Friday, November 30, 2012

Pony Horse

Sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it, a pony horse? Up until I moved to Texas, I probably would have laughed and agreed with you. Until I moved to Texas, I was completely immersed in the English horse world - all that weird Western stuff was completely foreign and strange to me. Nobody ties their English horses, they crosstie. Nobody ponies their horses, they don't have the means. Nobody uses rope halters, they're crude and funny looking. Or so I thought. Hell, I didn't even know how to tie a rope halter properly at all, much less even tie a rope properly! 

That all changed when I was unceremoniously thrown into the Western world down here. I still don't get it, and I can't hardly sit in a Western saddle properly to save my life (even though I do it several times a day, several days a week), but there are some Western-esque things that I have embraced and assimilated into my training and my daily routines with my own horses. For example, Gogo couldn't tie to save her life - she crosstied, but only when she felt it was necessary. She was a religious halter breaker, and I can't tell you the number of halters she broke over the years from all the times she set back on me (yes, that is also a Texas term, "she set back" instead of "she pulled back"). Maybe I just got tired of it, but I have made it a point that both Pangea and Imogen learn to hard tie. Thankfully, they are both good girls, and I can now leave them alone and tied for long periods of time and know that no matter what, they aren't going anywhere. I don't think I really appreciated what a huge help it is to have horses that tie until I was around a lot of horses that all tie without problems. (All the Western horses around here do, and it is so EASY!) I also regularly use rope halters now, which was weird to me at first. Pangea has a leather halter, and I do school her on the ground with a chain, but Imogen? The very idea of putting a chain on her makes me cringe - I can't imagine how badly she'd react to that. I needed something with control that didn't come with the additional risk of scaring her half to death. Enter rope halter with extra nose knots - voila! It isn't enough to really stop Pangea when she gets bargy, but it does the trick with Imogen. The one I have for her is a wee bit too big, so she does need a new one, but it is something. And she will have a nice leather halter for shows of course... but not for schooling at home!

The last thing I wanted to make sure that both girls knew how to do was pony. In all honesty, I've never ponied horses before in my life. It's just not something that English people DO that often. Granted, it is pretty hard to teach horses to pony when you don't have a horn on your saddle, but still. I have a particular checklist of things for Imogen that she needs to solidly know how to do before I ever get on her, which is as follows:

1) Solid base of groundwork
2) Lunging (with tack)
3) Bridling, saddling, wearing of general tack/boots/clothes 
4) Ground driving - which we haven't yet covered
5) Ponying

The thought is this: we may use Pangea as a buffer for when I first get on Imogen. Sometimes with a hot, scooty horse, having a buddy there is not only calming, it provides a stop for a horse that tries to rush, scoot, or otherwise get anxious. I don't anticipate that she will, if I make sure everything is all properly squared away, but it is a handy thing for a just-in-case moment. The other reason for teaching her to pony is that I have an awesome tool in Pangea - she is a go anywhere, do anything ATV, and will do just about anything that you tell her to under saddle. Scale rocky hillsides, plow through deep water, pick her way through thick brush, you name it! Being able to pony Imogen off of her when we go out for trail rides is going to be a huge pay-off for me - she'll be exposed to TONS of stuff, and will have a calm and nonchalant buddy there with her the entire time to show her that things aren't scary. It is win-win for everybody involved - Pangea gets out to stretch her legs, and Imogen learns. And I get to spend time with my two awesome girls, of course!

Imogen is thankfully feeling much better after her little snotty nose reaction to her Strangles vaccine last Saturday, so on Tuesday I put her back to work on the lunge line with a full set of tack and bridle on. I actually tried Gogo's famous blue Happy Mouth mullen mouth bit on her, and she LOVED it compared to the other snaffle! I have a third snaffle I might try on her, a very thin double jointed loose ring, but she was very happy with the Happy Mouth. It's a good baby starting bit, so maybe we'll stick it it for now! She worked great on the lunge, and I even let the stirrups down on the jump saddle so they could flap around and smack into her sides while she moved. She didn't care at all. I think at this point we can safely say that these bases are covered - once we start ground driving, she will be ready to start under saddle.

