Saturday, December 29, 2018

She travels fastest who travels alone...

She travels fastest who travels alone...

That would be me, today.  Years ago, before my sister got her horse, Ranger, I rode by myself so much that some people called me "The Lone Rider."  That name vanished, because my sister and I ride together as often as we can.

I was going to ride with her out on the loop this morning, but she had a terrible headache.  Instead, she let Dante play out in the mud.  It was cold--right around freezing--but nothing was frozen, yet.  Since I would be by myself, I decided to go for a ride in the park, instead. 

Cole used to be very good on solo rides.  When I had 2 horses, I had more opportunities to ride him by himself.  The last few years, he has become rather rambunctious, alone.  He just hasn't been doing it enough.  This summer, it seemed I could get him out alone every few weeks, and he just kept getting better and better.  The novelty wore off.

He has gotten so good, I didn't even hesitate to take him out--even though it was a chilly morning.  We all know how spunky horses can get when the air is frosty.

When I am alone, I like to go faster than when I am with other people.  Cole's speed can cause problems for other horses.  (I actually think that is the root of the problem with him acting up when he was alone--he anticipated the speed.)  The times we have gotten out by ourselves, I have spent much of my time installing brakes--so that we could go fast.  I like to speed along, but I like to know that I am in control.  So, the rides were slower and more careful than I would have ridden a few years ago.

Today was the day that I got to test to see if my work paid off.  The park was very quiet.  There wouldn't be many reasons to stop, but if I had to, I felt I could.  Just to make sure, I tried a few times early in the ride.  Yes, I had Cole's brain.

After a little bit of trotting, I asked for a canter.  He was enthusiastic, but came back to a trot on his own after just a few strides.  I brought him to a halt and tried again from a standstill.  I got it and this time, he went a little further. 

We reached a part of the trail that we always walk because it weaves between trees.  I was alone--so we trotted it.  Cole was starting to have fun.

We walked over some rocky ground.  When the trail smoothed out, I trotted a bit--yes, his mood was right.  We stopped, and I asked for a canter from a standstill, again.  He did beautifully, and we went a good distance, this time. 

Around the corner and down a little slope at a walk, a little trotting to the mud, walking through the mud--and then we got to the place that we love to gallop.  It had been so long since I have had to chance to really let him go.  I have to confess, I was a little nervous. 

Once again, we did it from a standstill--and he was just wonderful.  We went very fast, but it was so much fun that I wondered why I was nervous!  Cole sprouted wings!  We didn't go all the way to the end, because I wanted to test the brakes--they worked perfectly.  What a wonderful horse!  I trotted out to the end--letting him go as fast as he liked.  (Cole's fast trot is faster than a lot of horses can canter.)  It was so much fun.

We turned around and trotted back until we found Ellen walking on the trail to meet us.  That was Cole's ultimate reward.  He loves finding Ellen and walking with her.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

An Evening Ride with Bella

It was a beautiful afternoon for late December.  I was supposed to ride with Kevin in the afternoon, but when I got to the barn, he and Starry already left without me.  He left a note saying that he would meet me on the way back.  He wanted to go on a longer ride.

I hurried and saddled up Cole Train.  As I took him out of the barn, I could see Shari's bright yellow vehicle stopped at the end of the driveway.  That meant she got out of work early, and I would see her on trail, too.  I waved an acknowledgement, and she drove off.

Cole and I headed down the hill.  He was neighing--he knew Starry was up ahead.  He walked much faster down the hill than he would normally walk.  I had one very excited horse on my hands--he felt like he was just going to burst.

Once we crossed the river, I asked him to trot.  Not 20 seconds later, he launched into a gallop!  I got him to stop in about 10 strides and made him stand for a few moments to calm down.  I knew that he was just anxious to catch up with Starry.  We walked a few steps, and he seemed okay.  From there on, we trotted--really, really fast.  Cole Train was full-out Cole "Steam" Train--it was fun.  I was so proud of him--he didn't break out into the canter--he just trotted faster and faster.

I expected to see Starry near the second river crossing, and as I rounded the last bend, there they were.  He was just standing and waiting for us.  I stopped Cole before we got too close to keep him from turning into a rocket.

As we got nearer, I could see Kevin was talking to a young lady--and giving her carrots to feed to Starry.  Yes, she was another pretty blonde.  I told him there was a trend, but he denied it.

We turned around to head home--just walking, so that we didn't run into Shari too soon.  I wanted her to have a good trot before seeing us.  We found her not too far off from where I estimated she would be.  Bella was doing her own version of the "Steam Train."  She knew that we were up ahead and was just as excited to find us as Cole was to find Starry.

Kevin is always trying to get out of riding with us because he is worried that Starry will misbehave.  (And it has happened.)  He talked us into turning around and going back to the second river crossing so Shari didn't have to cut her ride short.  He would head on home.  It looked like we had enough time before dark, so he didn't have to try too hard to convince us.

Once we left him and got to a spot where we like to trot, we did.  Bella, as always, was in the lead.  Cole was quite hyper about his favorite mare being with him and tried to burst past her.  I asked Shari to stop.  I reminded her that this happened last time when we were over there after a long time of not riding together  She remembered, and said we had a plan to fix it--but neither of us remembered what it was.  We continued at a walk and chatted.  Then, the plan popped into my head.  We had to "Do the Dante."

All summer, I worked with Cole to teach him to trot quietly behind Dante when he really wanted to go much faster.  All Shari had to do, in theory, was to slow Bella down.  She did--and it worked like a dream.  Cole remembered how to "Do the Dante," and we trotted without incident to the second river crossing.  Success!

We turned around and headed towards home.  They were good, so we decided to try the trot, again.  Cole did even better--and then Bella jumped at something.  We came to a screeching halt and decided that maybe we should just play it safe and walk home.

Bella had other ideas.  She wanted to trot and was jigging this way and that.  Shari decided it was time for a clicker lesson.  She asked for a couple steps of a walk--and when she got it, she clicked and gave Bella a treat.  She repeated this a number of times--adding a few more steps each time before she clicked.  In just a few minutes, Bella was walking quietly with her head low for a National Show Horse.  Clicker worked again.

That is one of the reasons I like clicker training.  It is a way for us to gently show our horses what we want them to do--rather than fight with them.  Bella wanted to trot there--because that is what we usually do, and Shari just had to show her what we really wanted.

The rest of the way home was uneventful, and we made it just before the sun went down.  It was a great ride for everyone--and a real treat at the end of December, here in northeast Ohio.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Christmas Ride!

The weather was just above freezing, Christmas morning, so we were able to take Cole and Starry out for a fun, but uneventful, Christmas ride.  We did a lot of trotting, and once again, I snuck in some cantering, too.  Both horses were so very well behaved--it was such a pleasurable ride. 

