Friday, July 25, 2014

Vacations Rock!!

I am back from the dead. LOL.

MH and I took our little vacation to Oahu, Hawaii and WOW!!! What an amazing vacation.


I have lots of pictures to share, but have been so busy since we got back that sorting them out and labeling them (so I remember what was taken where) is slow going.

People keep teasing me that I probably need a vacation to recover from vacation, but in truth...MH and I kept it pretty low-key while we were there. It was a true vacation; hanging out on the beach, napping, hanging out on the beach some more, a little sight seeing here and there and then hanging out on the beach some more. Our couple attempts at 'touristing' was sort of disappointing. The Polynesian Cultural Center wasn't what I would call 'cultural'...Just a shallow glimpse into a mixed bag of the various island groups and Sealife was not particularly thrilling either. We didn't even bother to go into the downtown Wakikiki or Honolulu areas (Why, when we had a much more private and relaxing beach right out our back door?).

The first 7 days, I could almost imagine living my whole life like that...But by day 9, I was getting antsy to get home. I was missing my animals and I have a pretty awesome life right where I'm at.

Things had worked out very well for us before we left, I had a pet sitter hired to come feed/water everyday, but a rodeo buddy from AZ came up and stayed at the house while we were gone. That was a lot of reassurance to me that someone would be around the place almost all of the time to keep an eye on everyone.

I did get quite the giggle when she texted me to tell me that she attempted to give Frenchie a bath and that it hadn't gone so well. Poor girl. I thought she understood when I told her that Frenchie was a range mare. Frenchie has added another name to her growing list of NON-fans. LOL.

I knew that baby Flash would change while I was gone, but holy WOW!!! I think he almost doubled in size in the 2 weeks I was gone...

Just for comparison, this was him at one week...

That is a whole lot of growth in just 2 months. Frenchie can act however grumpy she wants, apparently she has magic milk. LOL.

Right before I left, a new horse came to live with us as well. I didn't get pictures of her right when she got here and the change in feed and climate has not been kind to her, so it will be a little bit before you guys get to see her. She was trim when she arrived and I feel really bad that she looks so gaunt now. She is also very lame, which I knew when I bought her, but that will be remedied in a few days and hopefully after that is taken care of, she will start to pack on the weight. I'm so stinking excited about this mare though. I was hoping to get her bred to Firewater Fooler for a 2015 baby, before she arrived, but the previous owner missed her heat cycle, so she is open. Considering her condition, that is probably not a bad thing. I'll get the old girl fixed up and she will be better prepared to be bred next spring.

Some days I have to pinch myself to realize I am not dreaming....The level of mare power I have now and the stallions I am breeding too?...It's a dream come true.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Duties

Boy, I sure am having a hard time getting or staying into the swing of the 'horse thing' this summer....Well, at least the riding aspect.

The property is requiring a lot of attention and it is taking up most of my time and energy.

The first couple of years, we all busted butt just to get this property cleaned up and just get it to the point where we had ideas of what we wanted to do.

The next couple of years, I got busy rodeoing and only did the bare minimum in maintenance.

This year...With Moon out of competition and having spent all winter riding, I have pretty much decided that this summer is the summer we get this place finished up.

Right off the bat, I had to go in and replace 200 feet of buried irrigation line...

There was a couple of obvious leaks after turning on the headgate, but once I started digging I realized that there was more damage than I anticipated, so I rented a backhoe and started digging. I guess that would explain why I didn't have any water pressure at the house last year. :-/

The biggest problem though, was/is the fact that the prairie dogs moved in, in full force, last winter and absolutely wrecked the pasture. I guess with no horses and no activity around here, they decided to take advantage.

It took a little doing...3 shooters, over a few weeks and we have managed to disperse of the majority of them. The tally is close to 200. Good lord!!

Once we got the numbers down and I got the waterline fixed, I was able to turn my main headgate back on and flood the pasture. Hopefully drowning a few more, but definitely driving them out of their homes at least temporarily. After that, I ran around with the bobcat and a shovel, filling in holes and leveling mounds. Not only does that make the pasture safer for my horses, but now I can go back and locate any 'live holes' and gas bomb them.

We still have to contend with the main town, which is on the vacant property next door. The asshole, absentee owners won't do anything about the prairie dogs on their property, but they spent the money fencing off the property and posting 'No Trespassing' signs. We respected that for a couple of years, but no more. They can shove those 'No Trespassing' signs where the sun doesn't shine. All three surrounding properties have had to deal with the increase in the prairie dog numbers and we are done. Time to put a severe hurting on the main population. If the absentee owner is LUCKY, we won't send him a bill for the damages his negligence has caused everyone.

Which for us means, I pretty much have to feed hay all summer now. And the entire pasture has to be plowed under and replanted. It's too late in the season to do that now, but this fall, I'll have the south half redone, leaving a 5 acre parcel for the horses for the winter. Next spring, we'll tear up that 5 acre parcel and have it replanted.

MH has worked his usual magic though and made my life a whole lot easier. This little beauty showed up last week...

It went right to work the next day. MH mowed down weeds at our place and then went right to the neighbor's and mowed his pasture. Right after that, I had him hook up the disk for me and I set to work disking my arena. The disk isn't enough to get in and work the ground as deep as I need it, but it's a start. I'll keep working on it and see if I can't rent an arena ripper from one of my friends for an afternoon. Will probably need a shot of rain to soften up the hardpan before that happens though.

Now I just need to go buy some gate posts and gates and we will be able to put the post hole digger to use and get gates in where I have been wanting to put them. That means I can finally segregate the pastures the way I have been wanting too and put in a couple of small shades. People keep asking me if I am going to build a bigger barn here and to be perfectly honest...I'm not all that interested in a fancy barn. When it's done, I'll have 5 nice sized pens with shelter and 2 large enclosed stalls, 2-3 acre pastures with shade/shelter and a 9 acre hay/winter pasture, with a windblock. That is about as fancy as I care to go. Anything more than that is just too much work and takes away from the time I have to work with horses.

