Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Ending

I am happy to report that My Boy and Loretta are now buddies! My patience with letting them get to know each other slowly over the fence paid off.

After a few days of giving them "playdates" together for a few hours a day in the corral, I finally saw them mutually grooming each other. It was the sign I was looking for and I fed them together that night.

There were no problems, they even ate their own grain out of their own tubs and shared a pile of hay.

This is such a relief. I like that My Boy has interaction with another horse, he has been alone for so many years and I often felt bad for him, like he was a bit bored throughout the day. I compare it to  having an older dog and then getting a younger puppy in the family- I think it keeps the older one more active and makes life more interesting for them.

I will say that My Boy is the more dominant one in the relationship, but I haven't noticed him being  aggressive.

My Boy waiting to get saddled for a ride. I love how our dog likes to lay in the shade the horses make! By the way, My Boy looks downhill here because some of the horses have pawed at the hitching post making it slope downward.

Loretta has been so great on our trail rides. She walks out so well. My Boy actually is a bit pokey and doesn't do a great job keeping up with her (although he's always faster on the way home........) I am loving both of my horses so much right now and have not regretted one second bringing Loretta into the family!

Loretta was a little spooky walking by this flatbed truck. Until she discovered it was covered with hay scraps, which she was more than willing to clean up for us!

The days are getting shorter. I can't believe it's dark by 7:30, and it's been harder to get up in the morning. The ponies are getting their thicker winter coats. The leaves are starting to change and some are already falling.......and I can't wait to bundle up and get some good autumn rides in October!

Oh, and I'm so excited for pumpkin spice lattes!

Enjoy your last weekend of September, everyone!

Ranch Girl

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Hunting Season!

Some people are hunting.....I'm job hunting. And starting to think about Christmas shopping. Guess what everyone I know is getting this year??

Notice who is in the background??

Speaking of which, I finally got my Etsy shop up and running! Check it out at:

Rockin Heart Jewelry and Vintage Finds

I listed a leather cuff just to practice how to do it and lo and behold, I got an email that it sold! I was so excited.

I will have more merchandise listed mid-October. I am hanging on to my items for now as I am hoping to be a vendor at a local harvest festival the first of October.

Back to the friend and I went trail riding yesterday. It is so great to have two horses and be able to take friends riding! We were quite the fashionistas in our lovely orange vests (because it is hunting season and safety is important!) My friend rode My Boy. She hadn't ridden in a while and did great with him. She even loped him in the arena when we got back! I was proud of my boy for taking such good care of my friend. Not many people have ridden my horse, other than Paint Girl, in the past 4 years!

I rode Loretta. I have to tell you, I am very happy with how she is as a trail horse. This was our second trail ride this week. The last one we went out with 3 other horses and rode off trail to visit friends. It was about a 2.5 hour round trip and she did so good, I think better than all three of the other horses! She led a lot of the way but was okay when not leading. We only found one thing to work on- puddles. It had rained the day before and the reflective shiny puddles were making her spooky. Oh boy, next spring is going to be fun!

Lo and My Boy bonding before and after the trail ride.

As good as she is on the trail, I want to continue her foundation in the arena, as that is where all things start. We loped a little yesterday after the ride but just down the rail (which wasn't really "down the rail" as she went crooked towards the middle of the arena and towards the horses walking on the other side.) More work in the arena loping alone and just letting her lope out forward and not worrying right now about staying straight will be good.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Ranch Girl 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chilly Temps and First Rides

The other night I told Ranch Boy I wanted him to take some photos of Loretta and I.

Well, there was something in the air that happens this time of year. I was going to ride her, but there was a cold wind picking up and it was getting late (and close to feeding time) so I bagged that idea.

I got out Loretta. She was wired. My Boy galloped and bucked around the corral as I led her to the hitching area. Loretta was a little spooky and not listening to me and walking all over me. Thank goodness I had decided not to ride. The weather completely changed that night, super cold and overcast. I think horses are great barometers for telling you when a storm is coming!