It was too cold to take off the dorky helmet cover, though.  You would not believe how much warmer my helmet is with it--I don't care how dorky I look.  My helmet is the kind that has vents in it to keep me cool in the summer--it just doesn't work well in the winter.

Anyway, at least I match Cole.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas is for Riding!

or many years, I have been riding on Christmas, and this year is no different.  All the rides are different.  Sometimes it is too cold to even ride outside, so then we just bop about in the indoor arena.  Sometimes, it is warm and we have a wonderful trail ride.  Other times, we can't cross the river and just ride on the hill.  

Once, we battled the weather and rode in a big snow storm.  I remember Cruiser and Ranger refused to cross the river, that day.  The snow was floating on the river and gathering at the edge.  It looked really funny.   But that day, my little Mingo didn't let me down.  He crossed the river, and we had one of the best winter rides I ever had.

This year, it looks like it will be chilly with no snow.  I don't expect we will even cross the river if the ground is frozen.  The river bank will be frozen mud that is chopped up by horse hooves--not the safest to ride over.  I don't know what we will do, but you can be sure, that my sister and I will get to ride on Christmas.  It is our tradition.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

We Rode Down to the River

We couldn't cross the river, today, because it was too high, but it was still just nice to get out and enjoy the beautiful snow.  There was just enough to be pretty--but not too much to be a problem.

Smokin' Cole Train

I decided to start sketching this winter--and have been doing a sketch a day all month.  So far, I have been doing easy things--cats and landscapes.  This is my first attempt of a horse in many years.  And, it is the first time I ever did a horse in charcoal.  It was fun--I'll have to do some more horse pictures.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Return of Bella

The Return of Bella

I haven't been able to ride with Shari and Bella much in the last year.  Between Shari's work schedule and Bella's bout with laminitis, it has been hard to get together.  The laminitis is under control, now, and Bella is doing very well with her new low sugar diet. 

Shari called and told me she is quitting her second job--which means she will be able to ride with us more often.  Hurray!!  We have so much fun when we ride together.  Bella loves her boys, Cole, Dante and Starry--and they love her.  They may love her a little too much.  Starry doesn't like anyone between them.  He forgets all about his "bromance" with Dante--he will follow Bella anywhere.

Cole likes to be close to Bella, but he knows that she is unpredictable.  He prefers a little distance--just in case.  Dante doesn't seem to care.  He thinks she goes too fast.

Well, Cole and Bella got to see each other this weekend--the first time in a few months.  We didn't know how Bella would be.  Unfortunately, the river was too high to cross.  Shari and I decided that we would just ride up and down the hill together. 

I was just bringing Cole out of the barn when I saw Bella trotting down the street--all excited.  When she realized that she was coming to our barn, she knew she was going to ride with at least one of her buddies.  Cole seemed happy to see her, and we headed for the trail.

As we walked along the street, a jogger came up behind us on the other side of the street.  I warned Shari.  She thought Bella saw him, but if she did, she thought he was a jogging monster.  She jumped and danced in the street.  Yes, Bella was feeling good.

Bella led as we walked down the trail to the river.  On the bottom part of the trail, it is flat and smooth, so we trotted.  Bella was excited and fairly fast, but she listened.  When we turned to go home, she became more energetic.  Instead of walking quietly up the hill, like Cole, she tried trotting up the hill.  We didn't get too far before we turned her around to demoralize her.  If she is going to hurry up the hill, she has to go back down.  (Of course, we were going to go back down, anyways--but she doesn't know that.)

At the bottom, we asked them to trot, again.  This time, about halfway to the end, Bella decided cantering was a better idea.  While Shari regained command, I told Cole to slow down--so as not to add to the problem.  To my delight, he did.  When Bella started trotting, again, I asked Cole to speed up--and he trotted in a quick but gentlemanly fashion to catch up.  I was so proud of him. 

After that, we just kept going partway up the hill, turning and going to the bottom.  Bella continued to try trotting on the way up, but each time, she did it less. 

It may sound like a boring ride, but it wasn't.  Shari and I had a lot of catching up to do, and the time went very quickly.

Finally, we decided we would head home if Bella was good on the way up.  She was.  She only did a few steps of trotting and came right back to the walk when Shari asked her.

We are hoping to do a lot of riding together in the future.  It depends on the weather and the footing of the trail, of course.  Ice is our enemy.  But time goes fast, even in the winter.  I think that we are going to have a lot of fun next spring.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Starry has a Meltdown

Starry has a Meltdown

Late in the afternoon, the other day, I was out riding the loop in the back of of the barn property.  At the beginning of the ride, both horses seemed a little nervous. Cole even did a little hop spook for no reason that I could see and then returned to his normal self, so it was no big deal.

After a few laps, Starry suddenly freaked out--big time--about something.  His head was up; he was snorting and frozen in place. Kevin wisely got off, but he couldn't get Starry to take a single step without him panicking and trying to get away.  They just kept circling and circling. After a few long minutes of this, Cole started to get upset, too. I got off. Cole relaxed, so I brought him over to Starry to see if he could calm Starry down, and it didn't work.  I could see Kevin was getting scared. He was worrying that Starry would knock him down, and he was letting the reins get longer and longer--losing what little control he had of him. (Ironically, it is when you are worried you might get knocked over that you are most like to be knocked over.)

Starry was still trying to take off whenever Kevin tried to get him to move.  He was simply terrified. They just weren't getting anywhere. By now, Kevin was holding the very end of his reins.  I was close enough that I grabbed Starry's reins by his mouth. Now I had both horses.

I told Kevin to take Cole, and I would take Starr.  Fortunately--and unfortunately--I have had way too much experience in situations like this.  Cole did bounce a few times with Kevin, but soon, he was doing tricks, instead. Once Kevin got Cole doing his silly walk, I knew they would be fine.  They did the silly walk almost all the way back to the barn.

Starry did circle a few times with me, but somehow, I got him to take one straight step.  It probably helped that by now, Cole was silly walking home. I stopped Starry, gave him a carrot and asked for another straight step and asked him to stop, again.  Even though he was hard to stop and it took more than one step, at least he wasn't in a total panic. I kept repeating this, and eventually he started to settle down, and we got back to our barn safely.  

Kevin quit for the day.  I took Cole back to ride some more--and that is when I saw the coyote.  It was just a little one. Cole saw him first, but he wasn't afraid. He is a very bold horse.  We watched him trotting around. Starry might have caught a glimpse of it--or even just smelled it.  Some horses can be very troubled by them--like Ranger. I'm just glad it all worked out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Big Arena Problem

The Big Arena Problem

Ellen has been having some trouble with Dante in the arena.  Not dangerous trouble--but annoying trouble. 

It started showing up last spring before she started trail riding, again.  Dante was stalling out.  If he was walking, he would stop.  If he was trotting, he would slow down to a walk.  Then, she had trouble getting him going, again.  Talk about frustrating!

