Friday, June 27, 2014

More Cute Stormy Pictures

My sister gets the best pictures of her cat, Stormy.
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Thursday, June 26, 2014

An Evening on the Hill

Last night was Cruiser’s birthday—he would have been 27. I went out to the barn, but unfortunately, we had so much rain the night before that the river was too high, again. I took Cole Train on 3 trips up and down the hill to the river. He was fast—that horse has rockets on his feet when he trots. I didn’t dare canter—not enough room—the trail was too short for him when he is in that kind of mood. We had fun.

I had a lot of time left before I had to feed, so I saddled up Dante for a ride on the hill. It seems like Ellen always finds a way for me to do things with him first before she does it. Dante has never been ridden multiple trips on the hill all by himself, before. He is either with another horse or one of us is walking along. Well, it was his night.

As I led him to the trail, he started crying—he has a horrible voice—sounds like a mule. Once I got in the saddle, he stopped crying and was a delight. I used Cruiser’s old saddle, and when I looked down and saw the long chestnut neck with the lighter mane—well, it made me feel right at home. I thought to myself, I gotta get me one of these horses…

Anyway, he did very well for his first truly solo trip. He was so much better than Cole was for about the first 20 solo trips. We trotted at the bottom and he had a little zip to him. He really seems to get into this game—just like Cole. He just doesn’t have the rockets that Cole has. He was just a little sticky at the top when I would try to stop and turn around, but assertive legs fixed that.

I dismounted before the end of the trail as a reward, and that’s when he got all wound up because he knew he was going home. He rushed at a walk, tried trotting and was very hyper. (Not nearly as bad as Cole was for the first couple of years.) He even tried prancing on the street—and that got me mad—we worked too hard on manners on the street for him to do that. I immediately turned him around facing away from home and made him stand there until he settled down. He did better on the driveway, but then he tried to rush into the barn (circle) and trot down the aisle (go back outside and do it again.)

He was probably hoping his dinner would be in his stall because it was right about that time—but he didn’t figure out that I was feeding, and he wouldn’t get dinner until I was ready. I didn’t feed right away, but cleaned Ranger’s stall, first.

It was a fun ride on both horses, even though I couldn’t cross the river. It was also fun to ride 2 horses in one evening, again. I think I may be ready…

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Quick Update

I suppose everyone is wondering why I haven’t posted much. Well, not much has been going on. We did have a 4-day weekend, but the weather didn’t cooperate. The river was too high to cross for green horses the whole time. We spent our time working with Dante on the hill. He has gotten quite good. On the furst day, I was riding him and we turned to go down the hill again. He did well for that, but when I asked him to go forward, he spun around—right into Ranger’s jaws of death. That is the last time he tried that move. It was classic.

On Sunday, we did cross with the big guys. We don’t like to push Dante on the borderline days. We did see a horse fall in this weekend. We were jut doing the hill, and we were surprised the woman crossed. Her horse fell, they parted and Ellen caught him. She was on foot and I was on Cole. It made us feel better that opted not to cross.

The previous weekend, we just did the easy ride twice. Ellen and Dante did great and it was so uneventful.

I have been taking Cole out with Kevin and Starry during the week. The rides have been fun, but they haven’t given me anything to write about. Last week, when my niece joined me, it was raining, so I had her work Dante in the arena. The rain quit, so I let her take Cole on the hill with Starry. Cole nearly launched her off when they tried to trot the first time—just because he thought he would be cute and start her with the “Show Trot.” After that, he was normal but fast. Once she got the hang of it, she liked it.

I think that sums everything up for the horses. At home, the veggie garden is doing well because of all the rain. Looks like I will be getting lots of tomatoes this year. I may have to learn how to make tomato sauce—I planted a lot of basil to go in it!

Tomorrow is Cruiser’s birthday. He would have been 27. I will celebrate it by giving Cole a big hug. I miss Cruise so much, but I sure am grateful I still have Cole.

