Thursday, September 30, 2010

House Cat Tip of the Month

House Cat Tip of the Month

Here is a tip that I thought everyone knew, until I was out with my girlfriend and she was telling me about her new kitty. She didn’t realize that if a cat sticks his tail straight up in the air and walks away, he wants you to follow him.

Follow is a great game to play with cats. I play it at least once a day with Thunder, and sometimes, depending on his mood, we play many times. I follow him and pet him as we go. He likes to show me whatever is on his mind. If he had spent the afternoon looking out a particular window, he takes me there. I remember when the robins built a nest in the bathroom window. He was constantly taking me there to show me the birds.

He likes me to open doors for him, so he will ask me to follow him to a door, than he will put his paw on it to tell me to open it. He then wants me to go into the room with him and explore it—often bursting into a run.

Sometimes, he just wants me to follow him until he falls over on his side and wants me to pet him. Of course, if he is hungry, he will bring me to his food.

Not all cats do the tail thing. Our Siamese cats didn’t seem to do it. If you have the kind of cat who does, follow him and see where he takes you. You may learn something you didn’t know, and your cat will love the attention.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Dog in our Future?

Dad went to the cancer doctor, today, for his check up. He checked out fine, and the doctor told him he should get a dog. So, now that he knows he will live a while longer, he made the decision. He wants a dog.

We will start looking, but I sure wouldn’t mind not having a dog over the winter. I am the one that does the dog walking in the dark and in the snow. We shall see how it goes. He wants one as much like our last dog, Pollie, as possible. We will never find a dog that good, and he knows it. He just wants someone to keep him company, and though Thunder is trying his best, my dad is a dog person.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Successfil weekend with Cole

I had a very successful weekend with Cole. Friday evening, we had a decent ride in the arena. It was incredibly hot (90s), so we only did a little trotting. I didn’t want to get him too heated up with his winter coat. He was steady and well behaved. At this point, I can’t ask for much more than that. I was very pleased.

Saturday, the weather was chilly. That’s how it goes here in northeast Ohio. I took him out alone about 5 miles round trip on the trail. We did a lot of trotting and ended up and a brand new trail for him. On the way home, we met my sister on foot and walked back with her. It was an A+ ride. I was in heaven.

I never expected Sunday would be just as good. This time, we went with my sister on Ranger. We did some trotting together. We put Cole in the lead, and he was just fine. My sister was the one with the challenge. Ranger likes to be lead horse, and she had to tactfully keep him behind Cole. We trotted 3 stretches of trail that morning and walked the rest of the time. Cole got an A+ again! It was an amazing weekend.

This weekend coming up is a 3-day one for me. My sister has to work on Saturday, so I will be alone that day. This evening, I will try him in the arena, and Thursday he is getting his feet trimmed.

Cruiser was great all weekend, of course.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday night ride

Cole and I had a better than normal arena ride, yesterday. Finally, some improvement! There was a lot of factors on my side. First, it was hot. Second, I was able to turn him out to play, first. I have been having trouble with the turning out. He doesn’t like it, and pushes, paws and rears at the gate to get out. This time, I stayed in the pen with him and encouraged him to run about. Although he stopped at the gate, a lot, he didn’t show any signs of trying to get out. I’m starting to think that Cole gets separation anxiety—from me leaving him.

The next thing that was on my side, and this is a big one, it was quiet around the barn. The horses that had been turned out alongside the arena weren’t. He couldn’t see them walking past the windows, and they weren’t’ making any unexpected noises.

He didn’t spook a single time. He walked and trotted on request and listened most of the time. We were able to practice our turns, circles and transitions. I was so glad to have a good ride in there. This is his second within a week. Maybe winter, when we can’t get on the trail, won’t be so bad, after all.

I took Cruiser on a trail ride for about an hour. He was great, of course. I was surprised how sweaty he got, and had to sponge him off when we got back. He has quite a bit of winter coat, already. So does Ranger. Cole hasn’t gotten much coat, yet. I bet he will be cute when he is shaggy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Long weekend

Well, here I am, back from my long weekend. The good news—Cruiser’s hives healed up enough that I was able to ride him the whole time. He was great, of course, he always is.

Cole was both good and bad. I took him down trail each of the 4 days. The first day, we did trotting by ourselves. It was his best day, I’d say. He did nothing terrible except rushing down the first hill.

