Wednesday, January 29, 2014


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

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saratoga War Horse

Have you heard of this program? I randomly DVR'd it on HRTV the other day and found my heart strings pulled when I watched it.

I've always been interested with the concept as horses (and any animal, really) for use in therapy. Years ago I volunteered at a therapeutic horseback riding program, and hope to become involved again once Ranch Boy Jr. is in school. I've heard how gentling and training a wild mustang can help incarcerated criminals. I've seen autistic kids of all ages learn to bond with horses, learn to ride, and overcome their fears.

But for some reason, this war veteran and OTTB program really made such an impact on me. I can't explain it but if you go to the Saratoga War Horse or HRTV website I think you can watch the program or clips of it.

There is such a history of horses being used (and losing their lives) in war. This is not the case nowadays, but one veteran on the show reflected that in the past, these horses would have been at war right there with them.

I love how they teach the veterans how to round pen and do groundwork such as lounging first, using people, not horses, so that they understand the concepts and are successful. I love that seeing how these men and women, who had given up feeling useful in society again, find purpose by working and bonding with the horse. Much like a veteran; a once brilliant, well-trained and conditioned racehorse that for some reason lost his or her career, can also find a second hope. The tears and testimonials from the veterans during the program are pretty powerful.

I can't pretend to remotely comprehend what it would be like to be at war and see and experience what these veterans go through during their tour. Nor can I fully understand why they would choose to do it, but how could I not be thankful for their service? However, so many of them return broken and unable to function back in the real world. Horses are unconditional and live in the moment, giving these men and women the chance to find purpose and confidence, and show them that they are needed.

To those of us who have an innate lifetime love of horses, horses are our therapy too, right?  Imagine how different our world would be if everyone got to experience how horses can change your perspective on life and make it better.

Photos courtesy of the SWH Facebook page.


Ranch Girl

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Bug

Everyone at our house, except for me by some miracle, got the icky cold virus going around. Ranch Boy got it first then Jr got it. It was the first time in his life he has been sick and had a high fever. It was a rough few days, but he's recouping nicely now!

{Sick day! }

I had my first lesson and now I have a week off because my friend who loans me the horse is on vacation. I've been playing with trial saddles and got My Boy out for a test ride in the one I'm taking lessons in.  The ground is frozen like cement so I just trotted him in circles on the line in gravel driveway with the saddle on to make sure he wasn't feeling bucky, then I climbed on. I rode down the road to our neighbor's to have him look at the saddle tear, as he does saddle work. He didn't have the experience to take apart an English saddle. You can see the year in the seat in the photo below.

A little more research into saddle repair pretty much discouraged me from considering this comfy saddle because it basically needs a whole new leather seat- which will be quite pricey. So back to the drawing board- I have a few more to try. I'll find one.

We have family visiting this weekend, but the cousins might want to ride so if the weather holds, hopefully we will. I will try out the other saddle on My Boy regardless. I had fun riding him the other day, he's such a good old horse. Wishing you all a great weekend!

Ranch Girl

Monday, January 20, 2014

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Oh nellie, I'm gonna be sore!!

My lessons have begun.....

Here is the story of how it all came to be. I knew that finding an instructor for any type of english riding in my area would be challenging. There are a few beginner riding instructors. I knew if I was going to stress my budget a bit and spend money on lessons and learn something new, even if I did not plan to compete, it was important to ride with someone who knows their discipline. Even I am experienced enough to give beginner basic riding lessons.

I found one person that was well-qualified. However, this instructor did not have a school horse, only access to a boarder's horse for schooling use, one day a week. That would work fine, except the one day a week was also the day I happen to work! I was still determined to make it work somehow, when Ranch Boy's mom suggested I contact another gal we know through the ranch so I messaged her on Facebook.

What a great connection I made! This gal recommended her instructor whom she rides with, and said she had a schoolmaster horse I could ride! She offered to haul the horse to the barn with her mare for me to use for lessons (we just have to ride on the same day and back to back.) Could I get any more blessed? So a week later, after itching to get started on lessons and unsure how it was all going to come together, I had my first trial ride on her gelding. She also loaned me riding pants and gave me some older dressage saddles and tack to try on my horses as she is selling them.  I would like to purchase one to use on My Boy so I can continue to practice what I am learning.

