Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Scooter update

Scooter had a vet appointment last Thursday. He had some vaccinations, his teeth done - they removed four caps, gum tissue attached and were generous enough to leave them for me in a plastic baggy - can you say yuck? And he had his sheath cleaned. That was a lot for the poor guy. I am sure that it is a day he would prefer to forget. I let him have a couple days off. Actually, I didn't want him associating me with any part of what they did to him on Thursday. I just write the checks. And I am sure it will be a whopper. Saturday I went out saddled him, took he and Lil to the indoor arena. Tied him outside while I worked Lil. He kicked, pawed and generally carried on like a complete ass the entire time. He kicks at the air. He bucks in place. He paws the ground like a fiend. I finished with Lil, tied her up and got him. He went right to work on the lunge line. Stayed with me the whole time. He is learning "whoa" on the lunge line very well. He doesn't pull on me. He keeps an ear on me and really pays attention. I worked him for about 30 minutes then took both of them back to the barn. He has had a bath before but never in a wash rack. He walked in and stood there like a gentleman. He wasn't too sure about the foamer. The warm water convinced him that this wasn't all that bad. It is funny how they melt into the warm water and just stand patiently. After his bath, I tied him to the fence to dry. Here we go again. Kicking the panels, digging a hole to China. I can't leave him because the barn owner gets annoyed when his stuff gets destroyed - rightfully so. I moved him into the barn and he continued his obnoxious behavior. Then I moved him to a tie out way over by the indoor. Nothing for him to kick, he can dig a hole or whatever. I left him there while I took care of Lil. I took my time, gave her a good bath, washed and conditioned her mane and tail, let her graze while she dried. All the while he was tied to the thinking post carrying on like a fool.

I was really frustrated when I left on Saturday. I was hoping to see some decrease in his behavior but I think it is escalating. I can't spend hours out at the barn while he works it out. I am worried that giving him an hour or two at a time is just ingraining this behavior. I skipped Sunday. Monday night I went out and got he and Lil and tied him to the thinking post while I rode. No big surprise. He carried on and on and on. When I was done with Lil, I lunged him and he went right to work. He is telling me that he wants a job and that he willing. My next step is to speak to the asst trainer and see if I can pay him to tie Scooter out and just leave him (but keep an eye on him). If he would tie him up at lunch I could be there by 5pm to untie him and put him away. Tonight I am going to put a snaffle bit on him over his halter and let him think on that while he is tied up.

Recap: he has been saddle 6 times and now stands tied while being saddled. Lunges without pulling and pays attention. Stops nicely when you say "whoa". Will yield his hind quarters, shoulders with very little pressure. He will flex both directions with little pressure. He could care less about the rope being around his legs, hind quarters etc. Showing a lot of try and willingness to please. Tying sucks. He gets a big fat F in tying.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Scooter

I profiled Scooter back in January. He is my little red horse. I moved Semper home for a much deserved break from stall life and moved Scooter to Semper's stall at SCR. Scooter is a thinker. And he thinks that this stall life is pretty special. At least so far. This is the first horse that I am doing my own ground work. I am going to try to make each lesson count and teach him something new every time we go out. If the ground work goes well I will continue to start him myself. I plan to keep journal of each lesson so I can look back and see where I screw up and what worked out well. I spent his second day there giving him a clip job because he looked so shaggy. About half way through I realized it was only the second time he had every been clipped and he had never had his legs done. But Mr. Thinker was standing quietly and just going with the flow. I took him to the arena to just move him around a little. He has never been lunged so I wasn't expecting much. He took to it like a duck to water. Like something he had been doing forever. A couple of times he took off towards the gate but with a quick correction he was back and working. One thing that I noticed... is with out that extra 125 lbs on my body, they can move me around a lot easier than they used to be able to. On Monday I put the saddle on him. This is the second time he has ever been saddled. The first time was just on a dare from my wonderful husband. Both times he has just accepted it without as much as a flinch. I walked he and Ms. Lily over to the arena and tied him to the wall. I started riding Lil and he decided to lay down. When he realized that wasn't going to work he got up and started kicking the wall and pawing the ground. I ignored him for awhile but it just got worse and worse. I decided that maybe I should have worked him first so I tied Lil up and got him. I spent 20 or 25 minutes lunging him and making him work. He has so much hair that he really gets sweaty easy and since I am only able to work with him at night I need to be careful just how overheated I get him. I don't want to be out there till midnight cooling him out. On the lunge line he didn't buck or fuss over the saddle, he had a couple moments of brattiness but came back around and did as he was asked. Recap of Monday night: Second saddling, second lunging - His overall grade for lesson #1 is a B. Tuesday night I saddled him and took him to the arena alone. He didn't fuss about being saddled or leaving Lil and his other stable mates. That is a plus. He went right to work on the lunge line. (I would love to work him in the round pen but we have had a lot of rain and it is dark outside by the time I get there and that makes the round pen off limits.) He went both directions, walk, trot, lope, no dragging me around, no bucking, a little head shaking but nothing a slight correction didn't fix. Next I worked on having him yield his hind quarters around. Then moving his front end around and flexing his head/neck with light pressure. I keep each lesson short and when he would get it right, we would stop and rest. He did a lot of licking and chewing and responded well to praise. We worked on "Whoa" on the lunge line. We also worked on just dealing with the rope being around his hind quarters and around his legs. He could have cared less. He stayed with me the entire time. Really focused on what I wanted and had a lot of try. Grade for lesson #2 is an A. One of the hurdles that I think that I am going to have is the standing tied with out fussing. He doesn't set back or pull, he paws and bucks in place and if there is a wall he will kick at it. He needs to stand tied for hours to learn patience and I can't be out there during the day to do that. I need to figure out a solution.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas and other ramblings

Last year I started out the Christmas season with a very bah-humbug attitude. Then during the holidays I realized that I really enjoyed spending time with family and friends. Over all I had great holiday. I keep going back and reading what I wrote last year and trying to put myself into the Christmas spirit. It isn't working. Maybe I am trying to hard. Or not hard enough. Or maybe it isn't something you can make happen at all. Maybe it is something that just comes over you like.... (I am trying to think of something classy to say here but the only thing that is coming to mind is the urge to go pee) like... when you jump into a swimming pool on a hot day and the water is cool and you are instantly refreshed, energized - (I was going to say "relieved" but it was to close to the going pee comment - maybe I should just give up on the classy thing?).

Our Wednesday night lessons are cancelled for the month of December so I will be on my own for awhile. I have gone up to work cows a couple of times recently. Ms Lily seems to be getting better every time we go. She definitely has an attitude when it comes to working cattle. She is going to be the boss come hell or high water and the sooner the cows understand that the better. She is such a little horse - heck I am not even sure she is a horse in the true sense of the word. I will measure her and get back to you on that. How many hands does she need to be to be officially a horse? 14? I am rambling. Any way... little horse with a huge attitude. Like she has short mans syndrome. I have fun, she is coming along and that makes it all worth it. The gentleman that I have been taking lessons from is quite the character. He and my husband always talk about politics, guns, ammo and hunting. One of the things I love about my husband it that he is a gentlemen - a man's man, respectful of his peers. Wait, that is more than one thing - but those are some of the things that I admire about him. When he is around men that are older than he is (and he ain't no spring chicken) he is respectful. I like that. I also like that he stops at the local coffee shop and buys me a sugar free, non fat, mocha with carmel and then stops at the mini mart on the way to the lesson and buys me Lays Potato chips. And to top it all off on the way home he always lets me stop at my favorite farm supply store and check out the new selection of boots, clothes and tack. He comes into the store with me but usually doesn't set foot into the ladies or tack departments. He just stands in the main aisle and watches from afar. Sometimes I ask him "Honey do you like this?" as I am holding up some random blouse and he will say "yes that is nice". If I had to guess what he is really thinking it would be... "If I just agree with her this will all be over soon and we can go home". I wish they had a sporting goods department and sold guns at the farm supply store. Then he would be very content there, like when we go to Cabelas. He would hold up a gun and say "Wow honey look at this" and I would say "yes that is nice"....but what I would really be thinking is "If I just agree with him this will all be over soon and we can go home".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crazy stunts

The other day on another blog that I follow regularly (Equestrian Ink) we started talking about silly things we do on horse back. As a kid, I did all kinds of foolishness on horse back. I rode standing up, backwards, side saddle, double - one facing frontward, one facing backwards and all these with and without a saddle. We towed tires around with people riding on them, we dragged anything and every thing we could move, rode bridle-less and/or with a string around the neck. We slid off the butts, jumped on the butts, hung around their neck, laid on the ground and let horses walk over us, laid under jumps and let them jump over us. We would make the horses and ponys buck, rear, run, slide, jump. They were ladders to reach plums, blackberries, and pomegranates when we could find them. We rode everywhere we had to go, traversed trails that mountain goats wouldn't have dared go over, swam in dredger ponds, rivers, and in the lake. We rode at daytime, night time, any time was the right time. All this foolishness made me a pretty decent rider.

