Sunday, December 22, 2013

All is merry and bright.

All is merry and bright. 

 Jingle all the way!

Day 65/66: 

This week both mares got lots of turned out time and lounging.  My daughter has started helping me 'carry' their buckets over to them once they are put away for the day.   Today was my day alone with them.  Time for some holiday pictures! Both mares tolerated the decorations well.


After taking the pictures, I offered to let a newer horse addict Linda walk and work with Ehawee in the horse course with Opal and myself.  We worked through each obstacle a few times before turning the girls out to kick up their heels.

 Working in the horse course.
Have a safe and happy holidays.  See you next year!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Its cold!

It's cold! 
California cold is still cold.
Can I have a carrot?

Day 63/64:

It is my least favorite season of the year.  Winter!  I was not built for cold.  Anything below 70 is cold to me.  Born and raised in Southern California until I moved to Northern California in my early 20's.  It's colder up here than where I grew up.  While I enjoy rain, I really don't care for the mess it makes at the barn.  We have pretty good drainage there, but still there's mud and muck.  I know we need the rain and snow, but I'm ready for summer.

Winter also brings more sick days.  My Daughter brings them home from school and  shares them with us, and we go back and forth and back and forth.  This year seems to be worse than previous years.  

The one good thing in my world about winter is this:  Frost kills the flies!  No more of those little jerks buzzing my face or my horses.

Opal is coming right along nicely.  Content to be turned out to kick up her heels when I'm too run down to do anything else.  We did have a first this week.  Happened twice actually.  Opal isn't a big talker.  I've only heard her whinny a few times away from home.  She greets me at the gate of her pasture with nudges and loves waiting to get out and play.  This week she called out for me when I walked through the gate!  Twice!!!  I spent a lot of time grooming her this week, keeping the knots out of her long mane.  She still loves kids and lets my daughter love on her all the time.  She's super fluffy and has stopped growing for now, and is beginning to bulk up again.  Time to get back in the tack!


Her hoof is nearly healed!  There's only about 1/8 of an inch left to get trimmed off next month.  Ehawee's feet grow so slow and keep up well that she gets a trim every 4 months versus every 2 months like most horses.  The farrier cleared her to lounge more days a week and for longer periods.  11 months of being off has it's side effects.  She's lost a lot of muscle tone and being in a pasture with other mares, she has also lost some weight.  There is more than enough food going into the pasture, she's just a slower eater.  

We had a few nights where we were in the 20's over night.  I know that's not as cold as some area's get in the winter, but Ehawee was put into a paddock for a month or two.  Several reasons went into this.  One reason was in a paddock I could give her alfalfa (our pasture is on grass only at the moment) and rice bran would get fed to her daily to help add weight.  Second reason is she could eat at her pace and eat all her food.  Third reason was I needed to blanket her.  I normally only blanket my mustang mares if its going to be near freezing and wet, but Ehawee needed help.   She has a good coat, but since losing some muscle tone and weight, she didn't have the extra bulk to to burn calories to keep her warm.  After nearly 2 weeks in there, I'm noticing substantial difference in her.  She's putting weight on nicely.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Back from Thanksgiving

Back from Thanksgiving 
My view for the week of Thanksgiving.

I spent the holiday week at my Grandparents in Oregon.  The live right on the river!  I had a very peaceful Thanksgiving and I hope you all did as well.

Day 62:

Since I was out of state for a week, my girls got turned out this week earlier this week to get their 'wiggles' out, and boy did they have them.  On top of running a few laps around the ranch, Opal stood up for herself.  She was quietly grazing on some scraps of hay when a gelding came up wanting her food.  Opal put her ears back, the gelding put his back, she stomped her foot, he stomped his, she bared her teeth, he did the same, then decided the hay wasn't worth the fight.  A few months ago she would have walked away, and she still does when it comes to the alpha mare in her herd.  

Today was trim day!  Opal's second trim since having her.  We trimmed her outside the round pen this time.  She did pretty well, except on one of her hind feet, she kicked out.  Not OK!  I quickly backed her up and moved her hind end and spent a few minutes keeping her out of my space.  She normally likes to be right next to me so having to stay away from me makes a big point to her.  Once she was standing quietly I invited back into my space, and had her go to the farrier.  She stood well the rest of the time.  Since it was her second trim job, I'm pleased.  

Ehawee's hoof is doing well.  The farrier filed it down, but she wasn't ready for a trim yet. Her feet grow pretty slow and steady so she gets trimmed about every 3-4 months, double the regular shoe/trim schedule.  She's got amazing feet. However, with as little that's left, he felt confident she could work more.  Which is a good thing.  This has been a 11 month road. 

Both mares are very fluffy entering California winter.  We've had lows of 28 the last few nights....brrrrr.  I'm not built for cold, but at least they are.

Winter fluff.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Mud Ponies

Mud Ponies! 
 Rain, Rain, go away.

Day 61:

Well, it's been a long week.  A few days of rain, followed by a few days of strong, and cold winds.  While I know we need the rain, I really am not a fan of the mess it makes.  However, it does provide me with an opportunity to work on large puddles of water since we are not within walking distance of a creek.  

