Monday, June 24, 2013

Dante's Debut

Saturday morning, Ellen and I went out with Dante and Cruiser for a trail ride. since Dante crossed the river with Ellen the day before, we figured he’s cross easily. Cruise went down to the river’s edge, first, and paused—something he seldom does. Dante didn’t want to wait for him and passed him right up—getting to the other side before Cruiser’s hooves were barely wet. River crossing is no longer a problem for Ellen and Dante.

Once again, Dante was very excited—leading the way. Cruiser quietly walked behind him. the ride stayed at a walk and was uneventful. We then took Cole and Ranger on a ride.

Sunday, my younger niece came out to ride Ranger. This time, we took Dante, Cole and Ranger out. Dante, in his excitement, trotted down the river bank to the water. Ellen didn’t appreciate that, but at least it shows he isn’t reluctant to cross anymore. We had another uneventful ride. The only bad moment was when Dante took off trotting because a nasty bug was plaguing him. I’m sure that is how he is used to responding to bad bugs—having lived outside his whole life. He will need to learn some self control. That’s exactly how Cole used to behave when it would start to rain.

I then took Cruise on a ride with Starry.

It was a very hot weekend, and I was reminded why I don’t really like summer. Heat, sweat, bugs, yuk. Still, it is nice to be able to trail ride so much—something I don’t get to do enough in the winter.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Big News!!!!

Big News!!!!

My sister sent me an email to tell me she rode Dante across the river this morning—all by herself. I didn’t even know she was going to try. So I had to call her. She said that at first he tried his spinning, but that didn’t work for him. Then he tried to back up a few times, but that didn’t work for him, either. Then, he put his head down to look at the water. At that point, she knew she had him. She clicked and treated him, so he did it again. she clicked and treated again—and then he stepped in. He was very excited, so she decided she would lead him. They walked for about 20 minutes, turned around and came back. She had to get back on to cross again. He didn’t really want to, but she gently worked him through it—and then they were home!

We planned to try him with Cruiser, tomorrow, so it looks like that will go fine. on Sunday, my younger niece is coming out to ride Ranger with us—so it will be Ranger, Cole and Dante—for the first time. I will let you know how that goes. I think all will be fine. Dante is a very good horse with a very good mind.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Uneventuful rides

Had a few more uneventful rides--so that means there is nothing to say--but they are wonderful to experience.  My niece was with me, yesterday, and I went on a ride with Kevin on Starry, too.

So, I will just leave you with another lo-res picture from my cheap tracphone of Thunder.  Today is Thunder Thursday, his best day of the week.  I will be picking him some catnip and playing some cat games with him.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


We did indeed have tuna fish for dinner last night, and Thunder was very happy. (I also had 3 ears of corn. Mmmm…)

It was rather chilly in the evening, so when I was done with all my chores and my phone calls, it was time to read a book and cuddle. I think it just became a habit since I kept the furnace set at 59 degrees this winter. He has turned into a very cuddly cat this year, but with his long coat, he will only cuddle on chilly days.

We ended up falling asleep, but as usual, the dog barked and woke us up, so I brought Thunder up to bed.

He is laying on his beat up old box that is alongside the windowsill by his tower.  When the sun doesn't reach the top of the tower, he likes to sleep here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sleepy Thunder

I'm thinking that he is dreaming of tuna juice.  I'll have to have a tunafish sandwich tonight for supper.  It's the only people food that he will eat.  As soon as I open the can, he starts singing...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cruiser and the River

Cruiser and the River

Yes, another river story, but this once starts quite a few years ago. Back when Cruiser was probably 13-14 years old, he got really weird when he was crossing the river in the spring. I don’t know exactly what he would do, since I was always on his back and couldn’t see it, but it was terrifying. All of his legs went all different directions. We called it his “crab walk.” The closest way I could describe it is the way it feels when a horse steps on ice and starts to slip on all four feet.

It was a serious problem, and he did fall, once. Though he didn’t hurt himself, it took a week before he would cross, again. Then, like a miracle, as soon has he got he shoes in the spring, it would go away, and I would forget all about it until the following spring. If I crossed the river when his shoes were pulled in the fall, he was fine, so I never figured out what it was all about.

