Monday, March 30, 2015

Icy Cold Weekend

Icy Cold Weekend

Soon as the weekend showed up, we plunged into the Arctic Circle.  Friday evening was so cold, that I couldn’t talk Kevin into riding with me.  The river was too high to cross, so I planned to do a few trips with Cole on the hill.  He was one little bundle of energy.  When I got to the bottom, flat part of the hill, I hesitated to trot at the usual spot.  I wisely decided to shorten distance to the stopping spot.  When I did ask him to trot, he made a  huge buck, trotted 3-4 long strides and we were at the end.  Turn, walk and repeat=buck , charge and halt.  Oh boy, I had a stick of dynamite underneath me.  It must have been the cold weather, the day off the day before and the fact that this was our first time out by ourselves this year—all put together.  He was so sensitive to my legs, that I had to cue his as light as I could.  Still, many times, he twitched like he was getting a jolt of electricity.  I decided to use voice cues.

I kept up the routine—trot a short distance to the end, halt, turn on the haunches, walk, turn on the haunches and trot again.  Gradually, I increased the distance.  I got more bucks, but they turned into leaps and finally, it just got trot sprints.  Cole was going back to his heritage—he is a descendant of the great Standardbred pacer, Dan Patch.  When he is in the mood and turns on that trot, it is more exhilarating than a gallop.  It isn’t merely a very fast trot.  He will do a very fast trot, and then a switch will flick and he will transform.  His hoof beats actually slow down and his stride lengthens—I so wish I could see it—and the trail just flies by.

Cruiser and Ranger both had very fast trots.  They would go so fast that you would barely rise when you posted—there was so little time between beats.  Cole’s trot is different because you actually post slower and it seems you are in the air for seconds at a time.  Of course, that is physically impossible, but that is what it feels like.  I’m not sure if Cole is faster than them or not, but he is certainly fun.

I wish we were able to cross the river that day.  He clearly needed to fly down the trail and get it out of his system.

Once he started to behave, I decided it was time to go home, but to be safe, I opted to lead.  When I got back to the barn, the indoor arena was empty, so I turned him loose and he ran and ran and ran.

Saturday and Sunday were even colder.  I took Cole on the walking ride with Ranger on both days. We did 3 trips on the hill, and he was perfectly behaved.

Now, for Dante.  Saturday, Ellen rode him in the arena and a little out on the driveway.  We then took his saddle and bridle off and I led him to the hill.  The first trip down, he did pretty good—and he was even better on the way up.  When I turned him around to do it again, he wouldn’t stop circling until he was facing home, again.  Evidently, he didn’t feel like walking down to the river, again.  That didn’t stop me from insisting.  We went through about 5 minutes struggling down 50 feet of trail.  He found his circles were futile, since I made him keep circling back to the correct direction.  He gave up and tried trotting to get away.  Then, I had to circle him to get him back to a walk.  We were getting nowhere.  Finally, I decided to let him trot as long as he was going down the hill.  Once he was, I would ask him to walk—then he would try again.  Finally, he gave up and walked straight down the hill.  He was perfect the rest of the way.

I was discouraged, but oddly, Ellen didn’t think he did that bad.  Sunday, we did the same routine.  Ellen led him both ways on the street, and that was great.  I led him down to the river—no problem.  I led him back up—no problem.  I turned him around to do it again—still no problem.  A little bit down the trail, he tried the trotting thing, but I just told him to walk and he did.  The rest of the way down to the bottom, he was fine.  It was a Dante miracle.  He does this all the time.  when we run into a snag and he misbehaves and I get discouraged—the next day, he is great.  We went back home with smiles on our faces.

Let’s hope next weekend is warmer.

Friday, March 27, 2015


I waited and waited to hear from MerryLegs’ farrier, with no response.  I told MerryLegs’ owner, and she sent an email to him to check his spam.  A few more days went by and nothing.

