Friday, May 31, 2013

My Niece's First Ride of the Summer

Wednesday evening, my older niece, who recently came home from college, came out to ride. Since I’m not riding Cruiser, yet, she got to ride Ranger. It has been a couple years since she rode him, and last year, she only rode Cole once or twice. Life got in the way, last summer. She did admit to being a little nervous about riding Ranger. He is a big horse, and he is moody. Still, he is the best beginner’s horse we have.

She remembered how to saddle, and Ranger was very good for her to bridle. Kevin was joining us with Starry, and I would be riding Cole, of course. We weren’t even out of the driveway when we heard distant thunder. Kevin suggested just riding on the hill, but I opted for crossing the river and seeing what happened. We had just had a very brief shower a few hours before, and I really didn’t think it would be bad. It just depended on the thunder.

We heard 2 more thunders before we reached the river, but no more. A few minutes later, it started to rain, but there was no wind and the black clouds missed us. The sky was actually very bright. I said we should push on to Willow Bend—which was less than 10 minutes away. No one argued, so forward we went. I suggested trotting. My niece remembered how to post, though she just learned it a only a few rides earlier after struggling a whole summer with it. She went right into it and didn’t miss a beat. Ranger set a slow speed, and Cole and Starry had trouble with it, but Ranger and my niece were happy.

By the time we reach Willow Bend, the rain had stopped, so we just kept going. We did a mixture of walking and trotting to the next river crossing and then walked all the way home. My niece was very happy with the ride, and I was glad it went so well.

When we returned, I set her to watering the barns and Kevin to cleaning the stalls. I walked Cruiser. I think I had the easiest job. Since it was warm, he didn’t rush. I did let him trot a few seconds to reassure myself that he really was sound. He looked good, and I may ride him at a walk this weekend. It all depends on the weather which doesn’t look too good right now.

I will be taking my niece out to the barn on a regular basis, now, until she goes back to college. She is very good company, and we enjoy talking to each other. She loves to read, and I have never met anyone who knew more about literature than her. To show you the depth of her personality—she is going to college to be an engineer! I don’t think you would find many engineers that know as much about literature than her!

Stormy's belly

Look at that big belly!  This is my sister's cat, Stormy.  When she was away to look at Dante, I got to take care of him.  He would keep flopping down, exposing his belly, and he let me rub it.  Thunder just doesn't do such silly things.  I loved rubbing Storm's belly.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stormy with the goodluck garden cat

My sister has 2 good luck cats.

Dante's first, second and third trail ride

On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, I met Ellen at the barn. After we did our chores, we decided to work with Dante. Ellen is still a little nervous. She is used to riding more experienced horses than Dante. Dante hasn’t given her any reason to be nervous, though. She decided to ride him in the round pen, again. It is hard to be nervous in a round pen.

She had Dante walking and trotting very nicely. I love the way he trots. He was doing so well, that I suggested she ride him down to the river. She had been leading him down, and he has been doing well with that. I told her just to get dismount if she is anxious. To give her a greater sense of safety, we put his halter on over the bridle with a lead rope. I would lead her down.

We were both surprised that Dante was more excited than he had been when we led him on the hill. He was trying to prance and trot—and he wasn’t paying attention to us. Once Ellen saw the deer and then safely passed it, she had had enough. We made it about halfway down. She led him the rest of the way. It was a very chilly morning, so we didn’t’ want to mess with the river and get wet. He walked back up the hill better than he went down.

The next morning, Sunday, Ellen met me at the barn. After our chores, she decided to ride Dante in the indoor arena. The arena is a large and scary place compared to the round pen. She walked circles on the safe end. I urged her to trot, and she started trotting half circles. Finally, she trotted a full circle and had enough of that. It was time to go back to the round pen to get some real trotting in. There, they both did wonderfully.

The next step was the hill. She said that she had pondered the ride from the day before, and realized how stupid we were. We did it all wrong—it just wasn’t the way we do things. We don’t try to restrain a horse to have him go the speed we want, we convince him with positive reinforcement that he wants to go the speed we desire.

She gave me a bag of carrot slices, and we headed for the hill.

She mounted and walked a few steps. She clicked and treated. She hasn’t done much clicker work, so we weren’t sure how much it would help, but he did seem to know that the click meant a treat. A few more clicks, and he was walking like a champ. We did some head downs with the clicker—then he really started to focus on the game. She asked him to stop, clicked and treated. We had him now. Instead of getting off halfway, she rode down to the bottom, turned around and rode back up. It was a totally positive ride. We realized how ridiculous we were not to use the tools we have.

