Friday, July 29, 2011

The Sunday I Almost Sold My Horse

In the last post I mentioned going to war with my horse.

Let's just say in retrospect it was more like a 5 minute bicker over who forgot to put the milk back in the fridge.

The real war happened a few days later, last Sunday afternoon. That was a 4 hour battle.

That is how long it took to get a halter on my horse in his pasture.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the history, my 17 year old gelding has had issues with being caught that has stemmed several previous owners that I know of. My former farrier even said he used to have to corner him in a stall and catch him to shoe him for one of his owners. I have battled the issue off and on for 4 years but finally gave up and just kept a turnout halter on him. I'd take out a bucket of treats, he'd eat them, I'd clip on the leadrop and that was that. He was none the wiser.

However, since My Boy is now in my backyard, I decided to start working on this issue. Two weeks ago the turnout halter had slipped over one ear. When I went to adjust it in the pasture, he pulled back out of the halter and broke free. It took me about 20 minutes to get it back on him, hardly a problem.

Skip ahead a week and I decided to just take off the turnout halter completely. The next time I went to catch him, it took about 45 minutes of driving him around the pasture before he gave in but I got him caught.

Rewind to last Sunday. Middle of the day, hottest day of the summer.  I have no idea what I was thinking other than, "Gee, it's pretty warm, I bet My Boy won't want to run around much before he gives up. If it took 45 minutes last week, it'll probably only take about 20 minutes today!" Ha. Ha. Ha.

After 3 hours, yes, 3 hours of driving him around (me drinking two bottles of water and a Dr. Pepper) I was done. I could not go further without risk of getting heat exhaustion. I had My Boy driving around me, at times he'd face up and I thought he was ready to relent. Or he'd let me stroke his neck or even get his nose in the halter, then he'd turn and run off. At times he'd trot in a 20 ft. circle around me like he was on the longe line. I'd say whoa and he'd just walk on. I kept his feet moving, offering him relief peridocially to be caught. Truth be told his pasture isn't huge but it was big enough that keeping his feet moving at all times was just too hard on a hot summer summer day.

Exasperated, I called Paint Girl. She said to keep trying until dark! I totally agreed that I could not let him win this battle! But I said I told her that I just didn't have the energy in this heat to go any further. I decided plan B would be to not feed him dinner and try again later. If he refused, then he'd go hungry overnight. Maybe a hungry horse would be a little more willing to come out of his pasture to eat. Luckily Ranch Boy stepped in to try, fresh feet. After twenty minutes, our horsey neighbors who were watching the fiasco came over to help. More fresh feet and good horse experience. Finally, within half an hour My Boy gave up at his gate and let Ranch Boy and his mom get the halter on. He was dripping sweat head to tail. I had warmed him up, and they had worn him down.

Seriously, you'd think the horse thought I was shipping him off to slaughter the way he was fighting to be caught.

I walked him out, cooled him out, hosed him down, then moved him to a smaller corral on the ranch.

By the way, after I took care of my horse that night, I made pasta and sauce for dinner then couldn't eat a bit of it as I was pretty dehydrated and got a migraine from the whole stinkin' horse chasing afternoon. I ended up getting sick that night.

My Boy has been in the smaller corral since last Sunday. In this space I have been catching and haltering him with no problem. He walked away from me twice the first day, but quickly realized there was just no place to go. I think My Boy would do better being kept in a small corral, the catching wouldn't be an issue. However, I don't want him to be in a small corral, I like him to be in a small pasture where he can wander all day, nibbling on grass and keeping his arthritic hocks moving. He doesn't do well standing in one place all day, he can stock up in his hind fetlocks.

MB, pre-catching fiasco. In this photo, taken just before dusk, I was trying to capture the beautiful nearly-full moon as My Boy ate his dinner. Unfortunately, the moon was not showing up in any of the photos!

So after a few days of conversation with others, I've come to the conclusion that at his age, My Boy may never get over his catching issue. Past history has shown this behavior to recycle itself. Oh sure, I could try round-penning him (but I don't have a round-pen.) I already do a lot of groundwork with him and he's very respectful on the ground. People say, "Try putting the leadrope around his neck before haltering him." A leadrope does not hold my 1100 lb. horse when he decides he wants to pull back and away from my 104 lb. self. Trust me, I've tried it.

I think he's well-worth keeping despite this extremely frustrating habit (let me tell you last Sunday I was about ready to list him on!) I can keep a turn-out halter on him and got back to the treat method. It may seem like a cop-out but sometimes you just have to pick your battles.

Two days after the catching fiasco I had the best arena ride I've had in years on My Boy. We loped both directions, slow and on a loose rein, I kept my butt down and was more relaxed. We even did a simple lead change (he can do flying lead changes I just haven't done them with him in years.) It felt good and gave me a lot of confidence especially at the lope!

