Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How Long Do They Last?

The other day my BO and I were talking horse and the subject rolled around to Moon and running barrels. When I told the BO Moon was a 12y/o this year, he looked a bit surprised and asked me how long I was planning on running him.

(I think he thought that was kind of old;-)

Luckily, I have been keeping up with some of the WPRA news and could proudly tell him that Moon will keep running as long as he is sound and winning. Cause, there is irrefutable proof that age is relative these days...June Holeman and her gallent little horse Sparky, back in action after nearly a year off due to injury, are back in the money...
June and Sparky placed at the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo and I believe that they won third in the average there. They turned right around and placed 5th and 2nd at the Rapid City Stock Show and Rodeo, winning second in the average there.

Not to shabby considering both of them are of 'retirement' age. June is 67 and Sparky is 21.

Given that, Moon and I are still youngsters. He's 12 and I'm 40.

I got to meet June Holeman once at a rodeo. My mom used to run barrels with June, so we all sat and visited while she waited until it was time to get ready for the barrels. That is one cool old cowgirl, let me tell you. There is no BS or airs about her. This is a woman who has worked...and worked hard her entire life. She was well known for taking on rank horses and turning them into fine barrel horses. No hugging and kissing on those buggers either. She would saddle them up and hit the sandhills of Nebraska at a long trot. When those horses learned how to work and got broke, she went back to the arena and usually won on them or her husband used them for rope horses and won on them. Those two were a formidable and talented duo back in the day. Long before the luxuries of air conditioned pickups and living quarter horse trailers, they beat it up and down the road, rodeoing year after year.

If ever my mom was going to beat some of her rodeo philosophies into my head, all she had to do was point at how June does things and they became very clear. When June got to the rodeo, she may saddle her horse up and walk around a bit to get a feel for things. Then she goes back to the trailer, unsaddles her horse, waters, feeds and leaves them alone. She doesn't resaddle until just before the barrel race and then all she does for a warm up is get on and walk and trot around for 10-15 minutes. Just enough to get her horse's muscles loosened up. She makes her run, goes back to the trailer, unsaddles, grooms them, waters and then usually loads up and heads to the next rodeo. No wasted effort on her part or the horses.

Now that's the difference between top rodeo barrel racers and those that aren't. Those girls don't ride their barrel horses into the dirt before competition like you see a lot of girls doing at the lower levels. The top girls get there, take care of business, do their job and head out...usually collecting a check along the way. Pretty much everything they do, they do to make their horses more comfortable and relaxed.

Watching how spastic some of the younger girls' horses were at the gate while watching the NFR last year, I wonder how they prep for their runs? A person could concede that they must be doing something right, because they are at the NFR? Only time will tell if they last or their horses will last.

Still, I like watching the girls that have been there year after year on the same horse or been there several times and all of their horses act the same. Mary Burger on Rare Fred. Lindsey Sears(not one of my favorites) on Martha(Who is one of my all-time favorite barrel horses), Sheri Cervi, who has had several horses, but they are all consistently the same. Look at what Charmayne accomplished on one horse, then went back on a couple of different horses. Kristie Peterson on Bozo several years in a row.

Those girls have been supremely successful because of what they do(or don't do) outside of the arena. Thanks mom for drilling that into my head year after year!

If you happen to follow the WPRA standings at all, keep your eyes out for a local Loma, Colorado girl named Sammie Bessert. She is placing at the big shows. I met her at a barrel racing in Moab, UT and she is super nice. Gave me her number and told me to call if I ever wanted to ride together. She's in pretty tight with another older gal, who has been barrel racing for decades. Interestingly enough, my mom also used to barrel race with this lady in SD and told me that when this gal moved to Colorado, she came out here to ride dressage horses. When she went back to SD to rodeo, people snarked about that. I undertand they quit snarking about her "English" riding skills when she whooped 'em at the barrel racings. LOL-I love it!

Yea, I'm jazzed about this year. It's a make it or break it time in my life I guess. Not that if I don't 'make it', I would ever give up the horses. R U Kidding? LOL...That will never happen. It just feels like opportunity is knocking at my door and if I ever thought I wanted to accomplish something, now I can.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Cleaning

The necessary evil...but most enjoyable...tasks of cleaning up around the property took over our weekend, so the ponies got time off. Well, except for their spring worming.