The next day, Monday, we started in the indoor arena, again. This time, Dante seemed at home in there. We are sure he thinks things over each day after the ride, because this happens all the time with him. Ellen did lots of trotting and had few problems. She then suggested doing the hill, again. I said, “What about me? Don’t I get to ride?” She smiled and told me to get my helmet.

Wow, he’s a nice horse to ride. It took him a minute or so to get used to me, and soon we were trotting circles, too. He is very smooth with long strides. I didn’t even try to post. He responded to my seat, which was great. She isn’t only going to enjoy him on the trail, but when she is stuck in the arena next winter, she will have fun, too.

Ellen then rode him down the hill. We still had the lead rope hooked up, but I told her I wasn’t going to use it. She was on her own, and I was just an emergency brake. I didn’t need it in the least. We gave him only a few carrots this time—though he earned a bushel. He just walked down the hill and back up like it was no big deal at all. He seems to enjoy himself on the trail. That is always a bonus when your horse likes to be out and about.

Next weekend, we will hopefully get them to the other side of the river and go on a real ride. We would have tried it this time, but it was still very cold. Neither one of us wanted to get our feet wet.

Ellen is very happy with Dante.

On each day, we also took Cole and Ranger on a trail ride, and they were great.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cruiser Shines


Ellen and I arrived early at the barn. We got the first 3 stalls cleaned, and then I decided to start Cruiser’s physical therapy walk while she cleaned Dante’s stall. I led him to the back of the property. As we turned to head towards the barn, I saw someone riding the Saddlebred burst out of the barn being chased by the trainer with a whip. (They train very differently in the Saddlebred world.) The Saddlebred was doing a high-stepping trot straight towards us. He had the chains on his legs and looked a bit wild. We hid behind a manure pile.

All was quiet, so we peeked out to see them trotting back to the barn. We followed at a walk. The walk lasted about 5 seconds. Cruise’s head and tail flew up in the air—he had gone full Arab on me. He started doing his most beautiful, floating trot—and it was sound. I struggled to keep him slow, with some success, but he wouldn’t walk. I have been going through episodes like this for over 23 years, now, so it didn’t surprise me. I had to circle him a few times as he danced about. They offered to stop the Saddlebred, but I knew it made no difference at this point. They trotted past as we worked our way carefully and beautifully back to the barn.

Though I might be used to this kind of behavior, no one else who saw us was. They were astonished by Cruiser’s transformation. The trainer pointed at us and said, “Now that’s what I want our horse to look like.”

Eventually, I made it to the indoor arena—away from all the excitement. That didn’t change Cruise’s behavior one bit. He has been waiting 2 months to show me that he was sound. This happened when his cough went away, too. He was so excited to be moving around. I called Ellen to see him—dancing about—sound. Finally, he quieted down and became a mild-mannered Morab, again.

I think I have my horse back. My plan is to stick to my plan. He is accustomed to his half hour walking, and we will use that as his starting point. Starting next weekend, I will start to ride him lightly at a walk for about a month and still hand lead him when I don’t have as much time. I will trot him in hand for short amounts of time to monitor his soundness. If all goes well, I will very gradually increase his exercise. He hasn’t been ridden since November, and at his age, I feel I should be very careful that he doesn’t overdo it. We are doing pretty good since I thought he was going to die last winter. I will take whatever he will be able to give me and be thrilled with it.

The beginning of a wonderful weekend.

It was a wonderful weekend. I thought it would be one of sadness. It was last year, on Memorial Day weekend that my dad took a turn for the worse and he went into hospice. I thought the memories would be haunting me, pulling me down. Well, that wasn’t the case at all. The weekend was just too perfect, so I enjoyed it—just as Dad would have wanted me to.

Friday evening, Kevin and I went on a ride with Cole and Starry. It was very cool, and the horses were perky. We had a great time. there were no bugs to pester us, either—that really improves the rides.

When I got back, I took Cruiser on his physical therapy walk. The cool weather made him perky, too. He started by walking very fast. The next thing I knew, he was gaiting. He kept going faster and faster. I was struggling to keep up with him. I didn’t want to jog because I was sure he would trot. I glanced back—and he was trotting—and he wasn’t limping. I burst out into tears. I then had to make him stop because I couldn’t breathe with the sobs. He started settling down—I think he made his point. He then walked quietly the rest of the time.

What a way to start the weekend. Hope has been restored for Cruiser’s future. It only got better.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wednesday Evening Ride

Kevin and I went on a ride with Cole and Starry. It was a fun ride with lots of trotting, good cantering and nearly perfectly well-behaved horses. That includes the riverbank that Cole has been rushing down. I let Starry go first. We halted at the top of the bank, clicked, treated, went a couple steps, clicked treated and carefully walked to the water. It was great.