Well, in the last few weeks, he took it to a whole new level.  I rode with them in the indoor arena one morning last week, and it seemed like she was fighting with him the whole time.  They couldn't even trot a full lap around the arena.  Now, Dante is always worse if Cole is with him--he likes to stall out whenever Cole comes close to him.  I tried my best to stay away from them, but Dante still kept stalling.

My sister was really blue about it.  We walked Ranger after this horrible ride and did some brainstorming.

I had ridden Dante a few weeks ago, and I didn't have a trace of stalling out.  Now, it could have been the novelty of having someone different ride him at a different time of day and with a different saddle.  Sometimes when you change things up--horses' behavior's will change, too. 

Ellen was all stressed and anxious about it.  Was she doing something wrong?  Was Dante ruined?  Does this mean she won't have any good arena rides with him this winter?  Is it going to be a long winter of frustration?

We needed a plan.

First, we decided that I would ride him the following evening.  She would ride him the next day with me on Cole.

I carried a whip on the ride--something we haven't been doing in the arena.  Basically, the only time I use a whip these days is to keep bugs off Cole's neck and belly and to discourage him from eating branches on the trail. 

The plan was that I would ask him to go forward nicely with my legs and seat.  If that didn't work, I would boot him with my legs--and if that didn't work--I would give him a firm; but not painful--pop with the whip.  If he stalled when I was already going forward--I would jump straight to the whip to discourage him from doing that.  Clarity and consistency--that is what it was going to be all about.

I started the ride at a walk; asking for walk/stop/walk transitions.  They were sticky--so I did what we planned.  I think I only had to resort to the whip 3 times.  After that, I still had to give him a solid boot a few more times.  Then, I started to get decent transitions.  I didn't click him and give him a treat--I just rubbed his neck.  We did a lot of them.

When we moved on to the trot, he really did pretty good.  I only had to use the whip a couple times before he realized that it was better just to keep going.  I trotted all about the arena.  Towards the end of the ride, I practiced transitions and clicked him for the good ones.  This was not the same horse that Ellen rode the day before.

The following morning, I told her all about it.  To help her out, I let her ride the first 20 minutes without Cole in the arena as a distraction.  She did exactly as I did, and her troubles just vanished.  Once I brought Cole in, Dante continued to behave like the well-trained horse he is.  Ellen was able to reward him for good behavior, again.  Finally, she was getting it consistently.  The next day, we did the same thing with the same results.

We decided the whole problem was--as it usually is with horses--operator's error.  Ellen was too slow to correct and not consistent with her corrections.  Dante was confused and did what he did the best--nothing.  When Dante would stall out, Ellen's brain would flash all kinds of things--he was being bad.  He will always be bad.  Is he sick?  Maybe he is hurt, and on and on and on.  She would then miss her opportunity to correct Dante and poor Dante probably thought that he was doing what she wanted him to do.

I didn't have those thoughts in my head.  When I ride, I have very little inner dialogue.  I just ride.  Actually, I think that is one of the reasons I like riding.  It clears my head and puts me in the moment.  It is just me, my horse and what we are doing together.  Ellen is very different than me, and it worked against her.

Once we set the rules, he changed his whole attitude.  He just needed to understand what we wanted.  After all, Dante loves to trot--there was no reason for him to want to stop trotting.

Ellen was so happy!!!!

I asked her what her final sum up of the whole experience was.  I was hoping to get something thoughtful and insightful from her.

Instead, she sighed and said, "It's going to be a long winter of boring arena rides.  I had a problem to work on for a while, but now that's gone."

So much for thoughtful and insightful!  But, it is great that the problem vanished in only 2 rides.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Birthday for Ranger Around the Corner

The big day is coming up--January 1--official birthday of all horses.  Cole's birthday is April 27, and that is the day I celebrate it, but we don't know when Ranger was born.  We don't even know the year, let alone the date.  So, Ranger's birthday is January 1.  It works out really well since Ellen got him in January.

We don't know how old he was, then, but he was a fully mature horse.  No vets could look into his mouth to see his teeth. without tranquilizing him, so we didn't even have a vet guess.  We guessed he was around 5 years old.

Since Ellen will have had him 24 years this January--that makes Ranger--old.

I asked her if we should add a year to make him 29, or if we could keep him 28.  Twenty-nine sounds so old.  She said that she will add the year to make him 29.

He is doing well for a big, old horse.  After the mild colic scare a few months ago; where we adjusted his diet, he looks like he is putting on some weight.  We are still taking him on his walks, every day.  She would be riding him if he didn't have his breathing issues--he certainly has a lot of energy on his walks!  It is just that when he starts trotting, he has trouble with his lungs.  We do trot him in hand for short distances.   Ranger just loves that!

And, I am glad to say, Ranger is as cantankerous and also as lovable, as ever.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Pumpkin Seeds

Did I ever mention I make the best pumpkin pie?  I just love it.  I make it from fresh pumpkins, and I found a really good recipe to use--not the one every one else uses that is on the can of pumpkin.

I made a bunch of pies over the last month or so, but now I am all out of pumpkins.  I have a few winter squash that I grew in my garden this summer, and I think I might turn them into pies.

Anyways, the reason I am writing this isn't to make everyone hungry.  I save the pumpkin seeds for the horses.  All you have to do is wash them off and let them dry.  The horses--particularly Cole Train--love them.  The best part about it?  They are a low carb snack for those insulin resistant horses.  Cole looks like he might be, so we have switched his grain to low carb a few years ago.  I still give him treats, so when I can give him healthy treats, like pumpkin seeds, I do.

Sadly, Cole's friend, Bella, who contracted insulin resistant laminitis this summer doesn't like pumpkin seeds.  She is doing well, and Shari has been riding her--but not with us--because of her schedule.  That will be changing soon, because she quit her second job.  Hurray!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Cole in the Arena - Part 2

Did I really write about how well Cole was on his last arena ride? 

Yesterday, I rode a whole different horse, though he looked just like Cole.  He lived up to his registered name, Smokin' Cole Train, that is for sure.

I could feel that his mood was very different after about--20 seconds in the saddle.  He felt like he was a horse twice his size and ready to explode.  Cole was a stick of dynamite.

I have been here, before, with Cole.  To be on the safe side, I decided to start with something simple.  We would just walk 5 laps each way around the arena.  At the scary corner, his head was way up in the air.  He wanted to run.  I jiggled the rein to tell him to drop his head, and he did; for which he got praise and neck rubs. 

When it was time to trot, I figured I would just go short distances each time until he calmed down--and I would go in circles for more control.  Upon request, he sprung into the trot.  This is when he really was Smokin' Cole Train.  I can't explain very well how it felt, but if it was physically possible for a horse's back legs to be going twice as fast as his front legs, I swear that's what was happening.  Yes, short distances were enough for me.  I felt like I wouldn't last much past that.

