Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Goodbye 2015

This year is not ending super well, so I'm looking forward to the New Year.

Not only did Huck require stitches in his face, he has a big ol' cut on his inside right-hind hock.  He did it sometime in the morning last Friday.  I arrived at the farm to see the vet (different one from the big clinic) getting out of his truck.  Impeccable timing I have, especially since I had no idea when the vet was actually coming.

I opened the stall door to see Huck standing just outside the door in the paddock with dried blood all down his leg.  GAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!  Of course I panicked, but he walked in sound and since the vet was there I had him take a look at it. It was ouchy to touch but he assured me it was superficial.  I lunged him both ways he was sound.  Not super willing, but sound.

I shaved it up (I failed to get a photo of how it looked when I brought him in, sorry) and we got a better look at it.  I have NO idea how this one happened.  Again I looked all around the paddock for anything of the right height and the right sharpness, but to no avail.  I think he may have kicked at someone and maybe stuck his leg through the fence?

Thanking my lucky stars (and the barn owner)  once again that we have an Insta-Hot, I was able to wash the wound well with aloedine and coated it in Tri-Care antibiotic ointment.  He also got 3 days of banamine.

The vet had taken the stitches out and I wanted to hang out with Huck a little more so we went into the arena where the lighting is tremendous and discovered that the cut on his head was open about 1/8".  I took a photo and sent it to the vet who stitched him up asking if it was still okay.  He replied that it looked good.  I filled it with Tri-Care and put his fly mask back on. The next day it was even more open. It does not look infected or anything, but I am ticked off that instead of a tiny scar he's going to have an ugly one because the vet decided to take the stitches out before it was fully healed.  Good thing he's a ranch horse and not a prissy show horse.

Saturday :(
Saturday was our barn Christmas party and I made him dress up and play two pony games, regardless of his injuries.  He still wasn't really into working, but he was sound and the walk and trot and we even won a trot race against a much lankier horse.

We won the costume contest.  I was going for "Festive Elf."  "Festive" is sometimes used as a polite word for "Tacky."   We would have done more, but it was very very cold and I couldn't feel my fingers so I stopped. I had to put on my jacket after a while, too. Brrrrrrr.

We took the bow off because it freaked out one of the calmest horses in the barn!

I am thankful that theses injuries are not serious and my horse seems to be chill about it all.  I coated him with Tri-Care and gave him his last dose of banamine paste on Sunday out in the field with no restraint.  Gooooood boy.

I am home with my family in Minne-sconsin for a week and I know Brenda is taking great care of my pony. Hopefully by the time I get back we can put this behind us and concentrate on the four months until our first show...... yikes!

Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukah (late), Happy Solstice (only a day late), Happy Festivus, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The One Where History Repeats Itself

Just when you're feeling all secure and things are going so well.....

BLAM!  Something to freak out over. I wanted to post about the awards banquet first and separately, I didn't want either bit of news to conflict with the other...

I got a text Wednesday afternoon.... isn't it weird you can always tell when there's bad news?  B simply asked if I was "going to the barn" that afternoon.... "going?"  not "coming"?!?! That sounds like danger... on further inquiry, she informs me that she's not home but the afternoon feeder said my horse had a "gash" on his head. She sent me a photo... I knew from experience that photos can be deceiving so...

Forget you, "Work Meeting", I'm off to wait for the vet... in my work clothes. I had a panic attack in the car but was able to remind myself that IT'S JUST A FLESH WOUND and HE'S NOT COLICKING.  I realized at that moment that I'll never be "over" the fear of losing a horse.

You may recall me getting a similar call back in 2010 when Junior decided to test the resiliency of equine facial skin.

He survived the ordeal and had the scar to prove how interesting he was.  I've already told Huck he is only allowed to emulate his late brother-from-another-mother this one time.  No more.  We have no idea what he did it on.  Three of us combed the paddock and can find no plausible danger.

The current theory is that his girlfriend punched him in the face.

