Monday, March 30, 2015

Icy Cold Weekend

Icy Cold Weekend

Soon as the weekend showed up, we plunged into the Arctic Circle.  Friday evening was so cold, that I couldn’t talk Kevin into riding with me.  The river was too high to cross, so I planned to do a few trips with Cole on the hill.  He was one little bundle of energy.  When I got to the bottom, flat part of the hill, I hesitated to trot at the usual spot.  I wisely decided to shorten distance to the stopping spot.  When I did ask him to trot, he made a  huge buck, trotted 3-4 long strides and we were at the end.  Turn, walk and repeat=buck , charge and halt.  Oh boy, I had a stick of dynamite underneath me.  It must have been the cold weather, the day off the day before and the fact that this was our first time out by ourselves this year—all put together.  He was so sensitive to my legs, that I had to cue his as light as I could.  Still, many times, he twitched like he was getting a jolt of electricity.  I decided to use voice cues.

I kept up the routine—trot a short distance to the end, halt, turn on the haunches, walk, turn on the haunches and trot again.  Gradually, I increased the distance.  I got more bucks, but they turned into leaps and finally, it just got trot sprints.  Cole was going back to his heritage—he is a descendant of the great Standardbred pacer, Dan Patch.  When he is in the mood and turns on that trot, it is more exhilarating than a gallop.  It isn’t merely a very fast trot.  He will do a very fast trot, and then a switch will flick and he will transform.  His hoof beats actually slow down and his stride lengthens—I so wish I could see it—and the trail just flies by.

Cruiser and Ranger both had very fast trots.  They would go so fast that you would barely rise when you posted—there was so little time between beats.  Cole’s trot is different because you actually post slower and it seems you are in the air for seconds at a time.  Of course, that is physically impossible, but that is what it feels like.  I’m not sure if Cole is faster than them or not, but he is certainly fun.

I wish we were able to cross the river that day.  He clearly needed to fly down the trail and get it out of his system.

Once he started to behave, I decided it was time to go home, but to be safe, I opted to lead.  When I got back to the barn, the indoor arena was empty, so I turned him loose and he ran and ran and ran.

Saturday and Sunday were even colder.  I took Cole on the walking ride with Ranger on both days. We did 3 trips on the hill, and he was perfectly behaved.

Now, for Dante.  Saturday, Ellen rode him in the arena and a little out on the driveway.  We then took his saddle and bridle off and I led him to the hill.  The first trip down, he did pretty good—and he was even better on the way up.  When I turned him around to do it again, he wouldn’t stop circling until he was facing home, again.  Evidently, he didn’t feel like walking down to the river, again.  That didn’t stop me from insisting.  We went through about 5 minutes struggling down 50 feet of trail.  He found his circles were futile, since I made him keep circling back to the correct direction.  He gave up and tried trotting to get away.  Then, I had to circle him to get him back to a walk.  We were getting nowhere.  Finally, I decided to let him trot as long as he was going down the hill.  Once he was, I would ask him to walk—then he would try again.  Finally, he gave up and walked straight down the hill.  He was perfect the rest of the way.

I was discouraged, but oddly, Ellen didn’t think he did that bad.  Sunday, we did the same routine.  Ellen led him both ways on the street, and that was great.  I led him down to the river—no problem.  I led him back up—no problem.  I turned him around to do it again—still no problem.  A little bit down the trail, he tried the trotting thing, but I just told him to walk and he did.  The rest of the way down to the bottom, he was fine.  It was a Dante miracle.  He does this all the time.  when we run into a snag and he misbehaves and I get discouraged—the next day, he is great.  We went back home with smiles on our faces.


Let’s hope next weekend is warmer.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Reluctantly deleted

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 


To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cole Train Flashback




Working with Dante

Working with Dante

Each time I go out to the barn, if Ellen isn’t there, I spend a little time with Dante doing spring tuning. We are just reviewing the things what he knows to prepare him for trail riding. For the first week, we played bus stop. He remembered the game quite well. It is where I take him to the end of the driveway and we wait for cars to pass. If he stands still, it click and treat him.

Dante remembered the game very well, and just loves it. Once I knew he would be 100 percent playing the game, I decided it was time to work on something else. He doesn’t agree. When I take him out of his stall, he wants to head right down the driveway. Instead, I have been taking him the other direction to review the loop. It is a small track in the back of the property.

The first day, I just walked him back and forth down the fence line leading to the loop. He did well with that. Next step—leading on the loop. He started out pretty good, but when we got to a section that was muddy, he started acting out by jumping, pulling back, rushing forward, cutting me off and once he gave a small buck. I would stop him or circle him; whichever seemed more appropriate. When we got to the last section of the loop where we were facing home, he started rushing.

