Saturday, January 30, 2016

Prepping for Show Season - O

Thank you everyone for all of your kind words and thoughts about Darby. Now that I have set the date, I have a dreaded several days to make it through. I wish it was happening right now, but I didn't have any openings in my schedule and it's non emergency. She's on painkillers and is in her boots, and is content for the moment, but she's really not comfortable under all of that. She'll be all right until Tuesday, but I might not be. I'm trying to keep a game face on but underneath it all I'm pretty sad. I'm very fond of my old gal. 

Thankfully, there are lots of things to distract myself with, especially fun things like planning for O's show season - which includes needing a new outfit. It seems a bit frivolous to do things like this when I'm facing the imminent death of one of my herd members, but in a way I think it's healthy to do something light and simple. It brings about some small amount of balance, I think - weighing the hyperemotional and deep with the completely frivolous and shallow. It's why retail therapy really is a thing. And it does really help, I think.

Now that I have upgraded to a four wheel vehicle, I want get a whole new outfit. My two wheeler is that beautiful painted navy, which is lovely and beautiful and suits O very well. I had obviously coordinated my entire outfit to match that vehicle - a cream colored jacket, a navy/cream hat, navy/cream plaid apron, navy/cream bonnet for O. It is a nice outfit and while it does look a tad rookie (cause, I am a rookie!), I have now run into the problem of the entire thing being completely clashy with the new carriage. The Dartmoor is black. Black on black on black. There is no other color on it anywhere, save for some *very* minor tan pinstriping on the wheels. You don't even notice it if you're not looking for it. Needless to say, navy and black are super clashy and the whole outfit would look completely silly with the carriage. Black carriage, black harness, orange horse.

I asked about it before on the blog and I had some amazing answers and suggestions! I went to my apron maker and gave her all the suggestions, and then she went off and found a million awesome fabrics for me. I went back and forth, looked at them all, and decided I didn't love them. She pulled out several colors that had burnt orange in them, and that was it. I HAD to go with the burnt orange.

I'll be the first to admit that this is kind of a risky move. After all, my horse herself is bright orange. Her bright orange-ness was the highlight of the turnout prior to this because of how noticable and pretty she is. A really neon orange would be a HORRIBLE choice for her - any really bright colors, really.

The original apron fabric I picked actually ended up being too lightweight to make an apron out of, so I picked my second favorite choice:

There were several different ways I could go with that - I could pick any one of those colors for the jacket. A tweed, black, or maybe even burnt orange could all match well.

So, I decided to try going a bit crazy with it. And I found this burnt orange hat and jacket:

If I add some tan to the boring hat, it will match the apron and tie it all together. And look AWESOME. Or HORRIBLE, possibly. 

Now, I will have to put it all on and see if it clashes horribly or not. It's either going to look INCREDIBLE, or look AWFUL. I can't quite decide! The good thing is that the jacket and hat were both cheap Ebay finds, so if they turn out terrifyingly ugly I can take my apron and find a new jacket and hat to go with it. Go big or go home, right?

The calendar isn't full up yet, but I have a tentative outline set up. Last year I missed a LOT of shows due to weather/timing/crap happening, and I don't intend for that to happen again this year!


February 7th: Driven Dressage Schooling Show
March 19th: St. Patty's Day Driving Show (MAYBE)
April 2nd-3rd: Sunrise Ridge HDT 
April 17th: NTW Games Day
May 14th: NTW Games Day Romp
May 28th: HACA Pine Hill HDT
June 4th: OHHA Cowboy Country HDT
September 10th: NTW Games Day Romp
October ??: Let's Have Fun In Texas! HDT
October 30th: NTW Games Day
November 4th: Black Star CDE
November 30th: Crossroads Charity Show



I'd also like to give a shoutout to Janie at Chimacum Tack, who not only saved my butt this spring when I needed my new harness FAST, but who also got me several new harness parts after a shipping snafu. She had the wrong address (my old one) when I needed a longer girth, trace carriers, and shorter hip straps. We were unable to retrieve the package after it was sent, so she sent me a whole new package, which arrived today! Thank you Janie!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Getting Ready to Say Goodbye

Darby is going to go over the Rainbow Bridge on Tuesday.

It sounds abrupt. In a way, it is abrupt. She has been doing so well this winter, so much better than I had anticipated. I thought she might pull through the whole thing. I marveled at how well she was getting around.