We practiced our walk/trot transitions on a circle, and I started to notice he was settling down.  I wanted to ride at least a half hour, but I was ready to quit after 15 minutes.  He still felt explosive, but at least his back legs were matching his front legs. 

We took a walk break, to kill some time to get me to a half hour.  We wandered over to the scary corner--mistake.  He jumped and tried to take off running.  Since we have been practicing this maneuver, lately, I was able to quickly spin him into a small circle on the very first stride.  Sigh.  We went back to the safe end of the arena.

Since he was doing better at a trot, I decided to integrate some shoulder-ins along the wall.  I like them when he is hyper, because his neck is already bent.  If he should try to shoot off, I already have him in position to spin him. 

I didn't have to.  He was happy to cooperate-and we were getting closer to the wall this time.  By now, we were nearing the half hour mark, and instead of hopping off, I knew I could do the last 10 minutes safely.  We continued more trotting in circles and shoulder-ins, and then we settled down with doing his lateral tricks that he loves so much.

Nobody else was there to use the arena, so I unsaddled him in there and set him free.  He did a quick roll and took off running!  I grabbed a whip to encourage him to continue to run.  On the first wave of the whip, he reared straight up into the air and kicked up off the ground with his hind legs--such elevation.  He would have put many Lipizzaner's to shame!

He did a lot of running and bucking--around and around and around.  It is then that I decided that he wasn't being such a bad horse on the ride,  Actually, he was being very good.  If he felt he had to do all this running after the ride, and he still did his best to listen and cooperate with me for 40 minutes--well that makes a very good horse to me.

I rode him again this morning--and he was back to his old self, again.  He just needed to run.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dreams of Horses

When I was a little girl, I loved to draw horses--dreaming that some day, I would have my own.  My mom just kept saying, "Save your money."  I found an old sketchbook.

I didn't get my first horse until I was 21.  That's a lot of dreaming.

Back in the Arena with Cole

Back in the Arena with Cole

The weather isn't cooperating.  I think this was the worse November, ever.  We have had so much rain, some snow and most days are way colder than normal for this time of year.  I have done some trail riding, but not as much as I would normally do in November.  The river has been too high much of the time.

The rain has kept me in the indoor arena a few times--and now the driveway is icy.  It isn't safe to take the horses out on it.  Now, I am really forced to ride in the arena.

The arena really isn't that bad.  I shouldn't complain.  I have kept my horses at barns that didn't have one--and that was even worse.  It is just that I love riding on the trail so much more.  The arena is more like work.

I have ridden Cole in the arena only a few times this year.  The last time, everything felt like it was starting to come together.  I think practicing on Dante really helped me.  The better I do, the better Cole does.  His trot is becoming more consistent and more powerful--and more amazing.  It is hard to sit, but the stronger I get, the longer we can go before I fall apart. 

His circles are doing better whenever I can keep both my seat bones where they belong.  If my outside one loses contact, he leans into his circle--and then it is too late.  I have to start all over and do it right.  Cole makes me a better rider.

He loves to do shoulder-ins, but we are having trouble with him drifting off the wall.  That gives me a reason to practice more, so he is happy with that.  I'm not going to try leg yielding until we fix the shoulder-in. 

He is misbehaving in his bad corner, again, but I have kept him from bolting.  He gets startled easily in that corner and then wants to gallop to the arena exit.  We have been having trouble with this from the very beginning of his training.  He tried 4 times the last ride, but I was able to spin him around on the first stride each time.  I don't think he is that frightened--he just wants to play.  With a few more weeks of riding in the arena, he will stop doing it.  I just have to catch him every time.

Of course, we always save time for doing tricks.  There is silly walk, turn-on-the-haunches, side pass and backing--and all combinations of them.  I think I should teach him to do line dancing.  He likes them all except backing.  We are going to practice it more this year with clicker to see if he can get a little sharper with it. 

If winter keeps going like it has been, I will have plenty of time for practicing.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Cole Loses His Composure

Cole Loses His Composure

The other afternoon, we were out riding Starry and Cole on a short trail ride before sunset.  It was our first really nice day, weather wise, in several weeks.  There was no rain, snow or wind, and it was even moderately warm.

On the way out, we were passed by 2 people riding gaited pintos.  It was evident they were from the fairgrounds, because fairground people who ride as far as our trails are always in a hurry.  We stopped our horses and let them pass.

We had a really nice ride out to the second river crossing--trotting most of the way.  We turned around and started trotting back.  After a couple of minutes, I yelled up to Kevin to stop, because Cole was getting a little feisty.  Starry immediately halted, and we walked towards the next corner with Starry in the lead.

Up ahead, we could see around the corner because there are no leaves on the trees--and here comes the spotted, gaited horses, and they were coming fast.  Through the trees, between the spots and the funny way gaited horses move, Cole thought he saw monsters!  He spun 180 degrees--as only a little horse can--and took off running!

We don't see many gaited horses, and trotting horses sometimes get confused when they see gaited horses' legs going all directions.  I remember when had a similar reaction from Cruiser the first time he saw a one.  This wasn't Cole's first time, but they frightened him, nonetheless. 

I was able to catch him in a few strides and stop him by turning 180 degrees the other direction.  I asked him to stop and watch the monsters approach.  Poor Cole, his head was up, he was trembling and I could feel that any deviation towards the left or right would have him spinning and running, again.  I just kept him facing the monsters, and he stood frozen in place.

Kevin knew I had a problem going on; even though he couldn't see us and asked the people to slow down.  As they got closer to me, I asked them to stop.  By now, I was sitting on a stick of dynamite with the fuse already lit.

They didn't stop--only slowed down a little bit, but they just kept gaiting.  I can't say what happened next--I was too busy trying to contain the situation to bother remembering.  I know it involved Cole rushing backwards a few times, at least one more spin, Cole trying to step sideways into the trees and a mad dash forward just as they got passed us.

They didn't try to stop their horses and said not one word of apology.  If I was the kind of person who cussed, I can't imagine what words would have come out of my mouth.  Good thing Kevin didn't see what happened!  He and Starry stood completely still--facing the opposite way--so they wouldn't interfere or add to the chaos behind them.

Cole was still very, very upset about what happened.  He just wanted to run home.  I asked Kevin to  stand with us until Cole settled down.  After a few minutes, I felt Cole relax, and we went home with no other problems.  You could imagine what most of our conversation was about.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Horse of a Different Color: Riding Dante in the Arena

A Horse of a Different Color: Riding Dante in the Arena

I decided to give Cole a well-needed day off.  I can't remember the last time I did.  Some of the days that I rode him were just around the loop in the back of the property--easy rides that were only about a half hour, so I haven't been abusing him.  Still, I think it is good for a horse just to get a break from riding now and then.