Day 2, the river was higher and muddy, and I decided to solve the hill problem instead of pushing him with the river. I lounged him and rode him in the arena, to start. It was the best he ever was in the arena, by far. In fact, he seemed like a whole different horse. I think all the trotting on the trail has settled him down to trot in the arena like a gentleman. I was very please. We did the hill 3 times. He got better each time. He stopped rushing down the hill, but he did show some reluctance, a few times. That is normal, of course. We worked through it pretty easy, since my sister was walking with us. I would ask him to go, and when he wouldn’t, she would walk ahead and he would follow.

Day 3 was a bit tougher. I headed out by myself, and he was very balky on the hill. I had to grab a stick and use it, fortunately very lightly, to get him to finally move. He didn’t want to go down the river bank, either, but a tickle with the stick got him to change his mind. When we got across, I trotted immediately and he liked that. A couple times, when we were walking, I think he tried to turn around, but I was able to intercept him easily and keep him going. We trotted to the next river crossing, and then waited for my sister to catch up with us on her horse, Ranger. We then rode home, passed it up and headed out to the challenging Lagoon area. I have led him there several times, but never ridden him. It is a very active area that goes along the road and everything is all out in the open. He was very nervous and reluctant to go forward. We suspected problems that are why we brought Ranger along. On the way home, he hit something in one of the river crossings—and took off trotting across! He charged up the river bank, too. Not good. He was wound up the whole way home.

Day 4 was both good and bad. We went with Ranger though the Lagoon, up a very, very steep hill to ride in the back trails in the show ring area. He was fine on the way out, except for extreme reluctance on the same river crossing that he panicked the day before. He went up the big hill like a champ—no rushing or stalling out. He was great all through the back trails—except when that branch swung at him and hit him in the private parts. All I could say, is you aren’t bucked off if you land on your feet, are you?

I led him down the big hill on the way home. He was fine all through the Lagoon and over the problem river. Our biggest problem occurred when I rode him down a small, but steep hill. When he got close the bottom, he decided to trot the rest of the way down. I got him to stop at the bottom, before he went into the street, and when I tried to get him to go back up the hill, he had a temper tantrum that wasn’t pretty. I got him to settle down and then dismounted and led him up and down the distance he trotted 3 times for practice. He did that, perfectly. We were fine the rest of the way home.

So, where he was surprisingly awesome much of the time, he still made me remember that he is a green horse and we have a long way to go.

Tonight, I will ride him in the arena. There is only enough time in the evenings to take one horse down trail, and that is Cruiser—a horse that I can relax and just ride. Someday…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Evening Ride

It was a challenging ride on Cole, yesterday evening, but all went well just the same. It was a first in 2 ways. I had never taken him on the trail in the evening, and I had never taken him without my sister either on foot or on her horse. I was alone. He was goofy as I led him down the hill to the river. I should have ridden, I think he would have been better. Before crossing the river, he did some sort of dance, but crossed anyways. Later, he did have one spook and tried to turn home. I circled him around, but he insisted it was too scary and he had to go home. I circled him again, and away we went. He tries things, but he isn’t a fighter. He gives up as long as I am firm with him.

We did a lot of trotting. In the beginning, I only let him go about a hundred feet, and then we would come back to a walk. A couple times early on, he tried to surge faster on the transitions, and I had to patiently correct him. He started to understand and simply trotted when I asked him to. We got to a spot that where we had plenty of trail, and I let him trot a long distance. He really did well with that.

At the end of that stretch, I heard my boyfriend’s voice. He was up the trail on his horse, talking to someone. We waited for him and we rode home together. Cole was a bit in a hurry, and I had to correct him several times when he tried to trot.

Overall, it was a good ride considering the circumstances. I have noticed that my horses are always more hyper on evening rides than morning rides. There is a first for everything, and I figured I would just get it over with.

Cruiser’s hives were pretty bad. I hope they get better, soon. I really want to ride him this weekend.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


My sister called me at work, today. Cruiser has hives that broke out, again. they are in the saddle area. She cleaned him up and put some Betadine on him. I am really sad about this. Not only because I was planning to ride him tonight, but because we took Thursday and Friday off for a 4-day weekend of riding. I may not be able to ride him at all. This has happened several times this summer, and I don’t know what is causing it. They have been all over his body, but the ones in the saddle area are to worst. If they don’t improve, I will start him on a course of steroids, again. They help a lot, but I don’t like to use them if I don’t have to.

Of course, I have Cole to ride, but that means we may have to do things a little different than we wanted to. I haven’t worked with Cole with trotting with other horses. That may be our project.

I may take Cole down trail, tonight. I have never ridden him out there in the evening, and if my boyfriend doesn’t show up, it will be the first time that I’m without either my sister on foot or another horse. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll have to do it, eventually—it may be tonight. I will lounge him a little first, but not too much because daylight is limited.