Once he bowed his tendon, and I realized how fragile he was, I simply didn’t cross the river in the spring until he got his shoes.

Now, it was time to start trail riding Cruise, again, for the first time since last November when I had his shoes pulled. Since he is going to be on light riding—possibly permanently—I was hoping to keep him barefoot. That meant I had to cross the river and see what happened.

I was more nervous about this than Ellen was about Dante, but I just tried not to think about it. (Ellen was nervous, too and couldn’t watch.) I knew that Cruiser would be willing, and just as I planned with Dante if he misbehaved or panicked, I just had to sit there.

I chose the narrowest section of river. Ellen was far behind us with Ranger. We both figured it would be better that way because Cruiser would be less likely to rush that way.

Cruiser seemed so enthusiastic as he marched down the river bank for the first time in so long. He went right into the water and carefully walked to the other side. Talk about anticlimactic, but it was wonderful. I was going on a trail ride on the horse that I thought would never getting his breathing back to ever go out, again. He walked fast down the trail and was happy. Me too.

Dante and the River

Dante and the River

Life got in the way, and we weren’t able to tackle the river again for weeks. There was high water one weekend, extreme cold on another and then there was the awful weekend that Ellen had to work. We really wanted to get past the river, and we were both frustrated.

This weekend, the river was a little high and muddy. We would have preferred a lower river that we could see the bottom, but we were tired of waiting. It was definitely crossable, but just not ideal.

On Saturday, Ellen and I took Cole and Dante down to the water’s edge. Cole walked in and stood there. Dante refused. When he got to the edge, he took a quick turn to the left, Ellen circled him and brought him right back. This happened over and over. Cole was drinking and blowing bubbles in the water.

Nothing that Dante did was aggressive or dangerous, but he just wasn’t going to take a step in. Maybe he remembered when we led him across and he slipped a number of times on the algae-covered slate and panicked. After a few minutes, I noticed the look on Ellen’s face. I have seen it before. She looked like she was going to throw up. Her voice got very little. She had lost her nerve. Dante wasn’t going to cross when Ellen didn’t want to cross.

She explained to me later what happened. She got that image in her head that Dante would rush and slip on the slate, and she couldn’t function. If Dante would have gone in, she would have let him, but she couldn’t encourage him to do it.

She told me to go on my ride. Well, Cole was having such a fun time in the water that it was a huge effort to get him out. Finally, we made it to the other side and trotted away. Dante was very upset, but not enough to want to follow.

Ellen was going to stay at the bottom and wait, but the bugs started to get bad. She brought him back to the barn, and he was happy about that—he was going home—but she instead took him to the indoor arena and rode him for 25 minutes. He was extremely grumpy, and they had an awful ride.

She told me she wasn’t upset with Dante, but she was very upset with herself. She recognized that she was the problem.

Sunday morning, I met her at the barn and asked her what the plan was. She didn’t think he would cross, and she was visibly upset. I told her that she could ride him in the arena for the next 20 years, or we could work on the river crossing.

I told her I would ride him if she wanted. She got all happy and said that would be fine with her. She would be the ground person with a pocket full of carrots.

She saddled up Dante, rolled up her jeans and away we went.

I had no trouble getting Dante to the river’s edge, but as soon as he got there, he spun away. I kept him spinning—in a much tighter and less comfortable circle than Ellen. I don’t know how many times we went around and around. Finally, he stopped at the water and stood. We clicked and treated. When I asked for forward, sometimes he just refused and sometimes he did the spinning, but when he finally put a hoof in the water, he got clicked and treated. Soon, the spinning was gone, and he was taking one step at a time—an inch each step and he got clicked and treated each time. He put his nose into the water, sniffed the big rock next to him and looked at Ellen.

Ellen started pawing and splashing in the water to show him it was fun. He looked at her quizzically—and took a bigger step in.

When he got his back hooves in, I felt a difference in his demeanor. Up until that point, I wasn’t sure if we would make it all the way across, but now I knew. We continued clicking and treating for every step. By now, his steps were bigger. When he was halfway across, he decided he was going to the other side—and didn’t even stop when I clicked him to get a treat. We made it.

Everyone was so happy—including Dante. It took only about 10 minutes—half what I expected. We went on a little trail ride. Dante was curious and very excited and enthusiastic. When it was time to turn around to go home, he tried to turn back to keep going on. He is going to make a great trail horse.