It was my day to feed the horses at the barn.  Two or three evenings a week, I hay and water them, (between 25-30 horses,) to help defray the costs of having a horse.  I also clean our three stalls and take Ranger on his walk.  Instead of just doing chores; I wanted to have some fun.  I decided it would be a good day to start riding Dante, my sister's horse, in the arena.

I rode Dante in the arena about once a week last couple winters.  When the weather gets better, and I started riding Cole out in the park, I quit.  I guess that means I haven't ridden him in there since sometime in March.  Ellen has done a few arena rides, lately, when it was raining.  I did a couple with Cole, too.  She has done well with Dante--Cole was a little tough, but he always is when I haven't ridden him in there for months.

And that was one of the reasons I wanted to ride Dante.  As I have mentioned before, Cole has an incredibly gorgeous, powerful arena trot.  (I'm so glad he seldom uses it on the trail.)  He bounces me all over.  It is hard to sit--even harder to post--and can be quite intimidating until I get used to it.  Plus, he makes me very sore!  I have to build up to his trot.  Not to mention, he still likes jump and run if he is in the scary corner when he hears any little noise. I'm glad to say, he isn't near as bad as he was when he was young, but he does still do it.

Dante, on the other hand, is smooth and quiet--and never does anything sudden in the arena.  He is the perfect horse to prepare myself for Cole.

There is another reason I like to ride Dante--I get to use my favorite saddle.  I have never found a saddle that fitted me better, but it is just too big for little Cole.  The only time I get to use it is when I ride Dante.  I mounted up and the first thing I did was sigh.  Yes, it is the perfect saddle for me.

It is actually a WWII Japanese military saddle I found at an estate sale.  I didn't know what it was when I bought it.  I sat on it when I brought it home and decided it was worth getting repaired.  It has been my favorite saddle ever since.

I used to use it on Mingo.  He loved it, too.  If I tried to use a different saddle, he would become very uncooperative.  When he died, it became Cruiser's official saddle.  I really wish it fit Cole, but it does give me incentive to ride Dante.

We started out trying to walk along the edge of the arena.  He was like riding a snake--swerving this way and that.  Immediately, I realized that, once again, I got into a lot of bad habits riding on the trail all summer.

I firmed up my seat and focused my energy into straightening him out.  It worked.  I brought him to the arena wall and made him walk straight.  It sounds like such an easy thing, but it really isn't.

After a warm up, I asked for a trot.  Ahhh, so smooth, so lovely--we just slowly glided along.  After a few minutes, I realized that Dante, amazingly, was picking up exactly where we left off last spring when I quit riding him.  No horse does that!  I spend weeks reviewing our old lessons with Cole before we start to move on.  Dante is truly a special horse.  And then he decided to stop.  He might be good, but he isn't perfect.  Like with most horses, there is always something to work on--and right now, Dante thinks that whenever he is doing well, he should stop.

We worked on nearly perfect circles--perfect for him.  My body, used to just trotting down the trail, didn't want to cooperate with me.  I was losing my connection on the saddle, my legs weren't going to the right positions and I was having trouble finding the rhythm of the sitting trot.  Another thing for me to focus on.  We practiced until it started to become automatic.

And this is one of the big reasons I like to ride in the arena with Dante.  With his slower, smoother movement, I can work out all my own personal problems on him--instead of Cole.  It is hard to work on my body when I am flying around on Cole.  If I can get control of me, first, I have better control of Cole--and I am more confident, too.

I only rode about a half hour, but it was a very satisfying ride.  A few more like that, I will be ready for Cole Train.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

My Lame Attempt at Poetry

Riding Cole on the Trail

My feet are cold,
Slow down.
There are some deer.
I hope they don't run and startle my Cole.
It looks like rain.
Slow down.
Just go through the mud; it won't hurt you.My hands are cold.
Slow down.
The river looks pretty.
I think I am having a problem.
Whoa! Whoa!
Just walk.
Look at those pretty ducks.
Steady, steady, easy.
Good boy.  That was beautiful.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dante Challenges

Our ride on Saturday didn't go very well.  Kevin, Ellen and I rode down to the river.  It was extremely cold and windy for this time of year, and Ellen was filled with much trepidation about the ride.  Cold weather sometimes brings the worst out in horses, and this was our coldest day in a long time.

At the bottom of the hill, Starry had one of his unreasonable fits about not walking in front of Dante--he wouldn't even follow Cole.  Dante was behind Starry--afraid to pass him--and Starry wouldn't budge.  We worked through that, but not without Dante trying to high-tail it back home.

After that, I started to cross the river.  It wasn't too bad, but when Ellen saw it, she decided it was too high to cross.  I didn't want to turn Cole around and go back because I didn't want him to learn that was in the realm of possibility.  We continued to the other side.  Ellen thought she would try, but when she got to the edge of the water, she changed her mind.  She decided to go home and work Dante in the arena.

Kevin crossed Starry, and we went on a short, cold ride.

The next day, the river was lower, so Ellen thought she could cross it.   Starry was banned from the ride because of his bad behavior.  We rode down to the river, and Cole and I crossed to the other side.  Ellen rode Dante to the river's edge, he stopped and refused to take a step forward.  I found a sunny spot and had Cole stand and wait.

Ellen got Dante to put his front feet in, and she clicked and treated him.  So far, so good.  She asked for another step--and nothing.  They were stuck for a while, until Dante did one of his slow motion spins to get out of the water.  She kept him spinning and they ended up at the water's edge, again.

This happened a few times.  Finally, she got all 4 feet in, and he stalled out.  She asked for step forward.  He put his left foot in, and then took his left foot out.  He took his right foot in and his right foot out.  He then did the "hokey pokey," and turned himself around.

Okay, this wasn't working.  She tried again.  Once more, all 4 feet were in.  Dante decided to play in the water.  He kept sticking his face in the ice cold water and shaking his head around.  Ellen was so puzzled about his behavior.  He didn't act like he was afraid to cross--but he wouldn't cross.  He didn't fight--he just refused.  He tried another slow spin, but Ellen used all of her strength to keep his incredibly strong neck from bending the way she didn't want it to go.

I told her to try and walk down stream a little to cross in a different spot.  I have found that that sometimes helps.  This had taken about 15 minutes, so far-it seemed like an hour.  I was getting bored and cold.  Ellen certainly didn't want to give up.  What did she have to lose.

And then an idea popped into her head.  The last big rain storm changed the river a bit.  The current looked funny.  There were ripples were she wanted to cross him that weren't there, before.  Could that be why he was putting his head in the water to test it so much?  She rode him downstream about 10 feet where there weren't any ripples.  Within less than a minute, he was marching across the river.  She didn't want him to lose his momentum, so she didn't stop him to give him a treat.  Instead, she scratched his neck and praised him.  Once she triumphantly got to the other side, she gave him a handful of carrots.

So, we think that between the new ripples and the fact that he didn't have to cross the day before, convinced Dante that he didn't have to try to cross.  He, wisely, (in his mind,) decided it was safer for both of them to stay where they were at.