It was also high time to teach her to pony! Thankfully, teaching horse to pony is super easy, so long as the pony horse is of a compatible personality, and they understand general things like what pressure on their halter means. Aside from being a bit surprised when I swung up into Pangea's saddle - she's never seen a human on a horse before, after all! - she took the whole thing in stride like a champ. By the end, we were walking, trotting, and stopping together with no issues. I think we can also check this off our list - ponying is easy!

I'd also like to point out that I had every intention of wearing gloves.... I put them out and everything. I just, you know... totally forgot to put them on. Thankfully there were not any rope burned hands in the process! 

The girls move to the new place on Sunday, and then it will be time to recruit some helpers for teaching her to ground drive. We've not covered that yet simply because I really do need a handler to help lead her while she learns how to do it, and I haven't had anyone here to help me. After that is squared away.... we back her!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Trailer Troubleshooting, Lousy Lunge Lines, and Volatile Vaccines

Well, we've had an eventful couple of days! After our success with the rope saddle, I was feeling pretty confident in Imogen's ability to reason with scary things and figure them out with relative ease. I decided that it was high time to start putting her in the AquaTread, something that I've been keen to do for quite some time. It will help with the desensitization process as well as get that enormous belly off of her, something which is hard to do while in the early steps of training (where we only go in circles for small amounts of time). Both girls had Thanksgiving off, and I cleaned up my trailer in the afternoon and readied them for an early morning departure on Friday. Imogen had loaded easily onto the trailer when I brought her home, so I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to get her on by myself. (I had help at work, but only in the form of a quiet cluck or two from behind her from a second person.) 

Well! I could not have been more wrong. Friday morning dawned bright, clear, and insanely windy, and it was all I could do to keep my trailer doors open with the blowing wind. I could barely walk upright myself! I pulled both girls out and loaded P first, thinking this would give Immy some incentive to get on the trailer. Unfortunately what this also did was give her a much smaller loading space to work with - my trailer is a two horse straight load, and while the divider can swing wide when there is only one horse getting onto the trailer,  it has to be locked in place when there is already another horse loaded. Immy took one look at that space and said not only no, but hell no. I pulled, I clucked, I backed her and lunged her for a bit... nothing helped to change her mind. She rooted to the spot, eyes bugging out, clearly wanting nothing to do with the terrifying monster cave on wheels. I unloaded P, I tried again.... nothing. I had no one to help me with incentive from behind, which was exactly what I needed, but I had an idea. Disclaimer: NEVER DO THIS with a horse known to set back unless you are super versed at dealing with this type of situation. It could end up VERY badly if a horse panicked due to the pressure from the halter around his ears. Imogen ties and responds appropriately to pressure on her halter, so I decided to give it a try. The plan: hook a lunge line to Imogen's halter, run the lunge line up and out of the side door, run the lunge line back to me, and stand behind her with a dressage whip (if needed) for encouragement. It almost worked - I had both front feet on the ramp and it looked like she was about to go for all four. My problem was that P was already on the trailer again, and Immy was stuck behind her with nowhere to go. Before I could make my next move, disaster struck - from out of nowhere, the snap on my lunge line broke clean in half, and Immy took it as a stroke of good luck for her freedom. She wheeled and galloped at high speed away back to her pen, where she retreated to the far corner and refused to come back. At this point, I was nearly 15 minutes late for work, and so much to my dismay I had to give up and take P alone. Not one of us was happy with this arrangement - me because I had failed to load Immy and also couldn't swim her, and P and Immy because they were now separated and extremely unhappy about that.

Notice her screaming? She's screaming for Imogen. She screamed ALL DAY LONG. She might also be coming into heat through.... that probably didn't help either. 

That evening, I bathed P and groomed Immy, and gave Immy a good long roundpen session and some cuddles. I hate to leave a horse hanging, especially when the hanging includes a huge problem like galloping away from a horse trailer! I guess you just do what you have to when you are running late for work... after all, without work there is no money to feed the ponies. Priorities, you know. 