As far as the house, we are down to the last few little details. The roof is getting reshingled this year and we are putting in automatic sprinkler systems for the yards and landscaping. I have been working on finishing up the flowerbeds I want, so that when the watering system is put in, they know what needs to be laid and boy, oh boy...will that alleviate a lot of work for me. I had to stop adding landscaping because keeping up with hand-watering everything was taking up a tremendous amount of time.

Hopefully, all of this stuff will be completed by the time the weather gets nice again in September. LOL. I'll be ready to get focused back on the horses by then for sure. Just in time to have everyone ready to go when it's time to head back to Arizona for the winter run. :-)



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cloud Nine

I am floating on cloud #9 right now....

Frosty finally put together an absolutely beautiful run last night and I got a little taste of what I have thought this horse was capable of all along.

It came at just the right time too because I was sort of starting to wonder if it was ever going to happen or maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part.

We finally got back to barrel racing a couple of weeks ago and the first run back, Frosty went down with me on the 3rd barrel. We pancaked on the backside of 3rd. One instant I'm looking at the gate prepared for the run home, the next I'm looking up at the sky, realizing my butt is on the ground...and so is my horse.

It's all good. He was fine. I was fine.

The ground was not the greatest, but it didn't warrant a fall. Frosty is notoriously lazy with his feet and it finally caught up to him. The fall did not freak him out all that much. I had kicked my feet free and let go of the rein and he got up and loped 'home'. Then he just stood quietly at the gate waiting for me to catch up to him. LOL.

But I guarantee...since then...He has paid more attention to moving his feet quicker through the tuns. So in all reality...it was a good wake-up call for him.

We skipped the other barrel races that weekend, but I did enter the local weekday jackpot rodeo that is just a few miles from my house. The ground at this arena is notoriously poor and at this time I really think that Frosty needs to get some experience learning how to handle his feet and body in less than ideal conditions. He's definitely not been running hard enough to hurt himself...or even me, should he go down again. And if he can't handle himself at slow speeds,  he sure as heck isn't going to be able to handle himself when he finally gets around to running faster.

As our goofy luck would have it...We drew up in the performance. For the last 2 years, I'd try like hell to get Moon in the perfs there and almost never drew up that way, so I'd draw out. The slack is run in the heat of the afternoon and I wouldn't subject Moon to that because of his breathing problems. With Frosty, it doesn't matter when we drew up. Pretty ironic huh?

Poor Frosty...It was his first rodeo performance...lights, loudspeakers, loud music and a big crowd.

I can honestly say, I had no idea how it was going to go. Frosty has been around all of that before, a lot actually....but he's never had to make a 'run' in those conditions. But again...Might as well start getting it out of the way while he is running slow than to wait until later.

All in all, he didn't do too bad. The only place he got a little freaked was coming across to the 2nd barrel. There are grandstands on both sides of this arena, so he had a cheering crowd behind him and a cheering crowd coming at him and he wasn't sure he wanted to run toward all of that noise. He bobbled all over the place before the barrel (I don't think he ever saw the barrel) and made a big, sketchy loop around the turn. He did regain his focus though, found the 3rd barrel and turned it pretty well. He sure wasn't trying to lean like he was the run before, when he fell down. LOL. Stayed nice and upright. Lesson learned!!

The biggest problem that Frosty still has is, not getting his lead change going into the 2nd turn...which causes him to have to hop on his hind-end through the turn. Obviously, when a horse is in the wrong lead in a turn, they are completely unable to pull that inside hind leg up to balance on.

As you all know, most of the reason it took me so long to get Frosty to the point where I thought competition was even warranted was the fact that he struggled so much with his lead changes.

Some people won't run a horse until they are fluent in lead changing...Some people just start going and let the horse figure it out. As usual, I somewhere in the middle on that. I do think that a horse needs to at least understand that a lead change is required, but they kind of have to figure out on their own when and how to get that done. I started competing on Frosty when I knew, that he knew, he needed to make that lead change, but whether he accomplished it or not was still pretty hit or miss. He was doing pretty good when I was running him to the left, but since switching him to the right, he has not been getting that lead change.

Now, there are exercises that I have used on Frosty to work on his lead changes, but I stopped doing them when I was working him on the barrel pattern because he was beginning to think more about the lead change than turning the barrel. In short...It was freaking him out a little too much. Frosty is not a quick thinker and it was too much stimulus for him. I went back to doing nothing more than stopping him well before the barrel, letting him settle and then kicking him off again in the correct lead and letting him make the turn. The only goal was that he was hopefully building some muscle memory so he didn't have to 'think' about the lead change, it just happened.

I exhibitioned Frosty 2 times before the race. Both times, just loping him up, setting him down, waiting for a second and then letting him lope around the barrel, in the correct lead. I just wanted him to get a feel for the ground (which was beautiful) and refresh his muscle memory before his run.

And boy did it work. He came in and made about as pretty a run as you could ask for. He rated, changed his lead perfectly and just flowed around the turns. Bellisimo!!! He was trying to run a little harder, but not much...He's still hesitant about opening up...which is perfectly fine right now....And he STILL shaved a full 2 seconds off of the time he has been running. Up to this point, Frosty has been running 3-4 seconds off of the fastest time...but this time he was only 1 3/4ths of a second of of the fastest time.

Whooot-Whoooo!!!!

I'm so stinking proud of Frosty. I so needed to see a glimmer of hope that he really did have the potential I kept thinking he had...and boy did that feel good. :-)