Saturday, November 29, 2008

Riding Pretty

Appy and I continued to struggle to maintain a circle when he decided he wanted to bolt. I will have to say, the riding instructor helped me a lot. He taught me how to properly fence Appy. In my mind, fencing was most useful for teaching a horse how to pivot off of his hind leg. It wasn't until after I learned how to control a horse's shoulder that I realized just how many wonderful things fencing teaches a horse, when it is done properly!

But the day that Appy bolted and T-boned another horse and rider, was the day the instructor lost a bit of his patience. Everyone was okay. Shell-shocked, but okay. Finally, the instructor got mad and told me that if I "wasn't so damned concerned with riding pretty, I could fix this problem."

Uhhh??? I guess I had never thought that I tried to ride pretty. To me riding pretty was what people did in an equitation class. I trained colts and grew up riding in pastures...not the show ring. Luckily for me, he went on to tell me what I was doing wrong...cause I don't think I would have had the guts to ask him what he meant. Since it has been 21 years since that instructor yelled at me, I don't remember the exact words he used, but it boiled down to-not using my hands, not using my legs and sitting there like a damn lump. Ouch...that will hurt your feelings.

Now see here is where I learned that people parts have a direct connection to horse parts. It didn't come overnight. It wasn't an Ahhh-Haaa moment. But it was the start of understanding that what my body does affects what the horse's body does. It took a lot of watching other people, asking the instructor questions and some figuring out on my own. Some instructors and clinicians today are better about explaining things to their clients than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Some choose to ignore explaining that to their clients for fear their clients may figure out how to do things on their own and not need them anymore.

I figured out that when my instructor said I was riding pretty, what he meant is that I didn't really change my riding position at all to compensate for what the horse was doing. That is probably the most common fault that people experience when things get ugly. I could pull gently on Appy's face all I wanted too. He gave it...all the way around to my boot. I could gently kick on his side all I wanted too...he didn't feel a thing. He just kept going.

I'm sure a lot of you realize why Appy was blowing his shoulder out and leaving...I was opening the door for him to do so and then rather than slam it shut, I was just sorta tapping at the problem. Appy wasn't a bad horse, he wasn't rank or mean or even problematic. He was smart and once he figured out how to get away with something, he just did. And each time he got away with it, he got a little worse about it. I had to learn how to slam that door shut or I was going to leave a real problem for his next rider. These were after all, horses we were training for their owners, not our own horses.

So I had to break it down. Appy was good at the walk and trot. He went everywhere I tipped his nose. Hands control reins. Reins control face and neck. Got it!. I rode with my hands low and worked on light leg pressure. Legs control shoulders and ribcage and hip. Got it! I never had a bit of problems with him. He was good about picking up his leads and I could lope him to the left without a problem. It was only to the right that he would blow out that shoulder and leave. So I had to start thinking about how I rode when I rode to the left at a lope. I practiced riding sitting straight up and slouched down. No big difference, except in my back. Hands low and hands higher...Yep, that made a difference. Legs moving around to different spots on his side...yep that made a difference too. And I did start to notice something about myself. When I was loping to the left, I usually sat straighter and looked where I was going. My head was up, my shoulders were up and my inside hand was leading the way. Pretty! When I went to the right, I had a tendency to watch Appy's shoulders, my inside shoulder was down and my hand wasn't leading the way, it was just sort of there. Every single one of my body parts was closing the door for Appy to continue loping to the right and opening the door for him to exit left. I was tipping his nose to the left, but just leaving his ribcage and his shoulder hanging out there in the wide open. Not so pretty!

It took quite awhile for me to fix that riding habit and Appy still would blow left, but now...Now I could stop it. When he blew left, rather than pull his head around to my right leg, I would lift my hand. This effectively lifted his nose and inside shoulder. And I stopped tapping politely on his left side, I went to banging the hell out of it. He didn't get better right away. For a bit it seemed like it got worse. He resented not being able to get away with his little trick quite as effectively as he had before. Several times, I had to resort to whacking his shoulder with the bridle rein. If I remember correctly, he even resorted to taking a couple of jumps.