Apparently she's taken to striking the boys instead of just squealing and tossing her head.  In case you're wondering if she could get her front hoof that high, watch this snippet from the recent film Unbranded (which is worth seeing for the scenery if not for the crazy): Unbranded Cactus

Huck fared better and worse. He only received 9 stitches (3 subcutaneous) compared to Junior's 14, but it was grosser and deeper and far too close to the eye for my comfort level.

I got the call at 4:30pm and the vet didn't get there until after 6 so it was a chilly worry-filled wait.  Eventually B came home and between us, her husband, son, and Kevin's owner, Huck had quite an audience for his little surgery.

The vet and tech were both really great.  I hadn't met either before, as is likely in an equine emergency when your regular vet and back-up vet are both busy.  They answered all my questions and were kind and helpful. Huck apparently takes a LOT of juice to sedate and between the tetanus booster, the antibiotics, the sedation, and the locals, he had a countless number of needle pokes that night.

I found it interesting that they had a giant foam/vinyl box called a "bale" to prop his head on.

I look warm... but I was not.

Sleepy drugged pony.  Owie.

He had a drain until Friday and the wrap came off on Saturday.  He's been doing really well.  He's spent the week in a stall and to everyone's surprise has been relaxed and chill the whole time.  B, having been a nurse, has been a tremendous care-giver this week.  I am so thankful that she takes such good care of my boy.  She's had to give him Banamine paste (that's done now) and mix his grain with powdered antibiotics, shredded carrot and Aloe Vera Juice... which btw is amazing for helping digestion/ulcers, etc.

I tried the helmet, but he shook his head and the side leather ended up over his eye, so no.

Who was that masked horse?

Kevin and Shadowfax wondering what they have to do to eat the grass on Huck's side of the fence!


I rode him lightly today and he did great.  He's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and cuddly. At this point we are just watching for any late signs of infection and either the stitches will fully dissolve, or we'll get the vet back out to remove them.

Our weather has been incredible and with the brand new Insta-Hot bathing system in the barn (yeah, I board at Horsie-Heaven) I was able to wash his mane and tail on Sunday.  What a treat to have soft clean hair in December!  His scratches, btw, are doing a lot better.  Just being in the stall is helping, but I did get a tube of Desitin today to see if we can get rid of that last stubborn spot.


Hey, you remember those 4 Ranch Shows I went to with Kevin? Well, we had our year-end banquet this weekend and Kevin and I were...

"Top 3" in Ranch Riding AND Green Boxing(!?!?!?!)
Reserve Champion in Horsemanship
Champion Green Ranch Rider!!!

We won a Wenger work headstall, reins, a collapsable/movable saddle rack and....


This means that I'm buckled out of the Green Rider division but I can still go for all the classes with Huck and eventually maybe we'll be cool enough to go for the Versatility.   For now I'm planning to do Ranch Riding, Horsemanship, Green Reining, Green Boxing and possibly Trail (still has some issues with swinging ropes) and Conformation with Huck for 2016..... oh heavens we have work to do!

I'm really thrilled that I was able to take a Western Pleasure horse and work him up to being a Green Ranch horse.  I remember when I first asked him to extend the jog and when I allowed him to walk at a working pace.  I'm really proud of the improvement we made through the year, even if we had our moments of less-than-grandeur.

New headstall, reins, and buckle!
Kevin's family was out of town for the weekend and they offered to let me ride him for the weekend. It was such fun to ride him again and feel how smooth his lope is. I do not regret my choice, but Huck does not have Kevin's smoothness.  Like butter.  I had to wear my buckle on Sunday and snap a few pictures to commemorate.  

My BO/friend B and her palomino barbie horse (in the background of above photo) was Reserve Champion in Ranch Reining and Ranch Boxing.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Still Thankful

I wrote the clinic post right after, but forgot to post it.  I re-read it before I posted it and refrained from editing. It was such a hopeful, happy post that I wanted to record that feeling. Since the clinic, though, we have stalled quite a bit.