Luckily, I had a chance to redeem myself Saturday morning - both girls were scheduled for a 9:45AM vet appointment for their Coggins and a few assorted shots. Since they are leaving where they are and heading to a new facility in early December, both of them needed updated Coggins, Rabies certificates, and the Strangles vaccine, seeing as I don't normally vaccinate for that but it is required as per my contract. Neither mare has ever been vaccinated for Stranges as far as I know, and I wasn't exactly keen to start. Strangles is a relatively high-risk vaccine, and reactions are common. Remember this... it will come into play later. Immy also needed a few other shots as well, which I planned on taking home and administering myself later.

The question now was this: would I be able to get her on the trailer in the morning, after what had happened the day before?

I had a plan, and it was relatively simple. After breakfast and a good grooming for them both, I'd toss on their coolers, tie P to the left hand side of the trailer to create a best-friend-and-moral-support barrier, open the divider wide for the right hand spot, run a lunge line from Immy out to the side door and back around to me, and cluck at her from behind. With a big enough block of time, as well as this strategically-created chute, I figured I had a decent shot... but would it happen?

It was almost completely foiled, all thanks to that same lunge line that had busted the day before. I've had the dang thing for almost a decade, and it has been useful and wonderful - the perfect weight, meter markers, a stop on the end, all the things I love in a lunge line. Alas, the years seem to have taken a toll on it, but after the snap had broken yesterday, I still had a metal piece on it to snap a secondary snap to. With the new snap in place, I tied P, opened the divider, hooked up Imogen, ran the lunge line through, and came around behind her with my dressage whip (which I never ended up using). A few clucks, a few wiggles back and forth, and I had her front feet on the trailer. And then, without warning, the second piece of metal attached to the lunge line broke, and Immy found herself free again. And again, as you can imagine, she wheeled and galloped away again back to her pen. Thankfully, she was easily caught again, and I rigged the line up again by tying it onto the snap. Maybe that would work?

Again, I had her front feet on the ramp. I almost had her back feet on too... and then the actual body of the lunge line itself broke clean in half, and once again I found myself watching her tail retreating back to her pen,  galloping away at full speed with a long piece of lunge line trailing. Again, she was caught, and again we tried, after I had tied the lunge line back together. (Note: I do have a second lunge line, but I couldn't find it ANYWHERE.... after I returned from the vet I discovered it was hiding under the backseat of my truck. I had forgotten that I put it in there in case I needed it for one of the dogs or in an emergency. Fail!)

Third time was the charm... she loaded!
At that point, I realized I had another problem - did I dare try and shut the divider while she was still loose, or did I just shut the ramp and then reach over and shut the divider from the outside once she was securely closed in? I opted for the latter, not wanting her to come shooting back out again while I attempted to squeeze her in with the divider. I shut her in, listening to her tap dance for a moment, and then looked up in surprise to see her head popping back out over the ramp! My oversized warmblood trailer apparently is no match for a tiny little mare - she had completely turned herself around and was now facing the wrong way. Did I unload her and try again, or did I see if she could turn back around while inside the trailer? I walked back to the front side door, took ahold of her lunge line, and tried to see if I could right her. Thankfully, she managed to turn herself around again, and was secured back into her proper spot. P loaded unevenfully, and we were off, making it to our vet appointment with time to spare. Score! 

The girls at the vet. Imogen totally showed up her big sister by standing immobile with a foot cocked, while P wiggled and pawed. Naughty girl...

Two Coggins, two Strangles IN vaccines, two sets of paperwork, and one baggie with Immy's other vaccines later, and we were off again. Imogen totally surprised me by loading onto the trailer with no problems at all - I guess she was ready to go home!

