Tuesday, April 30, 2013

More Dante

Update on the weekend

The picture is of Dante, but the post is about the rest of the horses.  I rode Cole with Kevin on Starry on Friday evening.  It was very chilly, but the horses behaved.  Kevin likes to ride with us, because it wakes sleepy Starry up.  When we got back, we did chores and then rushed to his house to watch some episodes of "The Office" that he rented.  We love that show.

Saturday gave us a perfect morning for riding.  Ellen and I went out for an hour and a quarter with Cole and Ranger.  These guys get along quite well because Cole is so respectful of Ranger.  We put Range in the lead, and Cole will match his speed rather than pass--after all, Ranger might put his ear back or snarl. 

We wanted to do a repeat on Sunday, but there was a light rain.  It wasn't too cold, so we decided to ride--but we would go a half hour one way, pass home and go a half hour the other way.  This way, if it started to rain hard, we wouldn't be too far from home.

The first half went well, but the wind started to pick up on the second half.  We went the direction that we hadn't gone yet this year.  Ranger got very hyper on the way out, because that trail leads towards an old barn he used to live at.  He loved that place, and years later, gets excited when he thinks he is going back.  Cole didn't get hyper until we turned to go home.  That's when Ranger pouts.  We ended up leading on the way back because we got cold.  We mounted to cross the river right before the barn, of course.

Monday, it was back to work for us.  I rode Cole with Kevin and Starry.  For whatever reason, Starry was feeling silly, and he gave Kevin some trouble, so Kevin didn't want to canter.  Sigh.  I don't canter with Ranger anymore, so I didn't get much cantering in, lately.  Maybe tomorrow.

Waiting for Dante

It's more than a week, still, before this beautiful boy comes to Ohio.  I can't wait to see him.  Ellen is both nervous and excited.  She hasn't bought a horse in 17 years.  This is a big event for her.  She is making plans and dreaming about the future.  Of course, I will share all about it, here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rainy Evening Ride

Rainy Evening Ride

My boyfriend, Kevin, wasn’t able to ride with me last night, but he didn’t miss too much. It was rainy, cold and the river was too high to cross. At first, I didn’t even think I could ride outside because of the rain. When I arrived at the barn, I peaked into the indoor arena, and a horse was being lounged. I figured I would wait until it was empty, so I cleaned a couple of stalls. The lounging was over, and I started to saddle—and the rain stopped! Hurray! I really couldn’t bring myself to ride inside. That’s how I always get this time of the year.

Cole and I went down the hill to the raging river. This hill is where he has been reliably unreliable. It isn’t just when he is going home, either. If I do successive trips, he gets worse with each one—up and down. To make things more complicated, I have begun to trot up the hill. I started last fall, a little, and soon as he settled down this spring we began again. It makes doing the hill more interesting and a better workout. Eventually, we’ll be cantering up, too.

When working the hill faster than the walk, the rule is—the last trip home has to be at a walk. The hill is just across the street from the stables, and a horse can learn to rush up it really quick. My first horse, Brandy, was allowed to run up this hill by his previous owner, my aunt. When we rode him as kids, we were barely able to stop him at the top—and though I rode him on different trails when I owned him, we always had trouble with hills.

There is a flat section on top, in the middle and at the bottom. We can trot the flat sections going away from home very easily, so we do. I insist he walks down the slopes, and that is a challenge at times. Last night, he did good going down the hill the first two times and was pretty speedy the last time—but never broke into the trot without permission.

We trotted up halfway on the first trip, and he was very well behaved. We walked the last section to the street because he just isn’t ready for faster work, there--home is too strong of a lure for him at that point. We then turned around—practicing our turn on the haunches and headed back down.

The second trip up, he was much more hyper at the trot, and I decided return to a walk after about a third of the way up. Good thing. I was glad we were walking when we saw the turkey at the side of the trail stretching his wings. We passed him up and continued to the top, practiced our turn on the haunches and headed back down.

When we got halfway down, we saw the turkey on the middle of the trail. Cole wasn’t afraid, but fascinated. He wanted to go visit him. Turkeys are rather new to the area, so I’m not sure how skittish they are. I can let the horses follow Canadian geese, and they just waddle off the trail. I didn’t know what a turkey would do. We approached cautiously. As we got closer, the turkey moved off the trail and trotted away. We continued down the hill, trotted at the bottom, turned around and headed up.

