Saturday, December 13, 2014

Howdy!

Hello friends! So much time has passed since I've blogged. Not for lack of want, but I have been busy with the little one, married life (yep- we tied the knot!) and job-searching. Not to mention Facebook and Instagram, which has taken over my media time!

I still have My Boy and Luna. I did quite a bit of trail riding on Luna last summer after she got back from training and she was doing very well! Unfortunately, with a toddler running around, I did not get as much riding in as I'd like. We'll see what happens next spring.

I hope all is well and as we look towards 2015 I hope to start blogging more often! Here is a photo from our tree hunt today, we cut a tree off the ranch.


Wishing you and yours a very merry blessed holiday!

Ranch Girl

Monday, April 28, 2014

baby birthdays and a saddle!



I can't believe Ranch Boy Jr. Turned one!! He is an amazing baby he makes us smile every day. Today he was playing with the cordless phone and after hitting a few buttons to make a call he put it to his..... forehead. Silly boy! He did that several times.  He sits on my bathroom floor while I get ready and gets into my cupboard (the only one we haven't put safety latches on yet) and rearranges and organize my nail polishes into any container/shoe/box he can find. And we had him try baked beans (the sauce only-who wouldn't love the brown sugar sweetness?) And he threw up. He throws up anything with texture. He loves his runny mushy baby food only!

In other news I bought a saddle! It's a used Wintec Pro Dressage with the gullet change system. It's in pretty good shape and was a great price. I had a trial ride on My Boy and then a family friend who rides English (and is more knowledgeable about saddle fit then me) helped me for fit it to him and she gave it the thumbs up.



So while I didn't do the professional saddle fitter I am happy with what I ended up with. I just ordered stirrups and irons for it (I had to borrow some off a jump saddle to trial it. ) As soon as I get them I will share some better photos.


Oh- and my new adventure is up and running!! I'll share more in my next post but it is called "The "Pipsqueak Boutique" and you can find me on Facebook and Instagram! I am loving being creative again and making chalkboards, baby onesies, and other treasures for the nursery!!


One more of my cutie!! He wasn't too keen on the bow tie outfit, I'm afraid.




Ranch Girl

Friday, April 18, 2014

pedicure day and decisions


Sorry for the gap in postings. ...I was doing SOOOOO well there for a while!

I postponed my saddle fitting. It's complicated, but I will do a future post about it.

Regardless, the ponies needed a pedicure. Luna was awful. Luckily my farrier is patient with her. This time he worked her in circles on the line when she was bad, yielding and working on respect. He also had me not hold her. I thought this was great because I think I get worked up and embarrassed when she gets bad, and that energy probably trickles right down the lead rope to her! By the end of the session she was standing quite nicely and relaxed while having that last hoof done.


I know it will take time and more consistent handling of her hooves to get better. I have no excuses but in her defense she got a late start being she was BLM and didn't have her hooves handled until adopted at age 1.


In other news I started a new adventure. I am making baby clothing and vintage up-cycled treasures for nurseries, etc. And a few fun things for mommas! Check out my new Facebook page. I don't have enough likes yet to link you to it but if you search it is called "the pipsqueak boutique" and has a chalkboard photo in the header that says "you are my sunshine." Here is a photo of some of the cute Western onesies I appliqu├ęd.  They are $12 each with free shipping right now. These are new onesies, pre-washed, and Carters or Gerber brand.  I am only selling through PayPal invoices right now until I decide if I want to open an Etsy shop again.


It's been great using my creative side again I've really missed it!

Hope to make a goal of posting once a week. Thanks for sticking with me!!

Ranch Girl

Saturday, March 22, 2014

they're here.....

This is not the boot review I planned on doing but I couldn't wait to share. ....

I'll let the photos tell the story. ...








Don't you just love getting packages??

And yep, these are my weddin' boots!!

Ranch Girl


Saturday, March 15, 2014

muddy ponies

The new boy is adjusting to the other horses. Poor guy he really looks like a giraffe he is so tall!


You can see he found the mud! He was playing in the water with a tumbleweed, it was cute.


{My Boy and Luna saying hello to Kalypso and Howdy.}

My ponies are muddy and shedding hair like crazy, but I haven't had a chance to get out and groom them. You can see how big the run off creek is in the background. This field is going to need a lot of work once it dries out.  I want to have Ranch Boy harrow it. The back pasture I will let grow up for gazing (I'd love to re-seed it but that won't happen this year, which is a bummer because it's a lot of weeds now.)


I have been enjoying getting junior out for some sunny day walks.  Miss Scooter likes to tag along when she can!


I am trying on wedding dresses tomorrow! I can't believe it.  I'll try to share a photo but have to be careful because Ranch Boy reads my blog, hee hee!