Really tragically, something happened while I was on vacation that tilted the scale in the opposite direction. Future Hubs was here with the horses while I was away in California for a few days - I had set out enough hay to last the horses through the entirety of the vacation, but he was under instruction to keep an eye on everyone and to fill water troughs. He is not a horse person and hardly knows anything about them, but he does recognize when things are wrong and can identify what to do. And I will preface this story with the fact that I am in no way angry or upset with him for what happened. It really was an accident and I am not mad. 
On Saturday the hoses outside froze in the morning, so he couldn't fill troughs. The horses had water but the water did need filling, so he fretted about it all day long and when he arrived home after work (in the dark, at night), he went to fill them right away. He noticed one of the horses (which actually was Darby) was lying down and not getting up. He fretted some more, then decided to go into their pasture to check on her. He promptly wiped out about 10 times in the mud near the gate, but Darby did get up and was fine. When he left, he didn't full latch the gate. It really was a truthful accident.

Well, naturally all of the horses got out overnight. I don't know how he didn't hear Dylan trumpeting and freaking out all night (because surely he was), but the amount of poo and damage to our yard was proof that they were out there for quite a long time, probably all night. Our front gate is closed and locked at night, so nobody got off the property or anything, but they did gorge themselves on our fresh green lawn grass all night long. Poor Future Hubs came outside at 5am to find the mares all over the place. He managed to get all of them back into their field by some miracle - he chased the mules in, and led everybody else with a rope around their necks, including the baby... good baby! - and then went off to work.

I got home from California at 2am and gave everyone more hay, then inspected the damage. The yard is largely destroyed, poo everywhere, Dylan is covered in bite marks on his neck from where he probably was enticing the mares over the fence and getting strongly rebuked, Zuul's panels were all askew, Darby's blanket was completely off and stomped into the mud. And Darby was absolutely crippled.

A whole night of fresh green grass after living in what is essentially a total drylot for a chronic founder case is not a good thing. In fact, it's the worst thing.

I really am not mad at Future Hubs. It was really and truly an accident and could have happened to anyone. All he was trying to do was check on the horses because he was worried about them, and he made a mistake which totally backfired. How can I be angry at him for that?

So, I decided this was it. I had already said I wasn't going to go through heroics to try and salvage this poor old creature who has already suffered so much throughout her whole life if anything else happened to her. Especially with her, I don't want her to suffer unduly. I don't want to make her go through anything else, because she's already had more than a lifetime's worth of suffering and she didn't deserve any of it. What she does deserve it to be let go with her dignity. 

Everyone deals with these things differently. Everyone approaches these situations differently. Somebody else might do a whole bunch of heroics to try and get her through this and give her more time. Others wouldn't have even given her the time that I did. I don't think either of them are wrong, and I don't think I am wrong either. I promised her when I brought her home that I wasn't going to put her through anything more. And I stand by that promise today.

On Tuesday, she'll be put in the yard to eat as much grass as she likes. She'll get cookies, and snacks, and any food she wants. She'll be brushed and scratched, the way she likes. And then she'll be put to rest here at our farm, and then taken to be buried next to Gogo. Because after a lifetime of suffering, and pain, and starvation, and hardships, she deserves it. She deserves every bit of it. 

The hardest part for me was finally making the decision. So many times over the past eight months that she has been mine, I have fretted and worried and tried to decide if it was time. Over and over, it seemed like it might be time soon, but it wasn't. I feel strongly now that this really is it, and in that I have peace.

I dearly love my old mare. She just called to me from the moment I first laid eyes on her, and she worked her way right into my heart. To have suffered so much, and still be so kind and gentle and easy and sweet - it just says so much about her. Everyone always wants to know, why did I bring home a crippled old creature? Why did I want to spend time and money on this useless old nag? I can't tell you why I did it logically, because there is no logic in it. I did it because she called to me, and I knew in my heart I could not let this old horse starve and die alone and forgotten. I did it because I wanted her to know, at least for a little while, what it felt like to be loved. And I would do it all over again.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pictures from the Halloween NTW Games Day!