In the meantime, my health problem got more complicated.  My health wasn’t any different, but the test that would let us know what was going on couldn’t be completed and my doctor wasn’t sure of the next step.  He wanted to consult with a colleague—who turned out to be out of the country at the time.  it was starting to get comical, in an odd way.  it really didn’t bother me, except that I knew I had more hassle in the future.  I was more interested in MerryLegs.

Finally, I gave up on the farrier.  I asked MerryLegs’ owner if I could email his trainer.  Several years ago, he went out for 80 days of training.  I thought she could give me an  idea of what he is like and if he would suit me and my needs.  I sent the email out.

Then, of course, I had to wait longer…

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cole Train Flashback

And the Trainer Says…

I sent out the email to MerryLegs’ trainer.  I told her how I liked a horse that wasn’t lazy and unmotivated.  This was my biggest concern.  His owner made me think he wasn’t, but she didn’t actually ride him.  Mingo was a very quiet, sleepy horse, and he drove me crazy.  For many people, he would have been the perfect horse.  My older niece simply adored him.  They were the perfect pair from the very first ride, and I am so glad I had him so she could enjoy him on trail rides.  I loved Mingo, and I still miss him.  I had him from birth—he was really my baby—but he didn’t suit me for a riding horse.  I need a horse with a work ethic—not a crazy, wild horse, but one that is willing to move. 

MerryLegs’ trainer told me about his training and then she said the magic words.  She said, ”I cannot imagine that Merrylegs would be a lazy horse, and I'm sure he can work!”  Do you see that exclamation point she put at the end of the sentence?  So, not only was he handsome and friendly, but it sounded like our personalities were a good fit.  She even said that, too.

She said I should restart him from the beginning, since it has been so long, but he should pick it up fast. That sounded good—it was what I was thinking of doing, anyway.

I took a few deep breaths, and decided…

That I should sleep on it.  I would make my decision the next morning.

Working with Dante

Working with Dante

Each time I go out to the barn, if Ellen isn’t there, I spend a little time with Dante doing spring tuning. We are just reviewing the things what he knows to prepare him for trail riding. For the first week, we played bus stop. He remembered the game quite well. It is where I take him to the end of the driveway and we wait for cars to pass. If he stands still, it click and treat him.

Dante remembered the game very well, and just loves it. Once I knew he would be 100 percent playing the game, I decided it was time to work on something else. He doesn’t agree. When I take him out of his stall, he wants to head right down the driveway. Instead, I have been taking him the other direction to review the loop. It is a small track in the back of the property.

The first day, I just walked him back and forth down the fence line leading to the loop. He did well with that. Next step—leading on the loop. He started out pretty good, but when we got to a section that was muddy, he started acting out by jumping, pulling back, rushing forward, cutting me off and once he gave a small buck. I would stop him or circle him; whichever seemed more appropriate. When we got to the last section of the loop where we were facing home, he started rushing.

That was just the first lap. On the second lap, he protested that he had to do it again. On the muddy section, he did everything he did before, but worse and he did it more times. I felt like I would never get out of there—we were circling so much. When we did, and we were facing the barn, he started rushing, again. Whenever he would walk calmly for a dozen steps or so, I would click him.

On the third lap, he started to figure it out. We still had trouble, but only a fraction of what we had previously. At the halfway point, a change came over him, and we were able to walk the rest of the way and back to the barn with no problem at all.

I remembered we went through all this last spring, too, and that made me feel better about his dismal performance. In fact, just a few weeks previous, I had similar problems with Cole when he hadn’t gotten out of the barn in a few weeks. Still, Dante is usually such a laid back fellow (Cole is not), it is discouraging when he gets this way.

My memory said that Dante improved last spring after his first awful lesson, so I was hopeful. A few days later, I took him out, again.

On the first lap—he was nearly perfect. On the second lap, he had one little temper tantrum when he realized he was going to do another lap. After a quick circle, he was able to walk like a gentleman the rest of the way. Two laps were enough since he was so good.