I knew things probably looked pretty ugly to the people watching. My hands weren't nice and low, my legs weren't quiet and Appy was fighting everything. His head was up, his mouth was gaping and he was fighting hard to blow to the left, while I am whacking the hell out of his shoulder and gaping him with my leg. And the funny thing is, he never felt as out of control as he did when I tried to keep everything quiet and nice. A few strides of fighting him and he quit and headed right again. Drop the hand, quiet the leg, stop whacking him and everything went back to pretty.

It's easy to see, that I created that particular problem with Appy and I was pretty lucky to be able to learn how to fix it. I was after all at an equine college with other students and instructors to be able to help me learn how. But to overcome problems a person has to be willing to take it to the next level. You have to be willing to get just a little more ornery about it than your horse.

Sometimes you just have to ride UGLY to make things pretty!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Figuring Out The Parts

There is always a maneuver that causes each and every horse person to struggle. Sometimes we struggle with the concept, sometimes the application and the hardest, the execution. There are so many technical terms when it comes to teaching horses how to do the things we want them to do that sometimes the simplicity of it all gets lost. People who try to make training horses sound like some giant and mysterious process are either filled with their own ego or lack the ability to explain it in layman's terms.

Irregardless of the event, training a horse to do ANY maneuver breaks down to getting all of his body parts moving in the correct way. It is only the nuances of those maneuvers that make any difference. Those a person has to learn either from an expert or from watching a lot of horses perform at various levels and then look for the consistent factors.

My personal mindblock came down to figuring out how to move a horse's shoulders. Ohhh, I knew the concept. I knew the application. As long as everything was going fine!! When push came to shove though...I threw out the method and resorted to old style self preservation. And got myself into several wrecks. Luckily, I was never hurt and the horse was never hurt. It was just humiliating though, to have people watching while I lost control of the direction my horse was heading.

I started breaking colts when I was 12. To me, it was perfectly natural. My dad broke horses for people so almost everything around his place was pretty green. In those days, things were pretty basic-you sacked out a horse, saddled him, let him buck, chased him around the round pen til he was tired and then got on and rode. The first few rides you just rather sat there and maybe plow-reined him a bit if you could. Sure, some of them still bucked a bit the first few rides, but you learned to just pull that head around til they stopped and then you would just line them out again.

Boy, I think I just heard the collective gasp of the natural horsemanship crowd. All, I can tell you is that I broke a hellava lotta colts that way and never ruined a one. Back then, if you wanted to get a horse broke, you rode him. The loving, the petting, the gentling stayed in the barn. When you stepped on, it was time to go to work. It made for pretty good saddle horses.

Sorry, got kinda OT-Really the point I was getting at was the plow-reining. Back in those days, everything was plow-reined until they were pretty broke and then you worked on neck-reining. That is just how things were done. That is how people knew you were riding a colt. Plow-reining is simply pulling on one rein to tip the horse's head in that direction and then you kicked with the opposite foot until the colt moved in that direction. Colts picked it up pretty good in the round pen, but once you moved to the pasture, they might go a long way before they decided to turn. All I ever knew was just to pull harder and kick harder until they either turned or their nose was cranked around and they had to stop, move their hindquarters around and head off facing in the new direction.

Hmmm....see the error of my ways? I do too...NOW.

So, when I went to college to learn how to actually train horses, I learned some new techniques. Round penning made more sense. The first few rides made more sense. And the colt I got progressed a lot faster than anything I had ever trained before. He was a nice colt. A 3y/o Leopard Appy gelding. He was easy to break out and picked things up pretty quick. But, he learned to do one particular maneuver that I just couldn't figure out how to stop, much less fix.

He would be loping a nice circle. We would do inside bend work and outside bend work...and then ole' appy would just blow that shoulder to the outside and take off. My first instinct was always to pull his nose into the circle to stop him. That horse could kiss my boot while hauling ass in the other direction. Of course, he couldn't see where he was going and I don't think he much cared. He was just gonna leave. We bounced off a few walls and it actually got to where I was hoping he would, because that was the only thing that stopped him. I tried releasing his head a few times, but he just took that as his cue to bolt even harder. I sure didn't want to lope this horse much after the first few times he did this little maneuver. Smart horse huh? He knew what he was doing.

