Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mule Mania

It's mule mania around here these days!!!

She might be wider than she is tall

Uma is now a year old, along with Pax. I don't know her exact birthday, but I figure she is just about the same age. I need to re-measure her, but last I checked she was hovering right around 32". Admittedly she still seems EXTREMELY small to me. I thought she would grow a lot more than she has! Pax is 14.1 now and Uma can still walk underneath her with ease, and regularly does. She is still my wild child - still flips out when you catch her, still like to rear and thrash around when you do something new to her. Someday, you little monster... someday. 

Lendri girl has really stepped up to the plate recently. Since she was from the kill pen I don't really know her history - all I know is that she had marks on her face like she had been wearing a halter. I think she knew how to lead at least, but was mishandled. It has taken her about four months, but some kind of switch has gone off in her head that has made her into a nice domesticated beast instead of a wild freaking animal. 

Don't mind her sunburned little eyeballs... admire the clip job!!

She got her first ever full body clip a few days ago (minus belly, face, and legs - she let me clip her belly but my clippers died halfway through. I'll finish it later) The first time she saw and heard the clippers, she went absolutely bananas and had a panic attack at the end of her lead line. The second time, she let me bodyclip her all over, even in her tickly spots. Definitely the best 1st time clip of ANY equine I've ever done! She never moved a muscle - as soon as she realized it was not going to hurt her, she stood completely still. That's that excellent mule brain for you. 

Her white eyelids and white nosey were getting sunburned even with her regular flymask, so she got the upgrade to the most expensive mask on my whole property - the Cashel Crusader with special mule ears and long nose. It's a weanling/small pony size, and it's a tiny bit big, but the mini size would likely have been way too small. 

Now she looks like Frank from Donnie Darko

She is long lining well. She steers decently (mostly), has a really solid whoa and stand, and doesn't mind me behind her at all. 


I think she won't be difficult to break to drive anymore. I thought she was going to be super hard and complicated - but now that she has decided she likes me well enough and that I can be trusted, she's willing to try for me. Which is pretty typical mule!

Because I am a hoarder masochist crazy person bleeding heart, I decided some time ago that if I saw another really special tiny mule, I would bring it home. I have no want, need, or space for any bigger animals but these tiny ones are like potato chips. If I had a whole barn full of them I would be a happy kid!

I had specifics for what I was looking for. Uma is tiny, so tiny stupid that I don't even know that she will be big enough to cart my butt around. Lendri is about 41" - about 2 inches taller than the maximum height for VSEs at driving shows. This will put us at a disadvantage unless there are small pony divisions - otherwise we have to compete against 14.2 ponies and how can you win in timed events against that? She is four hands smaller than they are!
So I wanted something bigger than Uma but still under (and, close to) the 39" cutoff. I wanted young but old enough to start training. I wanted a cute mover. I also wanted a crazy color but, as long as it wasn't boring mule brown I didn't really care.

This is what I found.

She is a 2 year old, 34-35", bright red dun molly mule. And she is wild as a March hare.

She has never been handled before Friday. We got a halter on her in the portable corral, before she put her neck through the bars and literally dragged the entire thing all the way across the yard with us grimly hanging on.

She thrashed so hard that she gave herself a literal eye ulcer from where the halter caught her eye. It sucked. A lot.

With a LOT of effort, we got her on the trailer, where I promptly tied her and left her for the ride home. I would never do that with a wild horse but mules are different. They don't freak out about pressure like horses do and I find that teaching them to tie before teaching them to lead goes better.

And, I wasn't disappointed this time either - when we got to the vet, my new little mule surprised us all by leading out of the trailer, into the barn, and into the foal stocks. She let the vet do everything without fuss. Although she did twinge at her shots but eh. She even loaded back onto the trailer easily. And unloaded and led like an angel to her small catch pen. From feral to halter broke and leading in a few hours! And she taught it to herself.


She is awfully cute isn't she? She can really move too. Although, may just be the fact that she desperately needs her feet done. She bit me when I touched a leg though, so she will need a lot of work. She has shown that she is quite willing to use both feet and teeth to defend herself. I can't blame her for any of it - she just doesn't know that people are nice yet.

Strapped in for eye meds

Since she has the eye ulcer she needs to be medicated 2x a day, which is super fun for a feral mule. If I strap her spend with two ropes, she stands fine for her meds. She has also decided that carrots are great, and comes to me to get them. 