Funny story to close this post on- I had to find a new farrier for My Boy when I moved him. I opted to use the same farrier Ranch Boy uses. When the farrier got out of the truck he took one look at My Boy and said dead-pan: "I charge more for Appys." Hee hee. Let's just say I was proud that My Boy was PERFECT for that shoeing! The farrier also said his hooves should be in much better shape after about 6 months in the drier climate he is in. Right now he is at about 5 weeks from his last appointment and already in dire need of a reset. I usually go 7-9 weeks. His hooves are in such bad shape I am hoping they hold up through the summer.

I still get many compliments on My Boy! Many people who see him always comment on how cute and handsome he is.

But I already know that, despite how much of a stinker he can be to catch.

Ranch Girl

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ranch Life

It is great living in the country again but I'd forgotten certain aspects of country life.

Like the insects.

I love the sound of the insects in the grasses and woods (cicadas and crickets.) They hum day and night.

But there are the pesky insects, too. Like the one that just bit me on the arm while typing this post in the office! I have no idea where he came from. Sad to say, he didn't survive.

However, the most shocking insect I've seen was this moth.

It was nearly the size of my hand!

Please ignore my wrinkly, unpedicured hand.

It appeared to be dying, it looked like it had crashed into the side of the metal shop.

Then again, I don't know much about moth behavior during the day. I typically see them fluttering about in the lights at night. At least normal sized moths. I have never seen one the size of a bird fluttering about!

I will give you a My Boy update in my next post. I didn't get a ride in on him today as I had to help around the ranch. But oh goodness did MB and I got to battle on Friday! Those of you that know my horse can probably guess what it was about...... ?

And I am SO excited, I started making my western jewelry and leather bracelets! They are turning out pretty groovy and I hope to have my online store up and running by mid-August!

I hope you are all having a great weekend!

Ranch Girl

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fear of My Own Horse?

In the photo above I am riding my aunt's mare for the first time. I have seen this mare be great on the trails, but have seen her go fast in the arena which made me just slightly apprehensive. But once on her back and heading down the trail, I was fine.

I left a comment on HorseCentric's blog recently about trail riding and fear. I had a scary incident on My Boy last August on a trail ride. It was an awful ride, actually. To this day I am still shocked I didn't dismount and lead him the 2 hours home rather than stay on his very unsafe back. I attribute the bad ride to faulty equipment because I have not had those issues on a trail ride since. Regardless, every time I go out I am a little on edge.... will that behavior resurface?

I was telling Ranch Boy the other day that I actually feel safer riding ranch horses, or riding horses I don't know. Why is this? I will try to explain it. My Boy is my horse. Any behavior problems or changes are mine, to find the cause of and deal with. If My Boy starts tossing me on the trails, I have to sort out why, get on his back again, or find a trainer to help me. It is a huge responsibility, and it is mine. Let me clarify that I am not afraid to ride my horse and I don't sit up there an anxious mess!

When I am riding other people's horses, I am putting faith in that they are saying the horse is safe and won't hurt me. And if I have a great ride, then great. If I were to have an awful ride and get tossed or scared? Well, I never have to ride that horse again, right? I can say thank you very much for the ride, but I didn't like that horse and I'll pass on that one next time.

Ranch Boy and I on a trail ride in California. You will notice on this blog that RB and I are wearing helmets 99.5% of the time we ride. It is his story to tell by RB sustained a serious head injury from a fall from a horse when he was a teenager so a helmet is a necessity. For me, it's just a personal choice to save my brain. By the way, check out the mane on RB's horse! Woo-ee! It was a windy day!

I'm not saying every little thing a horse might do out of the norm scares me. For example, I will ride a horse again if once in a while he spooks at a deer on the trails. I'm talking about a horse that exhibits dangerous behavior such as bucking, bolting, rearing, or just being completely unresponsive and generally out of control.

I'm riding a large variety of horses these days and I am learning a lot about myself and horses in general. Fear is a funny thing, isn't it? Some people seem to crave that adrenaline, that edge of fear. They want to ride all the challenging horses, the crazy ones. I recently read in a journal I kept as a teenager that my pony was being prancy and jiggy on the trails and that "I loved it." Nowadays, I don't love that behavior.

It's just not my thing. I've always played it a bit safe. I like my bones, I've yet to break one. I'm okay not being a huge risk-taker when it comes to horses. I still have fun. I enjoy my moments in the saddle. I challenge myself and constantly learn, such as when I took saddleseat lessons two years ago on high-stepping Saddlebreds in a very flat saddle. And even playing it safe, there are no guarantees that something won't happen with any horse I ride. I am not unrealistic.

I am going to try to find a mobile instructor to give me some lessons this summer, and I'm saving up to participate in a clinic. I think I will benefit from some professional advice on my own horse, and someone to really push me and help me grow in my confidence.

What kind of rider are you and how does fear play into your experience with horses?