When it was time to re-cross the river, I was a little concerned. When we did this on foot, he leapt into the water, slipped and panicked. This time, I was on his back. We rode down the steep bank and I gently nudged him in.

He then crossed like a champ. He carefully placed each step. I think he learned from the leading lesson that rushing can cause him to slip.

Wow, were we all happy. I rode him up the hill, got off and brought him to his stall. No arena work this time!

Ellen said that there are some times that you just need to get a neutral person to help you. I had done this with horses, before, and I knew what to expect. If he rushed and slipped, I planned to just sit there until we got to the other side. It was a concern, but it didn’t frighten me. Since Ellen got to watch how well he crossed, she won’t be afraid of him being careless in the future. Dante is a very careful horse.

Fear can incapacitate a person, and it happens all the time in the horse world. Remember when I was afraid to ride Cole in the arena? After he bolted a dozen times of so in the far corner, I could barely breathe when we rode there. Logic had nothing to do with it. I handled him with each bolt, got him in control and didn’t fall off. Still, I stayed on one side of the arena a whole winter.

When fear gets the best of you, recognize it and ask for help. I used to have people walk next to me when I rode Cole on the far end of the arena. When Ellen is afraid—she puts me in the saddle.

I had a great ride on Dante, and I was so happy to ride him on his first real trail ride in Ohio.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Niece's Ride

My older niece came out to ride with me, last night. We were a little concerned since the weather was very changeable, and they were predicting bad storms. She rode Ranger and I rode Cole. It did rain a little at the beginning of the ride, but soon it stopped and the sun came out. Once we crossed the river, we mostly trotted all the way to the next river crossing.

My niece rode better than she ever did before. Her posting was perfect—in spite of Ranger going a little faster than he did the last few weeks. She was able to keep him from slowing down to lure Cole closer so he could try to intimidate him, too. She didn’t use the reins as balance, rather she had them slightly slack. Basically, I think Ranger won her confidence and allowed her to do her best. She is no longer afraid to ride him—I think he has become her favorite horse.

We walked home and marveled at how nice the weather actually turned out.

When we got back, I set her to watering the 30+ horses and Kevin cleaned our stalls. I somewhat felt like Tom Sawyer as I took Cruiser for a pleasant walk on the hill. Then my niece helped me give hay to all the horses

We then celebrated our great ride with a hot fudge sundae at McDonalds. As I was driving home, the lightning started. It was so nice that we were able to enjoy our whole evening before the storms moved in.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prizes for Thunder

Thunder won a prize package from Sparkle the Design Cat! You can visit her blog, here. We were so excited when the package came to our door. In it, we found cat food, toys, a litter scooper, cat treats and a Glogirly Bell. I was particularly excited about the bell, because we follow the Glogirly blog. We love hearing about the adventures of Katie and her nemesis Waffles. In fact, I just love cat blogs in general. I don’t know many people, personally, that adore their cats like Ellen and I adore ours, so it is refreshing to read that we aren’t alone. Other people delight in their cats just like we do!

Back to our prize package. It included 3 cans Friskies Rise & Shine Savory Salmon & Egg Scramble. Thunder, one of the most finicky cats I have ever encountered when it comes to canned food, thought it was gross. He took one sniff of it and ran away. Maggie liked it very much.

I was a little worried about whether he would like the six cans of Fancy Feast Delights Chicken & Cheddar Cheese Feast. I have tried Fancy Feast before, and he always sticks his nose up in the air. Maggie likes Fancy Feast. Fortunately, it was pate. He prefers pate, but he also prefers seafood, and this was chicken. Well, he loved it! We had success.

He thought the toy was fun, but not that much fun. It is going to go into the catnip jar. He will like it very much when it comes out.

He was totally unimpressed with the litter scooper, but I liked it.

Now, here is the best part. There was a package of Science Diet Crunchy Creations cat treats. Thunder is finicky treat eater, too. I use his treats for hide and seek, clicker training and as treats for teeth brushing. Sometimes he eats them and sometimes he doesn’t.

These treats were too big for clicker treats and were too hard to break in half. Big treats fill up his belly too fast, and so it cuts the training session short.