I got Cruiser’s physical therapy walk in before the thunderstorm hit, so that was great. It isn’t much fun leading in the indoor arena. He did spook once and started cantering. I wish he would have trotted because then I could have seen if he is sounder. He looked like he was sound at a canter. He actually looked very pretty. I will probably trot him next week to see how he is doing. It will be 2 months at that point.

Dante was upset about the rain. It was splashing into his window. Seriously? This is the horse that lived outside? I consoled him and moved his hay to a spot where the rain wouldn’t hit him.

I’m staying home tonight to work on my veggie garden. My brother rototilled it for me. They are getting part of it this year. I have an electric fence to keep the deer out—but they don’t at their house. This way, they get more space and protection from the deer. I don’t need as much this year, anyway.

We are looking forward to the long weekend so much! 3 days of riding Ranger and Cole—and working with Dante, too. We can get a lot accomplished in 3 days. I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ellen and I both have good rides

Kevin and I went on an evening ride together on Starry and Cole Train. It was on the hot side, and since it was Cole’s 4th consecutive day of trail riding, I thought he might be a little sluggish. Wrong. He was just right. We did a lot of trotting and a little cantering—on the hard lead! We walked all the way home to cool them off and enjoy each other’s conversation. They mosquitoes were bad, but Starry didn’t overreact as Kevin put his bonnet on and bug spray. I didn’t spray Cole, and there were a few times he voiced his displeasure, but he settled down and just walked very fast. Since I like when he walks fast, I was very happy with the results. I will spray him in the future, but I just hadn’t’ brought my bottle out to the barn, yet.

His only misbehavior was when he rushed down one of the riverbanks—again. I couldn’t stop him—again. I lost my patience with him on this, and decided it was time to make a point. I turned him around and went straight back up. My plan was to keep doing it until he went down like a gentleman. I asked him to walk down the bank. After a few steps, I asked him to stop. This time, he did. I clicked, treated and repeated. Once again he stopped on a dime. I clicked and asked him to continue down. He went very carefully and politely down to the bottom and into the water! I was so pleased with him. I clicked him for walking and gave him his carrot. We then crossed the river. I will do this the next few times we go down that bank so that he knows what I want.

The rest of the ride home was uneventful.

Now, on to Dante. Ellen and I work different hours, so I can’t be with her during the week. Kevin is retired. He volunteered to be me for her, and she accepted. Kevin is a novice in horses in so many ways—a mediocre rider and happy to be that way. Still, he has figured out how horse behavior works, and understands it much more than the average person. He is also a very encouraging person. I knew Ellen would do more if he was there than if she was alone.

She rode Ranger, first, so Kevin didn’t have to get up so early. Dante was much better for saddling. (We saddle with the horses loose in the stall, and was reluctant to stand so she could put the saddle on his back.) She took him to ride in the round pen. According to her email to me, he starts trotting with a big movement at first—just like Cole. I know the first few times Cole did that, I wasn’t sure what he was doing. It literally scared me. Later, I realized it was normal—and encouraged him to keep up like that. That’s how I found his “big trot.”

Anyway, back to Dante. She said he seemed unfamiliar with posting—something Ellen nearly always does. Kevin just encouraged her to keep trying. She switched to sitting the trot, and he was fine. She said he did throw in one buck, but I’m not sure in what context.

After 15 minutes, she unsaddled and headed back down to the river. Her goal wasn’t to cross, but to go in the water. She had him going fine on the loose shale and ended up with all 4 feet on the slippery slate. She called it a success and headed home. She was very happy with her morning. I’m so glad that Kevin was there to encourage her.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Big Day

Horse-Filled Weekend

Friday evening, I went for a ride by myself on Cole Train. Since I was alone, I did a lot more cantering than when I am with other horses. We did get the hard lead once on a sharp corner—that same corner that we were successful before. He was doing great until we reached a sharp corner the other direction—and he switched. Well, at least I had it for a little while. We trotted a lot towards home, too. The ride was about 5 miles round trip, and the only demerit he received was rushing down one of the river banks.

Saturday, Ellen had to work. When life gives you lemons—make lemonade. I decided to go on a longer ride than she will normally take Ranger. Kevin and Starry tagged along. We went for 2.5 hours with a lot of trotting on the way out. We walked all the way home. This was the first time on that trail since last fall, and Cole got pretty excited about it a few times. The further we trotted, the faster Cole went. (Hence deciding to walk towards home.) It was so much like riding Cruiser in his younger days—I loved it. The only thing that would have made it better would have been Ellen being with us.

Sunday was the big day.

We started out by taking Cole and Ranger on a ride. Cole was a more settled after his long ride, and that was perfect. He was happy to go as fast or slow as Ranger wanted him to. We trotted plenty and all of us enjoyed ourselves. The day only got better

It was time for Ellen to climb into the saddle—on Dante’s back.