Every once in a while I get a hankering to try one of these little stunts from my past. I like to ride bareback. I like to see if I can't get my riding buddy to engage in a trotting race. As I ride into the barn I grab on to the rafters and swing off the back of my horse, swing a little and drop. Semper has gotten so used to it he pauses under the rafter and waits to see if I am going to grab on, then takes three or four steps so I can come all the way off. He just waits patiently for me to drop down. The other day I got to swinging pretty good and then let go, well my leather soled boots were a little wet and my feet went out from underneath me and I landed square on my ass. I looked around to make sure that no one else had seen me and laughed at myself for my foolishness. I do limit my childish behavior to Semper.

I can't pick out any one particular thing that is zanier than the rest but I would love to hear your stories of things that you did in your wild and crazy youth. Do you think that foolishness made you a better rider? Do you ever feel like trying something that you know you shouldn't do but you want to anyway?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Before I forget

One of the reasons I started blogging was to chronicle my Wednesday night lessons so I could look back and review what I had learned. The other day I wanted to do a drill that I have done many times with TL and I couldn't for the life of me remember all the intricacies. I came back to my blog and looked to see if I had written it out and of course I hadn't. So tonight I asked TL to go over one more time and she was gracious enough to indulge me. Here it is.

Loping from one corner to the other, round the corner and lope down to the other corner (diagonally - think a rubber band). This gives you a little more distance then just loping straight across. Get a good cadence in the lope where the horse is relaxed and moving well. When you are going along nicely start to push your horse up in the bridle and then release. Make sure not to let the horse dive into the corners. Make sure that if the horse speeds up you make them slow back down by making a small circle until the pace is back where you want it. Continue to lope, and push into the bride, and release, make the corner, lope, push into the bridle, and release. When you are able to do this really smoothly you can ask to push the hip into the inside. Make sure that they are straight or a little bit arched to the inside when they are moving the hip to the inside. Ask for a step or two and release. Eventually you are going to ask for a lead change. After you move the hip to the inside you are going to take your outside leg off and put your inside leg on and ask for the change. If they change you let the fence stop them.

We also worked backing circles. I need to remember to release faster, keep the body arched to the direction I am pushing the hip towards keep the shoulder up. Use both moving the shoulder and the hip to achieve backing nice circles.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spoiled rotten

I am so spoiled. By my family, my friends, my employer but most of all by Semper. I swear this horse has ruined me. Spoiled me rotten. Let me explain. Semper is the kind of horse that says things like "What can I do to make you happy" & "whatever you want me to do, I'll try my hardest". He rarely has one of those moments that he thinks that it isn't worth his time to try. When you get after him he just melts. He is crushed. He is a pleaser.

Ms Lily on the other hand is a real piece of work. She has absolutely no attention span. No patience and a real "know it all" attitude. She can be going along just fine and then something will catch her attention and she shuts off quicker than a light switch. I have been riding her at least 4 days a week. I started out just doing simple things and not asking to much of her. Each ride I would expect a little more and basically I would get it. But what I noticed is that other things would fall apart. She would not want to lead. She would not want to back. She would not want to move off my leg. Things she knows how to do, but for some unknown reason would decide that today she didn't know how to get them done. She would complete whatever it was I was asking for but then not want to lead like a lady back to the barn. Or she would have done really nice leg yields at the first part of our ride and then all of a sudden - nothing. I was kind of letting it go thinking that it was just her loosing focus. Maybe it was too much for her all at once. I rode her in a lesson and she was doing really well two tracking and then just quit. She saw something shiny and she was gone. Got really pushy and just didn't want to work anymore. I ask her again to move off my leg and she just pushed me right back. I told her with a gentle bump of my spur "get over there" - again nothing. I jabbed her with my spur - nothing. Then I just went to town on her. I took my foot out of my stirrup and just kicked the crap out of her and she finally gave me one small step. I stopped and waited. Then gently asked again, then told her and she moved. I let her stop again and then gently asked again and she moved. She went the other way fine. Brain back on. The next night I wanted to take her for a walk to cool her off. She literally did not want to lead. She would drag behind, shake her head, and then when I asked her to put a move on it, she would run into me. I felt as though I was pulling a ton of bricks up hill. So here we go again. I went and got a lunge whip and asked her to stay with me. She ran into me again. Nothing infuriates me more than to have a horse run into me. And she knew exactly what she was doing. So she gets a lesson in leading that took about 20 minutes of my time to get her back to being lady like.

Here is the thing, she is an alpha female. She is very herd dominate and will fight for position when in the herd. I know that. With this horse I can never let any little thing go. Fix it right then and there. She doesn't give a darn if I am happy or not. All she cares about is if SHE is happy. She thinks she is the boss and when I let something go, I am reinforcing her belief that she is the boss. I hate these types of relationships. She is a tough little horse and she will take a lot before she says uncle. I leave the barn feeling like all I ever do is get after her. She is getting better with every ride, but because of the constant struggle with her I wasn't feeling successful. I hear TL in my head telling me "to ride the horse I am on" "raise your expectations" and "this is going to make you a better rider". I sure hope she is right. This constant battle of wills is tough. I wonder if she will ever concede that I am the boss and want to please or is this just how our relationship is going to be?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Show of Champions

When I went to the first reining show at SCR where I board the show secretary asked me if I wanted to go to the Show of Champions in Oct. I asked her what the deal was and she said that CA State Horsemens Assn. hosts a final show every year where the top 10 riders in each discipline qualify for this special show with lots of prizes etc. Being as it was my first year I told her that I didn't think that I would need to worry about going. She said that there weren't going to be 10 reiners from our district and so she was sure that if I wanted to go, I would qualify. O.K. then. It was an extra $25 bucks so I paid it and went on about my merry business. I figured what the heck, if I qualified, I did, and if not it was a $25 donation to a worth while group. In August I got a package with all the info and entries for the "Show of Champions" (SOC). I looked at it and put it away for another couple of weeks to mull it over. It was at a very nice, very large facility about an hour and a half away from home. The reining was on Friday night at 6pm so it was totally doable for me. I decided to go. I got the stuff out and started to fill out the forms but the class list was missing out of my package. I called the show secretary and she sent one over to me and suggested that I call my area representative. I called a very nice and informative lady named Lisa and she walked me through all the forms and classes. She said that this was the first year they were offering Performance Halter and that I should entry. I haven't shown halter in years. Like 30 years. But again, it was $25 and it was for a good cause and in August is seemed like a good plan.

Last Thursday I went out to the barn washed Semp and fitted him as best as I knew how. Friday morning we load all my stuff and we are off. We get down to the venue and the first of the performance halter classes is being called. They had so many horses entered that they broke it into age groups (by exhibitor). I would be in the last of 5 classes - 35 and older. I am o.k. with that. How many old timers could there be right? I start to panic and get butterflies while watching the 14 - 17 year olds. Man are these kids good. And the quality of horses is pretty amazing. 18 - 35 just got tougher. Now I am thinking I should scratch. My husband and daughter coaxed me into "just doin' it". I am still thinking it is going to be a small class. There were 20. The cute little butterflies in my stomach had now become fire breathing dragons tap dancing on my intestines. I waited to be the last horse in the ring. I knew Semp was never going to stand patiently for any length of time. He wouldn't be bad but he would gawk around and nibble on my shirt or want to smell me or something equally as ridiculous. He decides that the chain on my lead made a nice sound if he hit it with his chin - repeatedly - over and over and over. The more noise it made the faster his head would bounce. It was annoying to say the least. The judge comes by and I swear she snickered. I was doomed. I knew that conformationally he is correct. He has nice movement and he kind of looks like a halter horse. I kept telling myself that as long as I didn't go to the bottom of the class I would survive this humiliation. They called first place and it was a really nice young paint horse. They called second place and it was Semper! Go figure. He redeemed himself of the entire chain lipping, banging incident and made me proud.

We had a hour or so wait till our reining classes. I had decided that no matter what I was going to pamper the crap out of this horse at this show to see if it made a difference in his behavior. Boy did it ever. He is such an attention whore. He got treats all day, my daughter brushed and loved on him all day. I even caught my husband loving on him a little. I let him smell me, and nose me, and rub on me and make some new friends. I let every little kid, grandma and dog within a 1 mile radius love on him. He was in heaven. When the time came to do our first pattern he was ready to go. He probably thought that all those people in the stands were there to see him. He tried really hard and did a nice job. We had trouble with our stops but everything else flowed nicely and he wasn't pushy or cranky. We ran three patterns and got third all three times. And yes, there were more than 3 in the classes! I was happy with the way the day went and had a great time. After my last run we loaded up and headed home. Fifteen minutes in to our drive home a friend called me and says "hey where are you? you won a buckle!". Won what? He said that I had won reserve or champion or something. HUH??? No way. Another lady had won two of the classes and placed 2nd in another - how could I have won anything? Welllll..... folks, it was that halter class. She showed in it but didn't place. The points from the halter class put us ahead of her by one point for the 18 and over SOC Reining Champion. I have mixed emotions about winning based on the point system and not on the reining alone. I am very proud of Semper and myself (remember those fire breathing dragons in my gut)for doing so well over all. But I don't want to slight another rider who clearly kicked my butt in the reining! She was a great rider and was truly the "reining" champion.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Art

Disclaimer: I am in no way a art aficionado. I never took an art class or art appreciation class. I never paid any attention to anyone that had a clue about art. I can't tell one style or artist from another. But I like what I like. So I am going to share with you my latest purchase.





http://doremanburns.com/

I love the colors in his work. I bought "Between Rides" and "What a Day". I took them to the local Arons Frames and had them matted and framed. I love, love, love them.