Ranch Girl

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring fever

I think it's really here!! The snow melt caused the run off creek to flood and damage the culverts in my horse's pasture- I will have to get some photos. It was gorgeous out today and I wanted to ride but Ranch Boy was gone so I didn't have a sitter for the kiddo.  Maybe tomorrow!

I haven't had a lesson in a few weeks due to scheduling challenges with the lesson horse, but hopefully we'll get back on track next week. I did lose my part time job as the gift shop I worked at went out of business, so lesson funding is limited. However, I just started subbing at the school this week so that will help.


The Ranch got a new horse today. His name is Calypso. He is a 22 yr old Dutch Warmblood. He was a former show and lesson horse and will hopefully work out for the Ranch as a trail and lesson horse. He looks his age but has a nice expression and wasn't overly nervous when unloaded and put into the corral. Keeping our fingers crossed that he turns out to be a nice addition!

Next post- working on a boot review!

Ranch Girl

Monday, March 3, 2014

new ride

No, not a horse, but it has horse power!!!

{Ranch Boy Jr.  Approves! He loves sitting up high in his new car seat and looking or the windows!}

I traded in "White Lightning", my little 2002 Hyundai Accent. I was the only owner and it was a great little car for when I lived in the city where it never snowed and I pretty much only drove myself around.  It was the longest relationship I've had at 12 years. Yes, I teared up the day I traded it away. But it was time.  I need something that has AWD, is good in the snow, and safer for hauling the kiddos around. 

This Chrysler Aspen is not new, but it's new to me. They don't make them anymore. Think of it as a fancy Dodge Durango. It is the fanciest car I've ever owned. I even have seat heaters!  And like I said, it has some horse power. Do you know what that means? Yep! It can TOW. So can you guys guess what's next on my wishlist? A girl can dream. ......

The newbie needs a name and we're stuck!! Help me out and if I choose your suggestion I will send you a gift from Rockin Heart Jewelry and Vintage Finds, my little shop. Here are the details of the car to help you out:
2007 Chrysler Aspen 4wd blue/steel gray color. Hemi engine. Beige leather interior. can seat up to 8 passengers. I'd prefer a girl name but I'm open to all ideas.

Have fun and I can't wait to hear your suggestions!

RANCH GIRL

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Happy Birthday My Boy!

My Boy turned 20 this month. 20! I thought he was turning 19 and had to look up his registration papers to be sure.



Twenty sounds so old! My Boy came into my life when he was 14. He was in his prime. He doesn't look 20 to me, and hopefully that will improve this spring and summer when he gets ridden more and gets back into shape!

I know I have many happy years left to enjoy this goofy spotted pill, but I think according to the "Here's How" column in this month's Practical Horseman magazine, he is considered "old" or "aged." He does need to have his teeth done this year. He's back on his joint supplement. I think the best thing for him will be to come out of his semi-retirement and get used again!


Speaking of getting MB going again, I scheduled an appointment with a great local saddle fitter! So the first of April, I will have a 2 hour fitting for My Boy to get a dressage saddle! I am so excited.

My lesson was cancelled tomorrow but that worked out okay because I had to make a last minute car appointment. I might have to cut back to just two lessons a month for a while as my part time job fell through and I need to find something else to fund this new passion!

Ranch Girl

Sunday, February 23, 2014

These are the saddles of my life.......

Although a bit frustrating at times saddle shopping is kind of fun- like buying a pair of jeans. It's the thrill of the hunt! The quest for the perfect fit! Since it is winter and I have a saddle I do not NEED one right now so I have the time to get what I want. Let me add that I do not have a stack of cash sitting around to purchase saddle.  This is a pretty major purchase for me. I started with a budget around $350. I had a friend willing to sell me one of two older dressage saddles for $200- wow! But neither one worked. As I continued my search I found that my budget kept going up as I gathered more information about what I need and want. Funny how that happens, eh?  Now I am looking at new saddles- but synthetics, so the prices are better. I have never had a brand new saddle so I am kind of excited about this! My newest potential aside from the Wintec is the Thorowgood Dressage T4 and the Tekna S-line dressage. I will talk a little more about them further down in this post.

 I'm not into synthetics because I am vegan or anything, but am intetested to learn that some people are! Mostly I am into synthetic because of the price, and how it will wear for the kind of outdoor riding I will be doing.

You might have seen my past posts on these but here was the line up:

Older model Crosby spring seat dressage, 17" seat. You might remember that this one is the the one I use on the schoolmaster I ride. I love the comfort of it, but it has a large tear in the seat and would require a pretty expensive repair. It might also be a tad bit long in the flap for my 5'3" size! On the school horse, this saddle tips me a bit, not sure if that is because of the saddle or the horse but we are going to try adjusting that with a pad next time.


