Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bush Wackin' and Barrel Horses

After several weather induced days of this...

And this...

And this...

A person starts to go a little stir crazy and you end up doing things like this...


To be completely honest-this is a semi-educated bushwacking. I read on the internet that now is the time to trim lilac bushes. Right after they are done blooming. Well, I thought these bushes would finally have some pretty blooms on them this year, but no!! They budded up and then nothing. The buds just fell off without ever really blooming. According to the the directions you are supposed to trim back about 3 inches from the blooms and remove unwanted new growth from the bottom. That still left it pretty bushy and out of control. Mom made the mistake of telling me that one year they put sheep in the yard and they ate the bushes back to nothing. The next year they bloomed like crazy...Well, I don't have any sheep-so I guess my pruning shears will have to suffice. I hope it works.

It is still cold, but at least the rain has stopped, so I asked my little cowgirl if she wanted to go ride. Duh...
We saddled up and headed to the arena.
Megan is working Moon on the barrels this week because she has a 4-H Rodeo this Sunday.
As you can see, he is wanting to cheat her a little. Notice that hip wanting to swing out on 1st?

Now that Moon has figured out this run thing, he is really wanting to take off out of 1st. At least he is coming out straight.

Megan kept him under control and after several sit down and back up sessions between the barrels, she got him thinking again. Good girl!!
3rd looks much better. She is using her legs to drive him forward so that he keeps his hindquarters engaged and is traveling true through the bend.

What I find interesting with a lot of barrel racers is that once a horse is running, they don't go back to the slow work. For us, once a horse is running, slow work is about all we do. That slow work keeps a horse honest and traveling correctly to and around the barrels. They have to think about what they are doing rather than just running around the barrel pattern. Especially a horse like Moon, who has learned to "cheat" by flipping his hindquarters out and switching his leads.

We have been working Rip on that right lead. I can get him into it with little difficulty now. Megan still can't, but Rip is a big horse and I think her legs are just a bit short to really apply the leg he needs to drive him into that lead.
But now that we have a right lead, we can progress to loping around the barrel pattern.
There is still lots of trotting involved. Trot to the barrel. Stop square. Walk around the barrel. Trot to the next barrel. Stop square. Walk around the barrel. Trot to the 3rd barrel. Stop square. Walk around that barrel. Trot home.
Then we progress to lope to the barrel. Rate down to a trot-keeping in mind that the rate down must be nice and straight. Trot around the barrel, etc.

Just for fun and to see how Rip is progessing, I loped him all the way around the pattern acouple of times.

Boy is he keeping his frame nice. I love it when horses get to this point. From here on out it is just keeping that nice frame and letting them slowly add the speed as they get comfortable.

For those who might be wondering about the distance that I am away from the barrel. That is called a pocket and when you are training a barrel horse, you must always leave the pocket, all the way around the barrel. In Rip's case, because he is such a large horse, he needs a bigger pocket. When you start increasing the speed, the pocket will naturally decrease. It is much easier to reduce the size of a horse's pocket than it is to increase it, so I always leave plenty of room for the horse to turn comfortably and correctly.

PS-Nothing going with the foaling. I am getting a little worried because I have not seen the baby move in 4-5 days. Woofer's belly has dropped but the bag is doing nothing much. Anyone who has recently foaled--should I be worried that I am not seeing the baby move anymore?? I hate to haul her to the closest horse vet-50miles away when she is this close. Woofer seems to be fine-she is actually acting pretty squirrely for a hugely pregnant 24y/o.


Rising Rainbow said...

It's not unusual for a mare to go a month over a due date. You still have time before you get to that number.

Some foals get quiet during the repositioning process so that in itself is not cause for concern.

I just try to take my cues from the mare. Usually they will tell you if there is something wrong. The mare's behavior will change.

If the mare's not concerned it's taking so long, then I'm not concerned. I might be stressed from losing sleep but I don't worry that something is wrong. There'll be plenty of time for that if and when something happens that shouldn't.

Sorry, I don't have any better answers than this, It's a waiting game and there's just not much more we can do but wait.

Jamie said...

Looks like your "crew" enjoyed a few days of not so great weather!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

MiKael that is what I was needing to hear. It has been a long time-6 years, since I had a mare foal and you forget some of the details. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

notablogger said...

Hi, I agree with MiKael on the mare. I had a mare whose normal gestation period was pushing 365 days. Her first foal was born at 350 and was a touch 'dysmature'... in English, early. The second one was born at 360 and was fine. I don't recall ever seeing her babies move. I'm sure they did when I wasn't there. The watched pot thing, you know.

Over time I've tracked my mares' gestation periods (about 30 or so births) and the AVERAGE time was 341 days. That's not to say there wasn't a really long or disturbingly short period, but it averaged out. An older mare can sometimes take longer (Woofer is 24?), and if you know anything about her prior pregnancies, it will give you better information than guessing.

As for the condition of her udder, she looks like she's progressing fine. I have a seven year old mare here for foaling, and her udder looks much like Woofer's, and she's not quite at 320 days I expect that her udder will grow a ton, since she still has a month to go (more or less...and if she read the same book that I did.) I also had a mare this year who never grew much of a bag at all. Her bag just before foaling looked just like Woofer's. She foaled on about day 330, but has fed her foal just fine, though has never gotten a really big bag.

I don't normally look for movement from the baby. When the time gets close, I find watching the mare's shape change is a much more reliable indicator of what's going on. When the mare's barrel starts looking pointy instead of round, it means to me that the baby is starting to move into position. And when her flanks become really hollow, time is getting really close. Then there's the slackening muscles around the tail head and in the croup area (MiKael has some great photos of this).