As is any life with horses, there are ups and downs, plateaus and mountains.  So I know this is all normal and NBD.

Since the high of the clinic, I opened a big ol'dance concert with around 70 costumes, which meant I had to take about two weeks with only one ride/week.  So I am not surprised that the good work of the clinic, culminating in that first-try lead change has gone out the window.  I have not been able to get a lead change since that day.  Ugh.  I know it's all me, it's all how I'm riding, not a fault of my horse.

Dinner time?

We have a lot of work ahead of us.  Thank heaven our show season does not start until May.

In addition to the riding issues, we have scratches.  I've never had scratches before so the spot got to be a decent size before I realized it was a thing.  On Tuesday I soaked the foot in warm water and removed all the crusty stuff, then gently scrubbed with Betadine and dried thoroughly.  I then clipped the whole area very close and coated it in Wonder Dust.

Today after our ride, I removed where the crust was thickening, cleaned and dried it and applied more Wonder Dust.  I THINK it is looking better, but since this is my first experience I am only guessing.  The farrier comes on Monday and I'm sure he's seen it plenty of times.  I'll get his opinion and then call the vet if needed.  
November 8th.
November 24th, after cleaning.  :( 
Today, after a ride, a little sandy from the arena.

BUT.  I am still thankful for my stout little red horse. I am thankful for the beautiful farm we call home.  I am thankful I have a job that lets me (most of the time, anyway) have time to ride and a salary that makes horse ownership possible. I am thankful for my fun, supportive horse friends, and I am thankful for my readers that keep me thinking harder about what I do, what I say, and how I say it.

I hope you had a safe and comfortable Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Clinic Success!

First off, if you get a chance to work with James Cooler of Cooler Horsemanship... DO IT.  Seriously.  I don't care if you are a trail rider or grand prix dressage, he can help you understand how to move your horse.  He was entertaining and effective and he answered all my questions and was a superb teacher and mentor.  Plus I met some cool new people.  It was such a great weekend!
James horse taking roll in what James called "the best footing" he'd been in for a while.

Kate working with her horse at liberty.

We began the clinic Friday night with a demo by James, his QH Deuce, and his half-arab Indigo.  We sat and sipped wine while James gave us a rundown of the types of skills we were going to learn over the weekend.  He showed us some VERY cool at liberty work with his two horses, including having them practice cutting with each other.  James' wife, Kate, also did some cool liberty work with her arab/friesian cross.

The work began Saturday morning.  It was cold and I was nervous.  I haven't asked much of Huck in the 2.5 months I've had him.  He's smoother and softer than he was at first and he seems to have zero intention of disobeying me. But what would happen when we were being pushed in a clinic? For TWO WHOLE DAYS?

Well... I think I fell in love with my horse.

We had a little "moment" on Saturday morning.  I was late getting tacked up and I didn't really understand the first exercise... so we were one of 8 horses (a much busier arena than I'd had him in yet) going along the rail moving a 1/2 circle on the forehand, then a 1/2 circle on the haunches.  I don't really know what happened but he had a moment of tantrum and then we went back to working.  I think I was confusing him and then I overcorrected his confusion. He didn't buck but he sort of did a twisty jump forwards.  It was done in a moment and we kept on working.

By the end of the first day we were working on moving the hip to the inside while loping and I could NOT get him to move his hip.  He was tired, I was tired, and I had taken my spurs off earlier when we were working on spins.  I ended Saturday cold, exhausted, and a little down about not getting the last exercise.

Sunday began back with the same exercise and with my humane ball-end spurs he was right with me, moving the hip as I asked.  Then we did an exercise to help prep for lead changes, something I haven't really dared to attempt yet.  I know he is trained for them, but I wanted to wait until I had "professional help" before trying.

Tired pony. Good pony.