{Photo of V a few years ago when he was a bit younger and wearing his summer coat!}

Let me tell you about the gelding (who I am on in the photo at the top.)  He is a 16.2 hh, 26 year old Dutch Warmblood gelding. This guy, who I'll call V, has quite the resume. He is a former Grand Prix jumper, imported from Germany, and has done it all. He acts more 13, has a huge engine, and will be a great babysitter for me, but skilled and challenging enough to help me learn.

My friend and I met up and rode Sunday so that I could get to know and ride V a bit before my first lesson.  V and I mostly puttered around the arena at a walk and trot- he was very forgiving of me bouncing around and trying to post on the correct diagonal. Then, on Monday afternoon I had my first official lesson. The instructor was great. I got to wear a little earpiece which amplified her voice- a brilliant idea! I didn't even feel or know it was there but it really helped me hear her because riding makes its own noise, not including other outside and barn noise.   This first lesson we talked a lot and I worked on using my seat, such as to speed up and slow down the walk, keeping my leg back under me and my toes pointed ahead- not out (I have no problem with heels down for some reason- in fact I almost overdo the heels-down), posting the trot, and a little at keeping my shoulders back. V was a great trooper he just kept trotting so I could work on all these things without having to fuss with him to much.

The instructor was easygoing and explained things well and I did not feel intimidated by her. I can only take one lesson a week so I am going to get on My Boy at least one other day in between.  Due to winter weather we can probably only walk or trot but I can at least practice the positioning and using my seat.

I will also begin the chore of trying saddles on My Boy and seeing if one of the two she has for sale will work. I am hardly an expert but got some helpful tips at the lesson (even where a dressage saddle sits on the back is different then I am used to. ) They are older style dressage saddles, one Crosby and one Passier, both brown which is not as common in dressage saddles these days, but I like it. I have only ridden in the Crosby so far because it is the one that fits V the best- it's very comfy! It needs minor stitching repair around a part of the seat but other wise in pretty good shape for its age. Until I know where I am going with this I do not want to invest in an expensive saddle and I keep reading about saddle fitting and how difficult it can be. If anyone has any dressage saddle experience or advice I will appreciate your help! I figured a better quality older saddle is a better choice then a cheap new saddle.

Anyway I am excited to be riding again and to be learning something new- dressage techniques are applicable to all styles of riding and it is going to really help me in my riding of both My Boy and getting Luna going the next few years!

Ranch Girl

Friday, January 17, 2014

Look Out PW Cooks- Not!

First, thank you all for the advice on the hay. I felt that mixing was the best option and you all validated that for me. I will continue mixing for the winter as long as I have access to those two kinds of hay- I do know both sellers have limited amounts. I'm due to restock next week!

Onward- look what I got for Christmas!

Now I don't have to borrow Ranch Boy's mom's cast iron dutch oven.

Having a baby has domesticated me a little. Plus, it's winter and I'm only working one day a week and Ranch Boy Jr. typically (as if anything with an 8 month old is typical.....) and conveniently naps right around dinner prep time. I used to enjoy baking (muffins and cookies and the like) but never cared much for cooking dinner beyond pasta or tacos (something I couldn't fub up!)

I got the Pioneer Woman's new holiday cookbook at Costco. Now I have all three (and the first one I met her and got autographed!) Why do I love to cook from her recipe books? Let me count the ways:
1. The ingredients are normal things I can find at a small town supermarket. 2. The recipes are easy to-follow and understand. Have you ever looked at a Martha Stewart magazine recipe? I swear they take hours and involve things like string and cheese cloth. Huh? I just learned how to use parchment paper. Baby steps, people!    3. The photos are delightful and helpful to me, in encouraging me to try to a recipe (because if it looks yummy, it probably is!) The photos also help me to know my attempts are on the right track. (Oh, that is what 'diced' looks like.....) Her cooking show is great, too! Even Ranch Boy will watch it with me. Sometimes we even drool.