Ranch Girl

Monday, July 18, 2011

Little Helpers

There is never a shortage of little helpers around the ranch.

Mending fence. Notice the dogs are trying to help, too.

Feeding My Boy his grain (this is Ranch Boy's daughter's favorite job.)

Picking rocks.

There is nothing like growing up around a ranch!

Ranch Girl

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Breed of Hunter Jumper

That pretty Pinto in the last post, what had him so intrigued??

Well, Ranch Boy's mom told us the other night to bring out the camera and capture some of the mightly elk bulls that were grazing in the horse pasture.

One by one they wandered through the pasture, jumped the fence, crossed the driveway, jumped another fence, then wandered towards the hills.

They were pretty amazing, I have seen elk but have never seen any with racks like this! Cars were stopping on the road to gawk (drool?)

Have you ever been hunting? I just don't think I could take down one of these majestic beasts for sport. When it comes to "game", I think I'll draw the line at fishing.

We're lucky enough to see quite a few elk on our trail rides. Along with deer, hawks, owls, wild turkeys, and occasionally a coyote.

Adios, elk bums!
Ranch Girl

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Pinto for Paint Girl

Paint Girl has always had a fondness for bay Pintos, so I snapped these photos for my hard-working show groom sister who is finally on a little hiatus from work! This was a horse that was at the ranch a week ago. I have no idea what breed of horse he was.

Any ideas?

He was watching something pretty interesting out in the big field.

I will share photos of what he was looking at in my next post.........

What is your favorite coloring of a Pinto or Paint?

Ranch Girl

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Howdy~ Welcome to the World!

Normally scheduled programming has been interrupted around the ranch this morning~

What has all the geldings so intrigued??

Yep, the foal has arrived!!

Everyone is doing well. Mom still needs to pass the afterbirth. Foal had his first poops, nursing, little bucks, lope, and is now napping in the straw.

Ranch Boy getting ready to help his mom with foal's enema, first shot, etc.....

Getting to know "Howdy" (they are so easy when they are this little...)

It's a colt, bay, born around 7:30 a.m. I will filter through the contest entries later to see if anyone guessed correctly! More details and photos to follow, the veterinarian is on his way.

UPDATE~ We have a contest winner!! Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails. I love her blog, go check it out if you haven't already!! Ranch Boy and I will begin working on the barnwood frame in the next few weeks and get it out to you!!!!

Ranch Girl

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Cowpokes in Town

Do these cowpokes look at all familiar?

Is there anything this couple doesn't look good in?

Pictures of the royal couple during their visit to Calgary for the Stampede, via Google images.


I hope you are all having a woo-hoo weekend!

Ranch Girl

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Someone's Gotta Do It

I consider myself a pretty efficient, capable Ranch Girl. For example, I can clean my horse's trough.

It was time to get My Boy his own trough (he'd been borrowing one from the ranch.)

YOU- yes you My Boy, are getting a new trough!

My RB cleaned out the metal one and set up the new one while I snapped pictures.

After this task, we brough out out My Boy. I asked RB to hold him for a second while I took more pictures.

It's a tough job on the ranch, taking pictures.

Someone's gotta do it.

Thank you RB, for all you do for me!

Ranch Girl

Monday, July 4, 2011

You've Got A Friend In Me

Who knew something as simple as the surprise of a tiny bouquet of wildflowers and my very own "Woody" doll could make my day?

Happy 4th of July to you all. I hope your holiday is safe, memorable, and sparkly!

Ranch Girl

p.s. I have always loved the Toy Story movies and have always wanted a Woody doll. Yes, I'm 40. Is this normal?

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Perfect Evening

1. Saddle up two of the ranch horses and head out for a trail ride.

2. Ride through pine-forested woods to the neighbhor's house. Try not to get lost.

3. Arrive safely at the neighbhor's house, tie up horses to the trees.

4. Join party in progress, have elk steaks and wine and salad and cookies.

5. Chat with friends new and old.

6. Check out private resevoir on the property where friends are fishing for trout. Cast a few lines and get a nibble or two.

7. Sun is fading, time to hit the trail. Climb aboard hungry horses who are happy to get home.

8. Remind self for next time that a glass of wine helps one not worry so much about getting lost.

9. Head back through the woods and over the hill. Find a much shorter path home as the sun is setting.

Home safe and sound!

10. Turn horses out to pasture for their dinner.


Ranch Girl

P.S. Thank you to "Babe" for this ride. Babe is a bay Morgan, and my new favorite little mare at the ranch to take out on a trail ride.  She has the smoothest ground-covering walk out well and I feel like we could ride for days!

P.P.S. Thank you to my Ranch Boy for not getting us lost on this ride, one of my biggest fears about trail riding.

Just a reminder about my Mystery Foal Contest! Go HERE to enter if you haven't already. The contest will be running until Ruby foals, which is unknown but will be in the next few weeks!