Friday helps bloggers world wide to share their photos of the skies where they live. To enjoy their images, visit the Skywatch Friday Blog. While you are there, how about sharing the skies from wherever you live. I'd love to see them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another New Gelding! Red is NOT Happy!

Yesterday two good-looking horses, a bay TB mare a bay gelding, moved into the General Pasture. New horses are always a huge event as there is no slow introduction and accommodation, they are released right into the herd. This upsets the herd hierarchy and creates several days of chaos. All the horses are stressed until the new horses find their place in the herd hierarchy.

The new gelding did not mess around - he saw Coal, the black percheron who is boss mare (and Red's beloved) and made straight for her. When I left yesterday the geldings were milling about with arched necks, squealing, and maneuvering for the position closest to Coal. Tonight, this is what I found. The new gelding was scooched right next to Coalie and looking mighty pleased with himself. My Red Horse was not in sight. My stomach dropped to my toes.

Then I saw him, far away, all alone. Not at all happy.
Just a little black bird for company.

Poor, dejected Red Horse.

Meanwhile, Steamer, a tough little mustang, is pretty angry about the new gelding. Steamer is the horse that kicked Red last August, laming him for two weeks. Red and Steamer worked out a time-share arrangement on Coal. The new gelding looks like he has other ideas.

Looks like Steamer won that round.
Yeesh! That new gelding certainly looks surly.

This was the only damage I could find. I think Red's self concept took a much worse hit today.

ps - a slower introduction to the herd has been suggested by many people and rejected by management. It is one of the things that troubles me about the general pasture. I have never found an acceptable balance that still allows my horses movement and a life in the herd. Fortunately, the herd is fairly stable - changes seem to happen 2 - 4 times a year.

Wordless Wednesday: Rosa

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Solstice is Coming

It's time to dust the cobwebs off my pagan heart - summer solstice is upon us!
Time to celebrate the richness of our lives, our passion, our creativity.
Whatever your preference, wild and alone or in the company of beloved friends,
Take time on June 21st to remember the sacred rythyms of the earth.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just Learned New Picasa Tricks "Blog This" and Collage Making

Those of you who alrealy know about these cool features of Picasa, bear with my excitement. The "Blog This" feature lets you quickly upload photos directly into your blog. The Collage feature opens the door to creative presentations of your photos. I'm so pleased with my discovery.

Here is how "Blog This" works (I think):
1. Chose the photo you want to embed in your blog.
2. Hit the "Blog This" button that is the 4th from the right on the bottom of the screen.
3. A menu appears that lets you chose your blog to post in. Select your blog.
4. You are now in the edit screen for blogger, with a photo already posted. Cool.
5. Problem - I can only figure out how to post one photo, next photo selection will start a new blog entry so . . .
6. For multiple photos, continue above 1 - 5, then, cut additional pictures and paste them in the blog entry you are working on completing. You will then have several draft blogs with the single picture you cut and pasted into your intended blog post. These will need to be deleted. This sounds laborious but is still MUCH faster than waiting for photos to upload using the "add image" function from your blogger menu.

Hope my description was sort of coherent. Good Luck!

p.s. Here is a great tip from Tami of Pennsylvania Wild Woman: CTRL + Left Mouse Click will let you select multiple photos

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grace: The Magic of Flowers

While walking though the fields the flowers called to me,
singing in the ancient tongue only my heart still recognizes.
Here grace danced wild, hand-in-hand with hosts unseen
yet felt as a fierce and joyous whisper, softer than the gentle breeze.

Sunday Stills: Water Towers

A few blocks from my house sits this classic water tower.
At night it takes on an air of mystery that is worthy of a good science fiction movie.

For more intriguing photos of water towers, visit Sunday Stills.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lyra's Mystery Lameness

One week ago I went to get Lyra from the general pasture and to my great dismay found her standing by herself, only moving on three legs. Her right front hoof was obvioulsy extremely painful and bearing no weight. I immediately thought ABSCESS!!! Once Lyra had hobbled out of the GP and into the Redwood Barn, I soaked her hoof in espon salts, then slathered on mag-paste and wrapped it with vet wrap and duck tape. Into our pen went Lyra, a VERY unhappy girl.

Now here was the critical decision for me, was this a vet call or was this a treat and "wait and see". There was no swelling anywhere on her body, and no heat except for the medial heel bulb of her right front hoof. She also had significant white line separation on the medial side of her right hoof. This is her wry hoof that is so challenging to trim and keep balanced. I thought back to Red's August lameness and my $800.00 vet bill that did absolutely nothing . . . nothing but "keep him confined and wait and see, we can start hock injections if you want (I did not want). Bottom line - no swelling, pain response to pressure, or heat. I decided to wait and see.

By mid-week Lyra was much better, still lame but bearing more weight on her lame leg. My first conclusion of an abscess was losing ground to a new idea that her hoof was compromised by the high sugar content spring grass and the evidence was the separated white line. I trimmed accordingly, ensuring the hoof wall was passive to the sole and giving a healthy bevel all the way around. I also made Lyra a hoof pad from a thick gardening knee pad trimmed to fit and secured with duct tape.

Whatever the cause, by last night Lyra was bearing weight equally on both front hoofs. She was still obviously a bit tender on her front left but not lame at a walk. For the entire 7 days she stood at the south side of her pen, attention riveted on the general pasture, watching and grieving her herd. Last night I turned her back out. Today she was still weight bearing on both front legs, walking a bit tenderly when she moved across hard ground. She seemed to easily move without discomfort. I will continue to practice "wait and see".

Gotta tell you, I went though major guilt about not calling the vet. It wasn't the money. Any tenderness, heat, or swelling and I would have been on the phone. I wanted to see if I could coax the hypothetical abscess to open up as I did not want a hole dug in Lyra's difficult hoof. Nothing ever opened up, yet as of tonight things seem to be just about back to normal even though the actual cause is still a mystery.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Day is Done

Visit Skywatch Friday to view skies all over the world.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Red's Weekend at Horse Camp

Hi!  Its me, Red Horse. 
 My mom tied me here cuz we are getting ready to leave for horse camp.

Mom let me know my special ride to Horse Camp was ready and waiting.
I want my OWN trailer like that one!  (Yeah, me too Red.)

Check out our horsie condos, right next to the people barn. 
 That's my friend Jerico.  He is part of my herd back home.  
His mom Laura is friends with mine.

Think it is time to use a little equine mind control to summon my minion, 
er . . . mom and bend her will to mine.

Alrighty!  This is more like it.  I'm loving my seat at the picnic table. 

Hmmmmm, what is that yummish smell Laura?  French Roast?  I LOVE french roast!

Just the way I like my coffee, fresh ground and on a plate.  

Give me a carrot chaser and turn me lose, where are those trails?

What is taking you so long?

Back off my face, carrot lady!

Gotta check the trail to the left.

Whazit?  Any mountain lions hiding behind that stuff?

Aaaahhhhh, nothing like a sip of mountain creek water.

Except another plate of French Roast.  Where's my minion when I need her?