The riding instructor tried and tried to explain to me what I needed to do to stop this. I listened, I understood and when it would happen again...I resorted to pulling his head around. The instructor resorted to riding Appy himself. He bolted once! In about 2 strides, the instructor had Appy lined out and loping in his circle again. I was getting really POed at this point, because I knew how easy this should be to control, but I just couldn't get the job done.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Turkey Day


Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful blogging friends!!

I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday, be safe if you are traveling and be sure to pull those elastic waisted pants out of hiding and see just how far you can make them stretch!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wow...In Spite Of Everything...

Got a call this morning from mom..."The guys are here and are coming in to put in the new waterline in town."

Uhhhh....Okay...not really what I had planned for the day, but Hey...my schedule is pretty flexible.

After much discussion...I told them that we wanted to tap into the old waterline right by the crawlspace and run a new direction with it.

We looked things over...

And more discussion...The digger thought the best and easiest thing to do would be to tap into the line about 20 feet from the house and go to the new location. He said it would be much cheaper too.

A little more discussion...Well, that might work, but what if the water leak is between the shut off and where we are going to slice into the old water?...And we will have to be very careful digging up the old line because the electric line runs directly over it.

Needless to say, when people who do things day in and day out decide they want to do it a certain way...that is what they do. So they used their little electric locater to find exactly where the line was and started digging...
KaChing...Found the electrical line...
K-so that is not exactly how they wanted to locate it!! My mom about had a coronary. Strike One!! The waterline was located a couple more feet down, cut, capped and the water turned on to make sure there were no leaks.

Yea...You guessed it...The meter was still showing water going through. So that meant that the most likely place for the leak was next to the house. Now, the guys were really, REALLY hoping they wouldn't have to dig this out, because just outside this crawl space is where every major line goes into the house. No such luck today. They were going to have to dig here to find the water line that runs to the barn so they could tap into it...
On the way down, they were going to have to avoid the electric line, the water main and the sewer line. They managed to get past the sewer line without damage.

Whoops! Found the water main...Strike two...
A frantic trip to the city office to find one of the city workers so they could come shut the water off, a lot of bailing of water and they were back on track. Finally, they found the water line and the leak. One of the renters must have let the water freeze a few years back and that had caused the connection to crack....
Now, if we had started here...Like I suggested...we could have just replaced the connection and put in a new hydrant at the barn and Voila...it would have all been fixed. But as we know...even if we know something in our gut, we still have a tendency to defer to experts.

How is this for a discombobulated mess...
That would be the criss-crossed mess of water main, water line and sewer line. The guys were patting themselves on the back about not wrecking anything else when one of them went to step over the sewer line, tripped, stepped on it and broke the connection going to the clean-out pipe. Strike THREE!!

Alright, by this time, most of the yard was dug up, so they just replaced the connection, dug the trench for the new line, laid the water line...
And Ta..Daaaa... A functioning, non-leaking hydrant...
Placed exactly where the new fence line will run. So next summer I can put a tank here, add a float and not have to worry about filling tanks when I am gone. In the process, I asked the guy if he would use his bucket to tear out the ragged remains of the windbreak. Within minutes is was removed...an entire days work by hand. I love big machinery!!

Tomorrow morning the electrician will repair the cut electrical line. In a couple of days, the guys will be back to finish filling in the holes and level the area. Next spring I will have to replant grass so the weeds don't take over. And I hope we don't have to do this again within the next 30 years.

The boys are wiped after a long day...
And I am right behind them in the heading to bed department!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It Was Bound To Start Happening

My big ears heard the whispered rumor today that a couple of ranches have resorted to euthanizing horses that they are unable to sell.

Ranch #1-people that raise fine futurity cutting horses. No junk there-what didn't make it in the cutting pens went on and made nice ranch and rodeo horses. I had heard a couple years ago that they had reduced the number of colts they were raising because their market was drying up. Last year, they prepared a group of young stuff for a catalog sale and ended up bringing quite few of them home. I suspect they were reducing their number of older broodmares??

Ranch #2-raised a few running QH and TB's. He held back some nice potential broodmares. They never got bred, due to the crumbling market. Not exactly sure what out of that herd was euthanized-but I know nearly everything he had, had at least been to the track.

I don't know what else people can do...