The exercise was to take the rail but then come down the center of the arena, pushing the hip in.  Then stop and side-pass towards the new direction and ask for a lope-off.  We did that a few times and then James told us to go ahead and try a lead change.  I was so nervous I didn't even hear his instructions, but luckily Kate got it on video so I could watch it after.  It's at the end of the post. We did it!  There was a little hesitation, but considering that was his first flying change in over 2 years I'm just thrilled! I think the bobble was anticipating the stop/side pass since that's what we'd been doing.

By the end of Sunday we were very very tired, but he continued to give me so much try and zero attitude.

I really feel like I have some great tools to work with this winter, as well as some confidence in my riding and my horse.  We've come so far in such a short period of time, I cannot wait to see how far we can go.

We're having James back in February or March and I am already excited!

Happy Riding!

Here we are with James, at the end of the weekend.

Rebecca and Huck's first flying lead change during the Focus in Reining Clinic last weekend at Black Swan Farm.
Posted by Cooler Horsemanship on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Huck's New Halter

A new halter, just for my Huckleberry.

I just love it and I think Huckleberry's rather handsome in teal.  
I wanted to have a personalized  halter in our wardrobe.  I had this cute brown/pink one made for Junior a while back...

I didn't want to do the embroidery again. I didn't want to do leather with a metal plate...too English  ;) but I also don't care for the bronc style (too barrel racer), so I started looking for inspiration.    I found The Lazy H Studios LLC on Etsy.  I also found her facebook page and found a leather noseband style that I just fell in love with.  I love that I could get both his show name and his barn name on a 1" leather noseband!  It came with different conchos but I purchased copper conchos to match the halter hardware. I wanted the paint color to match the teal halter so she let me mail her the noseband piece to use for reference.

You simply cut the nylon noseband off of the halter and replace with the leather one.  I took the time to rip out the stitches "just in case" I want to have the old one stitched back on... but I do not recommend that; it took forever and I have no desire to try to sew it back on.

Lazy H was great to work with and the noseband was very reasonably priced at only $25 with free shipping.

Oh, and guess who's graduated to standing like a big boy, tied, ALONE withOUT bucking, rearing, or kicking the wall?  He even stayed quiet while I left him alone and cleaned all the stalls out of his sight!!

This weekend we have two full days of a reining clinic.  Time to figure out if I'm pressing the buttons correctly!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Deep Foundation

I officially own Huck!

His AQHA registration papers have MY name on them!

AND I was able to find out that his Foundation percentage is 89.36%!

What does that mean, you might be wondering?

That means that he's only about 10% Thoroughbred. If you'd like to read more about what a Foundation Quarter Horse is, check out the Foundation Quarter Horse Association website.

There is also the National Foundation Quarter Horse Association AND the Foundation Quarter Horse Registry.  Each requires their own chosen percentage for membership at 75% and 80% respectively.  The FQHA has the highest requirement of 85%.

What that means for us, is that we can compete for the Hi-Point Foundation Quarter Horse award at our ranch shows next year!

Hmmmm.  I went from hunter Arabians, to an all-around Thoroughbred/Paint to a Foundation Quarter Horse/reiner!

Oh how times change!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

One Month With Huckleberry

I've had Huck for a month now and I'm loving him more and more each ride.  I'm sure there will be a point when we plateau or decline, but for now I'm enjoying the upswing.

In our month together he's gone from a complete bucking rodeo in groundwork to walk/trot/lope and rollbacks with very little fuss.   He stands tied quietly for the most part and has grown accustomed to having Jackie taken away from him and no longer panics and calls to her the whole time she's gone.  He is slimming down a bit and getting more muscle so he's getting smoother in his gaits which is AWESOME because I miss Kevin's lope so much!  He's holding his lope longer and our circles are looking less like amoebas. His teeth were done this week FINALLY and the dentist estimated about 5 years since he'd had his teeth done.  I was able to feel the before and after and WOOF.  I think I felt a huge difference in our rides after that.  I took a clipper to him Thursday just to see what he would do and I got NO reaction at all, even when I tried the ears!  I don't clip the inside of the ears, but I like a clean shape and he let me accomplish that with zero drama.  I know he was shown extensively so I'm sure he'd been clipped many times, but I know plenty of horses (especially jumpy ones like him) that are a challenge to clip.  Even Kevin gave me a world of trouble when I first tried to clip his ears.