I groomed her and took her into the arena to do some work on the 14 ft. line. Right off the bat she leaped up into the air and started loping in a small circle. Luckily I was able to hold her, my new Buck Brannaman rope halter is awesome and just has great control on her head. We worked on circles both directions, whoa, and facing up.  Finally she got some of her sails down and I took her out to the big field for the photos.

We were losing daylight fast. I love the late afternoon sunlight before sunset for photography.

I have ridden Loretta two times since I've had her. She is doing so well. I am really thinking about things while I ride her (but trying not to overthink!)

This is what she is good at:

1. Whoa. She has a great stop. I am working on sitting down and asking with my seat before I even use my voice or reins. After we whoa, we usually back a few steps. She is back slowly but softly and is not raising her head when backing.

I think it is important that when you ask your horse to whoa, that you sit on them and wait a bit after they've stopped. Too many people say "whoa" then walk right off. I want a horse to relax, think, rest. Whoa means whoa, not pause. Try timing it. It feels like forever to even who and wait for 30 seconds. I usually stroke her neck or rub her hind at this point.

2. Move off leg. She is super sensitive to leg. Her previous ower rode with spurs. I have not been since she has been mine. I may start doing so at the walk and trot but won't at the lope because I don't trust that I am holding my legs still enough with spurs!  I am working on "opening" the leg of the direction I want her to move. For example, if we are moving to the right, I want to apply my left leg and slight lift my right with a slight shift in my body, opening that direction for her to move.

3. Reining. She is learning to rein and "steers" fairly well. I am practicing a lesson from Ken McNabb on collection. I am trying to ride with loose reins whenever possible. I want her to stay soft in the mouth.

4. Groundwork. She is learning to back at slight pressure on the leadline. She will drop her head when I press on her poll/nose. From the ground, I am getting her to pivot away from me to the right by holding up my leadline and stick (this is practice for moving her shoulder.) Going to the left was a different story~ very sticky feet!

Goals:  What I want to do with Loretta~

1. When on the line, she will whoa, but often won't turn all the way in towards me, or turns in and starts walking in to me.
2. Trotting straight lines. We are a little all over the arena at times. I am not worried about this now, I just want her to trot out comfortably, on a loose rein!
3. Speed. Right now she has multiple speeds. Fast trot, slow trot, surging, breaking into a walk. I am not expecting consistency. The most important thing to me is that she trots off when I ask. If we trot long enough she'll start to slow down.
4. Hooves. She lifts them well for cleaning (back ones are harder.) She has only had farrier work twice.
5. Spraying with hose. I sprayed her hooves the other day and she danced a little. Needs more practice.
6. She is getting much better with being sprayed with fly spray!
7. Loading. She has been trailered a handful of times but this will need work, she does not hop right in and usually needs some encouragement or another horse to go in first.

It is funny how you take for granted how good your ole 17 year-old been-there-done-that Appaloosa is! A youngster is in such a different place, especially a horse that came into her previous owner's hands with little exposure to things. I think this little mare is a quick learner. She has had a great foundation from her previous owner. I am not riding her for long periods of time in the arena. We are doing some groundwork, then about 20-25 minutes of riding. I do not want to sour her or bore her. I praise her when she does well (she soaks up a gentle voice and rubbing.) We end on a good note then we go for a nice walk after she's untacked and groomed, maybe graze on some grass.

Winter is around the corner and I do not have a covered arena to work her in so we will go backwards a bit until next spring. I am hoping to at least continue good groundwork this winter and saddle her so she doesn't forget the feel of a saddle on her back! I am not in a rush.

I am trying to slow down. Everything I do with her is slowwww. We groom slow and relaxed. I bridle and unbridle her as gently as i can. I think it is easy to create anxiety in young horses but being rushed and bumping teeth with the bit or jerking the bridle over their ears. It is good for me to slow down. I can get anxious or in a hurry. I have to make a conscious effort to think about what I am doing.