We started in the indoor arena with all the gates closed for safety. We didn’t need him running back to his stall or bursting outside. (Never happened to us, but it has happened to other boarders.) She took him over to the mounting block and had me hold his head. I saw a look of either hesitation or maybe disbelief on her face that this was real. Anyway, she slowly mounted and gently landed on Dante’s back.

He seemed surprised, but stood still. I started taking pictures of the big moment. I don’t think Ellen liked me dancing about. I came back to lead Dante forward. He wouldn’t go. She had to encourage him for a very long minute, and then he tentatively took a step. Actually, tentative was the best way to describe the whole ride. It took about 5 minutes before he was walking regularly. We think he may have been a little distracted with all the goings on in the barn. There was someone clipping a horse and a lot of people wandering about. Someone came through with a wheelbarrow, too.

Ellen thought he would be better outside, so Kevin opened the gate. Out we went, and he immediately relaxed. We wandered up and down the driveway and did some more circles. Then it was time for more pictures. Ellen got off and she seemed happy. No, I know she was happy. I saw the smile on her face.

We weren’t done, yet.

We were going to tackle the river.

Ellen took his saddle off, we rolled up our jeans, gathered up Kevin and away we went. It was a perfect day for it because the river is seldom lower than this at this time of the year. Plus, it was warm—and we were going in.

Kevin was wearing his tall rubber boots. He planned to clean up some to the rocks that were in the way. Anyone seeing us go down the street must have known we were going into the water. I’m sure we looked very silly. Dante had already been led down the hill to the river a number of times by now, so that was all very easy.

Dante has crossed water before in West Virginia, but we decided to treat him like it was his first time. He made it to the water’s edge, and Ellen and I stepped in. This wasn’t enough to get him in, so I reached into my pocket and pulled out a magic carrot. He stretched his head forward and dipped his toe in. I gave him a carrot. We repeated this a few times and he had his front hooves in, but the back ones were glued on the shore. In a couple minutes, he took the big step—and slid on the algae-covered slate river bottom. That made him vey uneasy—so he rushed forward—passing Ellen up and nearly running Kevin down. She circled him around to get him under control, faced the far bank and he marched right across to the other side.

Once he was back on solid ground, he was very happy to go on a little walk. Right there, there is a fence that goes along the trail that divides our trail with a paved all-purpose trail which is right next to the street. This was a perfect place to see how he did with distractions. Several bikes passed, there was a lot of car traffic, a few joggers and some hikers. He twitched when a motorcycle roared by. He was doing great—and then he spooked at a log. And then he spooked at another log. This was so much like Ranger, we had to laugh. We didn’t go that far—just a few minutes. He really did great for all the commotion on a new trail with new people handling him.

We led him down the river bank to go home. He stopped at the edge. I told him not to be like Cole who took a half hour to get back home his first time across. He said he just didn’t want to go back in. I pulled out a carrot, but before I knew it—he leapt into the air and landed in the water with a huge splash. He then raced to the other side.

Kevin was puttering about---picking up rocks. He didn’t even see it.

Ellen thought it might be wise to see if he would go back into the water. He did, but once again he went way, way too fast—and slipped. We think he was bothered by the slippery footing. I saw a few trot steps thrown in. Of course, the faster he went, the more he slipped and the more upset he got. This just wasn’t working. We needed him to calm down.

Then I remembered that further down the river the shale rocks go into the water a ways before it becomes slippery slate. We marched down there and asked Dante if he wanted to go in. He said he had enough. Carrots didn’t work. Grass didn’t work. Waiting did. Eventually, he took a step to reach a carrot. When he didn’t slip, he took another step. In the end, Ellen was able to walk him in the water parallel to the shore. I think he might have drifted onto the slate, but since he was going quietly, he didn’t slip.

She decided it was a good time to quit. Dante led up the hill like an old pro. We were soaked, but it didn’t matter because it was a warm day. Kevin was still puttering around with the rocks.

This is why she didn’t want to ride across the first time.

Now, if he was clicker trained, she may have been able to ask for a step, click, treat and repeat. She may have also asked for a step, halt, click and repeat. That would have controlled his speed and possibly prevented him from slipping. She has introduced some clicking, but they are only working on “head down.” She really doesn’t think he will need clicker training—we don’t foresee many problems to solve. She is probably worried I will teach him to chase balls, dance, pick up things and bow…

I was very proud of how Ellen handled everything. Her timing was perfect—as was her intuition. She said it was from watching me all these years. I said, “Yeah, you saw me make the mistakes and then figure out the right way. That way, you skipped the mistakes.” She didn’t deny it.

