Friday, March 30, 2012

Range Horses?

While driving home from Oregon last week we were heading through Goldendale, Washington.

Miles and miles of nothing but rolling hills and wind and sagebrush.

Then I looked closely and noticed animals in the far distance. They were horses!! Groups of them. I noticed groups of them off and on as we drove for miles.

See them??

{Photo taken on my I-phone through the open window of a moving car.}

Now, who did they belong to? Ranch Boy joked that they were wild horses but I didn't think there were wild horses in Washington or that they would be so close to the freeway (not that they were close....but within sight distance.) Were they someone's herd just wintering on the range? How in the world would you ever round them up? How would you ever know if one was injured? There wasn't a house or ranch to be seen for miles and miles.

I loved it though, seeing those little groups of horses, maybe imagining that I had seen wild Mustangs on the prairie......

P.S. I just started Loretta on a new diet thanks to our knowledge friend over at Brown-Eyed Cowgirls. I will keep you posted on how she is doing in the next week.

Ranch Girl

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dog and Pony Show

I mentioned in a recent post my idea of hosting a clinic, or riding in a clinic (or both.)

Since I got back into horses around six years ago, I have attended many clinics. You might not have heard of some of the clinicians-(insert sarcasm here......).... Parelli, Buck, Clinton..... Those are like household names in the horse industry, whether you like them or not. I have also seen Ken McNabb, and a little of other smaller, lesser known-clinicians such as Chuck Kraft, Kathleen Lindley, Barb Apple, Steve Rother.. among others whose names I can't recall. I actually really enjoyed Kathleen Lindley and the book which I have been reading and wrote about in this post. Okay....I just realized that I'm starting to look a little like a clinician junkie....

I primarily attend and audit clinics because this is affordable to me. Riding in a clinic can be quite pricey. And, I didn't always have a good way to haul my horse to a clinic. And truthfully, I am a bit nervous and timid about riding in front of a group and an "expert."  This is also the reason I most want to do it- I think the experience itself will be a huge confidence booster for me. I have also decided that since riding horses is something I am going to be doing frequently, hopefully for the rest of my life, and because I am primarily "self-taught", it will not hurt me to get some feedback and work on my horsemanship.

One of the issues that has surfaced for me as I have watched clinics as how so many of them spend a lot of time showing you what their very well-trained, fancy horses can do. While I admire the fact their horse can climb a ladder, balance on all four legs on a large rubber ball, and spin for an hour on their nose when you point at them with your pinkie finger, I need practical, real-world help. While it is inspiring to see what you could possibly end up with (I particularly am interested in a ladder-climber) when you get back home to your own needs-to-be-dragged arena and groom your own fuzzy pony, those flashy dog and pony shows just don't really take you anywhere.

I only got to see a small bit of a Barb Apple clinic. I think she was working with four riders. She was on foot, she wasn't on a horse. I liked that right off the bat. I could listen to her better, because I wasn't just watching her horse. I spent more time watching the other "regular" riders in the clinic on their horses of assorted breeds.

She made a comment (somewhat jokingly) about how all she does is train riders (not horses) and I love that theory because I think it typically is US that needs the training and skills to be a better horseman and help our horses do the things we'd like them to do and the horse we'd like them to be. So, I am going to audit another one of her clinics (I know, here I go auditing again!) to confirm for myself that coughing up over $400 (gulp) and signing up for one of her clinics makes good sense for me. The great thing about her is that she is local for me, she has a ranch here in Washington so she feels very accessible in terms of needing additional support after a clinic.

Have any of you ever participated in a clinic? What were your thoughts, and any advice you have to offer me?

 Ranch Girl

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Ranch Boy!!

I am the luckiest Ranch Girl ever!!

p.s. I am offering a 20% discount in my Etsy shop today only until midnight, in honor of my Ranch Boy's birthday! So get yourself some cowgirl duds!! 
You can the link to my Etsy shop on the side bar or here: Rockin Heart Jewelry
Enter coupon code RANCHBOY at checkout to get the 20% off!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Ahead & A Goodbye

That photo about sums it up.

There are going to be some changes for me this spring. For one, in a few weeks I will only have one horse. Loretta is not getting better. She has been on ReguMate for almost a month and the vet said I should have noticed a difference if it was to help with her over-active ovaries. I feel that we have tried everything, with multiple vet visits, except the ulcer treatment. Why didn't I do the ulcer treatment? Honestly, the number one reason is that it would have cost me $984 for 30 days and I don't have $984 right now.

Second, I am not 100% sure she has ulcers, based on the somewhat inconclusive scope she received at the clinic. Her symptoms are so varied, so random (yet chronic) that it could be something else entirely (so why spend $984 on a treatment that might not work?)

So, Loretta will soon be returning to her previous owner, who was willing to take her back. Perhaps a change of environment will do the trick for her. Perhaps the lengthening daylight hours and her body will be able to cycle and get her feeling better in her reproductive areas. I don't know. But I know that I can hardly touch the mare right now and I can't do anything for her. I have been stressed out about this horse since last December. I can't look out my kitchen window in the morning without worrying about what she will be doing. I have felt helpless and unsure how to help her. I was to the point of considering having her put down.