I think the ponies especially needed that worming because my BO was pretty bad about just throwing the hay over the fence in the same spot, day after day. Poop...mud...it didn't matter, he just kept tossing it in the same spots.

Come to find out, he had an ulterior motive, because My Honey had a box blade here for his tractor and I offered to have him come scrape the goo away from the gate and the BO said "No Thanks". He was plumb tickled to have that build-up there. Seems when he would irrigate that pasture, all of the water would run off too quickly. So the 'berm' of hay, poop and muck is exactly what he was hoping for.

Ummm...Okay.

Oh well! The guy took great care of my horses this winter and I will be moving everybody in a day or two. I'm not going to get huffy about it.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing odds and ends around The HeadQuarters. LOL-I had to find a way to distinguish the difference between the house we live in vs. the new horse property. So the residence shall be HQ and the new place shall be "The Ranch".

We went and picked up another 'big-boy' toy...

A friend took a job and moved to Pennsylvania not to long ago and asked if we wanted to keep his back-hoe tractor here.

Well-Shoot Yea!

How dumb would we be if we turned down that offer. I already have a full schedule for My Honey over at The Ranch for this handy-dandy piece of equipment.

MH spent plenty of time grooming the driveway to perfection with the box blade on his little tractor and moving gravel around with the new toy. Meg got to toodle around the property on the 6-wheeler picking up big rocks and I raked the yard and fixed and groomed the walk-way that 'somehow' got tore up when Honey was plowing snow. I think he forgot it was there-LOL.

It's gonna be a busy week this week. Meg is doing a demonstration at school, with her horse. So I get to deliver him and then take him home. Frosty needs to have his teeth floated and all of the horses need to be moved to The Ranch. The new chicken coop will be delivered some time this week and their pen built. We were going to build a coop ourselves, but there was a huge sale going on at a local shop owned by a Mennonite family. Couldn't build one for what they were selling pre-mades for, so that was a pretty easy decision.

Can you guys believe Easter is almost upon us?

Wow!

I kicked a few barrel racings off of my list because Moon wasn't ready, now I'm anxiously awaiting the next one. It's time for him and I to get to work. I didn't make it to the last barrel racing with him, the one that had the chiro there. So I need to make a couple of phone calls and see if I can locate that lady vet that is a chiro to work on him. I'd really like to know that he is either okay or fixed before running him. I can't really pinpoint anything that is 'wrong' that makes me know he needs worked on-no sore spots, no short strides, none of the usual indicators. But something about him is niggling in my brain that says I should get him looked at. Don't you hate it when you can feel something, but can't pinpoint it?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Waffle

I have waffled back and forth for the last few years on whether I was really impressed with my buckskin gelding or not...

But after having put just a few rides on him this spring...

I think I can finally confirm that I really...really like this horse...
It only took 5 years. LOL

I started Frosty when he was a long 3y/o. Put about 10 rides on him his 4y/o year(that was the summer it was hotter than hades in SD-nothing got rode). About 20 rides on him his 5y/o year(Think I got busy with other horses). Maybe another 20 rides on him his 6y/o year(That's the year he cut his foot) and between Meg and I, we most likely got another 45-60 rides on him last year.

Now, most people would wonder why the heck I hadn't invested more time into him when he was younger?

Well....

Time flies! LOL

That and the fact that he has never really felt mentally mature. He just never really seemed to be able to retain much. So what I have is an...

Eight year old, kinda broke, but kinda green horse.

He has matured a lot this last year though. It's like his brain kicked in and he no longer looks perpetually dazed and confused. This could be Frosty's year.

His potential is really untapped. I think this year we are going to focus on 'show' stuff and maybe some reining. I've been patterning him on the barrels and will continue in that direction, although I highly doubt I will even bother exhibitioning him until this fall.

I know one thing though...riding this horse, compared to riding Moon...It's like stepping out of a Jeep into a Cadillac. Wow...Is he smooth...even as a fat boy.;-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Long Time No See

Hi...Have Ya Missed Me?



Ackkk...He's still as ugly as ever.;-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Ride In The Desert...