We’ll see how it goes…

Monday, September 13, 2010

More Cole Training

I had a lot of fun with Cole this weekend. Friday evening, we simply worked on lounging. He hasn’t been consistent with it, and since I will be using it more in the cooler weather to take the edge off of him before I ride, I decided I should concentrate on it.

Sometimes I feel like I am training 2 different horses. One is an arena horse, and one is a trail horse. The trail horse is far advanced from the arena horse.

The first five minutes, he acted like he didn’t remember a thing, but then, something clicked. (Actually, it was my clicker.) Suddenly, he understood that I wanted forward motion. Soon, I merely needed to point the whip at him, and he would move off, trotting—not bucking or jumping about. He was trotting 2-3 laps at a time, and then I would click and treat him when he looked balance and calm. What in improvement. I will give him at least one more lounging lesson before I start riding him in the arena, again.

But, the weekends are for trail riding--particularly in September in Ohio. Each day, I rode Cruiser with my sister on Ranger. When we got back, it was Cole time.

Saturday, I rode him down to the river, crossed itand met my sister, on foot, on the other side. She decided it is now too cold for her to walk through the water. We walked a bit until he seemed quiet, and then I did some short trotting stretches, just like last week, stopping when we would reach her. I needed to make sure he had brakes. Since he wants to stop by her, anyway, it is easy to get him to whoa when we reach her.

Now, you people with Quarter Horses are probably laughing at me. If you are, you probably never rode young, barely trained Morgan, Arab or Morab. They are gentle and kind horses with an incredible amount of energy and a love of going and going and going. Why do you think they do well in long distance competitions? They not only have the physical ability, but the drive. These horse love to go. Brakes are very important.

Once I knew I had brakes, I went off on my own and trotted about a quarter mile—stopping once when he decided to canter and 2 more times. He was settling down and getting rhythmic. I was posting.

Wow, was that nice. We walked home. I’m glad to say that he tried trotting without permission far less than the previous weekend when I had him on the trail.

Sunday, I knew he would be better. Sundays, he is always better. Once again, I met my sister on the other side of the river. We walked a bit, and then we trotted up to my sister a few times. Things were going pretty good, and I was ready to leave her in the dust. This time, I had about a half mile of trail until the next river crossing where I intended to turn around. I stopped him a couple times before I got there, walked him a bit and went back into the trot.

All I could say is it was just simply wonderful. He took light contact on the reins, found a steady rhythm, and was as balanced and perfect as could be. He once we got to that beautiful gait, he neither accelerated nor decelerated. We flew down the trail. Cole was made to do this.

Those of you that have been following me for years, know that I love a good, fast trot, and Cruiser has one. Since he bowed his tendon, I have discouraged him from doing it. An extended trot does put some strain on tendons, and Cruiser is too precious to me to risk re-injury. Mingo never believed in speed, so we seldom got up to a fast trot. This was heaven to me.

I got to the next river crossing, and Cole didn’t want to stop trotting this time. I persisted, and he agreed, but I didn’t turn around as planned. We walked right across the river to ride further. He felt he should trot on the other side, so I decided it might be better to walk. He had only been ever there a few times, anyway. I went along for about 5 minutes. I did ask for a trot, once, and he was quite excited and out of control. I decided walking was better. I’m glad he now had reliable brakes. I went a little further and turned back for home.

He didn’t want to turn back. He pouted, but at least he walked. After a few minutes, we came across my boyfriend on his horse, Starry. Cole took the lead and headed for the river. He was thrilled to see my sister on the other side. He had to greet her before continuing along the trail.

I’m very glad that he only tried to trot a couple times on the walk home, and that was when we were very close to the barn. By doing so many walk/trot transitions, he seems to be figuring out that I choose the gait. This has been the hardest lesson for him to learn, but I believe he is finally learning it. It is a very satisfying feeling to know we are progressing so well—and so is knowing that I have a horse with such an awesome trot.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another picture of Cole

My sister sent me another picture of Cole.  I guess she is going to feed them to me one at a time. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Smokin' Cole Train

Here I am with Cole down trail.  He is doing so well on the trail, but we are struggling in the arena.  With the cooler weather, he is having trouble controlling himself.  I believe we are going to have to go back to lounging before riding, again.  I think it will help.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Long weekend with Cole

Well, Cole went from challenging to simply wonderful. Friday evening, it was very windy and chilly, but I bravely decided to ride, anyway. I was in the indoor arena. He started out fine, but after 10 minutes, it got really hectic at the barn, and with all the nervousness he had about the wind, he just couldn’t’ take it. I decided to get off and lounge for a bit, but that went straight downhill, and I decided I had enough for the day.