Thunder’s birthday is coming up—I sense a cat party around the corner! Time to pick some fresh catnip!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Product Review: Cole Train gets Some Bling

Product Review: Cole Train gets Some Bling

By now, most of you probably have figured out that Cole Train has aspirations to become a circus horse. I have taught him a few tricks—and he has taught himself a few—and he just loves performing them. Well, a circus horse needs bling!

Two Horse Tack contacted me to do a product review. They are a manufacturer right in Kentucky that makes bridles, halters, harnesses and miscellaneous items out of beta biothane—a synthetic material that is stronger and more durable than leather. They also have leather items, but that’s boring. The biothane comes in all sorts of colors that you can mix and match. They make your item custom—and it’s even affordable. The whole thing really seemed too good to be true.

Though I ride English, I am no stickler to tradition. I have used western bridles in the past, and I think they look great. Mingo’s best-fitting bridle was western. (He had a very broad head with a tiny nose.) It had shiny medal things on them—but they ended up rusting. (Two Horse Tack uses stainless steel—will not rust.) Besides, when I buy an English bridle, the first thing I do is take off the noseband.

So, when Two Horse Tack contacted me to do a product review, I decided to get Cole a western bridle with bling. I thought we would stay with the traditional black, but I chose dark pink rhinestones.

I love their website. It shows all different-colored horses with all different-colored tack. This is great for a person like me who is fashion challenged. I had trouble imagining what colors would look best on a black horse. (I know, everything is supposed to go with black, but these things aren’t easy for me.) I also got to see what would look nicest on a light chestnut like Dante or a dark chestnut like Ranger. The other awesome thing about the website is the way you can see the details of the product. All you do is rest your cursor in the spot you want to see, and it magnifies the picture. This was a great help for me because I could see just how the items were constructed.

I liked having selection, too. With the western bridle, I could get it without reins or purchase matching reins for an additional cost. Since I love my thick cotton reins, I didn’t need to buy reins. I have several sets of reins that have never been used because they came with a bridle I purchased. I was also able to choose whether I wanted to buckle, tie, screw or snap my bit in place. I took the snaps—I love snap bridles. I just hate fussing with things.

Ordering was easy. Now, the question was, will the bridle be as outstanding at the website? It was! I am very pleased with the quality. The biothane feels like well-oiled leather—much softer than Cruiser’s Wintec bridle. The stitching is perfect and the rhinestones are pretty! It fits beautifully on Cole Train. Everyone at the barn that I showed it to were very impressed with the quality of the material. They all commented on how much they liked the feel of it.

I tried to test it in the rain that very weekend, but it stopped raining as soon as I got outside. It guess that wasn’t a bad thing. I’m sure I will have plenty of opportunities to test it in inclement weather in the future.

Cole Train looks very handsome in his rhinestones, and seriously, doesn’t it look like leather? I am so happy with my bridle. When I get my baby horse, I know where I will be getting his new tack! I can even buy more browbands with different color rhinestones it I want some variety. I think Ellen should get Dante turquoise rhinestones…or maybe purple. I picture Starry in blue. I may even get my dog a new collar—but I will skip the rhinestones—she has too much fur—no one could even see them.

Right now, they are having a giveaway. You can sign up to win a trail halter bridle—and if you do, you will get a $10.00 coupon on your next purchase.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Missy Takes a Ride on Dante

Missy Takes a Ride on Dante

Sometimes I think that everyone’s goal when riding with me it to not turn into a blog post—unless it is a boring “we had a wonderful time” blog post. I know that is Ellen’s goal. Well this one isn’t about Ellen but my niece, Missy.

She is going to come out with me once a week in the evening until she goes to college in August, and she has graduated not just from high school but from Ranger to Dante. She rode Dante plenty in the arena over the winter, so they certainly aren’t strangers to each other, but it was time to start taking him on the trail. I would be riding Cole, of course.