Huck has spooked a few times now: apparently last Thursday the tablecloth on the table in the arena (which has been there as long as he has) was a monster so we've had some moments about that.  I've been able to ride the spooks with no issues so far (*wood*) so either my seat has improved over my year with Kevin or he's just that sturdy.  Or both.

He does not seem to be bothered by anything out on the trail yet.  As I mentioned in the last post, he's gone right into the creek each time I've asked and is happy to lead for most or all of our trail rides.  He's quiet and steady and aside from a snake moving off the path which made us both jump, he's been a solid citizen. Today we led most of the way with one of our trainer friends (he brought a 3 year old over to school), Kevin and his owner and Zip and T in tow.  Huck was the only one who would go into the creek.

For some reason fall is the hardest when it comes to missing Junior.  I think it's probably because that last fall seemed like everything was falling into place.  We did our first Ranch show, he finally started to act like a Western Pleasure horse, we'd just started working on cows and we'd started mounted archery.... and then the colic.  I miss Junior and I'd give anything to bring him back, but I am happy with my new pony.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trail Horse? Check!

I've been pleasantly surprised with each ride on Huck.  He's getting stronger so quickly and I find him to be willing to please.  He remains more alert and jumpy than I am used to, but we had our first real spook today and I was able to ride it out without any trouble.  I can't explain it, but even though he's exactly the type of horse I would normally be very nervous around, I am NOT nervous about him. Sometimes when he jumps I jump, but I'm getting desensitized to it.  When I try slapping the training stick/string on the ground, he hides behind me. He hates it so he hides behind me. At least he is showing that he trusts me... or maybe I'm anthropomorphizing?  He'll always be alert and sensitive and hopefully that'll mean that he's going to be responsive and agile in the reining and cow work.  He's already getting better with standing tied, though I hear he still has a hard time when his GF, Jackie is taken away from him.

Jackie was very helpful in coaxing Huck through our water obstacle on the trail course.  The water is not clear in the obstacle so it's actually more scary for the horses than the actual creek.

Today we took a trail ride.  How spoiled are we that we have 80 acres to play on!?!?!  Had a few moments where he preferred Ledger to go ahead of us, but other than1 that he was in the lead the whole time.  We went into the creek and rode downstream and got out at another place. There were lovely little minnows and crayfish in the clear water.

In the meadow of goldenrod we were treated to butterflies of all kinds, and even a small snake at one point.  It was so beautiful and it smelled so fresh. Huck just went along easy, though he's much faster than Ledger so he and B kept having to jog to catch up.  Such a perfect afternoon!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pony Progress.

Huck is officially 14.2 so I can truly say I have a PONY!

Since my last post I had my last show with Kevin and made great progress with Huck.

The show went quite well.  I was happy with Kevin's behavior and performance.   I just tried to relax and enjoy the weekend since it was our last show of the season and my last ever show with Kevin. We ended up in the top 5 for all four of our classes!  2nd in Horsemanship, 3rd in Ranch Riding, 4th in Green Boxing and 5th in Green Reining.
Ranch Riding class.

The gal that was only .5 behind me for the Green Versatility buckle didn't come to the show so I know I increased my lead. The year-end results haven't been announced yet so I can't be certain exactly where we are in the Buckle race, but I'll let you know when I know!  A few other greenies had a good show, too.

