Thursday, October 29, 2009

Upgrading For Profit

Adventures Of A Horse Crazed Mind just did a post on whether a person can make money on upgrading horses or not. In my usual wind-bag fashion, I exceeded the comment character limitation...by a lot! LOL

But this is an area that I have loads of experience with...enjoyed doing...and if we get the horse property we are looking at bought, Megan and I will return to doing in the near future. I stopped doing it for the last few years mostly because I didn't have the proper facilities, was short of the time it takes...and to be completely honest...I got tired of dealing with goofy assed buyers. One good thing about the crashing economy, a lot of the douche-bags that thought they needed to buy a horse aren't in the market anymore. I think we are returning to a more normal set of people looking to buy prospects or saddle horses and I sure don't mind dealing with those kinds of people. With so many good quality, potential laden horses available on the market...for super cheap prices, I see a future possibility of again taking pride in upgrading horses and giving them the training they need to become productive and enjoyable companions to owners who don't have the time/experience to make a solid horse of their own. Ya know...not all cowboys enjoy breaking and training their own horses either! I know lots of them who simply want a well-broke, using type horse that isn't going to dump their butt in the middle of nowhere.

In the past I've made good money off of horses I've bought for resale. Actually, I've never lost money on a horse if you consider that I usually pay between $300-500 for the horse and resell for $2,000-$3,500 within a year.

There are rules of thumb that apply if you want to do a bit of trading/upgrading.

1)Expenses-these costs are going to apply to any and all horses you purchase-whether it's a horse for your own personal use or one that you know is for resale. I have never figured the ordinary costs of maintaining a horse into whether I consider the sale a profit or not. I could do that because I was already maintaining multiple personal horses and the additional cost of maintaining a sale horse or two is quite minimal. I suppose if I did take the time to add up all of the hours spent, each tube of wormer, paid myself for trimming feet, etc, etc...I'd be in the hole on every horse. But what is any different about that than the money pit my own personal horses are? No-for me it's essentially, I gave $500 for this horse, had him for 9 months and sold him for $3,000. Well, that's $2,500 more than any of my personal horses ever made me so...ta-da...profit! LOL-I know, I have a sick and twisted way of twisting reality.

2)You need facilities where you can maintain multiple horses without the cost of the facilities multiplying per horse. Boarding on a per horse basis is not cost effective-and if that is the only way you can maintain a horse and have facilities to work with them, your expenses are always going to outweigh what you can resell the horse for. To keep expenses down-do as many things yourself as you possibly can-take a hoof trimming class, do your own worming and vaccinations, learn to be your own vet-tech and pre-chiro examiner. And of course, you need to be your own trainer.

3)Haunt your local sales barns. Sometimes local ads are a good place to look, but that usually incures travel/time expenses. Sale barns provide numerous horses to chose from and it's a single trip. Killer market or no killer market...You have to pay attention to what you are bidding on. Get to the sale early. Do what the rest of the "traders" do...walk around with a notebook and a halter or bridle over your shoulder. See a horse you like, get in the pen with them and look them all over, watch how they react. Can you catch them? Do they look like they have saddle marks? Can you pick up their feet? If they are saddled, talk to the owner, ride the horse. Don't try to ride and slide them, just get on and see if they move off of your leg, can they neckrein, do they stop, do they back? It's never very hard to figure out if a horse has been properly rode at some point in their life. A well-trained horse who had a gunsel as an owner will usually actually sigh with relief when a knowledgeable rider, giving the correct cues gets on them and eases them around a bit. Pick your top 5, write down their numbers(and the owners names if possible) and make a few notes to yourself-list the top 5 in the order you would buy them and write how much you think you should give for them on the same page. If there is only one horse there you like...then there is only one horse you bid on in the sale barn. If number 5 comes in before number 4-1-don't bid aggressively. Make a couple of bids, but let him go unless he is so cheap you still have budget money. Spend your budget and LEAVE!!! Go pay for your horse(s) and get out of there.

4)Beware of your emotions!! If you truly want to be able to buy and sell horses for profit...especially if you want to do it ethically...you HAVE...H.A.V.E to be able to curb your emotions. To purchase a horse with the intention of making them a better horse that many people would love to own and be proud of means you have to start with a horse that has the potential to become that horse. Remember, you are buying horses with the intention of making a profit on them. Yes, we are going to take good care of the horses we buy, yes we are going to invest more money and lots and lots of time into turning them into productive citizens...but the bottom line is...to keep doing it it has to be profitable...breakeven is great....profit is even better!

5)Know your target market. If you are geared toward middle class citizens that means that sometimes you will have to turn down purchasing the uber nice, high quality prospect in favor of the adequate, more public appealing one, even if the prices are similar. It all boils down to turn-around time. For resales to be profitable-you need to pay less than a $1000 for the horse and know you can market it for at least $2,500(and that is cheap). Anything you price over $4,000 is going to be on the market longer-unless they are winning at something. Personally, my target range was always $3,000-3,500. And as much as we all like to bitch about it...color sells. A plain bay is going to stand in your lot longer than the palomino. Be careful when purchasing paints though. A strawberry roan paint like Megan's horse will sell all day long. A sorrel and white overo...not so much. A pretty bay like Shooter or Beretta will be snapped up. A washed out sorrel/bay with no interesting markings...is going to have to be winning something before the average person looks twice. Size matters! I once bought a beautifully trained TB gelding. As gentle a horse as you could ever find. He was 16.1H when I bought him for Megan to use for HUS/Jumping. He was too big a moving horse for her, so I started looking to rehome him. He matured at 17H. If he had been 15H I could have sold him in a heartbeat as a trail horse because he was uber quiet, soft and had absolutely no spook. Everyone who tried him loved him...but he was too tall. I did find a good home for him with a girl in Meg's 4-H group-she went on to use him just as I had planned and did well with him. But since it took me the extra year to get him sold, I guess you could say that he was as close as I have ever come to losing money on a horse.