He led down the street for her perfectly. He went down the hill and across the river without a problem. We were going to go the easy way to the second river crossing. Wherever we could, we trotted. Cole led, and as he always does, the further we got down the trail, the faster he went. It was a good way to get Missy used to Dante’s trail trot. When we got to the section of the trail where I often canter Cole, I told her Dante may try to canter because Cole will trot there pretty fast. He has with Ellen. She could either stop him or let him—it was up to her. As predicted, he went into his lovely canter, and they were doing well until he got a little too close to a tree for her comfort. She then had him trot, but she really liked his canter.

On the way home, he was perfect. I had her trot in the lead to keep the speed under control. Overall, it was a totally perfect ride—so I suggested passing up home and going to the access trail. After all, I hadn’t gotten a thing to writ about, yet.

To get there, we have to pass up the river crossing, go a short distance to a street, cross, go up a short, steep hill, down a long sloping hill and then the trail splits. One way goes to the Lagoon and the other way dead ends out at the street. We call that the access trail—because that is all it is. It gives the park access to the bridle trails with their trucks when the river is over the ford.

I warned Missy that Dante may try to turn home. To pass the river, I kept Cole between Dante and the bank. Dante tried to turn, but Cole thwarted him. Once we got past, Dante got a carrot. A few steps later—he tried to turn. Missy circled him and sent him on his way. We trotted to the street. A large herd of bikes were going down the road, so we had to wait. Then, there was a string of traffic. Dante decided waiting was dumb and going home was a better idea, so he turned around. Once again, Missy kept him turning.

Next time I glanced back, I saw them walking away down the bike trail that parallels the street. He got pretty far before she could turn him and bring him back. When he got to the trail, he turned down it to go home. Once again, she got him facing the right direction. Finally, we could cross the street. Dante stopped at the bottom of the hill and refused to go forward. He simply ignored her kicks. I got off to try to lead him, but Cole kept getting in the way. I told her it was time for her to get off. She had no trouble leading him up the hill where she remounted.

When we got to the access trail, I suggested that Dante go first because I thought Cole would be excited, but Dante wouldn’t take the lead. I said I would lead. I asked Cole to trot, and in an instant we were galloping down the trail. Several instants later, I got him to stop. Dante decided that he would canter, but Missy had no trouble bringing him back to a trot. I tried again, but Cole surged ahead. This just wasn’t working. We walked to nearly the end, and then I asked for a quiet trot and got it. We turned around to go home and Dante was perfect the rest of the way.

When Dante misbehaves, he slowly states his opinion and it isn’t scary. When Cole misbehaves—he does it with style. Missy said he looked beautiful. Fortunately, he doesn’t scare me very often, since he usually stops very readily if he is out on the trail. In the arena, it is another matter—all the more reason to trail ride.

Missy really liked her time with Dante, and she will be back out next week.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Dante-filled Weekend

A Dante-filled Weekend

My sister wasn’t sure what we should do on Saturday. There was a big event planned over in the new area that I wanted to venture, so that was out. We could go on the trail that I usually go on during the week, we could do what we have been doing or we could go up to the show ring. Ellen wasn’t sure what to do, so I happily suggested that I take Dante up to the show ring and she could ride Ranger. Ranger loves it up there, too, and we haven’t had a chance to bring him there. She agreed. Hurray! I get to ride Dante.

Dante had never been up to the show ring trails. It meant riding through the scary Lagoon trail, crossing the street and going up a very long and steep hill. To make it tougher, there is a deep rut going down the center of the hill from that huge rainstorm we had. Once on top, we were only going to go on the pretty back trail--not to the actual show ring. This trail is one of the best ones we have.

Now, we used to board Ranger, Mingo and Cruiser up there. Once we moved, whenever we would take any of them up there, they would get so excited. Ranger would get the most excited of them all. I knew that I would be on the easier horse, this time. Also, since Ranger is in his senior years, Ellen doesn’t ride him up the hill. She leads him to give him a break.