By the way, you are probably wondering what happened to Kevin. As he was puttering about, a rider showed up with her horse on his first solo trip in the park. There was Kevin in his rubber boots. She asked him to help her get her horse across by walking with her. Since he was perfectly prepared for it, he gladly walked with them across the river and down the trail for a ways. She was very grateful.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bug Crazy Starry Starry Night

Bug Crazy Starry Starry Night

Cole and I went with Kevin and Starry on a ride yesterday evening. it was a very warm evening. All went well on the way out. We rode to the fallen tree—lots of fast trotting and a little cantering. Kevin wanted to see if he could clear the tree off the trail or find a way around it. He wouldn’t take my word for it—but as soon as he saw it he agreed. We needed professional help for this one—chainsaw and glove. It is covered with poison ivy.

On the way home, we intended to just walk to cool the boys off. Unfortunately, the heat brought out the gnats. Starry has a low tolerance to bugs, and he just wasn’t tolerating it last night. Kevin has him wear a full-face fly mask and drenches him in bug spray in the summer, but this was the first night we had bug problems, so he wasn’t prepared. Our quiet walk was interrupted by Starry continually trying to trot. It would take a while for Kevin to bring him back to a walk. Of course, Cole wanted to join in the act, and we started having issues.

Then, Starry took off running. That was it. Cole couldn’t take one step forward at a walk. I have spent too much time trying to get him to walk quietly towards home to let him get away with it. I could have fought him, but instead I hopped off, and we practiced our tricks. I had him put his head down, do the silly Cole walk and we did some parking out. It helped to refocus him, and after a couple minutes, I had him walking quietly by my side. It’s an unconventional way of doing things, but I find that it works the best for him.

I mounted to cross the river, but by then I had gained on Starry and he was in clear sight. All the problems happened again. I got off and we did tricks. It took even less time to settle him down this time. We didn’t do any parking out, so we caught up with them by the time we got to the street.

Back at the barn, I stopped to talk to some fellow boarders. Cole showed them his parking and bowing. One of the boarders was there on the weekend when the maintenance man was fixing Cole’s window. Cole was tormenting him by knocking down his tools and such. The boarder offered to help by holding Cole. She said Cole must have bowed for her 15 times, and since she wasn’t giving him a treat, he kept trying different variations to see if she would. His window got fixed and she got a good laugh.

Ellen said that Dante is not going to learn to bow or do the silly walk. She will teach him the “head down” trick, though. It is very useful at times. She taught it to Ranger, and it has really helped him when he gets anxious.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fun Monday Night

Kevin and I had a really nice ride last night. it was cool, and there are still no bugs—we are enjoying it while we can. We assumed that the tree that was blocking the trail was still there, so we turned at the river crossing before it and headed back towards home. to make it a longer ride, we planned to pass home and go the other way for a while.

That made it a perfect day to work on trotting towards home. we have regularly trotted towards home when we are far away, but the closer you get, the more difficult it becomes—well that is if you have a spunky horse like Cole Train. Starry is a laid back Quarter Horse, and Kevin looks for ways to wake him up. (I had a horse like him, so I know there is a huge difference.) When they are close to home, Starry trots just the way he likes him to. When I am close to home on Cole, I sometimes lose my brakes, and he can go way faster than I want. My goal is to have my horses trot steadily towards home and be responsive to me. Fast is okay—actually preferable—but it must be in control. (I love a fast trot.) No cantering allowed without permission, of course.

When Cole gets it right, he gets a lot to praise and I rub his withers. This seems to keep him steady. When the excitement gets the best of him, I stop him immediately. Though Kevin thinks we should just enjoy the speed, I don’t want him to practice what I don’t want him to do—what kind of training is that? Sometimes it is tough riding with your boyfriend.

We ended up getting quite a bit of good trotting—fast but steady. Only twice did I have to bring Cole to a walk to settle down. We managed to trot within a minute of the intersection that leads home, too. Cole was only a little upset to pass it up, and soon as we got to good trail, we trotted again—just slower since we were now going away from home.

It was a great ride.

Next, it was time to take Cruise on his walk. Well, the cooler weather animated him, to say the least. The first five minutes, he didn’t walk—he gaited. I refused to let him trot. In a way, I was hoping he would, anyway, and then I would see he trots soundly and has recovered from the suspensory injury, but at the same time, I was very afraid I would find out he was just as lame as before. He did gait sound, I think. It is harder to tell because—unlike a trot where their heads stay still, there is a bob in the gait—and he goes so fast that it is hard to see if the bobs are even. In fact, he goes so fast that I just struggle to keep up. I was so glad when he settled down.