This is when Cole tends to be the worse. Since we have trotted up the hill two times in a row, he is quite enthusiastic about doing it a third time—but this was our last trip. We practiced a few halts to get his attention and then proceeded right past the starting point at a walk! I was so proud of him. I got off as a reward and led him up the hill. That wasn’t the only reason I got off. I saw some garlic mustard along the trail I wanted to pull out. I have spent years trying to eradicate it from the hill trail, and except for a big patch by the street, I have nearly succeeded. It is a very invasive but tasty plant. I have cooked with it, but I have been pulling it out at home, too, and now I have to go too far to get it. Cole thinks it is tasty, too, and I shared some of it with him as we hiked up the hill.

When we got to the center, the turkey was back by the edge of the trail. We approached on foot. When we were close enough that I could have jumped at it and pulled a feather out for Thunder to play with, it took off over the edge of the cliff into a tree above. That spooked Cole. He threw he head up in surprise and trembled—for just a moment—and then he bowed.

At that, we went home.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thunder the Wonder Cat

Doesn't he just make your heart melt?  He certainly melts mine--every single day.  This picture was taken by my sister's boyfriend on Easter.  He took many of them, and at this point, Thunder looks like he would rather just take a nap.  It's a rough life being a feline model.

Dante Moving Out

The big question--will he be able to keep up with Cole when Cole's trot goes into turbo?  I think so!  Ellen and I had so much fun, in the old days, trotting Cruise and Ranger at top speed.  None could keep up with us without cantering.  (I take that back--Kevin used to have a fast-trotting Morgan, RB.  I think he kept up with us.)  They could absolutely fly!  I think the tradition might live on...

Dante Trotting

Doesn't he have a lovely trot?  I can't wait to see him trot in person.  In a sense, I will be the lucky one, since when we ride together, I will be the one watching his pretty trot.  Ellen will hardly ever see it!  I suppose, we could switch horses and she could ride Cole and watch Dante, but I doubt if I'll be able to pry her off of him.

Dante the Gorgeous

What do you think?  Is he going to give Cole a run for his money or not?  I think Cole will no longer be the most beautiful horse in the barn.  Well, if we were going to take second place, I'm sure glad first place belongs to Ellen and Dante.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


This is Trey, another horse that Ellen looked at--isn't he a cutie?

Suspensory Ligament Update

Suspensory Ligament Update

Cruiser is doing well. He has been sound at a walk, all along, and I haven’t trotted him. I can tell he is improving because there is less heat in his hoof. That is something I learned back in the bowed tendon days. When there is swelling in the leg, the hoof will feel warm. When it first happened, I was hoping the heat was a sign of a hoof abscess, but alas, it was leg swelling.

Well, on the warmer days, both front hooves are about the same. On the colder days, there isn’t as much difference, and on the last cold day, there wasn’t any difference.

We just do hand walking around the property. He tends to walk pretty fast on the cooler days, so I get a good workout. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I am starting to miss riding him. I certainly hope that he will recover from this injury. What bothers me the most is that it happened so easily. If I can start to ride him, you can be sure that I will go very carefully with him.

He has been gaining weight slowly but steadily, and looks so much better than he did in the winter when the cough was plaguing him. He still has a bit to go, and I am sure he will be at a good weight by the time he is ready to be ridden.

His mood is fantastic, and he acts just like a 2-year-old.

The Beginning

The Beginning

My sister decided that she wanted to buy another horse last fall because Ranger is getting older, and she can’t ride as fast or as far as she would like. Don’t worry, she is going to keep Ranger—and ride him as much as she can. She just wanted to ride more than he was able. I wanted her to, too. I would love to go on long rides with her and Cole. We both miss that so much from the days when Cruiser and Ranger were a force to be reckoned with.

Ellen has always loved Morgans—the old fashioned kind—not the showy saddle seat style. I have too. I might have 2 Morabs, but my first horse was a Morgan, and there is a reason I have Morabs and not Quarabs or some other Arabian cross.