Both girls also had their feet done when we arrived home, the first time that I've done Immy's feet myself. They're pretty cruddy feet, there's no doubt about that, but there is a lot of promise in them. I am hoping that getting rid of the sweet feed and adding in the vit/min supplement will help give her the boost she needs to put out a better foot. She lands decidedly toe first, and has some thrush that we are working on clearing up. She has always, always been footsore after every trim I've ever seen her have (and all were done by a very good farrier who always left most of the bottom of her foot alone), so we'll see how she is feeling when we get her moving again. 

And remember that Strangles vaccine that I wasn't all that keen on giving in the first place? P seems to have come through it with no problems, but today Imogen has a snotty nostril on the side where she received the vaccine, and both hinds are stocked up. Ughhhhh! She doesn't have a fever and seems otherwise fine, so hopefully she'll be feeling better in a few days. Vaccines are the absolute pits. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks, 2012 Style

I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for my family, who still puts up with me even after all these years. The older I get, the more I appreciate them and I can't wait to see them at Christmas.
I am thankful for all my friends and contacts worldwide, who have always been there for me throughout the good times and the tough times alike.
I'm thankful for my wonderful Future Hubs, who puts up with me, laughs with me, gets into tickle wars with me, dances like an idiot with me, sings out of tune with me, snuggles me, and looks into the future with me, always right there by my side no matter what.
I am thankful for my menagerie of pets... the make me smile and laugh every day. Without them, life would be empty and colorless.  
I am thankful that I am still excited for the future, because it's only just beginning.
I am thankful for Texas, because even though it's one of the most ridiculous and random decisions I've ever made, it led me right to Future Hubs, Tonka, Twiggy, Monster, Pickles, Jasper, Mimi, Pangea, and Imogen... and that's exactly where I want and need to be.
I am thankful for Metro and Quincy, my two long gone but never forgotten boys. I honor their lives by naming my business after them, and not a day goes by without missing and remembering them.
I'm thankful for five beautiful, crazy, intense, amazing, eventful, and memorable years with my Gogo. She made me a far better horsewoman and rider, she made me laugh and cry, she molded who I am now as a young adult, she got me started on my career path of choice.... and so much more. 
I'm thankful for the chance to right my karma by bring Metro's daughter Pangea into my life. She is so much like her father in so many ways, and even when we bicker like an old married couple, she still makes me laugh and smile and thank my lucky stars for her presence.
I'm thankful for Imogen, and our beautiful new story together. If ever there was a story of fate, this is it, and I can't wait to see what the coming year brings for us. She is the true joy in my everyday life, and words can't describe how much I love her.

From Ti, Tonka, Twiggy, Jasper, Snidget, Mimi, Saba, Pickles, Monster, Pangea, Imogen, and myself, Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you all have plenty to be thankful for too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rope Saddle vs. Imogen - Imogen wins!

So far in the training and sacking out process, Imogen hasn't been bothered by my surcingle or jumping saddle at all. Once she got over her initial fear of towels and blankets on her back, everything else I've put up there hasn't phased her at all. (Hopefully this will, you know, extend to ME once I am up there as well.) I lamented briefly a few days ago that my puny little English saddles are quiet and non-invasive, and that there wasn't any real bombproofing going on while she was wearing them. What she needed, I said, was a big honking, creaking, swinging Western saddle of some sort to bounce, flop, and swing around on her for awhile. Enter M and S, clients of mine who are also blog readers - they offered up S's rope saddle for my temporary usage, and when I trimmed their horses last night I picked up and brought the saddle home with me. (Double bonus - I'm also going to toss it on P and use it to teach Immy to pony. Ponying from an English saddle only works with a horse that is broke to pony.... there's a wrapped horn on rope saddles for a reason, to dally down a running animal!) (PS - re-reading that last sentence makes me feel like I've been living in Texas a bit too long... I'm pretty sure I didn't even know what a dally was before I moved here, much less how to take a dally!) 

I wasn't sure what she was going to do. This saddle in particular, especially compared to my jump saddle, is creaky, very loud, very heavy, and has swinging stirrups, a breastcollar and a back girth to go with it. The back girth was the big question in this case - would she blow up once it started bouncing around? Back girths are often the cause for huge panic amongst greenies, but since it was firmly attached to the saddle, I decided we'd see how it went and go from there based on her behavior. I opted to tack her up in the roundpen, just in case something happened and I needed to yank the saddle or let her go quickly for any reason. 