Meg and I finally headed to the desert yesterday...
I can only ride for so many days in an arena and then I start getting clausterphobic.

I'm a ranch girl remember? I need me some open country. Well that and I'm a lazy, lazy horse trainer. I much prefer to let my horses train and condition themselves. Open country and rolling hills are so ideal for that. Things that are 'issues' in the arena have a way of working themselves out...out there.

How's this for a lovely picture?...
Ummm...I.c.k! The only thing that looks decent on Moon is that he was actually reaching up underneath himself with his hind legs. He actually had some energy back there yesterday. But you can see in his neck how out of condition he is. He looks surprisingly thin in photos. I promise you all he is not thin. Moon suffers from what can crudely be called...narrow ass. First place he looses condition and the last place he gains it back...in his hips. It's one of the reasons I don't dare run barrels on this horse unless he is at least 1/2 ways in shape.

There...this is a little better...
See the difference when he drops his head just a bit. He starts using his neck and back a little better.

The whole ride Moon popped in and out of 'frame'. It's way more wearing on a horse to travel across country and up and down hills when they are bracey in the neck and hollowed out in the back. It's when they start getting tired that they will drop that head, relax the neck and start using themselves more effectively. In my world...you let them find that happy place on their own. And I am just mean enough that I just keep going until they do find it.;-)

And then there are horses like Strawberry...
This little horse is a walking fool. No matter how long it has been, he just relaxes into a comfortable frame and will go all day.

These two are so darn cute together...


So really, this is about all I will be doing for the next week or so...covering some country. Moon was tired after only an hour of walking out there. I can't imagine that Frosty will even last that long. Sta-Puff is in for a rude awakening starting today-LOL

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cheep, Cheep-I Can't Believe My Peeps

So that 'something' I have been wanting for a long time and just haven't been able to have?

All together now....Awwww....

Those pictured above are my Laying breeds.
The black ones below are my Bantams...
And the non-black ones are younger Americaunas. They are much smaller than my other layers so they are going to have to stay with the Bantams until they get a little bigger.
We are having a hard time keeping our hands off of them. Megan is just as excited to have chickens as I am.

I little known fact about myself...I LOVE CHICKENS!

When I was growing up, my dad always had huge flocks of chickens-60-80 birds.

My mom also always kept a small flock around and us kids always had a 'pet' chicken.

I had two favorite chickens. One was a huge multi-colored rooster, that I named Pretty Boy. PB was a bit of a strange rooster. My brother's nasty black rooster always picked him, so he stayed off by himself a lot. He liked to be petted and talked to. All I had to do was go sit down by him and he would come over and was quite a lovey bird.

Pretty Boy spent a good bit of his time hanging around my other most favorite chicken ever, a small speckled Bantam hen named Sadie. Sadie wasn't much for petting on, but she would follow you around clucking and fussing.

Sadie was a good brooder hen. She hatched out babies all of the time, but she wasn't much of being a momma after that. That is where Pretty Boy came in. He l.o.v.e.d the baby chicks and took over raising them after Sadie hatched them out.

Picture this big, big rooster doing the clucking and fussing thing over a herd of tiny little Bantam chicks. It was quite a funny sight.

Thanks to my dad(Bantams were his favorite too) and Sadie, I have a very soft spot for Bantams. I have been waiting for quite some time to be able to have some again. I don't know exactly what kind of Bantams I got at the store today, all they had was assorted. So watching the little guys grow up and change is going to be fun.

The Bantams could end up being any color, but I'm hoping for at least one white and black speckled one...


Two of the larger chicks are Blue Andalusian pullets...
Two more are Black Australorp pullets...
The three little chicks in with the Bantams are Americaunas. I think the two light gray ones will end up looking like this...
They lay blue eggs.

And the buff Americauna may end up looking like this...

She should lay green eggs.

And no flock is complete without a couple of traditionals. I got two Rhode Island Red pullets...
I was reading off some of the stuff about these breeds to MH and Megan. All of them except the Bantams are good duel purpose birds and both MH and Megan got a bit frantic. No, no, no! Rest assured these are most likely going to be 'pet' chickens and kept around as layers. First of all I would like to get a nice flock of about 20 birds. I still have some other breeds that I want to get...Wyandottes, Jersey Giants, Orphingtons...some more Bantams. S.i.l.k.i.e.s...oohhhhh!