She discovered the Quietude Stud, a Morgan breeder in West Virginia, on the Internet. Here is their website: http://www.lambertmorgans.com/ Take a look at these lovely horses. That was in the fall, and for all kinds of good reasons, she decided to wait until spring. It was a long wait, but it gave us something to look forward to and to dream about. After a terribly bad year with the illness and death of my father, we needed something to look forward to—in a big way.

I had another thing to look forward to. Someone would have to take care of her Cat, Stormy, while she was away—and you know how I love cats! We figured the best thing to do was to have him stay with me at my house. Her cat is a real sweetheart, and I love to go over her house to visit him.

We took the Thursday before off, and of course, we had to go riding before we did anything else. As it would turn out, it was a very lovely day, and the road construction was at a lull. We were able to go on a great trail ride together. It was our longest ride of the year, and Cole and Ranger behaved lovely.

The next stop was Taco Bell to fill my stomach. I think Ellen was too nervous to enjoy the food as much as I did. We then went over to her house. I hung out with her cat while she packed up his belongings. Stormy doesn’t travel well, so I tried to console him the whole time.

I have a spare room that he could live in, and as soon as Ellen set him free, he went under the bed. I let her stay alone with him, and I hung out with Thunder the Wonder Cat, who was very confused by everything going on. Finally, Ellen said that he was doing better and ate a whole can of food while he was under the bed.

She then left me with him, and she headed home. Her boyfriend was going with her on the trip, and they were planning to camp. He was all excited about the camping. Ellen isn’t into camping like he is, but she was excited about the horses.

I talked to her many times that evening as they drove south. I got to tell her that Stormy finally came out about 9:00, and he was friendly and relaxed. She was relieved. Stormy was her biggest worry about the trip.

They were planning to visit Quietude on Saturday. I got an email from her on Friday morning—and that was it! They were off the grid. I left many messages on her phone—and filled up her voicemail to the brim. I jumped whenever the phone rang, hoping it would be her all day on Saturday.

You see, it wasn’t just of case of her buying a horse, but she didn’t even know which one. There was Dante, a 6-year-old horse that already has trail experience, or Trey, a younger and untrained horse.

In the meantime, I consoled myself with hanging out with her cat. I would go back and forth between Thunder and Stormy. (It is totally coincidence that we both have weather related cat names—it actually took us a while to realize it. we both got them on stormy days.)

Come Sunday, I was worn out from waiting. Our niece rode Ranger on Saturday and I rode him on Sunday. It was the first time he had been out on trail by himself in a long time. He cried and cried—but he was fun to ride. I’m not used to such a big horse! Compared to little Cole, he is a monster. Mounting isn’t a problem—it’s funny when I dismount and it seems like it takes so long to reach the ground.

Finally, Sunday afternoon I got the call. She bought Dante! He sounds like a real gem. She just needs to arrange for him to be transported to Ohio.

They were on their way home on Monday, and she sent me a picture. Dante was a brown dot in a field. I had to wait until the next day for better pictures. You can see pictures on him on their website. He is a lovely horse.

It was with much sadness that she took Stormy away from me. I think in a few days he would have been brave enough to come out into the rest of the house. If it wasn’t for the dog, he would have already been out. Thunder was very curious about him—watching from behind the screen blocking the hallway, but neither one was aggressive. She said I couldn’t keep him. Sigh…

My adventure as a cat babysitter is over--Ellen's adventure is just beginning.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Introducing Dante

My sister buys a new horse--and this is the picture she sends me of him!!!  He is the one in the middle.  I hope to have some better pictures, soon.

Anyway, he is a foundation Morgan--a Lampert from the Quietude Stud in West Virginia. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cantering Cole Train – The Right Lead

Cantering Cole Train – The Right Lead

If there is one way I can describe Cole Train is that he is an overachiever. Particularly in the arena, he tries so hard that he often overdoes it. When I taught him to leg yield, it quickly morphed into a side pass. Now we struggle to get a leg yield. His slow downs often turn into halts, and halting is stopping on a dime. His walk-trot transitions tend to launch the rider right out of the saddle. Of course, his arena trot has so much suspension, it takes in incredible amount of athleticism on the part of the rider to stay with him.