I need more daylight in the evening to be able to take him for a walk on the hill after I ride Cole on the trail, so we will continue on the driveway and loop until then.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Good News

Good News

Yes, this is good news. I finally got the results of the latest medical test, and it isn’t the C-word (and I don’t mean canter.) The problem is something very manageable, so that means life can go on. It is spring, and it is going to be a good one.

More good news—Kevin and I cross the river! Hurray! The first time was Friday night. Cole and Starry did great for their first trail ride of the year. They were both somewhat startled by a turkey running behind them, but they handled it well. Starry still made a fuss about going in the lead, and Kevin still made a fuss about Cole going too fast when he was in the lead—so nothing new going on with them. We kept it at a trot—though Cole would have loved to go for a gallop. He kept telling me he wanted to. We got back before dark.

On Saturday, Ellen wasn’t quite ready to take her first trip on the trail with Dante, so after a short arena ride, she got Ranger. I rode Dante on the backyard loop while she led Range. He was great, so we took off for the hill. I wanted to lead on the street, so I dismounted. Ranger went into one of his Ranger moods, and he was prancing, dancing, jogging and was just plain wound up. Dante was perfect. When we got to the trail, I decided just to stay dismounted because I remembered how much I ate the day before. Ranger settled down and we walked up and down the hill twice. Dante was perfect, again.

To celebrate, I took Cole out for a ride with Kevin and Starry.

Sunday, it was just frigid. Ellen rode Dante in the arena and out on the driveway. We then took Cole and Ranger for a few trips on the hill. Now, ready for more good news? Ranger’s breathing while walking up the hill was better than it has been in years. It really put a smile on our faces.

(I bet you thought I was going to tell you about a new horse in my future, didn’t you?)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Thaw

The Thaw

It is so funny how something like just riding up and down a hill to a too-deep-to-cross river can be so satisfying in early spring and so unsatisfying later in the year.  The hill is thawed enough to ride on the whole thing.  The bottom is still icy/snowy, so we walked on that.  Once that thaws, we like to use that section to trot back and forth on.  We were just so happy to be out on the trail, that the fact we couldn’t cross the river didn’t bother us in the least.  We were just so happy to be out.

There is a flat section in the middle that is trottable, too, and Cole and Starry got to trot on that.

They were so typical last night.  We decided to have Starry go first and Cole follow.  Cole will stay behind a trotting horse, even if he feels like flying past.  I have used that many times to help Cole control his enthusiasm.  We made it about 5 steps, and then Starry didn’t want to go first.  He slowed down to a walk, and Kevin couldn’t get him to go.  I told Cole to pass, and as expected, he flew down the trail.  On another trip down, we put Cole in the front from the start, figuring Starry would not want to lead, again.  I warned Kevin that Cole would be fast, and of course, he was.  It only took a few seconds, and Starry was cantering somewhat out of control.  I was trotting somewhat out of control, too, but when I reached the part of the trail where the slope starts again, I said, “Whoa,” and Cole came to an immediate stop.  We looked back, and Kevin had Starry trotting, again.

And Kevin wondered why I didn’t want to trot up the hill going towards home… 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Update on the Present

Update on the Present

This is the most frustrating time of the year.  The weather has warmed up, the river has thawed (though it is still very high) and we can’t even get down the hill.  Our trail has turned into ice from us walking on it so much this winter.  Since it doesn’t get much sun, it takes a long time to melt.

It is now light enough to ride after work.  Last week, when the trail was still snow, I did get to ride Cole a few days on the hill.  He was very excited the first day, and much better the second day.  By the weekend, the trail was impossible.  We still have the loop in the back of the property.  Since the owner plowed it, there wasn’t that much snow amd ice to melt.  It is now mud, but at least we can ride outside.