Next spring, I will probably look into getting 20 meat chicks to raise. I can raise them, but won't be butchering them myself...I've gotten way to soft to do that...Thankfully there are Mennonites around here that are perfectly willing to butcher your birds for you.

For now, I'm just excited to HAVE chickens again.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Working Walk

Many, many years ago, back when I fancied myself a potential show horse trainer, I worked for a crotchety old man. My job was starting all of the young horses that came to the barn and training his WP prospects.

Boy, looking back, I really thought I knew something about training horses. Starting colts was easy. I had been doing that since I was barely in my teens. I had advanced a lot over the years. But I was eager to learn the magic training tricks that produced a finished WP horse. I just knew there had to be a secret to it.

So I rode and rode and watched and watched this old man. Hoping to gleen some of that magic for myself. I finally had to break down and ask him, "What's the trick to finishing a WP horse?"

That old man looked at me like I was crazy.

Tipping his chin down, he looked at me very sternly and replied, "There are NO tricks to finishing a horse. It's just more of the same until they are finished."

Needless to say, I had no idea what he was saying.

He started to walk out of the barn, but turned around and added, "But I'll tell you one thing...You need to walk your horses more."

Crap!

Hearing that sounded just like my mom and step-dad.

It's not like I was allowed to spend my life charging around on my horses. I walked them.

Just not very successfully, apparently.

When I was even younger than when I was working at this barn, I used to hate riding with my mom. She could get on any horse and they just magically walked out. They also walked home very nicely.

My horses?

Dance, dance, jig, jig.

I blamed it on the horse.

Mom proved me wrong by switching horses with me several times.

My dancing, jigging fool would soon, if not immediately drop into a nice, long-strided walk.

The horse she had been riding?

A dancing, jigging fool under me.

To this day, I have never figured out exactly what I did that caused that particular phenomina. The only thing I can figure is that my brain was telling my body that it didn't particularly care for this slow gait and the horse's picked up on the vibe.

After having my bubble burst by a trainer I thought knew quite a bit, I did spend more time walking my horses. Not that I spent any actual training time at it at first. But eventually I did start doing more.

Fast-forward in time and I have come to use 'the walk' as the valuable conditioning and training tool it is.

Classical dressage riders have known this for how many eons? LOL

To be continued...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Out Of Shape

I know I keep harping on how soft and out of shape my horses are....

But they aren't the only ones!

I AM SO SORE!!!

I tell ya, the reprieve from having to do chores this winter, coupled with sitting in an office...and I am one out of shape old woman.

Who on earth would think that riding for three days in a row(short rides at that) and trimming two horses would make me sore all over?

I'm going to blame it all on Shooter!

He's the one who was jerking me around.;-)


Did I fail to ever mention that we did get our 20 acre place bought?

Yea, though so...sorry.

Yes, we did close on the new "ranch"(LOL-I say that tongue in cheek) at the beginning of this month. It's officially our mess.

Meg and I walked the property yesterday, picking up garbage, checking fences and measuring for gates. I'm not sure exactly how the irrigation works on it. But we won't have to worry about that for another month.

I believe it has been used for hay ground, but it doesn't look in all that good of shape. The plan is...we are just going to use it as pasture for the horses this year and see how the grass shapes up. If it looks like we could get some hay off of it, we'll pull the horses off of at least 10 acres and hay that. If it's crap, we will simply let the horses graze it this year, tear it up this fall and replant it.

Ten acres of irrigated hay ground in this area should produce at least half of my yearly hay, depending on just how many ponies I end up bringing and maintaining out here. They usually get at least 3 cuttings of grass.

What little bit of alfalfa I will need is easily bought.

Sorry-I did take the camera to get pics...but forgot to use it. Don't worry, I'll have ponies moved over there in the next few days and after that, there will be plenty of pics popping up.

There's a lot of crap laying around, but a friend of MH's is going to bring over an industrial sized dumpster and I think I can have a good majority of it cleaned up relatively quickly. A deal is being made with an electrician friend...they check out all the wiring and make sure it is up to code and they get the massive amount of electrical supplies left. I'll pop an ad onto Craigslist to see if anyone is interested in the bio-desiel stuff and that should pretty much take care of getting rid of all of the junk laying around.