I then let Dante out to play. Kevin shooed him around with a whip, and he had a fine time cantering about. He has a pretty way of cantering, but I really like his trot. I left Kevin with him and cleaned his stall.

Then I cleaned 3 more stalls and fed all the horses. Kevin already watered. It was a busy evening, and it was nice to sit down and drink a can a pop with Kevin—but he only gave me a few minutes. He had to rush home and watch a basketball playoff game. I really am a basketball widow…

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend Update

Weekend Update

First off—Dante’s cough has improved quite a bit. He is still coughing, but not even close to how bad he was when he arrived.

Friday evening found me with Dante. Since Cole just got shoes the day before, he got the day off. Whenever they switch from shoeless to shoes or shoes to shoeless, we like to give them some time off to get used to the change. I spent my extra time walking Dante around. This was the first time that I had him all to myself. He was very well behaved. He did get a little nervous as I walked him towards the street, but he was sensible. The back of the property didn’t bother him in the least. I also took Cruiser on his physical therapy walk. It was an evening of a lot of walking.

Saturday, Ellen was with me. We started the morning by taking Dante for a walk on the trail down the hill to the river. He was very high headed and looked all around. He did behave well. When we got back, we cleaned the stalls and then took Dante along on Cruiser’s physical therapy walk. He was very comfortable with that, as this was his second time with Cruiser. Cruise did lift a hoof up and tell Dante not to get too close. That was a surprise from Cruise—as he had never done this with another horse. Maybe he is getting old and crotchety. Ironically, he was then upset that Dante was so far away—kept looking back and trying to turn to go see him.

Ellen and I then headed out on our ride with Ranger and Cole. We ended up turning around early because a tree was down and it was impossible to get around it. On the way back home, we found Kevin on Starry, and he joined us. We passed up home and went the other way for a while because our ride was too short.

Sunday morning was a repeat of Saturday morning. Dante was a little more energetic on the trail. I think he has recovered from the fatiguing trailer trip. We let him out in the outdoor arena to roll and explore. He did very well with Cruiser—in spite of Cruiser going Arab on me for a few minutes. I’m not sure what was bothering him, but it might have had something to do with horses getting loaded up in a trailer—but that was quite a distance away. Once the trailer was gone, he settled down.

Ellen and I took Range and Cole up to the show ring trails. They did much better this week, and we did a lot more trotting. Cole is doing better with matching Ranger’s speed at the trot. We want Ranger in the lead because we want him to choose the speed. He has slowed down quite a bit in the last few years. We feel if Cole sets the pace, Ranger will push himself too hard for his arthritic joints. It is a good lesson for Cole. He was doing very well last year, and we are just reviewing it this year. He isn’t trying to pass, but he does want to travel too close. On this ride, I was able to regulate the distance between them easier. Cole did the best ever on the super steep hill we go down on the way home. I have struggled so much with Cole and hills since I got him. I don’t think we will have a single issue with Dante on the steep hills. That is the difference between getting a horse from the mountains of West Virginia and the flatlands of Indiana.

It was a really nice ride in spite of the cold and sleet. I’ll be riding tonight with Kevin and Starry. At least it is supposed to be sunny.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Update from the vet on Dante

The vet checked Dante and said, just as we figured, it is an allergic reaction--probably because of the very dusty trailer conditions.  There is no infection and he's not contagious.  Being at a boarding stables, it is always good to be proactive in these kind of situations.  People can be very funny about stuff like this...

I'm glad he will be all right.  I can't wait for the weekend to start!

Introducing Dante

Dante is here, and he is lovely. More important than lovely—he is a real sweetheart. I got to the barn a couple hours after he did. Of course, Ellen was there when he arrived. The horse trailer wasn’t able to pull into the driveway due to its size and the fact that the street is all torn up and only one lane right now. He was unloaded right on the road, and she had to lead him through the construction zone. He didn’t bat and eye. Good thing—the construction will be there at least another month.

Unlike Cole, on his first day, Dante did walk through the barn door. He settled down and ate some hay. Unfortunately, he does have a cough. Ellen thinks it was from being in a dusty trailer for 7 hours, but she is having the vet out today to check him to make sure it doesn’t escalate.

When I got there, she brought him out to show him to me. Such a pretty boy. She wanted to walk him around a bit to stretch his legs after the long trailer ride, so I suggested they join me with Cruiser on his physical therapy walk. We just walk around the property, so this was also a good way for Dante to learn about his surroundings. I brought Cruise out, and oh was he excited! He wanted so much to sniff noses. Of course, we didn’t—not just because Dante has a cough, but mostly because Cruiser will consistently squeal a strike when he sniffs the nose of a new horse. We did let Dante sniff Cruiser’s rump, and they were happy with that.