Where these horses that were suffering? Not in the least. Without a doubt these were sound, healthy, probably hog fat, usable horses. The owners are not newbies in over their heads, nor mass breeders who failed to recognize that they needed to reduce numbers. Both are responsible horsemen who have had horses their whole lives(both are in their 60's). They have lived with the ups and the downs of the previous horse markets. They strove to raise winners. They raised, trained, promoted and used the horses they raised. They both had consistent markets for their foals, their prospects and finished horses.

These are experienced horse people who looked around and decided...

If you can't sell them...

And you can't give them away...

And you can't let them bankrupt you...

Or let them eat your pastures to dust...

What else can you do?

I wonder how many more are going to be following suite??

...And Not A Drop To Drink

Water!

Water lines are such a pain in this part of the country! Well, in any part of the country that gets freezing temperatures. Add in the factor that almost all of the water lines on our properties are OLD and voila...you have major headaches.

When they ran the new and fabulous rural water lines to the river ranch(my brothers' and my place) they brought it to the yard and that was it. If my brother had not been wacked out of his gourd at that time, they would have ran the lines to the barn too. But, since no one could find him, they capped it off and that was it. My mom made sure it ended up getting connected to the house, but eight years later there is still no water line to the barn. All tanks are filled by running hoses from the house. A huge pain in the winter.

The house in town(where I live) is in better shape. Only because it it a much shorter distance to the barn. The water line that runs out to this barn has major leakage, so we had shut it off(a couple years ago). Last week we dug up that hydrant thinking that was were the leak was...oh yea...the hydrant was shot, but we have no idea where the other leaks are. Since the electric line was put in on top of the old water line, the general consensus was to simply run a new water line.

Mom's ranch has relatively new water lines. But, she has problems with her waterer for several years now. The electric line to it broke somewhere between the electric box and the waterer a while back. She kept it working by running extension cords to it last winter. Obviously, not an ideal situation. People who work on this stuff are few and far between in this country and they are usually booked months in advance. To make matters even slower, mom couldn't decide what type of new waterer she wanted to put in. See how the wheels just churn slower and slower until they stop?

Finally...FINALLY...It all came together yesterday. The new waterer was here! The guy who does this was here! Even the weather cooperated! It just doesn't get much better than that in SD.

It was time for out with the old...
Everything was going like clockwork...
The new trench was prepared...
This is the new waterer...
A fantastic design that comes from some Hutterites in Montana. No electricity is required. The three tanks hold water and suction between them keeps the water circulating so it does not freeze. The drinking cups are on the outside tubes. Should there be any freezing of water in the cups, you just remove them and dump the ice out. A pretty neat set-up. Mom's corral gets to be the guinea pig. If it works as well as they say it does, we will be installing several more of these at the river ranch and possibly even in town.

So, here we are, old waterer out, trench dug, gravel base prepared, we are ready to slide the new waterer in the hole....

We flipped the tubes over, so the bottom goes in first and what do you suppose we find?
You have got to be kidding me? They punched a hole in the bottom with a forklift!! There was nothing that could be done to repair it. At this point you literally want to slam your head into anything hard enough to knock you unconcious! This is just not right!

Oh, I know...after the fact it is easy to wonder why the hell a person didn't inspect it a little closer. But really, they are billed as indestructable. Two inches of hard poly plastic. It had to have happened after it left the manufacturer, but before the truck driver delivered it to me. Because the truck driver and I slide it from his truck onto the trailer by hand. I never thought in a million years to flip it over and check for damage. Since it was light enough for me and him to handle alone, I never dreamed that they would use a forklift to move it around. Absolutely crazy!!

And the best part? Now mom has 7 head of horses that we get the pleasure of bucketing water to for the next week until they can deliver another waterer. Oh joy!! Not to mention the fact that two of the three corrals she uses to seperate horses and feed are now unusable due to the prepared pit.

I hate dealing with water issues in SD!! What doesn't kill ya around here just makes ya stronger right??

Friday, November 21, 2008

Can You Really Blame Imprinting?

As with every aspect of the horse world, there are advocates of imprinting foals and those who dread having to handle a foal that has no inherent inhibitions with people.

Some people see pictures like this...
And go Awwwww. Others cringe! The first thought through their mind is just how dangerous this will be when baby weighs 1200lbs and wants to plunk himself in your lap. Shooter was just a couple hours old in this picture and he just laid himself in Megan's lap. It was a pretty good indication of what his temperament was going to be like. Both a good sign and a sign that we would have to be especially watchful that Mr Friendly maintained a healthy respect for human space.