Sometime in April we will have the mold issue remedied and then I will get the house cleaned up, carpets shampooed, walls repainted and the place will be as good as new.

There is already an area at the front of the property that has been worked up. MH is trying to figure out how to get his drag from here to there so he can drag that area for me. It's going to be a while before we can afford a 'real' arena, but having a nice area to work horses in will be plenty good for me.

The BO was kind enough to offer his round pen to me anytime I needed to use it and he said I could drop horses off there anytime I hauled in late at night and needed stalls to put horses in. What a super guy. None of his family is interested in horses like he is, so I think he has really liked having others around to 'talk horse' with.

I'm pretty excited for this weekend to get here. We are finally getting something I have been wanting for a long time now. Any guesses?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Feels Like Heaven

How cool is it that there is snow on the mountains in the distance and we are riding in tank tops and t-shirts?...

Sta-Puff didn't last long. I had Megan pony him for me for a bit, but he is so out of shape that in very short order, I figured he was to out of breath to try to buck me off-LOL.

He was a very good boy...
Getting Frosty to engage a working walk is going to take awhile. He is not a horse naturally inclined to exherting himself. The BO cheered us on when I got him to pick up a lope-LOL. Two circles...he was done. Just that little bit and he was huffing and puffing.

I really feel sorry for the horse. He has been fat before, but never this soft.

Moon got a work-out too. He is not nearly as soft. There is a chiro going to be at the next barrel racing. I have never really been able to pin-point any indication that Moon is out, but I'm thinking I will take him and if the chiro looks like he knows what he is doing, I'll have Moon checked out. Until then, we will just continue forward with Moon's usually bending, suppling and conditioning.

This brat got worked again...
I am having the same issue with Shooter that Paint Girl is having with Chance. Going to the left...perfect. Going to the right...it's a game of lets see if we can run mom over or whip around and go the other way. He even went so far today as to start to rear up at me and struck out. Boy, did he get whacked in the shoulder...repeatedly! Shooter always looks so offended when he is reprimanded. His eyes get big and then he narrows them, drops his nose and give you "the look". It's like he is saying, "Don't you KNOW who I am?"

I do try to spend an equal amount of time, leading my youngsters from the off side to try to combat the one sideness that inevitably happens. It helps, but never seems to completely overcome the little 'issues' that pop up when working with youngsters. Of course, I have come across quite a few older horses with the same issue. It's just one of those things.

Shooter is all forward motion. Gawwwdddd...another Moon! Good thing I already have one like this under my belt.;) We are going to be spending a lot of time on rating his walk, stopping and backing up.

This little sweetheart went walk-a-bout too...
Meg loves messing with the babies. She does a very good job. This picture tickled me. Look at Megan's legs and then look at Beretta's front legs. Those two are in perfect unison in their stride-LOL.

Beretta is the total opposite of Shooter in many ways. Although, they both seem to share their sire's friendly, people-loving attitude...Shooter is very much his mother's son and Beretta is sweet, tentative and seems to be seeking approval. I will have to make sure to keep her and Shooter apart so he does not corrupt her.;-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm Baa-aack

Hard to believe my delusions of grandeaur rest on such an ugly bugger...
Oh well, like momma says, "A person can get awful tired of packing hay and water to a pretty horse that has no talent."

Moon was not real impressed with his first day at work. It was a mighty effort to stretch out and keep up a working walk.

I ponied the Sta-Puff Marshellow buckskin too. Poor fat bugger was huffing and puffing after 10 minutes. I know how he feels. Megan and I have been talking about getting out and walking/jogging for the last week. Just the thought makes us tired. So we have continued to poke at each other's 'muffin tops' and joke about how fat we are.

Strawberry wintered well too...
But Strawberry is Strawberry. Unlike a lot of horses, he never looses his form. No matter what shape he is in, he just travels 'cute'. Meg is pretty excited that there is a show just a few weeks away and wants to have the Berry Butt ready for that.

There is no way I'll have Frosty(the buckskin) ready by then. But maybe Moon will be ready to show in a reining class.