He did seem to like them a lot, so decided to use them for his dental rewards. I brush his teeth every morning and give him 3 treats when we are done. Sometimes he can be stubborn—refusing to come down from his tower or hiding under chairs or scooting away as I reach for him. Once I catch him, I pet him, he lays down flat, I give him lots of pets and cuddles, brush his teeth, give him treats and we are done. (I brush Maggie’s teeth, too, but dogs are easy.)

On the second morning, he started crying for attention while I was still eating breakfast. I would go talk to him, go back to my breakfast and he would start up again. This is nothing new. I seldom get through a meal without him interrupting me. Yet, he seemed very persistent. Once I brushed his teeth, he quieted down.

This happened a few days before I made the connection. He wanted me to brush his teeth so he could have his new treats! Since then, he has come running when he hears the package—something he has never done before. A few times, he laid down for me to brush his teeth without me placing him down. He is particularly cooperative, too. These treats are great! They are making our least favorite part of the day a favorite part of the day. I must get more!!!

Thank you Sparkle!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A bunch of rides

Friday”s Ride

Catching up on my riding blogs.  I rode by myself on Friday, as Kevin had plans and Starry was due to have a day off.  I took Cole on a fast 5-mile ride.  I always ride faster when I’m by myself.  This was our day to canter.  We cantered in all the good spots.  When we reached the spot that I practice that hard-to-get-right lead, he knew what I wanted.  A light touch of my leg, and we were off.  Only problem is we went up before we went forward.  He gave me quite a big buck.  As I looked down—waiting to land back in the saddle, I noticed he took the wrong lead.  I also had time to think that if he bucked again, I wouldn’t be landing in the saddle.  He didn’t buck—he did a flying lead change, instead and raced off on the requested for right lead.

Saturday’s Ride

My sister had to work, so that meant Kevin and I would go on a long ride—longer and faster than my sister is willing to do with Ranger.  I missed riding with her, very much, but we made the best of it.  We rode for 2.75 hours—much of it trotting—with the last 45 minutes towards home at a relaxing walk.  Cole and I did get some cantering in when we lost Starry on a good section of trail.  At first, he wanted to just keep trotting, and he gave me a very reluctant canter.  We trotted some more, and when I asked for the canter a second time, he was much more motivated—and it was fun.

We were able to trot a lot on the way home.  By keeping Starry in the lead, I was able to regulate Cole’s speed and all went well.  When Cole is in the lead, he goes faster, Starry gets upset and starts to canter–and then they want to race.  If Starry is in the lead, it doesn’t matter how fast he goes—Cole can keep up at the trot and we can really burn up the trail. 

The weather was cool, there weren’t any bugs and the trails were very quiet.  The only way it could have been better would be if Ellen was there.  We did see her before the ride as she came out right before work.  She had just finished riding Dante in the arena and on the hill when I arrived.  She led Ranger around with Cruiser and me.

Sunday’s Ride

Ellen had to work, again.  This time, I brought my younger niece (17) out to ride her horse, Ranger.  First, I rode Cruiser for a half hour at a walk on the barn property.  I had my niece lead Dante with us.  This is the first time she saw him, and she thought he was so cute. 

Kevin came with us on the ride.  We did 5 miles with a fair amount of slow trotting on the way out, and then we walked all the way home.  Cole and Starry were perfectly behaved, but still had energy, so the long ride the day before just took the edge off of them.  I wasn’t worried about Cole Train—he is a Morab, after all.  I was more worried about overdoing it with Starry.  Kevin doesn’t ride quite like that often, and Starry is a large Quarter Horse.  Turns out I underestimated the big behemoth.  My niece really enjoyed herself.  A few times, Ranger got really nervous from some scary traffic that was close to the trail, but she knew to just turn him to face it and ask him to stand. 

Monday’s Ride

It was just Kevin and me, again.  We did the 5-mile ride.  The horses were nearly perfect, and we really enjoyed ourselves.  We did a lot of trotting and some cantering.  On the way home, I stopped to pick a few mulberries from a tree right alongside the trail.  I gave them to Cole, and he loved them.  In fact, he asked for more by doing his silly walk.  I didn’t give him any, since I don’t encourage him to do the silly walk when I’m in the saddle without permission.  Then he tried a side pass.  No clicks since I didn’t ask for it, again.  So instead, we trotted.  I asked Cole to go into the big show trot—and he did!  He got clicked for that. 