Now, in my opinion, it isn't imprinting foals that causes problems. Technically, imprinting is just regular handling the first few days after a foal is born. The goal is get into baby's mind that people handling him is okay. Some foals are docile about this. Some have pretty violent reactions. Nothing can scare you worse than having sweet, cute baby scream in terror and throw themselves around in total panic the second you wrap your arms around them. You may wonder what you got yourself into when a foal who is only a few hours old tries to bite and strike at you as soon as it is restrained.

Up until this year, my imprinting methods were very basic. I handled baby every day, sometimes a couple times a day, for just a few minutes. Really all I did was wrap my arms around them, move them around a few steps, touch them in all of their sensitive little places, handle their feet and I let it go at that. This usually only lasted for the first week to ten days. About that time, baby decides that they don't want to be handled anymore and are pretty darn good at avoiding getting cornered. After the first month, momma and baby went to the pasture. Other than to make sure everyone was okie-dokie, baby wasn't handled again until weaning time. Then they would get loaded up, hauled to town allowed to get settled for a few days, we would pull momma and take her back to pasture. Baby usually settled within a few days and became very friendly. That was the whole point of imprinting.

This year, things were a little different. Since big momma needed to have extra care, momma and baby stayed in town, in close quarters. We did the usual imprinting and then waited out Shooter's period of don't touch. But really...I don't know how some people can have daily contact with a foal and NOT want to love on it. And here arises the problem...

It's not imprinting that causes foals to become disrespectful of human space...it's all the handling after that first month. I can honestly say, that I have spend more effort keeping this foal disciplined than I have loving on him. Friendly foals want to be close to you, they want to chew on you, they want to play with you as if you were another horse. This is not acceptable behavior in an adult horse...why would you let a foal get away with it?



Playing with Rip...
Has to touch everything with that mouth...
What is that I see?...
Hah...ha!! Get the Red Dog...
A lot of foals that are raised in close quarters are only children. For foals, this leads to boredom and the desire to play with anything or anyone who comes around. It is never okay to play games with your foal. Nasty habits arise from allowing your foal to instigate what would be normal games for him to play with other foals or horses-the fly-by kick, the charge, the rear and paw, backing up to you or allowing them to chew on your clothes or hair. In these instances you cannot even wait to react like momma would, cause momma will let him get away with it a time or two before she gets after him. As humans, we have to stop it immediately. A buggy whip is the most effective tool you can carry for awhile. The only time your foal should be allowed to approach you is if they are facing you, calm and focused on you. Getting after your foal with a buggy whip is not going to make him fearful of you...it teaches him that if he doesn't approach you correctly, he is going to get reprimanded. Usually all it takes is one pop on the butt or the shoulder each time they need to be reminded not to treat you like another foal. The worst Shooter ever got was two solid pops on his buttocks-one to stop him from backing up to me and the second to let him know that kicking out in response to the first pop was unacceptable.

Another factor you really have to pay attention too...momma!! A poorly mannered mare usually raises a poorly mannered foal. Extra care needs to be taken that you reaffirm acceptable behavior from momma too. In this case, big momma's only bad habit shows up at feeding time. She is particularly annoying because when it is feeding time, she walks in front of me, zig-zagging back and forth and stopping repeatedly to make sure I am coming. Guess what Jr. started doing? While I have never worried about my old mare kicking out, I do worry about Shooter. Again, a quick pop of the buggy whip on the butt and both of them learned to move out of the way.

There is no doubt in my mind that raising a gentle foal is going to give them a head start in life. But there is gentle and then there is spoiled. Imprinting doesn't spoil foals...improper handling and lack of proper discipline does.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tagged...Book Reviews

Pony Girl tagged me again with the book tag, but also gave me a great idea...

With the holidays coming up and with most of us on tight budgets, why not share some insight into horse books and DVD's that we have collected? Nothing is worse than spending money on a new book or DVD, getting home and finding out that it isn't what we expected. Wouldn't it be nice to know what some of them are like before we ask for them as gifts or gift them to another horse maniac?