That was just the first lap. On the second lap, he protested that he had to do it again. On the muddy section, he did everything he did before, but worse and he did it more times. I felt like I would never get out of there—we were circling so much. When we did, and we were facing the barn, he started rushing, again. Whenever he would walk calmly for a dozen steps or so, I would click him.

On the third lap, he started to figure it out. We still had trouble, but only a fraction of what we had previously. At the halfway point, a change came over him, and we were able to walk the rest of the way and back to the barn with no problem at all.

I remembered we went through all this last spring, too, and that made me feel better about his dismal performance. In fact, just a few weeks previous, I had similar problems with Cole when he hadn’t gotten out of the barn in a few weeks. Still, Dante is usually such a laid back fellow (Cole is not), it is discouraging when he gets this way.

My memory said that Dante improved last spring after his first awful lesson, so I was hopeful. A few days later, I took him out, again.

On the first lap—he was nearly perfect. On the second lap, he had one little temper tantrum when he realized he was going to do another lap. After a quick circle, he was able to walk like a gentleman the rest of the way. Two laps were enough since he was so good.

I need more daylight in the evening to be able to take him for a walk on the hill after I ride Cole on the trail, so we will continue on the driveway and loop until then.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Good News


Good News

Yes, this is good news. I finally got the results of the latest medical test, and it isn’t the C-word (and I don’t mean canter.) The problem is something very manageable, so that means life can go on. It is spring, and it is going to be a good one.

More good news—Kevin and I cross the river! Hurray! The first time was Friday night. Cole and Starry did great for their first trail ride of the year. They were both somewhat startled by a turkey running behind them, but they handled it well. Starry still made a fuss about going in the lead, and Kevin still made a fuss about Cole going too fast when he was in the lead—so nothing new going on with them. We kept it at a trot—though Cole would have loved to go for a gallop. He kept telling me he wanted to. We got back before dark.

On Saturday, Ellen wasn’t quite ready to take her first trip on the trail with Dante, so after a short arena ride, she got Ranger. I rode Dante on the backyard loop while she led Range. He was great, so we took off for the hill. I wanted to lead on the street, so I dismounted. Ranger went into one of his Ranger moods, and he was prancing, dancing, jogging and was just plain wound up. Dante was perfect. When we got to the trail, I decided just to stay dismounted because I remembered how much I ate the day before. Ranger settled down and we walked up and down the hill twice. Dante was perfect, again.

To celebrate, I took Cole out for a ride with Kevin and Starry.

Sunday, it was just frigid. Ellen rode Dante in the arena and out on the driveway. We then took Cole and Ranger for a few trips on the hill. Now, ready for more good news? Ranger’s breathing while walking up the hill was better than it has been in years. It really put a smile on our faces.

(I bet you thought I was going to tell you about a new horse in my future, didn’t you?)


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Thaw

The Thaw

It is so funny how something like just riding up and down a hill to a too-deep-to-cross river can be so satisfying in early spring and so unsatisfying later in the year.  The hill is thawed enough to ride on the whole thing.  The bottom is still icy/snowy, so we walked on that.  Once that thaws, we like to use that section to trot back and forth on.  We were just so happy to be out on the trail, that the fact we couldn’t cross the river didn’t bother us in the least.  We were just so happy to be out.

There is a flat section in the middle that is trottable, too, and Cole and Starry got to trot on that.

They were so typical last night.  We decided to have Starry go first and Cole follow.  Cole will stay behind a trotting horse, even if he feels like flying past.  I have used that many times to help Cole control his enthusiasm.  We made it about 5 steps, and then Starry didn’t want to go first.  He slowed down to a walk, and Kevin couldn’t get him to go.  I told Cole to pass, and as expected, he flew down the trail.  On another trip down, we put Cole in the front from the start, figuring Starry would not want to lead, again.  I warned Kevin that Cole would be fast, and of course, he was.  It only took a few seconds, and Starry was cantering somewhat out of control.  I was trotting somewhat out of control, too, but when I reached the part of the trail where the slope starts again, I said, “Whoa,” and Cole came to an immediate stop.  We looked back, and Kevin had Starry trotting, again.


And Kevin wondered why I didn’t want to trot up the hill going towards home… 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Update on the Present

Update on the Present

This is the most frustrating time of the year.  The weather has warmed up, the river has thawed (though it is still very high) and we can’t even get down the hill.  Our trail has turned into ice from us walking on it so much this winter.  Since it doesn’t get much sun, it takes a long time to melt.

It is now light enough to ride after work.  Last week, when the trail was still snow, I did get to ride Cole a few days on the hill.  He was very excited the first day, and much better the second day.  By the weekend, the trail was impossible.  We still have the loop in the back of the property.  Since the owner plowed it, there wasn’t that much snow amd ice to melt.  It is now mud, but at least we can ride outside.