Cruiser took the lead to show the way. Dante was fine with it. We walked around the loop three times. Now, here is what impressed me the most about Dante. He was in a new place after a stressful day. Whenever he saw something that made him worried, he would look at it and then immediately look at Ellen to see if everything was okay. Then, he would drop his head and relax. It’s not like he did this once or twice. He did this at least a dozen times. Overall, he was more relaxed than Cruise because Cruise was so interested in Dante—he was keyed up. He kept trying to turn around to visit him.

This morning, Ellen took him on another walk about. This time, he had more energy—probably because he got to rest after yesterday’s ordeal. Since he was still coughing, she decided to call the vet.

I’m not riding Cole tonight to give him a chance to get used to his shoes, so I will have some extra time. I will also take Dante on a walk about. Tomorrow, we plan to take him on a walk down the hill to the river. we are supposed to get a lot of rain, so we may not be able to cross with anyone—but having a new horse to play with will make up for it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dante has arrived

I just got a call from my sister.  Dante has arrived.  He quietly walked through the construction, down the drive and into the barn.  (We couldn't get Cole to walk through the barn door when I got him.  Dante is already doing better than him.)  He is now calmly munching hay.  I am still at work--and won't see him for a couple more hours.  Sigh...  Kevin is there, and he has already fallen in love.

Dante is on his way...

Yes, we got an email from his breeder.  He loaded well and is on his way.  I hope Ellen is doing all right.  I haven't gotten anymore emails past the one where she feels sick.  This is a really big day for her.

I did ride Cole last night.  Kevin was babysitting, so I was alone.  The ride was good.  The wildflowers are so pretty this time of year.  The Indian Hyacinths are starting to bloom.  The wild Phlox are all over the place.  It is a terrific year for violets.  Usually, you don't even notice them with all the profusion of other flowers, but this year, there are so many.  The tansy ragwort is starting to bloom, and so are the May Apples.  The earlier flowers are fading away. 

Cruiser was very perky on his walk, last night.  He is nearly shedded out, and he looks so good.  I was afraid he would be all skin and bones when he shedded out, but he has been steadily gaining his weight back.  He is still a little low, but he is so much better than he was this winter!  I have to be careful with him since he is Insulin Resistant.  Too much of the wrong food can cause laminitis.  It is actually unusual for an insulin resistant horse to be thin.  That is one of the reasons we didn't even think to test him, but when his healed bowed tendon had a relapse, the vet got suspicious.  We are lucky to have one of the most noted bowed tendon vets in the country.  Their practice has done over 15,000 bowed tendons.  They are tops.  When Cruiser bowed his tendon, my vet said they don't even bother handling bowed tendons because these guys are so good.

I'm rambling...

I am too excited to concentrate on work.  I'm glad I'm not very busy.

D-Day is Here!

I am here at work, waiting very impatiently for evening to arrive, for that is when Dante is expected. He is probably already on the road. It is a long trip from West Virginia to Cleveland. I hope he is doing well. He has been trailered before, so that helps. I remember when Cole was delivered 3 years ago. He had never been trailered. It was only a 3 hour trip, but he must have been really stressed. Poor guy was dripping with sweat when he arrived—just exhausted. I will never forget what his look when I saw him on the trailer. He looked like the saddest horse in the world. I hope Dante does better.

My sister sent me an email that said, “I feel sick.” I guess that means the stress is affecting her just a little bit.

I will be out there this evening. Actually, it is farrier day. My sister did tell him that he could come earlier if he wants, so he might not be there when I get there. Cole is getting front shoes. He really wore down his feet. Since he is now my main riding horse, he has been doing a lot of miles. Our trails are so hard and have a lot of gravel. It is tough on the hooves. Cole has complaining. The shoes will help. I really wish we had softer trails.

It’s going to be a long day, waiting to get out of work…

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tomorrow is D-Day

Yes, tomorrow Dante arrives and begins his new life.  My sister is very nervous and excited.  I'm just excited.  It's a lot easier on your nerves when it isn't your own horse.  I can just sit back and enjoy it all.

This is so exciting.  He looks so lovely in the pictures.  I can't wait to see him in person.

Temporarily, he will be in a stall in a separate barn, but next week, he will be able to move into the stall next to Ranger, across from Cruiser and catty corner to Cole and Starry.  We will have a heard of 5. 

It was about this time last year that my dad's health problems started to escalate, and we could see the writing on the wall--and it wasn't good.  For me, it was worse than for anyone else, because I lived with Dad.  Losing him caused my own life to fall apart, and I am picking up the pieces.  With the lovely weather we have had, I have actually done worse.  It is a reminder of last year.  I am also reminded of all the things he love to do when the weather got warm.  Sunday, I saw that the Chrysler car show was at corner shopping center.  Dad used to go every year, but missed last year.  I broke down. 