Teaching him to take a canter in the arena was a huge challenge. He thought it meant trotting faster, bigger and higher. Finally, he figured out it meant bucking as high as he could. When he realized that all I wanted was a canter, it was beautiful. His left lead is the most perfectly balanced left lead—ever. His right lead is the most perfectly balanced left lead—ever. Sigh…

I struggled and struggled with it this winter. He bent better to the right than the left, so that wasn’t the problem. Then I decided he must be bending too much to the right, but supporting him with the outside rein didn’t help. Another thing that didn’t help—is that he was so balanced, I often couldn’t tell he was on the wrong lead. Looking at his shoulders didn’t help. He way overdid growing a long, thick mane, too.

Even on the lounge line, he struggled with the right lead. He would give it to me—never going on the wrong lead, but very reluctantly. He preferred trotting faster or bucking.

I was so discouraged. Here I have one of the most amazing little horses in the country, that with a talented rider/trainer, could compete with the big horses in the dressage arena. I’m not exaggerating. You just have to see his movement. Yet, he is stuck with me and we are stuck in kindergarten working on the right lead transition.

Out loose, he takes both leads regularly and does nice lead changes.

Finally, I gave up. I would try to work on it on the trail. He’s not going to be a dressage horse, anyway. He is a trail horse.

Last year, we started cantering on the trail on a regular basis. In the beginning, I got both leads, but as the summer progressed, he only gave me the left one. Of course, he is an overachiever, so it was a very, very fast left lead. Only once we started working in the arena did he slow down his canter on the trail. I don’t think he realized he could go slow until we did it in the arena.

The other night, I was riding on my own and decided to work on the right lead. Some things are better off when you are alone. Ellen doesn’t like when Ranger goes too fast—she worries about maintaining his soundness. Kevin just doesn’t like playing catch up with us. Starry does, though. If I follow the other horses, I never seem to have enough room to work. As soon as Cole gets close to them, he gets worried they might attack him. I know, it is silly, but that’s just how he is.

Well, I was out on the trail, and I came to a good spot to canter. The trail gave a slight bend to the right. I asked for the right lead—got the left. I could see where this was going to go.

The next right hand corner was much sharper. This time, I thought I would try from a walk instead of a trot. I asked for a bend, tapped my outside leg and off we went—on the left lead, again.

He likes to travel near the edge of the trail where it is softer, but there was a culvert coming up, and it didn’t seem like we had enough clearance. I pushed him away with my left leg and when he didn’t respond, hauled his head over, too.

We moved away from the culvert and continued a short way down the trail. Suddenly, it then felt like he was a car that hit a bump—that was a feeling I recognized. This is something Cruiser used to do all the time. I looked down in time to see him change from the right lead to the left.

Wait a minute? How did he get on the right lead? It must have been when I was struggling to miss the culvert? After all, I put him on a strong bend.

We stayed on the left lead. He started going faster and faster. It was time to rein him in—we were running out of trail—the river was coming up. He reluctantly slowed down to a trot.

I crossed the river and continued down the trail. I had an idea.

On my last solo ride last fall, I decided to try cantering in a different spot. There was a very sharp corner going to the right, and years ago, I used it to practice right lead transitions with Cruiser and Mingo.

On that ride last fall, as we neared the corner at a walk, I placed his body in a firm bend, tapped my outside leg on his side, and we were off on the correct lead like a rocket—doing his happy stallion grunt that he does when he gallops wildly outside.

So, I wondered…if this was something that made him so excited last year that he did his stallion grunt, would he remember it? Already this spring, he has volunteered to canter at this corner a couple times and once he gave me a buck of joy.

As we neared the corner at a walk, I placed his body in a firm bend, tapped my outside leg on his side, and we were off on the correct lead like a rocket—doing his happy stallion grunt—never underestimate the power of a good gallop on a horse’s memory.

He kept going faster and faster—but once again—we were running out of trail. We were going straight for a section of trail that has a lot of gravel that I prefer to walk him over. I convinced him to trot and finally walk before the gravel.