When I was at Arons the young man that was helping me said that he liked the movement in the strings on the ladies pants. O.k. he was obviously not a cowboy. I smiled and said that that was fringe on her chaps. I really didn't see what he was talking about but he was a little different, if you get my drift. Perfect man for the job none the less. Very creative and he (unlike me) understood color. He was very helpful in picking out the matting. So when selecting the matting for the print of the pants with moving strings; he turned the print to how he thought it was supposed to be hanging on the wall. But he had it sideways. He realized it when he saw the artists signature going the wrong direction. What I saw was the movenment in the fringe. Go figure.

See what I am talking about?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Update on the bad dogs.

So you know how I said the BT's will probably do it again. Boy did I call that one! I just didn't think it would be so soon. Little suckers did it again the very next day! This time I banished them outside and ignored them. For HOURS. This is the first time I have ever made them stay outside. They have a doggie door that they use to go in and out at will. It isn't like it was a tough punishment, it was like 70 degrees outside and they had food and water. They thought they were dying. Absolutely pouting about it. I would have left them out all night because I was steamed, but my husband took pity on them and let them in at about 11pm. I can't wait to see what they have done today. :(

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The lost dog and my BT'S

We still haven't found our daughters dog. We have come to the conclusion that someone must have picked him up. He is a really cute Brittany Spaniel and very smart. A little hyperactive and ADD.
I have been impressed with my daughters vigilance in finding this dog! She has sent at least 50 flyers out to vets, animal shelters, businesses etc. She has posted, and reposted his information on Facebook. She has called the pet chip people, vets offices, animal control, and put ads in 4 or 5 local papers. She has searched for him out in the rice fields for days. We even have a family friend that took her up in his plane for over an hour to look for him. It was like he was abducted by aliens. He is no where to be found. I have my fingers crossed that he will show up or if someone has him the will do they right thing and turn him in.


That brings me to my dogs. I have two Boston Terrors.

Bubba
This dog is really handsome for a Boston, but he is dumb, dumb, dumb. I love him bunches. He is like a little mentally handicapped kid. You just have to love him.


Roxie

She is the queen bee. The alpha female. If she were a human, she would be a female WWF Wrestler.




And no, that is not a typo. I meant to say Terrors. Last night I came home and they weren't at the door like normal. They greet me every night. Flat noses pushed up against the glass on the door dancing like little fools waiting for me to come in. But not last night. Bubba the very handsome, but brainless male was hiding under the coffee table and Roxie the not so attractive alpha female was no where to be seen. As I walked into the house I called out to her and found she was cowering under the dining room table. As I round the corner into the kitchen, I see it. They had a busy day in the kitchen dumping over the garbage can, spreading garbage all over the kitchen. Not only that, they had been on the counter and ate the last piece of German Chocolate cake I made on Monday. Both of their dinner bowls still had breakfast in them - untouched. I don't know if I was more annoyed that they did it or that they knew what they did was wrong. Now I know that people say dogs can't comprehend things like right and wrong and if you can't punish them within seconds of the misdeed, they don't understand why you are punishing them. I call bullshit! Those little bugggers knew exactly what they did wrong. They knew before I got home they were going to be in trouble. If I raise my voice they know they are in trouble. You don't have to spank them or anything just change your body language and tone of voice and they get it. And I swear I can give Roxie a look and she just knows. So I had a fit, yelled, called them names while I cleaned up the mess. I stomped around cursing and asking them WHY, WHY, WHY did they do this. They both hid out the whole time refusing to even look at me. Later on that evening as we sat down to eat, they slinked out to take up their dinner time begging position at my feet. I was still mad at them. I banished them back to the front room and they went! They never go when you tell them to. They usually put their ears up and cock their heads as if to say "you don't really mean it, we are too cute" and let them stay. But last night I only had to tell them once and they slinked right back into the front room. Later Bubba came in and jumped up on my bed and I banished him again. And he went! He never goes. He usually lays down and rolls over on his back like he is playing dead dog. You can not tell me that they didn't know they had made a huge mistake. OOOHHHHH they knew. Does this mean that they won't tip over the garbage can ever again, probably not. I am just thankful that they didn't throw up German Chocolate cake all over the place. It was really good German Chocolate cake too. Darn those dogs.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ms Lily



Introducing "Picka Tiger Lily" aka "Ms Lily"


(Sorry about the picture quality. I took them by myself with my Iphone. FYI... That saddle is the saddle that my mom bought me for my 12th or 13th birthday. It is the only one that I own that fits her short little back. I hadn't ridden in it for years because my backside was way to big but if fits pretty darn good now! )

Ms Lily is the second foal from my bay mare "Picka Irish Rose" or "Rosie" as we like to call her. She is half of the "twisted sisters" at our place. Lily's daddy is "His Steadfast Heart" or "Joe" (his barn name) - rope horse deluxe!





"His Steadfast Heart"

Isn't he just amazing? I love his temperment, his conformation is near perfect, he has and continues to prove himself in the showpen, and he is a gorgeous color , what more could you ask for?

I had two Joe babies, her and her full brother. Her full brother is JoJo and boy is he a looker. He is a light buckskin with a long, long mane and tail. He has that roan frosting on his mane and tail that makes him look even more striking. The thing with these two horses is that they are small. Like pony sized. I was pony sized too. Not good for a pony to be riding a pony. I traded JoJo to a trainer for a filly that I hope will have a little more size to her and will make a nice working cowhorse. He has gone on to do very well with JoJo and won a buckle in reining this summer. He has nothing but good things to say about him. I just can't help being proud. He was mine for 3 years and I feel like I gave him a good beginning.

But now that I have lost weight, I don't feel that I am too pony sized to ride Ms Lily. I am not even miniture horse sized! Whoopie. I am healthy human sized and Ms Lily has no problem packing me around.

I moved Lily to the boarding facility last Friday so that I could ride her this winter and hopefully someday start showing her in working cowhorse. For now she is going to lope a lot of circles and work on the basics. She is so smooth and willing. She is really quick on her feet and her movement is completely different than Sempers. I love riding her. I love that she is green and I do get a sense of accomplishment when I feel that I have taught her something. The downside of this is that now I have two horses to ride at the boarding facility. No fooling around now.

Monday, August 30, 2010

We are not ready to be grandparents.

We lost our daughters dog this weekend. We were dog sitting and my husband and I thought it would be a good idea for him to take the dog to the ranch and let him run. Not a good plan. At all. He jumped out of the truck and was off never to be seen again. Everyone we know is looking for him so hopefully we will find him. He is chipped(not with a GPS chip - do they even do that?)has his chip tag and has his rabies tag on. He is a bird dog and I imagine that he is still chasing birds. The dog is absolutley over the top about chasing birds. I keep thinking he is going to get hungry pretty soon and find some nice humans to feed him and hopefully they will do the right thing and turn him in to the local animal shelter or call the number on his chip tag.

I had been visiting with a friend on Saturday - the day before we lost the dog - and I was telling her how I wasn't ready to be a grandmother. One reason I am not ready is because none of my children are married. That really needs to come first in my book. And since none of them are even close to getting married - none of them are even dating anyone seriously - I think I am safe for the time being. As long as they don't ask me to watch their pets. Ugh.

When the time comes I really do want to embrace the grandparent thing. Right now it makes me shudder a little. Like taking that nasty cough medicine with expectorant.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Working Cows & Peanut

I have been taking some lessons from an older gentleman trainer on working cows. I take Semper and Miss Lily, first I ride Semper then I ride Miss Lily. Semper is coming along but Miss Lily is really getting it! I am pleased with her progress in only 2 lessons. She just gets it. That brings me to a dilemma. The more cow stuff I do with Semper the heavier and more pushy he is getting. I can't figure out whether he likes the cow work or if he is just completely annoyed by it. Do I just concentrate on reining with him and use Miss Lily to do the working cow horse stuff with? Do I continue to work cows with him and just "raise my expectations" as TL is always drilling into my head? Is it enough that at the ripe old age of 11 he is where he is and that should be good enough? Or should I expect him to continue learning new stuff constantly? When do you say "this is enough for this horse"?

I have a colt that I call Peanut. Peanut is 3 and at least a solid 15 hands. He is a big bodied colt and has a huge motor. Peanut got his name because when he was a little fellow he always had his penis dangling. Always. I even thought he might have something wrong with him and he couldn't control it because he always had it hanging low. I took to calling him "penis wrinkle". I know that sounds disgusting and inappropriate but it just kind of stuck. One day while I was at the ranch several of my great nieces and nephews where there and they asked what his name was. I started to say "penis wrinkle" and got about half into "peeeee" and I realized just how bad that would have sounded coming out of a 5 year holds mouth and I quickly changed, mid stream and said "peeeeeanut". Fast thinking on my part.