Yesterday, it was very, very warm, and the hill was able to melt about ¾ of the way down—but it was solid ice from there.  I rode down with Kevin and Starry  one time.  We then went back to ride the loop.  As we were riding along the fence, a couple of horses that were in the outdoor arena ran up to visit us.  We saw them coming and told our guys to stand.  Cole is particularly sensitive to any actions from other horses, so I was worried he might get frightened.  He did.  I felt his whole body twitch, but he stood—waiting for the click—which I gave him and followed it up with a bunch of carrot slices.  I know how hard that was for him.  Starry did well, too, but he is a quieter, more tolerant horse than Cole.  Kevin and I both knew that if one horse reacted, the other horse would too.  We were so proud that neither one did.

Later, I let Dante play in the outdoor arena, and wow, did he play.   He rolled and ran and ran and rolled.  Ellen would have quite a mess to clean in the morning.  I didn’t bother turning Cole out—he is such a prima donna that he won’t run if it is too muddy.  He hates getting dirty.

We have been reviewing outdoor manners and automobiles with Dante.  He needs work on the former, but did well with the latter.  His biggest problem is just that he wants to play around.  I don’t think it will take him too long to get back up to speed.  It didn’t take Cole very long at all to remember he is supposed to walk when I say walk—always his most difficult lesson.  Ranger has been working outside most of the winter—except in extreme cold or icy conditions, so he is already accustomed to outdoor work—though even he has been rather hyper with the better weather.

They are all shedding well, but Ranger is simply molting—handfuls of hair is coming out. 

Trail riding is just around the corner.

His Name is MerryLegs

His Name is MerryLegs

I anxiously awaited more photos.  She promised to send me some over the weekend.  Her farrier was coming out to trim, and she would get them, then.  When the photos finally came, they weren’t the best.  There were, what appeared to be frost spots on the pictures.  She claimed it was 28 degrees below zero.  Wow, her farrier must be a tough guy.  Our farrier has cancelled on us when the temperatures were below zero.  What does 28 below feel like?  She said it had gotten as low as -45 this winter—and that doesn’t figure in the wind chill.  It must be awful.  Here in Cleveland, the record low, ever, is -19.  This was a particularly cold February, and we did see a few nights nearly that low.  How can anyone live in a climate like that.  Canadians must be crazy. 

Back to the pictures.  They weren’t the greatest, but I couldn’t see anything wrong with him.  Of course, I know how camera angles can distort horses.  I have struggled with that on my own pictures—sometimes their heads look huge—and sometimes they have pinheads.  Tilt the camera—and they look like their legs are stubby.  Horses don’t always cooperate, either.  Standing still can be a challenge.  But when I put all the pictures together to average out the distortions—I found that he is a beautiful horse.  He is a big, stocky palomino with a super, fluffy winter coat—and a beautiful eye.

She told me I could email her farrier and get his opinion, so that was my next step. 

Of course, I forwarded the photos to Ellen, who was getting just as excited as me.  And speaking of excitement—sometimes it seemed like Kevin just couldn’t contain himself.  Other times, he would be very quiet about it—not wanting to influence my decision in either way, I think.

And the Trainer Says…

I sent out the email to MerryLegs’ trainer.  I told her how I liked a horse that wasn’t lazy and unmotivated.  This was my biggest concern.  His owner made me think he wasn’t, but she didn’t actually ride him.  Mingo was a very quiet, sleepy horse, and he drove me crazy.  For many people, he would have been the perfect horse.  My older niece simply adored him.  They were the perfect pair from the very first ride, and I am so glad I had him so she could enjoy him on trail rides.  I loved Mingo, and I still miss him.  I had him from birth—he was really my baby—but he didn’t suit me for a riding horse.  I need a horse with a work ethic—not a crazy, wild horse, but one that is willing to move. 

MerryLegs’ trainer told me about his training and then she said the magic words.  She said, ”I cannot imagine that Merrylegs would be a lazy horse, and I'm sure he can work!”  Do you see that exclamation point she put at the end of the sentence?  So, not only was he handsome and friendly, but it sounded like our personalities were a good fit.  She even said that, too.

