Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Little Weather

We got our little bit of expected winter weather. A nice, wet snow. I cannot and will not complain. That moisture is needed. Actually, we could use quite a bit more. Although I do prefer if the majority of it lands up in the mountains, where the snowpack levels are most important.

I try to take advantage of snow/rain days to work on at least one project indoors. I have no lack of them. LOL.

I started out just wanting to go through a storage container. I was looking for some of the instructional articles on sewing that I have saved over the years. I got a new serger for Valentine's Day this year and am most anxious to use it....but it's a wee bit intimidating. I've sewn quite a bit over the years, but have mostly stuck to easy to work with fabrics that have a minimal tendency to fray. That is all about to change. With a serger, I can work on pretty much anything. Hence the desire to find all of the info I have stashed over the years.

Well, if you are anything like me, digging into containers of saved information is a bit like finding a treasure trove. LOL. Not only did I locate my tips and ideas stash for sewing, but also pretty much any other kind of crafting, art, painting, woodworking, etc., etc., that you can imagine. Sooo... as usual, I ended up spending a few hours sorting and organizing it into appropriate sections again. Some of it got trashed, because it no longer interested me, but it's surprising how little my tastes have changed over the years.

Probably the best find was a thick folder of saved horse show patterns. Showmanship, Horsemanship and Trail stuff. All the years that Megan showed, I always saved the patterns. It helped tremendously to have patterns to work from for precision practicing at home.  Most of them are relatively simple 4-H and open horse show patterns, but I do have a pattern book from the World APHA show and a few more complicated patterns I nabbed at breed shows years ago. Even setting up and practicing sections of those intricate patterns will help a lot with precision.

I didn't have much of anything saved on Ranch Horse Versatility type trail obstacles though, so I did a little internet searching and found a lot of good ideas on how to make simple, affordable obstacles. One great idea was saving paint cans, painting the outside of the can in bright colors and filling them with sand for weight and using them as cones. Another easy idea was using 2 5-gallon buckets, some PVC, a little concrete mix and streamers of choice to make a 'car wash'. Old tractor tires, filled with dirt make great climbing obstacles (of course those are not easily moveable, so I might put them and a few other more 'permanent' obstacles at the far end of my pasture, in the otherwise useless strip of land between the irritation headgates and the fenceline.

I also found a stash of 'how to's' on inexpensive jumps. I haven't done any jumping since I was in equine college, 20 plus years ago, but it has always been one of the things I really wanted to do more of. Well, no time like the present to start laying the groundwork. I actually have several barrel racing friends that come from hunter/jumper backgrounds and I am so impressed with their ability to 'read' a situation during a barrel run. They tell me that it comes from having to learn to judge distances and count strides in a jumping course. Not to mention, all of these girls are excellent about keeping their eyes up and looking where they want to go. Again, it's the training they learned from jumping.

Suddenly, the space I laid out for my arena area doesn't look big enough. LOL.

But first things first. I had taken all of my ground poles and such to the Arizona house, not that I foresaw myself dragging all of that stuff back and forth, but I don't have a single pole or cavaletti left here, so I went and bought a stack of landscaping poles so I can begin doing some groundwork. Everyone has been off for so long now that groundwork is better than nothing. So that is my goal this week. :-)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ahead Or Behind

I can't figure out if I am ahead of the curve this year or so far behind that I'm getting lapped. LOL

This last week was a disaster. Apparently many of us that went to Pennsylvania got a 'bug'. On Monday, I had a tickle in my throat, but I was so irritated that I didn't realize it was a holiday and pretty much wasted my time going to town to run errands, that I didn't pay much attention to it. No banking and no postal service. Ugghhh!!! I woke up on Tuesday with a definite sore throat and a bit of a cough. But I had things to do, so I slugged my morning coffee and got to work. By noon, my throat and chest was on fire and after repeatedly getting light headed, I had to give up and retire to the couch.

And that was where I stayed for the next 2 days!! I managed to get my horses fed, but that was it.

Getting sick really interfered with my prairie dog eradication program. Yes...I'm still fighting those little suckers. They aren't back as bad as they were before, but only about one litter away from it. Grrrrr!!

My process seems a little ridiculous, but it's actually killing two birds with one stone...I bought a bunch of flags and walked around marking open holes. Then, because my irrigation head gates need to be dug out, I just take the bobcat up, get bucket loads of dirt and drive around the pasture dumping dirt on the marked open holes. There was A LOT of holes!! But by filling them all in first and dumping a pile of dirt on them, I have been able to reduce the number of holes I had to gas bomb to about a 1/3 of the original number of open holes. Now that the headgates are dug out again, I just need to take the box blade up and grade the land in front of them a little bit and the pasture will be ready to plow up and replant. I'll never completely win the war with the prairie dogs, the absentee land owners next door ensure that....Because they don't/won't do anything about the prairie dog town on their junky land, but between myself and my other two affected neighbors, we are putting a hurting on the problem. :-)

As you have probably guessed, I got absolutely nothing accomplished with the horses this week. In fact, after being sick for two days and then trying to get finished up with the dirt work before the weather was supposed to change, I totally forgot about the Western Dressage clinic I was going to go to this weekend. :-(. Darn it!!