6)You have to get out there and become a public figure-so to speak. That means going to the local auctions on a regular basis(to look or buy, not to sell!), going to gymkhanas, trail rides, horse shows and play-days. Participate in them on your sale horses as much as you possibly can. If you want to market nice, average, all-around horses-you have to show people that is what you have. You have to find the horse's niche and let them shine. People don't have to love me personally to want to buy a horse I am selling. All they need to know is that my word is good and the horse is what I say he is. Selling horses is remarkably more about the sheer number of people you know or meet than anything. Get to know other horse traders, killer buyers, training barns, boarding facilities, 4-H leaders, tack shops, talking "horse" is going to rule your life.

And my own personal criteria...Rule #1 for me

Never buy a horse you would not like to own for yourself. Every single horse I have ever bought has been because it is a horse I would like to personally own. That made my selection a lot narrower when I looked but then it kept me from making emotional purchases too. I've bought sick horses, lame horses and thin horses...but I don't buy really young, really old, infirm or crippled horses. They have to have the potential to become productive members of the equine set in a relatively short amount of time.

The only other bit of advice I have is...love your sale horse!...Don't FALL IN LOVE WITH your sale horse. The whole point is to find someone else who falls in love with them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just A Touch

We got a skiff of snow last night...

I hear the higher elevations got a lot....6-16 inches. They can keep it up there!

I'm still working on the house...just a bit more to go. What's done looks great. Loving it. I took a day off to hang with MH. He was wore out after his hunting trip and is fending off a touch of a cold. Definitely not the stuff everyone else seems to be terrorized with. So it has been couch city for him...and yep...I've been lazy right along with him-LOL. Sometimes it just feels good to totally and completely 'veg out'.

Other than that...it's been completly boring and uninteresting around here. HA! The calm before the storm. It's inevitable...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's Up With Wal-Mart?

For the last 4 weeks, I have stopped at the local Wal-Mart every couple of days to see if they had actually gotten in a shipment of the base color paint I have needed to paint the rest of the inside of the house. Thanks to the "economic downturn" Wal-Mart is reorganizing a lot of their stores. They said originally they had intended on building a "bigger" store to take the place of this one. From the looks of the store, it looks like they are trying to convince people they are fitting more into this store by rearranging the aisles. But if you really stop and take a look at what they are doing, they have a whole lot less "stuff". The aisles have been broken up and are much shorter than they used to be. Rather than 1 long isle of something, they now have 1 short one and a noticeably smaller selection. This Wal-Mart used to have a nice fabric department with lots of sewing notions and crafting supplies. Fabric...Gone! Sewing notions...Mostly gone! Crafting items...down to one side of one very short aisle. Lots of stuff gone or severely reduced and yet, I cannot see where there is any new items or that any one section has grown. And lots of spaces are constantly empty-like they don't have enough stockers. I think it is because they don't have enough stock. Because has anyone ever known Wal-Mart to not have something(like my base paint) for weeks on end?

Anyway, I finally got the paint. I won't even go into what an ordeal it was to get it mixed correctly....Ugghh!

And this weekend, I have started covering the nasty seafoam green color. Forgive the clutter everywhere I thoroughly have the house tore apart-cleaning, painting and trying to eliminate "stuff"...



With a lovely beige. See the difference...


Initially, I had wanted to paint the living room and hall with the same khaki color I used in the bedrooms, but it was just way too dark and lighter shades of it looked too blahhh. The khaki looked good with the gray countertops, which the beige doesn't, but we are planning on putting tile throughout the house, so I'm hoping for new countertops too(hint, hint honey??) So I struggled over the color for quite some time. Finally, I said the heck with it and just picked out a bland beige color to at least get rid of the yucky seafoam green...
I just couldn't picture anything with that puky green color staring at me. The ceiling and walls are actually two different shades. I really like the ceiling color-it's called Oats...whoda thunk it right? LOL...so even if I eventually pick another color for the walls, that one will stay. Walls I don't mind painting...I hate ceilings.

I was pretty excited to finally get to put my Mongolian saddle up where I had always wanted to put it. But now I don't think it works there. The details are what's really pretty on this 100+ year old saddle and you just can't see them when it is waaayyyy up there...

My Honey brought this neat tidbit home for me from one of his hitches in China. He was touring one of the Ghengis Khan sites and he said when he realized the Mongolians were notorious horsemen and then saw this saddle he knew it was the perfect gift for my 35th birthday.

My goal is to figure out how to properly display the really neat things that MH has collected in his travels, throughout the house, without cluttering things up so much you can't appreciate each item. There is a lot. This poor little house is brimming and this is just MH's stuff. I haven't moved any of my stuff out here. We were joking about needing his/her houses. I suppose I will simply leave the vast majority of my things in SD and I'll just bring a few of my most valued treasures. I know society is all about telling people they don't need to hang onto "old" stuff anymore and that they should de-clutter their lives. But there is "clutter" and then there are things of sentimental or financial value that way too many people just get rid of. Sometimes the line is obvious...sometimes it's pretty fine.