I didn't think these actually existed anywhere! Apparently, because I am a really bad club member I haven't actually logged into the club website in the last.... uh.... well, ever, I don't think, not since they updated the website. I'm not very good at being active in clubs to begin with, so I guess it's not really surprising, but I bothered to log in and check today to see what the final standing for year-end points was. We finished third for the year on the points list, which is not bad, especially considering the fact that we just outright sucked at one of the shows. To really be competitive for the Horse of the Year award, you have to attend every show and place highly at every show. I lost my chance after the Romp. Ah well - it's a new year after all! A fresh new chance to whoop some booty!

It has taken me literal hours to get these few photos downloaded. Our internet SUCKS right now. I don't know why it has been running *extra* slow lately, but it is driving me nuts. It shouldn't take 10-15 minutes to load a single page. The really annoying thing is that there is nothing we can do - satellite internet is literally the only thing we can get out here for the time being.

Anyway! They're not the best pictures but some of them are pretty great! We were the division Champions at this show - a great way to close out the season. 

Waiting to go in the ring. Life of a carriage horse - 5% action, 95% standing still 

Giraffe lady

Extra giraffe lady.... apparently she was mad about something! 

Love this picture!

This is a great one too! 

She was watching the competition go!

If you alter and zoom, you can get some pretty great pictures!


And Instagram

Now I'm excited for show season to begin!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Slow Internet Makes For Bad Blogging

One of my New Year's resolutions was to blog more. I have clearly been falling behind in this, but it isn't entirly my fault. Out here in the bumpkinlands, we have satellite internet, which means that whenever the weather gets questionable, the internet goes kaput. There isn't much we can really do about it. We do still have our phones and pretty good service with them, and I can post stuff to Facebook/Instagram when I'm out and about, but actually sitting down and writing blog entries isn't really so doable. If you really get down to it, technically it's not that bad of a thing - after all, I do get a LOT more done at home when I'm not sitting around on my butt wasting time. My other problem is that I have SO MANY other things I need to be doing. I have a buttload of horses to be worked, I have daily paperwork that needs to be done, I have a house that needs to be cleaned. Today in particular, I have hay that needs to be picked up and I need to get ready to leave for California midweek. I even have my trailer hooked up and ready to go because I was planning on going to ride this morning at WD. Unfortunately, it is 25 degrees and blustery out, and I am a complete and total wimp. I have been running and running so far this month, and haven't had much time to just relax. 

Last week I was able to trailer Dylan out twice to WD, and hacked him once. I feel better every time I ride, and feel like I am sitting better too. I'm still sitting defensively, which I think is just a throwback from riding O, but my shoulders are much straighter even though I am still leaning forward a bit. That's the defensiveness kicking in - the leaning forward, the legs a bit too far forward. It's improving bit by bit. I also definitely feel strong enough now to be able to take some lessons without looking like a total fool or being so exhausted that I pass out fall off halfway through.

I am also seeing a new physical therapist for my bad calf, and I do think there has been some improvement in my flexibility. It's going to take a long time, but I think I may be able to regain enough freedom in the limb to be able to comfortably ride pain free. This is so huge! I had really thought I was done with serious riding for good - the pain was so intense every time I rode that I didn't think it was going to be possible anymore. Now, maybe I still have a chance! 

I've been alternating back and forth between the snaffle and the double bridle. On days when I don't feel so solid, I use the snaffle, and on days when I feel really good I use the double. The feel of the double is really a wonderful and complicated thing, especially with a horse who is already double trained and knows how to independently work from each rein. I think it is only fair that I am strong and solid in my riding when I use it though, so I am mindful of how I feel before I get on each day. 

Little by little, I improve. The better I ride, the better he goes. 

Half pass

1/2 pirouette - easy speed racer it's not a reining spin!

Another 1/2 pirouette - much better

Big pats for good boys

Dylan has been barefoot now for four months, and his feet have changed SO much. 

I haven't trimmed him at all, save for nipping off a small bit of flare on the fronts once. He works and moves a lot on his own time, and maintains himself very well. I prefer to do it this way if possible. It's unorthodox, but when it is doable, it is incredible to see the changes that take place over time. 

For those of you who are better about blogging than I am - who has suggestions for making time to actually sit down and write things out? How do you get EVERYTHING in your day accomplished? 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Ramping Up Into January

I'm pleased with how January is going so far. I've been really trying to make sure I stick to a schedule with all the animals, and get all of their planned things done during the week. At the holidays, I often fall waaaaaaaaaay behind on getting everyone worked and done, and that happened this year as well - everyone has a couple of weeks off while I scrambled around trying to get everything sorted for Christmas. Now that we're back into the thick of things, I'm getting everything I need to get done actually done! This update will cover the non-riding critters, as they were the ones who got worked yesterday and today. 