I've had the mares up all this week, while I was working in their pasture, now that I'm pretty much done, I can turn them back out, but still need to get Frenchie and Beretta's feet trimmed. Miss and Belle are done. Those two sweeties just let me catch and trim them in the pasture. Beretta is no problem either, but Frenchie is back to being an assache about her feet. I know that foot that wants to club makes her sore in the shoulder, but every since I got this mare, I have thought she needs some chiropractic work. I didn't want to get into that while she was carrying a baby, but I guess right now is as good a time as it will get to get her worked on. I want to take her to the same guy I took The Big Bay horse to in Gunnison. It's a long drive for one horse, but what he does is so worth it. Quite honestly, if it wasn't for Dr. Komerack, I doubt I would have ever gotten Jet to the point he is now.

It's frustrating that a whole week slips by without a single horse getting worked, but I'm trying to remind myself that the dirt work in the pasture absolutely HAS to get done so the pasture is ready to be farmed as soon as possible. Getting the pasture replanted and getting grass back in there is my biggest priority this year. Not having ANY grass for the horses has almost doubled the amount of hay I have to feed and obviously that costs me big time. So I kinda figure if I can just get all of the property maintenance chores done by the 1st of March, I might be a little behind on riding horses....I'm ahead of the curve on everything else. :-D.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Busy-ness

Finding things to do around this area isn't hard. My schedule is filling up fast.

Before we went to Pennsylvania, I contacted a guy about a Ranch Horse Clinic and Show he is hosting in May. Come to find out...He lives just down the road from me...And is the same guy I bought a couple of 'free lessons' certificates from, at a benefit, a few years ago...And never got around to using...

He actually remembered me and not only offered to honor those certs, he told me to come on over and ride at his place anytime. He has a full Ranch Horse trail course set up and a flag. No cattle until April, but that is no big deal. I have a feeling the ponies and I are going to need a lot of work on the trail obstacles, reining maneuvers, and working the flag well before cows show up.

Along with that, to help get us in the swing of things, I've registered for a Versatility Ranch Horse clinic and show in the middle of March. There are 3 buckle series shows over the next couple of months after the clinic.

The first horse show of the season is the first weekend in April and has a full list of both Western and English classes. There is like 5 shows throughout the summer. We will see how I do at the first one, but I'm thinking I need a refresher course in 'showing' again, so will most likely attend a Showmanship/Horsemanship clinic and then a Reining/Trail clinic the first weekend in May.

I cannot forget my barrel clinic in April. I liked Ronny Clampitt last year and hopefully I will have 2 horses ready for this clinic. I'm hoping to take Little John and Jet, but if Jet isn't far enough along, I'll take Frosty and Little John.

A couple of the barrel race producers are offering pole bending at their series this year too. I LOVE pole bending. Usually, the only place you'll find it anymore is at the gymkhanas, but when the suggestion was made to offer them at the barrel races, the support was huge, so they are including it. Yay!! However, there are 3 for sure, maybe 4 different gymkhana series around and those will start up in late April and early May. So lots of fun, speed events to attend.

I don't know that I am interested in going to any of the purely reining horse shows around...I'm just so icked out by how u.g.l.y. that class is looking. The peanut rolling, trashy moving horses I see on RFDTV make me gag. But...I do have access to a really good reining horse trainer and since I have to take Shooter to his place for P3 treatments, I'm thinking I need to get a few lessons while I am there to brush up on some of my maneuver execution. I'll be able to increase my finesse in the reining portion at the Ranch Horse stuff. :-D

I also found out that another neighbor of mine does some team sorting. It's a bit of a travel to get to the practices now. The guy that used to put them on locally moved away, so everybody that he hooked on it, now drives 70 miles to practice. But talking to her, I did find out there is a cutting horse trainer in the area that I didn't know about. I'm more interested in cutting than sorting, so hopefully I can make a connection there and work on that a little bit.

And last but not least...The local Dressage club wants to start offering Western Dressage. I'm going to their introduction clinic at the end of February. I'd rather do classic Dressage, but not knowing ANY of those people has made jumping into the local mix a little intimidating. I figure I'll spend a little time getting to know some of these people through the Western Dressage end of things and ease my way into the classical aspect over time.

The only thing I haven't managed to get a fix on (again!!) is the roping end. Last year I finally got a guy to agree to let me come track some of his roping steers and get comfortable roping again and he ups and gets divorced and moves away. Dang the bad luck!! However, I just found out one of my barrel racing buddies is going to start roping and I am going to twist her arm 'til she lets me come practice with her.
 ;-). Her husband is a calf roper/team roper and hangs with some of the best (NFR-quality) ropers around and I gave her crap for 2 years for not getting them to teach her how to rope. She finally caved. LOL. I think she owes me the favor of letting me come practice with her because, after all, *I* was the one who convinced her to run barrels on a horse that wasn't working out as a rope horse for her husband. They were trying to sell the horse and I kept telling her, 'Put that sucker on barrels. He's going to surprise the hell out of you'. She was all, 'But he's 14 and he's lazy, and I really just want to sell him to buy a back-up rodeo horse, blah, blah, blah', but she finally got him going on the barrels and within 10 runs, he was clocking a 1/2 a second off of her good rodeo horse. Hahahahahaha!!! Now he is NOT for sale! So really...Don't you think she owes me? ;-). I found her, her back-up rodeo horse right in her own corral. :-D. All I need is an 'in' and I'll worm my way into the roper clique after that.

There is one weekly rodeo just down the road from me and I really haven't been able to take advantage of it. The slack barrel racing was at the hottest part of the day, which was not good for Moon and I started to take Frosty there last year, but the ground was so bad and he was timid yet, so I stopped taking him, but this year, I'll have 4 horses to choose from.

**And just like that...I ran into a friend at the ag store and he has roping calves coming that will be ready to rope in June. Guess that problem is resolved too. :-D.

This is going to be a GREAT year!!