Yesterday, it was very, very warm, and the hill was able to melt about ¾ of the way down—but it was solid ice from there.  I rode down with Kevin and Starry  one time.  We then went back to ride the loop.  As we were riding along the fence, a couple of horses that were in the outdoor arena ran up to visit us.  We saw them coming and told our guys to stand.  Cole is particularly sensitive to any actions from other horses, so I was worried he might get frightened.  He did.  I felt his whole body twitch, but he stood—waiting for the click—which I gave him and followed it up with a bunch of carrot slices.  I know how hard that was for him.  Starry did well, too, but he is a quieter, more tolerant horse than Cole.  Kevin and I both knew that if one horse reacted, the other horse would too.  We were so proud that neither one did.

Later, I let Dante play in the outdoor arena, and wow, did he play.   He rolled and ran and ran and rolled.  Ellen would have quite a mess to clean in the morning.  I didn’t bother turning Cole out—he is such a prima donna that he won’t run if it is too muddy.  He hates getting dirty.

We have been reviewing outdoor manners and automobiles with Dante.  He needs work on the former, but did well with the latter.  His biggest problem is just that he wants to play around.  I don’t think it will take him too long to get back up to speed.  It didn’t take Cole very long at all to remember he is supposed to walk when I say walk—always his most difficult lesson.  Ranger has been working outside most of the winter—except in extreme cold or icy conditions, so he is already accustomed to outdoor work—though even he has been rather hyper with the better weather.

They are all shedding well, but Ranger is simply molting—handfuls of hair is coming out. 

Trail riding is just around the corner.





Reluctantly Deleted

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 


To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Reluctantly Deleted

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 


To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Risks of Getting an New Horse

The Risks of Getting an New Horse

Choosing a new horse, whether you buy him or he is given to you, is a very risky endeavor.  All the riskier when you are like us, and plan to get a horse for keeps.  Ellen and I are just not the kind of people who can pass our animals on to an unknown future.  It doesn’t take very long, and we are so attached to our animals that we can’t let them go down an uncertain path.  So, when we choose, we choose carefully.

Who am I kidding.  We were all fairly certain Ellen would buy Dante when she went down to West Virginia.  I was far from sure that Cole was the right horse for me when I visited him—but I was feeling so out of sorts after losing Mingo, I bought him anyway.  Cruiser was love at first sight—but seriously, they called him Satan—I bought a horse named Satan!  The fact that it was less than 2 weeks after Brandy died probably influenced my decision, too, don’t you think?  With Kevin and Starry, it was love at first sight, too.  Ellen looked at few horses before choosing Ranger—and the main reason for saying “yes” was that they said he could cross water.  Mingo, I had from birth, so there was no choosing there.

*****




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reluctantly Deleted

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 


To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reluctantly Deleted

I removed all the posts and references to a horse that was given to me.  He didn’t work out, and I had to find him a new home with a trainer that has more skills than I do.  It was a sad tale which I told in an honest manner, yet I have been accused of libel and threatened with legal action if I didn’t remove it.  I am sure that nothing I wrote was libelous, but to avoid any sort of hassle, I removed my blogs about him.  I don’t suppose many people will even notice.  There are very few hits on those pages.  Everyone has moved on. 

I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 


To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reluctantly Deleted

A New Adventure Begins

I have been looking for a new horse since last spring when Cruiser flew off to greener pastures.   I would have liked another Morab, since Cruiser and Cole turned out to be such wonderful horses, but that didn’t seem possible.  The Great Recession seemed to have wiped out the Morab breeders.  I found plenty of older Morabs from before the recession, but I didn’t want in older horse.

My second choice was a Morgan.  It was a close second.  After experiencing Cole who is mostly Morgan and Dante who is entirely Morgan, I was starting to think that they may be better than a Morab.  After all, I am getting older, and Arabs can be awfully energetic at times.  So can Morgans, but they seem to use their energy in a more sensible way.  Also, my very first horse, Brandy, was a Morgan.  Ranger is quite likely a Morgan cross.  How could I go wrong with one.

If I were to get a Morgan, he would have to be an old style one.  The modern Morgans are beautiful, in their own way, but the traditional Morgan has always made my heart skip a beat. 

Just like with the Morabs, I was limiting my chances of finding one.  Morgans are a small breed to begin with, and only a fraction of them are what I was looking for.  Most of the breeders had horses that were yearlings or younger—too young for a boarding stable.  None were close to home, either.  Most of them were the wonderful Working Western Morgans—horses I didn’t even know existed until I started my search.  They were all out west, of course—and still too young.  I was leaning towards them.  By fall, I gave up looking and planned to wait until spring.  Maybe some of the yearlings would then be unsold 2-year-olds.


A few weeks ago, one of my blog readers left a comment on my blog… 

Cole in the snow

Friday, March 6, 2015

Spring is nearly here.