I planned to ride Dante up the hill—I really was going to have the easier ride.

The ride was just perfect. I rode the whole way, except for the river ford and down the hill. I dismounted, just in case. Dante was an angel. We did a lot of trotting, he was super going up the hill and nothing bothered him at all.

Ranger was all bouncy, he spooked and did some dancing. Ellen is so used to him, that she can just laugh at his antics.

One more thing off the list for Dante.

On Sunday, Ellen had to work. I decided I would take Dante on his first solo ride since Ellen took him last fall. I had him all saddled up—and it started to rain. Since it was a light rain, I decided to go, anyway.

I don’t think Dante cares much for rain, but at least he doesn’t get as upset as Cole. Earlier in the week, I took Cole on an identical ride in the rain, and he flew down the trail to get to the end—tossing his head because of the rain. When I turned around to go home, he was so intent on getting back that I couldn’t safely trot. We had to walk all the way home in the rain. At least he walked very fast. The first few times I tried to ride Cole in the rain, he had a temper tantrum and tried to spin and run home. He just hates it.

I was just going to take Dante on the short, easy ride. We went down the hill, crossed the river and started trotting. He was very excited and trotted a little faster than usual for a bit. There were a bunch of joggers coming our way, and one of them had a pit bull that looked like he wanted to have Dante for dinner. The owner was having trouble getting the dog under control, so I opted to walk quietly by instead of trot. I didn’t want the dog to go into chase mode. We passed them up—and Dante did a quick turn to the left to go back home. I kept him turning until he was going the right way. A few more joggers passed—and he did it again. A minute later, some more joggers went by—and he did it again! I do believe, he was trying to follow the joggers home. That time, I smacked him in the neck with the whip. One more went by, and he ignored him.

The rest of the ride went well. We mostly trotted, turned around and trotted about half of the way home. I was very pleased.

When I got back, I cleaned stalls and killed time—and it stopped raining for Cole’s ride.

Friday, June 6, 2014

More Cute Stormy Pics

Here are a few more pictures of my nephew Stormy. He really has no teeth! And yes, he does have a problem with the Nip.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

More cute Stormy Pics

My nephew, Stormy, is the cutest little guy. I just adore him. I love his toothless grin.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ellen and Dante Progress

Ellen and Dante Progress

We spent both days this weekend doing exactly what we did last weekend—but better. Ellen and I took Dante and Cole—first the easy way—then passed up home and went the more challenging way—the Lagoon.

The easy way, of course, is easy. Even after all the damage from the storm, we still have a short section of trail that we can canter on. She tried on Saturday, but Dante wasn’t sure what she wanted. On Sunday, I took the lead with Cole at a trot. Since we like to canter there, Cole trotted very fast. That was all Dante needed. He quietly slipped into a canter and Ellen let him stay there. He was calm and balanced. When he got close to Cole, he dropped down to a trot. I remember the first month or so I cantered Cole in the park—he would buck and then race forward. Ellen has it so easy.

For the first time, she rode through the Lagoon. Since Ellen is no more nervous at a trot than a walk, on Saturday, we did 3 short stretches of trotting. Dante handled it well—just following Cole. When it came time to loop around towards home, Ellen chose to dismount before she got nervous. I am glad to say that he led home like a gentleman.

On Sunday, we trotted most of the Lagoon. She opted to stay in the saddle at the beginning of the loop. At the trail intersection that leads home or beyond, she chose beyond. Cole started to pout because he wanted to go home. Dante was excited and didn’t even want to stop when she tried a few minutes later. It won’t be long, now.

She turned him around and we headed towards home. She stayed in the saddle and Dante continued to behave. Once we got back into the Lagoon, we saw Kevin on Starry in the distance. We joined him, and we had a very pleasant and uneventful ride home. I think we conquered the Lagoon.