When I hop on My Boy, I know what I am getting. I have been riding him for 4 years. I know he isn't going to suddenly bolt or decide "I am done with this saddle and rider thing" and buck me off. With Loretta, she has only been ridden for about two months in her life!  In the scheme of miles and time, she is very green. We will have to learn to trust each other! We will be doing a little growing together. It has been a long time since I have had a green horse and I am not a trainer. I have resources should I need help. I am excited about the journey we are embarking on!

Ranch Girl

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rockin Heart

So, how did the name "Rockin Heart Jewelry" come to be?

Well, I debated over numerous names for weeks. The one I loved was "Flying Heart" but that was already taken on Etsy.

Here are a few of the heart shape rocks we've collected on the ranch or at the river. Always such a treasure to find one!

I had been finding heart shaped rocks in My Boy's pasture and corral. In fact, I had found at least one or two over the several years that he lived at Paint Girl's. Ideas hit me~ Heart Rocks.............Rockin Heart! It was perfect as I love the hearts and especially a heart with wings symbol (better suited to Flying Heart, but close enough......) plus I love the rock and roll vintage cowgirl gypsy junk thing........

It was cute, I had a little flea market at the ranch last weekend.  Two 5th grade sisters that were here helped me set up my goods one morning. One of them found me a heart rock, and this fun shaped rock and did a little display for me!

I also found this great necklace at a market and had to buy it and is was symbolic of this journey for me. This jewelry hobby is a "dream" for me! I was so excited to see the heart with wings.

Can anyone tell what the base of the pendant is made from??? Hint: it is a "repurposed" item!

I have a few bazaars and horse shows I hope to set up a jewelry table at in the coming months. That is a huge step for me. I am a bit shy about setting up and having people look at my goods. It just feels a bit nerve wracking ~ will they like it? What if I don't sell anything? Have any of you taken on an adventure like this, do you have any helpful advice?

I just have to try!! If you're going to dream, dream big, right?

Oh, and I can't leave this post without sharing a picture of my new pretty girl after our ride last night. More to come soon!!

Ranch Girl

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Pony's Bad Day

It's official~ I have a new pony! What have I got myself into?

However, Loretta's first day at the ranch did not start well.

A little background~ Loretta has been living at the ranch off and on while her previous owner worked there this summer. So she is accustomed to being at the ranch and has met My Boy over the fence previously when he is here too, which has been off and on all summer.

Her previous owner took her home last week. But when I decided I officially wanted her, she rode her over from her family's ranch yesterday morning, ponying another mare to ride home. After a few hours, we turned out Loretta with My Boy into the large corral (about the size of an arena.) My Boy was so excited and tried to make friends but Loretta gave him the cold shoulder and hung out next to the other mare's corral, unsure as to why she wasn't in with her.

After a few hours, previous owner decides to leave on the other mare. As she was riding out the driveway, Loretta ran up to the front gate to watch her go. My Boy followed her. The next thing I know he is double-barreling her over and over! Loretta is pushed into the corner of the gate by the water trough. I ran down to the corral waving my arms and yelling at him but as it is with these things, it all happened so fast. I think he kicked the gate combined with Loretta pushing on it, and the whole thing falls apart and Loretta escapes out of the corner. She runs up to the other mare and stands next to her as if to say, "Okay, I'm ready to go home now. And get me away from that gelding!"

I grabbed the gate so My Boy couldn't escape. We caught Loretta and checked her out, a few minor scrapes but no blood (I am sure she has bruises though.) We put her in a separate smaller corral. My Boy had a scrap on his fetlock. We put him back in the other corral. Ranch Boy proclaims, "He broke our 30-year old gate!" (I will have to get photos of the gate for you it is quite unique.)