Even the brat, Shooter got a bit of a workout. Man, does he need more of that. Sometimes I wished I had more Moon and Shooters...but then I work with them and I remember why there are not more. These are not 'easy' horses. They are dominant, opinionated and belligerent when they don't get their way. Shooter got a few good whacks in the shoulder and neck to remind him he needs to stand and walk beside me...not on top of me.

And then there was this little mud monster...
And this pic was taken AFTER she had been groomed-LOL. Three fourths of Beretta's pen is dry. WHY does she insist on laying and rolling in the mud?

There is nothing like spring to make a horse decide people are good for something in their life...Beretta has enough hair for 3 horses and the poor little girl isn't shedding a lick of it yet. Ohhhh...does she love her grooming time now.

I was laughing at her 'jug' head, but most of it is hair...
I'm tempted to take the clippers to her jaws and throatlatch, just to see what's under there-LOL.

Beretta's joints have cleaned up. All the lumps are gone and they feel nice and tight when I pick her feet up and roll them around. Whew! It's pretty obvious how much better she feels too. She bucks and kicks and runs around. Boy, is she going to be a catty little thing. It's so natural for her to stick that hindquarter in the ground and can she ever spin around and leave-WOW. Just like her momma! That was the one thing that endeared big, clunky Chunk to me. That mare can STICK IT!

I'm sure people have wondered why I put that much effort into making sure Beretta got over her joint problems...it's not like youngsters are worth much on the open market. But ya know...I don't raise horses for the open market. I raise them for ME. I know what these horses are going to be when they grow up. I don't have to wonder or hope they are going to turn into nice, capable horses...I just know they are.

Next on the list of getting everyone back in saddle horse form...DA feets! If we manage to make it a couple more days without rain, I'll start hauling to the desert to ride. My boys need to cover some miles.

Man, it feels good to be back to the horses!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Brimming With Confidence Or Delusional?

With my full-time status at the office coming to a close, I have finally gotten around to scouting out all of the available equestrian events in my new area.

I knew there were a lot. But holy moly! It's like living in AZ again. There is something going on constantly around here. Horse shows...barrel racings...rodeos. And that is just the stuff that is listed online already. I know there are multiple little other organizations in the area that simply post their little open shows and playdays in the local Nickle.

That stuff is all well and good. I am going to have a full roster of horses this year that are going to need those kinds of events.

But, other than a few local barrel racings that I want to take Moon to...for us to get back in synch...I want to focus on a higher level of competition.

I'm trying not to put the cart before the horse...but I'm actually thinking about buying my WPRA(Women's Pro Rodeo Association) permit this year.

I was looking into the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association and a good majority of those rodeos are also PRCA/WPRA. I'm already going to be buying my CPRA card and probably renewing my NRCA(Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association) card. That last one just in case Meg and I go spend some time back home this summer.

It kind of makes sense to go ahead and buy my WPRA permit...just in case ole' Moon and I hit a lick and start winning some money-LOL.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Men

They get older...but they never change...LMAO!

With the nicer weather this last week, My Honey finally got the chance to get out a little toy he picked up a few months ago and take it for a spin...

He spun some "cookies" and laid some "blackies" and.....

Promptly tore the clutch and part of the transmission out of his new toy...


I swear!

In his defense...they did find that a couple of bolts were missing from the transmission. Most likely from when the previous owner rebuilt everything.

Now who would have thought to check that?

MH is a Camaro fanatic...his favorite style is the '70-'73. But with the new shop, we are hoping to finally get started on the rebuild of the '67 RS he bought a couple of years ago.

Myself? I'm a TA girl all the way-LOL...


Hopefully one of these years, before I am too ridiculously old, I hope to have a '78 Trans-Am to sport around in. So far, we haven't seen the massive price drop in them that there has been in a good majority of the other classic cars. It may be just one of those things you always wished you could have had, but never do.;-)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Friday Funny

A friend showed us this video the other night and it made me laugh...

(Sorry, tried to load the video directly, but could not get the whole code to copy/paste...I hate it when that happens)


Too Funny Cat Video

Next week, ladies and gentlemen...we go back to our regularly scheduled "horsie" posts.

Yayyyyyy!!!!!!