Late night bareback on a draft!
B roped her first cow and got 2nd in the Freestyle Reining so that was super cool.  The show ended much earlier than any of the other shows because we moved both horsemanship and both trail classes to the grass field so we could run concurrently AND there were really just the season die-hards there, no newbies to fill up the classes.  We were showing to 11pm and even 12:30am at the other shows so when we were finished before we even had to turn the arena lights on, we didn't know what to do with ourselves!  I got to eat my steak in the light!  A few people got out their horses and there were some bareback shenanigans.  There may have been some drinking involved but nobody did anything too stupid and nobody got hurt.    I only watched, but I did hop on our friend's big Belgian gelding just to try him out.  Big sofa, that guy.  I also fell in love with his new puppy, Oliver and tried to take him home with me.

Sweet little Oliver

Just chillin' under the trailer.
 Huck is great!  He is coming along nicely, each ride is better than the last.  I'm learning his buttons and trying not to break them.  He's re-learning how to be a working horse who has to do hard things like stand quietly tied...

.... and allowing his girlfriend's owner to come take her horse away from him.  I started schooling him on this tonight, making him stay well back while I haltered her and led her into their run-in stall and into the barn aisle.  I took a stick/string with me and he understood the message.

But, under saddle he's a saint, just goes and does his job. We even ponied him with the ATV down to the creek last night with four dogs running around and he wasn't bothered at all.  He went right into the creek when B led him in (she was wearing water boots, I was not) and was really chill for his first adventure into the woods.

Why am I tied?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Right Man for the Job, Part II

"Huckleberry" is old-timey slang for "The right man for the job" and that is what I hope Huck will be.  Huckleberry Hound was a less old-timey cartoon character who was a little bumbly but nevertheless got the job done.

Huck came to us as Bandit.  Not sure how long he'd had the barn name.  I still use it a bit and in my head I combine it as Hucklebandit or Huckleberrybandit.

When I saw his ad, something caught my eye.  He was listed as a 7 year old "trail horse" that had been "originally trained in reining".   He was within my price range. I kept thinking about the ad and B had been encouraging me to try some other horses before committing to Kevin, even though we both love him.  Even the judge/trainer we got Kevin from said he'd like me to have a horse with more talent.

When I asked the seller for video and more photos, I got no photos, but I did get a copy of his papers and a video of him at a reining show with a youth rider.  I sent the info to B and she said "nice horse".   Usually when I send her sale videos she just says "no".

After the August show, as part of my soul searching, I asked B if she would go look at this horse with me as he was only about an hour away.  She suggested we have our farrier (trains/shows reiners) to look at him first as he lived in the same town.

Bob went to look at him and called B right away to say "if she doesn't buy him I will."

I started googling the horse's name and found his 2-year old sale ad listing him as "certainly one of the most talented Night Deposit Chex colts we have started. Out of AQHA Champion/Supreme reining and working cow horse mare.  This colt has the looks to be a top stallion and he has the potential and athletic ability to be a top reining horse or cow horse.  Lots of bone, shape and feel."

Of course a sale ad will say all the right things, but it just so happened that Bob knows the guy who campaigned him in his 3-year-old year and took him to the NRHA Futurity in 2011 so we also got some info from him about how great he was from someone not trying to sell him.  He was even started on cattle and "loved his job." So it seems that this very talented (though not NRHA World talented) gelding simply slipped through the cracks and got to take a nice long break from competition.

Four days later (same Saturday as the little show with Kevin I mentioned in the last post) we were out to try him.  He's been a pasture pet for two years.  The kid switched to Hunter Under Saddle right after the video I saw, but the Mom liked the horse so much they moved him to their back yard to a nice big grassy field.  Now dad wants to use the field for cattle so the horse needed to find a new home.  He was living with goats and ducks.  He ran up to us in the field and is super friendly.  He's a little jumpy, but considering he didn't get much interaction other than putting him in a stall at night with grain and letting him out in the morning, I think he's going to be fine.   He's shiny, healthy, sound, and a bit on the chunky side. Only known health issue is that his teeth haven't been done in at least 2 years, which we're fixing asap.   He bucked and freaked out while trying to lunge (owner warned us but I needed to know the full picture) so much I was a little afraid to get on him.  BUT something made me do it anyway.  I even made B lead us for a second so I could be sure he was relaxed and he was totally relaxed under saddle.  We only had the field to ride in but he did everything I asked, including spin! On grass!