I sent Peanut to a trainer (not TL) for 90 days a year ago and it was a disaster. I took him home put him out to pasture and hoped he would forget his first encounter in becoming a saddle horse. I rode him once while he was with the trainer but the poor thing hadn't a clue. I was super disappointed and annoyed. This spring I brought him home with the intentions of riding him several times a week. Good intentions but no follow through. A few weeks ago I got on him and had my husband lead me around just to feel him out to see what he was thinking or if he was thinking. He was really quiet and willing so hubby let him go and I walked around the pasture for about 20 minutes. He was fine but just didn't have a clue as to what I wanted from him. I got home from work on Tuesday and for some reason decided that today was the day that I was going to take him for a ride. I saddled him, lead him up the street to the field where my good friend Ruth and I have been riding once a week. She has a really nice TWH that is a great trail horse and very quiet. I lunged Peanut, got his mind around working and got on. He was great! He walked out really nice, his guide is non existence but he is easily corrected and responds quickly. His feet do get stuck to the ground and he doesn't want to go forward but with some coaxing - ok alot of coaxing - he starts moving again. He didn't spook at anything which I was hoping (and dreading at the same time) that he might. I wanted to see if he was a "spook and buck" or a "spook and run" or a "spook and stall" kind of horse. He is saving that lesson for me for another day. Having Ruth and Briscoe there made both Peanut and I relaxed. I think he may be my Tuesday night horse!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Update on my weight loss and the episodes

Quick recap. I had weight loss surgery in June 2009 - poster girl for weight loss surgery. I came through it with flying colors, made good choices, lost weight, felt great.

Surgery number two was colic surgery in March 2010. Ouch that was some seriously painfully stuff, came through surgery great but things didn't quite heal the way they were supposed to.

Surgery number three was to fix what didn't heal right in surgery number two.

For a woman who is never sick or goes to the doctor I have done more than my share this year. At my loswest weight I was 123 lbs. I have been told that my skin color was bad, that I was pale and looked pretty sick. I never really felt like I was seriously ill. I have never been seriously ill, so how was I supposed to know that is what it felt like? I knew I was thin and the throwing up thing was beyond uncomfortable but I never really felt like I was THAT sick. It was more of an inconvinence than anything.

I am back and feeling great. My strength is back, my color is back, I am sleeping good, eating good, life is good! I went to my doctor and he is happy with where I am at. He did say that I could gain a few pounds and I would look a little better but health wise, I am doing great. My weight loss goal was 150 and right now I am at 130. I have never thought that the numbers or the way you look matters. It is how you feel. I have a ton on energy, my riding is better, getting on and off is so much easier for me and the horse! Moving is so much easier, moving fast is much, much easier. Walking, shopping, etc is fun now. I used to hate shopping, walking the mall or trying on clothes. Even though they would fit, it was a pain. I still am not excited about shopping, I would rather go to a tack shop than a dress shop, but it isn't as bad as it used to be. Even after all the ups and downs I would still do it again. My only regret it that I didn't do it sooner.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Clinics

Last weekend I went to a one day clinic with Tom Neel (TN). He is a trainer out of Texas and was in CA to judge a versatility class at our state fair. The clinic was located in the Napa Valley - Wine Country - about 3 hours from home. The last couple of events I have gone to, my husband has come along. The first few because I was still having trouble throwing my saddle up on my horse - how pathetic is that? These last few because I think he is enjoying himself. At least I would rather think that he is enjoying himself than going along out of some sense of misguided pity. My husband is much more social than I am. I talk way more than he does. How does that work out? He isn't much for chit chat, but when in a situation with strangers he is always the one that strikes up the conversation and gets it rolling. Then he sits back and doesn't say much. When my friends and I are together, he just sits back and listens. They all think he is mute. More on my overly social to strangers, muted to everyone else husband later. He really is a paradox.

Back to the clinic - First off it was supposed to be 106 degrees at home on Sunday. At 8 am at the clinic it was 57 degree. Mr Semper thought the weather was wonderful for riding and was full of himself. Of course that only lasted about 5 minutes then he was ready to go back to his stall and finish his breakfast. The first thing we worked on was lead changes. Semper has his changes down but sometimes he has some issues with kicking out and diving in. I chose to work on the diving in part. TN says that he does practice lead changes in the middle. Not all the time but he does work them in the middle. His thought process was that they need to wait to be asked and schooling changes in the middle gives you an opportunity to change or not change and gets them to wait for you to ask. To fix the diving in he said lope the circle ask for the change and then lope straight to the center marker at the rail and stop. Don't go either direction. Just let the fence stop him. That did work but I'm unsure if this is going to make Mr. Anticipation worry about changing leads every time we go through the center. Everything is good in small doses. So I need to remember to do things different every time. Not every other time, but EVERY TIME!. I'll show you Mr Anticipation - if I can think that fast. While working on the changes Semper was getting a little pushy. TN had me (while loping) pick up on his face, pull his face towards my knee and yield his hind quarters around - pretty forcefully, then push him back out and lope again. After a couple of times of this Mr. Pushy got a lot lighter. I have used that trick several times this week since I have been home and it is making him lighter and lighter. After lunch we worked on the turn arounds and the dreaded stops. Our turnarounds are not bad we need to work on starting them from a stand still but overall the are pretty good. We did a few and TN had a couple of suggestions about how I asked for the turn around. I tried his suggestions and they worked out fine. I could hear TL (trainer lady) in my head saying "raise your expectations" and basically that is what TN was saying out loud.

The dreaded stops. It is all about the run down. I think that I have determined that is where the problems start. TN had me do the same drill and TL. Both had said not to focus on the stop itself. They are getting better and Semper is relaxing in the run down. I normally don't ride "in" my stirrups, meaning that I don't put weight in my stirrups leaving me able to move my legs and feet easily. For some reason riding with TN he kept having to remind me to bend my legs. I was stiff and bracing in my stirrups. His comment was "you can't use your legs if your knee isn't bent". I was also riding very forward. Again, not something that I normally do. I don't know if it was nerves or what. After we did the drill for the stops and got Semper relaxed in the run downs we quit - no stopping at all. Next we went to work the cutting dummy. I have a story about Semper and the cutting dummy I want to share but I will save it for another post. He is absolutely scared to death of the cutting dummy. He thinks it is the devil and blows, snorts and won't go within 10 feet of the thing. We hadn't been close to one in months so I wanted to see if he was over his completely irrational phobia of it. NOPE he wasn't. The good thing was that with all the snorting and carrying on he has a ton of energy to direct. His turns are complete, he watches it like it is a man eating tiger. He rates it well because God forbid that it gets behind him, it might eat him up. As we are working the dummy, TN stops me and says "you are riding better than you have all day, you are using your legs better, your seat is better, you are more relaxed, what gives?" I have given what he said a lot of thought and the only thing that I can figure is that when I was working the dummy I let my nervous, over thinking brain shut off and let instincts take over. I wasn't conscientiously making a decision to ride better or different, it was just me riding, focused on the dummy, trying to stay in the center of a rapidly moving bundle of muscle and nerves. Staying on a big motored horse when they start really moving it is like sitting on the wing of a jet airplane when it is taking off. He has power and sped to burn. Lots of G-force. At my Wednesday night lesson I was telling TL about my experience and she said "you don't usually ride like that". Later on when we were going to work stops, I started the drill that we have been working and found myself getting all bracey and leaning forward. hmmmmm.... Maybe the stopping problem is my nervous over thinking brain... not the horse or the run down. It all starts with me. I sat back and tried to focus on being relaxed. Of course as soon as I relaxed, so did Semper. He rated well, he loped straight, didn't try to anticipate, and all in all did a really nice job doing the run downs. Again, we didn't really practice stopping. But when I did ask for the stop, it was boat loads better that anything we have done in recent months. I am still working on it but feel like I am moving forward again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

McArthur

Last weekend I went to a working cowhorse show in McArthur. McArthur is a small mountain community about 3 hours from home. McArther doesn't have a hotel or motel so we stayed in Fall River. McArthur and Fall River are about 5 miles apart and what one doesn't have the other one does. Fall River is a little bigger but has the same small community feel to it. They are the kind of places that feel like time has stood still. It made me feel like I did when I was a kid and went downtown in my home town. One grocery store, a couple of stop lights, fair grounds, a cafe, no McDonalds, no Burger Kings, no 7-11's. Just nice welcoming people with family businesses. I was ready to move there. Then I remembered. It snows there. Not a whole lot but enough for me to rethink calling the U-Haul moving vans.

We pulled in on Friday afternoon. Several of the club members were sitting out by their trailers telling cowboy stories, laughing and talking. We visited for a minute then asked where we should put Semp for the night. They directed us to a pen and showed us a place to park. We unhooked the trailer and went in search of our hotel. We came back to check on Semp and feed before we called it a night. One of the draw backs of small towns is the quality of hotels or motels. I like a nice room with a good bed. I don't sleep well in a hotel anyway and when you get a room with poor beds and lack of air it makes it near unbearable. This room wasn't too bad but the air conditioning was really loud - like a generator. Really loud. But it did cool the room down. You know what else was loud? My husbands snoring. Yes folks, he snored all night long. It too was unbearable. I thought about putting a pillow over his face so it would muffle his snoring but he might also stop breathing - yikes! I think that the pressure was getting to me.