She said I should restart him from the beginning, since it has been so long, but he should pick it up fast. That sounded good—it was what I was thinking of doing, anyway.

I took a few deep breaths, and decided…

That I should sleep on it.  I would make my decision the next morning.

I Slept on It

The following morning, I sat up in bed and said, “I’m getting a new horse.”  It was just that easy.

So, I went to work, put a few hours on the job—just giving myself time to change my mind.  When that didn’t happen, I typed up an email, leaned back and looked at it for about a minute.  I typed up an email, leaned back and looked at it for about a minute.  I hovered the mouse over the send button, paused and------click.

I took another deep breath and sat there, just enjoying the feeling of overwhelming happiness.

Unfortunately, I then had to go back to work.

So, now I am back to waiting while we make the arrangements.  I am waiting for a big Palomino Morgan that is nearly 6 years old, green broke and currently lives in Canada named MerryLegs—after the little pony in the story “Black Beauty.”

The adventure begins…

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Conversation

The Conversation

First, I have to tell you about me and telephones.  I just can’t join this world where everyone seems to be attached to their smart telephone.  My main phone is my land line.  Believe it or not, my home has the old fashioned rotary phones that came with the house.  I am certain they are older than I am.  The voice quality is great, and my family never had one ounce of problems with them over all these years.  To save money, I discontinued my long distance service.  I use my cell phone for that.

I have real problems with cellphones  Where most people have the fancy smart phones, I have a cheap flip phone that I buy prepaid minutes for.  I only buy minutes about once a year, and I spend a fraction of what most people spend.  I tend to forget it, drop it and a few times I have lost it outside.  Sometimes I find them, and sometimes they still work, even if they get caught in the rain.  If it rings in the house, and I’m not around—Maggie, my dog, will grab it if she can and chew on it.  She did break one phone.  My previous dog, Pollie, was frightened of it, and would have anxiety attacks if she heard it.  Consequently, I usually have my phone turned off—and I don’t even know the number.  I have several spares, so if I lose one phone, I can just activate a new one. 

Judging by the emails I was getting, I could tell that the woman who wanted to give me the horse liked to talk.  I bought more minutes and activated my phone for international calls.  I am quite an introvert, and tend to get nervous when I first call people.  I took a deep breath and dialed the international code, followed instructions and dialed her phone number.  It said there was no service!  Was I in a dead zone or was she?  Talk about frustrating.  I tried a few more times, and finally it worked.  The phone was ringing.  What was I doing?

I don’t know if she noticed the few seconds of silence when she answered the phone—though I have perfect phone manners, I forgot what I was supposed to say.  Finally, I blurted out, “Is this Mrs. Shoes?  This is Judi.”  I did notice a couple of seconds of silence on her side, as she processed what I said—and then I was hit by a barrage of words.  Non-stop words.  An avalanche of words.  It was like talking to Kevin when he was wound up about something.  I immediately felt right at home.

To make the long story, short, she told me how much she wanted her horse to have a good home; where he would be well-trained, used, loved and cherished.  Where he wouldn’t be thrown away to the perils of the world—and we all know there are a lot of them for horses.  She liked the way I trained.  She has even used clicker training with dogs, so she understood the concept—something it haven’t found to be common in the horse world.  I will leave her to give you her side of the story.

She reassured me that he was a great horse with a good mind.  He just needed more training.  She said she would send me more pictures. 

She convinced me of her sincerity.  All she wanted was the best for her horse—the wasn’t a scam or someone trying to get rid of a useless horse.  This really might be as good as it sounded.

And then…click…nothing.  I ran out of the international time, I think.  Either that or I simply lost the signal, again.  I tried calling back, and I got the same message as before. 

