Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bo being ridden

This is from a few months ago. I should get some recent shots as he put on some weight this summer and looks just about pony-plump, and gorgeous of course. (Did I post this picture before?) I'm riding in a Torsion treeless saddle, it seems the best fit for Bo. I do not own a pony specific saddle and he would qualify for one. I am about 5'3" so you can judge the proportions and what he can carry. He is for sale to the right person. You can see the slack in my reins -- he was quick to understand the feel of the reins this way and this is the amount of contact I need with him most of the time. When he is paying attention, he will turn or stop with this much slack in the reins. I'm liking this a lot! And so is he.

Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

This probably belongs on my farm blog but it is about the barn so that is about my relationship with horses. *g*

We have barn cats. Some we have purchased, some have been given to us, and some show up unannounced on their own accord.

For quite awhile I was aware that the dry cat food I leave out for our latest barn cat seems to be eaten faster than she could consume. So I assume we have visiting cats from nearby homes. I've seen some come and go. They are smart and know where the free lunches are!

The other evening I had my camera handy when one of the prettiest kitties I've ever seen was lurking around on the porch when RNB and I came home from dancing. What a fine and healthy looking kitty!

Ok, so it's not a kitty. I sure do think how soft it would feel to stroke its silky coat!

A few days after I took this picture, the dear thing was resting quietly in one of the have-a-heart traps we set out in hopes of diminishing the local rat population (we make ongoing trap and relocation efforts). This "kitty" is now relocated to an unidentified rural area. Interesting, just after I found the trapped kitty, I saw another gorgeous kitty slinking under the stairway to the hay loft! Wow, this kitty, also black and white, had a hugely wide white stripe. Oh so pretty! Nature is pretty amazing.

Anyway, I set out another trap, hoping to have the opportunity to relocate this other kitty and indeed, it has been trapped and set free elsewhere. I took pictures of this one while in the cage.

I love their claws!

Phew. All unwanted kitties gone from the barn. I'm still waiting for the lingering fragrance of some partial scent releases to dissipate. These sprays were not related to being trapped -- they happened before and had confirmed via my senses that indeed there were visitors in the barn!

How surprised was I to find the cat food dish knocked over on the floor again -- yikes! Sign of more of these kitties!! Do we have an entire family in residence?? I'm waiting for another black and white delight in my trap!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Riza now and then

Once upon a time, I bought two horses off the internet. They were considered PMU mares, on sale when many Canadian ranches lost their contracts with a big company that produces (not as much as before but still in the business) premarin, a hormone replacement derived from PREgnant MARes' urINe.

One of these mares is my Sofia, who in fact was a two year old filly when I got her. Destined to be bred in the spring as a coming three year old, she was already branded as is customary, but never was bred. From her intense heat displays, I would say she regrets the loss of that part of her former future job duties.

The other mare is Kelly, a then 10 year old Morgan-looking likely quarter horse pregnant mare. Riza (Thread of the Mill New Horizons) was her foal, born in Maine and sold after weaning to some folks who were looking forward to a lifetime relationship with this sweet youngster. I have heard that their horse farm dreams are greatly modified by the harsh realities of running a boarding facility, and are seeking to sell Riza, now three and ready for saddle training.

Where Kelly was super cautious about everything new and human, Riza is calm and accepting about everything. I am writing all this because perhaps someone who reads this blog is looking for a young, sane, even tempered well built quarter horse. She is described as great with being handled, sturdy built with a short back. She has been ponied on the trails and enjoys that. If I can help her connect with her next home, that would be sweet.

Kelly and day old Riza

Riza a little older

Riza recently as a three year old

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I am grateful

I am grateful to have no broken bones.

I am grateful I did not blame the horse.

I wish like anything that I would follow my own advice.

Just yesterday I wrote a friend reminding her to keep an eye on being on the wrong side of a horse. What I meant by that was if you are standing next to a more fearful horse and beyond that horse is a more assertive horse, the more fearful one may collide with you while getting away from the more assertive horse.

Basic message: keep an eye on what is going on at all times.

I failed to do that today. OUCH!