We had a great ride, after that.  On the way home, he crossed the river without hesitation.

I am so proud of Ellen's fine display of horsemanship.  She never lost her temper, she stayed determined and she used the most important tool we have to solve the problem--her brain.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Log

The Log

We had a big storm the other day.  There wasn't that much rain, but the wind was really, really bad.  Even so, we were still surprised at the number of branches on the trail--and 3 trees blocking it.  All of the trees were small enough to step over, though not easily by a horses as short as Cole.

Ellen and I went out for a ride.  We were able to negotiate all the trees and branches.  On our way back, we saw Kevin heading out for his ride.  We told him what we encountered, and reassured him that he could get through.  After all, Starry is the largest of our horses; by far.

And he did.  He only took Starry on a short ride--to the next river crossing--and turned around to go home.  When he reached the log that Starry had willingly stepped over just a little time ago, he headed for the left end of it.  The rest of the log was too high to step over.  As he neared it, Starry saw a branch he could grab and eat.  That broke their momentum--and then Starry decided it was impossible to cross the log.  It didn't matter that he crossed it going the other direction.  It didn't matter that he was going towards home.  He didn't act frightened--he just felt he couldn't do it.

Kevin asked and asked to no avail.  Finally, he got off--thinking Starry would follow him.  That didn't work, either.  He looked for a way to get around the log, but the shrubbery was too thick and the footing too swampy.  He had to turn around and go away from home. 

The whole time, he kept looking for a good way to get out to the street, but he didn't find any until he reached the river crossing.  He then rode out to the street to the paved bike path.  He had no choice but to ride along it to get home.  Wherever he could, he rode on the grass.  One bike passed him.  Once, Starry tried to trot on the paved path when Kevin tried to get him over to the grass.  Other than that, it was uneventful.

Finally, he reached a spot where he could cut back to the trail on the other side of the log.

The next day, Cole and I went with them on a ride.  I was willing to turn at the log, but Kevin thought Starry would follow Cole over it.  We had no trouble stepping over it on the way out, and we had a terrific ride. 

On the way home, Kevin wanted to try, first.  He had stopped by earlier in the day and cut the branch that originally distracted Starry.  He was hoping with that gone; the problem would be gone, too.

It didn't work.  Starry still refused to step over the log.  After a number of attempts, I brought Cole up to it to lure Starry across.  The very thing I feared happened.  Since Cole saw Starry refuse, he did, too.  I dismounted, and Cole was happy to follow me over it. 

Starry would still not cooperate.  Kevin dismounted to lead him--but Starry wouldn't follow him across, either.  Kevin asked me to come back with him so we could go home on the bike path.  Poor, little Cole. He had to step over the log that was way too tall for him--but not too tall for the hulking behemoth, Starry, once again.

He did, and we were on our way.  We couldn't trot because Kevin needed a mounting block.  There is one at the river crossing.  He mounted, and we cut over to the paved bike path.

I was nervous about it because Cole's horse shoes were worn smooth.  That meant he could slip very easily.  Years ago, when I first started riding Cruiser on the trail, he spooked, ran onto the bike trail and slipped.  He regained his balance, but I tumbled to the ground.  With that in my mind, we tentatively followed Starry on the bike path.  My other concern was motorcycles.  The bike path is very close to the street. 

It all went well.  There was one loud vehicle that I stopped Cole for as it passed.  Two bikes passed us, too, but we saw them before they could startle the horses. 

The next day, Kevin didn't join Ellen and me.  He went the other way on the trail.  When we reached the log, Cole went over, first.  Dante decided he wasn't going over it.  He touched it, rubbed his face on it, looked for the branch that he tried to eat on the last ride and looked pretty.  Ellen turned him away and tried again.  This time, he stepped right over it.  We continued on our merry way.

When we got back to the log on the way home, there was Starry and Kevin waiting for us on the other side.  He wasn't even going to try.  Dante marched right over; followed by Cole.  The 3 of us had a lovely ride home.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

His Favorite

His Favorite

With the cooler weather, the horses--particularly Cole have been much friskier.  He is living up to his name, Smokin' Cole Train!  The other day, my sister and I were trotting along.  Her slow horse, Dante, was in the lead.  Things were going great, then I think Cole may have gotten hit by a falling acorn.  I suddenly felt him sink low in the hindquarters and he dashed forward at a gallop.

Sigh...A Cole burst is one thing, but why this?

Dante is very reactive whenever another horse does something sudden.  He is afraid when they merely swish their tails at him.  Well, Cole thundering up behind him set him off running, too.  I wasn't the least bit worried about myself.  The big sister in me kicked in.  I must protect Ellen!

I knew that I had to keep Cole as far away from Dante as I could or my sister would have a very big problem.  Starry was just up ahead.  All we needed was for him to start running, too!  I tried and tried to stop Cole, but he merely slowed down.  By now, he thought this was a fun game and wanted to keep playing.  I did get him to a slow canter, and my sister was able to get control of Dante. 

Cole was no longer a threat to her, but he still wasn't stopping.  I was getting frustrated--bending him to the left and then the right.  Ellen then turned around, looked at Cole and said in her sternest "mom" voice, "Cole.  Stop.  Behave yourself."  Wouldn't you know, he did just that.  The funny thing is--this isn't the first time this has happened.  I've written about it, before.  Cole simply adores her.  He always listens to her.  A few days before, Cole was swishing at the bugs, causing Dante to worry.  She told Cole to stop, and he did.

When we leave the barn to go home, I will toss some treats in Cole's dish.  He won't even go to them.  He just stands there and waits for my sister to toss treats in his dish.  Then he eats both sets of treats and thinks they are all from Ellen.  He only h,as eyes for her...

I am sure it is because she isn't the one in charge, telling him what to do and when to do it.  Instead, she says loving things to him and gives him all the best treats!  If I am Cole's mother, she is Cole's grandmother.  She spoils him all she likes and then sends him back to me.

The Strange Ride

The Strange Ride

The other day, Ellen, Kevin and I were going out riding.  Kevin left ahead of us so that he wouldn't be in our way.  We followed along.  We knew we would meet him at the end of the trail where we turn around to go home.

It looked like rain.  We checked the radar on Ellen's phone, and we thought we might be all right, so we decided to take a chance.  There was one other concern on our minds.  Kevin told us there was a car club that was planning to drive through the park.  Our trails thread between the street and the river.  Sometimes it is closer to the street--and sometimes the river.  We have been caught out in previous years when all the cars drive though, and it can be difficult.  These aren't ordinary cars.  They are noisy hot rods. 

The ride was uneventful on the way out.  We couldn't cross the river at the second river crossing because it was too high, so we walked the horses across the ford.  There wasn't much traffic because of the weather, so it was an easy crossing.