Next was a vintage (yes, 1979 to be exact!) Passier PS Baum. This is a traditional dressage saddle with flat flaps and no deep seat. It ended up being a 17.5". You can see from the photo it is too big and fairly long in the flap. It was in good shape for it's age. I read online that people covet these older-style Passiers! They love how it doesn't "lock you in" like many of the newer dressage saddles. Now, don't make fun of me in this photo (or do, because it is kind of funny!) I literally saddled up My Boy so that Ranch Boy could snap a photo of me in it, so I could assess how it looked with me sitting in it. I was wearing jeans and my cowboy boots and I know MB's flash bridle is not on correctly....we just walked around the yard it I wasn't actually riding.



Then another Passier which I consigned from a tack shop. This was a 16.5", much shorter in the flap, and made in 1984. It was in immaculate shape for its age! I loved this saddle but most of you agreed from the photos it was too narrow for My Boy (also a default of many of the older style saddles.) This saddle lacked in comfort but I really liked it.


Now we are up to the most recent two.  I haven't tried this first one yet because I don't have a rush on making a decision, it belongs to a friend of a neighbor who has had it for a while and is in no rush to sell it so I can trial it longer than most saddles. It is also an all purpose I think, and I want a dressage, but if I could get it for a steal I might just pick it up as an extra. It is a Courbette "the combination." It needs some cleaning but in good shape considering its age and that she evented in it. I do not know the year or other specs, it has a serial number but could not find any contact information for the company.


Lastly, I just got this one to try at my next lesson, loaned to me from V's owner as well (she has gone through a lot of saddles trying to find a good fit.....) This one is probably the newest of the older and the nicest in terms of a more current dressage style. It is a Legend, which I believe is a former Albion brand, from what I have been able to find online. It is a 17". The seat is fairly deep so that size might work for me, although the flaps seem narrow and long. I will add some fittings and hopefully give this a go at my next lesson. Also as you can see it is a bit of a two-tone, I think a dark brown and a lighter brown (at first I thought black, or maybe a faded black.) This one is the higher end of my price range, about the same as some of the synthetics I am eyeing. If this one works for me and My Boy, I would have to weigh getting a slightly older saddle for less versus a new one.....


As you can see from my potentials, brown has been the theme. This is because I have been looking at older saddles. I also like brown and I think it will make a comeback in dressage! But, black is fine too. Most of the synthetics only come in black in the United States.

Other than the Wintec in my last post, I am considering the Thorowgood T4 dressage. This one is made in England. They are a little harder to find here in the states. I think I like this one with the suede seat because it will have more "stick" for trail riding, even if I think it does make it look a little "tackier" and more fake. I love the T8 version with real leather knee rolls and seat, but it goes up $300 and at that point I might as well start looking at lower end leather. I have read a lot of good things about these saddles and they come in a vast range of fits (cob, high-wither, broad back.....all with changeable gullets, too.) I am going to call some stockists this week and try to find out more information about how this saddle rides.



I was also considering the Tekna S Line Dressage (also has changeable gullet system.)  But I think this one might be out of the running based on information I have gathered about the flap length, it might be best for taller riders. 




 I have talked to quite a few stockists about the Tekna and messaging with someone on their Facebook page and was very excited about this saddle at first.  It looks great for a synthetic! They make one with faux suede seat/flaps too, but the price is the same for the non-suede and the gal said it is not slippery.  One store back east said they sold 100 Teknas and only 4 have come back, and they are selling so well they have cut back on their stock of Wintecs. But, a slight turn-off is made in China. I know a lot things are. But I can really appreciate the Thorowgoods as they are on a SimaTree which is made in Warsall, England.

There were other saddles on Craigslist in the running, but they weren't local (as in not in my town or even within a half hour drive.) Driving a few hours would be worth it if it was the right saddle but it is trickier to get someone to give you a trial off of Craigslist. 

One thing I am considering is getting a saddle fitter out here this spring and doing it right. It costs a couple hundred dollars but they have saddles for you to try and at least you know you aren't spending a chunk of change on something that you won't be using in 4 months because it made your horse's back sore. I'm not sure I can wait until spring (which realistically makes the most sense to do, as the weather around here these days is NOT outdoor riding weather and quite a bit of lounging and riding occur during the saddle fitting session) because I am anxious to have something I can use in my lessons, should it also fit the lesson horse. I just think learning to ride in ONE saddle that is great for me and one that I will be using on my own horse makes sense, rather than having to switch back and forth.

Thank you for being willing to tag along on my journey! I am sure you have all had your share of saddle shopping adventures. Any horror stories out there? Any amazing finds or deals? Which saddle that you own is your absolute favorite, won't-part-with-saddle?

Ranch Girl

Thursday, February 20, 2014

White Stuff- Take a Hike!

When I lived in the city we would be lucky to get any snow at all...and as a school teacher I yearned for that "snow day"! When I relocated to be with Ranch Boy I was thrilled that there was snow on the ground most of the winter, because it was novel to me, and also reminded me of my childhood living in the country and having quite a bit of snow.