Now that I have the house completely tore apart, I'm going to have to hustle to get things back together before MH gets back from his hunting trip. It kind of freaks him out if he is around when I'm working on these things, but if he is gone and it's done when he gets back, he always likes it. Maybe that is because I told him if he doesn't like something he has to be the one to change it back.;-)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fabulous Friday

It's been one of those weeks where there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to get it all done...and yet...this has been a phenominally productive week. So much is falling into place and things are going to really start to come together.
I got an admin assistant hired for the office. A great gal! She's outgoing and up to date on a lot of the administative duties necessary for an oilfield company. Holy CRAP! I had no idea. Well, maybe a little bit of an idea, but there is even more than I knew about, so I was getting a little overwhelmed with doing the day to day stuff I did know, while trying to figure out all the stuff I didn't know...and need to.
Office politics, subterfuge and power plays have always amused me. I'm not even going to pretend that when I worked in the corporate world that I did not engage in a little politicing myself. How else does someone go from a temp worker in the shipping department, to a permanent position auditing loans, to closing loans, to processing loans, to processing commercial loans to reviewing multi-million dollar corporate appraisals and getting to sit in on official board meetings with the owner of the bank and his Sr. VP's while they listen to your opinion of those deals...all in 4 years? Yep! That was me. I politic well. But I never relied on subterfuge, used power plays or tried to blindside co-workers to get where I was going. I never had to. Most people do themselves in when they try to manipulate everyone around them and few ever make it beyond where they are. Success comes from doing what you do and doing it well and being a team player. I'm all about the team! Doesn't mean I don't take credit for the things I do, but I am also quite free with praise for someone else who does a good job too.

Well, we are not exactly a multi-level corporation. Pretty much everyone who works for us is in the position they will stay in as long as they want to stay with the company. As long as they do their job, they will have a job. We aren't out to grow a whole bunch more(equipment wise), no matter how much things pick up. What we have is all we can handle. Particularly if the sales people start coming through and units start floating around the U.S. Irregardless of the lack of potential growth, we have still had little bits of power plays and subterfuge within our little organization.

That has all been handled. One has effectively been booted out of any position of power and another is fixing to find out that whining about every single thing they have to do and how complicated it is means that each "job" they do will be reassigned until they have nothing left to do and ta-da...no more job. I'm not quite sure they realize exactly what just hit them....but that would be me and my awesome powers of cutting through the BS! These people wanted better communication? They got it!

A couple of the supervisors were in the office today and both were telling me how bad they had felt for me when they heard My Honey was having me come over and "help". We all had a good laugh at that, because now they fully understand why My Honey told them that he actually felt a little bit sorry for the troublemakers.

And now...that means I can get back to my horses. Which is exactly where I will be spending the rest of this afternoon and the glorious weekend. And people wondered what I was going to do with my time now that there is someone in the office on a regular basis. Sheez! I have horses. H.e.l.l.ooooooo!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And Now That I Am Home...

Funny how quickly Colorado became home. Other than missing my girl so much, it feels really good to finally get back to being a productive member of society. Well, at least it feels like I am back to being productive. My Honey seems to appreciate my working at the office and dealing with the issues and paperwork that is just not up his alley.

I'm not so sure that Meg is as happy staying in SD as she thought she would be. But like all teenagers...she just kinda hates to change schools at the moment. It has to be hard to do that when you are in the most dramatic time of your life...those lovely teenage years. I wouldn't know. I went to the same school from the time I started school until I graduated. I hated it so much. I used to dream about getting to move to someplace new and getting to go to school with kids that weren't as awful as the kids I had to go to school with. I'm sure that moving wouldn't have been as wonderful as it was in my mind. High School is High School. Kids are kids. And this really isn't about me. Both My Honey and I want Meg out here with us. We miss her. I miss her terribly. We just have to give Meg the time she needs to hopefully realize that it doesn't really matter where you are...as long as you have family that loves you.

Moon and Frosty were pretty happy to see me. It's so obvious now that the negative energy is gone. It was so beautiful yesterday, I kept thinking I would get out of the office early in the afternoon so I could ride...Yea, who was I trying to kid? Getting everything caught up after being gone for a week and it was a Monday? Of course, today I got out of there early...but it was raining. It's definitely Fall!

It was really my intention to bring back another project horse with me, but since I have to go back to SD in a couple of weeks, I decided to wait until then. But you know what? I think I am going to bring Shooter and Beretta out here with me this winter. I miss Shooter and I really want to get to spend time with Beretta.

What I would really like to do is bring ALL of my horses out here this winter. I'm pretty much over the whole "family" thing. I have always maintained a reasonable number of horses that I owned personally. It's the rest of them that let themselves go gung-ho. I really did try to get done what I could to help out, but just could not seem to make any headway. I am not the type of person to simply keep beating my head against the wall if nothing is happening. It's a shame to see such a fine bunch of horses sit there and go to waste, but at least they won't starve or get dumped on the market. I have to go on with the nice ones I have raised for myself.

So I'm on the hunt for a pasture with water on it to rent for Chunk and Beauty. I can put a portable shelter on it for them and all they will need is hay. Moon, Frosty and Strawberry can stay at the boarding facility. There is enough room here at the house to put up a very large corral, we'll put a portable shelter and Shooter and Beretta can camp here for the winter.