Well, I guess we have hope. I may be able to solve the right lead out on the trail this summer. I will probably only work on it when I am alone, unless my riding partners are up for a fast run, but I bet the little guy will remember it—at least on that corner.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Squirrel Wars

I have been feeding the squirrel and any birds who might stop by on the front patio—just outside the of the cat tower. Thunder has become obsessed with hunting. He waits patiently for his friends to show up, and then he crouches down and intensely chatters at them. He gets so excited, and he is so cute to watch.

But we now have a new problem. Maggie, aka Dumb Dog, has learned that when Thunder starts to chatter that there is something to see. She runs to the window and starts barking and carrying on. This gets Thunder very upset. At first, he would run away, but lately, he scampers down the tower to the shelf that is the same height as Maggie’s head and gives her the one-two-three with the paws. I think he has all claws out.

The spot that she likes to stand is a narrow area between my chair and the tower. The only way she can get away is to go backwards—very fast.

This morning, he was walking toward his tower and he saw Maggie in her spot, looking out of his window. He let out the “Maggie go away” meow, and she flew backwards out of her spot. He wasn’t even close to her.

In the morning, I have had to leave the house earlier than normal because Thunder gets so upset with her. I’m afraid he is going to scratch her eye when he attacks her. I lock her up in her room with her Kong wobbler so Thunder can do his hunting in peace.

Thunder no longer minds when I go to work. He is busy hunting.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lovely Evening Ride

My boyfriend and I had a great ride last night. We did a lot of trotting and a little cantering. Both horses were near perfect, and it was just so awesome to be out. The only downside was that I left my gloves at home, and my hands got very cold. It’s going to get warmer, so we will start riding further. When we got back, I turned Cole loose to roll and run. It is amazing how much energy that little horse has after his ride. He just runs laps—very fast—neighing. When he was ready to quit, he came up to me and bowed. That’s my Cole.

Cruiser is doing fine. He lets me wrap his leg in ice, then I go out for my ride with Cole. I am allowed to hand walk him. He goes fast and doesn’t limp. I get good exercise when I walk Cruiser. I know when the weather gets warm, he will slow down—and I think I will like that.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Long Holiday Weekend of Riding

Long Holiday Weekend of Riding

My sister and I were off on Friday, but I still ended up riding by myself. The street where we keep our horses is under construction, and her horse just cannot deal with construction equipment. He melts down. Cole is all right, so I took him on a solo ride. It was the first time I asked him to canter this spring, and it went well. we went further than we have been going. When we got to the trail that he hasn’t been on since last fall, he got very excited and we had stick to a walk. We walked all the way home, too. We did meet my sister on foot and walked with her, too. It was a really pretty day to be out.

When we got back, we went out to lunch and then waited for the vet to come out for spring shots and to examine Cruiser’s lameness. The bad news about his suspensory ligament was tempered by an excellent report on his breathing. The horse that was laboring on each breath a few months ago, didn’t even have a single wheeze. The vet said she used to hear a little wheezing before he even got his bad cough. The hay cubes are working!

Saturday, there was no construction, so my sister and I got to ride Cole and Ranger together. We had a wonderful time and the horses behaved well. We did some trotting without any difficulties. I am starting to think that all the problems we used to have in the spring were caused by Cruiser.

Sunday, the horses were lethargic. It is probably because it was very warm and they still have a lot of winter coat.

It was cool on Monday—actually cold. I rode in the evening after work with my boyfriend on Starry. Cole was perky, but behaved absolutely perfect. We did a lot of trotting—and even a little on the way home. Starry was difficult a few times—trying to canter. Next time, we probably will.

It is so awesome to get on the trail on a regular basis. We will be riding a little further and a little faster each time.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Squirrel Hunting


Sleepy Stormy

Bad News about Cruise

Bad News about Cruise

I was hand walking Cruiser the other day, and something spooked him. He started jumping around—threw a regular temper tantrum.

Later, when I took him in the indoor arena, I trotted him and found him lame.

The vet said he injured his suspensory ligament. Its bute and ice for a few weeks and lots of hand walking. He could be out for 2 month or maybe 6 months. I was just about to start riding him again, but I guess that is out of the question for a long time.

Sigh. At least he isn’t coughing, is gaining weight and seems completely comfortable unless he is trotting. Things could be much worse, and we have been enjoying our little walks together. They are good for me—with all the bread I have been eating…