I've made her meatballs (the sauce is to die for!) pulled pork, glazed ham, enchiladas, and Mac n' Cheese, just to name a few.  I pretty much want to try everything and my mom just gave me a freezer full of freshly butchered beef so I've got my measuring cups and chiles ready..... (PW likes the chilies...)

I think Ranch Boy appreciates the effort at cowboy food as he's a meat and potato kind of man.

Who is your favorite cookbook guru?

Ranch Girl

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hay There- I need your Opinion

Since I am feeding only two horses, which are in my backyard, I only buy about a ton or two of hay at a time. That is what is in my budget and what I have storage for. I have found a few local neighborhoods that have small hay fields and sell it for around $7 a bale.

I have two different types of hay right now and I am wondering if I should continue mixing them or switch over to one or the other.

The first is an alfalfa Orchard grass mix. I don't know the exact percentage I'm guessing 30-50 percent alfalfa. It's pretty green and has some good leafiness. The bales are really light and between the two horses I go through almost a bale a day. I don't like to feed alot of this hay because it seems richer for horses just sitting over the winter and not getting worked.

The other hay is an Orchard grass mix, I'd call it a "local grass hay." The owner told me it had some alfalfa but I don't see it. It got sun bleached after baled so it's pretty dry on the outside, and a little stemmy inside. It is not the best hay. But the bales are big and last longer. I consider this good filler and "munch hay" for cold, wet winter weather.

I feed each horse one flake of the greener and two of the grass, two times a day. They always go for the greener hay first, of course. They will eat the other but leave some and go back to it throughout the day.

You can see My Boy is choosing the greener stuff over the grass hay.

I feed my horses on the ground, and when it is wet and muddy I have two spots that are the "least wet of the wettest." They have a run in shed with footing that stays totally dry year round but I do not feed them in there because it is too small for them to eat in and get along nicely.

My horses don't use their shed very often. You can see "evidence" that they have been in there. When it is raining buckets I don't have sympathy for them when they are standing out in the rain soaking wet far away from their dry shed. I guess you can build it- but that won't necessarily mean they'll come. If it pours for about 24 hours straight they will usually succumb and stand in there together. Its small but they both fit. When Luna was 2 and the only horse in that pasture I'd catch her napping in the shed flat out on her side after breakfast when the sun was shining in it.

Back to my question- should I continue to mix the two types of hay? Or switch entirely to the alfalfa mix? I don't think I'd switch just to the grass only, because of the quality. They also get a pound each of grain supplement at night. My concern about the alfalfa mix alone is that I have to feed more of it to keep them happy and warm in the winter but it might be too rich to do that for horses that aren't getting worked right now.

If you haven't checked out my previous post with the yard sale tack items be sure to check them out! :)

Ranch Girl

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blogger Yard Sale- or Trade!!

I'm listing a few things for sale or trade.  I don't want to fuss with eBay and they aren't vintage so I can't do my Etsy shop. I need to clear out some things that I haven't been using.

Here is a list. I will take better, more detailed photos if you are interested or have more questions- feel free to email me at  I take PayPal and ship within 24-48 hrs from time of payment.

Lovely braided rawhide headstall with Chestnut leather, red trim and black horsehair detail on browband. Chicago screw at bit. Adjusts both sides, had throatlatch. (No bit or reins.)  $25 postage included. Does not have a noseband, my mare is wearing a halter under it in the above photo.

Rebecca Ray black leather wrist cuff with brass snaffle bit. This does not fit my petite wrist. I had an additional hole put in by a professional saddlemaker but it is still too bulky for my small bony wrist which is a bummer because I LOVE it and it retails for $78!! 1.5" wide and 9" long.   ★★sold★★

I have never worn it. It comes in the RR bag it came in.  $30 postage included.  Here
 is a link to the cuff on the website. They have some really cute equestrian themed items if you want to browse!