She is already showing more curiosity and interest in me than either of the other two did in this timeframe. She is also sassier than them both and I think will have more fighting instincts that they do. Which, is both good and bad really... Could go either way!

I named her Sriracha. Pretty sure it's perfect.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mule Mondays: Guardian

In today's edition of Mule Mondays...

That's Pax, P, and Lendri all laying down, with 32" Uma standing guard over them all. Even though she still probably can't even see over P's head. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Big Reveal

I've been hinting on and off that I won't be showing O next year, but be focusing on Dylan instead. Quite a number of people have been asking why, and wanting to know what's going on. 


The first part of that answer is pretty obvious: I have an incredible riding horse for a limited time only. I want to fully utilize that! 

Dylan was supposed to go to his first WE show this weekend, but we ended up having to scratch due to several factors - the weather, a change in venue, and a super late running schedule that would be putting me back at home just in time to unload the horse, drop the trailer, and drive back out the driveway to go to my first clients of the morning on Sunday. You think I'm kidding but I'm not. I had no idea a one day show would need three entire days. I would have taken an extra day off had I known! As it stands, I decided it would be prudent to stay home, keep practicing, and prep for the next one, which is next month. Dylan won't be showing much (hardly at all) until October/November, when I expect things to ramp up a bit for him - O's season will be winding down and finishing at that point. And that's when she will be done for awhile, while I focus on him.

But she won't just be sitting around... she'll have something else to be doing in the meantime! 

Now before I get any further, I of course feel obligated to give my little speech asking people to not send me hate mail and tell me I'm an evil irresponsible ass for breeding my horses. I'm 31 years old now and I could give a damn what people on the internet have to say about my decisions, seriously, but it would be nice to not have to deal with all of that hatred. People are UGLY about breeding. I wrote about it when I bred Pmare last time. I got absolutely the WORST flack when I talked about breeding Gogo, so much so that I'd walk away from my posts in tears sometimes. It was horrible. 
Now of course, I am older and give way less of a damn about basically everything. So, I have no qualms about sharing my experience this go-around. Most everyone was super positive when I bred Pax, although I did get some 'you should kill yourself you cruel person' emails when I decided tentatively put her up for sale. Whatever. 
Surely by now I have also appeased the "get a rescue" people. Between Darby, Zuul, and the mules I think I have done my fair duty. And I would absolutely rescue again. And will rescue again!
So, if you have a problem with my carefully thought out and planned for breedings - go away and thanks for reading. Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.
And if you don't have a problem with it - read on my friends!!

I really believe that O is just one of those super rare once-in-a-lifetime finds. Taking a chance on a spastic, almost unrideable $500 warmblood was risky and may not have paid off for someone less determined than myself. I believed in - and will always believe in - this mare, and fought to find something she would succeed at and love to do. And I found it in driving, and she has been basically unstoppable ever since. Is she difficult sometimes? Absolutely. But I wouldn't want a deadhead slave animal who plods along just doing whatever I ask anyway. That's the kind of animal I *wouldn't* breed. I want my animals to be full of life and power. And now that O has a job she loves, the only troubles I ever have with her are when she is either super hormonal or when something isn't quite right - like needing a chiropractic adjustment. The rest of the time, she gives me everything she's got. She is sound and strong, a beautiful mover who can turn on a dime and go forever. I want to replicate all of those things.
And Dylan of course needs no introduction. He is truly a testament to his breed. His show record is so vast and extensive that I wouldn't be able to fit it all into a simple post even if I tried. He is 15 and is completely sound, and requires no maintenance aside from the basic stuff I do for everybody. He is an incredible mover. He has schooled through Intermediate and I have no doubt that he would be a Grand Prix horse if he were in more capable hands than my own. He is charming, kind, gentle, and easy to handle - watching him bloom into his own over the past 6 months has given me this really amazing insight into his personality, something I think a lot of people breeding don't have access to. And to have both of these horses here - to be able to work them both, have a history with both, and a relationship with both - that is extra special to me. 

What I am hoping to get out of this cross: Big, flashy movement, short coupled and powerful, and the ability to do dual time as a dressage horse and a driving horse. I believe in breeding like-to-like as your best chance of really getting what you want, and I think these two will really deliver. It's not so much trying to improve on one thing or another - it's trying to enhance what they both have to offer. Dylan is homozygous so I am guaranteed a grey - it would be amazing to get a matched pair of driving horses out of these two in the future. But, we shall just have to see about that. 


