Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bob update...

I took Bob for a ride at the lake on Memorial Day.  I picked my favorite trail because I thought that it would be less traveled.  Ha ha ha.  We saw lots of house boats with loud music blaring and dogs barking. We saw rabbits, turkeys, ducks, geese, and a whooping crane. We saw bicyclers clad in Lycra and shiny helmets. We had a game warden come at us an his Polaris ATV at about 30 miles an hour. We went through gates, over bridges and creeks. Up and down hills, through grassy areas, over logs and down rocky paths. We walked, long trotted and loped. Bob spooked and whirled several times. What you would expect from a green 3 year old.  We had been out for about two hours on the trail and were about to the point where I was going to start heading back and we came around a corner to see - picture this...  an older, heavy set, gray haired man, in a red Hawaiian print shirt, Bermuda shorts, hugging a large pine tree.  Actually he was trying to untie his house boat that was tethered to the tree. The tree was kind of leaning over the lake and he had shimmied up the tree had his body laying on the tree and both arms and legs wrapped around the tree.  As I approached the man turned his face towards me and said hello.  It was at this point Bob literally looks back at me as if to say "o.k. I give. I don't know what you are expecting but I have seen it all and I don't care anymore."  Bob turns back to the trail, drops his head and just continued walking like the guy wasn't even there. From that point on... he didn't spook at a thing. He just put his head down and walked, trotted and loped like an old seasoned horse.   I think we had a "moment".

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What the heck color is he anyway?

The last working cowhorse show I took Semper to I had at least three separate people ask me "What color is he?" and  "Is he Appy or Paint?"  To which I respond "He is paint but to be truthfully honest... I have no idea what color he is."

I get asked all the time. At a clinic this weekend a nice lady asked me if he was some obscure breed from Europe - a Mangalara? never heard of it. I googled it and didn't even show the same coat color.

So today we are going to decide once and for all...What the heck color he is.

Look at the pictures and weigh in with your best guess and reasons.  Also...does he have a war bonnet or a medicine hat?  Now you should know that he has some white in between his ears - his color isn't solid across his poll.  Both ears are brown and there is a small bit of brown connecting them, but his forelock is white because the skin there is white.   He is registered Sorrel Overo but looking at pictures I would say he is Tovero. He was born solid white with brown ears. As he has aged he gets more and more roaning on his chest, flanks, and above his tail. 

Let the games begin! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bob Harley, Bob Marley's redneck cousin

When events happen in your life do you try to make a learning experience from them? I want to learn something from every experience I encounter.  In some instances that might be a big expectation but in my horse life, I examine everything for a lesson learned.  The problem is that I do end up making the same mistakes over and that makes me feel like a total loser.  I find it helps if I write my "lessons learned" done. And then you all get to read what a big, fat, dorky loser I can truly be. My current lesson is an "in progress" lesson.  I think. Maybe.  I really don't know. But I do know that there is some kind of lesson to be learned here, it just isn't crystal clear yet.

Today you all are going to meet Bob Harley, Bob Marley's redneck cousin. AKA In a Smoking Instant

We went to a UCDavis sale a few years back to bid on a a stud horse for a friend of ours.  He was going to be out of town and really wanted the horse so we took a trailer and went to do his bidding. Before we got there they pulled the horse he wanted from the sale. We decided to stay and see what they had to offer.  Mr. Wonderful gets a bidders number. Now.... Mr. Wonderful with a number is not usually a good thing. He likes auctions and he loves to gamble.  I figured it was a horse sale and I was safe. Not so much.  The last horse through the sale was a bred mare. She was eight years old, an AQHA pleasure bred mare, but looked more like a cow horse than a pleasure horse. She was bred to the stud we were there to buy, Little Doc Belle.  He is by a big time cutting horse sire out of Texas - SR Instant Choice. Mr. Wonderful couldn't help himself and placed the opening bid of $375.  No one else bid. No one. Nada-nother bid. So we went home with a bred mare.  He just kept repeating... But the stud fee was $750. I got a good deal. 