This year has been different. We had plenty of cold temps but really no snow until February! Usually we have a white Christmas, maybe even a white Thanksgiving. Because of this I decided to start taking lessons and thinking about riding at home since the weather was more manageable. Then, just when I get excited about riding.....the snow comes and makes everything more difficult. Yes, we are fairly equipped for foul weather around here with AWD and the roads are well-plowed, but there still has to be a safety factor taken into consideration.


{galloping snow ponies at feeding time!}

Add to that the addition of a 9 month old. When the weather gets above freezing I bundle him in his snowsuit and we go out for a stroller walk or "baby bob-sledding" on his sled. I believe children should get outside for some fresh air every day! Only when the temps are in the teens do I keep him inside. Then cabin fever sets in and I wrack my creative former preschool teacher brain trying to think of ways to entertain a baby all day!


{Vrromm vroom! He'll be driving this truck as soon as his feet can reach the pedals!}

Of course, Ranch Boy Jr. gets to drive the feed truck every day too, which he loves! He thinks he can honk the horn and he tries to play with the keys as he sits on my lap. He's been in the feed truck since he was a baby, then it was in his car seat and the bumpy rocking motion and warm summer air would put him to sleep.

I had Junior's white noise machine on the other night and it was playing the sound of crickets.....and suddenly I had a flashback of summertime! I am excited for this summer- watching Junior walk (and run!) around exploring the ranch, and also getting some saddle time (me more than him, obviously! That mama bear is rising up again.....do they make baby riding helmets?)

At least I have found a way to get some internet service at home so blogging has become a productive indoor winter activity that I can squeeze in when Junior is napping or having some solitary play time (sorry, mommy can't be a 24 hour entertainer!)

But until spring is here I will appreciate the beauty and stillness of the snowfall, and all the great irrigation this moisture will provide us when summer rolls around. And when I complain about hot, dusty, dry summer days, remind me of this post, okay?

Ranch Girl



Monday, February 17, 2014

Transitions

I wanted to give a quick update on my lessons. I had two weeks off due to scheduling issues and snow (yes, winter finally decided to make an appearance here in the Pacific Northwest!)



I was excited to get back on V! I've had two lessons (3 total now) and I am learning a lot. I got a nice compliment today from my instructor. She said that V responds well to me and is going better for me then she has seen him go with students in the past. This helps me feel like I DO kind of know what I am doing! Kind of.....wink wink!

V is not the kind of horse that is push-button. He is a former Grand Prix horse. Yes, he's a senior citizen but he makes you work and show him you know what you are doing. He is a big love bug. Seriously, a snuggle-poo. When you ride he makes you work (I was in a sweat- way overdressed!) but he never does anything silly or unsafe. He just won't stay on the bit or collected during transitions unless you can show him you can properly ask him and fuel his engine.

So, we are still trotting and walking. Here is a list of what I've been doing and I can't wait to apply these to riding when I get back on my own horses (my lessons are in an indoor arena so weather does not affect the rides as long as the roads are clear to get there!)
  1. Body position: chin up and eyes forward (I tend to like to watch my horse's ears and mane....) leg underneath, shoulders back, don't hollow my back.....
  2. Loosen hips, move them more, and use seat and hip motion to help control horses movement. The first time I used my seat alone to move him from a regular walk to a fast walk and to a trot or to down-shift I was like- ding ding ding! Brilliant!
  3. Transitions: when I was first asking V to move into a trot I was getting a giraffe headed Warmblood! Head would go up and he'd kind of "jump" into the trot. Not graceful. So, remembering to use leg and seat to build impulsion and movement at the walk moving into a flawless (well that would be the goal) trot, keeping him on the bit into the trot.....and equally keep that momentum as he comes into a walk. It sounds counter intuitive but it makes sense, keeping that energy even when slowing down. It shouldn't just all fall apart into a hither-wither jumble because we've come to a walk! Only when I give him his head on a loose rein as a reward after several good rounds of hard work can he just drop that head and lolly-gag around the arena. (Which he does well, mind you!)
I'm not sure I described everything exactly as I am learning it in "instructor-ese" but in a nutshell that is what we have worked on. A lot of trot, walk (one or two strides) trot (two strides) walk, and so on.....it's tricky putting all the pieces together, trying to rise on the right diagonal, and keep him together. But there were several times where it DID and it felt great! Especially when I began to feel where I needed to make adjustments, pull him back to a walk and ask again.  My instructor reminded me that if I let him leap all messy into the trot then I am just teaching him that is okay and what I want. So if it isn't good then we got back to the walk and ask again. If he does it then I soften my reins and give him a bit of a release while driving him with my legs and I can just feel him extend and soften. Yeah!