I have fallen back into the pit of despair.  Dante to the rescue!  I think he will be just what I need to shake free of the dark feelings.  I can focus on fun rather than sadness.  I can move forward and enjoy life, again.  Oh, wait a minute.  He is Ellen's horse. 

Well, I can live vicariously through her as she starts her new adventures--and I can go on longer rides with her!

We will keep you updated.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ho Hum, another great ride

I took Cole out on a ride with Starry, and it was another gorgeous night and another gorgeous ride.  We did a lot of trotting and some cantering.  Cole was so wonderful, that all I can do is brag.  Another boring blog.  I am a lucky person.

I need Dante so I have something to write about!

Those poor, young ladies that escaped from being kidnapped for years were found in a house about a mile from where I work.  I'm so happy they are free, but what a lousy thing to happen to them.  Sometimes, the world can bring you down--and all I can do is ride to escape.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stormy Teleporting

My sister and I have long had a theory that cats can teleport.  You will see them in one spot, and moments later will find them in a completely different spot--and it seems that there is no way they could have moved that fast without you knowing it.  Teleportation

Well, she caught her cat, Stormy, in the act of teleporting.  He is traveling through the space-time continuum.  Finally, we have proof.

Lovely May Trail Rides

Nothing to report except for great rides.  Great rides make for boring blogs.  Friday, Kevin and I had a terrific ride with Starry and Cole.  They were completely different from Wednesday's ride.  Other than rushing down one river bank, Cole was perfect.

Saturday, I rode Cole with Ellen and Ranger.  We were out for about an hour and a quarter.  They were completely perfect.  We did a lot of trotting on the way out, and walked home--looking at all the stunning wildflowers.  We are at the peak of bluebell season.

Sunday, I took Cole with Ellen on Ranger and Kevin on Starry.  This time, we went up to the show ring trails for the first time this year.  All the horses behaved. Starry seemed excited to be with Ranger, but otherwise, he was fine. Cole was perfect.  Ranger gets very excited going up to those trails because we used to keep him at a stable there--and he always thinks he is going to his old home.  Even he was better than he would typically be on the first trip there. 

Someone pinch me and tell me I'm not dreaming.  Three nearly perfect rides in nearly perfect weather?  Yes, a boring blog post, but the rides were great.

Thursday is Dante Day.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cole has Wings

Kevin and I took Cole and Starry out for a ride last night. It was in the 70s, so we figured they would be on the quiet side, but we were wrong. Both were feeling good. We started out with some fine trotting. They were energetic, but behaving, so I was able to talk Kevin into doing some cantering—with me in the lead. That meant I could go fast!

We have a favorite stretch for cantering that is so good that we even call it “the canter stretch.” Cole really felt like cantering, so it took only the lightest cue and he leapt forward. I was having fun, but after about a minute, I heard Kevin yelling to slow down. I assumed that he was having trouble with Starry, so I started to rein Cole in. At that moment, my treat pouch came loose and started to fall. I quickly grabbed it, but now I only had one and a half hands to slow Cole. My half hand was on the mane side, so I was trying to get a firm grip on the rein without pulling out a bunch of his luxurious mane—and then I saw the log.

Well, it isn’t much of a log. It fell down about a week ago. It was so rotted, that when it hit the trail, it crumpled into a pile of rotted log debris about a half foot high and 4 feet wide. We don’t need to step over it, as we can step through it. I didn’t really want to step on it at a canter. I tried to slow Cole down, and I was successful, but he wouldn’t come down to a trot. He never even paused—we sailed over it.

As most horses who haven’t had much experience with jumping, he way over jumped. It has been years since I’ve jumped like that. I quit jumping Cruiser when he bowed his tendon and never jumped Mingo because I didn’t think it was a good idea with his conformation. I used to jump my first horse, Brandy, quite a bit. He was a very talented and accomplished show jumper, and I learned a lot from him.

I learned enough to know I am way out of practice! Of course, I wasn’t preparing for a jump, but for him to stop. In spite of me, Cole jumped beautifully and very boldly. I think I may have another Brandy on my hands. I had no trouble getting him to stop after we jumped. I think that is just why he wouldn’t stop—he planned to jump all along. I looked back to see Starry carefully stepping through the log. Thank goodness. The thought of Kevin and Starry going airborne is a scary one.

We continued on the ride, and they continued to be hyper. We ended up having them walk quietly home. When I got back to the stables, I turned Cole out to run and play, and run he did. We have a huge outdoor arena, and when he is in the mood, he just runs laps. I lost count after 8 laps when he moved into figure eights. I guess I should have done that before the ride…