I had so much to think about…

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Risks of Getting an New Horse

The Risks of Getting an New Horse

Choosing a new horse, whether you buy him or he is given to you, is a very risky endeavor.  All the riskier when you are like us, and plan to get a horse for keeps.  Ellen and I are just not the kind of people who can pass our animals on to an unknown future.  It doesn’t take very long, and we are so attached to our animals that we can’t let them go down an uncertain path.  So, when we choose, we choose carefully.

Who am I kidding.  We were all fairly certain Ellen would buy Dante when she went down to West Virginia.  I was far from sure that Cole was the right horse for me when I visited him—but I was feeling so out of sorts after losing Mingo, I bought him anyway.  Cruiser was love at first sight—but seriously, they called him Satan—I bought a horse named Satan!  The fact that it was less than 2 weeks after Brandy died probably influenced my decision, too, don’t you think?  With Kevin and Starry, it was love at first sight, too.  Ellen looked at few horses before choosing Ranger—and the main reason for saying “yes” was that they said he could cross water.  Mingo, I had from birth, so there was no choosing there.

Now, should I choose this horse?  He sounded so good, but we had a problem—distance.  He lives in Canada—and not the just-across-Lake Erie Canada.  (I live at the border—Cleveland.)  He is in Manitoba.  I didn’t even know where that was on the map!  I would be getting a horse, sight unseen.  But then, if we would have gotten Cruiser, Ranger, Starry, Cole or Dante sight unseen, it wouldn’t have made any difference. 

With Cruiser and Cole, I couldn’t even take them for a test ride, as they had never been ridden.

Sometimes, you just have to follow your guts.  If things seem right, they might just be right.

The owner of the horse sent me a lengthy reply to my email.  So far, everything sounded hopeful.  At the end of it, she gave me her phone number and encouraged me to call.

I thought it might just be time for a conversation.

I was no longer thinking of my upcoming medical test.  Now, I was being kept up at night by the lure of a Canadian horse.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Free Horse

Now, just because a horse is free, doesn’t mean taking him is a smart thing.  I've done this free horse thing before.  My first horse, a Morgan named Brandy, was given to me by my aunt.  I had ridden him a number of times when I was a kid--mostly in the arena, and I thought I knew what I was getting into.  My aunt sure knew what I was getting into, but she wanted to get rid of an expense. 

He was way, way too much horse for someone of my little experience for trail riding.  He was a barn-sour, hard-mouthed horse who was a confirmed runaway.  He nearly killed me.  That day he spun around to go home and galloped down the middle of the street certainly frightened me enough to give up trail riding him for the first year I had him.  He had a Morgan iron neck—that you couldn’t bend.  Pull all you like on the reins, he would bend his nose to his chest to evade them.  He had an agenda, and that was too get home ASAP.  Nothing was going to get in his way.

I actually found the woman that owned him before my aunt.  She got him as a 2-year-old.  Once she started riding him, she would race him—and she ruined him.  He got so clever, that he learned to twist his jaw to break his curb chain—making it harder to stop him.
She sold him a few years later to my aunt for an old truck, a used saddle and $50.00.  My aunt successfully showed him in jumping.  He was a very bold horse who just loved to jump--and she claims he was jumping 4 foot jumps with 8-foot spreads—and he was just a little guy.
When I got him, we were both 21.  The only way to keep him at a walk on the trail was with a death grip on the reins—and sometimes that didn’t even work.  If he got faster than a walk, there was no way to stop him. He was horrible.  I asked my aunt for advice--and she told me I could sell him.  I gave up entirely and only rode in the arena--until I got so bored that I tried again the following spring.
This time, I had a plan, and it worked.  I was young and determined.  Within a few months, I could ride him everywhere at most speeds--with a loose rein—and he was relaxed and willing.  (Still couldn't go faster than a walk on the last mile home.)  I learned so much from him.  In the end, it was a wonderful learning experience that no doubt helped make me what I am today, but it sure would have been a lot easier if I had a more suitable first horse for trail riding.