As we approached the end of the trail, we could see Starry in the distance.  He started neighing for us.  Once we got closer, he got very quiet.  I guess he didn't want us to know that he missed his buddies so much.

We put Starry in the lead on the way home.  Kevin told us the time that the cars were supposed to leave their starting point.  I looked at my watch and realized we might be in trouble.  We had to get across the ford before the hot rods showed up. 

We did some trotting towards home to make up time.  All was quiet, so we brought the horses onto the ford.  We knew the cars would make such a ruckus that we would have ample warning.

Once across, Kevin hurried on ahead.  He wanted to get to a good spot where he could stop Starry and watch the cars.  Things like that don't make Starry nervous the way they make Cole and Ellen nervous.  (Notice I didn't mention Dante?)  He wasn't even out of sight before we could hear the rumble of engines.  We made it across the ford only a few minutes too soon.

We decided to walk because the trail where we were at was far from the street.  Maybe by the time we got close to the street, they would be done.  All went well as we walked along.  I was hoping that Cole would just gradually get desensitized to the noise. 

We saw Kevin and Starry standing over by the street; watching the cars go by.  Starry was a statue.  He didn't care at all.  He is such a strange horse.

By now, we could also smell the fumes.  As the trail got closer to the street, Cole's head kept getting higher and higher.  The cars kept coming and coming.  Cole's steps became faster.  I wasn't feeling very safe, so I stopped him and hopped off.  A few steps later, he leapt into the air!  He had had enough.  I circled him to contain his outburst and asked him to stand.  He then parked out and waited.  Of course, I praised him.  Dante just watched.

The cars were soon gone,  Since it looked like rain, there was a poor turnout for the event.  We were relieved.  I led Cole for a little ways.  When he seemed settled down, I mounted back up.  He was still walking very fast, so we were way ahead of Dante.  We would stop and wait for them to catch up periodically.

When we were nearly back to our river crossing to go home, I stopped to wait for Dante.  Far up ahead, I heard a noise that started getting louder and louder.  I thought it might be a big gust of wind, but when it got to us, it turned out to be a wall of water!  This never happened to us before.  The only thing Cole hates more than loud engines is heavy rain.  Poor Cole was having a bad day.  Not only could we see the rain moving as a wave, but we also could see the wave moving toward us on the leaves of the trees and shrubs. 

Ellen caught up with us.  I asked Cole to go forward, but the rain wall had him so confused and upset that he uncharacteristically started backing up.  For the first time ever, I had to ask her to bring Dante ahead of my typically very bold Cole because he was afraid of something.  Was Dante afraid?  Of course not.  He was amazed at the way the rain was hitting the leaves.  He was looking from one side of the trail to the next.  He wanted to go touch the leaves--and possibly taste them.

Ellen persisted and Dante took the lead. Cole immediately settled down, and we crossed the river.  Once we reached the other side, we got off to lead.  You get less wet if you are leading than if you are riding.

We were home shortly, and Starry arrived a little after us.  Of course, once Starry was inside, it quit raining.

It was a strange ride.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ellen Gets an Award

Ellen Gets an Award

The “Award for Staying in the Saddle” in September certainly doesn’t go to me.  Ellen will get the award this month.

Ellen, Kevin and I were out for a ride.  We were nearing the spot that we planned to turn to go home when we saw a man we have known from the trails for years.  We don’t remember his name, but his dog’s name is Daisy. Daisy is one of those sweet dogs who never gives us any trouble.  She doesn’t need to be on a leash. She will just sit and wait for us to go by.

We stopped to chat for a few minutes.  Then, he went on our way and we went on ours.  We didn’t get very far when I saw Dante’s head go straight up in the air.  He started panicking. All I saw was him stepping backwards into the woods behind him.  I think that is when he decided to spin towards us. All I knew is that Cole decided to spin and take off.  Starry was in between us, and he half-heartedly followed Cole. Dante saw the commotion going on with us--and spun the opposite way.  Poor Ellen got spun to the left--then spun to the right.

I didn’t have much problem stopping Cole within a few strides.  I quickly looked back and saw Ellen leaning over Dante’s neck. She was hanging on with all her might--and she did it!  Dante stopped, Ellen readjusted herself and all was well again.

We then found out what happened.  There was a man just wandering through the woods; picking up garbage.  Dante must have thought he was a bear. The man startled Dante, Dante startled Cole, Cole terrified Dante and Starry never did figure out what was going on.  The poor man, when he realized what happened, felt so bad. We told him not to worry about it. That’s just how horses can be.

So Ellen got the award for staying on during a double-spin spook.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Animal Woes - Part 2

Animal Woes - Part 2

All the while that Fall was using up one of her 9 lives, other things were going on.  When she came home from the vet after her long stay, Arbez, Kevin's other cat threw up a lot and decided she was done eating forever.  This is a worry for a cat that is 15.

We weren't too worried, at first.  It has happened before, and then she eats in a few hours.  It was different, this time.  We ended up at the store--trying to find something, anything that she would eat.  We brought home chicken and cheese.

She ate a lot of chicken and a little cheese.  The next day, she didn't want either.  Kevin tried different types of cat foods.  Nothing appealed to her.  Sometimes she would eat a little; getting our hopes up, and then refuse the same food next time.

We suspected her urinary tract infection from December might have returned, so he was able to get a sample and got it to the vet.  She did have an infection.  They gave her a pill he could give her to calm her down so he could bring her in, in couple of days.  Before that happened, she did start eating again--this time voraciously.  She wanted to eat constantly.  In the meantime, we were trying to get Fall to eat her special food.  Fall preferred the food Arbez was eating.  It was chaos, and Kevin was losing his mind.

When he did get Arbez to the vet, her lab work was showing that she not only had the infection, but her kidneys weren't doing so well, either.  The first step was to get her on antibiotics.

Somewhere in there, I noticed my dog, Maggie, was drinking more.  I started to pay attention to her water consumption.  Each day, it went up.  Then, the accidents began.  I brought her to the vet.  The preliminary urinalysis at their lab showed no urinary tract infection.  It was looking more serious.  They sent her urine off to the lab with blood work.  Everything was leaning towards kidney disease or Cushings.  Ugh.  She was drinking 11 cups of water a day, and she is only a 36 pound dog.

While I was there, I made an appointment for my cat, Thunder.  It was time for his geriatric check up.

The next day, Ellen called in a panic.  Her older horse, Ranger, was colicking!  She called the vet who said she would be there in a couple of hours.  An hour later, Ellen called to tell me he seemed better.  By the time the vet got there, he was normal.  Our vet decided to treat him, just the same.  She found that way inside, he had hard stool.  In his stool, there was a lot of undigested hay.  Ranger's age, which we don't know, caught up with him.  His teeth weren't chewing his hay well enough.  Ellen caught a minor colic, but she may have been able to prevent a major one.  He is now getting a change in diet with less hay, more hay cubes and an increase in grain.  He seems much perkier since the change.