I swung the pad around, rubbed her with it, tossed it over her back, and started doing to the same with the saddle. She gave it a half-hearted snort when I first lifted it off the ground, but once I hoisted it up high and started bouncing it around, she didn't care. From there, it was an easy up and over onto her back, and she still didn't care. I took my sweet long time adjusting both girths and bouncing the saddle around on her back (while I still had the chance to pull it in case something went wrong), and the only movement she bothered to do was to cock a foot. She lunged in both directions, w/t/c, and just did. not. care. Even the stirrups swinging around against her sides didn't bother her at all.

I'm 100% certain that before now, she has never been saddled. She was so genuinely scared of towels and blankets being put onto her back that I can't imagine a saddle has ever successfully been up there before.... but once she stopped bolting away from her blankets and decided they were all right, she no longer seems to care about anything I put on her. She is genuinely just a total genius!

No, that's not a butt tumor.... that's my phone in my pocket lol.

Genius. Genius, genius mare. We're getting closer and closer to her first ride every day!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Help for the Ear-Shy Horse

Today Immy had a full set of tack on (minus reins) for her lunging session!! She looks super sexy in her getup if you ask me - like a proper event horse in the making!

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but she has a gorgeous 4-beat walk. And that trot is a knock-out too! Also notice the back boots - she wore them for the first time and didn't care!

I suppose we can update this list again:

Stuff Imogen Knows How To Do:
- Halter
- Lead 
- Tie
- Crosstie
- Pick up all four feet & stand on the hoof stand for trims
- Shots & deworming (with only minimal fuss)
- Stand for sprays
- Stand for grooming & touching of all parts, ears & legs & belly included
- Blanketing
- Flymask
- Baths (including water on her face)
- Catch in the field
- Trailering
- Lunging loose & on the lunge line
- Saddling
- Surcingles
- Bridle (wearing only)
- Boots & polos

Stuff Imogen Doesn't Know How To Do:
- Everything else

Her lunge session went well today, but we are trouble-shooting with some small things that need to be addressed. Being a bit of a hot-head, the first thing Immy wants to do on the lunge is trot right off. I want her to walk nicely to warm up for a few minutes, but she isn't interested in that - she just wants to GO. I walked with her today for a few minutes in circles, slowly letting her out onto a longer line, giving her the command to trot once I had her all the way out there. That worked pretty well, but it needs work! Her other problem is that when she gets confused, she slams on the brakes and turns to walk in towards me. Trying to send her back out confuses her further, and she always makes the move to turn around and go the other way. Once you get her sorted out, she wants to explode out and power trot away again, which goes back to her not wanting to walk quietly while starting out. Other than that, she is listening to her commands quite well, although she doesn't respond well to commands to slow down when she gets rushy. It's a constant matter of slow down, slow down, quiet down, slow down. And when you do slow down, don't hit the brakes and come in to the middle! 

We also have the enormous issue of how terrible ear-shy she is. She is absolutely convinced that any time I touch her ears, especially her right ear, I am going to ear her. She lets me rub her poll and touch her ears now with relative peace, but putting tack on her head is a huge ordeal for her. Once it is on, she could care less about the halter or bridle being on her head, but getting it over her ears results in panic, bolting, and sideways thrashing. We have a LOT of work to do with desensitizing her to the process of ear handling, but this is something we'll work on side by side with training with tack on. Lots and lots and lots of friendly touches, as well as the command for putting her head down, are on their way. I expect this problem is going to take a very long time, seeing as it is severely ingrained in her mind. Poor, poor thing. 

Readers with headshy horses, what did YOU do to help your critter overcome their fear?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a SADDLE!

My genius mare just keeps getting smarter and smarter by the second, I swear!! 