{Wintec Dressage Pro saddle in the photo above, which I found on Google Images from a Polish Message Board.}


In other news the saddle search is STILL going on. Part of the problem is that my position in the saddle I am borrowing for the lessons is tipping me back a bit. That pushes my legs out in front. So I pull my legs back where they need to be and guess what happens? It tips me forward. Its a vicious cycle. We are going to try to level out the saddle a bit next time. Meanwhile, I have another saddle to try from V's owner. It is a lovely, somewhat older leather saddle and the seat is probably a better fit for me (but I think the flap is a little too long) but I am really interested in trying a Wintec Dressage Pro with contourblocs. I am hoping to pick one up at a local tack shop once this crazy snow goes away so I can use it during a lesson, and try it on My Boy. I know, why would I want a synthetic over real leather? The appeal of the Wintec (besides price) is that they have adjustable gullets which could mean the saddle could potentially fit Luna as well. Also, I have heard the Wintecs are super comfortable, easy to care for, and are light-weight. This particular model has a bit of "equisuede" on it and gives you some extra "stick." Some people might not like this but as I will be also trail riding and riding a green horse in this saddle I might appreciate the deeper seat and sticky security. If any of you have an input on the Wintec dressage saddles I would appreciate the input either via comment here or you can email me at ranchgirldiaries@gmail.com. Thanks!

I hope your week is off to a good start (maybe with an extra day off on Monday?)

Ranch Girl

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mama Bear

I had my first "scary" moment with Ranch Boy Jr. the other day. Not bad for 9 months! I mean, he had a high fever with a cold and that was scary but this was different because if something had happened it would have been totally MY fault.


{Junior is learning to crawl and right now can only go backwards and turn....so he ends up in the funniest places.}

I have always been a bit of a worrywart- I now understand where the term "mama bear" comes from. Yes, I've been a  bit protective of Junior but I am not OVERprotective. And as time passed, I have become a more relaxed mother. Junior was my first child and maybe my only, so of course I want to protect him with my life.

I remember feeling that way about My Boy when I first got him. Every little scratch, I worried. I remember his first lameness.....his first abscess. My sister called me (that is where MB was boarded at the time) and said, "I think your horse has a broken back. He will hardly walk." I had just gotten off work. It was dark and pouring down rain. It was at least an hour and a half drive in the rain and commute to get up there to check on him.  Long story short, it was a hoof abscess (hot nail) and not a broken back but I remember being sick to my stomach and not sleeping all night while waiting until the vet came the next morning (he was better then next morning after a little bute with his dinner.)

After I became involved with Ranch Boy I learned to relax a little about horses. Helping him care for 30+ horses and seeing a variety of injuries over the last three years has helped me realize that a little scrape is not going to kill them. An emergency is an emergency, and I still probably worry more and would be quicker to call the vet before Ranch Boy would, but I have definitely learned to not be such a mama bear.

I think before I had a child, I was a natural motherly type and treated the animals in my care the same way I figured I would if I was a parent. I try to be vigilant about preventing potentially dangerous situations. I cap my t-posts (I know someone who lost a mare who decided to impale herself on one by trying to jump the fence when her pasture-mate was led away) I make sure there are no nails or protruding things that my horses could hurt themselves on. No, my pasture is not perfect, but I have done the best with what I have. I think we all know we could put our horse in a rubber padded stall and they'd find a way to injure themselves.

But having a child......a lot of my worry about horses flew out the window. My world was centered around Junior. And now that he is starting to scooch and crawl around, I see everything as dangerous to him, while he sees the world as his oyster. I won't share the entire story of what happened the other day but he basically got a hold of something he shouldn't have. I'm sure most parents have had almost happen with their babies, but it did make my heart pound. I knew he was okay to the best of my knowledge but the feeling of "OMG- I might have just seriously hurt my kid"- I couldn't believe that a silly, split-second decision could have ended differently. It made me open my eyes and remember that as his mother, I am solely responsible for his safety and well-being. That awesome responsibility is huge, and emotionally scary at times. But without that intense feeling, I wouldn't be able to do my job as a mama. And its the best job in the world. I gave Junior some extra snuggles and kisses that day, vowing to always do my best to protect my little bear cub from harm.

Ranch Bear Girl

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Luna- Time Will Tell



Luna is not the first young, green horse I have owned. But she is the first young green horse I have owned since I was a teenager.

In retrospect, it probably was not a good idea to get her. At the time, I did not know I was going to get pregnant and have a baby, which has changed everything in terms of the amount of time I have had to work with my young, green horse.