These three books are books that have been gifted to me by my mother and I LOVE them. I have found beneficial training methods in each of them and refer to them regularly.

Pole Bending...
There aren't many books or DVD's on training pole bending horses out there. I did get Megan a Pole Bending DVD...it sucked! But this book...it is fantastic. It has a lot of exercises and diagrams included in it. His explanations of ideal footfalls and correct strides is phenomenal. If you know the basics of pole bending, it can really help you advance. It can only be ordered online, just google the title and you can find it. This is probably a book a more advanced rider would appreciate. A beginner could definitely learn from it, but the techniqual discussions of the stride and footfall might be a bit overwhelming.

Barrel Racing...
I like Charmayne...she is just a real quiet person, who obviously cares a lot about the horses she trains and campaigns. Not too many other people have ever kept a horse going as long as she did Scamper, so anything she says about how to keep a horse sound, healthy and sane is gospel in my book. She has lots and lots of info on how to go from the start of training, through the green horse faze and on into finishing a horse. She acknowledges common problems that arise as a horse progresses and shows you how to work through them. Excellent for anyone from beginning to advanced.

The Wright's...
This book is probably for a more advanced rider. There are a lot of good exercises and advice, but there is the assumption that the rider understands the necessary and correct body position for themselves and the horse. That being said, I love the book and reference it often. I don't know if this book is still in publication, but if anyone is interested in it the number to the publisher is 254-968-3661(as listed in the copy I have).

The only other "training" book I have is the new one I bought for Megan as a Christmas present. Since we are relatively inexperienced in English and Jumping training, I glanced through this book and really liked all of the exercises provided. It is "Schooling With Ground Poles" by Claire Lilley. I've only been able to read snippets of it because I have had to keep it hidden, but from what I have read I think it will benefit both of us.

As far as DVD's...I'm a reader. My mom has a beginning reining horse DVD, that I watched once...I don't remember the title, so will have to get back to you on that. But if anyone has some good DVD's throw them out there too.

So I am tagging everyone who reads this post to go forth and share your best and worst reference material...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Deer

Because I have been doing nothing of interest...junk piles seem to be taking up my days lately, all I have is more pictures of the bucks that taunt me as I drive into my mom's yard each day.

This is my spotter...
The hard-working ranch dog is ever alert and keeping his eyes peeled for big bucks for me to shoot...with the camera. I never did get around to getting my deer license or Megan's this year. Of course, mom would rather we thin out some of the does than take the big bucks. The hunters will pay for the bucks, not for the does. I'm really only interested in meat in the freezer, but Megan would like to have a big rack to hang on the wall.

This is the same buck as from the last post...

He is hot on the trail of a doe and could care less that I stopped to take his picture.


And then I saw this guy and got buck fever...
Can ya tell from the crappy pictures?...
I finally got him in focus and I was shaking hard enough to cut the top of his rack off...
Holy Crap...he is a big dude...
And by the time I could steady my hands, he was out of there...
Click on this picture and you will see just how wide and high his rack is. He may only be a 4X4, but his tines are unbelievable.

My mind has been wrapped around mundane projects that I would like to get whipped out before we get another big snow or the ground freezes solid, so bear with me as I might be pretty boring for another couple of days or so.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cleaning and Singing...

Ever notice how junk piles up?

Ya set things certain places and think you will get back to it and get it put away?

Well, today...I finally got around to getting things put away. Hey...I'm doing good! We've only had one blizzard so far. There won't be as much junk sitting around causing snow banks when the next one hits-LOL.

My once fabulous pot garden is reduced to just the tubs...

I'll be loading them up tomorrow and hauling them to the ranch for winter storage. Along with a few other things that don't need to sit outside all winter. It's a little strange to be raking green grass and having to go around whats left of the snowbanks.
That stack of panels leaned against the fence still has be put up. I just need a couple more days of nice weather and we can get the fence posts in and the panels set. I've got my fingers crossed that the guy who is coming to fix the waterline to the barn shows up tomorrow. It would be so nice to have water at the barn this winter, rather than have to string hoses from the house to the tank. It's one of those things you don't think twice about when it's warm, but let the first freezing temps set in and it is a pain in the butt.

And then my girl gets home from school and reminds me that tonight is the music concert. Whoops-forgot about that! It had to be rescheduled due to the blizzard.