So, would pursuing this free horse be a good thing, a bad thing, or as in Brandy’s case, a bad thing that turns into a good thing?  My head was spinning…

I sent an email asking for more information. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Things on my mind

Things on my mind          

This year has been a tough one for me, medically.   Don’t worry, yet, there may be nothing wrong with me.  No reason to panic until it is time to panic.  I just had a medical screening test that had positive results, and there have been complications with getting to the bottom of it.

I know that I shouldn’t get too worked up about it, and most of the time, I was doing fine—but I am still human.  My imagination sometimes gets the best of me.  So, while my brain was on a roller coaster, I get a comment on my blog…

It was from one of my blog readers.  She asked me to delete it, so those of you looking for a clue (achieve1dream) save your time and don’t go back through the comments.  She realized I was looking for a horse, recognized that I like Morgans and a lightbulb turned on over her head.  She had the horse for me—and she offered to give him to me.

I was floored.  Why would someone do this?  She never met me, never talked to me, never even left a comment on my blog before.  I started to dig around, found her website, saw who she wanted to give me, looked up his pedigree, dug around as much as I could.  This could potentially be a terrific horse—he was a Working Western Morgan!!  And a Canadian one!!  And she wants to give him to me?  Sounds too good to be true.  The pictures didn’t show much, but they showed enough to get me excited. 

I had to sleep on this.

I no longer thought about my medical predicament.  Thank goodness that was out of my head.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

A New Adventure Begins

A New Adventure Begins

I have been looking for a new horse since last spring when Cruiser flew off to greener pastures.   I would have liked another Morab, since Cruiser and Cole turned out to be such wonderful horses, but that didn’t seem possible.  The Great Recession seemed to have wiped out the Morab breeders.  I found plenty of older Morabs from before the recession, but I didn’t want in older horse.

My second choice was a Morgan.  It was a close second.  After experiencing Cole who is mostly Morgan and Dante who is entirely Morgan, I was starting to think that they may be better than a Morab.  After all, I am getting older, and Arabs can be awfully energetic at times.  So can Morgans, but they seem to use their energy in a more sensible way.  Also, my very first horse, Brandy, was a Morgan.  Ranger is quite likely a Morgan cross.  How could I go wrong with one.

If I were to get a Morgan, he would have to be an old style one.  The modern Morgans are beautiful, in their own way, but the traditional Morgan has always made my heart skip a beat. 

Just like with the Morabs, I was limiting my chances of finding one.  Morgans are a small breed to begin with, and only a fraction of them are what I was looking for.  Most of the breeders had horses that were yearlings or younger—too young for a boarding stable.  None were close to home, either.  Most of them were the wonderful Working Western Morgans—horses I didn’t even know existed until I started my search.  They were all out west, of course—and still too young.  I was leaning towards them.  By fall, I gave up looking and planned to wait until spring.  Maybe some of the yearlings would then be unsold 2-year-olds.

A few weeks ago, one of my blog readers left a comment on my blog… 

Cole in the snow

Friday, March 6, 2015

Spring is nearly here.

The weather is looking up, Daylight Savings is this weekend and I am dreaming about trail riding, again.

Just dreaming. I won’t be on the trail this weekend. We had a mini thaw followed by a deep freeze, so there is ice everywhere. We won’t be able to get out of the barn, and when we do, I don’t know if we will be able to get down the hill because it takes a long time to melt. Then, there is the frozen river, but with next week’s warm up, that should be starting to thaw. Of course, it will then be too high to cross. Still, things are finally looking up, and I am dreaming about trail riding, again.

And dreaming about something else…

Something big…

Really big…

In the meantime, I will share with you a picture of me on my little Cole Train.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Things are happening...

"You did what?" Stormy, my sister's cat, gasped.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Update on Ranger

Update on Ranger

A few months ago, Ranger was having trouble breathing, and the vet said he was starting to get COPD. We started dunking his hay, and he has been improving slowly.