The old ladies got groomed yesterday - it was the first time in about a week that they've been out from under their blankets. It's been cold and rainy and gross here for ages, and it's supposed to tank again tonight, but for the past two days the mares have been able to be nekkid. Pmare is turning 20 this year, and I think she looks pretty great for still nursing a giant 8.5 month old AND only eating hay. 

Speaking of the 8.5 month old:

Spooking at the neighbor's horses. Cameo by Dylan in the background

I measured her today and she is 13.2 at the wither. She just seems so HUGE all of a sudden. When did she get so huge??

Not scary

Also not scary

Lendri and Uma both got worked with today as well - Lendri gets the gold star for the day. She has been extremely skittish and standoffish, but now is starting to get friendlier. Today I was able to catch her easily, groom her, and even pick up all four feet. The last time I worked with her, she would leap away when you'd go to touch her legs, so this is a huge improvement. I don't know if she knew how to pick her feet up before - seems like maybe she did - but either way she is clearly getting more comfortable with me and is responding well to handling. She also leads well, which is super, because Zuul is *not* leading well at the moment - so at least one of them is. 

I'm really unhappy to report that Zuul seems to have a particularly bad habit - he bolts when leading. If I had to guess, I'd say this is probably the reason he was dumped at the auction barn. He leads fine in his pen, and he ties fine. BUT, going outside of his pen, he leads fine for a little while, and then will randomly fold himself in half and just explode off in the other direction. There is no stopping him. He did it in a regular halter, a rope halter, and a halter with a stud chain - nothing stops him. This is a huge issue because he clearly knows what he is doing, and knows that if he just runs as hard as he can, he'll get away. He doesn't seem to care that he'll then run around with a lead rope and chain still attached, stepping on the lead rope and shanking himself in the face over and over. What a bummer... he was doing so well too. I was admittedly wondering if something was going to come up somewhere - there had to be SOME reason he was dumped - but I was so glad that nothing of the sort had happened so far. Well... now we really do have a major problem. I *may* be able to get him so that he can lead safely, but I don't honestly know that he'll ever be trustworthy again. Apparently, according to my sources, this is a really common thing for zebras and their hybrids to do, and even the tamest ones will try it. Ah well.... we'll do what we can. I have a Be Nice halter ordered, and we have some ideas for training - but if anyone has any other ideas, please feel free to share them. Remember that zonkeys are not horses, and they don't respond to the typical stuff that horses respond to. 

But he's so cute even though he's a little monster

I tried that halter on Pax today too - it's way too big for her but it won't be for much longer. It only just fits Zuul - it's a yearling size halter. Considering the fact that he's only maybe 11 hands, and she's nearly 14 hands, I find that adorably funny. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Zuul has a Facebook page!

I had a ton of people asking me if I'd make a Facebook page for Zuul - so I did!

Zuul the Kill Pen Zonkey

Go there to keep up with the zonk himself! I'll be posting there often!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

End of December Analysis; January Goals!

One of my New Year's resolutions is to blog more regularly, even if it is about mundane stuff. It's worth it to make sure that I more thoroughly document everything. I might not have a ton of time at the end of the day to write *everything* down, but I do have the ability to make little notes on everything and make sure I have everything compiled for a full write up later. A lot of my fun, funny little stories go by the wayside because I forget to write them down. I always had loads of funny things to write about Gogo - I have quite a lot less of them now, but they are still there and still need to be shared!


Dylan November Goals:
1) Continue hacking out 1-2x a week!
Success, mostly! With the holidays and the bad weather we didn't get as much done at the end of the month as we did the beginning - as was to be expected.

2) Continue trailering to WD, 2-3x a week if possible
Success! Again, like with the first goal, we were gone for a week and then stuck in the mud the rest of the time, so we did the best we could with what we had.

3) Continue working on my own strength in the saddle!
Success! Again, always an ungoing process!

4) Contact the local trainer of my choice - ask about upcoming lessons! 
Didn't do this one, again - but I will. It really is a struggle because I want to be able to be strong enough and physically sound enough to make it through an entire lesson before I take one, and I don't think my leg is capable of holding up for that long. BUT, I am seeing a new physical therapist for it, so hopefully this gets better!