I wanted to turn him out to play Saturday before I rode, but it didn’t work out. The turnout areas were in use by other boarders. I took him out on the trail in spite of the continuing high winds and very chilly weather. It was his worst trail ride, ever, but under the circumstances he did well. He was so jumpy and nervous. We were out for an hour, and wow, was I glad to get out of the saddle. Good trail horses have to learn to behave in all weather.

Sunday was so much better, it was amazing. This time, we went out with my sister on Ranger. We stayed at a walk and went for about an hour and a half. The funniest parts of the ride were when Ranger told him not to get too close to him. Just laying his ears back caused Cole to quickly back away. Once, Ranger flicked us with his tail when we were walking next to him, and Cole jumped like he got a jolt of electricity. I guess we don’t have to worry about Cole being disrespectful to other horses!

Monday was trotting day. We introduced it a little last week, but now it was time to be serious. We rode down the hill, crossed the river and walked about 10 minutes. He was a little goofy, so my sister and I agreed he was getting bored with our routine and needed to be moved up to the next phase of training.

With my other horses, I would just take them out and work trotting into the routine, practicing transitions and hoping they would settle down sooner or later. It worked with all the horses except Cruiser—my other high-energy Morab. It took a long time to get Cruiser to settle down and get him to stop well on trail. But, now I have clicker.

I had my sister walk up the trail, and we would trot to her. I would ask Cole to stop at her. (My sister was the target.) with this exercise, I was actually teaching him a lot. First, I was asking him to go from a walk to a halt, stand and wait while his friend, my sister, left, walk on command, trot on command and finally stop on command. Each time, he got better and my sister went out further and further, too. I clicked him a few times for the standing and waiting, and I was really pleased how he caught on to that. We did all this for about a mile. When we got close to the next river crossing where I was going to turn around, I told my sister I was going on without her. I stopped him once on the way, restarted him and went on to the river.

His trot is amazing. It is fast and smooth. I know, in time, it will slow down, but wow, it is amazing right now. I did finally figure out how to post it, and then he evened out his tempo. I love a good trot.

I’m glad to say, when we turned to go home, he walked quietly. Only when we got close to home, did he volunteer trotting, and that’s no different than it has been all along. I just keep correcting him. He is no longer persistent with his requests. I’m hoping that as he gets accustomed to the trot command, he will learn to wait for it.

I can’t wait until next weekend to get him back on the trail. Until then, we will work in the arena.

I also rode Cruiser on all 4 days on the trail, too. He was great, of course. that is nothing new. My goal is to get Cole to be as good as Cruiser. It’s a lofty but worthy goal.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Here in Cleveland, Labor Day Weekend means the Air Show. The Air Show means the Blue Angels. The Blue Angels means hold your horses tight.

Yes, even though we board our horses close to the airport, the fighter jets will still scare them. I know a number of people who have hit the ground thanks to the jets. They come so low, you can feel the ground vibrate.

I know Cruiser and Ranger can tolerate them, somewhat, but I have no idea how Cole will react. Well I'll find out, soon.

Even when there is no air show, we still get the jets whenever the president comes for a visit. And guess what is happening on Wednesday--he will be here for a visit. They tend to go right over our barn. Once, I was outside by my car, so see one so low that I could almost see into the windows. If I could, I would have seen VP Cheney. Yes, we even have jets for VPs.

So, all you Clevelanders out there. Hang on to your horses, and remember--they usually come in pairs. Once one goes by, another one will be there, shortly!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Training Continues...

I had a pretty good arena ride with Cole, again. he really seems to understand that walking means walking. I only had to correct him a few times. I didn’t even lounge him or do a lot of groundwork first to get him tired. I just went and rode. Well, I’m sure the very hot temperatures helped me out.

His trotting is getting better. He has the best upward transitions I ever experienced before. This horse loves to trot! Is this really the horse that I couldn’t get from a halt to a walk? His downward transitions are improving. He stopped a few times to light rien contact and an exhale. It’s a little different, but I train all my horses to stop to a loud exhale. The exhale gets me to sit deep and steady my seat. That may really be what gets them to stop. It really works well for me.

I trained Mingo’s mother to stop with an exhale. She wasn’t my horse, so when someone else started to ride her, I explained what I did. I don’t think she believed me. She decided to try it herself, shortly afterwards. She was cantering, exhaled, and the horse came to such a sudden stop, the rider nearly fell right off!

The long holiday weekend may mean 3 days of trail riding on Cole. Also, I will have 3 days of trail riding on Cruiser, too. The weather is going to be cooler, too! Hurray!