Saturday morning came around and we got up and off to an early start. Fed Semp and then went to the local cafe and had breakfast. It was a "greasy spoon" kind of place. Taxidermied animals hanging on the walls, a philodendron that went all the way around the place but the leaves showed it definitely wasn't getting enough water - how could it, it was a half mile to the last leaf! Tables set up to accommodate large parties in the middle of the room and then booths against the walls. The food was good, the waitresses were friendly and the locals were there to liven the place up.

I was showing in two classes each day. The first was a stock horse class. The weather was supposed to be warm and sunny. They had thunder storms and a little rain on Friday night. In the shade it wasn't too bad, a nice breeze was blowing through and it was comfortable, but in the sun it was hot. We did some of our warm up in the outdoor arena while they were doing the herdwork classes and some in the indoor. The footing in the indoor was deep. Mr. Semp hates deep footing. He let me know right away that the footing was unacceptable, but it was what it was and he dealt with it for the duration of our warm up. Besides it was a lot cooler inside than it was outside. Their were 7 riders in our stock horse class and I was 4th to ride. We marked a 68.5. The score was generous. The circles were great, the transitions and lead changes were good, the turnarounds were o.k. and the stops sucked. I bet you saw that one coming. The first two were his usual "hop, skip and slide" stops but the last one... I asked for "whoa" and nothing. He just kept right on going. So I asked again and had to pull him to a stop. It wasn't pretty. Each time as he started the run down, he would get pushy, his head would go up, his back would hollow and he/we would forget everything we had practiced. Did I mention that Bobby Ingersol was the judge. Not something that you want to have happen in front of an industry icon. The next class was the Limited Cowhorse Class. 5 riders. I was 2nd to the last to go. It was the same pattern as the Stock horse class and we rode it about the same. Not bad, but not great either. Stops were about the same. The cow work was a different story. I don't think that Mr. Semp even realized we were working a cow till about 30 seconds into a 50 second ride. Not good. He was behaving and doing what I asked but he wasn't watching the cow. He was looking around and checking out the other horses and the cows on the other side of the fence. I marked a score of 66 and when I looked at the score card we got a minus in "eye appeal". After a long hot day of showing and waiting and showing we went to a potluck that the club sponsored. The club members are so nice and welcoming. They cooked tri-tip and everyone brought something. People talked, laughed and relaxed. It was a perfect evening.

If my husband snored much on Saturday night, I didn't hear it. I went to bed and sleep came fast and sound. Sunday I was showing the same two classes but to a different judge. Again the first class was the stock horse class and we marked a 67.5 - another very generous score. How is it that when you are riding that you know every mistake you make? If I had scored myself, it would have been a 63 or 64 at best. It was the stops that submarined me again. By the time that the limited class came around, Semp was cranky. His white nose was sunburned, he was tired, hot and generally in a really foul mood. He is a funny horse that way. He wears his attitude like a beacon flashing on his forehead. I chose not to do a lot of warm up for the last class and was just going to school him through it. The pattern started off really good. The first two stops weren't too bad but the last one - going towards the gate was awful. Mr Cranky Pants was headed for the barn and he wasn't stopping to pass go or collect two hundred dollars! After I pulled him into the ground, got after him for not stopping, then asked him to turn around and go back to do the cow work, he was beyond pissy. His nose was wrinkled(which makes he teeth show), his ears were penned back and he was moving like a slug. This time he went to the cow and went to work. Almost daring the cow to move. He was tired and didn't want to have to work that hard so Mr Cow was going to do what he said when he said it. It was almost comical until the cow snaked him. He took off after the cow like a F14 fighter jet, of course the cow stopped and turned and Semp was pushing so hard that he got way to far in front and I had to pull him into the ground again and get him back on the cow. Thank goodness you only have to work the cow for 50 seconds. He walked out of the arena with is ears back and nose wrinkled, teeth showing - not a pretty sight. I haven't seen the score cards for the cow work but I think that the eye appeal was probably a minus again.

Things to remember for next time are to pamper him a little more through out the day. He needs to be stalled in the down time if possible. I watered him often and he was in the shade but he was out in the wind and watching all the goings on. Maybe to much for his little walnut sized brain to process. He was like a cranky two year old child that had too much visual stimulation.

Practice stops, stops, and more stops. Practice the run down to the stop, practice, practice, practice. At our lesson on Wednesday we just worked on the run down. That seems to be where all the trouble begins. He puts his head up, hollows out his back, he gets scotchy, he wants to pickup speed before I ask, etc. I worked on the run down again last night. Just want to get him to relax and wait for me to ask him for speed and stop.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The glass half full....

I used to have a neighbor lady that looked at the world as "The glass is half full". Her tires on her car got slashed in her driveway and her response was "I'm just glad no one got hurt". She saw the good in everyone and everything she did. She didn't gossip, she didn't use foul language, she never spoke ill of people. She was one amazing lady. She has since passed away and I have thought of her often and wished that I was wired a little more like she was.

In the last 8 weeks life has thrown me some curves and I have tried to think of the glass half full theory. So here it goes. I have had 3 surgeries in 1 year, I am just thankful that it wasn't 4 and that my health is coming back rapidly. I missed going to a few horse shows that I wanted to go to. I did get to go to some awesome shows and see my friends and I did win a buckle for the "dumber than dirt" (green as grass) class.

When the Dr. told me that I was going to have to have another surgery - 8 weeks after my colic surgery - I thought I was going to have a major melt down. I had so many plans. And surgery wasn't one of them. In the car on the way home I had an epiphany. I was thinking of all the things I was going to have to miss, what was my employer going to say, who was going to ride my horse, etc. Then I thought of something my older brother used to say. (I am not a religious person at all, don't go to church, don't pray, don't say grace unless I am at someone else's home. I do believe in a God, just not sure about all the details.) He used to say "give it over to your higher power" - I think it is something he learned going to Overeaters Anon or AA or NA. So in the car, I said o.k. here it is, I can't control it, I can't stop it, I can't ignore it, it is what it is and I will get through it - lord willing and the creek don't rise. Another saying from my older brother. It was at the moment that my body relaxed, my mind cleared and accepted what was going to take place. Later I thought to myself that the mind is a powerful thing and if just letting go of some of the nebulous bullshit we carry around can make things so clear - maybe this was the glass half full lesson I was supposed to get. I have a great family, great friends, great horses, a good job, a nice life, good doctors, good medical insurance (thank goodness)and so many other positive things in my life. Why dwell on the negative? The glass is definitely half full.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I wonder if Ruth remembers???

I wrote this for mouthy mondays on mugwump chronicles about an endurance ride my dear friend Ruth and I did years ago... I wonder if she remembers it like I did?


I must have been about 14 and my favorite riding buddy at the time was 12. We found a flyer for an endurance ride at the local feed store. It was over the same trails we rode almost every weekend. We just knew we were going to be a shoo-in to win this ride. We had no idea what the ride entailed or what endurance rides were all about, we just knew that our horses knew those trails and were in excellent physical shape. We were giddy and excited about our big find and made a pact not to tell the rest of our little group so we wouldn’t have so much competition.

The ride started way out on the outskirts of town instead of at the trail head. It only added a few miles onto the ride itself but since we didn’t have a horse trailer it would add a good 5 miles to our ride. But we figured that if we just rode more and more on the days leading up to the ride and really kept our horses in tip top shape we could do it. So we planned, rode and did everything a couple of teenage girls could dream up to get in shape for the big event. We made sure our horses were shod two weeks prior, we each bought some light weight saddle bags to carry our food and drinks in and of course we talked about what to wear.

So the big day comes, we get up, are saddled and ready to go by 3:30am. The ride started at 8:00 am but we wanted to be there in time to let the horses rest for a while before we actually took off on the ride. It was dark outside when we took off down the rode. We figured that the fastest, shortest way to get to the starting point was to go down the main drag through town. It was a large four lane boulevard, shouldn’t be too busy at 4am and after all there were plenty of stoplights. Finally we get down to the freeway, (yes I said freeway) and we decide that the safest place to ride on a major freeway is in the median or middle. Heck is was all nice and level, with sand and gravel. The horses didn’t seem to care about the traffic and it was getting light outside. You know how when you think about how far someplace is you always think that it is less than it actually is? Well we rode on the freeway for quite awhile when our friendly local Highway Patrol officer pulled off in front of us. He was a little more than annoyed with us. The conversation went something like this… Officer: “Girls what are you doing riding on the freeway, don’t you know it is illegal to ride horses on the freeway?” Us: (scared half to death) “No sir, we are on our way to an endurance ride that starts at the Garden Drive exit.” Officer: “You didn’t see the sign on the on ramp that says BICYCLIST AND EQUESTRIANS PROHIBITIED?” Us: “No Sir, it was dark when we came on to the freeway.” I thought his head was going to explode. We were quiet as church mice as he stood there scratching his head. I am sure he was trying to figure out how to get us off the freeway in short order. Then he says “Do you know I can site you for riding your horses on the freeway? Do your parents know you are out here?”