Part of me wanted to hate this horse so I could just go back to Kevin. Instead I was kind of in love.  He has a Western Pleasure jog which is super rare for Reiners.  He was difficult to get to lope but he never fought.  I chalk that up to fitness level. After I untacked him he hung around near us.

The owner said he had someone coming over from Indiana to look at him the next weekend.  I knew I had to make the decision fast.  ANYBODY who saw this horse's breeding and rode him would see what we were seeing and snatch him up.  His ad didn't flatter him, but in person you KNEW he was something.

I had to make the decision fast and it was a lot easier to know what my decision would be than to admit it out loud to anyone.  It went against all of my intellect to buy the ONLY horse I looked at, but Junior was the first horse I looked at and he was the right one, too.

So I bought him.  I feel badly about Kevin but I know that if his owner decides to sell him we can find him a good home and we have the judge/trainer we got him from to help out with that.  BUT I decided to make the decision based on competing rather than having a pet.  I loved Junior and I would have never sold him even though we would not have been very competitive in the Ranch Versatility either, but I loved that horse and I would have been fine with that.

New pony!
But as much as I like Kevin, he's not my Heart Horse. Junior was.  It's okay because I have been fortunate to have had a whole year with him. I wish I could keep them both, but after only 4 days of trying to ride two horses I am done entertaining the fact.  Kevin was a great horse to start at these Ranch shows.  He was sane and sound enough to try things and give me a taste of what could be.  I will miss how easily and smoothly Kevin lopes and how far we've come with opening gates which is pretty flawless now. I think if I had bought Kevin last fall I would be in the same boat right now.  I'm ready for the right horse for the job.

I attended my first Ranch show with Junior and we placed in Trail.  I attended 3 (soon to be 4) Ranch shows with Kevin and we are in the lead for a buckle.  With Huck, who knows, but the 2 minutes we worked the flag last night got me pretty excited for the possibilities!!!

We brought him home on Tuesday and he's settling in.  He loaded in slow-motion, one foot at a time, but he didn't freak out or get super nervous.  He unloaded a little loudly, but easily. Still a little jumpy in general but improving.  We've had a few sessions of quiet ground work and a few rides.  I tried to take him through the water in the trail course be he wasn't having it.  We'll try that another time.  He went over the bridge after some tries but he didn't seem to have much experience/confidence working around a gate.  The first day he didn't want to walk into the wash stall, four days later I led him in and tied him and hosed him off with no issues. :)

He was VERY excited to see other horses and he was put in the smaller paddock over by the one mare and he bucked and reared and considered jumping the fence when she disappeared into her run-in. So now they're just in together as that seems safer.  She squeals a lot at him but (so far) he doesn't have a mark on him.  Feeding time is causing some drama but I think they'll work it out.  The other geldings aren't that thrilled that the mare has a boyfriend but they'll all chill out eventually. Thankfully he still lets me catch him and lead him away from her without fuss.

Huck and Jackie falling in love.
We had a clinician come yesterday for a session on Ranch maneuvers.  Huck was a bit amped up so I opted to ride Kevin instead and put the work towards our show next weekend. After we were done I tacked up Huck, who seemed a bit calmer, and rode during the break.  His spins are getting faster and I'm learning how to move my head so I don't throw up.  He's loping longer but I'm being very cautious and only loping a circle at a time.  Once I get a good full small circle we're done.  We're jogging serpentines and circles and taking lots of walk breaks.  It'll be a while before he's back in condition and we can really see what he's got.  So far I like everything.  Even though he's a little wonky, he's so wide that he feels completely stable, which is a new feeling for me!  I guess I've needed a 4x4 this whole time!