{You can also how wide my filly is. She is built like a tank and the bone in her legs is huge. It would be fascinating to know what breeds make up her mustang heritage. I've been told some Draft blood and maybe Foundation Quarter Horse. Also, she looks blood Bay here but has white hairs underneath and will totally roan out in the summer from her head back.}

But Luna came into my life with a lot of potential. The little, scrawny, winter-coat shedding 2 year old filly with a big head had a great disposition and I couldn't pass her up. She has not dissapointed me. The pregnancy set us back but I was able to find a great local trainer and I had 30 rides put on her this fall. She continued to show that she is moving in the right direction of becoming a good riding horse.
However, I am a long way from having a finished horse and knowing ultimately if she will work out for me. That is the gamble of a young, green horse. You can learn as much about their breeding, history, and monitor their body language and disposition on the ground. But ultimately you won't know what kind of horse they will be as they mature and begin to be ridden under saddle. Time will tell.

As Luna is a mustang born in the wild, we know little about her genetics and family disposition. Luckily I knew her owner, who was the person who adopted, gentled, and did some preliminary saddle work with her. I trusted that she had a good start. I don't have any specific goal for Luna other than she be a solid trail horse. She needs to be trustworthy on the trails and good with other horses. That is the only thing she needs to be. If we could round up some cattle (she shows some cowy-ness) or do some dressage or pop over a jump, then that would be a fun bonus. 

If given the time and training we find that trail riding just isn't Luna's thing, then hopefully I am in the position to use her in a way that will best develop and foster her talents. If I can't, I sadly wouldn't keep her because she is too good of a horse and craves attention and work- an idle pasture pony she does not want to be!  It would break my heart if she didn't work out because I have come to adore this darling mare- she is quite the character and full of personality! Hopefully that won't come to be, because I really do feel that she will make a great trail horse.

 It's a gamble for sure, raising a foal or getting a young horse. It's such a blank slate.
Have you ever gotten a green horse and trained or had it trained? Did it work out or not for you?

Ranch Girl

Friday, February 7, 2014

my interview

I hope you will all participate! Cut and paste into your blog and have fun answering these horse-related questions!!


1. What is your favorite breed/s of horse, and if you could purchase a new horse what breed would it be?
When I was younger I was all about having "favorite breeds." It was Morgans, Appaloosas, Quarter Horses....and 50 others that changed on a monthly basis. But after being with Ranch Boy and working with his 30+ horses, I have come to realize it is not about the breed as much as it is about the horse. Sure, certain looks and personality traits of some breeds are more attractive to me than others. But my next horse won't be a particular breed just because, rather, I will look at all breeds and try to find the horse that best suits my intended discipline and personality. That being said, I think Friesians are one of the most beautiful breeds out there, and I still love Appaloosas! 

2. What is your favorite personal tack item?
I have a headstall for Luna that is special because her former owner made it. I am attached to my Circle Y western saddle because it was the first thing I bought when I got back into horses after a 16 year hiatus. I'm going to sell it but I'm kind of sad to.

3. Horse products you swear by?
I'd have to say joint supplement. I use a pellet form called Legacy Senior, but have used a variety of brands over the years for my 20 year old gelding who has some arthritis in his hocks. I wasn't sure it worked so I took him off of it one fall and he became quite off in the hind. After a few months of being back on it, he moved much happier and was his old self again. So, I believe!

4. Rider products or items you swear by?
Hmm.....obviously good footwear! I love my Muck brand boots for muddy or wet horse care. I like SSG deerskin gloves for riding and lounging. And I really like Ariat cowboy boots for riding. I'm just getting into English gear so I'm assuming I'll build up my favorites there too! I'm discovering that breeches are super comfy and why would anyone every want to ride in jeans?

5. Favorite tack catalogs to shop from?
I love to browse and dog-ear catalog pages! For western I like discount tack like Chicks, Jeffers, or Valley Vet. For English, Dover or Smart Pak are my new favorites. I got some great boots from Riding Warehouse Western/English (online, they are located in California.) They had a year end-sale and I called to ask about the boot sizing and got a real person that answered! She actually had the same boots and gave me some great advice. Not only were they on sale, there was no tax or shipping. Score!

6. Is your home decorated "horsey", as in western or equestrian-themed?
In some spots it has a few western and equestrian touches. Like barn wood frames, etc. Ranch Boy Jr.'s nursery has a few cowboy touches. But overall the home is pretty vintage and rustic chic.

7. Do you wear horse, Western, or equestrian-themed jewelry?
I did before I had a baby! Now I wear no jewelry because he wants to grab everything. My jewlery style has evolved. I made jewelry for several years and some of it was horse or western-themed. Then I became a Stella and Dot stylist and that jewlery is more trendy, vintage inspired. I really just like jewelry but am pretty eclectic, depends on my mood, where I am going, etc. 

8. A style of riding you'd like to try sometime?
Four years ago I took saddle seat lessons because I always wanted to! Now I'm doing dressage. Someday I'd love to learn to rope and move cattle.