We both start to bawl. Site us, tell our parents, we were dead. Of course no one had bothered to ask us how we intended to get to the big ride and we definitely knew better than to volunteer that information. He finally tells for us to get to the Garden Drive exit as fast as we can and to NEVER, EVER, pull a stunt like this again. We wipe the tears away and thank him a million times over and start back out on our journey.

We had lost time and he expected us to hurry so we start long trotting to the exit. As we approach the exit we are sure we are late and that everyone has left without us. No one was there. No horse trailers, no horses, nothing. We get our maps and entry material out and we start to look at them. Upon closer examination we realize that the ride doesn’t start here. This is the directions for people trailering into town to get to the trail head where the ride is supposed to start. DUH. We have ridden 5 miles out of our way and have to ride 5 miles back to the trail head. And in a hurry to even make it to the event on time.

Obviously, we can’t go back down the freeway. We have to ride the back roads. We chose not to take this route because is has a long, very narrow, two lane bridge high over the river. We had crossed it before but it was not horse friendly. A couple of months before a horse had been crossing it and had spooked, jumped over the railing and died. We vowed that we would never cross it again, but here we were, it was either the freeway or the bridge. We decided to take our chances on the bridge. We didn’t use the pedestrian walkway and led the horses right down the middle of the road stopping morning traffic. We made it across the bridge o.k. but at the end of the bridge is one of our local police officers. The conversation was very similar to the one we had with the Highway Patrol officer. He didn’t threaten to site us or call our parents but it was uncomfortable none the less. After a good 5 minute lecture on not riding in places that were not safe he let us go on our way.

By this time we were really late. We had another couple of miles to go before we got to the trail head. So we start long trotting to get there. We finally arrive at the trail head and the check-in staff looked at our horses like what the hell have these two been up to? When I got the look, I knew right away they thought we were idiots. We told our whole sorted story and they must have thought we were the stupidest kids on earth. They checked over our horses and released us to go. By the time we got to the end of the ride, our horses were tired and sweaty and so were we. They had traveled a good 8 to 10 miles further than any other horse there. And we still had to ride home. The actual endurance riders pointed and whispered. People that we knew pointed and whispered. It was embarrassing. The vet checked our horses and very nicely asked us what happened. We regaled the whole tragic story. Tears and all. He told us that even though our horses were tired and that they could use a drink, they were probably in better physical shape that most of the horses he had seen that day. I don’t know if he meant it or he just felt sorry for us. He told us to take the ride home slow and give them a good dinner and lots of fresh water and try again next year.

That was my first and last endurance ride. I have never felt like such a loser horse owner as I did that day. I never wanted to feel people looking at me or my horse that way ever again.

It was also proof positive that a horse will give you 110% of everything they have – and then some.

Friday, May 7, 2010

psst... I have a secret

Let me start by saying that I have a wonderful family and zillions, well maybe not zillions but tons and tons of wonderful friends. But I also have a secret. They don't know about this blog. I don't know why I haven't told them. I did tell trainer lady. She had started her own blog and we were talking about hers and I felt kind of deceitful not sharing that I had a blog. So why am I bringing this up now? Because my oldest daughter has started a blog. She has been writing for several days and is very excited about chronicling all of her adventures. As much as we are alike, we are very different. The first thing she did was post on Facebook and send everyone in her address book an email stating that she had started a blog.

Today I am going to introduce you to her.
My oldest daughter is a free spirit. She is her own person and no one is going to tell her anything. I realized this when she was about two. Telling her "Don't touch the stove, it is hot" to her meant "touch it-just to prove mom wrong". Of course when she would burn her little finger she would run around crying and carrying on like she was on fire. She is now 27 and still touching the stove. This has been our relationship forever. She has to figure things out on her own and I have learned to respect that. Along with that one streak of, shall I say independence, she has many qualities that I admire and respect. She is never afraid of trying anything new or different. She will always sit in the front row. Never afraid to say exactly what is on her mind, although I do wish she had a profanity filter sometimes. Not that I am a prude, I pretty much can hang with the sailors and potty mouth right along with the best of them. I swear she can talk to a rock. This is a trait that she got from her grandmother on her fathers side of the family tree. The girl has never met a stranger in her life. She is committed to her friends and family like gorilla glue. Undeniable loyal and honest, sometimes to a fault.

She works at an assisted living facility and cares for senior citizens. They absolutely love her. When she went to work there, I could see she was becoming very attached to some of the residents and it scared me. She wears her heart on her sleeve and I feared that she would have a hard time coping with the loss. I was concerned that the fall out from losing one of these new surrogate grandparents was going to send her into a emotional mess. But you know what? She deals with it with grace and dignity. She has been working there for several years and has lost a few of her "favorites". I am sure there are tears, but she handles it in her own way in her own time.

She has friends that have small children that she has pretty much adopted as her nieces and nephews. They call her "Auntie Poopsy". I have no idea why, and I don't know if I would answer to that but she delights in it. She goes to their baseball games, football games, dance recitals, school functions etc. I hope that her friends realize what a gem of a friend they have.


A link to her blog - it would tickle her pink if you checked it out...

http://babieswings.wordpress.com/


I guess it might be time to out myself and my blog.

Monday, April 12, 2010

True Friends

Being in the hospital drove me crazy - literally. On my second morning there I couldn't sleep. I was awake at 5am and bored to death. I had a tube up my nose and needles and IV's in my arms, a catheter and enough drugs in me to stop an elephant. Since I wasn't really having any pain - I did mention the drugs, didn't I? They gave me my very own button to push for pain meds. It was like the game show "Jeopary" clicker thing. It worked very well. No pain what so ever. No brains either. So this particular morning I decide that it would be very funny to take a picture of myself and text it to my friends. Let me clarify something... I have NEVER, EVER taken a picture of myself. Not once. So I get my Iphone out, take the photo and text it to my friends at 6 in the morning. I am in the bed just laughing hysterically to myself. This was just the most entertaining thing that I had ever done. I captioned it "don't I look pathetic". By 7ish they had all responded in some fashion or another. It wasn't till I got home some 3 days later that I was looking through my phone and came across said picture and remembered what I had done. I wanted to crawl in a hole and bury my head. What was I thinking? It was an awful picture, I did look absolutely pathetic. And at 6am. I really gave them something to wake up to! I have since apologized for my behavior and asked that they delete said photo. Of course I am sure that they all are hanging on to for blackmail purposes later on down the road.

Lotta stuff going on

I got a lotta stuff going on. First off I am still recovering from the bout of colic surgery. It takes so long to get my stamina back after surgery and laying around for a week. It has been 20+ days and I still don't feel back to normal yet. I don't like it. I was riding within 10 days but I just don't feel like myself yet. Not only that, but I have lost more weight than I hand intended to. I am down to 137 lbs and feel like I am too thin now. I am working on getting back to my normal diet and that should put those pounds back on. Hopefully over the next few weeks things will smooth out and I will be back to normal. Then I will quit whining. Maybe.


I have been to two horse shows since my surgery. I know what you are thinking. Maybe if I didn't do crap like that I would be feeling better. The first one I went to was 14 days after surgery. It was two hours from home and we knew that I would ride late in the afternoon. We left home at about 9am and got to the venue at 11am. I went and signed up for my classes. I hadn't pre-entered because I wasn't sure if I was going to feel up to riding. What I didn't know was that Semper had to have a competitive license for me to show him in the NRHA classes. Thank goodness they let you do that at the show. I had to have my daughter fax his registration papers to me and pay a fee but we got it done so I could ride. Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. We rode and schooled some around 5ish and then tied him to the trailer and went to dinner. It has been unusually cold for CA this year and it started to get pretty chilly. We sat in the truck and ran the heater for about and hour and a half. At around 10:30pm I decided that I needed to go warm up again. I went out to ride and about froze what little butt I have left OFF. I entered the arena for my ride at 11:50pm. It was crazy to say the least. Plus we still had to drive home! Got home at 3:00am. It kicked my butt. I got a score of 68.5 which is 1.5 points higher than my last score. I was stoked about that. Semper went into an arena he had never been in before and did his job like a gentleman. I was really pleased with him. Everything was going along swimmingly until the stops and we are still having trouble there. I finally got the results for that show and I tied for 4th place in the Rookie 1 class and will be getting a check for a whooping $24.00. Better than a sharp stick in the eye! I placed 5th in the green reiner and there is no pay out for that class.

I worked stops some at my Wednesday night lesson and TL has been working him two days a week on stops so hopefully things are going to start getting better there.

Last Saturday I went to the second show in the series at the facility where I board. I entered the same 3 classes and I got a 67 in the Rookie 1 class and a 66 in the Green Reiner class. I don't know where I placed in the grand scheme of things yet but the judge wasn't handing out big scores so I think I did o.k. I only saw one or two scores in the 70's! I rode the green as grass class but by the time I ran the same pattern for the third time Mr. Semper thought he knew it better than I did and we had to have some education time. I just tried to school him through it. He really is a good boy and sometimes he is smarter than me. But he still needs to wait for me. The stops were better at this show but still not great. I know we can do it and it is going to click here pretty soon. I just have to quit over thinking it and he just needs to get his ass down and slide.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Now I know how a horse feels!