I was so upset by what happened. I thought that integrating a horse into a herd would be much harder then just adding one new horse to another. I know horses kick and bicker as they get to know each other and establish dominance. As I just menioned a few posts ago, I see horses being mean to each other in the herd all the time on the ranch. I guess it's different seeing your own horses doing that to each other! It could have just been a bad timing of events, with Loretta's buddy leaving. For now, I have them in separate corrals. I am feeding them next to the fenceline separating them, and it's going fine.

In fact, My Boy has pretty much been hanging out alongside her corral since the whole thing happened, even more than he stands by Ruby and baby Howdy's corral.  

My Boy is such an easygoing horse. He NEVER, in the 4 years I've had him, attempted to kick a horse on the trail (even strange horses) or nip or pin his ears at horses through panels or corrals. In the past before I had him, he was pasture with mares, and this past spring, was with a gelding for a month. He was pasture next to Paint Girl's mares for those 4 years. At the ranch he has strange horses next to him a lot and he's friendly or at least cordial or indifferent, but never aggressive.

Seriously, I was thinking I JUST got this horse, her first day, and she gets kicked and goes through a gate? I got Loretta out last night and walked her around the arena. She seemed to be moving just fine. I worked on circling around me on the leadrope, turning and facing when I asked her to whoa. She did really well, I know she has some round pen work but I am not sure how much groundwork she's had on a line. She is a different horse than My Boy- (other than a slight stubborn streak) she is very loving and affectionate.

Everyone is telling me to put them together again and it will be fine, they'll work it out. I am hoping to try putting them together again in a few days. I will just watch them closely and perhaps not leave them together overnight for a while. We have a lot of visiting horses at the ranch right now so there are a lot of distractions and I don't feel like trying just yet. Also, this will also give Loretta a chance to settle in and get to know My Boy over the fence. Any additonal advice out there?

I will have Ranch Boy take some more photos of Loretta and I in the next day or so and get them posted for you!

Ranch Girl

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's September?

Where did summer go? Hard to believe kiddos are back in school!

Luckily we are still getting beautiful summer sunshine. But I'm a little itty-bitty bit excited for some fall crispness. I can smell it in the air!

I had a busy Labor Day weekend of riding. My Boy led and followed on two large trail rides (over 15 horses.) He was a really good boy! I have never had my horse going so well in the arena or on the trail. He much prefers the trail over the arena (both follow his pasture, of course!)

Little Howdy is nearing two months old and getting big! His baby coat is starting to shed and underneath is some bright red hair. We still think he is going to be a bay. He is wearing his big boy halter now and learning to lead.

He is doing very well. I am picking up his hooves and holding them. He almost always comes to the fence for scratches and pets. There are still things to work on before winter but so far Howdy shows a good mind on him. And oh boy, is he FAST! And I personally think he has a nice little flat-kneed lope. But maybe all foals do?

My Boy loves Howdy and his mama Ruby. In fact, I'm pretty sure he thinks he's Howdy daddy! When he visits the ranch he gets to live next door to them and he thinks that is pretty cool. He's a good babysitter.

I had the chance to go to the rodeo. I love watching a good rodeo! The highlight was watching Lindsay Sears do a barrel run on her mare Martha. I watched a few runs before her that but oh boy, when Lindsay came out and Martha turned those seemed to be lightyears of skill and talent from the others!

I also watched a western shooting horse event. Have you ever watched mounted shooting? It looks like a lot of fun! I think the riders with the fastest times make it look a bit easy. Firing a gun at balloons while running top speed and steering your horse through a pattern of poles has to require a bit of practice and skill!

Ranch Boy is busy working on irrigating the fields. When the water started bubbling up, it was like music to his ears. Lizzie couldn't resist playing in the water on a hot muggy day!

Someone is getting a bath tonight!

Well I'm off...... hoping to stay busy making cowgirl jewelry and getting ready to set up a small flea market this weekend.

Ranch Girl