My muddy ponies after 2 days of rain.

Before asking my horses to walk in the water, I walk through it myself to make sure the footing isn't too slippery, muddy, or deep.  I let Opal see the water and approach it at her own speed.  She had no hesitation following me through them.  We have more rain on the way later in the week, but with any luck, the parched ground will soak it up quickly.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rolling and Cyress Stables Desensitization Clinic

Rolling and Cypress Stables 
Desensitization Clinic
Looking for the right spot to roll.

Day 59:

I've been spending a lot of time with Opal in halter and at liberty (no halter, moving at her own will) working on rolling.  One reason I've been focusing on this was in Nevada she decided to roll with her western saddle on, not the safest thing to do.  The reason is for a horse to be willing to lay down next to you takes a lot of trust.  I've been giving Opal the 'ok' to roll by kneeling down in soft sand, a place she naturally loves to roll.  It didn't take her long to catch on.  Opal has not had a lot of riding this week, she's nearly leveled out again and will resume more ride time once she does.

A very happy mustang, rolling in the warm sand.

Day 60:

Today's adventure, a Desensitization clinic at Cypress Stables.  Cypress Stables is about 2 miles from Kickin' Back Ranch and is owned and operated by a good friend Tami Daniels, owner of a mustang named Ranger.  The clinic included several obstacles that might be found in trail classes, as well as a few 'scarier' ones.  We started out with a warm up in the small arena working on spacing and walking 2 wide, 3 wide, and 4 wide.  Opal was ok walking next to Gypsy, but once we went to a larger group and she had to walk with horses and not follow anyone.  She was a bit uncertain about this.  She did well for the first time, but I have some homework to do with her to help build her confidence more.  She's still young and has plenty of time to learn to become more confident in herself.  More miles to build more confidence.  

Once we were done in the small arena, we went into the covered arena where the 'scary' stuff was going on.  Most obstacles Opal was more than willing to do them.  The waterfall we had to walk next to once, then see another horse go through it before she would.  The road flare she wanted someone in front of her the first time, which was fine.  She tossed her head a little going by it the first time, but they make noise, are very bright, smell funny, and make smoke, so her reaction was completely understandable.  Her next several passes she did calmly and without head tossing.  While Opal has been over green tarps and carpets, the blue tarp caused her to give out several snorts and plant her feet.  With some reassurance from me, walking her around the tarp, and watching another horse go over it, she eventually did it as well.  The last obstacle was blanks being shot from a gun.  We started at the far opposite end of the arena and I was on the ground for this exercise.  After each round we walked the horses closer to the gun being fired if they were willing to get closer.  By the end Opal was about 5 feet away from the gun and standing fairly still.  She would flinch a bit with the first few shots, but by the end she would hear it and not react.  I'm so proud of her.

Tami was also kind enough to have her 2 horse straight load trailer hooked up to practice with.  Sometimes when you need a ride at the last minute, its not always the same trailer your horse is use to.  Practicing at home BEFORE an emergency situation makes for a more calm and quiet ending to a potentially emergency.  Opal loaded in like a horse that's been in a thousand trailers.

 Various shots from my phone during the clinic.

Opal and the flags. 

Opal and the blue tarp.

Opal and the wooden box.

Opal and the waterfall.

Opal and the car wash.

Opal and the gun shot.

We had several horses from our barn go with us as well.  Mustangs Sancho and Gypsy as well as Tesoro and Whiskey came for the fun.  Everyone did very well.  We all walked away with things to work with on our horses.  It was a great day and experiences for not only our horses, but us as well.  

These next pictures were taken by Fernando Mendoza and Yvette Mendoza.

  Warming up before working on the obstacles. 

  With riders and handlers remaining calm and working with their horses to slowly introduce the obstacles in the arena, each horse was eventually able to get close to or complete each one.  It is vital that when you and your mount are confronted with something that makes them uneasy that the rider or handler remain calm and focused on as safe of an experience as possible, even it that means dismounting and walking your mount.  This not only keeps everyone around you safe but also builds a stronger bond with you and your riding partner.

Gypsy went through the car wash the first time mounted.  She was very brave about it, but when the noodles touched her, she got scared and bolted forward causing Sarah to lose balance and fall to the ground.  Sarah and Gypsy were both ok, but  Sarah opted to walk her in hand the rest of the demonstration to build up Gypsy's confidence.  Sometimes you have to take a few steps back to go forward.  After lunch we approached the car wash again, but as a team of 3.  Sarah walked Gypsy up as far as Gypsy was comfortable.  I held the lead rope to help keep Gypsy at a safe speed if she got scared again while Sarah slowly asked Gypsy to move up.  We gave big phrase and love each step Gypsy took forward, no matter how small of a step.  If she backed up, we let her but didn't punish her or use harsh words.  Eventually she walked through it with Sarah both directions.

 Sarah, Gypsy, and Carolynn working on the car wash as a team.