On Friday after work I went home and took a nap. After my little cat nap, which I never do, I got up and fed the horses and swept mopped the floors. We had purchased a Tilapia dinner from Trader Joes that I decided to cook it for dinner. I started to eat when the cramps started. They were pretty intense. They went on till about 10 pm when I finally went to my husband and said "Take me to the the ER". We had to go to Chico because Oroville's ER is a death trap literally. Another story for another day. It takes 25 minutes to get there but on Friday it only took about 15, my husband was really worried and his driving reflected it. I got to the ER room and it was full. I had to sit and wait. I waited for an hour and a half before they admitted me. I told them over and over again that I was having severe cramping but because my blood levels were so low they just knew that I was bleeding internally somewhere! I went through all the tests they asked me too and still they were not believing me that it didn't have anything to do with my iron levels. My surgeon came in and within 5 minutes told me what was going on and had me off to surgery. He said that a small piece if my bowel had gotten caught in the loop of another piece cutting off the blood flow,causing my symptoms and pain. My first thought was... crap I just had colic surgery. I had a bout of colic. Now I know first hand how it feels and let me tell you... IT HURTS, Probably the most intensive pain I have ever experienced - including child birth. Next time you horse has a gut ache or anything like that.... cut him or her some slack. I can now understand how fast it comes on and how really painfully it is.

Things are getting back to normal but I really wanted to show the first weekend in April and the doc isn't being very cooperative. I know better than to do anything stupid, but it won't stop me from asking. Training lady is riding semper for me till I am 100% back in the saddle which is a really good thing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

$7 in the hole!

Surprise! I got a check in the mail from our second show! How funny. I never gave much thought as to where I placed in the overall scheme of things at the horse show. I was just trying to get a better score than my last show - which I did. I placed 4th and got a check for $13 - it cost me $20 to enter the class! I guess $13 is better than a sharp stick in the eye! So I spent my first winnings on this picture.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things - they are a changin'

I guess what I really mean to say is that life is changing.
When I started riding again after my 25 year hiatus, I made new friends. Trail riding buddies. It was great, we would get together a couple of times a week and hit the trials. We would come back to the trailers and have a bite to eat and a cold drink, chat and plan our next trail ride. It was great - for awhile. Then I started to want more from my horse and myself. The show ring was calling. I had always enjoyed showing but knew that I didn't want to show halter, western pleasure, trail, etc. I had been dreaming of doing working cowhorse and reining. Instead of just going for it, I chose to try Trail Trials instead. My thought process was that I had a great trail horse and I was going to just take the Trail Trial world by storm! Not. Since that didn't work out I turned my focus to reining. I still was trail riding some with my friends but not near as much. My trail riding buddies were all very supportive and encouraging but the more that I worked towards my goals, the less and less phone calls I got to go for trail rides. I don't think I went trail riding more than three times last summer. I don't hear much from my trail riding buddies anymore. When I see them we spend a lot of time chatting and catching up and we talk about trail riding together again, but it never materializes. I had made new friends at the boarding facility and we were kind of all on the same page. I was slowly working towards reining and they each had goals of there own that didn't include going down the same trail a couple times a week. We would ride in the arena, drink beer, visit and hang out at the barn. Life was pretty good. Then I started to get that angst again to move forward. I made the decision to "shit or get off the pot" and sent Semper back to TL. It was tough not to have my favorite buddy around. He was with her for almost 6 months and it darned near killed me. In the end it was totally worth it. Now I had a nearly finished reining horse and was even closer to my goal of going back into the show ring. The only thing at that point that was holding me back was my weight. I made the decision to have surgery and my barn buddies were totally 100% supportive. I don't know if I would have had such a positive experience without the support of my barn buddies. But with surgery came big, huge, changes in my life. First off, I don't drink alcohol anymore. A lot of my social life evolved around having a drink or two or ten. And eating out - food, food, food. That all ended pretty abruptly. It has been almost a year since I had surgery, one of my barn buddies moved Washington and is pregnant (talk about life changing) and I have moved to a new barn. My other barn buddy moved with me. Her life is changing too. She is divorced, just moved out on her own, and is ready to find that someone special in her life. I am so happy for both of them. Jen is going to have a baby! Laura is moving forward and getting her life back on track. We still talk almost everyday. Jen and I text back and forth at least every other day or two.

Life is changing again for me too. Not sure what to do or that I even need to do anything. I am showing and more focused than ever. I seem to be spending more and more time by myself, on my own. My husband is hunting and fishing a lot, my daughters are out on there own, my son is 18 and all that implies! I am not complaining just pondering what other changes are coming up, what new friends I will make, and where this is all going to lead.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My second horse show

Saturday was my second horse show. It was at the barn where I board so we had the home field advantage. We warmed up and Semper was on, on, on. He was just floating around, very responsive and willing. I entered 3 classes. I wanted to enter at least one class to school in. The rookie class was first and we started out really nicely until I asked for my first lead change. He kicked out so hard at my spur, big jerk, that I just took him two handed and schooled the rest of the pattern. Kicking out is a 5 point deduction. Kind of pointless to go on with a pattern after that! TL had me immediately take him out to the warm up area and just push him all over the place. Move his hip, move his shoulders, anything that required me putting leg on him. Of course he knew he was in trouble and never kicked out again, but we did make him work more than he wanted to. The next class was Green Reiner and we did a nice pattern. Our stops still need work but for the most part he did alright. We finished the pattern and got a 67 which is 2 points higher than our last show. I was happy with that. It is all about moving forward baby! The last class was the Dumb as Dirt class and boy did I live up to that name! The pattern started with turnarounds and I was so focused on doing good turnaround that I forgot to count! After the first one, I was thinking "shit! I don't know how many I have done!" There is that sinking feeling again. I did 5 rotations and that nabbed me a zero. But the rest of the pattern was very nice and the lead changes were beautiful. I did take too many steps back in the roll back and that would have nabbed me a zero on top the of the zero I already had. I got some nice compliments from people on how nice Semper and I looked and worked together and that is always nice to hear.

This weekend we are showing again. Not really at a horse show - we are performing at a horse show judging day for the FFA judging team. We will run a pattern and the FFA members will judge our run and give reasons to the judges to evaluate. It should be pretty low key and hopefully I won't make any pattern mishaps.

I figure that I am going to have to make each mistake once. As long as I only make them once I can live with that.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Semper's spa day and show day.

Friday I gave Semper a spa day in preparation for the reining show. I had braided his mane and tail over two weeks ago and had left the braids in. He had really gotten them stained. I took them out and took some pictures.






I decided to use some Spray and Wash Stain Remover on them to get the stains out. So I sprayed and sprayed lots of stain remover and let them sit while I worked on the rest of him. I got his legs clean enough that they you could see his pink skin. I had a little trouble with stains on his upper legs. For the most part he was sparkling white. I then went to work on his mane and tail. I used some Mane and Tail shampoo and worked it in really good. Then put some conditioner on. Things were looking better.





It took forever for him to dry. I have found that putting his Irish Linen blanket on and then his cooler over the top that he dries faster but it still took forever. It gave me a chance to clean my saddle, bridle and load the horse trailer for the next day. Below is the pictures of him dry. Not bad.





This is how Semper went to bed. Doesn't he look like a Knight's horse in this get up?



Saturday morning we were off to the show at 8:00am. It took 2 1/2 hours to get to the arena. We got there in plenty of time to watch some of the cowhorse classes and warm up. It was cold and the wind was blowing but it wasn't raining. Semper warmed up nicely and he was really on. My first class was the green reiner. I had walked the pattern the night before and was really confident that I knew it. The arena was smaller than we were used to and the footing was deep. The pattern started with turnarounds. I was the last one in the class so just before they called my name, I went outside and schooled turnarounds. They were fresh in both our minds as we walked through the arena gate. I think that my being nervous made Semper a little uneasy. When he is uneasy or unsure his answer is to add speed. So we went a little faster than I would have liked. We finished the pattern and got a score of 65. My goal for the day was to finish a pattern and get a score and we did that.

I still had the "green as grass" class to go. Their were only only 2 people in the class. I had not studied the pattern because everyone had told me not to try to learn both patterns at once. I had about 5 minutes to learn the second pattern. I am not a quick study with this kind of thing. I thought I had it down. I went out into the ring confident and more relaxed. Semper seemed more relaxed and things went much better until.. and you knew this was coming... I forgot the end of the pattern. I was coming down the fence and thinking I don't think this is right but I don't remember what I am supposed to do next. It is such a sinking feeling. I did our sliding stop but knew it was wrong. Total brain fade. I needed to go around the end of the arena and stop on the other side. I was 130 feet from completing a really nice pattern and blew it. Oops. Even though I didn't get a score, I do feel that it has taught me what I need to do and helped me learn the importance of being relaxed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Goal Weight and Horse show nerves

Today the scale said that I made it to my goal weight of 150 lbs. I thought that when this day came I would be doing the happy dance and shouting it from the roof tops. But it was kind of like when you are pregnant and you reach your due date and nothing happens, no baby just appears and you don't go into labor, just nothing. I weighed this morning and then said "now what". I still have fat pockets here and there and I am am not totally satisfied that I have lost enough. So I guess my journey is going to march on until I am happy with what I see and how I feel. That is o.k. - 150 is just a number, it wasn't a magic number, it was just a number. I am not going to get hung up on it.