The only one I am a bit concerned about is my 25y/o mare. She looked a bit sucked up when I brought her in from the pasture. But in just the few days I had her up and fed her hay, she started filling up quickly. All she needs is plenty of hay, a bit of grain when it starts getting really cold, warm water and a dry shelter and I think she would winter fine. However, I have to wonder how fair it is to her to haul her 700 miles and over those mountain passes at her age?

Life is so not fair is it? I made the decision to put a healthy horse to sleep because she just did not fit anywhere and here I am not even wanting to contemplate putting a truly old horse down. Of course there is a 23 year history behind me and this old girl. She has been a very important part of my equestrian life since I was 16y/o. I learned so much of what I know at her expense, I trusted her with my daughter, she gave me Moon and Shooter. I owe her a lot. But I always kind of figured she would get to be buried on the ranch where she was born. I hate the thought of hauling her out here and if something should happen...well, you guys know what I mean. Anyway...it's going to take some thinking to figure this one out and come to a decision where I won't look back and think that was a really bad idea.

So putting yourself in the same position...what would you guys do? Bite the bullet and cut a possible couple of more years off or take the chance that in the end a favored horse might not get the dignity of being buried on the family land?

I gotta say...this one is pretty emotional for me. It's not something I would be able to do myself either. I would have to ask someone else to handle it. For me the worst part of losing a horse or having to put one down is always the dealing with the body and the burying. I don't like it, but for the most part I can deal with it. I absolutely cannot bear the thought of having to drag my old girl's body out of the trailer and watching it flop into the grave. Nope! I may be pretty strong about a lot of things, but even I have a limit to what my heart can handle.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

HE Is Soooo Sweet

Yep...it's a boy! Halalluya! Our old King stud sired primarily fillies. It's looking like Pistol is a colt producer. He has sired 5 foals...4 colts...1 filly. Go Pistol!!!

Okay...I know you guys took offense because I called little Guns(Gunner) homely. But the poor little thing has the whole, "He's so homely, he's cute" thing going on.

And tiny!! I mean itty-bitty! He's lucky if he weights eighty pounds. I know it was nothing for me to scoop him up and lift him out of the trailer when we got to town.

But Oh My Gosh! He has the sweetest little personality about him already. And he is so completely reasonable. When we loaded his momma on the trailer, I was standing by ready to scoop him up and lift him into the trailer and that little stinker hopped right in like it was no big deal. He didn't stumble or even stagger around. Just looked at it and hopped right in. Most babies don't pick up their feet and end up falling/staggering/stumbling their way into a trailer when they are that little(which is why I was standing by to help him so he didn't end up on that cute little nose of his).

Actually Beretta hopped right into the trailer too. The only one who decided to be a pain about loading was Chunk. Had her fat-butt momma not been in her way, Beretta would have hopped in the trailer on the first try. I am so in love with the accomadating nature of these Pistol foals.

But I'll tell you why I called Guns homely. Look at him...



Compared to Shooter the day he was born...


And compared to Beretta at just 4 days old...

Poor little guy isn't even in the same league.

But, you guys are absolutely correct about one thing...It doesn't matter because even if he didn't start out like his big brother and sister...I'm pretty darn sure he is going to end up looking like them soon enough...


It's just one of those things. Outside of providing good nutrition, you cannot control how much effort a mare will put into growing a baby during gestation. Particularly maiden mares. Some, like Chunk are just natural. But the majority of maiden mares are less inclined to direct as many nutrients toward that baby they are growing. Old time range breeders did not used to put much stock in "first foals". Most were lucky if they survived.

As usual, my mom completely changed her mind about everything, at the last minute. We spent the entire day foal proofing the corrals in town, because mom decided that it would be best to put Cowgirl and Guns in the foaling stall in town. I had suggested that originally, but mom said she wanted the mare at her place. Why???? I dunno! It's so difficult to stick with any plan when my mom is involved.

After getting the mares in at the ranch and getting an up close and personal look at Guns, it was pretty obvious that we had decided on the best plan of action. His little legs are pretty weak and he needs a nice little pen with lots of bedding so he can spend a lot of time laying down. Even if he had been born during a more "normal" foaling time, we still would have had to bring him to town because of his legs. Here's a close-up of his hind feet...
Luckily they are shaped correctly and his leg bones are aligned properly. He just does not have enough strength yet to stand up properly. All that will be required to correct this is restricting how much he has to walk and giving him a comfy place to stretch out and rest. Cowgirl's milk should get much stronger in the next few days. Cowgirl is a lovely momma though. She is a very touchy, licky mommy. And very cautious with her feet. Once her body figures out how to do this, she is going to be perfect.

Beretta and Chunk settled in nicely too. Beretta is going to be gentle in no time. She walked right up to Megan in the corral and let Megan touch her. She's a bold one!

And now...I can head back home reasonably assured that everyone is safely tucked into appropriate places and will be fine until I come back in a couple of weeks. I can't wait to see how much Guns will have filled out by then.

Eleven hours behind the wheel...Oh boy!


Oh yea...We all took a very good look at Honky Tonk and it is unlikely that she is bred. Absolutely NO sign that she is thinking about building a bag. However, since there is still one month left that it is possible she could have a foal...she will be monitored daily and ANY indication and she will promptly be hauled to mom's...just in case. We were very lucky that Cowgirl had this foal exactly the day she did. A couple of days earlier and it's unlikely he would have survived in the cold and nasty weather. But alls well that ends well and he won't have to worry about the weather now.