9. Biggest lesson you've learned about horses?
That they are not big puppy dogs or pets. Yes I love them, but they can dangerous,  and need to be well-mannered and respectful. I think too many people spoil their horses unintentionally. I am guilty! By spoiling I don't just mean feeding them carrots and cookies. I mean letting them have an inch in a variety of situations when handling them on the ground and riding that build bad habits.  I don't think horses intentionally set out to take advantage of us and our bad habits, but over time if they find release and comfort in our little mistakes, they will settle there and become more difficult and then we've got problems on our hands! We can't really blame them when it was our fault to begin with by sending mixed messages.

10. Is your significant other a rider too?
Ha Ha! Ranch Boy's livliehood is centered around horses but he is not a horse lover or passionate about them like I am! I always called him a basketball and rap loving cowboy. I wish he would take some lessons or attend a clinic with me and try to understand horse nature a little better because I think the things that frustrate him about horses in his job could be a little easier if he could understand how a horse learns, rather than just expect the horse to do what he wants it to. That being said, he will trail ride with me and supports my interest and love in horses. It is the only hobby I really care to spend time or money on!

11. What horse issues bother you the most?
Where do I start? The biggest ones are abuse in training, whatever breed. Especially in the show world, it blows my mind what people do to horses to get the win. Do they even really love or care about horses, their welfare, and how they learn? I can't imagine. I'm talking those in the gaited horse world with soring and huge shoes, Arabian halter classes, head tying, etc. Every discipline has their share of bad and abusive trainers who want quick results. Other than that, domestic horse overpopulation/breeding and the BLM management wild horse issues are troublesome, too.



12. Favorite horse magazines to read, or do you just read blogs/online sites?
I love horse magazines and have since I was a kid!! I enjoy Equus and all of it's great health tips. I also get Sidelines, Cowgirl (that was a Christmas present from Ranch Boy) Practical Horseman and Western Horseman. I will pretty much read any horse magazine, when I can find the time. I usually have a stack that I am behind on! I love blogs/online reading but always will prefer the feel of a real magazine in my hands!

13. String along some thoughts that summarize your involvement of horses......
Sweet smell of horse sweat and leather.......feeding my horses no matter what the weather.....Jean Slaughter Doty books "Winter Pony" and "Summer Pony"......a beautiful dressage horse dancing across the arena.......leaves crunching under hooves on a fall ride.....the excitement of getting a new horse magazine or catalog in the mail....or better yet, a FedEx delivery of a horse product I ordered....browsing through tack shops.....talking "horse" with anyone who will listen!

14. Do you ever look on Craigslist or Dreamhorse or Horseclicks.com for horses or tack? For fun or real?
Yes, love these sites and "dreaming" on them! I've been dressage saddle shopping on all of them and look for horses for the ranch on Craigslist, or just to see what is out there.

Thank you everyone! I hope you will participate so we can learn a little more about you. Please let us know by leaving a comment if you are participating so we can link over to you and read your interview.

Happy weekend!!

Ranch Girl

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

help! with saddle fit!

I couldn't have chosen a worse time to trial a saddle. After a mild winter and the excitement that I could start riding, the ladt few days and in foreseeable future we've had bitter near blizzard temps and blowing snow. I technically only have the saddle until tomorrow but I'm hoping they will extend the trial for me.


My lesson was canceled Monday so my chance to have instructor see me sit and ride in the saddle didn't happen. The more important thing was to see if it fit my horse which I was doing alone as he is not my lesson horse and I had no way to haul him to the barn as the trailer is out of commission. I was able to bring him into my relatively dry hay shed and saddle him.


This is an older Passier dressage saddle it is in excellent condition for it's age, hardly broken in. I love that it is brown- not a fan of the black these days but my horse is sorrel and I like him in brown.

I've read a lot online about people loving these older Passier dressage saddles although apparently they don't rave reviews on comfort.  They aren't deep-seated or have tons of thigh blocks and knee rolls. I did email Passier the serial number and got back the specs on the saddle within 24 hrs which was cool.

I can see daylight along the spine between saddle and pad. I can get a hand comfortable between horses shoulder and flap. There appears to be no bridging. But it is the pommel that is throwing me off! It had a cutback pommel and it just looks odds the way or sits on him. I'm not even admitting the saddle is placed right on his back I'm just learning how to saddle a dressage horse too, the first lesson I had it far too forward like a Western saddle.



If you can help from a few photos, which I know is not ideal, please share your opinion on how it should fit. Thank you in advance!!! Practically every saddle I see for sale is listed because it "does not fit my horse" so I'm not pretending this was going to be easy. The gal I am borrowing the lesson horse from has 5 dressage saddles and that is because she had continually struggled with fitting her horses and herself.



I have a fun interview/questionnaire coming up in the next few days I hope you will all participate!

Ranch Girl

Saturday, February 1, 2014

snow day=colic day

My excitement for our snow day started with Ranch Boy and I taking Junior for his first sled ride. I couldn't stop smiling because he was all bundled in his snowsuit with his arms sticking straight out. He loved it and fussed every time we stopped!