5) Continue working on the show schedule, which memberships I need to renew, get a calendar together, and plan which things I will need to replace
I didn't get this one done to the extent that I would like - I did get a calendar together, and I have a good idea of what I need to do, but haven't put everything completely together yet as I just haven't had the time. Dylan is currently acting more like my therapist instead of my show pony, so as we gradually shift from one to the other this will become more of a priority.

O November Goals:
1) Continue driving 1x a week 2-4 miles to keep fitness up through the winter!
Success! Like with Dylan, we ran into problems with time over the holidays, which is fine. Thankfully the holidays are over now, and aside from a short trip to San Fransisco this month, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon!
2) IF POSSIBLE: if ground is dry enough, drive in the pasture. It's still winter and show season is a ways off, but if we can do a bit of dressage and cones here and there, that will be very helpful!
There's just no way that was going to happen this month. It's STILL sopping wet here! It has to dry out SOMETIME.... right??

P/Darby Goals:
1) Thoroughly groom 1x a week! And spoil! 
Success! I did find out this month that Darby REALLY doesn't like being taken out of her field away from her friends - I had always groomed her and trimmed her in her field before, but I took her out this month to make sure the mud got rinsed off of her. And she just freaked! With the mud and wearing blankets all the time, our priority has been more on taking care of feet and legs instead of thorough groomings. They stay pretty clean under their clothes!

Pax/Uma Goals:
1) Leading/grooming 1x a week!
Success! And now I have Lendri to work on too - she is getting friendlier, so I'm going to continue to let her come to me and check me out first before I start grabbing her and taking her out of the pen. She grooms and ties and leads pretty well, which are the basics anyway - it's just getting her comfortable with having her feet handled more, and not being so afraid of people.


Dylan December Goals:
1) Hacking out 1-2x a week!
2) Continue trailering to WD, 2-3x a week if possible!
3) Continue working on my own strength in the saddle!
4) Work on physical therapy for myself - need to help my back and my left leg!

O December Goals:
1) Fitness work - conditioning drive 4+ miles 1x week
2) If ground is dry enough - cones and dressage work in the pasture. Must be dry enough though!
3) Take another Ruthie lesson!
4) Plan out next show season's new outfit!

P/Darby Goals:
1) Thoroughly groom 1x a week! And spoil! 

Pax/Uma Goals:
1) Leading/grooming 1x a week!

Zuul December Goals:
1) Be able to touch all four legs
2) Continue with the usual grooming, blanketing, haltering
3) Work on leading!


There's a lot to do..... ready... set... go!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Last Videos of 2015!

2015 has finally come to a close! I have nothing to complain about - I had an EXCELLENT year. I already recapped this year's goals; I still need to outline and go over next year's goals, which I will be working on in the next few days. I am currently trying to get over a super annoying head cold, which means that while I would like to be outside playing with the ponies in the 40 degree weather, I should probably spend time resting and recovering inside the warm house instead. It's a good excuse to catch up on my blogging, outline my goals, and get everything in order. I like to have everything organized, but I usually have so much going on that things rapidly fall into a state of total chaos if I don't stay on top of it. I want to start off the year right, and have everything outlined neatly - and keep it that way.

The final videos of 2015 were ones I took over the past three days. The first is of the little mules and our new family member Luda. He's a rescue who came as a foster, but he's probably going to be a foster failure! As you can see, he's a super good boy who hasn't quite figured out that you can't play with the horses the same way that you can play with dogs. Uma is a funny mule in that she *likes* the dogs and likes to play with them, but you can see that Lendri doesn't exactly feel the same way! 

The next video was taken on the 30th, and it is of Zuul getting groomed. I'm so impressed with how far he has come already - he went from totally feral to now being able to be caught and haltered, leading some, tying, wearing a blanket, and grooming. He even let me pet his legs a little bit, which is a BIG step. He's very smart - once he realizes something isn't going to eat him, he's usually pretty fine with it.

And maybe my favorite video of them all, or at least the most fun one: O going for a canter down the road yesterday!

I don't usually going speeding down pavement with my horses since it's a high concussion kind of event - but we wanted to see about teaching her to canter with the new carriage while on a safe flat road with two people, so we gave it a try. Remember, this is the horse who was an out of control bolter when I first got her!

Happy 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!