I've talked a few times about wanting to breed P to Lasting Impression. Look at his bloodlines. Do you know who he is? That's Gogo's FULL BROTHER. He was a GP horse at one point, approved with the Belgian Warmblood studbook, and is now still around in his 20's, bebopping around hunter courses with his adult ammy rider, still sound and going. That says a lot about longevity to me, something I did not get with Gogo. Whether or not Gogo's issues were just freaky ones, or whether or not there was some unknown reason she could never quite heal properly, I'll never know. But at the time, I didn't want to breed her because I was worried her subsequent foals would have the same issues she did, not to mention the fact that I didn't think she could carry the weight of her pregnancy on her legs. And I still think that was very sound reasoning, but I regret losing her and not being able to breed her, and still miss her, every day.

But now I have access to these bloodlines once again. I have access to them, and the chance to combine my most beloved bloodlines into one. He is a fine stallion that I would have been happy to pick anyway - but because of who is he is, he is extra special.

What I am hoping to get out of this cross: A big, good minded all-arounder. Baby should jump like crazy but probably will move quite huntery, which is fine for my purpose. Gogo did too, and while she wasn't going to be a upper level dressage horse, for an eventer she was exceptional. This stallion is known for putting really quiet minds and good size on his babies. I do hope one day to get back to eventing, and do more foxhunting as well. This one is not going to be an upper level dressage horse by any means, but it should be able to do just about anything else with athleticism and a good heart.

Anything and everything can happen when trying to get mares pregnant, so I'm not going to jump on anything until we have heartbeats confirmed for both of them.

I can't tell you guys how excited I am for both of these crosses!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Happy Birthday Pax!!!

Happy 1st Birthday Pax!! My little tiny baby is now a big, bouncy yearling and I can't believe a year has already flown by. 

One year ago today, P decided that 9:30am was the perfect time to lay down and have a baby - we didn't have one single missed night of sleep in the barn! It was an easy birth, and the baby popped right up within a 1/2 hour unassisted and went straight to the milk bar with a strong latch. Basically it was the easiest breeding season ever - P was ready to be bred right at the very first time we took her in to check her, caught with just one dose of semen and only the one breeding, carried with no problems and needed hardly any extra calories, and popped a perfectly complete and healthy baby right out. I'll never have a season that easy again, that's for sure!

She is 14.1 now at the withers and 14.3+ at the butt, shedding out to be a shiny dark liver again. I imagine she'll be like her mother with the fading, unless kept under a UV sheet all the time! She does everything a good baby should know how to do - leads, ties, trailers, clips, bathes, blankets, comes to be caught, stands to be trimmed, wears her flymask and flyspray, knows the very basics of how to lunge, and has worn a saddle and girth and been led around with it. She takes everything in stride and doesn't worry about any of it. She's going to be a fine strapping beast when she grows up!

While it's not 100% a done deal until a contract has been drawn up, I do have a good friend who really wants her and made an offer that I accepted. While I did not breed her to sell her, she truly would be in the best of hands with this friend and I of course would be able to stay in touch and watch her grow up, and have the ability for first right of refusal. This friend is a consummate horsewoman that I have known since we literally were grade school kids at summercamp together. We both grew up totally horsecrazy together!

And selling her does have a small bonus - it frees me up to for my plans for next year... I'll share that next!

Happy Birthday Pax!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

NTW Games Day 4/17/16

O does it again!!

Did I win?

Sunday was the first Games Day of the year, and O did not disappoint. She is definitely feeling better after her chiro visit - her first pattern she was still a bit resistant and head-tossy, but as she settled in and found she could actually move her body parts normally again, she really settled into her old self again. She is still wanting to be counterbent in one direction, as she always is, but I think with regular chiro visit from a chiro who actually helps for once will keep her in better alignment. 

We had 4.5 inches of rain yesterday alone, which was pretty crappy. It was pouring when I woke up, pouring when I loaded, pouring while we showed, and pouring on the way home. Despite that, quite a lot of people showed up to play!

There were four classes in the morning - double barrels, regular cloverleaf barrels, double keyhole, and a class called Coney Island which is full of weaving cones as well as barrels. These are all patterns we have done before, so I won't put them up again - but if you want to see them, they are all up on my previous Games Day posts.

And O won every single class. Which was completely amazingly awesome.

In the afternoon, we did the cones course and the Derby, which is run over the same cones course but at speed. All the other classes are limited to trot only, but in the Derby, we can canter/gallop/go however fast we like! It's a huge fan favorite - we all love to go speeding around.