Immy has been lunging well, wearing her surcingle without issue, wearing polos and boots (on her front legs) with no problem, and is totally over her temporary fear of blankets - I can practically toss them onto her and buckle away without worry. (A few chilly nights and warm days will make you bombproof to blankets REALLY fast!) Since I am severely short on daylight hours now that it is winter, I am unfortunately very limited in what I can do with the girls once I get home from work. The new place we'll be moving to has a barn with lots of lights as well as a lighted outdoor and covered roundpen, but the barn they are currently at doesn't have any lights at all. Once the sun goes down, I am royally screwed until morning - and by the time the morning light comes, I am already on my way to work. Such is temporary life, but we make it work as best we can. 

Today I had just enough twilight to pull Immy out for a grooming, and decided I'd show her the saddle, just for an introduction. Much like when I put a surcingle on her for the first time, I had no intention of actually getting it on there and fastening it up, but she was so remarkably unphased that it just happened! She was a bit snorty at it when I first showed it to her, but once she had a cookie and gave it a look, she didn't care anymore. The one thing she does want to do when girthed up is take a slow step backward, but a quick whoa stops that problem right away. I don't think that will become an issue or stay for very long, so long as I continue to be careful about girthing. Even when I tightened the saddle up a bit after we had walked to the roundpen, she stood like a rock and let me.

I tied my stirrups up - I felt that swinging English stirrups were probably a terrible idea at this point - and let her loose in the roundpen to buck/leap/run around/do whatever she pleased. And... she did nothing. At all. She didn't care AT ALL! 

Sorry for the dark dark dark dark pictures. Like I said, no lights!

If she continues to be a total peach like this, it won't be long before I am on her. She needs refining on the lunge, and she needs to start ground driving before I feel like I will have given her enough tools for go and whoa under saddle. She is still a bit too hot and reactive to be sat on just yet, but we're close!

Through the end of the month (while we are still stuck in the dark), I'd like to try and follow this schedule as best I can (light permitting):

Monday: OFF
Tuesday: Lunging
Wednesday: Desensitization
Thursday: Lunging
Friday: Lunging/Groundwork/Ground driving
Saturday: Pony off of P
Sunday: Lunging/Groundwork/Ground driving/Desensitization

Yes, she'll start ponying off of P shortly! I don't have a western saddle anymore, as I sold my cruddy old rope saddle that I used to trail ride Gogo in (it rubbed P something horrible), so we'll see how that goes. Come to think of it, having a floppy old western saddle around would come in handy, as she is going to need a floppy heavy thing on her to bounce around for awhile before I ever get on. My English saddles are too lightweight and quiet!

We did do some desensitization in the dying light yesterday afternoon, and I can't tell you how totally easy it was for her. All we worked on was some Parelli Friendly Game-esque stuff, swinging ropes around and desensitizing her to the touch of the rope and to my hands all over her body. She didn't care at ALL - I had the dang rope swinging over her head and in huge circles around her, and she didn't so much as bat an eye. In fact, she cocked a foot! I rubbed her everywhere, pulled the rope around her legs, scratched her belly, rubbed her poll, and even touched her chi chis with my hand. She did NOT want her chi chis to be touched, but other than that she was rock steady. We'll work on touching the chi chis, we'll get there!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tina, eat your food!!

Ever owned a picky horse? One that takes delicate sniffs of the meals you serve them, and disdainfully turns their nose up at it? One that WANTS to eat that food, but thinks it tastes ucky? One that carefully takes bites, and then spits them back out with the yucky face? I never did until now. But Imogen takes the cake - she is genuinely suspicious of any food that isn't already on her safe-to-eat checklist, so you can imagine things with supplements and herbs in them are mighty yuck to her.

She WANTS to eat them. There's no question there. She mills around by the bowl looking pitiful, taking bites and making sad, sad doe eyes at me, wondering why I would possibly want to kill her with poisoned food. She usually eats about half of her breakfast, and then finishes the rest for dinner, but that's about the only way I've been able to convince her that the stuff in the bowl is actually appetizing. Switching her over from a lifelong diet of sweet feed and oats is not to her liking, I suppose. (Who can blame her? Who wants to eat their vegetables when all you've been eating forever is candy?)