Horses love watching silly things like babies on sleds! 


The fun was cut short when Ranch Boy and I went out to feed the Ranch horses. We drove the truck into the field. The horses were hyped from the snowy night and snortin and buckin' and eager to eat. Except one. 

She was laying down and did not get up when we drove in. Ranch Boy walked towards her and she jumped up and walked off to another area about 100 get away and laid back down. Not a good sign. 

We fed the horses, haltered the mare and led her out.  I put one of my horse's turnout blankets on her and RB started walking her as I called the vet.  The snow had started falling again. 

{Luna in the background watching. }

We'd lost a mare to colic a month ago and by the time we found her she was in poor shape- low pulse, no gut sounds, gray gums, hardly able to stand and walk, and throwing herself down. However, this mare seemed uncomfortable, but was fairly calm. She walked and rested, only trying to go down on her knees twice. She wasn't sweaty or looking at her side. 

The vet arrived and assessed her. Some gas  sounds. Didn't feel anything unusual during the rectal. He went to tube her and the reflux concerned him. Quite a bit of water came back out of the tube from her stomach and it was discolored. He didn't feel comfortable putting more fluid in on top of what might be there which would cause her for more discomfort. 

She got the sedative and banamine and he gave us a tube to administer later doses. Rest, walk, no food, monitor. 

This continued for 24 hrs. Even on banamine the little red mare spent most her time down. Either lying quietly or rolling gently on her side, but not all the way over. Just quietly down. 

The first night I got her out at 7:30 pm and walked her in the snow. I was encouraged
Add she walked briskly. On one pass from our walk to the barn I thought I spotted something in the snow.


Poop! Now we'd seen her poop some since the beginning, but it is always encouraging to see poop in a colicy horse. In fact, she even found some spilled hay in the snow and was nuzzling it like she wanted to eat.

The next 24 hrs was more of the same. At times she was up and looked better, other times she was down. RB went out at midnight both nights to give her banamine and walk her.  We went to check on her the second morning and it was obvious she was much worse, much more severe agitation and signs of pain, more rolling, up and down, and looking at her side.  Darn it. 

The vet came back out and the assessment was not good. Despite an intravenous dose of banamine her heart rate and agitation did not improve she pawed the ground while standing, wanting to lay down. The vet felt a pretty severe impaction this time. Her eyelids were blood red from toxins in her system. Without intervention at a clinic to possibly hydrate the bowels on IV, there was little we could do but end her pain. 

It is never an easy decision, whether the horse is a champion, a young horse with years of potential, or an older 21 year old mare like this one. Because of the length of her symptoms and severity, the decision was made to put her down. You don't know what is going on inside- there could already be a compromised bowel, rupture, tumor, etc. We'd only had the mare a few years and although she hadn't coliced before, we didn't know her history. 

Marey was laid to rest at 2:00 yesterday afternoon.


I feel bad that I never got to know this mare better.  She was one of those easy keeper horses. No drama. She just did her job hauling kids around. She wasn't very big- maybe 14.1 hands. She had a low head carriage and ears that kind of flopped out. She looked very uncomfortable to ride- she had stiff gaits. She was never prancing or running around the pasture with her trail flagged. In fact, you hardly noticed her at all. But you could count on her. She was reliable and never wavered. She was just good ole Marey.

I hope she's running with her tail flagged
In horsey heaven now.

Ranch Girl

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

frozen

Mother nature can provide us with things of great beauty at times.


Other times, I'd really like to sit down and have it out with her.  We've been under a frozen fog now for.....weeks. The sun couldn't even find its way out- it would try for 5 minutes then dissappear back into white oblivion.  The trees in the hills looked coated in snow but they are actually white with frozen fog ice.  You walk outside and little bits of "snow fog" are floating down from the sky. In the upper elevations it feels like you are in the scene of a post apocalyptic science fiction movie.


The temps have been mild enough to get out and manage horse time- 26 to 36 degrees. Except the ground is as hard as cement and even worse, all of the mud froze into deep lava rock-like ruts.

Yes, there has been beauty as the ice has formed crystalline art upon every conceivable surface- except the lower elevations where everything is just bland and barren. Without snow the resort and ski economy's are suffering. In the 3 years I have lived here with Ranch Boy I have never seen this little snow in the winter. Usually I spend most of the winter in snow boots and snow pants, sledding and snowmobiling with the kids.

Until this morning. What to my wondrous eyes did appear when I woke up.....


This was looking out my kitchen window just after daylight.


That was Luna jumping up and bucking after rolling in the snow.  I was holding Ranch Boy Jr before this and missed capturing My Boy rearing and leaping straight into the air. 


Feeding time- the sun is shining, it's actually warm and the snow is melting a bit already. But it is beautiful and if it's all we get, I'll
take it.


Ranch Girl