Previously to soaking his hay, he acted like he wanted to snort and couldn’t. Within a short time, he got his snort back. Gradually, his breathing got quieter and quieter. Sometimes, we can barely hear it at all.

Another good sign—he had been slowly losing weight. We increased his grain, and he stabilized. Well, the last few months, she has had to lengthen his girth by several holes. Some of it might be his yak-like coat, but not all of it. He has had this coat since November. He is liberally shedding, right now, so we’ll see what he looks like when he loses all his fuzziness.

Ellen has been working lightly with him all winter. On the real cold days, she leads him for a half hour—preferably outside. He is a great horse to lead. He walks at a fast, steady pace with perfect manners. Now and then, he might get a little spooky, but that’s about it. If you want good exercise, you take Ranger for a walk.

She has ridden him in the arena sporadically. The first few times, he started out very unsteady, and she was quite disturbed about it. When she led him in the arena, there was no unsteadiness at all. One week, when it was simply too cold to go outside, she rode him 4 times inside. By the third time, the unsteadiness disappeared. She now thinks it was caused by the cataract he has in one eye. When she led him, he just depended on her. When she rode him, it must have taken him a bit to get his bearings with uncertain vision in one eye.

They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary, and since he was an unpapered auction horse, we don’t know how old he was when she bought him. We are very happy that he has shown improvement and look forward to taking him back out on the trail this spring.



Kevin was out riding Starry on the hill, and Ellen and I thought we would go see what he was doing. We had already ridden our horses in the indoor arena and out on the loop outside, so we were going to go on the hill on foot.

The snow was very deep and hard to walk on. We made it about halfway down when we they caught up with us on the way up. Since it was so hard to walk, we just stood there as Kevin trotted Starry past us and on to the spot where he likes to turn around.

Starry was trotting rather fast, and then he broke into a canter. It was a pretty sight to see with snow spraying in all directions—but it wasn’t what Kevin wanted to do. He pulled the reins back and said, “Hey. Hey. Hey.” Starry didn’t listen to his command and kept on going. Finally, he managed to stop him, turn him around and come back to us.

We all walked down the hill together. We have a flat section at the bottom, and Kevin asked Starry to trot it. Starry had better ideas—and cantered—and bucked. Once again, Kevin pulled back the reins and said, “Hey. Hey. Hey.” Starry did finally stop at the end of the trail.

They trotted back to us, and we pointed out to Kevin that Starry has no idea what “Hey. Hey. Hey.” means. If he did, he would probably think it was “Hay. Hay. Hay.” It’s not likely that would do anything to slow him down.

We said to try “walk” or “trot” or “whoa” since he knows very well what those words are. He didn’t even realize he was making that mistake. I guess he got out of practice over our long winter.

I write this not to make you think that Kevin is an inexperienced dolt—he is far from it. Over the years, he has learned so much—it amazes me. He intuitively seems to know what to do and how to handle pretty difficult situations—not from riding Starry, so much. Starry is a great horse that doesn’t give him many problems at all. No, I think that Kevin has learned the most from riding with Ellen and I on our green horses, Cole and Dante—who aren’t green anymore and volunteering to go riding with anyone with their green horses when they are looking for a quiet horse to go with. In fact, we just got a new boarder who bought a very lovely, well-behaved horse—who has never been on the trail. We volunteered Kevin and Starry for her first few rides. (We warned her that we would be a bad choice because we like to trot and canter a lot.)

No, I am writing about this to just remind people that when things aren’t working, take a look at yourself. You may be doing something as simple as using a verbal command that your horse never learned. We are all guilty. I had Cole more than a year when I realized that he never learned to stop when I pulled the reins. He was so awesome with the verbal command that I forgot to teach him the rein command. Just last month, Ellen realized she did the exact same thing with Dante.

None of us are immune, so whenever you are having a problem, look to yourself, first. Your horse will thank you.