And O won both of those classes too!

The day wasn't without drama though. Aside from the lashing rains and howling winds, we had two major mishaps. The first occurred when an aged pony, who apparently hasn't been eating all that well lately, just quit on his driver halfway through a course. He is normally a really speedy competitor, but with everything combined - weather, age, not eating as well lately - he just gave up halfway through a course and plodded home at a walk with muscles trembling. Pony and driver are both now fine but it was a worrying moment.

By far the scarier moment of the two happened in the Derby. My main tough competitor, the one I have been head to head with at most every show, was coming up 2nd place to me in every class this go around. In the Derby, horses are allowed to (and encouraged to) canter, though they of course strongly recommend doing it safely. She shot off into the Derby like a rocket and was flying around the course - I thought for sure she was going to win. Then she came around a tight turn in her 2 wheel vehicle, and may have been sitting or sliding over to the right - and the carriage rolled right over onto its side, tossing the driver and then dragging her as the carriage righted itself and the horse continued on. Thankfully, this is an experienced pair, and somehow the driver kept hold of the reins, which stopped the horse before she got very far. It took quite a long time to get the driver back up, but the horse stood quietly and both were more or less all right. Needless to say, I cantered my turn in the Derby but took all the wider turns - it was a bit sobering to see a wreck right in front of me directly before it was my turn to go. Getting bucked off a horse is scary enough, but getting thrown out of a carriage? Completely terrifying, especially if the horse gets loose. It could have been a lot worse than it was. 

So far this year, I believe O is currently sitting in the #1 spot for Horse of the Year points. If we're lucky, we might just get it this year!!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mule Mondays: Tall

In today's edition of Mule Mondays...

Uma uses the rocks to get taller than Lendri, and smoosh her. Smart girl... 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Chiro Time!

After O's uncharacteristically poor performance in the dressage at Sunrise Ridge, I thought she might be in need of some chiropractic work. She was definitely full of blazing hormones, which didn't help anything, but she was also really titchy about the bit and about turning to the right, which is a bit out of the ordinary for her. I've used a couple of different chiros since moving to Texas, and hadn't ever really found one I liked - but had the name of a new one, who came out yesterday to work on both Dylan and O. She was both kind and thorough - the horses are the ultimate judge here, but as for me, I really liked her! It has taken me a few years of being here and searching, but I now have a dentist I love and hopefully a chiro I love too. I did have a really good bodyworker as well but she has moved back to Georgia unfortunately, which sucks.

I was definitely right about something being out and restricting her on the right side. She needed adjustment in several places, including her jaw, poll, wither area, ribs, and SI. She also worked on her femurs and front sesamoids on the right side, which I've never seen a chiro do before. She had me feel them before and after - before they were decidedly grindy and crunchy feeling, after they felt much smoother. 
Dylan was the surprise - he was out literally all the way from jaw to tail. K told me he hadn't had chiro work in quite a long time, so it's not surprising, but he rides so well and so evenly in both directions that he must be really excellent at compensating. He really tried to be a good boy, but it was clear that he was really sore in certain areas, and he tried to bite us both several times as well as spent a lot of the time crossing his jaw and chewing his cheek. He's normally very kind and not a biter, so it was obvious these areas were really bothering him. When the adjustment went through, he would yawn these enormous yawns. 

After each adjustment, she waited for the horse to respond with a lick, chew, headshake, and in Dylan's case a whole bunch of yawns. If the horse didn't respond, she worked on the area again until she was sure that the horse had released. 

Both horses have 48 hours off following the adjustment. Dylan needs to be seen again in a month, and I need to do tail tucks with him AM and PM to help engage his abs and stretch out his back. He's already a very typical Spanish horse who gets very short in his back and upright in his neck, so he'll probably want to go right back to old habits, but we'll be sure to do lots of stretchy work with him to help keep that back supple and strong. I haven't ever done much lunging work with him, but I may put a chambon on him and work him that way to help that back stretch out. 

He says ahhh those mares are in heat! Also, riding has helped me lose a few pounds! 

I love these things. Poor dude was getting so bit up by flies that his legs were bleeding. Not anymore! 

O has a show on Sunday, just a fun Games Day, so I was happy to give her this week off after Sunrise Ridge to get adjusted and relax. The Games Days need no preparation beyond that - she'll go in there and work for me like she always does at these fun shows. Here's hoping she'll turn and burn extra fast now that she should be feeling better!