Bob was born the next spring. Mr.Wonderful always refers to him as HIS horse. Whatever. The minute he hit the ground I said...oh baby, baby- What a looker, he is all mine.  And he has always been a real looker. Very stylish. You got to love a pretty bay horse. But Bob has had his issues. Bob is not like any of my other horses. He has always been a little obnoxious. At about 3 weeks old, he learned he could push his momma away from her feed. He would literally run backwards and kick the crap out of her. She would just move off and act all butt hurt. She never did the momma mare thing and discipline him. He grew increasingly bold. At four months I decided to have him gelded to see if that put a damper on his attitude. That along with the ground work was helping but he still was a bratty little thing.  After  I got him to the point where you could catch him, lead him, trim his feet, etc. I pretty much left him alone to grow.  But the mistake I made was I left him alone, as in without other horses to teach him some manners.  I should have put him out with the twisted sisters. Hindsight is 20/20.  So he spent the winter and most of his yearling year on his own. As a two year old I sent him to a cowboy to get him started.

This is the post after I picked him up:
I took Bob Harley to the trainer to start his education. Here comes some of the bad. The trainer feels that he has no sense of self preservation. Not good. I sent him to the same trainer that started Scooter for me. I really like and respect him. I listened to what he said when I picked him up last week and am mulling it over. I turned Bob out with the broodmares and am going to give him until next spring to kind of soak up what he learned and then give him one more chance at a trainer to see if he matures or changes in his time out. I hate to give up on a horse to easy, but on the other hand I hate to throw money away too.

The other issues that my cowboy trainer warned me of was that Bob would try to bite or kick him while he was mounting and dismounting and that he would charge the stall cleaner while she was cleaning the stalls. But the good news was that he was not a bucker. 

I did as I had planned and I put him out with the twisted sisters and left him to deal for about 5 months. Beginning of this year, I brought him in and started taking him up to RD's with me.  She and I worked with him several times on the ground and then one of us would get on him in the round pen.  Things were going o.k.  He was a little spastic but I wasn't seeing any of the behavior that the cowboy trainer had mentioned. He was standing still to be mounted and dismounted. He is reactive still but he seemed to be really trying to be good. When I brought Lily home, I left him with RD.  I shared all the information that I had from cowboy trainer and we decided to give him some time and see where it went. She called me three days in and said "get rid of this horse, he is dangerous".  He had gotten untied and she grabbed at the lead rope he was dragging and he had kicked her in the back. RD has a young daughter and the thought of her possibly getting kicked by my horse overwhelmed me. If he was so ready to fire, he wasn't safe.  I corresponded with another horsey friend and asked her opinion. She said the same thing... get rid of him. I had made my decision. Mr. Wonderful was NOT on board with this decision.  He said that I was being to quick to judge. He said that I had not spent enough time on this horse to know if I was making the right decision. Frankly I didn't care what he thought, he wasn't the one that had to spend the time or take the risk of getting kicked, bit or bucked off.  A week later, RD calls me back and says that she was too quick to judge. That he was coming along nicely and she admitted that it was probably her fault that she got kicked. That she had startled him, she knew what kind of young, reactive horse he was and that she had put herself in a position that she shouldn't have. Well. o.k.  Now what?  I scrapped the plans to sell him  and decided to leave him there for now. 

My original plan was to have Scooter go out for training first as he is a year older than Bob. Not being to sure that RD is a perfect fit for Scooter, I sent him to TL. Which is MY choice. But that also means that I have to pull Bob out of training.  RD is more than annoyed with me over pulling him.  She says he is coming along fine, that he isn't displaying any BAD behaviors but he has a huge motor and that he can and will put up a fight if he doesn't want to do something.  She is worried that I can't get through to him or that I will be afraid to go there with him.  When I went to pick him up she rode him for me.  He walked off while she was getting on, which I hate. She said that she could fix that. He was grinding on the bit and was a nervous mess. She had ridden him that morning and said he was way better in the morning than he was that afternoon. I hate to say this... but I felt that her annoyance with me, had flowed over to my horse.  And then I felt guilty. 