Two days later, I brought Thunder in for his appointment.  Everything looked good, but he had lost a little weight.  They took blood to send to the lab.  They did have Maggie's labwork back.  She had an infection after all!!!  Her urine was just too diluted for the vet's equipment.  She is now on antibiotics and I get up every 2 hourse to let her out at night.  She is learning to use a litter box.

A couple days later, Thunder's blood work came in.  He is doing great for a 12-year-old cat.  Now, we are waiting for Maggie's and Arbez's anitbiotics to take affect.  Everyone is eating.

What a month it has been.

Animal Woes - Part 1

Animal Woes - Part 1

Oh what a trying month it has been for our animals!

It all started on Labor Day.  (It always seems like the emergencies fall on the holidays.)  Kevin called me first thing in the morning to tell me that something was wrong with his cat, Fall.  (Fall as in an October colored calico that he got in October, 12 years ago.)  She was throwing up and could only walk by balancing herself along the wall.

I told him to get her to the emergency clinic right away.  This was serious.

A few hours later, he called me to tell me she had kidney disease and heart failure.  He put the vet on the line to explain it.  I had a cat with kidney disease, and I know it can be managed.  The vet explained that kidney disease is treated by adding fluids and heart disease is treated by removing them.  Because of this and the fact that her blood work was so bad, the prognosis was terrible.  Kevin asked for their honesty, and they said it would be best to put her to sleep.

This was devastating to both of us.  Fall is the nicest cat I have ever met.  I love her like my own.

Kevin called me back a few minutes later.  The vet tech said he didn't have to do it right away.  She would still be all right for a few days if he wanted to take her home.  That way, we could spend a little more time with her and I could say goodbye.  She wouldn't eat or drink, but she wouldn't be suffering.

They pumped her up with some Sub-Q fluids and sent her home.  We spent a very sad evening with her.  She mostly just laid there.  She did use the litter box a few times, but we could see she could still barely walk.  She did seem comfortable, so we just talked to her and told her how much we loved her.  I told her that I loved her so much that if love alone could save her, she would be just fine.

The next day, Kevin was going to take her to the vet for her final visit.  I went to the barn.  Ellen and I were riding down the hill when Kevin called me on my phone.  I braced myself for the bad news.  He told me he didn't take her.  She was walking normal and drinking water.  He came out to ride, and then I went to his house to see her.  She was so much better!

We decided on a new plan.  He made an appointment with his regular vet.  The earliest he could get her there was in 2 days.  Instead of saying goodbye, he would have an examination to see how she is, first.

That evening, she started to eat cat treats!  She was purring and moving about.

I went with him when he took her to the vet.  They did a urinalysis and compared it to the one at the emergency vet clinic.  It showed that she dramatically improved just from the fluids.  There was no longer any sign of heart trouble.  They suggested keeping her for a few days, pumping her up with IV fluids and seeing how she did.

It was a long 2 days, but we got back our Fall.  They gave her special food for kidneys and said to come back in a few weeks for more testing.  

She didn't really like the food, but she ate enough of it to keep going.  When Kevin took her back, her blood work came out even better than it was when she left them.  It really should have actually gotten worse, not better.  She was nearly normal!  She didn't need us to give her fluids.  She just needed a kidney diet--which she didn't really like.

A few days later, Kevin went to the vet with a package of cat treats--threatening to feed her them just to get her to eat.  They came back with a different type of food.  It was a dry food.  We took it home--and were so happy to see that both of his cats loved it!!!

We are going to have our Fall for a little while longer!!!

My love for her did save her.  It was because I love her so much that Kevin brought her home to spend one last evening for us.  Since then, we have had quite a few evenings with her, and we hope to have many more.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Cole Train


Handsome Starry D.

Nothing to Write About?

As the month nears the end, it occurs to me that I didn't have anything to write about.  The rides have been fun, but there has been nothing of note that happened.  Has it reached that point in my writing career?

I should no better.  Fate wouldn't have that--not where horses are involved.

Just when I was losing hope that I would have something to inspire me, everything changed.

I went for a ride with Kevin on Starry.  Both horses had the previous day off.  Cole had the day off because he got a new set of shoes.  Needless to say, they were feeling rather frisky.

We were trotting down the trail with Kevin in the lead.  I felt Cole start to bunch up, and yelled out a warning to Kevin.  He stopped his horse, Starry.  Right as I yelled, and loud motorcycle went by.  That was just the excuse Cole was looking for!  He took off running.  I wanted to stop him before I reached Starry, so I bent him a little bit to slow him down and then asked him to stop.  He slammed on his brakes so suddenly I just could not stay on him.

As I lost my balance, I wrapped my arms around his neck.  Cole then lowered his neck, and when I finally lost my grip, I was only a few feet from the ground.  I didn't get hurt at all.  Poor Kevin saw the whole thing, and he was just traumatized.

In retrospect, I should have asked Cole to trot instead of to stop.  He only did what I asked him to do.  This has nearly happened a couple of times before, so I should have known better.  Cole has quite a stop.  It was only made worse because he had new shoes--with better grip.  At least no one got hurt.  Kevin couldn't stop talking about it.  He was so upset.  I was just relieved.

The rest of the ride was ordinary.  They were still frisky, but we were able to contain them.

Just 2 days later, I was out riding with Kevin on Starry and Ellen on Dante.  It was a great ride.  On the way home, we were crossing the final river.  Kevin was already across on the other side.  Ellen and I had finished crossing.  I started up the river bank.

Next thing I knew, Cole was running at least 100 miles per hour up the bank.  At the top, we have to turn right or left.  Cole didn't seem to plan to do either direction.  We were headed straight for a tree.  I asked him to turn to the right.  Ever obedient, he did, but we were still going 100 miles per hour.  He made the turn, but I didn't.  He missed the tree, but I didn't.  I slid right off his side, into the tree and then to the ground.

As I was going through the air, the only thing I could think of was, "I can't believe this is happening, again."

I was immediately on my feet.  This time, I could feel the bruises, but I knew immediately that I wasn't seriously hurt.

Poor Kevin.  He was traumatized.  He finally stopped talking about the first fall.  He had a whole new fall to talk about.

Starry was far enough away that he barely reacted.  Dante saw Cole running up the bank, and he turned and trotted away a few steps away from him.

Ellen told me she heard a branch falling behind us.  I am so glad there was a reason for his behavior.  I didn't hear it, but Cole must have.  He may have even seen it with his amazing peripheral vision.  It may have even fell in the river.  Ellen didn't hear it fall.  I forgave him.  No one was seriously hurt.

Sometimes I go years without falling.  This is the third time this year.  Remember, we fell in the river earlier in the summer.  I hope I am done with it for a while.  Falling is just part of riding, though.  That is why I wear a helmet.

I hope I don't have anything to write about next month...