When we got to the next mulberry tree, I suggested Kevin pick a few for Starry.  He did, but Starry had trouble picking them out of his hand.  Starry decided to take the matter into his own hands, bit off a foot of branch and ate the whole thing—red and black mulberries, leaves and wood.  He really liked it.

I took Cruiser on his physical therapy walk down the hill to the river.  I trotted him at the bottom and he was sound.  We then walked up, but he decided to gait, instead.  His gait can get pretty fast, and he gave me quite a workout.  If the river is in good shape this weekend, I would love to take him on a short, easy trail ride. 

Ellen’s work schedule really messed us up this week.  She has been working with Dante in the arena, and each ride, he gets better.  They have also bee riding around the property.  The weekday road construction has been keeping her off the trail.  We have been very frustrated about circumstances keeping Dante off the trail.   We hope that will change, soon.  (Maybe he could go with Cruiser?)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lots of little updates:

Lots of little updates:

Ellen was able to move Dante into the stall next to Ranger and across from Cruiser, Cole and Starry. He is also next to a small, white mule. He has fallen in love with the mule and has been seen giving her a kiss. He seems to like Ranger, and though Ranger is playing bully, he is treating him much nicer than the horse that was previously in that stall—which is a relief. He hated that horse. Since he liked when Cole was next to him, and he loved his buddy, Mingo, we are hoping that he will accept Dante—a friendly horse. We shall see.

Ellen has been riding Dante in the indoor arena this week, since they are still working on the road. It shouldn’t be much longer. She said he is doing well.

Cole went on a fast and fun ride with Starry on Monday, and a slow and fun ride with my older niece on Ranger and Kevin on Starry. She was much more confident than last week—and it didn’t rain on us.

My garden is all in place, and now I just need to weed and water until it is time to harvest. I got a new hose, so watering is going to be a little easier. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself to some luxury.

Today is Thunder Thursday, and since it is rainy and cool, I think we will be cuddling with a book.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Rainy Weekend

Rainy Weekend

It didn’t rain when we rode, but it rained at night so much that we weren’t able to cross the river on either day. Sigh. Another roadblock in our way of getting Dante on the trail.

The good news—I rode Cruise. I just stayed on the little trail on the property, which isn’t very exciting, but it was just nice to be back in the saddle. of course, we stayed at a walk. He seemed happy enough to have me on his back. We did a half hour each day. it is a start.

We also rode Cole and Ranger on the hill multiple times. Cole was as good as gold. Maybe we have finally slayed our hill demons. I used to dread riding him on the hill because he always wanted to rush—whether up or down. He was happy to walk and trot at Ranger’s speed.

Now, on to Dante. The barn was a busy place on Saturday, so Ellen ended up riding in the round pen as everything else was in use. She trotted him a lot. When she was done, she rode him on the property at a walk. He seemed to like that much better. She opted not to ride on the hill.

Sunday, the stables was very quiet, so she was able to use the indoor arena. She rode him a half hour. I gave her some guidance on the ground and gave her ideas on what to work on when she was by herself during the week. I want them form good habits, early, like going straight and bending. They did well, and when she made adjustments, so did Dante.

Then, it was time to go down the hill. We walked down to the bottom, and then I stayed in one place while she trotted him back and forth on the flat bottom. He did very well with it. She felt much more impulsion, but she could still sit his trot. He stopped readily, too. They then rode back up together. She didn’t even need me there, but I just wanted to see what they could do.

Thunder in lo res

I don't like to spend a lot of money on things I won't use--and one of them is cell phones.  (I also don't have cable or a home computer.)  I use a tracphone with prepaid minutes--and never use up the minutes before they expire.  Well, my new phone--on old model--I think it may even be a used phone--has a camera.  Finally, I can take pictures and use my minutes before they expire.

Since it is such a cheap phone, the photos are low resolution.  I don't care--I think they look rather artsy.  So here is my Thunder in lo res.

Someday, I will get on the technology bandwagon, but for now, I just keep things simple and cheap.  Thunder is pretty in any definition.