The circumstances were a little different. I was letting horses out from one paddock into another paddock. Kacee went first and Rusty followed but stopped. What I failed to adequately register was that Bo was next in line for coming through the gate. When I touched Rusty to ask him to keep moving, he kicked. He kicked me. So fast I still cannot fathom that I have two separate injuries. What would I do differently next time? CHECK IN WITH EYE CONTACT BEFORE GETTING CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH HIM.

I literally howled for about three minutes once I caught my breath, before I could move. I was assessing while I howled that I could indeed take deep breaths. No ribs broken. Bo and Sofia were concerned and hung out near me. Rusty and Kacee have weathered my emotions before and hardly looked up from the hay crib.

After I finished what I needed to do with the horses and went inside, I started shaking uncontrollably. And crying. And more howling. Incredible what the body will do when given permission. I let go of my thoughts about what happened and let my body have its say.

Soon enough I took Arnica, applied Traumeel, iced the injuries, palpated them, phoned RNB to tell him we would not be dancing this evening, and after more shaking and tears, bundled up in a down comforter and fell asleep.

Please, please, please -- pay attention when you are around horses.

I am so incredibly grateful I have no broken bones. Yes, this has made me change my plans for the day and perhaps for another few days, but I feel better than I did at noon, empty emotionally and solid though hurting physically.

Monday, September 10, 2007

More blending

The herd is blending more and more. I love going out and seeing Bo hanging out with Soli, and Sofia hanging out with Prince. What a change from 8-9 months ago when Bo arrived and was so incredibly worried about all the horses. Even a few months ago he was aggressively keeping Sofia way from the others, and running off anyone he could who ventured close. That did result in some missing hide when he and Rusty sparred over the mares. I have yet to see those two engaged in mutual grooming, but Rusty lets Bo hang with Kacee, and even when the two stud muffins come face to face with some alarm life coursing through their veins, it ends with a minimal squeal if even that. Quiet life here is a treat!

Soli, dear old Haflinger, continues to think his space includes my space, despite my obviously ineffectual but frequent efforts at changing his mind.

Rusty and I have enjoyed some trail ride times, and Kacee and I are building toward that freedom to go anywhere that I'm finding with Rusty these days. This is why I have horses -- to go enjoy a trail ride!

My fall schedule is getting settled enough so I can ride more predictably again. I used to feel ambivalent about how much I rode because so many rides were quasi torture! Now that they are enjoyable adventures, I miss it when I go a few days without riding.

I'm teaching more this fall than before. My commitment to High Horses covers much of two days now -- one day for therapeutic riding lessons, and one day for teaching able bodied volunteers in the Horse Exercise Program. I love both aspects of my work there -- the mix of focusing on the special needs of the riders, and focusing on the special needs of the horses.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Another clinic with Joe and Rusty

Three days with Joe Wolter and horses and friends here in Vermont. Wonderful weather. And I got what I wanted: confidence in my ability to go for a trail ride alone with Rusty.

The little things I've heard over and over, fell into place. If the horse is worried, help him get away. That was a breakthrough for me. Experiencing what that "help him get away" is in actuality. Feeling the first moment of "horse is worried." Putting those together with my overall take from this clinic, and there we were, out in the woods and across fields and through the creek, together and having fun.

Overall meaningful concept from the clinic: a new meaning for 'release him for the thought'. Set it up so he finds zero pressure when he gets with your idea. So it is not just about placing the feet and arranging the body that will bring him release from pressure. It is not just about changing his emotional state that will bring him release from pressure. It is about all of it -- his mind, his listening, his readiness, his body -- all of it ready and there with you, on the edge waiting to go or stop, that is where he finds zero pressure.

I am so pleased to have had enough help over the weekend and over the summer and over this past year and over these past ten years, to have gotten to where I am today.

Rusty was at the clinic with me. I gained confidence in my ability to bring him back to me when his mind went phalooey off some place else. And I was present and aware to give him release for settling back and being available with me again. This morning I rode Kacee and used the same finer-tuned skills and awareness for our trail ride. Not just out there and back, but doing things along the way to invite her back to me when she mentally drifted.

Sunday while others worked on this and that in the ring, I prepared to head out alone with Rusty for a trail ride. I can still hear Joe: "Just go ride!"