Our tiny school has a very nice music program. This year they had enough kids to actually have a marching band again. They sounded pretty good tonight...
Megan sings in the choir...
There's my girl...
They did a nice job. But, if I could just tell the music teacher one thing...they need to get some oomph going. They started out okay, but just got quieter and quieter. I know how that goes though...no one wants their voice to be louder than anyone else's so pretty quick they are whispering.

We got some oomph from this band though...
I would have to say these are the bravest high school kids I know! It takes a lot of courage to get up and perform in front of people anyway, but these guys are hard core rock and rollers. The old people in the crowd were cringing. I'd give them an A+ for just having the courage to perform hard core rock and roll to a primarily country crowd. Rock on dudes!!

We tease mom about her pet deer, but this is just getting ridiculous...
This guy was only about a hundred yards from the house. He certainly didn't seem overly concerned as I drove up to him and stopped to take pictures...
Mom says she has never had this many big bucks around the house. There are four regulars, some young bucks and some intermediate sized ones too. It is very strange to see bucks of this size this close to the house. I guess they all got the memo that this is a safety zone. Of course, the fact that there are about 50 does that live in the yard might have something to do with it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Love The New Camera...

I finally got pictures of one of the bucks that hangs out at mom's. This guy is not one I have seen around before...I think he is looking for love...
From the front he is beautiful! High and wide. What a perfect shot that this would be!!. From the side, you can see he is just a younger buck...
Just a 3x3. His rack is a bit interesting though. While he has three obvious tines on the left side, he only has a fork on the right. That small tine sticking up at the base of his antlers is called a brow tine and they do count if they are over a couple inches long. He only has the one tall brow tine though. The other side is is either to small to see or he doesn't have one.
People used to gauge a buck's age by the number of tines he had on each side of his antlers. But over the years, studies have proved that the size, shape and number of tines each buck will get is genetic. Optimum growth still has to a lot to do with nutrition though. Huh-sounds like raising horses doesn't it-hehe...gotta start with good genetics and then make sure they have the proper nutrients to achieve optimum growth.

For awhile we had a buck around that had super tall antlers, but they were extremely narrow, he managed to survive a few hunting seasons and pretty soon we were seeing a lot of young bucks with very tall tines, but extremely narrow. That fall, my step-dad asked one of the hunters to cull him as narrow racks are not very desirable. Down at my brothers' and my ranch, my middle brother hunted a monster buck for a couple of years, but never got him. He had a "dropped" tine on each side. A dropped tine is a tine that points downward rather than up. Within a couple of years, almost all of the bucks the hunters took had a dropped tine on one side or both.

The baby bucks all have to start somewhere though and most yearling and two year old bucks start out with a spike or a fork horn rack. They usually get another tine or two each year they grow their horns back, until they have reached their max potential. When they are young(or very old), the main beams are not as thick as a fully mature and in his prime buck. Body wise though, this guy looks to be pretty close to mature and prime. He may have a bit bigger rack next year, but I think he may be about maxed out. This is a mule deer. We have two types of deer in SD-Muley's and Whitetails. They are very easy to tell apart-size, color, rack shape and their tails are very different from each other. My mom's yard used to be filled with Whitetails, but the Muley's have taken over this year. Occasionally, you will see them together, but the species do not cross breed.

And then there was the dirty little Shooter...
He was trying to play with Strawberry across the fence. Typical of a baby though, he spotted his friend and decided he wanted to see what he was up too...
Red Dog is only too happy to oblige his buddy and while Shooter taunts him with that soft, fuzzy nose, Red Dog happily snaps at the air...
These two are hilarious to watch together. Red Dog will wander aimlessly (so he wants you to think) into Shooter's pasture and wait for his big brown buddy to spot him. Shooter is always happy to give chase, running and stomping like he is gonna turn the fat Red Dog into a bloody stain. They make huge loops and when RD thinks Shooter is getting just a bit to enthusiastic with those feet, he makes a dash for the fence. Shooter would like to play the game with Ute too, but Ute don't want nuthin to do with that, he runs for cover the second Shooter drops his head. Guess I don't have to worry about my colt being cowy-LOL. He loves to track the cats too-ornery little stink!!