I decided that Mr. Wonderful was right. Now... here comes the lesson part, finally.   I was relying on second hand information to tell me what to do with this horse. I should know this horse better than anyone and I don't. (You would have thought I would have figured that out by now - see Lily posts) I owed it to Bob Harley to get to know him for myself.  I took him to the boarding facility where Semper is and started over. 

The first day, he was... na,na,na,nervous. Gnawing on the bit. Wouldn't stand still to be mounted. He didn't offer to nip or bite, just would not stand still.  So that is all I worked on. I must have gotten on and off eight or ten times before he gave it up and stood still. I just sat there for a good 15 minutes. Wouldn't let him walk off. When he was standing relaxed I got off and put him up. No fight. No mess. Just quiet. Went out the second day and started again. And you know what? He was quieter. It only took two tries and he stood still. Less chomping on the bit and he didn't offer to move off until asked. I walked him around and he was in a hurry and anxious.  I quietly asked him to go into a small circle when he got in a hurry. After a few circles he just soften and relaxed.  We walked and jogged for about 20 minutes and when he was good and relaxed, soft and willing, I quit, got off and put him up.

This has been the scenario for the last several weeks. Each day adding a little more. I changed things up and put him in  a bosal, I spent time working him from the ground, some days before I rode, some days after.  TL rode him and she likes him.  Sunday I took him out on a trail ride with a good friend. She rides a seasoned trail horse and it was a perfect outing for our first time. We met Lycra clad, helmet wearing bicyclist and he took it all in stride. We even saw a snake on the trail - not a rattler but a snake none the less and he was fine.

I have to say, I couldn't be more disgusted with myself and pleased with him all at the same time. Disgusted because I was so willing to become a sheep and just go along with the hype. Disgusted because I didn't do my due diligence in spending time getting to know this horse. Disgusted because Mr. Wonderful might have been right. (OK not really - I am actually happy he was vocal and persistent) Pleased to know that this horse might just become a good citizen after all.  I am not saying he is perfect, or that he is going to be a fabulous show horse, or a kids horse, but pleased because he is teaching me something.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I have been reading the Gail McCarthy series of mystery books by Laura Crum for the last 3 or 4 years. Barnstorming is the 12th in the series and Laura says it is her last. I surely hope not. Gail hasn't reached "armchair" status yet. She is still a vibrant character with lots of life and possibilities left. The series starts with the book Cutter and introduces you to Gail and her life as a new Veterinarian. I was hooked immediately. Gail ages with the series and each book presents a new life challenge for her. Very identifiable to the reader. I love books with solid, strong, believable characters and a surrounding story that is based in fact and not "guessed at" or "made up" details. Laura does a beautiful job blending the facts of horsemanship and equestrians and the fiction of murder and mayhem.

I thought back to all the books before writing this post to see if one stood out for me, but each book offers a part of her life that is important and integral to the set. I couldn't have just one favorite. Each book brings something to the reader that makes it a favorite. Another positive aspect of the books is that Laura doesn't go overboard with graphic details or strong language in her descriptions of the murders. When she writes of the area she is riding in the detail is so clear that you can see it. When she describes how a horse is moving you can feel it. And when someone dies, they die. She didn't feel the need to shock the reader so that all you remember is how horrific of a murder scene it was. Even though you know the book is going to have a killer and a victim - you would be willing to ride along with Gail on her adventure.

Barnstorming was another installment in Gail's life. She is at a crossroads and needs to see where the next phase will take her. We have all been there. She spends time riding alone on her favorite horse trying to work things out. Boy, haven't we all been there? Then Laura works her magic and starts setting the scene for the mystery, murder and mayhem.

I am not going to say anymore... you are just going to have read it.

The first eight titles are out for Kindle Here