Friday, October 16, 2009

Guns And Good Tidings

Life is so freaking weird! But sometimes in a good way...even if the timing is all wrong. Today was the first day I have been able to get into the ranch with a horse trailer, so today was the day I put Queenie to sleep and hauled her out to bury her. Needless to say we were all pretty subdued this morning. We all(my mom, brother and I) did a lot of talking about this in the last few days and all of us really tried to come up with an alternative solution. However, some things are inevitable and so the deed was done.

The hill getting into the ranch was still slippery as snot and I was really hoping that it would get dried out by tomorrow afternoon, so I can haul Chunk and Beretta to town. I sure don't want to throw them around in the trailer getting out of there. Not such a good experience for baby's first hauling.

I was glad to see the mares at the bottom of the hill. I knew seeing them and Beretta would make me feel a little better.

As I came through the autogate, I was watching the mares and they barely even gave me a glance. Usually a horse trailer coming through their pasture garners some interest from them. But Chunk, Beretta and Honky Tonk were staring up the hill...


At this....

NO FREAKING WAY!!!

WAY!!!

OMG! Okay...#1-I looked at this mare the other day and told mom that I still thought she was bred. But all of the mares are so stinking fat that even Chunk looks bred and I KNOW she's not. This goofy mare made a bag last May, the same time Chunk did, so after 60 days and n.o.t.h.i.n.g, we kinda figured she was just giving false pregnancy signs brought on by Chunk having a baby. But she still had a bag when I looked at her the other day and you would think that by now she would have gotten over the "false pregnancy" thing. The only other thing I could think of was that she had been bred, lost the foal and had not aborted it. I was thinking a trip to the vet was in order.

#2-This is an awful time of year to foal. THANK GOD she did it during these couple of reasonable days of weather. I told my mom leaving that stud in with those mares for so long last year was going to bite her in the butt. Guess what? It's entirely possible that the red dun mare could foal yet too. Foal watch until Thanksgiving? Oh that's just freaking peachy!

#3-In spite of the poor timing...this is an absolutely delightful event. This mare is one that we really, really wanted a foal out of as soon as possible. It was so disappointing this summer...waiting and waiting and waiting...and finally giving up. It's just absolutely unbelievable that she actually foaled.
Poor little thing. I have to say, this is one of the homeliest foals I think I have ever seen. Cowgirl sure didn't put much into this baby. I'm not a 100% sure what the sex is. I think it's a colt. I almost had my hand on it's tail to lift it up to check, but Cowgirl took a dive at one of the other mares and I figured it was best to leave things alone until tomorrow, when I come out to pick these two up and take them to mom's. No way can little Guns stay out here this time of year. "He's" going to live under mom's barn and we'll put Cowgirl on vitamins so her milk production improves. I really thought about trying to load them up this afternoon, but Guns was just hours old and with the hill being so slick, I was worried he would not be able to handle the trailer ride out of there.

Look at Beretta...She looks like she is saying...Holy Cow, look at the size of that rat...

Holy Cow...look a the size difference between Guns and Beretta. Never fear...with my mom's magic wand...she will turn Guns into just as beautiful a horse as Shooter and Beretta.

PS-If you clicked on the other post and it's not coming up...it's because I pulled it. With this exciting news...I'll be posting tomorrow after we get Cowgirl and Guns moved to mom's and settled in. Don't you want to know if it's a boy or a girl?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Changing With Progression

I have started this post like 10 times now and keep finding myself going off on long, rambling tangents. So many times I wished I had the writing skills so many other bloggers are gifted with.

I have started a lot of horses on barrels over the years, but to be honest, find myself a little lost as to what exactly to do now that Moon is progressing into a more finished barrel horse. He's not solid by any means...but he does understand his job and really seems to be getting into it. Usually when a horse gets to this stage, I sell them. Well, Moon's not for sale. I'm finally in a place in my life where I get to go to the next level with my horse.

When things get a little wonky and I have to work on it...I'm completely comfortable with that. Fixing things! That's a comfortable area for me.

When things are working...that's where I get a little like, "Now what?"

The progession of a barrel horse means constantly evaluating what your horse needs to get focused and go in and make a smooth pattern. Training and care at home, warming up before an event, warming up before a run, what to do for them after the run, care while on the road or staying overnight....uhhhgggg the list seems to affect every single little thing you do. All of that so you can come together with your horse for a few seconds and make it all work juusssttt right.

There are a lot of talented barrel horses that never make it on the road simply because they cannot physically or mentally handle an everchanging routine. No matter how regular you try to keep things it's inevitable that you may have to haul an extra hundred miles, there are late feedings or no accomadations that suit your horse. I'm very fortunate with Moon. He could care less how far you haul him or where you stick him or how long he has to stand tied to the trailer. If that horse ever goes off of feed or water...it will be cause he is about to die...and I suspect he would still try to get that last mouthful. The downside is he is almost too stoic. I really, really have to be aware of everything so I don't overdo things. I am the one who has to up my attentiveness in this case. The little things you do suddenly take on more meaning-checking legs, really observing his demeanor, his eye, how much water he actually drinks, making sure he is full, but not overfull, etc.