My first horse show is 3 days away. I am really, really, really nervous. My family and friends keep telling me how great I am going to do. They are being so supportive and kind, but it is still stressing me out. I want to do great for Semper and me and for them, but I don't know if it is all going to come together the first time out or not. I am going to keep an open mind, have a good time, and not let my nerves get the best of me. That is the plan.

I did have a good ride last night and I am going to ride a little tonight. I think that I am going to walk the pattern in the arena tonight to try to get it to stick in my head. Tomorrow I am giving Semper a spa day. It sucks to have a white horse. I actually bought Spray and Wash laundry prewash to use on his tail and mane. Haven't tried it before but they are so stained and since it isn't going on his skin I thought that I would give it a try. After his spa day he will be wearing his "dark knight" Lycra hood and black stable blanket. I will try to remember to get a picture of him. He looks like he should be carrying a knight in shining armor.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Benchmark...100 lbs!

This morning the scale said that I have lost 100 lbs. Only 2 lbs to go to goal. I won't make it by mid February but darn close. The more weight I lose the more noticeable the weight loss is. Does that make sense? When I was heavy and lost say 5 lbs you couldn't tell. Now if I lose 5 lbs, it makes a difference. You can see it.

I have seen old friends that I have known for years who don't recognize me. At first I was kind of butt hurt about people not recognizing me because I didn't think that I looked that different. My husband and daughter set me straight. They said that I do look different and I should go look at pictures. I went back and looked at pictures from the day of the Kentucky Derby 2009 and then the pictures that were taken before Christmas. I do look different. The same, but different.

It was the Derby Day photos that put me over the edge and helped me make the decision to have surgery. That was in April. I called the doctors office the next week and scheduled surgery.



Here is one of me in December just before Christmas with my niece (Mrs. Claus) and a friend.

My face is basically the same just thinner, I have a neck now, and the spare tire is going, going, gone.

My riding has greatly improved and I am sure my horse is thanking me over and over. Getting on and off is easy. And that is something considering Semper's size. I don't feel uncomfortable on my filly. I owned her full brother and traded him off because I felt he was too small for a person of my weight. I can sit and cross my legs (either way), I can sit in a chair with arms and when I stand up it doesn't stick on my butt. I am comfortable sitting on a plane. We had flown to Seattle just before I had surgery and I was embarrassed and very self conscience of how much bigger I was than the seat. I didn't need a seat belt extension but it was not pretty. I am happy with my decision, wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but it's been a wonderful journey for me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

98 lbs of fat off my ass, 98 lbs of fat...

98 lbs of fat off my ass, 98 lbs of fat, take 1 down and pass it around 99 lbs of fat off my ass. That little song has been bouncing around my head. I was hoping to be at my weight loss goal by mid February. I might make it. To date I have lost 98 lbs. I have 4 more to go. On Sunday I only had 3 to go. In the grand scheme of things a pound isn't really that much but when you only have 4 stinking pounds to go it almost seems impossible. All week I have been weighing every morning hoping to see that scale go back down to 3 lbs to go and all week it has said that I have 4 lbs to go. Humm. I have been eating right, exercising and staying away from salt. Salt is not my friend. Salt is not my friend. Say it again.... Salt is not my friend. But I love salt. Salted nuts, salted sunflower seeds, salt on my food before I even try it. Salt is not my friend. The last week I have given up all my little salt vices and yet I am not losing that one little annoying pound.

Had a lesson last night and boy did Semp get his butt kicked. Wow. I bet he is going to rethink giving me the bird. I was working roll backs and he was just not getting with the program. The last one I asked him for, he literally gave me the "horsey finger" (if a horse could). He laid his ears back and off to the side and grunted and showed no effort at all. Trainer Lady says "May I" I say sure! She gets on him and kicks his butt good. She had been telling me to kick him, kick him. What she wasn't saying was kick the crap out of him. Which is what she did. I was giving him one good hard kick and he was ignoring it. She kicked him with her outside leg about 10 times as fast as she could and he started rethinking his behavior. It was kind of an "ah ha" moment for me. That is what she meant. Got it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The countdown is on.

The countdown to my first show is on. February 20th will be my debut in the showring. I am nervous and anxious. I picked a show that is 2 1/2 hours from home, where I don't know anyone. Shouldn't know anyone, hoping to not know anyone. I did this for a reason. There is a show series at my barn and all my peers will be there. That is alot of pressure to have it be my first time out. So this show away from home is 2 weeks before the first show of the series at home. It will help me get my feet wet, see what I need to work on and hopefully let me gain a little confidence. I am entering two classes - the green as grass (dumb as dirt) and the green reiner class. The entry fee is small, the biggest expense will be the gas to drive down. I have a month to prepare and to get my head right.





It will probably take me a month to get Semper clean. I have never had this much trouble keeping him clean. At the new facility they don't use shavings, they use the wood pellets and for the life of me I can not keep this horse clean. In hind sight buying a white horse was not the smartest thing I have ever done. I wouldn't trade him for the world, but life would be easier if he were a bay or sorrel or chestnut or .... anything but white. I have always been kind of nutty about keeping him clean, it is a pride thing I guess. I used to get a lot of comments on how clean he is and what it must take to keep him that way and up until now I never found it that difficult. Boy, that has all changed. He wears a blanket 24-7 and underneath he is clean, but his head, neck and legs are a mess. His long white mane is stained and we won't even talk about his tail. Yuck. If my old barn mgmr saw him he would surely give me a ration of crap about it. He used to give me a ration of crap for keeping him so clean, now he would be ribbing me for just the opposite.





We are back to our Wednesday night lessons. I worked on circles last Wednesday and Semper just floated around. He did really well. Then we worked counter canter. He is so sensitive that if I barely touch him he changes leads. Sometimes if he thinks I am going to ask for a lead change he just does it. BAD. The change is good the behavior is bad. So my homework this week was to "ride crazy" to try and get his mind waiting for me. We worked on it on Sunday. He really doesn't like it when I don't ride right. He just goes faster and faster the more I goof off. I lean from side to side, bounce, swing my arms around, bump him with my legs etc. He just hates it, his tail is swishing and his ears are cocked back as if he is asking "What the heck are you doing?". But when I go back to riding right, he really gets down to the business of paying attention. I am going to do a little more crazy riding tonight so that he is ready for our lesson tomorrow.



I picked up my filly from the trainer on Saturday. I will get some pictures of Ms Lilly and try to do her bio next. She is a bay roan, very small and stylish. I rode her for about 1/2 hour on Saturday in the indoor arena. Her first time in the indoor and she wasn't quite sure if she liked it. I let her walk around a few times and then she got right down to work. Her jog is just darn near perfect and the lope is just as smooth as silk. She collects up nicely and is really willing. She was at the trainer for 4 months and I am pretty pleased with where she is. I would like to board her at the same place as Semper but they don't have any available stalls right now. I am on a waiting list so hopefully something will open up soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Gotta Lotta Pep aka Scooter

I Gotta Lotta Pep
aka Scooter


This is Scooter as a yearling, he is officially a 2 year old now. Not a great picture of him. He was going through that gangily stage, little butt high and the halter makes his head look horrible. He has nice legs and good feet. His parts flow together pretty nicely. He does have a really cute head with little foxy ears and a soft eye. If I could change one thing it would be his neck. It just is a litte thicker than I like but I think that when he goes into training that may resolve itself some.

He was born in late May 2008 so he really isn't quite a 2 year old yet. He is one of the boys that had brain surgery over the holidays. His dam is a bay and his sire is a palomino. His dam's first foal was a buckskin and her second foal was a bay roan. Both of them were by the same sire. Scooter was her 3rd foal by a different sire and I was hoping to get another baby with some color. As you can see, I got red. All red. This poor boy doesn't have a white hair anywhere! Good news is that he doesn't show the dirt. He is quiet and a real thinker. If you show him something one time chances are that he will remember it the next time and be more than willing to comply. My only complaint about him so far is that his feet tend to get stuck to the ground. If he gets confused or ? his feet don't move. He usually jumps right in the trailer and the other day he started to get right in, put the two front feet in. Horses in a pasture behind him started running and bucking and he stopped and wouldn't move. Front feet in, hind feet on solid ground. Stuck. Wouldn't go forward, wouldn't go back. Just froze. This is probably a good thing, he doesn't get stupid and try to run or jump around but it is very frustrating. I am not going to take him to the trainer until next winter. I don't have the money to play in the futurity shows and I see no reason to start them until they are at least two and a half to three years old. I have even thought about starting him myself. He may be a good one for me to test my skills on. I will have to see where I am at with a place to ride before I make that a final decision.