SOOOO many adventures are ahead of us and I know there will be times when I think I made a mistake, and maybe I have.  But I can tell there will be times when I know I made a good choice.  And yes, I'm completely terrified that something will happen to him but I'll save my list of Overanxious thoughts for another post... or all the other posts. ;)  Oh, and he's 14.2 so he really is a pony!!!! (15 at the hip) I can mount from the ground!!!

I have a feeling this blog will liven back up to it's original purpose, now that I am officially and once again The Overanxious Horse OWNER.

Partial Blue!

I promise I don't actually ride with reins this uneven.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Right Man for the Job, Part I

I've been planning this post in my head for a while and I thought I would be telling you about how I bought Kevin.... but, I didn't buy Kevin.  I'll tell you the tale...

As you know, the show on August 1st didn't go well.  Up until that point I had been hoping that I would become Kevin's owner.  We were in good standing to win a year end buckle.  MY FIRST BUCKLE!!!! At a RANCH show!  I was making a western pleasure horse into a Ranch Versatility horse!!!!

But then the show happened.   I was so taken aback by his behavior I tried to find what to blame it on.  There had to be an explanation.  I had a lot of thoughts about footing, bare feet, my vacation, ridden by multiple riders.... but the more I thought about it, the clearer the picture became.  Could it have been those things?  Oh sure.  BUT, this horse had been so willing to work for me for so long.... I think he doesn't WANT to do this.  When I lope along the rail and pretend it's Ranch Pleasure he's just a doll.  When I ask for harder things: spins, good stops, fast lope, trotting poles in a spoke, working on natural footing, he STILL gets uppity and has been since the show.  It's like it took him 11 months to reach his tolerance ceiling.  Kind of like a nice Uncle saying "Yeah, okay sweeting, we're done playing that game now, BACKOFF."

Or it could have just been a bad day.  Now, I know that horses have bad days. But we've not found our groove again since the show.  We're good if we do pleasure.  We're not if I try to work on anything else. It's like his switch finally switched from "Oh, alright, we can do this new thing" to "NOPE."

I took him to the little local open show on Saturday just to see how things were going to be, whether or not we'd progressed from the debacle of the last show.  We were 2nd in Showmanship, his backup was crap. 2nd (to my barn mate) in Ranch Pleasure and 5th in Horsemanship.  Horsemanship did not go very well.  2/3 of it were respectable.  The last 3rd (lope, stop, back) was ugly. Seriously that's not even hard.

AND the best part is it took me over an hour on Thursday to get him on the trailer.  We were just schooling loading.  OVER AN HOUR and B had to step in.  Brat.

So the real question is... either way... are we going to be competitive?  Oh yeah.... I'm up for the GREEN buckle, where am I in the whole big pack?... Oh.... We're not very good.  We place in Green classes and we tend to place in the Ranch Riding class (rail only).... but that's it.  He'll let me track a cow but he doesn't seem to attach the cow to what I'm asking him to do... he's just not cowy.  Thankfully he's not been afraid of them, but we haven't tried going in the herd, our only time with cows has been the one in the Boxing class. I'm afraid we've reached Kevin's potential success as a Ranch Versatility horse.  He can go do the Ranch Pleasure I think.  He'll need some work over poles but they're at least straight travel.

Then the next question was... do I choose Kevin over the possibility of being competitive?  After I lost Junior and started to consider a next horse I knew I wanted a Ranch Versatility horse.  When Kevin showed up I wasn't ready to buy and I just wanted a horse to ride.  Then I got a little attached to him.  I adore him when he's not being a jerk, which unfortunately is less now than it was in June. He is super smooth and SOOOO easy to ride on the rail. Point and shoot most of the time.  Do I want to be good at just one class?  That's kind of the opposite of what Ranch Versatility is.  We cut, rein, rope, and ride.  We do it all.

I have been a habitual horse ad looker for years now. While I was in Wisconsin,  I came upon a brief ad with an unfortunate photo....

This butterball just became my new horse.

I will tell you more about the new horse in Part II, but I'll leave you with a photo of him showing his excitement when his new girl-next-door disappeared into the barn....