My heart is broken. I can't think about letting her go without getting tears in my eyes. I fell in love with Loretta the minute I saw her and knew I wanted her. I don't just do that with any horse. I was so excited to have her as my up and coming trail horse. Her potential is amazing, which is why this is so much harder. If she was an older horse that had lived a great life, it wouldn't be so hard. But knowing that she is young and her life as a saddle horse was just beginning makes this so hard because once she is out of my hands, I ultimately have no say in her fate or where she ends up, even it it is the auction.

We don't know about her past, we don't know what kind of damage could be going on inside of her, the vet even hypothesized adhesions in her gut. I wish I was a millionaire. I wish I had the money to get more ultrasounds and scoping, and spend thousands on potential treatments. I love my pets like they are my children and do anything for them within my means. But I've always said that the line has to be drawn somewhere when it comes to finances. Some of you might not understand this and it is very hard for me to share it with you, but I need to.

Looking forward, I am going to shift my focus on My Boy this spring, and perhaps signing up to ride in a clinic, or perhaps even hosting one, too. I have plenty of project horses to work on at the ranch, including the colt (soon-to-be gelding) Howdy who will turn one this summer, and a few new horses that were purchased last year but not ridden much.

Other than that, I started a new teaching job that will keep me busy for about 30 hours a week when I am not at the ranch. I am also busy making my jewelry and while I am not going to retire rich on it I certainly love the creative outlet- I crave it and I love helping customers find something that makes them happy!

I am excited to start blogging more regularly, too. I am sorry to have been so distant I have just had a lot of things on my plate. I am ready for the renewal of spring, for a new beginning. I am excited about spring AND summer~ riding, spending time with family and friends, being outdoors round the clock, cooking, crafting..... just enjoying life to the fullest.

xo, Ranch Girl

Friday, March 2, 2012


Hi friends, I hope all is well in your corner of the world! There is some crazy weather going on around the country which is quite scary. I hope that you, your loved ones, your equines, and your other 4-leggers critters are all safe and sound.

We have still had some last attempts at snow, yet I feel that spring is around the corner. The horses are beginning to shed their winter coats!

Stop trying to take our photo and just feed us please!!

I am going to purchase a 15-day supply of Regu-Mate for Loretta next week. I have done some reading online (message boards can be addicting!) and have noticed quite a bit of information about "mare" issues and behavior and heatcycles/estrus, etc. While I can't find anyone that has had a mare with the exact symptoms as Loretta, I am hoping to help her by trying this first. Why? Well, the veterinarians can not tell me (by no fault of their own, as horses can't talk!) which of the two issues could be causing her symptoms and discomfort. Not even the ulcer scope was not 100% accurate due to water present in her stomach. Treating the ulcer first would be highly expensive. I will keep you updated.

As many of you know, catching My Boy has always been a huge issue when he's in a pasture, so as much as I hate it, I leave a turn-out halter on him. The other day one side got up over his ear and of course when I unbuckled it to fix it, he pulled back and away he ran, the halter left hanging in my hand. What a stinker! Ranch Boy and I have devised a way to get him haltered, though. It was my master plan and has worked twice. I am sure my smart pony has figured us out and it won't work again. I hate to use this method as it feels like cheating but let me tell you, this 18-year old is a piece of work when it comes to being caught. If he was young enough, I'd apply for him to be in a Clinton Anderson clinic!

So here is what we do. We use the white woven hot wire tape to create a smaller corner of his pasture. I feed hay as usual, then give him grain. We unplug the hot wire, tie one end on a post, then walk behind him to create the smaller corral. Now, My Boy is smarter than that and the first time he saw this space becoming smaller he took off running to escape but luckily Ranch Boy waved him back before he got by. He does not figure out the tape is not electrified (just shaking it a little is enough to keep him from it.) My Boy has always been respectful of fences. We shorten this triangular space little by little, until he is forced to stand in his run-in shed. Once he is there, he will stand parallel to the wall and look away from me in defiance, knowing he is trapped yet still not wanting to give in.

Here is what I did this time. I stroke his shoulder and just talk to him quietly. Then, I hold the halter to his head. The second he lowers his nose to smell it or even look at it, I pull it away. After doing this a few times, he actually would turn his head and follow the halter (almost taking a step.) I even had him dipping his nose in it. I would then pull it off and just pet him. It is interesting to me how this "pressure and release" method really works with horses. It is so frustrating to me that the minute my horse sees me approaching him with a halter in his pasture he won't let me near him, but when he knows he has no where to go, he dips his nose right in the halter. Due to his arthritis he is not the kind of horse I can keep in a confined space but if he was, I feel like we would not have this catching issue at all. But I love that he has plenty of pasture to roam around in all day.

I got my new necklace-making supplies today. I am really excited to start creating!! I also just finished a temporary job. I have next week off and then I will be starting a new job the following week. Lots of exciting changes going on!

Have a lovely weekend everyone!!

Ranch Girl