There are things I pay attention too now that sort of make me giggle. Moon is getting into all of this attention. He is a horse who usually stands with his tail slightly off to the side. I have checked and checked for any sort of soreness in his back or hips that would indicate he is trying to alleve pain. Nope! I'm still going to have a chiropractor check him out. But I have found that part of the reason he does this peculiar little thing is because he constantly has a nasty sheath. So every single day part of his grooming routine is cleaning all the little nasties of his sheath. He enjoys it so much that as soon as I really get into grooming and massaging his rump...he drops down for me and will stay completely extended until I am done digging around. He is such a perv! But I wished I could get all of my geldings to do this-LOL. Frosty is like...Agghhhh, Don't touch me there!

Yep-that is definitely one of those stories only a horse person would appreciate-LOL.

But the reality is, now more than ever it's all of those little things that make such a huge difference in whether you win or not...and whether you can keep winning once you get there. It's not just things that change for the horse either. There are huge mental changes I have to make within myself. Obviously we all saw how quickly things can fall apart if the wrong decision is made in a split second(My first run at Moab). I have to work on my mental accuity as well. I have to learn to ride faster...mentally that is. My timing and cue reflexs will improve as I make more runs on Moon, as long as we can keep those runs smooth and effortless like the second day. But to get them there and keep them there, I have to make the runs. And they have to be good runs. My mom has preached to me, all my life...just because you win doesn't mean there aren't things you can work on to improve.

The move to Colorado has been good for me. I doubt I could have drug myself out of the "oh well, I'll just plink along like usual" state of mind that had become the norm for me here in SD. There was always a good and valid reason why I didn't think I needed to put more effort into shooting for the next level. I've always believed that if you were going to do something, you should try to do it well. But interestingly enough...My Honey has really been the one to help push me out of my funk. He is so supportive of my endevors and truely enjoys going with me. I find myself not only wanting to do well, because I like to do well, but because he is so proud of me. It's just such a positive feed into my own desires that it has really fueled the flames to see just how far we can go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shooter

Here is a few photos of Shooter that Megan took just a couple of weeks ago. Hard to believe all of the horses were slick and shiny one day and puff balls the next.

Even though he is on a bit of a down hill slope in these pictures, he really is butt-high right now. Appropriate for a nearly 16 month old colt. At least he is coming out of that "long as a bus" stage he was in.


I love how flat-kneed he travels...
Hard to believe when he was Beretta's age he had the same aweful, thick, coarse looking neck and throatlatch on him that she has at the moment...
I guess I will just have to keep him. He is so ugly no one in their right mind would take him off of my hands...
Hope you all know that is a joke?? Not love or money could get this colt away from me! ;-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beretta

The weather just sucks here in SD. It feels more like the end of November rather than the middle of October. It can't decide if it wants to rain or snow...so it does a little of both and then spits ice pellets for good measure.

I slid...literally a few times...into the ranch to pick up my old mare, Woofer and haul her to town.

I was lucky that the mares were along the road so I could stop and check out Miss Beretta for a quick minute. I cannot believe how much bigger she has gotten in 6 weeks. She is just over 4 months old now and getting thick as a brick.

Hello! You have such a pretty face little girl...

I guess there is no denying that she definitely turned bay huh?

If Shooter had not had the same god-awful neck at the same age, I might have to wonder a bit about Beretta's. Ugghhh-it's pretty coarse looking at this stage...
It should start slimming down and looking much better by next spring.

Lord have mercy...is this a big-block engine or what?...

The girl is all booty!...
I think Beretta might actually put her big brother Shooter to shame in the "built" department.

I will be bringing Beretta and her momma to town in the next couple of days to get her ready to wean.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

Oh how the years have flown. My little girl is now...sixteen!...Wow! How did that happen so quickly??

Showing off her birthday pie...
We aren't cake people, so for birthdays and special celebrations my mom's apple pie is always demanded...uhh...I mean requested.;-)

I upped the anti a little bit this year and made a prime rib, baked potatoes and a salad for all of us. I've gotten quite good at making them. So far I've only ever turned one of them into a very expensive roast.

For her birthday, we loaded up the kiddo and drove to the Black Hills for a shopping spree...
I can't believe how much I have missed my girl. We had so much fun shopping together. That is just one of the oodles of things we love to do together and we have both missed it. I think my girl just needs to move out to Colorado with me! I miss her!!!!!!!!

It was Saturday before I got left out of Grand Junction. Friday, I just had too many fires to put out at the office before leaving for a week. Wow! I forgot what having a job was like.

I got lucky, the weather was not good and about Denver I started running into this...
It sure was pretty. But I only say that because the roads were in relatively good shape.

The farther east I drove the deeper the snow got...
Out on the plains around Julesburg the snow was deep enough and the cold bitter enough that people had put feed out for their cattle. A lot of people have not sold calves yet and a bitter, cold snap like this sure can knock the weight off of them. Which of course means a lot less $$ for the rancher.

We only got a skiff of snow around home and that is gone now. I was hoping to get beautiful fall photos while being home, but that isn't going to happen. Almost none of the trees had even started to change colors yet and this bitter freeze killed any chance of them doing so now. Most of the leaves have fallen off of the trees in a huge, withered, green mass.

So the rest of the week will be trying to get horses moved around...as the weather permits. Lots to do and it doesn't look like the weather is going to make things easy. Gotta love the Dakotas!

I wanted to tell you all how much your kind and supportive comments about Queenie mean to me. I had a lot of hours behind the wheel this weekend and spent a lot of time thinking about all of the wonderful horses that have graced my life. But that is another post...or two...maybe three.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's Not All Fairy Tales And Rainbows

Amidst all of the over the top good news I have had these last few days...