I'm sure you're familiar with all of this...I'm just saying that you shouldn't get anxious about not seeing the baby move any more.

Love your blog. Thanks!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Thanks Notablogger(love the name by the way!). You gave me a valuable piece of info-Woofer's belly is getting pointy!! She has been soft over the croup and around her tail head since about May 10th. Her bag has been full and then not so full acouple of times in the last week. She has had some adema in the mornings but it goes away relatively quickly after she is turned out. I called the vet-he said it was okay and can be expected somewhat in heavy milkers(Woofer is one of those-LOL).
Lots of walking going on. She is really cruizing the pastures that last couple of days. Signs, they are all signs.
(Heavy sigh)I'm trying not to be such a worry wart but since we lost the colt last year and almost lost the old girl too-I can't help it. I would not have bred her back if the vet had not given her a clean bill of health(just told me that she was much too heavy-hence her weight has been closely monitored this pregnancy). But this is her last foal. She is handling it well. Me? Not so much-LOL.

kdwhorses said...

Great pics!
My hubby jokes he is going to take away my clippers! I get in those moods and will start trimming and I can not stop!
Go Moon and Rip! Glad you all got to play alittle! I am jealous! I have not been horseback this week yet! It is the last week of school and there is something everyday! And hubby is working nights, so between fixing meals, normal everyday things, school, I have not had time!
Woofer-silly old girl! Sounds like great advice from Mikael and Nottablogger! We are sending you and your mare hugs from East Texas! And I am trying to tell her that she really needs to get on with it! Mommy is very worried about her! But you know what, she hasn't been listening! LOL! I know it is hard not to worry! Keep us posted!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks for the info on training for barrels. I'm finding that I enjoy taking my horses through obstacle courses at faster and faster paces.

Rising Rainbow said...

I"ve never heard of edema in heavy milkers. That's interesting. I have dealt with edema in a couple mares that gets really bad and doesn't go away with turnout. It goes down a little but not enough. You'd be surprised how much edema a mare can tolerate.

BTW, I'm with Bev (notablogger). I rarely see my foals move either. Guess I'm too busy with other stuff to catch that activity. So I'm pretty comfortable with not seeing movement.

Sounds like with the pacing and the pointy belly that Woofer is getting close. (close as in anytime soon and not 3 weeks from now. lol). That's always a good sign.

We'll be waiting for baby pics!

Andrea said...

Wow those two, Notablogger and risingrainbow, sure do know their foaling stuff. I was a bit nervous too with my mare, who takes forever too.

I loved the barrel demo!! I have never done barrels before this year. I have ridden for what seems like forever, but never had run barrles. I always thought it was soooo easy! Ha, I was so wrong. There is a lot more to barrel racing that a lot of people think! The good horses are good because of the slow work. I have learned a lot about it. I have learned the value of a good pocket and a good rate, and good form. Now if I could just get up the guts to go fast, I would be in business! LOL!! I do the slow work while my husband rund them fast. Thanks for the pointers! I loved the pictures!! I wish we lived closer and you could give me some lessons!!

Pony Girl said...

I really like your approach to doing barrels. I do not know a lot about barrel racing, but I will admit that I did not realize so much training goes into making a good horse. I appreciate you educating us rookies! I would think going back to basics and going slow helps that muscle and mind with any athlete!
Hope the pruning helps, and it sounds like Woofer is getting closer!!

shooting star said...

i dunno much about an interesting read for me...and i loved the pics of the pets!!!

Linda - Nickers and Ink said...

Great run-down on the barrel-racing training. My daughter wants to teach one of our younger horses to do that. He's a big burly paint.

How's the mare doing? We have found those projected foaling dates to be (as Pirate Jack Sparrow might say) "Guidelines, really."

And I agree with the other posters. The mare's changes seem to be more indicative than the foal's movement. Because the foal gains about a pound a day, as his/her arrival date approaches (like the final month), he or she does not have much room to move in there anyway!

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notablogger said...

I'd be on pins and needles, too, if I had a mare as 'mature' as Woofer in foal. It sounds like she's handling it quite well. I like that spunky attitude. Glad to hear that she's showing signs of actually producing that foal. I'm glad she's giving you the 'normal' signs. Now if she'll just get down to business, you can really stop worrying.

I had a mare that as she grew older developed more and more edema on her belly when she was in foal. It would start developing some time around the last month or so of her pregnancy, and continue until the baby was born. She would have a 'shelf' of edema two to four inches thick from in front of her udder to up between her forearms. It could look quite alarming. However, she was the kind of mare that I think had asperations of 'cowhood'. She wanted to have an udder as big as a jersey cow. She could have fed a litter on the udder that she developed. None of my other mares have gone to quite that extreme, even her daughters are more reserved. She was quite the hussy!

I came up with the name 'notablogger' because I'm not. I kind of resent being a 'lurker' sounds more ominous than I really am, so I though if I just was up front and told everyone that I'm not a blogger, they'd not call me a lurker.

BarnGoddess said...

Ive heard foals movement slows down when they are getting into the birthing position too.

good photos!

Mrs Mom said...

Excellent info on barrel training there BECG. I know next to nothing about it, (a little bit now, thanks to this post!) and from what you wrote, your conditioning program sure makes a whole lot more sense than any "schooling" I had seen in the past. (You know the type-- and what they turn out...)

Keeping Woofer and foal in our prayers here. Thank Heavens for MiKael and NotABlogger!! They sure had fantastic advice for you there.

Keep up the awesome barrel posts-- this is a really great journey to follow along on!

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Thank you guys for taking the time to give me some clues of what is normal. It has just been so dang long since we had a foal around here that we seemed to have forgotten a lot of the details.