Tooled Leather cell phone holder with bling crystal berry concho and crystal rivet detail. Velcro closure and metal swivel hook on back for attaching to belt. Nice Chestnut and brown distressed leather color. Fits an I- Phone, BlackBerry etc. but not a bigger Samsung Galaxy (which why I'm not using it. ) $10 including postage.

Basically new Ariat boots,  worn out of house maybe two times because I'm a 6.5 and these are a 6 and they just are toooooo small but si stinkin fun! Groovy tatoo style print on shaft, Brown leather toe and heel with sharp looking barb wire red stitching. 
$40 including postage.

Hair on hide bronc halter. I bought this at an auction but it does not fit my mare's big mustang head! Never used, just tried it on her. It is a average/full horse size. Black nylon with adjustable nose band and snap at throat.  Nose band is a tawny cream brindle (?) Cowhide with 3 black and silver start conchos, nose band is backed in black suede. It is stiff but will loosen and shape to horse's nose.  $25 postage included. 

Crystal lucky Horseshoe soldered necklace. I bought this last year from one of my favorite Etsy vendors but now that I have an 8 month old baby who grabs my necklaces I don't wear it. 1" box with Horseshoe charm. Pink cloverleaf wax seal stamped medallion. On a 20" silver tone bead ball chain and tired with a silver ribbon. $15 postage included. Very unique! Sorry about the sideways photo loading from my phone which is always a challenge!

Back cinch horsehair "fly swatter." I bought this at a Parelli event and tried it on my geldings cinch and he freaked out and I never used it again. Comes with metal piece for attaching to dee ring on cinch. About 13" long.  $15 postage included. 

Crystal bling belt. Crystal rivets down center, silver studs on either side. Nice average/dark brown color faux leather with real leather lining. Silver tone engraved buckle. Like new. Size xs-s (30") $15 including postage.

Okay that is it for now!! Remember that these prices include shipping. 

I am open to some trades too! Here is my wish list for second hand items I'd like to find for my upcoming lessons:

Black dressage bridle with reins
Quilted schooling dressage saddle pads
Used breeches- maybe sz 26 or 28
Black Suede, or washable faux suede, ribbed half chaps size xs

Be sure to email me with any questions.

♥♥Ranch Girl♥♥

Friday, January 10, 2014

Second Chance Ranch

The Ranch gets a lot of horses given to it as a sort of " retirement" or second chance at a new life. I can't tell you how many ex-show horses have come here and tried to become trail horses.  Some were older and had minor lameness issues that prevented them from being competitive anymore.  Two whose owners really wanted them to work out were both warmbloods that had been jumping horses, but neither of them could handle the lifestyle change of living in a pasture with a large herd of horses. They were just too use to living solitary and being stalled.  One gelding settled into trail horse mode nicely, but couldn't handle the seperation anxiety of the herd or stand very calmly tied for saddling which the guests do themselves. After a trial period, they went back to their previous owners to find new homes. We try, but sometimes it's just not a good fit.

Two horses that worked out and are worth their weight in gold were an Andalusian gelding and an older OTTB. The Andalusian quickly became Ranch Boy's mom's favorite riding horse (she doesn't ride often) and top dog within the herd. As a former dressage mount and just a big powerful horse up front he has a lot of forward motion and super fun to canter!

The OTTB arrived last spring. In his younger years he had won something like $200,000 racing on the track then went on to do eventing. He has a fancy show name but quickly earned the nickname "Bean"- short for "string bean" because he's so tall and lanky. Here are some photos from his early show days.

Here he is now as a ranch horse with Ranch Boy's 8 yr. old daughter in the stirrups getting ready for a group trail ride.  She canters him all around the arena, too!

And guess who is riding him below? Yep, Ranch Boy Jr.! It was his first time ever sitting on a horse. I always thought it'd be My Boy that he'd ride first, but it happened that a chance for him to sit on Bean with his sissy arose, so he did. He is yet to actually sit on a horse in motion, so he really hasn't ridden.