I have made the decision to take Queen home and put her to sleep. Not the end result I was hoping for when I so blissfully loaded her up at the ranch and hauled her to Colorado with me.

I wasn't exactly blind to how I thought things would start off with her...she earned her reputation. But, I really thought that she would settle back into being a respectable saddle horse after her initial I-am-a-rank-bronc persona got smoothed out.

She has had plenty of time to come off of the "sugar rush"(as someone described it in the comments) of eating the feeder cattle's grain. And she still wants to be a rank be-otch.

To make matters worse-she has become nearly impossible to catch and is making Frosty charge around like an idiot whenever I go to the pen to catch one of them. Moon, who has always been a bit difficult to catch is the only one who doesn't run around like an idiot.

I can't have it...I won't have it. To let a super sweet and people loving horse like Frosty get turned into an idiot because his mother is? I don't think so!

She was saddling pretty decently for a few days there. I ponied her, moved her around and stepped up and down in the stirrup. The last day I did that, she absolutely lost her mind and blew up.

I stood there and watched her and decided right at that moment that it is not worth getting hurt trying to ride this mare. I finally have my barrel horse back. Frosty is showing great potential to be a super nice horse and may even make a good barrel horse. And I don't think I...at nearly 40 years old...have to prove that I can do something that I probably shouldn't have wasted my time on when I was in my 20's?!

Short of good horses with great minds and great potential I am not. Why risk everything on one old(er) mare who has been a raging beast her entire life?

Don't get me wrong. I feel really badly about this decision. I have loved this mare from the moment I set eyes on her as a newborn foal. It feels like a rotten thing to do actually. She is only 16 and in very good health. So why not just take her back to the ranch and let her live out the rest of her life?

Well, because at some point...I will have to put her to sleep. Whether that is 10 years down the road or next week. That will be the end result for her. So why let her stand there and eat 10 years worth of grass, knowing that she will never be ridden, never have a baby and most likely never be caught again? It doesn't make any sense to wait. At least not to me.

Somewhere along the line, this "horse" thing has to make at least a little sense right?

I don't raise horses as an investment. I don't ever really expect to make any money on horses. I have them because I cannot imagine my life without them. I have them because I love to think about them, look at them, touch them and smell them. But being a selfish human, I do expect a little bit in return. I expect to be able to handle them without unnecessary uncertainty and I expect to be able to at least ride them without unnecessary fear of injury or death. I figure if I can't do it...I sure as heck don't think anyone else is going to want to try either.

So tomorrow, with a heavy heart and a firm decision...I'll load my beautiful, crazy girl up and haul her home for the final time. The least I can do for her is to lay her to rest on the ranch where she was born and spent a good majority of her life. Actually, it's the best I can hope to do for any of my horses when their time comes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cool Rider

It's never been a surprise to any of my friends that I fell in love with "a biker". I've been so inclined toward bad boys since my teenage years.

I can still remember the first day I saw My Honey walk through the door of the casino I was bartending in...the door opened and in the doorway, surrounded by the light of the setting sun stood a Viking God dressed in leather. I swear! That's the god's honest truth.

I tried to play it pretty cool. I really did. I had a major rule when I worked in bars...DON'T DATE THE CUSTOMERS. He made it pretty hard though. It didn't take long to realize that this wasn't just another good-looking biker boy. He was articulate. Intelligent. And worldly traveled. Not the usual run of the mill.

He ended up in a conversation with another young man who had just come back from Italy and I listened closely. Somehow the conversation ended up being about the difference between American money and Foreign money and the young man took out some Italian money he still had and My Honey took out some Algerian money he still had from his last hitch. I don't exactly remember how it went from there, but I ended up telling them they could leave the foreign money as the tip...because I collected money.

My Honey smirked. His reply was delivered with perfect sarcasm...something I adore..."Of course you do, your a woman."

I got the foreign money from both of them as a tip. Included with My Honey's foreign money was American money...with his name and phone number on it.

For the next five months, whenever he came in, his last tip before he left included his name and phone number on it. I still have every one of those dollar bills and every piece of foreign money he ever brought home for me. Finally, all the pieces fell together and my resolve to "not date a customer" had completely dissapated.

Hard to believe we are coming up on eight years since we finally took that bike ride he had been offering me all that summer. Through all the good times, the bad times and the downright horrible times...it has been nothing short of the most amazing eight years of my life. Sometimes it never ceases to amaze me how that one moment of a door opened, at just the right time could have been so poetic.




This is one of my favorite songs...ever! From one of my favorite corny movies. It suits what I was looking for for so long to a T. I love the end of the movie when he asks her is she is disappointed that her Cool Rider was the Smart Guy and she says "Are you kidding? I got two for the price of one."

I did too!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Special Delivery

I thought my special delivery was going to arrive tomorrow...but it came today...and I just couldn't wait until tomorrow to share with you all!

My boys got very excited when it got here!


They just knew it was especially for them!!!!


Maybe part of the reason I pulled my head out of my butt on Sunday and made a good run was because I was so excited at what My Honey bought...

Christmas came early for this cowgirl!!!

It all came about thanks to the people you heard cheering on the video. A super, SUPER nice couple we met at the barrel racing. They are a couple like My Honey and I...horsepeople and bikers. My Honey had rode his bagger down to Moab for the weekend. The country is so beautiful there and we wanted to take a ride through The Arches National Park on the bike. And we did.