She snarfs her hay up, at least. She thinks piles and piles of delicious timothy and orchard grass are the most wonderful things she has ever tasted. And once she stops curling her lip and making bleugh faces at her little handful of grainfoods, she does eat them as well. But still... I'd like you to finish it in one setting, mare. It really is only about a handful!

But she sure looks snazzy in the blanket, no? :) She has gone in two days from total blanket panic (she apparently didn't remember how blankets worked) to almost letting me toss it onto her last night. (I say almost... I'm not quite ready to start throwing it up there yet, I think I might get trampled in the process.)

Lunging is going better and better every day! Yesterday she wore a surcingle and POLOS for the first time!! Going to the left, she got a bit rushy and pulled on me some, but going to the right - her harder direction - she actually was a very cool cucumber and stayed on a very light contact the entire time. Once you turn off her RUN FASTER button, she is super level headed and willing. 

And it is about time to pull off the catch halter and get her a real one of her own. None of mine fit her!

And.... Tailmasta has begun the taming. There's a long way to go, but I'd say this is a mild improvement!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Back to lunging!

Imogen had two big things happen to her today! Like I mentioned yesterday, today we went ahead and did our first lunging session outside of the roundpen. This is an extra big deal because the arena we were working in is not fenced in at all... this was a VERY big step! Lunging within the confines of a circle is one thing... lunging without is a whole 'nother ballgame!

On the whole, she was great - I don't think I could have asked for better considering the circumstances. P, of course, was hollering for her the entire time, the stallion that lives right next to the arena was rearing and putting his front feet over the sides of his pen, and the wind was gusting at 40mph. She put her game face on, and despite a few scoots and spooks, she kept it together and went to work. She did start out doing large ovals, ducking in on one side and pulling hard on the other (the side face where P was), and going to the right she slammed on the brakes and turned to face me a few times when she pulled on the line too hard on her own. I sent her on, and she ended on a great note, keeping even tension on the line the entire time and responding to a "walk" and a "whoa" command. 

You can see a bit of the pulling tension here... she's obviously not ewe-necked, just pulling! She's also still in her catch halter, just for a few days until I can make sure she's still totally catchable all the time!:

Notice the other new item? Boots! This is the first time she has worn them. I guess those crappy neoprene boots have a use after all ;) She was a bit concerned about the noise of the Velcro, but didn't mind them on her legs. We'll see how she does on the back legs at a later date, we're not quite ready for that yet. You can also get a decent view of her feet, which need to be done... they're not terrible feet, but they leave a LOT to be desired:

Tomorrow is a crapshoot due to the weather - we are supposed to possibly have severe thunderstorms and cruddy rainstorms on and off all day, so we might not get to do anything productive. I of course gave her a bath today, so you know she'll be rolling in the mud tomorrow! I made a stab at braiding her mane over to the right, and I washed and conditioned her sad, sad tail as well... we have much work to do on all this messy hair. MUCH work. 

And also.... P and Immy are apparently now besties for life.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I almost can't believe it, but yesterday the next step in making this whole dream a reality came true - Immy came home to live with Pangea!! This had been the plan all along, but I had been scheming and planning and dreaming for so long that it almost didn't seem like it would ever happen. I spent some time on Wednesday evening cleaning out the back of the trailer, reorganizing the tack room, and in general prepping for the blessed event, and on Thursday morning schlepped my trailer over to the other farm. I luckily scored an afternoon off of work in order to be able to get her home and settled during daylight hours, and prepped the trailer for loading. I had absolutely no idea what she would do - would she be a horrible nightmare or brilliant? I was assured that there had thus far been no problems with her loading, but you never know.

And.... she was fantastic. She stopped and snorted a few times at the ramp, which she probably has never been on before, but with a few clucks from behind, she walked right on. We closed the partition and the back door without any fuss on her part, and hooked her to the tie. She didn't move at all. Literally, not one step!