The weather is looking up, Daylight Savings is this weekend and I am dreaming about trail riding, again.

Just dreaming. I won’t be on the trail this weekend. We had a mini thaw followed by a deep freeze, so there is ice everywhere. We won’t be able to get out of the barn, and when we do, I don’t know if we will be able to get down the hill because it takes a long time to melt. Then, there is the frozen river, but with next week’s warm up, that should be starting to thaw. Of course, it will then be too high to cross. Still, things are finally looking up, and I am dreaming about trail riding, again.

And dreaming about something else…

Something big…

Really big…

In the meantime, I will share with you a picture of me on my little Cole Train.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Things are happening...



"You did what?" Stormy, my sister's cat, gasped.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Update on Ranger

Update on Ranger

A few months ago, Ranger was having trouble breathing, and the vet said he was starting to get COPD. We started dunking his hay, and he has been improving slowly.

Previously to soaking his hay, he acted like he wanted to snort and couldn’t. Within a short time, he got his snort back. Gradually, his breathing got quieter and quieter. Sometimes, we can barely hear it at all.

Another good sign—he had been slowly losing weight. We increased his grain, and he stabilized. Well, the last few months, she has had to lengthen his girth by several holes. Some of it might be his yak-like coat, but not all of it. He has had this coat since November. He is liberally shedding, right now, so we’ll see what he looks like when he loses all his fuzziness.

Ellen has been working lightly with him all winter. On the real cold days, she leads him for a half hour—preferably outside. He is a great horse to lead. He walks at a fast, steady pace with perfect manners. Now and then, he might get a little spooky, but that’s about it. If you want good exercise, you take Ranger for a walk.

She has ridden him in the arena sporadically. The first few times, he started out very unsteady, and she was quite disturbed about it. When she led him in the arena, there was no unsteadiness at all. One week, when it was simply too cold to go outside, she rode him 4 times inside. By the third time, the unsteadiness disappeared. She now thinks it was caused by the cataract he has in one eye. When she led him, he just depended on her. When she rode him, it must have taken him a bit to get his bearings with uncertain vision in one eye.

They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary, and since he was an unpapered auction horse, we don’t know how old he was when she bought him. We are very happy that he has shown improvement and look forward to taking him back out on the trail this spring.

Ooooops

Oooops

Kevin was out riding Starry on the hill, and Ellen and I thought we would go see what he was doing. We had already ridden our horses in the indoor arena and out on the loop outside, so we were going to go on the hill on foot.

The snow was very deep and hard to walk on. We made it about halfway down when we they caught up with us on the way up. Since it was so hard to walk, we just stood there as Kevin trotted Starry past us and on to the spot where he likes to turn around.

Starry was trotting rather fast, and then he broke into a canter. It was a pretty sight to see with snow spraying in all directions—but it wasn’t what Kevin wanted to do. He pulled the reins back and said, “Hey. Hey. Hey.” Starry didn’t listen to his command and kept on going. Finally, he managed to stop him, turn him around and come back to us.

We all walked down the hill together. We have a flat section at the bottom, and Kevin asked Starry to trot it. Starry had better ideas—and cantered—and bucked. Once again, Kevin pulled back the reins and said, “Hey. Hey. Hey.” Starry did finally stop at the end of the trail.

They trotted back to us, and we pointed out to Kevin that Starry has no idea what “Hey. Hey. Hey.” means. If he did, he would probably think it was “Hay. Hay. Hay.” It’s not likely that would do anything to slow him down.

We said to try “walk” or “trot” or “whoa” since he knows very well what those words are. He didn’t even realize he was making that mistake. I guess he got out of practice over our long winter.

I write this not to make you think that Kevin is an inexperienced dolt—he is far from it. Over the years, he has learned so much—it amazes me. He intuitively seems to know what to do and how to handle pretty difficult situations—not from riding Starry, so much. Starry is a great horse that doesn’t give him many problems at all. No, I think that Kevin has learned the most from riding with Ellen and I on our green horses, Cole and Dante—who aren’t green anymore and volunteering to go riding with anyone with their green horses when they are looking for a quiet horse to go with. In fact, we just got a new boarder who bought a very lovely, well-behaved horse—who has never been on the trail. We volunteered Kevin and Starry for her first few rides. (We warned her that we would be a bad choice because we like to trot and canter a lot.)

No, I am writing about this to just remind people that when things aren’t working, take a look at yourself. You may be doing something as simple as using a verbal command that your horse never learned. We are all guilty. I had Cole more than a year when I realized that he never learned to stop when I pulled the reins. He was so awesome with the verbal command that I forgot to teach him the rein command. Just last month, Ellen realized she did the exact same thing with Dante.

None of us are immune, so whenever you are having a problem, look to yourself, first. Your horse will thank you.