But anyway, this couple came over to check out My Honey's bagger and we visited for quite a while. My Honey asked them how they liked their living quarters horse trailer and they raved at how much they enjoyed having it and how much fun they had had at rodeos and barrel racings.

We have been wanting a LQ anyway, but most people don't really tell you that they "enjoy" their LQ trailers. These people just made it sound like a lot more fun to have one, so that kind of got us excited about getting one again.

It just so happened that My Honey had seen a handwritten "Must Sell" sign on one of the billboards in the arena, so when we got there Sunday morning, he made me call the number. As luck would have it, the owner was at the barrel racing and had the trailer there. We went and looked at the trailer right away. Unfortunately, the owner had just lost her job and was wanting to sell the trailer immediately. A couple of other people were looking at the trailer, but one didn't have a big enough pickup to pull it, the other was having a hard time talking her husband into the purchase.

Not one to let a good deal get away, My Honey told the owner we would take it and the trailer was ours.

On the way home, we both had some time to think and we realized it might have been a bit of an impulse purchase. But once we got home and had a chance to talk about it, we figured it was still a pretty good deal. Should the trailer not be exactly what we wanted, we could easily resell it.

So now, people can stop giving us a hard time for buying the dually and not having a big enough trailer to really justify it. Cause baby!!!!....We have a big enough trailer now.

The living quarters has an 8' shortwall...

A mid-tack with doors and swing-out saddle racks on both sides...
It's a 4-horse with a collapsable rear tack, so a person could actually haul 5 horses if they want...
There is a bit of repair work. The owner(who is a wonderful lady!) had a blowout and it took the right fender off...
She offered to have the fender repaired, but My Honey told her that was okay, we will be taking it in to the local trailer place and have them go through everything anyway. The neck is going to have to be raised a couple of inches and maybe the jack lifted, plus we wanted to make sure everything worked-lights, air, heat, water, etc. It was all set up to be towed by her semi, so we need to make sure everything is reset to the pickup.

We couldn't resist hooking it up to the dually right away and taking it for a spin around the block. I let My Honey drive...I think I now have too big of a rig! I'm actually scared to drive the darn thing. I just know I'm going to run over something with this extra long bugger.

Good thing My Honey likes to go to rodeos and barrel racings with me right?

Redemption

OMG!! F.I.N.A.L.L.Y!!!!

The kind of run I have been talking about wanting...and needing to get again.

video

We were winning, until the second to last horse beat me by a couple of thousands of a second. That's okay! I'll take that run and be completely happy.

He has so much more to give, but for now...this is just right.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pilot Error

My run on Saturday at Moab, UT.

I messed up big time!

(Caution, the end of the video goes a little crazy-My Honey forgot to turn it off before putting it down)

video

Poor Moon. He came in completely flat and then me(being an idiot) decided I should circle him. It completely wrecked his focus. You can bet I won't be making that dumb mistake again.

As stupid as 1st looked. It paid to pull him up and not let him knock the barrel over. We won the 4D and recouped 1/2 of the cost to be there both days.

Don't worry...it got better on Sunday's run.;-)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Conditioning

Right now, as much as anything Moon is in serious need of conditioning. A lot of horses can stay pretty correct in how they move as long as they are in good body weight. Not too fat that it makes it difficult for them too move or be agile. And not too trim, where they might loose strength.

Moon is at a great body weight...
He looks fit, but full. Too bad pictures are so deceiving.

In reality, Moon is a horse who is naturally prone to want to drag himself along with his frontend rather than push off from the hindquarter. So it doesn't take very long for a lot of his hindquarter strength to dissipate if he is not rode regularly and specifically conditioned to use his hindquarters. Hence his propensity to drop his shoulders in his turns and flip out his hindquarters like he did in his last run.

One thing, besides regular riding that I think Moon is in need of is a chiropractic adjustment. So I am on the hunt again for one of those. Hopefully, going to some barrel racings and talking to some of the locals that this time I will be able to find one who comes with recommendations.

Since there is limited time to bring his condition level up, I am focusing more on walking exercise, a bit of trotting and limited loping. Too many times I have seen people overwork their horses with only a few days before competition and the result is usually a sore and pissy horse. I don't want Moon to ever start dreading running the barrels by doing that to him.

I can't imagine having to walk endless circles in the arena. Both of us would be bored stiff in less than 30 minutes.

Luckily for me, right across the road are several large fields-corn, grass and alfalfa. Everything is irrigated in this area, so they are all surrounded by irrigation access roads. That's where I'm spending my walking time...

I finally took the time to drive up north and just three miles away are the Adobe Mounds...
Tens of Thousands of acres of wide open land, rolling hills and deep ravines. I can ride all the way to those mountains if I want too.

Perfect! Now that's the kind of land that is ideal for conditioning a horse without overworking them. I can lope a few circles out there, go up and down hills and walk forever. I'll be able to exercise both Moon and Frosty at the same time by riding one and ponying the other. Frosty could certainly use the open miles too. Besides the fact that he is seriously tubby right now.

I've been doing a lot of reading and have been talking to my mom about the specific conditioning requirements of a barrel horse. It's a lot different working with a horse that has reached Moon's level than it is with a greenie. Those greenie's you work more on patterning. Competitive horses it's less about the pattern and more about condition. New realm for me! But I'll explain more in another post. I'm still formulating it all.;)