I even had to stop by the neighbor's house to throw food at her horses, and she didn't make a peep in the trailer or move even once.

Once at the farm, she continued to stand quietly even after I had lowered the ramp - long enough for me to snap a picture or two of that 257!

That tail... yikes. Tailmasta has some SERIOUS work to do. It's not good.

She was a little bargy when I first unloaded her and led her around, but that was the worst of it. I released her into the wild (or well, her new paddock) with P after a brief meeting over the fence, and as expected, all went pretty well. I normally wouldn't just toss two strangers in together like this, but both horses are extremely social and well-adjusted, and both have histories of being put out with horses they don't know and not caring at all. Immy trotted around for about 3 seconds, found the haypile, and settled in to eating. P ran her off once or twice, just to let her know who the boss was, and that was that. I got to spend a good long while watching them mill around eating while I picked their paddock clean, and mixed up grains for a few days. Imogen, for the past year, has been eating a mix of sweet feed and oats... and that just ain't gonna fly anymore. I already ditched the sweet, and am mixing oats in with her new future foodstuffs - hay pellets and a fat supplement. No hard grains here! While the fat supplement obviously has a purpose, the hay pellets are mostly just a carrier for her supplements, which will be a vitamin/mineral supplement balanced for her specific grass blend, Cosequin, a quality pre/probiotic, raspberry leaf, rosehips, and chia seed. We'll have to build up to all these new things, obviously, but she had her first taste of some of this new regime last night mixed in with her old portion of oats. She did NOT approve, and made grossed out faces for a few minutes before finally giving up and leaving the meal entirely. Thankfully, this morning she decided that she would give them another try, and cleaned her bowl. I honestly can't blame her for turning up her nose at first... she's probably never tasted a single supplement in her life!

By the end of the day yesterday, P and Immy were hanging out pretty happily together. By today, they were best friends, sharing from the same flake of hay and snuggling up together. Nothing warms my heart like seeing my two angels munching together in the twilight. Bliss... absolute bliss.

I had just enough daylight today to give Immy a quick grooming and put her loose in the roundpen for a short free lunge session. I actually had her tied while grooming, and she didn't fuss or move at all! I don't technically know if she hard ties or not, so it's all a bit of an experiment to see if she is going to set back at some point or not. She'll hard tie soon enough either way!

I was beyond impressed with her behavior. New roundpen, new facility, new friends completely out of sight, and she walked right over to that roundpen and got right to work without any muss or fuss. She took everything in stride, and didn't so much as call back to P for reassurance. (P, on the other hand, called a number of times for her!) I am just floored. This mare is a mad genius!

Tomorrow, we'll have a first - lunging on the line OUTSIDE of the roundpen, in the real arena. She's ready, but it's a big step!

And as a final note, now that the two mares are both mine and home together, I am thinking I should combine the two blogs to make one.... what do you think? It seems silly to have two separate ones now!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012



 Today, after so many months of hoping, waiting, and planning, my amazing dream became a reality. And it is all thanks to you, my amazing and incredibly supportive readers! YOU made this possible, and I can't thank you enough. SHE'S MINE, ALL MINE. ALL MINE FOREVER AND ALWAYS. 

 Yesterday I got the word that it was time for her to be sent back - FINALLY her lessee decided to ship her back to the ET facility. I jumped on that quick like a bunny and called the ET vet immediately, letting him know of my intentions. After some mild confusion (did the lessee pay a deposit? Was it already cashed? No there was no deposit after all? Which horse are we talking about anyway?), we touched base again today, and I was told I could bring a check over if I wanted to. Immediately after work, I headed up to the vet's facility, delivered my check, shook the vet's hand, and practically did cartwheels back to my truck. It feels like Christmas came early. I can't even describe how stupidly happy I feel!

Binders full of recipient mares.
The most beautiful, sweet, amazing mare on the planet is now MINE, ALL MINE.

Also, the Election. Three more states legalizing love! It's a beautiful thing.