Bean's former owner has come back to visit and give him carrots.  I'm sure it pleases her to know that he gets to live a laid back retirement lifestyle that puts smiles on kid's faces.  It's hard to imagine that this once energetic, competitive race and show horse is now a kid babysitter!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cleanliness and Jealousy

The other day I handed Ranch Boy Jr. to daddy and snagged an hour or so of pony grooming time. I decided to do My Boy first.

Not a great selfie of us~ he looks like some kind of cousin of the camel animal here!

Miss Lunatic Luna would have nothing of it! I tried to just groom my Boy in the pasture (haltered and on the lead rope) and she kept getting into our space. I shooed her away with the lead rope. I don't feel safe grooming a horse with another one nosing around and being pesky. Part of the problem was me- I'd had cookies for them when I caught My Boy so in her defense I'm pretttttyyyy sure she was just looking for more.

Shooing her did not work, and she ran off bucking a few times only to come back. I finally just led My Boy outside the pasture. You can see here how dirty she was to begin with?

Well, like a teenager, she continued her jealousy fit and galloped and bucked around the pasture, ending up warm and sweaty. Then to rub it in (literally) she rolled on both sides, in the wettest poopiest mud she could find. There was no way she was going to dry and get groomed by me today. At least the sun was out and I knew she'd dry okay before it cooled off.

The next day was overcast and getting chilly, which was another reason I wanted to get their coats clean- so their fuzzy fur could stand up and keep them warm!

Luna was very happy to be caught and stood like a statue while I groomed her. I almost needed safety goggles. The mud was so caked into the fur it was like cement (looked like it, too!)

I didn't have a wire curry with me but I used a wide mane and tail brush that I had which worked well to loosen the mud.


My Boy is really a charmer!

After Luna got her beauty spa day, I tried to scoop up some rotten apples that had fallen from under the tree

Gives a new meaning to the term "apple picker", eh?

It felt good to accomplish something with my horses, even just getting them cleaned up a bit. I know the snow is on its way and horse time will be even more limited, so a mild few days like we've had is the perfect chance to horse around!

Ranch Girl

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Confidence for Mommies

Everyone writes about riding confidence at some point, right?

One of my goals is to get back in the saddle, and to rebuild my confidence.

I use the word rebuild lightly. It's not like I was ever the most confident rider.

But since having a baby, I'm probably less confident. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I created and birthed a new little human and the most important thing to me is to love and protect him.  That mothering instinct is strong. And it does not involve getting myself maimed or killed by a 1200 pound animal.

When I found out I was pregnant (actually, even just suspected) I stopped riding completely.

I think some people thought I was being worrisome and over-protective. I didn't even want to ride the most gentle horse on the ranch. We call her "the couch." She's short, wide, comfy, steady as they go. Probably as close to bomb-proof as you get. This 4 year can ride her on a trail ride without a lead line.

I knew she wouldn't kill me, but what if I fell off and broke my leg or my neck? How fun would it be to be pregnant and have a broken bone?

After baby came, I wanted to ride. I wanted to even just groom or scoop poop. But as a breastfeeding mama, I hardly had two minutes to rub together to use the restroom, let alone get out and see my horses. One time I took the baby monitor to the pasture (which is like 50 feet from our house) during Ranch Boy Jr.'s nap and I swear I just got Luna haltered and he woke up. So I just gave up.

Over time, it has all become easier and now I can get 4-5 hour stretches away from Jr. and I can get in some horsey time. I had Luna in training but didn't get to ride, but felt motivated by watching her training sessions and I learned a lot.

This photo is from 2009, when for fun I slapped a friend's english saddle on My Boy and rode one day. I couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear at how different it felt. I think I was afraid to canter him, we just trotted. It had been years since I'd ridden English.

I know, my stirrups are way too short!

That is the reason I want to take some kind of riding lessons, even though I consider myself an intermediate to experienced rider. I want to challenge myself, and my confidence. It's harder to just chicken out when you are being held accountable by someone else, who is encouraging and guiding and pushing you. I am hoping to just have fun and enjoy horses again, knowing I can balance being a mommy and having a hobby that I am passionate about.

Have any of you ever encountered this post-baby confidence stuff?

Ranch Girl